SnowBall archive


GE - GMO news 11 & 12th March

> The Independent (London) March 11, 1999 SECTION: COMMENT; Pg. 2 
> case for 
> Lord Sainsbury to resign, or be sacked, as Science Minister because 
> of 
> the conflicts between his extensive commercial holdings in 
> biotechnology 
> and plant-breeding companies and his duties to safeguard the public 
> interest in these issues is overwhelming ("Lord Sainsbury in 
> Monsanto 
> talks", 8 March). Since Friends of the Earth first revealed the 
> extent of 
> Lord Sainsbury's investments last December, the Government has 
> repeatedly 
> defended his impartiality because the holdings sit in a blind trust. 
> When 
> we pointed out that all his investments 
> return to his control once he ceases to be a minister, we were 
> told that Lord Sainsbury "left the room" whenever policy 
> discussions on biotechnology took place. 
> When we pointed out that he did not leave the room when he 
> chaired a meeting with us and industry representatives on how to 
> hold public consultations on GM foods, we were told that that 
> meeting didn't count - and that Lord Sainsbury never discusses 
> government policy on GM issues with anyone. When we replied 
> that, as Science Minister, he went to China and Korea last 
> September with Professor Ray Baker, chief executive of the 
> Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) 
> to promote UK biotechnology programmes and secure bilateral 
> agreements, we were told he took no part in such discussions. We 
> pointed out that this visit prepared the way for a Foreign 
> Office sponsored UK -China ministerial meeting this month on 
> genetically modified plants; and anyway, what about a photograph 
> which shows Lord Sainsbury overseeing the signing of a 
> collaborative agreement between the BBSRC and the Korean 
> Institute for Biosciences and Biotechnology? 
> When we asked to see the agreements and to have confirmed in 
> writing that Lord Sainsbury took no part in any biotechnology 
> discussion, Professor Baker told us "no", because there were no 
> publicly available papers or statements about this trip or the 
> agreements. 
> When we were told that "to avoid the appearance of a 
> conflict of interest, Lord Sainsbury takes no interest in the 
> science of GM organisms", we replied that Lord Sainsbury has 
> repeatedly confirmed in public his longstanding, passionate 
> interest in this science. 
> When we asked about Lord Sainsbury's loan to Diatech, one of 
> his biotechnology companies, which was completed while he was 
> minister, we were told that, as the loan agreement had been 
> settled in the week before he became minister, there could be no 
> possible conflict of interest. When we continued to call on 
> him to do the decent thing and resign, Lord Sainsbury continued 
> to insist that he had nothing to do with GM food issues in 
> government. Now The Independent has revealed that, as minister, 
> he met with Monsanto the US GM crop giant, and discussed GM 
> crops and food. Tony Blair's ministerial code of conduct is 
> quite clear that not only must conflicts of interest be avoided, 
> they must be seen to be avoided. Lord Sainsbury position is 
> untenable. He must go. 
> Director 
> Friends of the Earth 
> London N1 
The Independent (London) March 11, 1999 SECTION: TITLE PAGE; Pg. 1 
> Science Editor BODY: A HIGH-POWERED team of scientists has been 
> appointed to 
> investigate the work of Dr Arpad Pusztai, whose findings triggered a 
> furore 
> over genetically modified (GM) food. The Royal Society, Britain's 
> most 
> eminent body of scientists, has asked six of the country's leading 
> scientists to review the data that led Dr Pusztai to warn that people 
> who 
> eat GM food are "unwitting guinea pigs in a mass experiment". The six 
> specialists were selected by the Royal Society for their expertise in 
> different disciplines and their independence from the Pusztai affair. 
> None 
> has commented publicly on the controversy. 
> It is almost unprecedented for the Royal Society to 
> establish what is effectively an independent peer review of a 
> scientist's unpublished work. It was brought about because of 
> the intense publicity associated with the Pusztai affair. 
> Last August, the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen 
> suspended Dr Pusztai after he claimed in a television interview 
> that rats fed GM potatoes had stunted growth and a defective 
> immune system. The institute said Dr Pusztai had no evidence on 
> which to base his assertions and claimed that he had become 
> "muddled" over experiments that had not taken place. In 
> February, 20 scientists, mostly friends of Dr Pusztai, signed a 
> memorandum supporting him, citing new evidence. 
> The members of the review team include experts in 
> statistics, nutrition, animal genetics, epidemiology and 
> pharmacology. They will report their findings next month.
> ======#====== 
> The Northern Echo March 11, 1999
BYLINE: Chris Lloyd 
BODY: THROUGH hype and scare 
> stories - a strange process that passeth the understanding of 
> science - 
> the public is convincing itself that genetically modified food is 
> somehow 
> unsafe. It is unsafe because the scientists - mad boffins in 
> long 
> white coats who carry fuming test-tubes around isolated labs while 
> laughing 
> manically - are somehow meddling with Nature, messing with God's 
> patent. It 
> is because they are fiddling with our future, somehow storing up 
> problems 
> for our children. It is because of the unsavoury taste left in the 
> mouth by 
> multi- 
> national businesses funding the President's election campaign 
> while peddling their suspect wares for profit. It is because of 
> the use of complex chemicals which are said to do strange things 
> to the inside of rats and cause fish to change sex. Such 
> gut-feelings are affecting the High Street. On Monday, 
> supermarket chain Asda gained positive publicity when it said it 
> was trying its hardest to remove all traces of GM foods from its 
> own brands. Yesterday, a survey for a health magazine suggested 
> that 86 per cent of shoppers would use a supermarket that could 
> guarantee GM-free foods and 84 per cent of them were prepared to 
> travel twice their normal distance to reach the 'clean' shop. 
> There is, therefore, only one question to ask Professor Janet 
> Bainbridge. She is head of the School of Science and Technology 
> at Teesside University and chair of the health safety committee 
> that advises the Government on GM foods. It is her committee, 
> the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, that Tony 
> Blair has so much faith in that he publicly announced that he 
