SnowBall archive


GE - GMO News 03/10 part 2

11) China- Du Pont paves way to meet investment goal  in  China 
12) Motivated to modify foods 
13) Fear of genetically altered foods exaggerated 
14)  Protocol heading nowhere
15) Genetically altered food safe, says minister 
16) Genetic changes could threaten agriculture exports: 
17) Bananas and Prosperity 
18) Worm at the heart of the blossom: 
20)  Genetically -modified foods may be already on supermarket shelves 
21) Mixing and matching with genetics 
22) Canada developed spruce trees with Bt genes
> Business 
11) China- Du Pont paves way to meet investment goal  in  China 
BODY: The US's Du Pont is paving the way for investment 
> projects in 
> China to reach its objective of investing (USDollar) 1 billion in 
> China by 
> the end of the century. The projects include a new plant on Hainan 
> Island 
> in co- operation with Germany's BASF with a total investment of one 
> billion US dollars to produce four types of nylon intermediates. This 
> will 
> bring Du Pont's total investment in China to more than a billion 
> dollars, 
> according to Anthony Loo, president of Du Pont China Holding Co. Ltd. 
> This year is Du Pont's 15th year 
> of investment in China. It has 4 representative offices, 9 joint 
> ventures, and 4 solely-owned facilities in China, with total 
> investment exceeding 420 million U. S. Dollars, employing 1,800 
> people. It has transferred 10 types of technology to China in 
> that time. Its investment covers chemicals, agriculture, 
> electronics, textiles, and automobiles and it plans to expand 
> into biotechnology in the future. It will also stick to its 
> commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, especially China, Loo 
> says. 
> Last year, Du Pont's business in China grew 10 percent in 
> spite of the sluggish economy and its trade on the mainland, 
> Hong Kong, and Taiwan amounted to (USDollar) 1 billion, 
> accounting for a third of the Asia-Pacific region. Its 
> global business grew 3 per cent last year, with sales of 
> chemicals and special chemical products reaching (USDollar) 25 
> billion. Copyright(C) 1999 CHINA BUSINESS INFORMATION 
> ======#====== 
> New Straits Times (Malaysia) March 10, 1999 

