SnowBall archive


GE - Fom BAN _ GEF list 12/ 3

1)  Genetic Disasters Uninsurable, say Monsanto 
by James Mackenzie <> 
2) UK TV 
3) poisonous effect of Lectins 
by Jon <> 
4) 1st resulty of the global experiment. 
5) TV coverage 
6) Can you believe it??? 
7) brit menu on manipulated genes, March 12 
by MichaelP <> 

Date: 12 Mar 1999 05:36:44 -0600 
James Mackenzie <> 
Genetic Disasters Uninsurable, say Monsanto 

<From the Centre for Human Ecology>
Genetic engineering giant Monsanto has admitted that they are not insured 
against the risks of genetic engineering. Appearing at a Centre for Human 
Ecology lecture in Edinburgh last week, , Stephen Wildridge, Monsanto's UK 
& Ireland Agriculture Director, was asked by a member of the audience if 
Monsanto had "insured against the risk to the world's ecosystems"; a 
socially acceptable risk having been previously defined as one that can be 
insured against.
Mr Wildridge replied, "Can you tell me an insurer who would take on that 
risk? We haven't been seeking insurance." Other members of the audience 
pointed out that the only other sector in such a position is the nuclear 
industry. Mr WIldridge also confirmed later that the segregation of GM and 
non-GM crops is entirely possible, and even desirable, despite the US 
government's claims to the contrary.
The Centre for Human Ecology has been criticised by other environmental 
groups for giving a platform to a representative from Monsanto plc. 
Despite this, Mr Wildridge went ahead with the open lecture to a full 
house as part of the Centre for Human Ecology's "Engineering Genesis" 
series. Previous speakers have included both pro- and anti-GM scientists, 
and activists who have destroyed test crops. The series as a whole aims to 
encourage a full public debate about biotechnology.
<Please note date changes below>
16th March Dr Mae Wan Ho, Genetic Engineering, Dream or Nightmare? 
23rd March Professor Ian Wilmut, Life after Dolly.
All lectures are in the Quaker Meeting House, on Edinburgh's Victoria 
Terrace, and start at 6:30 pm. Entrance 2 pounds, and another 2.50 for a 
simple meal afterwards shared with the speaker.
For more information, please write to
Date: 12 Mar 1999 05:43:35 -0600 
Subject: UK TV
Brilliant TV program last night!!!! 
Covered the whole Pusztai story, 'substantial equivalence', Cauliflower Mosaic
lack of control in US, GM in baby food ....... 
Dr. Pusztai came out like a hero. 
Putting his reputation on the line because he found something wrong, 
even though he was the man who originally said the snowdrop 
lectin was fine. He was very calm, clear and like a shining light in contrast 
to his devious and unbelievable opponents. 
Nice touch in an american supermarket. 
At the check-out, the reporter asked 
which products contained GM - check-out girl had no idea. 
'Has anyone asked you that before?', 
'No sir, you're the first'. 
Good interview with an american scientist pointing out how unpredictable the 
science is. 
Also Dr. Howard of Liverpool, a leading expert in child toxology, 
had a great impact. 
His concerns for children's & babies health came over as very genuine. 
Prof. James of the Rowett must be fuming!!! Everyone is now quoting him as 
saying the current regulations are not comprehensive enough!!!! 
And Minister Jeff Rooker ranted on again how fed up he is 
people talking about the potato - 'This potato is not on the market'. 
However at the end of the program the reporter said that they had research 
Government & EU papers and had found that a number of crops containing the 
snowdrop gene are in the pipeline for approval - cauliflower, rice,
and a POTATO!!!!! 
Nice ending..
Date: 12 Mar 1999 06:22:43 -0600 
From: Jon <> 
Subject: poisonous effect of Lectins
Lewis Walch in his interesting comments on the Pusztai experiments 
"Although the poisonous effect of Lectins on rats was expected, it was 
not expected to be more severe in rats where the lectin was 
genetically engineered into the potatoes as opposed to simply injected 
into normal spuds."
I am not sure, however, that the poisonous effect was expected by those 
with an expert knowledge of lectins, as opposed to those who have 
subsequently sought to rubbish Pusztai's experiments by responding "so 
what - we always knew these things were poisonous, and they wouldn't 
have been used anyway.".
Professor Jonathan Rhodes and Dr Ronald Finn of the Department of 
Medicine, University of Liverpool, in their recent letter to the 
Independent wrote:
"It has been widely stated that all lectins are toxic.They are not. They 
are ubiquitous 
carbohydrate-binding proteins. All mammalian cells and all plant nuts, 
seeds and bulbs, including many foodstuffs, contain lectins. Some of 
these, red kidney beans for example, are toxic and need to be destroyed 
by heat before consumption but others 
such as tomato lectin are apparently harmless when eaten raw.
Many of these plant lectins serve an insecticidal or antifungal role in 
the plant. The snowdrop lectin (GNA) binds to a sugar called mannose 
which is virtually absent from the lining of the mammalian intestine but 
is extensively expressed in the intestine of sap-sucking insects. It is 
therefore plausible that expression of this lectin in food plants might 
render them unattractive to insects but safe for human consumption, 
particularly if the food (potato) is always cooked."
This was Pusztai's starting point and it is why this particular lectin 
has been involved in a number of experimental attempts to genetically 
engineer food crops, including one crop apparently currently undergoing 
field trials in the Netherlands. They would hardly have invested their 
time and money in such research if they thought they were working with a 
known mammalian poison.
A confusing press release from the Rowett referring to (in fact, 
separate work with the poisonous) jackbean lectin may have been the 
source of some of the confusion. Dr Pusztai denies any responsibility 
for the content of that press release.
This all, of course, takes nothing away from Lewis's point about the 
possible wider significance of Pusztai's findings. In fact, it confirms 
the unexpected nature of the results apparently obtained with the GM 