> was happy to eat GM foods. 
> That question is: why do you say these new foods are safe? 
> "We have the most robust and stringent regulatory system in the 
> world," Prof Bainbridge replies. "GM foods that are approved for 
> sale are scrutinised in incredible detail. We ask for 13 
> different categories of scientific information. We ask for 
> information about the source of the food and information about 
> how it is processed. We need three subsets of genetic 
> information about the gene inserts - we ask about the insert's 
> stability, its expression (how it works in the food) and how it 
> arrives in the GM cell. We need nutritional data, toxicological 
> data and to know how it's going to be grown." Sitting in her 
> large office in Middlesbrough - its slabby 1960s-style 
> construction humanised by a fine collection of green plants - 
> this advocate of what the tabloids call "Frankenstein foods" do- 
> esn't have two heads; nor does she glow in the dark. She is 
> normal, rational and sane and, to boot, she is the mother of two 
> young children. 
> She continues with her answer: "Consider our conventional 
> foods. They are the result of an agricultural process which has 
> evolved over centuries, a process based on strain selection and 
> hybridisation and the use of chemicals. Yet we know absolutely 
> nothing about their genetics. Many conventional foods have 
> specific problems: if you don't soak beans they are toxic; 
> coffee contains caffeine; the common potato goes green in the 
> light and that green substance is toxic. 
> "Many of those things would be sufficient for us to reject them 
> under the current system and that's the basis on which I say GM 
> foods are safe." Originally from Kent, Prof Bainbridge 
> qualified as a microbiologist at Newcastle University and worked 
> in industry before doing a PhD in applied biochemistry at 
> Durham. She has worked at Teesside for 19 years and is regarded 
> as an international expert in her field. She was appointed to 
> advise the Government 18 months ago - she stresses that she has 
> no political connections and, as an academic, has no commercial 
> axe to grind either - and sees "tremendous advantages" in 
> developing GM technology. 
> "We can increase crop yields," she says. "We can improve the 
> climate range in which crops grow, perhaps by making them 
> drought resistant so they can be grown in arid areas. The 
> world's food supply is growing by two per cent a year but its 
> population is growing by four per cent so there is an imbalance 
> that needs to be addressed. 
> "We can improve flavour and taste. We can make it so we use 
> less pesticides. We can improve nutritional values. If we can 
> put proteins into rice where rice is a staple food it will have 
> a major effect. For ourselves, we can lower cholesterol or 
> improve vitamin content. 
> "Potatoes are being developed with a modified starch content 
> which means they absorb less fat. I have children. I am 
> realistic and pragmatic. I know there's no way I could ban chips 
> or crisps no matter how bad they are for the children's health 
> but chips from GM potatoes could be much more healthy. 
> "Peanut allergies are very serious but if you could genetically 
> modify a peanut so that it is non-allergenic, the public would 
> say it was a great technological achievement. That will come." 
> Prof Bainbridge's committee deals purely with the food 
> safety aspect of genetic engineering and she doesn't feel 
> qualified to discuss the many environmental concerns about 
> growing GM plants. However, she is interested in the moral 
> aspect of her work and defends genetic engineering against 
> accusations that its messing with Nature. 
> "I don't think it was wrong that we interfered with Nature 
> and started vaccinating people against smallpox or diptheria," 
> she says. "I would like to think that biotechnology would also 
> be able to cure cystic fibrosis or haemophilia. 
> "Science and morality are not incompatible and you could 
> argue that if you can use biotechnology for the good of people 
> who are starving, it would be immoral not to. At a conference 
> recently I met an African delegate whose village depends upon 
> selling bananas. Her people were very poor and she was saying: 
> 'Forget regulations, just give us a GM banana so we can increase 
> yield which will make all the difference to all the families in 
> my village'." Prof Bainbridge understands why the public is 
> sceptical about the benefits of GM. "The science is extremely 
> complex," she says. "If you try to go deeply into it, I end up 
> saying: 'If I go any further you won't understand'. That sounds 
> patronising, so Joe Public errs on the side of caution." She 
> continues: "When agriculture was based on horses pulling 
> ploughs, people were very suspicious of new-fangled practices 
> like tractors, and if a protest group wanted to look at the 
> number of people who had fallen under tractors and been killed, 
> it could say tractors were a disaster. But I don't think anyone 
> with a modicum of commonsense would say that we shouldn't have 
> tractors in this day and age. 
> "I think GM is a bit like that. It is lack of confidence and 
> faith in a new technology, particularly as it comes on the back 
> of so many food scares and because so many protest groups see it 
> as a mission." 
> However, she doesn't believe that a moratorium would help allay 
> fears, particularly as GM food is so accepted in the US which 
> exports large quantities of food to this country. But she is 
> very keen that labelling of foods is improved so the British 
> people can make their choice. 
> "The propaganda battle is being lost but eventually things 
> will quieten down and I don't think it will be the end of 
> technology," she says. "Today you have conventional and organic 
> products and you pay a premium for organic. The day will come 
> when people accept that conventional stuff contains GM but you 
> will be able to buy non-GM at a premium. I suspect it will be a 
> very high premium." All of which leaves one last question: 
> does Prof Bainbridge pass the John Selwyn Gummer test? When 
> Agriculture Minister at the height of the BSE crisis, he 
> confidently fed his daughter Cordelia on a beefburger. Do Prof 
> Bainbridge's children, aged eight and ten, dine on genetically 
> -modified food in their North Yorkshire home? 
> Says their mother: "I don't have any hang-ups about them 
> eating GM food, although I don't buy much processed food because 
> I prefer to start from scratch with my cooking." 
> Does this change any gut-feelings? 