12) Motivated to modify foods 
BYLINE: Rose Ismail 
BODY: NEED -  or  greed? This, above all, is the question that must be
in the 
> debate 
> on genetically-modified foods. Depending on which side of the fence 
> you're 
> on, the answer will be: GM foods are needed because the world must be 
> fed. 
> Proponents of the technology say it will also promote sustainable 
> farming 
> and protect communities in developing countries. Another benefit is 
> that GM 
> will reduce the use of chemicals which, in turn, will benefit the 
> environment. Of more direct benefit to the consumer, it is claimed, 
> is that 
> GM will provide people with better quality foods. These will have a 
> longer shelf-life, be easier to transport and be less 
> susceptible to damage. Altering the nutritional content of 
> foods could help make them easier to process and could also mean 
> we will see products lower in fat or higher in anti-oxidant 
> vitamins. Animals, too, could be modified altered so the meat 
> or milk they produce has a lower fat content. For those who 
> object to methods used to rear animals, GM offers a wider choice 
> of products for vegetarians. For example, vegetarian cheese is 
> now available that uses a GM version of calf' rennet. There will 
> be those who say GM foods are not needed because it remains 
> unclear how developing countries will benefit from such 
> biotechnology. As it is, existing technologies have not been 
> fully explored, so why is there a necessity to tamper with 
> living things and create unnatural foods which may produce 
> unexpected and unwanted consequences? And, as pointed out by 
> scientists, these consequences may be harmful to human health 
> and the environment. They may also be irreversible. Of 
> immediate concern to human health is the danger that GM can 
> result in a toxin or allergen being transferred unknowingly 
> along with the desired trait. One example is the soya bean, 
> which ended up with the potential to trigger brazil nut allergy 
> when it had a gene from the brazil nut inserted. Another issue 
> of long-term safety which is already causing concern is the 
> possibility that GM foods can contribute to the increase in the 
> number of bacteria resistant to antiobiotics. While antibiotic- 
> resistance is an increasing world-wide problem, the use of 
> bacteria in GM foods may create greater resistance to commonly 
> used antibiotics, reducing our options for treatment if we are 
> infected by one of these bacteria. The overriding concern about 
> environmental safety is that there is still not enough known 
> about the behaviour of genes once they are released and, since 
> GM organisms can migrate, mutate and multiply, any mistakes 
> could be irreversible. For example, there are fears that the 
> continued modification of crops with Bt toxin (used in maize) 
> could lead to future problems of insect- resistance. There is 
> also the worry that the gene flow to related wild species can 
> produce an unintended effect on growing GM crops. This would 
> mean increasingly strong varieties of herbicides would be needed 
> to control them. GM crops could also lead to a loss of 
> biodiversity. Reliance on a restricted genetic pool is, 
> scientists say, inherently risky, and could threaten to destroy 
> varieties which have adapted to specific climates and geological 
> conditions. GM will lead to a handful of genetically uniform 
> plants being grown on a large scale. These monocultures could 
> be highly susceptible to attacks by pests and diseases; if one 
> field became infested, the plague could quickly spread 
> throughout the entire crop. The same concern applies to animals: 
> if only animals with the most desirable characteristic are 
> produced, there could be a lack of genetic diversity and, 
> thus, an increased susceptibility to disease. Currently, the 
> unintended consequences of GM crops and animals may not show up, 
> because field trials are small-scale and short-term. To 
> determine the safety and usefulness of such technology, crops 
> would have to be grown in more realistic circumstances. If the 
> safety of these crops cannot be guaranteed, why is there a 
> frenzied desire to push them on the global market? A growing 
> coalition of opponents to GM foods, comprising specialists, 
> farmers, citizen groups, scientists and ordinary consumers, say 
> greed, rather than need, motivates the GM food indsutry. They 
> point to five transnational corporations - all herbicide and 
> agrochemical companies - and their host countries, as the 
> culprits. These are: Monsanto -the US; Novartis (a merger of 
> Ciba Geigy and Sandoz) - Switzerland; AstraZeneca - the UK and 
> Sweden; Avantis (a merger of Hoechst and Rhone Poulenc, which 
> owns the biotech company AngroEva); and Dupont/Pioneer - the 
> US. The stakes involved in GM foods are as follows: In 1995, 
> only a small acreage was devoted to such crops. In 1996, there 
> were 2.8 million hectares of them; in 1997, 12.8 million 
> hectares; and last year, more than 28 million hectares produced 
> GM crops. The bulk of GM crops is grown in the US, but a 
> significant acreage is also found in Canada, China and 
> Argentina. An interesting point is that herbicide tolerance is 
> the major trait developed in about 70 per cent of GM crops grown 
> all over the world. Connect this to the fact that all major 
> companies involved in GM crops are also herbicide producers and 
> one understands the push, drive and adamant desire shown by such 
> conglomerates to promote GM foods. Yet another intriguing fact 
> is that these same companies have bought numerous seed 
> companies, and are producing GM seeds dependent on the parent 
> company's herbicides. Monsanto, for example, produces two of 
> the top-selling herbicides in the world: glyphosates and 
> alachlor. In the first half of 1998, Monsanto spent some US6 
> billion buying two of the world's top 10 seed companies. With 
> this, Monsanto is now the world's second largest seed company, 
> with Novartis, the world's largest agrochemical company, 
> becoming third largest seed company. Given this high level of 
> monopolisation of the seed indsutry by the world's largest 
> agrochemical companies, consumer advocates say we can expect the 
> focus on herbicide crops to continue to dominate the global 
> acreage of GM crops. Knowing that GM crops may not be all that 
> good for the people, why have governments like the US succumbed 
> to these companies? Consumer advocates like Dr Michael Hansen, 
> who last week spoke in Penang about the dangers of agricultural 
> biotechnology, say the marketing strategies of companies like 
> Monsanto are powerful, pervasive and difficult to counter. 
> Among the methods used by Monsanto to become influential, he 
> says, is the Revolving Door strategy. This, in effect, is the 
> practise of top US government officials joining the company for 
> a period, and then rejoining government in the same or a more 
> powerful capacity. From the Jimmy Carter Administration to the 
> present one, Hansen has names of individuals who, after spending 
> time in the upper echelons of government, would then leave to 
> join the company. After some years, they would return to 
> government service, wielding influence in areas which would 
> benefit companies like Monsanto. In some cases, these people 
> would move directly from Monsanto into the Food and Drug 
> Administration (FDA) which is responsible for approving the use 
> of such technology on plants and animals. Patenting also appears 
> to be benefitting such companies. The companies which spent 
> large sums of money on GM crops have also begun to patent the 
> plants they modify. They claim they own these plants, and that 
> others must pay for the right to plant their seeds. Monsanto is 
> the most aggressive company, forcing farmers who buy the 
> company's soyabean or cotton to sign a legally binding 
> technology agreement. The agreement states that farmers cannot 
> save seed for replanting, and gives the company the right to 
> enter the farmers' fields unannounced for up to three years 
> after the farmer last buys GM seeds. This is to ensure that no 
> one steals the seeds. Because farmers' attitudes die hard, many 
> save the seeds to replant, and Monsanto now has 525 cases 
> brought against farmers in the US and Canada for the crime of 
> saving seeds. In cases settled so far, farmers have settlements 
> in the millions expected soon by Monsanto. To enfore the no 
> replanting policy, the company has taken to hiring detectives in 
> the US, and retired Canadian Mounted Police in Canada, to spy on 
> farmers. They also advertise on local radio stations and give 
> out a free toll number farmers can call to turn in neighbours 
> who save seeds. Monsanto also silences critics by co-opting or 
> hiring them. They watch over scientists who do reasearch on GM 
> foods, and reward them for their "obedience" by giving them huge 
> research grants. A World Bank officer at the same conference 
> said the reason companies like Monsanto have gained power and 
> prominence is that public sector research has declined sharply 
> in most countries. To counter this, the officer said, 
> governments should invest more heavily in local agricultural 
> research. Even this, says Hansen, may not be effective, because 
> companies like Monsanto find a variety of ways to influence 
> government, scientists and people. Last year, representatives 
> of Monsanto met with Malaysian government officials to discuss 
> the possibility of starting field trials on GM crops in this 
> country. As Hansen remarked: "If you notice someone who has 
> always been critical of GM foods suddenly making an about-turn, 
> you can make a good guess at who would have got to them." 
> GRAPHIC: (STF) - The genetic modification of food is driven by 
> a whole host of motivations, not all of them noble. Rose Ismail 
> considers the ramifications. Picture - Harvested handful ... The 
> amounts of land planted with GM crops are growing by leaps and 
> bounds. Picture - Genetically modified ... A crop of Ciba 
> Geigy corn in Argentina. 

