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GE - GENET Mail Out 2/99

GENET Mail Out 2/99

GENET Mail Out 2/99 will focus on an increasingly important topic: the
maintainance and strengthening of gentech-free food markets. While the US
promotes the slogan "agricultural trade without GMOs is no trade", other
countries with export interests in agricultural commodities seem to recognize
their chance in producing and selling certified, gentech-free commodities for
aware costumers. During the biosafety negotiations in Cartagena (Feb. 14-23),
the struggle between political and ecomonical interests and the fight of some
governments to withstand the influence of TNCs became obvious.


During the biosafety negotiations, BRAZIL left its traditional position
defending US interests and joined the strong biosafety positions of the
majority of developing countries. On Feb. 22, the Agricultural Secretary Jose
Hermeto Hoffamann of Brazil's second-largest soybean-producing state Rio
do Sul was cited as saying the state is trying to ban planting of genetically
modified soybeans produced by a local unit of Monsanto Co., adding, "We have
decided that they should be prohibited. What we are doing now is looking into
the ways that this legally can be done." The government wants to respect the
wishes of producers in Rio Grande do Sul, who fear they may lose sales to
transgenic-wary European markets with the introduction of Roundup Ready soy
beans, and that the state saw an opportunity to create a speciality market
the transgenic-free soybean crop, which would help offset shrinking profit
margins as world prices slide.

On January 8, AUSTRALIAN trade authorities announced the largest shipment of
non-GE rapeseed ever exported from Australia. The $16.5 million dollar
is bound for oilseed crushing plants in Europe. According to Graham Lawrence,
managing director of the New South Wales Grains Board, "Europe has moved to
become a major buyer this year because Australia is the only country to
guarantee non-genetic modified canola." While celebrating this economic
success, Australia is member of the Miami-Group, fighting any efficient
biosafety regulation and defending trade interests of US and European biotech

When CANADA started growing transgenic rapeseed in 1995, an "identity
preservation" system was in place to insure segregation of GE- from
non-GE-rapeseed. After approval of the transgenic plants for food purposes in
Japan and Europe, Canada followed the US system of mixing conventional and
transgenic harvest and thus could not any longer garantue GE-free commodities.
In 1998, Canada has lost $300-400 million in rapeseed sales to Europe because
the exporters were not able to react on the European consumer demands. In NGO
talks at the Cartagena meeting, the CEO of the Canadian Grain Council, Mr.
Mutch, had to admit that neither the Canadian harvesting system nor the
acreage reflect consumer demands. In contrast to earlier talks, in which he
called segregation impossible, Mr. Mutch explained that Canadian exporters now
are thinking about segregation systems which might work in 3 to 5 years. In
Cartagena, the Canadian delegation spoke for the Miami Group and was one of
main players in the US efforts to wreck the negotiations.


In GENET Mail Out 1/99, activities of the Austrian supermarket chain SPAR and
the BRAZILIAN CARREFOUR stores to offer GE-free brands and to ban GE-food from
their shelves were reported. On Feb. 5, CARREFOUR FRANCE, the largest national
supermarket chain, announced that they were taking all genetically engineered
foods off their shelves. On Feb. 11, Sheila McKechnie of the UK Consumers
Association pointed out in the Daily Mail that grocery chains banning GE foods
like Carrefour will now "have an enormous competitive advantage" in the
marketplace. On Feb. 13 ASDA, a major British supermarket chain, announced
they were going to remove all genetically engineered ingredients from their
own-brand goods, following the example of the British ICELAND company.

On Feb. 23, the Daily Mail reported that three of Britain's fast-food giants,
McDonald's, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, are responding to
pressure by eliminating genetically engineered soya and corn ingredients from
their menus. According to McDonald's spokesperson Jackie Graveny: "Our aim is
to have McDonald's GM (genetically modified) free as soon as possible."
Similarly Burger King stated: "The company is set to ban GM food as soon as
possible.". According to further GENET investigations only the announcement of
McDonald's and Burger King can be taken for serious.


On Feb. 23 India's highest court, the Supreme Court, stopped deliberate
releases of Monsantošs  genetically engineered Bt cotton. The petition was
filed by Dr. Vandana Shiva, director of Research Foundation for Science,
Technology and Ecology under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, which
allows citizens to move the highest court over issues of violation of
fundamental rights. The court gave Notice that in the interim before a final
ruling no permission can be granted to conduct open multicentric trials of
cotton on a large scale unless the rules and guidelines are amended ensuring
protection of the environment, biodiversity and human health. The
Petitioner is
also seeking a moratorium on trials of the genetically engineered cotton for
three to five years unless biosafety regulations are in place and until the
ecological risk assessment has been carried out on a scientifically sound
basis. Dr. Shivašs comment: "This case is the first of its kind in this
on the!
new generation of environmental issues, related to risks of genetic pollution
from environmental releases of genetically engineered organisms.". Farmers
that insect resistance to the Bt insecticide caused by genetically engineered
Bt plants would make Bt sprays ineffective. The field trials were performed by
Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company, Ltd. (MAHYCO). Through Monsanto-MAHYCO
Biotech (India) Pvt. Ltd. - a joint venture with Monsanto - the activities of
MAHYCO arre closely linked to Monsantošs interests.


On Feb. 25 a group of US activists in San Francisco calling themselves fabRAGE
(Fabulous Resistance Against Genetic Engineering) stripped off their clothes
and disrupted a conference panel on genetically engineered cotton featuring a
speaker from the Monsanto Corporation. The "Field to Fashion" conference was
sponsored by Levi-Strauss. "We'd rather go naked than wear genetically
cotton!" shouted Biogrrl, a fashion diva at the event, as half a dozen
activists charged through the room and stripped off their biohazglam gowns,
chanting: "We don't want it, won't buy it, and won't wear it.". Super Gene
Girl, in a biohazard suit shouted: "Gene-spliced cotton is not sustainable!".
Monsanto representatives appeared apoplectic in the face of the action. The
members of FabRAGE explained: "There is a revolving door between the FDA, the
Clinton Administration and Monsanto Corporation. We are not fooled by their
advertising campaigns or by the complicity of the Clinton administrati!
on in covering up the dangers of genetically engineered foods and products, or
by the U.S. media blackout on US resistance to GE products." FabRAGE is a
project of Artists for Responsible Genetics, an organization exposing the
dangers posed by genetically engineered products and agriculture in the United

some relevant GENET-news:
2-Plants:  Brazilian actions against RR-soya (Jan-27)
2-Plants: Canada loses EU oil seed market thanks to GMOs (Feb-3)
2-Plants: Australian Canola Sales To Europe Rise (Feb-7)
3-Foods: Carrefour supermarket chain bans GM (Feb-8)
GENET Mail Out 1/99 (Feb-9)
BIOSAFETY: UK and US will block India and others to ban GE-food (Feb-9)
BIOSAFETY: Monsanto field trials in India failed (Feb-16)
2-Plants: Key Brazilian state to ban GM soy (Mar-2)
2-Plants: Monsanto plans for selling RR soybean seeds in Brazil (Mar-2)
2-Plants: India's High Court Stops Field Trials of Biotech Cotton (Mar-2)
BIOSAFETY: Canada played the bad guy for the US (Mar-3)
2-Plants: COMMENT on "Monsanto plans for RR soyabean in Brazil" (Mar-4)

-| Hartmut Meyer
-| Co-ordinator
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-| Reinhaeuser Landstr. 51
-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| Germany
-| phone: #49-551-7700027
-| fax  : #49-551-7701672
-| email:

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