> ======#====== 
> THE HINDU March 11, 1999 
 India- Call to impose non-tariff barriers 
BYLINE: Our Special Correspondent CHENNAI, March 10. 
> BODY: The demands for getting justice to India and other developing 
> countries in future negotiations at the World Trade Organisation 
> (WTO) 
> dominated discussions at a national colloquium held here on Sunday 
> which 
> issued an appeal styled the 'Chennai Declaration'. While most of the 
> speakers from the scientific community and other fields emphasised 
> the need 
> to protect the country's interests from what they perceived was an 
> unjust 
> order being brought about by the WTO, one of the eminent 
> participants, 
> however, emphasised that the WTO itself was only 
> adjusting to the process of globalisation brought about by 
> technological changes and that a negative attitude towards the 
> organisation was not a healthy response. 
> The colloquium was organised by the Catalyst Trust, Chennai, 
> jointly with the Dr.M.S.Swaminathan Foundation, Chennai, and the 
> Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS), Jaipur. 
> Addressing the opening session, Dr.M.S.Swaminathan said 
> there was no question of a level-playing field between the 
> developed countries which spent billions of dollars on 
> infrastructure for agriculture and countries like India marked 
> by rural backwardness and poverty. He urged policy-makers to be 
> prepared with a well- conceived and well-argued "precautionary 
> package of non-tariff barriers (NTBs)" that could be placed 
> before the WTO during the review of the Marrakesh Agreement. 
> Declaring that protecting mass employment as a means of 
> protecting access to income and thus food security could be a 
> legitimate ground for placing NTBs on imports, Dr.Swaminathan 
> cautioned against dumping of banned chemicals by developed 
> countries and the social impact of allowing genetically 
> modified organisms ( GMOs) . 
> Khadi should be promoted in the world market as an eco-friendly 
> material and niche products of Indian origin should be 
> identified for coverage under the category of 'geographical 
> appellation', he said. He also called for recognition and 
> rewarding of community knowledge and ensuring ethics and equity 
> in the preservation and use of biological resources. 
> Dr.S.Kalyanaraman (Saraswathi Research Centre, Chennai), 
> said China and India should set the world trade agenda for the 
> next millennium and cooperate to protect the developing 
> countries from the "exploitative and unethical practices" of 
> transnational corporations (TNCs). With mega cross-border 
> mergers between TNCs, governments even in developed countries 
> were becoming "mouthpieces" of the corporations, he said. 
> Dr.Pushpa Bhargava alleged that a TNC in the seed business 
> had exploited the ignorance of the Indian farmer. He demanded a 
> ban on seeds import or a test for five years before permitting 
> marketing of imported seeds. No product patent should be given 
> to genetically engineered products, he added. 
> Dr.P.K.Ghosh, Advisor to the Department of Biotechnology of 
> the Union Government, said developing countries should try to 
> expand the purview of "public domain" (with respect to prior 
> knowledge of a product/process) to prevent exploitative use of 
> the patent regime by developed countries. Mr.A.V.Ganesan, former 
> Commerce Secretary, sounding a somewhat different note, said the 
> WTO, as a successor to GATT, represented an attempt to adopt the 
> rule-based world trade regime to the changes brought about by 
> the revolution in the communication, computer and transportation 
> technologies. The right approach to the WTO would be to "accept 
> what cannot be changed and demand changes in what cannot be 
> accepted". 
> The TRIPS agreement did not impose any bar on any country 
> exercising sovereignty over its bioresources or rewarding 
> communities for traditional knowledge or practices. The 
> provisions on product patent on drugs in the TRIPS agreement was 
> only intended to prevent industries in member-countries copying 
> drugs developed at huge cost in developed countries. 
> A lot of issues often cited in the debate on the WTO like 
> impact of export of agricultural raw material and grain and 
> subsidising the consumer of food through the PDS were 
> essentially domestic issues having no bearing on the WTO, 
> Mr.Ganesan said. 
> Declaring that "globalisation cannot be wished away", he 
> said inclusion of agriculture on the agenda of the GATT (and 
> restrictions on subsidies) had affected mostly developed 
> countries whose agriculture was "subsidy-driven", while 
> countries like India had negative subsidy (or net taxation) on 
> agriculture, he said. 
> Copyright(C) 1999 The Hindu 
> ======#====== 
> Daily Record March 11, 1999, 
BODY: NINE out of ten shoppers would 
> switch supermarkets to avoid genetically modified food, a survey 
> shows. 
> They would travel up to double the distance to a store which banned 
> all 
> modified ingredients. Food safety concerns are at an all-time high, 
> according to the Here's Health magazine poll. And consumers are so 
> desperate to avoid GM products that 86 per cent would change to a 
> supermarket which banned them. All previous research has shown that 
> people 
> simply shop at their most convenient store, so this new finding 
> underlines 
> the scale of public alarm. Shoppers also believe they're being kept 
> in 
> the dark about the use of GM ingredients. 
> A total of 93 per cent say they don't think products are 
> clearly labelled. Iceland is the only national chain to 
> adopt a blanket ban on GM ingredients in its own- label 
> products. 
> Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Marks & Spencer have all cut 
> down on GM foods, but say a total ban would be very difficult to 
> enforce. 
> The British are particularly alarmed about so-called 
> Frankenstein Foods after being battered by previous health 
> scares. 
> The survey shows 77 per cent of people still worry about the 
> threat of BSE. Eight out of ten think they could eat far 
> more healthily if manufacturers used fewer additives and 
> pesticides. 
> Asked what words they are most likely to respond to on a label, 
> 73 per cent said "additive free" and 72 per cent said "natural". 
> Elaine Griffiths of Here's Health said: "Food safety is the 
> issue of our times. 
> "Supermarkets wise and brave enough to ban GM foods and 
> provide an increasing range of organic products will secure a 
> flood of new customers. "Consumers are fed up with being 
> fobbed off and are becoming increasingly incensed at being used 
> as guinea pigs. 
> "It is outrageous the way supermarket chains are abusing the 
> choice available." 