> ======#====== 
> The Gazette (Montreal) March 10, 1999, 
FINAL SECTION: Editorial /  Op-ed; 

13) Fear of genetically altered foods exaggerated 
> I  find it extremely disheartening that Bradford Duplisea of the Sierra 
> Club  (Letters, March 7) has resorted to some of the more pernicious 
> tactics in  the environmental lobby's holy war against biotechnology: 
> name-calling and attacks on integrity. While I can only say that his attacks
> Professor Douglas Powell's integrity seem more rhetorical than 
> factual, I  can say that his allusions to so-called frankenfoods are a
> attempt to cloud the issue and incite fear toward GM ( 
> genetically modified) foods. Mr. Duplisea's case against GM 
> foods is not clear. Many GM foods have already gone through 
> extraordinarily rigorous testing and have passed with flying 
> colours. In fact, they have proved to be very beneficial, 
> increasing crop yields and quality as well as increasing 
> resistance to insects. 
> But do GM foods have any undesired side-effects, long-term or 
> otherwise? Perhaps, but so would regular foods. This irrational 
> fear of genetically altered food is based on general misbeliefs 
> concerning the difference between normal and GM foods. 
> What is lost in the debate is that almost all foods have been 
> genetically altered. Genetic engineering in one form or 
> another has existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years 
> either naturally or by human intervention. Called either cross- 
> breeding or gene-splicing, the result is the same: genetic 
> material from one organism transferred to another. 
> Whether the result is good or bad depends on the technique. 
> Older, less precise techniques may result in unwanted 
> characteristics while more precise techniques like gene-splicing 
> will ensure that agricultural engineers know exactly what is 
> being done each time they transfer genetic material. Thus, a 
> greater control over the process produces a greater chance of 
> creating better foods for us all to eat. 
> As for Mr. Duplisea's concern regarding increased immunity among 
> insects to the Bt toxin, insects may develop an immunity to Bt 
> regardless of whether the Bt is created automatically by the 
> plants or sprayed on manually. What would then be needed is 
> merely a better pesticide. Of course, this would be sacrilege 
> since something like that would be a result of hard work and 
> ingenuity from the ''evil'' biotechnology industry. 
> Ian Fichtenbaum 
> Cote St. Luc 