Date: 12 Mar 1999 08:25:40 -0600 
Subject: 1st resulty of the global experiment.
First official results of the global experiment are in - soya allergies 
dramatically increased in the last year. 
Prime suspect - GM soya!!! Stand up Monsanto - 
where is your insurance??? 
We wait eagerly for the Health Ministers rebuttal. 
York Nutritional Laboratory has had a busy day on the phone, but if the media 
in your country want to follow this up they are happy to be contacted. 
Tel: +44 1904 690640
Daily Express 12 March 99 
Why soya is a hidden destroyer
Exclusive by Mark Townsend
Fresh fears over the safety of genetically modified foods surfaced 
faced yesterday after new research revealed that food allergies 
relating to soya Increased by 50 per cent last year 
A study by Europeis leading specialists on food sensitivity found 
health complaints caused by soya - the ingredient most associated with 
GM foods - have increased from 10 in 100 patients to 15 in 100 over 
the past year. 
Researchers at the York Nutritional Laboratory said their findings provide 
real evidence that GM food could have a tangible, harmful impact on the 
human body 
The findings were sent to Health Secretary Frank Dobson last night as 
scientists urged the Government to act on the information and impose an 
instant ban on GM food, while further safety tests are carried out. 
Dr Michael Antoniou, senior lecturer in molecular pathology at Guyis
Central London,, said: iThis is a very interesting if slightly worrying, 
iIt points to the fact that far more work is needed to assess their safety At 
moment no allergy tests are carried out before GM foods are marketed and that 
also needs to be looked at.i 
John Graham, spokesman for the York laboratory, said: iWe believe 
this raises serious new questions about the safety of GM foods because it is 
impossible to guarantee that the soya used in the tests was GM-free.i 
It is the first time in 17 years of testing that soya has crept into the 
laboratoryis top 10 foods to cause an allergic reaction in consumers. 
The vegetable has moved up four places to ninth end now sits alongside 
foodstuffs with a long history of causing allergies, such as yeast, sunflower 
seeds and nuts 
Mr. Graham said researchers tested 4,500 people for allergic reactions to 
vegetables including soya. Among the range of chronic illnesses it caused
irritable bowel syndrome, digestiontion problems and skin complaints
acne and eczema. 
iPeople also suffered neurological problems with chronic fatigue syndrome, 
headaches and lethargy. It is worrying,i Mr Graham added. 
Researchers measured the levels of antibodies in a personis blood. If 
levels were detected it showed the person suffered an adverse reaction to a 
particular food. 
Soya, the wonder crop of the 20th century is found in 60 per cent of all 
foods sold in the UK - from bread to baby food, ready-to-eat curries to 
But because GM and natural soya are mixed at source in America - the worldis 
biggest supplier - it has become increasingly difficult for retailers to 
guarantee the 
purity of any products. 
Last month campaigners from Greenpeace dumped four tons of GM soya beans from 
America at the gates of Downing Street in protest. The Consumersi Association 
yesterday renewed its demand for the Government to investigate the safety of 
GM foods. 
A spokesman said: iWe just donit know what health problems could arise in the 
Waitrose yesterday announced that it would be stocking its own-label GM-free 
foods by the end of the month. 
Managing director David Felwick said: iWe believe customers should be able to 
make an informed choice about the products they are buying.i

Date: 12 Mar 1999 08:25:56 -0600 
Subject: TV coverage
If you know of any TV production teams or studios that might want to 
take advantage of the excellent coverage here then here are two numbers they 
could contact:
Channel 4 Dispatches - Christine Rimmer - +44 161 827 2332 
BBC Panorama (ask for the office dealing with your country) +44 181 743 8000

Date: 12 Mar 1999 08:26:11 -0600 
Subject: Can you believe it???
A number of newspapers have carried a report on the '4-legged chicken' 
reported in the journal Science. (It is actually a 3-legged version!!!) 
Researchers at Harvard Medical 
School, led by a Brit!!!, inserted a gene in the growing wings of embryos and 
voila produced a leg. 
They seem to think this will help them control developement of limbs in 
Better try developing their brains - then they might understand the awesome 
power of Natur better....


Date: 12 Mar 1999 14:15:49 -0600 
From: Jason Boehk <> 
Subject: NPRadio Talk of The Nation: The History & Future of Biotech; Today 
3PM E.S.T.

Talk of the Nation Science Friday: The History & Future of 
Today (3/12/99) 3 PM E.S.T.
1-800-989-8255 (TALK)
I've previously tried to call in to "Science Friday" when 
they've discussed genetic engineering. For my truthfulness 
in telling the call screener that I wanted to ask a question 
about the lack of labeling of GE food, as well as a short 
history of failed and/or dangerous products, I was rewarded 
with 1 hr. of waiting on "hold" until the 1 hr. program was 
over. Over the course of those 60 minutes, I heard the 3 
biotech industry guest experts/scientists spew forth 
disinformation about the safety of GE food, the lack of 
danger in planting millions of gene-altered trees, etc.
While I hesitate to encourage anyone to lie, if you do call 
the show in the hopes of asking a question critical of GE on 
air, don't expect to be "live" on the air if you tell this 
to the call screener in advance.
Ira Flatow, in my opinion, is one of the biggest media 
boosters of GE, and unfortunately one of the least informed 
and/or most obfuscatory.
1-800-989-8255 (TALK)
Let's hope that we don't hear this from the fearless biotech 
pioneers who will be featured on the program:
"Full Speed Ahead."
"We must Soldier On...(Risks be damned)"
Good Luck! 
- --Jason