> ======#====== 
> Daily Record March 11, 1999, 
BODY: THE Kirk has condemned the 
> introduction of Frankenstein foods to Britain as "a serious failure 
> of 
> democracy". A hard-hitting report criticises the way genetically - 
> modified ingredients have been added to products without public 
> consultation. And it warns of a consumer backlash unless the 
> Government 
> imposes strict labelling rules on all foods containing GM 
> ingredients. The 
> report from the Church of Scotland's Society, Religion and Technology 
> Project attacks companies behind GM food, such as Monsanto. It 
> states: 
> "The companies' failure to segregate 
> modified and unmodified products is an unacceptably aggressive 
> attitude towards the public of another nation." 
> The report also attacks the EC for giving its "express 
> approval" to GM foods for fear of a trade war with the US. And 
> it strongly condemns the way profit has been allowed to come 
> before people. 
> It states: "There is an urgent need to bring the driving 
> forces behind the research and marketing of transgenic food back 
> into proper democratic accountability." 
> Yesterday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture said 
> they would make an announcement next week on GM food and 
> promised to "have the most comprehensive labelling regulations 
> in Europe".

GMO News 03/12 

> ======#====== 
> Radowitz, Science Correspondent, PA News The Government needs to be 
> more in 
> tune with the public's awareness of science and technology, science 
> minister 
> Lord Sainsbury said today. He has ordered a review of the way the 
> Government 
> handles scientific issues of public concern such as genetic 
> engineering and 
> cloning. 
> There will be consultation and research into public knowledge and 
> attitudes about science which could be used to inform policy making. 
> At the launch in London of the sixth national Science Week, Lord 
> Sainsbury said: 
> "I'm very concerned about our lack of knowledge about what the 
> public really think and know. 
> "One of the things I learned as a businessman is that any 
> organisation which doesn't understand its customers doesn't have 
> much of a future." The Government is anxious to repair the 
> damage caused by the controversy surrounding genetically 
> modified food and GM crops, which showed it to be badly out of 
> step with public opinion. 
> "I'm determined that by this time next year we'll have an 
> action plan to take science communication forward to the next 
> millennium," Lord Sainsbury told a breakfast reception attended 
> by some of the most eminent figures in the scientific 
> establishment. 
> Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) '99 -- 10 days of 
> events around the country dedicated to popularising scientific 
> research -- had two important roles to play, he said. 
> It helped to recruit the potential scientists and engineers 
> of the future and also enabled the public to become involved in 
> scientific debate. There had never been a time when both 
> goals were more vital, said Lord Sainsbury. 
> "In the future our lives are likely to be altered radically 
> by the science revolution taking place in IT, new materials, and 
> biotechnology," he added. Top scientists will be taking time 
> out from their laboratories to meet the public during SET '99. 
> Among them is leading cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking, 
> who today launches a series of events in Cambridge to mark the 
> sixth National Science Week. 
> Professor Hawking is giving a talk on how science and 
> technology might develop over the next 1,000 years. 
> Across the country, more than a million visitors are expected 
> to attend thousands of lectures, workshops and demonstrations. 
> Topics include the origins of the universe, space travel, 
> dinosaurs, computers and genetics. 
> Two Russian cosmonauts, Alexander Volkov and Alexander 
> Martynov, make an appearance in Cambridge to talk about space 
> travel. 
> BBC Online and the Tomorrow's World programme have offered 
> audiences the chance to take part in an unusual experiment 
> during the week. Visitors to the Tomorrow's World website 
> were invited to chat with one of three randomly-assigned 
> characters and then judge whether they were talking to a real 
> person or a computer program. The results will be given on 
> Megalab '99 live on BBC1 on March 17. 
> Science is also being taken to the heart of Government, in 
> the form of a showcase celebrating the best of British research 
> at the House of Commons. It will include a contribution of 
> posters from 300 young researchers from around the country. 
> Last year, SET '98 saw more than 7,000 events held across the 
> UK and attracted more than 1.2 million visitors. 

> ======#====== 
> Aberdeen Press and Journal March 11, 1999 
> Church accuses GM companies on ethics 
BODY: COMPANIES behind genetically 
> modified (GM) food have been accused of unethical practice in a 
> damning 
> Church of Scotland report. In a report to the General Assembly, the 
> Kirk's National Mission has condemned it, following a five-year 
> study, as 
> little more than a profit-making machine. It says it does not 
> believe GM 
> food itself is unethical but the way it is being used is. Study 
> director 
> Donald Bruce said: "We do not doubt the potential that the crops 
> could 
> have for good use, but the moral stance of claiming 'we need this to 
> feed 
> the world' is not being borne out. If there was a significant change 
> in 
> that - and a lot more 
> resources were put into creating crops suitable for raising in 
> drought conditions, for example - then I think we would be 
> saying that could well be a good way forward." Mr Bruce said 
> there was concern about the way GM foods were being introduced 
> into Europe from the US. 
> He pointed to the controversy surrounding soya and maize from 
> America, which is being used in products on sale in Scotland 
> without any labelling to inform consumers. 
> "There is indignation from people that they are not being 
> given a choice," Mr Bruce said. "It smacks of imperialism - but 
> instead of a Boston Tea Party, this time we could have a 
> Rotterdam Soya Bean Fest with soya and maize dumped in the North 
> Sea." 
> The report into GM food followed a five-year study by 
> Scottish scientists, ethicists and sociologists as part of the 
> Kirk's Society, Religion and Technology project. 
> Genetically modified crops pose unknown risks to wildlife and 
> ecosystems in the British countryside, experts advising the 
> Government told MPs yesterday. Two senior scientists from 
> English Nature said the impact on natural food chains of crops 
> engineered to increase their tolerance to weed killers and 
> resistance to insects had not been assessed. 
> Until the risks were known, no attempt should be made to 
> plant GM crops commercially, they told the Commons Science and 
> Technology Select Committee. English Nature's chief executive 
> officer, Derek Langslow, and Keith Duff, chief scientist, were 
> giving evidence to MPs investigating the way Government policy 
> on GM foods was driven. 
> They said GM crops were likely to make farming practices more 
> intensive, which could have an impact on countryside ecology and 
> threaten wildlife. Mr Duff said: "Our concern is that genetic 
> modification of traits such as herbicide tolerance will allow 
> even more effective management of unwanted species. 
> Opposed 
> "The loss of these weeds will lead to the loss of 
> invertebrates which feed on them and the loss of birds which 
> feed on these." 
> Douglas Parr, director of the environmental pressure group 
> Greenpeace UK, told the committee he was wholly opposed to GM 
> foods and crops because of the inherent unpredictability of the 
> science. 
> Ministers should be listening to the voice of public opinion, 
> which was highly suspicious of GM foods. 
> Also appearing before the committee yesterday were 
> representatives of Monsanto, the multinational seed firm which 
> has extensive interests in the development of GM products. 
> Ann Foster, responsible for the company's government and 
> public relations in the UK, acknowledged its high profile in the 
> field meant it was suffering from an image problem during the 
> present controversy. 

> ======#====== 
> The Guardian (London) March 11, 1999
SECTION: The Guardian Online 
BODY: We are not a clone 'The nuclei from somatic cells of the infertile