> ======#====== 
> New Straits Times (Malaysia) March 10, 1999 

14)  Protocol heading nowhere
BYLINE: By Pang Hin Yue 
BODY:  THE  whole negotiation process just collapsed," says Chee Yoke Ling of 
> Third 
> World Network, a penang-based NGO. Chee was umming up the 
> recently-concluded international meeting in Colombia, to formulate 
> what 
> was to be the world's first treaty to regulate trade in genetically 
> modified products. The United States, chief advocate and supplier of 
> transgenic food (foods in which genes have been modified), with its 
> allies 
> - 
> Canada, Australia, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile -resisted moves 
> to make the biosafety protocol (an offshoot of the United 
> Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, or CBD) a treaty 
> centred on egalitarianism. Most developing countries want the 
> protocol to ensure no such food crops - which carry the risk of 
> allergy and pollution to local ecosystems - enter their 
> country without prior informed consent. As it turned out, notes 
> Chee, who attended the Colombia summit, the US and its allies 
> went out of their way to limit the scope of the agreement. To 
> free market critics like Chee, hindering the negotiation process 
> is another attempt by multinational corporations (with backing 
> from their governments) to widen their control over the world's 
> food production system. Where does Malaysia stand on this 
> issue? From the time the UN CBD came into being - an outcome of 
> the 1992 Earth Summit -Malaysia has spoken out against the 
> double standards of developed countries (notably the US) in 
> addressing the misuse of biological resources. To its credit, 
> Malaysia was instrumental in pushing for the biosafety protocol. 
> But, since then, "the perception by other developing nations is 
> that Malaysia has backed down on a number of issues," observes 
> Chee. For example, Malaysia has not demanded a legally binding 
> obligation to label transgenic food crops. Rather, it advocates 
> voluntary action. The softening stand is probably for economic 
> reasons; Malaysia is also a major exporter of products like palm 
> oil and rubber, that have extensive biotechnological 
> application. This could later be used as a form of trade barrier 
> when the biosafety protocol comes into force, reasons Chee. 
> Still, should Malaysia allow soyabean and other grains that have 
> been genetically modified to be imported without being 
> subjected to labelling? Chee feels the hesitation on the part of 
> the government to make an official stand has do with its fear 
> that its exports of palm oil and other commodities may be 
> subject to scrutiny. Nevertheless, since Malaysia is still a 
> net importer of food, the government owes it to consumers to 
> label transgenic seeds, grains and processed food, to inform 
> them of the risks involved, she insists. As an exporter of 
> commodities itself, there is no harm for Malaysia to be cautious 
> in its application of biotechnology, she argues. Perhaps 
> Malaysia can learn from Brazil, suggests Chee, which has created 
> a niche for selling non-transgenic soya. 