> could 
> be transferred to enucleated germinal-stage oocytes and, after 
> meiosis, 
> two haploid genomes (one from each parent) could be combined in a 
> single 
> oocyte. If this approach worked, the resulting child would be a 
> random 
> genetic combination of the parental genomes, the same as every other 
> human.' Davor Solter, of the Max Planck Institute of Immunology in 
> reiburg, and John Gearhart, of the Johns Hopkins University School of 
> Medicine in Baltimore, on how cloning technology could 
> create natural offspring. Science Efficacious harvests 
> 'If we need new drugs, where are we going to go? Space? No. 
> It's sitting right there. It's diverse as hell. And it's waiting 
> for us.' William Fenical, of the Scripps Institution of 
> Oceanography in California, on the potential of the Pacific, and 
> other oceans, to provide medicines for the next millennium. 
> Discover 
> Breaking the silence 
> 'A new technology has been introduced and on the basis of a 
> single published paper . . . in one sense, what I achieved is 
> we're all sitting here talking about it.' 
> Arpad Pusztai, the molecular biologist whose public 
> discussion of his work on genetically modified food led to his 
> summary suspension from the Rowett Research Institute in 
> Aberdeen, presenting evidence to the House of Commons Select 
> Committee for Science and Technology. BBC Newsnight Sweet 
> revenge 
> ' Greenpeace, the environmental pressure group that wants 
> a ban on GM foods, has launched a biodegradeable credit card 
> with the Co-op Bank. Made from a sugar-based polymer called 
> Biopol, it decomposes when put on a compost heap. Greenpeace 
> members may be less pleased to learn, however, that Biopol is 
> made by . . . the Frankenstein food people Monsanto, who are 
> researching ways Biopol can be produced in greater quantity from 
> GM sugar cane and maize.' Greensleaze column. Private Eye 
> Electra guide in purple 
> 'They want you to drive a three-wheeled cockroach that goes 
> 35 miles an hour and if you get hit by a motorcycle, you're 
> dead. No radio, because that's fun. No carpeting, because it 
> might be some animal fibre. Well, we're not going to play their 
> game any more. We are starting a new game.' 
> John 'Plasma Boy' Wayland, self-confessed environmentalist 
> and renegade electric car designer, on the traditional 
> environmental movement and his plans for Purple Phaze, a re- 
> configured Datsun minitruck with a high-voltage battery stack at 
> the rear and 1000 watts of audio under the bonnet. Wired 
> Spinless politics 
> 'One of our most important tasks is to try to have an impact 
> on society. We want to make psychological factors visible, and 
> to show politicians that they need to use these factors to help 
> them make good decisions.' Birgit Hansson, president of the 
> Swedish Psychological Association. The Psychologist 
> Out of the closet 
> 'It needs to be said: Tinky Winky is a hero, and an ideal 
> role model for any child without toes or genitalia.' 
> Paul Rudnick, playwright and screenwriter, on the love that 
> dare not say 'eh -ho' and his former relationship with the outed 
> Teletubby. The New Yorker 
> ======#====== 
> THE JOURNAL (Newcastle, UK) March 11, 1999, 
HEADLINE: GM crops could 'lead to the loss of  insects 
> and birds' BODY: Genetically modified crops pose unknown risks to 
> wildlife and ecosystems, experts advising the Government told MPs 
> yesterday. Two senior scientists from English Nature said the impact 
> on 
> natural food chains of crops engineered to increase tolerance to 
> weed 
> killers and resistance to insects had not been assessed. Until the 
> risks 
> were known no attempt should be made to plant genetically modified 
> crops 
> commercially, they told the Science and Technology Select Committee 
> at the 
> House of Commons. English Nature chief executive officer Dr Derek 
> Langslow and 
> Dr Keith Duff, chief scientist, were giving evidence to MPs 
> investigating the way Government policy concerning genetically 
> modified foods is driven. 
> They said GM crops were likely to make farming more 
> intensive, which could affect ecology and threaten wildlife. 
> Dr Duff said the concern was that greater herbicide tolerance 
> would lead to the greater loss of weeds which would lead to the 
> loss of invertebrates which feed on them, and the loss of birds 
> which feed on the insects. There were also unknown effects 
> which GM crops could have on biodiversity. The duo said 
> English Nature, which advises the Government, was not in 
> principle opposed to GM crops and supported large field 
> experiments since only those could provide the data. 
> Dr Langslow said, so far, ministers appeared to have been 
> listening to the advice English Nature was giving. Dr Douglas 
> Parr, director of environment pressure group Greenpeace UK, 
> said he was wholly opposed to GM foods and crops because of the 
> inherent unpredictability of the science. He said the 
> advisory committees, instead of beginning from a standpoint that 
> genetic modification was desirable, should be listening to 
> public opinion, which was highly suspicious of GM foods. 
> Also before the committee were representatives of Monsanto 
> plc, the multi-national seed firm which has extensive interests 
> in the development of GM products. 
> Ann Foster, responsible for the company's government and 
> public relations in the UK, said: "Whatever we say or do is 
> twisted and turned and spun until it's very difficult to get a 
> fair hearing." 
> She told the committee the company had held discussions with 
> the Government about GM-related issues and all were a matter of 
> public record. 
> ======#====== 
> 03/12 WSJ: Sometimes It Takes A Nuclear Scientist To Decode A Mkt By 
> Thomas 
> Petzinger Jr. Los Alamos, N.M. -- Has commerce become so complex it 
> must 
> turn to nuclear scientists for answers? For a certain category of 
> problems, 
> the answer is yes. Since 1995, several exiles from Los Alamos National 
> Lab 
> have been building a consulting firm that applies bomb science to 
> business 
> affairs. A former plasma physicist helps Monsanto shape product 
> strategy. An 
> expert in laser fusion helps Citigroup cope with international 
> volatility. 
> One scientist, an authority on electron beams, helps focus 
> direct-marketing 
> campaigns for pinpoint precision. Now, after growing to 40 
> scientists and 
> several million in annual revenue, the Center for Adaptive Systems 
> Applications is poised to leap even more deeply into the blue-chip 
> world. 
> Next week the firm, called CASA for short, plans to absorb a division 
> of the 
> consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers that also deals with 
> complex problems. The Big Five firm, in turn, will retain an 
> interest in and collaborate with the scientific boutique. 
> "We're taking consultants from Manhattan and going back to the 
> site of the Manhattan Project," says Winslow Farrell, who heads 
> the PricewaterhouseCoopers unit. 
> How do these atomic wonks get away with advising business? The 
> answer begins with a computer scientist named John Davies. 
> In 1978, after working in the space program, Mr. Davies joined 
> Citicorp, now Citigroup, to help create cutting-edge computer 
> applications. This work eventually exposed him to a pet interest 
> of Citicorp Chairman John Reed: complexity theory. (It's also a 
> favorite subject of mine, as regular readers know.) 
> WHAT IS complexity theory? For one thing, it's misnamed. The 
> scientists who created it should have called it simplicity 
> theory, because it explains how order springs from disorder. 
> Under the right conditions, large, seemingly chaotic systems 
> (bees, businesses, air currents, computers) will, all by 
> themselves, organize into well-ordered states (hives, stock 
> markets, thunderstorms, the Internet). These "complex adaptive 
> systems," as scientists call them, continually change by 
> interacting with, and adjusting to, all that surrounds them. 
> Studying the wildly erratic data generated by these systems 
> often requires the same kind of byzantine mathematics used in 
> weapons research (called nonlinear dynamics). Thus, in the 
> 1980s, Los Alamos and the surrounding scientific community 
> became a hotbed of study in all kinds of complex adaptive 
> systems. Then came the early 1990s. John Davies was downsized 
> out of Citicorp. He joined Los Alamos to find ways of putting 
> the lab's mathematics to work studying the complex systems of 
> business. A few years later, with the lab's blessing, he and 
> some others quit to conduct this work commercially. 
> CASA's first client was one of his former Citicorp bosses: 
> Colin Crook, then chief technology officer. Mr. Crook handed 
> over a mountain of credit histories from which the scientists 
> created new formulas for scoring card applicants and spotting 
> frauds. The bank also turned over customer-service records of 
> millions of incoming phone calls. CASA, in turn, uncovered 
> patterns that helped Citicorp cut staff in its call centers 
> while improving response times. More recently, CASA provided 
> simulation software to help employees increase their intuition 
> and expertise in responding to economic turbulence. 
> "There are a lot of self-organizing forces out there in 
> consumer behavior," notes Mr. Crook, who joined CASA's board 
> after retiring from Citicorp in 1997. But, he adds, "you need 
> the right tool set, and the right mind-set, to find them." 
> CASA now serves several huge clients, but most demand strict 
> confidentiality. (Nuclear scientists know how to keep secrets, 
> notwithstanding this week's concern about possible Los Alamos 
> leaks to China). 
> ONE OTHER CASA client, Monsanto, confirms engaging the firm to 
> develop software to help product managers plot their marketing 
> moves. "There's a set of business problems with so many 
> variables, you can't get your arms around them," says Pat 
> Fortune, Monsanto's chief information officer. "But with a 
> complex adaptive model, the marketing people can conduct serious 
> strategic and tactical analysis." 
> When I first met Mr. Davies, three years ago, he acknowledged 
> his firm would have to join forces with a big outfit. CASA's 
> intellectual property - its golden algorithms and software 
> programs - could apply to more clients, but nuclear scientists 
> aren't known for their sales skills. A short time later, he met 
> Win Farrell. 
> I first wrote about Mr. Farrell two years ago. With a small 
> band of math whizzes and social scientists at 
> PricewaterhouseCoopers, he created a program to simulate the 
> buying actions of 200,000 actual Americans (a "focus group of 
> 200,000," he claims). Tweaking the parameters of a marketing 
> campaign, clients could watch these consumers cluster into 
> buying patterns - a complex adaptive system evolving on the 
> computer screen. 
> Mr. Davies and Mr. Farrell explored not only what their work 
> had in common but also how it differed. By combining their 
> respective tools and data sets, they figured they could model 
> consumer behavior with a richness that neither firm could 
> accomplish independently. Soon, prospective partner firms in 
> Japan and Switzerland will provide more data so CASA can model 
> the behavior of millions, maybe billions, of consumers. 
> Also in the works: Connecting clients directly to CASA's 
> computers so businesses can transmit their data and model their 
> problems the moment they occur - and adapt in real time. 
> (END) DOW JONES NEWS 03-12-99 
> 12:37 AM 