> ======#====== 
> VIC: 
15) Genetically altered food safe, says minister 
MELBOURNE, March 10 AAP - 
The failure of companies to register foods containing 
> genetically 
> modified organisms (GMOs) did not pose a health risk, Victorian Health 
> Minister Rob Knowles said today. About 50 foods with genetically 
> engineered material, mainly imported from North America, were 
> ingredients in 
> about 500 products on Australian supermarket shelves, Mr Knowles said. 
> Under 
> new rules by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA), such 
> foodstuffs have to be registered and appropriately labelled by May 13. 
> But 
> Mr Knowles said only two foods had so far been registered. We suspect 
> there 
> are in the order of 50 other foodstuffs that have been imported 
> primarily 
> from North America but (the required) ... registration has not been 
> applied 
> for," he told reporters. 
> "Those 50 foods we think have gone into something like 500 
> products." 
> Mr Knowles said the reasons for non-compliance included the industry 
> not 
> taking the regulations seriously and companies not being aware the 
> food they 
> are using in their products contained GMOs. 
> He stressed the 50 products involved had been through scientific 
> testing 
> and had been approved for use. 
> "There are no public health issues. This is more an issue of us 
> knowing 
> that they contain GMOs and then we, of course, have the labelling 
> issue 
> that is being grappled with," he said. 
> His confidence was not shared by doctors across the Tasman. Today 
> The 
> Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners warned its 
> government to 
> take "exceptional caution" with regard to genetically modified food 
> because 
> much of the research on it raised serious health and environmental 
> safety 
> concerns. 
> "Much of the information available is from the proponents of the 
> technology - who stand to make a lot of money if it's widely approved 
> - but 
> we're now hearing more from independent scientists whose research 
> points to 
> significant risks," said college chair, Dr Ralph Wiles. 
> Meanwhile Mr Knowles said there was concern that trade wars could 
> develop if a global approach was not taken to the complex issue. 
> In North America food that was significantly modified must be 
> labelled 
> as such, whereas in Europe all foods containing GMOs must be labelled. 
> "The Americans have made it very clear that if Australia and New 
> Zealand 
> required greater labelling requirements than their own that that would 
> constitute a trade barrier and therefore we could very quickly get 
> caught 
> up in a trade war," he said. 
> "So both the Australian government and the New Zealand government 
> are 
> very keen to try and get a worldwide approach to these issues so we 
> can in 
> fact avoid those trade implications." 
> ======#====== 

16) Genetic changes could threaten agriculture exports: 
ACA BYLINE:  Melissa Langerman 
Agricultural exports could be 
> threatened if the federal government did not impose rigorous 
> safeguards on 
> gene technology and labelling of genetically modified products, the 
> Australian Consumers Association warned today. The warning, by ACA 
> policy 
> manager Mara Bun, came at the start of a three day conference on the 
> benefits and risks of genetically modified (GM) foods in Canberra. 
> Some 
> speakers - including scientists, food industry representatives and 
> ethics 
> experts - urged great caution on the use of GM, warning potential 
> hazards 
> were still poorly understood. 
> But others stressed gene technology would increase crop 
> production, 
> reduce pest and disease threats to crops, reduce spoilage and reduce 
> risks 
> from use of existing pesticides. 
> Agriculture Minister Mark Vaile said GM had great potential 
> benefits for 
> Australia. 
> "Managed properly, gene technology promises enormous gains for 
> agriculture and our rural environment," Mr Vaile said. 
> But Ms Bun said Australia risked damaging its export markets and 
> high 
> food quality image unless the regulatory system was watertight. 
> "If we have the wrong regulatory system in place and the wrong 
> culture 
> in public accountability and if something goes wrong it could be 
> catastrophic," she told AAP. Australia should also investigate export 
> opportunities following the export to Europe of $26 million worth of 
> Australian canola on the basis it was not genetically modified. 
> Ms Bun said the industry argument that detailed labelling was too 
> hard 
> was disproved by the fact that some companies were now promising 
> detailed 
> labelling or GM free products. 
> But Australian Food and Grocery Council food specialist Lana 
> Malero told 
> AAP that GM that changed production of a food, but not the end 
> product, 
> would be hard to monitor. 
> "From all the information we are getting from the scientists, 
> increasingly it is a challenge for people to give any guarantees if 
> the food 
> is being produced using this technology," she said. 
> She said consumers were being misled by scaremongering ahead of 
> new 
> regulations in May which will enforce labelling standards. 
> Consumers could have absolute confidence in the products on 
> shelves, 
> she said. But the Australian Democrats called for Australia to follow 
> the 
> lead of three UK supermarkets which refused to stock genetically 
> modified 
> foods. 
> "The regulatory regime in place is certainly not sufficient to 
> protect 
> the consumer interest," Democrats consumer affairs spokeswoman Natasha 
> Stott  Despoja said. 