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

> Agence France Presse 
HEADLINE: Carlsberg to keep modified maize out of beer 
BODY: Danish brewer Carlsberg plans to 
> prohibit use of maize in the production of its beer in future to avoid 
> controversial genetically modified varieties, a spokesman said 
> Friday. 
> The company says this is not because of any perceived danger but 
> because of 
> public attitudes. The spokesman denied reports that Carlsberg was 
> planning 
> to abandon maize immediately or in the near future. He said the 
> company 
> still had guarantees for its supplies of natural maize, 
> and also had the means to carry out checks. "However if we do 
> not succeed in obtaining maize which has not been genetically 
> modified we will find alternative products to replace it," the 
> spokesman, Henrik Moelstroem, told AFP. 
> Carlsberg has been using maize for 40 years in its beer, 
> together with malt and hops. 
> It currently imports maize from France which produces 
> relatively little genetically modified maize compared with the 
> United States, Denmark's main maize supplier. 
> Carlsberg refuses to use genetically -modified products "not 
> because they are dangerous but because Danish consumers don't 
> want them," said Merethe Guldborg, head of quality control. 
> "We have nothing against the technology," she said. "Indeed, 
> genetic modification creates certain environmental advantages, 
> allowing reduction in use of pesticides and herbicides during 
> cultivation." 
> ======#====== 
> The Grocer March 13, 1999 S
GMO update: off the fast food menu 
BODY: Asda tells suppliers it wants them to stop 
> using ingredients that may be derived from GM sources in its own 
> label 
> lines. The ban comes five months after the chain started to drop GM 
> soya 
> and maize from its products A survey carried out by Friends of the 
> Earth 
> shows PizzaExpress, Domino Pizza and Wimpy are GM free, while 
> Burger King 
> and KFC are among those chains trying to go down the same route 
> -Commons Science and Technology Committee hears former Rowett 
> Research 
> Institute scientist Arpad Puztai say the public are 
> being used as guinea pigs over GM foods 
> -Top scientist Philip James tells the Committee that more 
> effective and accurate screening methods are needed to monitor 
> GMOs, while Monsanto says it has been branded the "devil 
> incarnate" 
> -International development charity Panos publishes a report 
> calling for a reasoned debate on whether GMOs will help 
> developing nations solve their food supply problems 
> -The Daily Mail launches an anti GM campaign dubbed Genetic 
> Food Watch. One of its stories highlights a project under way 
> in North America to grow genetically modified salmon it dubs 
> Frankenfish' 
> The Grocer March 13, 1999 
Monsanto:  we messed up 
BODY: Monsanto has admitted it messed up the introduction of  the 
> first GM products to Europe. Sir Dominic Cadbury, president of the 
> Food and 
> Drink Federation, says the biotech giant now accepts future GM 
> ingredients 
> must be segregated from conventional crops. The pledge came from 
> senior 
> Monsanto executive Hugh Grant, Sir Dominic told the FDF dinner. He 
> said the 
> FDF would continue to work on the unresolved issues surrounding GMO 
> labelling. "We are urging Brussels to decide on the threshold and the 
> negative list. Until these questions are decided, there will continue 
> to be 
> conflicting labelling practice. Blanket labelling is not helpful as it 
> denies the consumer choice." 
> He said the industry was committed to providing customers 
> with the right sort of information and highlighted its work on 
> the labelling of food allergens and its contribution to the 
> joint health claims initiative. But he said the industry must 
> resist the pressure exerted by every lobby group to list their 
> particular hobby horse. "Clearly, if all the requests for data 
> were to be met labels would either be bigger than the products 
> or impossible to decipher." l FDF figures show food and drink 
> exports worldwide fell 4.7% or by L 500m last year, although by 
> only 1% to other EU countries. Sir Dominic said sister companies 
> in multinationals were undercutting their UK counterparts on 
> price. However, breakfast cereals and biscuits manufacturers 
> grew their exports 12% and 2% respectively. 
> ======#====== 
> The Grocer March 13, 1999 
 HEADLINE: Freshlands plans 20 superstores 
BODY: Organic retailer Freshlands has unveiled an 
> ambitious plan to open 20 supermarkets in and around London over the 
> next  five years. The new chain which opens its first store in Camden on 
> March 24 is headed and backed by Hass Hassan. He was previously president 
> of  Wild Oats, where he was instrumental in building the alfafa chain 
> into  the second largest natural food retailer in the US. To run the new 
> business over here, Hassan has formed a management team comprising 
> five directors with more than 60 years' experience in the natural food 
> business  in the UK and US. 
> The stores will stock 1,500 organic lines many of them not 
> stocked by conventional supermarkets. Freshlands hopes most of 
> the products will eventually be sourced locally, and said it 
> would never knowingly stock any genetically modified lines. 
> ======#====== 
Aust gene food conference says more information needed 
> BYLINE: By  Stephen Spencer 
 A landmark conference  today 
> called for comprehensive labelling of genetically modified food 
> and a 
> halt to the import and development of such food until a new 
> regulatory 
> regime was established. The food industry welcomed the findings 
> which it 
> said gave the green light for the sale here of genetically modified 
> foods. The consensus conference brought together 14 lay people who 
> questioned experts of genetically modified foods and 
> others with an interest in the topic. 
> Their report released today was hailed by Australian 
> Democrats Deputy Leader Natasha Stott Despoja because of its 
> call for comprehensive labelling to allow consumers to decide 
> whether or not they bought such foods. "A labelling scheme 
> at every step of the process, so that you know how that 
> particular food has been altered or modified," she told 
> reporters. "So that consumers have the right to make an informed 
> choice about the products they are not only buying but they are 
> actually eating and consuming." The Australian Food and 
> Grocery Council, the peak body for Australia's big food 
> producers, also declared its satisfaction with the outcome. 
> "The report they produced recognised that gene technology is 
> potentially a very useful technology and the benefits of it 
> should be taken forward," council scientific and technical 
> director Dr Geoffrey Annison told AAP. "It's the green light 
> to a cautious and deliberate approach to the technology with 
> appropriate and open regulation." 
> Dr Annison said gene technology had the potential to provide 
> consumers with enhanced benefits, and could earn billions of 
> dollars in export income for Australia. 
> The CSIRO also hailed the conference outcome. 
> "Gene technology is vital to Australia's future, our 
> environment and our competitive position in the world, but it 
> needs the certainty of effective regulatory arrangements and 
> public confidence in its safety and effectiveness," Chief 
> executive Dr Malcom McIntosh said. 
> "This report endorses that view." 
> However, the National Farmers' Federation expressed concern 
> about the labelling of genetically modified products, saying 
> it could "create immense confusion". 
> "Labelling the end product, because of its production 
> process, would not be meaningful, where the product is 
> substantially equivalent," NFF Vice President Brendan Stewart 
> said. 
> He said the ban on imports and new genetically modified 
> products could also lead to trade sanctions against Australia 
> and set back the local food industry. 

> ======#====== 
> The Dominion (Wellington) March 12, 1999 
> HEADLINE: Greens say they may strike at crops again 
> BODY: RADICAL greenies have said they might strike again after 
> destroying  a research plot of genetically engineered potato crops near 
> Christchurch early yesterday. The raiders, members of a "direct 
> action"  youth activist section of the Green Party, drew sympathy from
> co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. Though not condoning breaking the 
> law, she said she  "certainly understood the frustration" that drove her
members to the 
> action. Police are investigating the early-morning raid on a Crop 
> and 
> Food Research Institute test site at Lincoln, near Christchurch. 
> The science programme of three researchers has been set back by 
> at least 12 months. Responsibility has been admitted by a 
> Green Party faction styled "The Wild Greens". The group's 
> spokesman is Nandor Tanczos. Ms Fitzsimons's office confirmed 
> last night that he would be a candidate for the party in this 
> year's elections, "probably a list candidate". 
> Ironically, part of the Lincoln research intent was to assess 
> the safety of genetically engineered potatoes. 
> In breaching containment of the trial the raiders could have 
> increased the risk of spreading the modified material, 
> scientists said. Mr Tanczos issued a statement saying there were 
> times when "it becomes a duty to break the law in order to do 
> what is right". 
> "These plants were being grown despite the serious health and 
> environmental risks they could easily have caused." He said the 
> plants could expose people to "frequent doses of broad spectrum 
> antibiotics and we'd run the risk of creating widespread 
> antibiotic resistance". 
> Institute chief executive Michael Dunbier said the trials, 
> also aimed at producing disease and pest-resistant plants to 
> reduce the use of chemicals, had been approved by the 
> Environmental Risk Management Authority and undergone 
> international research scrutiny. The trial had been damaged 
> beyond repair. Ms Fitzsimons said it was impossible to tell 
> if the research crops were "safe". And the fact that there was 
> no avenue for broader debate on whether modified crops should be 
> in New Zealand at all, strengthened her call for a royal 
> commission. 
> Safe Food campaigner Sue Kedgley said the act was a symptom 
> of the "incredible frustration and emotion" felt by ordinary 
> people around the world. Asked if she condoned the act, she 
> said: "I certainly don't condemn it." Meanwhile, Prime 
> Minister Jenny Shipley's office indicated that her call for a 
> system of mandatory labelling could soon be the subject of an 
> investigation by a group of experts and consumers. 
> But a spokesman rejected claims by the opposition that Mrs 
> Shipley had changed her stance to suit an election year. Last 
> year she had opposed a private member's bill seeking the 
> labelling of genetically modified foods because it was "badly 
> framed, manufacturers couldn't live with it, it would incur high 
> costs and wouldn't work". 
> "The Government would still oppose that bill," the spokesman 
> said. Editorial p8 