> ======#====== 
> The Christian Science Monitor March 10, 1999, 
17) Bananas and Prosperity 
HIGHLIGHT: The  US and  EU must compromise on their childish banana battle.
They'reputting  global  growth at risk. 
BODY: Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! The  United 
> States and the European Union are not just gnashing at each other over 
> banana imports. They are chewing away at global trade - the invisible 
> hand 
> that has done so much to nourish their extraordinary prosperity during 
> the 
> past half century. The banana war is itself a wasteful feud. It can be 
> ended 
> by reasonable compromise. More on that in a moment. But three huge 
> issues 
> lie beyond the relatively small matter of whether the EU is freezing 
> out 
> banana imports from US firms in Central America's "banana republics" 
> in 
> favor of Europe's former colonies: 
> 1.The world's two largest economic powers are on the brink of a 
> tit-for-tat trade war that can easily spread and damage not just 
> the big guys but many innocent bystanders. 
> 2.Such a battle could quickly undermine the still-fledgling 
> World Trade Organization, set up as a referee for just this kind 
> of dispute. 3.It would also savage prospects for a new round of 
> negotiations to further cut global trade barriers and extend 
> "level playing field" rules. As already noted, the unprecedented 
> growth of world trade in the past 50 years is responsible for a 
> large portion of growth - read prosperity - in both the 
> developed and the developing world. Lately it has become 
> fashionable for some economists to raise doubts about globalism 
> and to question the possibility of fairness in international 
> trade. Empirical evidence trashes those doubts. It would be hard 
> to persuade billions of people to prefer a world stripped of the 
> everyday benefits of freer trade. 
> In order to preserve momentum toward more of such benefits the 
> US and EU must do what lesser nations are anxiously urging: 
> compromise. That means Washington backing off from its 
> retaliatory tactic of bargaining-by-bullying. It almost 
> certainly means the EU being asked by WTO arbitrators to accept 
> a substantially larger portion of bananas from Central America. 
> Such a shift would help Central American plantations recover 
> from devastating hurricane damage (see below). But it would also 
> call for the US and EU to push the World Bank and IMF to provide 
> economic diversification assistance to Caribbean and African 
> banana growers. If any goad is needed, Caribbean nations are 
> providing it by threatening to withhold cooperation with US drug 
> interdiction. 
> Obviously, a compromise on bananas would render US retaliation 
> against European sheep cheese and Concorde jet landings moot. 
> But there must be no resting on laurels. The two parties still 
> have to agree on jet engine noise level standards. And they must 
> find a compromise on the EU's rejection of US hormone beefed-up 
> beef and genetically modified foods. 
> More on those contentious matters in a future editorial. For 
> now, just concentrate on splitting the bananas. 

> ======#====== 
> Financial Times (London) March 10, 1999, Wednesday USA EDITION 1 
8) Worm at the heart of the blossom: 
Two US scientists have  joined  the attack on the speed and scale of
agriculture's genetic  revolution,  says Vanessa Houlder 
BODY: Opposition to genetically modified food  has 
> been relatively muted in the US. But last week two Californian 
> researchers published a vigorous attack on the speed and scale of the 
> revolution. Their book's message is that the genetic revolution in 
> agriculture has not been accompanied by sufficient consideration of 
> long-term concerns. The authors, who work for the Centre for 
> Ethics and Toxins in northern California, argue that GM crops 
> are being introduced on too large a scale, too quickly and with 
> too little oversight. 
> One problem, says Marc Lappe, a pathologist who co-wrote the 
> book with Britt Bailey, an environmental scientist, is the 
> growing power of a few agrochemical companies, perpetuating the 
> trend towards monoculture, in which a single variety of a crop 
> is grown on a vast scale. 
> This could have severe consequences for genetic diversity, 
> increasing the risk of epidemics which - as the 19th century 
> Irish potato blight showed - are more likely to occur among 
> genetically uniform food crops. The need to maintain genetic 
> diversity makes a case for setting aside a percentage of global 
> crop acreage to house non-engineered seeds, Mr Lappe says. 
> The authors are also anxious about the "short-sighted" overuse 
> of particular GM crops. They say it "is reminiscent of the early 
> days of the antibiotic revolution", when antibiotics were put to 
> relatively trivial uses that resulted in the emergence of 
> antibiotic-resistant strains. 
> Their concerns are focused on crops engineered to produce a 
> toxin called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which controls insects 
> while greatly reducing the need to use pesticides. They fear 
> that overuse will make insects tolerant of the toxin, which is 
> widely used by organic farmers. "Over time, perhaps just one or 
> two growing seasons, what has been an ecological miracle may 
> become an ecological disaster," they argue. 
> The book also argues that the GM revolution will lead to far 
> greater reliance on a small number of herbicides. In one case, 
> it argues, regulators have overlooked the potential residual 
> toxicity of an important breakdown product that could enter the 
> human food chain. 
> The authors have other worries about the health risks of GM 
> foods. Boosting the activity of a gene that makes critical amino 
> acids may, in addition to conferring resistance to a herbicide, 
> change the plant's metabolism, creating by-products called 
> isoflavonoids. These have similarities with an important set of 
> human hormones called phytoestrogen, which may have implications 
> for soy-based dairy foods - and particularly baby milk formula. 
> Mr Lappe says his work suggests that, if anything, levels of 
> phytoestrogens are lower in genetically engineered varieties 
> than in conventional varieties. "It can cut both ways," he says. 
> But it underlines the case for assuming that there may be 
> differences between GM crops and their non-engineered 
> counterparts. He argues for a "wholesale review of the 
> regulation, testing and inspection of all engineered crops". The 
> failure to label GM foods is the "ultimate foolhardiness" 
> because it makes it impossible to track transgenic crops in the 
> food chain for possible adverse effects. 
> The perception that the US regulation system is tough is 
> wrong, he says. The interaction of the Department of 
> Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the 
> Environmental Protection Agency creates a regulatory "patchwork 
> quilt" in which each agency can duck responsibility. 
> In this litany of concerns about regulation, there might be 
> a risk of understating the potential benefits of genetic 
> engineering. Perhaps the most powerful argument of the 
> technology's proponents is that it offers a promising approach 
> to feeding a growing world population while reducing damage to 
> the environment. 
> Mr Lappe agrees there is a need for a generation of more 
> productive crops, but says agrochemical companies have so far 
> developed fewer of these crops than their rhetoric suggests. The 
> problem, he says, is that short-range economic considerations 
> have driven the selection of genetic products, rather than 
> choices based on long-term objectives or public benefits. Mr 
> Lappe admits to some philosophical qualms about GM crops. But he 
> insists that he is arguing for more public accountability and 
> control, rather than outright rejection. "This isn't a book of 
> blanket opposition to the technology. There might be real 
> advantages. But there are legitimate questions to be asked." 

> ======#====== 

BODY: According to Pretoria  news, SA's first genetically modified grain has
been grown commercially  and 
> will be sold on the market mixed with other grains, a leading seed 
> seller 
> said. Two strains of yellow maize, both resistant to stalk borer, 
> were 
> being commercially cultivated. 
> ======#====== 
> New Straits Times (Malaysia) March 10, 1999 
20)  Genetically -modified foods may be already on supermarket shelves 
> By Rose Ismail 
DATELINE: Kuala Lumpur 
> Frankenstein foods on your supermarket shelves? The tofu drink, 
> bread, 
> breakfast cereal or soya sauce you purchased today may have been 
> tampered 
> with - genetically. Although the dangers remain unknown, there is 
> growing evidence that genetically -modified (GM) foods can cause 
> increased 
> levels of toxins in humans and animals, a higher susceptibility to 
> allergies and resistance to antibiotics. Currently, there 
> are no quick scientific methods to identify such produce. They 
> taste and look like their unmodified counterparts. GM foods are 
> created by scientists who suppress, copy or splice genes from 
> one plant, animal or bacterium into another. In the case of 
> plants, modification is done to hasten or delay ripening as well 
> as to increase resistance to pests and chemicals. However, the 
> results can be unexpected and dangerously irreversible. 
> Labelling, therefore, would help consumers. This controversial 
> subject was discussed by consumer activists, scientists and 
> government officers who attended an international conference on 
> food security in Penang last week. The conference organiser, F. 
> Josie of Consumers International's Regional Office for Asia and 
> the Pacific (CI-ROAP), said that countries like Malaysia were 
> "at high risk of being treated as a dumping ground for such 
> items" because of the ban on GM foods in the European Union. 
> Nothing, however, is being done to prevent the entry of such 
> foods into countries like ours as there are no labels attached 
> to such produce and no laws which demand the labelling of such 
> items. Furthermore, transnational corporations producing such 
> crops - in countries like the US, Canada, China and Argentina - 
> are resisting labelling, thus denying both governments and 
> people the right to choose what they want on their dinner 
> tables. Proponents of GM foods say the technology will help feed 
> the world, promote sustainable development, protect communities 
> and reduce the use of chemicals in the environment. Opponents, 
> however, say conventional farming methods have still not been 
> fully exploited and that genetic modification in plants could 
> affect the immune system and cause other long-term health 
> problems. "People must know what they are buying and eating," 
> said Gurmit Singh, director of the Centre for Technology, 
> Development and Environment Malaysia. "I am all for science and 
> technology. But I also believe people have the right to choose. 
> What we need is more information about the effects of such 
> technology," said Universiti Putra Malaysia's Professor Dr 
> Ghazali Mohayidin. "We are still far too relaxed about raw 
> produce coming into the country. The public should know how 
> important this is. Such carelessness can, for instance, wipe out 
> our entire palm oil industry, said another UPM professor Dr 
> Zulkifli Shamsuddin. However, as Josie stated at the close of 
> the conference, such foods may already be available in Malaysia 
> because consumer protection laws in this country lag far behind 
> social and market developments. "How can we effectively prevent 
> the entry of banned items when we don't have the laws or the 
> experts at entry points to deal with such matters?" FULL 

> ======#====== 
> New Straits Times (Malaysia) March 10, 1999 

21) Mixing and matching with genetics 
BYLINE: By Rose Ismail 
> WHY are genetically -modified foods different from conventional 
> foods? 
> And why should they be labelled? A strawberry is not a strawberry if 
> it 
> contains a gene of the flounder fish that makes it frost-resistant, 
> a 
> bacterial gene that confers antibiotic resistance and a virus gene 
> that 
> turns on other, added genes. No, a strawberry can only be a 
> strawberry if 
> it acquires genetic material from the same plant species. Yet, with 
> genetic engineering, scientists can now give 
> strawberries genetic material from trees, bacteria, fish, pigs 
> - even humans, if they choose to! This mixing and matching 
> which creates a genetically -engineered organism can cause 
> allergic reactions, an increase in toxin levels, greater 
> resistance to antibiotics and many other environment-related 
> problems. To protect people who may suffer mild to severe 
> allergic reactions or to protect them from unanticipated toxic 
> effects, consumer groups are insisting that all GM foods - raw 
> or processed - be labelled. Besides, people have a right to 
> express a wide variety of religious, ethical and environmental 
> preferences; with this, they should be allowed to choose the 
> foods they can and want to eat. Unless companies which produce 
> GM foods have something to hide, there is no reason such foods 
> should not be labelled. GRAPHIC: Picture - Strawberries - or 
> not? ... Can these be considered fruit if they contain genes 
> from fish or pigs? 

> ======#======
Date: 10 Mar 1999 12:01:52 -0600 
From: joe cummins <> 
22) Canada developed spruce trees with Bt genes
Today there was a brief news release from Forestry Canada about the 
release of spruce trees that had been genetically engineered with Bt 
toxin to fight spruce bud worm. In Canada spruce forests are huge and 
have been sprayed with Bt for several years to fight budworm.There did 
not appear to be any discussion about the impact of spruce forests 
genetically engineered on development of insect resistance to Bt toxin. 
It seems likely that the resistant insects will have been selected 
before the seedling trees are a meter tall!Resitance may also be spread 
to insects that attack food crops. 
Such developments are promoted among arrogant bureaucrats who sneer at 
the public and the members of parliament.