> ======#====== 
> The Dominion (Wellington) March 12, 1999 
: Public's right to know 
BODY: THE Wild Greens' destruction of  a research plot of genetically modified
potatoes at Lincoln raises  the 
> stakes in what could have been -- and still could be -- a sensible 
> debate  about the implications of the new technology for the food we eat. 
> The  irony is that if facts are to determine the public's acceptance or 
> otherwise of genetically modified foods, they will never be 
> established  by idiotic sabotage of responsible research. More positive is
> Minister Jenny Shipley's softening of the Government's hostility to 
> any  requirement to label 
> genetically modified food. Only six months ago she prevailed on 
> party waverer Christine Fletcher to suppress her support for a 
> private member's bill aimed at making labelling compulsory and 
> vote with the Government instead, so ensuring the bill's defeat 
> in a 60-60 vote. Since then Associate Health Minister Tuariki 
> Delamere has been adamant that labelling would be unworkable, 
> costly and could lead to trade disputes with countries wanting 
> to export modified products. But the ground has been crumbling 
> from under the Government's feet. 
> In December the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council 
> voted to make labelling mandatory. An outcry in Britain and 
> Europe has brought modified food squarely on to the political 
> agenda there. This week the Royal New Zealand College of General 
> Practitioners raised concerns over health and the environment, 
> urging caution till more is known and pointedly reminding the 
> Government of its duty to protect the public from harm. The 
> public is now more aware that this is an issue that concerns 
> them directly. 
> The sensible course lies somewhere between calls to ban 
> modified foods outright and the laissez-faire attitude favoured 
> by some scientists, food and biotechnology companies, and 
> traders. Just as genetic engineering has produced beneficial 
> new drugs, modifying crops could increase yields, improve 
> quality, add to growers' returns and, hopefully, lower prices. 
> Some genetic modification takes place naturally. Some is 
> engineered by traditional breeding techniques. Scientists 
> implanting specific genes can now do the job more precisely. 
> Besides potatoes, New Zealand has undertaken research on sugar 
> beet, maize, peas, broccoli, rape, canola, barley, apples, 
> kiwifruit, tamarillos, radiata pine, flowers, and breeding sheep 
> to produce a human protein in their milk. Much of this research, 
> as with Lincoln's potatoes, is intended to combat diseases, 
> insects or viruses, or to make crops resistant to herbicides. 
> The public interest is not to stop the scientists in their 
> tracks, but to demand full accountability and transparency. That 
> means placing the burden of proof of safety (and liability for 
> harmful outcomes) on the innovator, insisting on verifiable 
> testing before and after release, informing of the presence of 
> modified elements in foods through disclosure at each stage of 
> processing, and labelling the end product. 
> Without that, the public will remain justifiably sceptical 
> over bland safety assurances. The ball is in the Government's 
> court. 

> ======#====== 
> Financial Times (London) March 12, 1999, 
HEADLINE: GM crops may affect land value NEWS 
> DIGEST: BODY: AGRICULTURE GM crops may affect land value The Royal 
> Institute of Chartered Surveyors, which represents the managers of 
> most of 
> the UK's agricultural land, has told the government that growing 
> genetically modified crops could potentially affect the value of 
> farmland. 
> "If there is a perception by buyers of land that they would prefer 
> not to 
> buy land that has grown GM crops we might find a price differential 
> appearing," said Peter Faulkner, president of RICS' rural practice 
> division 
> yesterday. In a submission to the government's review of the 
> framework 
> for overseeing developments 
> in biotechnology, RICS raised the possibility that tenant 
> farmers who grow GM crops may have to compensate landowners for 
> any shortfall in the price of the land. Vanessa Houlder 

> ======#====== 
> Financial Times (London) March 12, 1999, 
HEADLINE: Waitrose moves towards ban 
> BODY: MODIFIED INGREDIENTS Waitrose moves towards ban Waitrose, the 
> grocery division of the John Lewis Partnership, is to ban 
> genetically 
> modified ingredients from its own-label foods. The supermarket 
> chain, 
> which has 117 branches, said it expected to complete the exclusion of 
> GM 
> soya and maize from Waitrose foods and petfoods in the next two 
> weeks. It 
> also intended to remove oils, additives and other derivatives of GM 
> crops 
> wherever possible. On Monday, Asda said it was moving towards 
> excluding 
> GM 
> ingredients in own-label products - a step taken by Iceland, the 
> frozen-food retailer - last year. John Willman 
> ======#====== 
> The Independent (London) March 12, 1999 SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 9 
BYLINE: Fran Abrams Westminster  Correspondent 
> BODY: LORD SAINSBURY of Turville, the minister at the centre of the 
> recent 
> controversy over genetically modified food, is to head a government 
> team to 
> promote GM food companies, The Independent has learnt. The Science 
> minister 
> will be joined by representatives of food and medical biotechnology 
> companies, whose names have not yet been made public. The initiative 
> aims to 
> boost "clusters" of biotechnology companies that have sprung up in 
> Oxford, 
> Cambridge and Dundee. 
> Lord Sainsbury has major interests in companies developing the 
> technology 
> for GM foods. These interests are now in a blind trust and he has 
> promised 
> not to get involved in policy-making on GM food. But he has already 
> been 
> criticised for leading a biotechnology trade mission to Korea and for 
> sitting on a cabinet sub-committee dealing with the issue. 
> News of the initiative drew an angry reaction from environmental 
> campaigners, including the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, MP for 
> Lewes. 
> Mr Baker said the Government had given assurances that Lord Sainsbury 
> would 
> not be involved in decisions or discussions on the subject. "Either he 
> is 
> involved and we have been lied to, or he is a lame-duck chairman 
> because 
> he can't talk about these things. He should be replaced," he said. 
> A spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry said the 
> group 
> would only deal "very remotely" with GM food issues. "The policy 
> issues here 
> are about promoting industry within the cluster arrangement. It isn't 
> about 
> promoting GM foods," she said. 
> The group is to visit Cambridge, Oxford, Scotland and two US-based 
> biotechnology clusters. It will also hold brainstorming meetings with 
> industry, planning authorities, science park managers and 
> universities. 
> Officials from the Department of Trade and Industry will make 
> information-gathering visits, and the team will publish a report. 
> Among the companies in the Cambridge biotechnology cluster is Axis 
> Genetics, which is developing vaccines from plants. Its chief 
> executive, 
> Iain Cubitt, sat on the board of the Sainsbury Laboratory, which is 
> financed 
> by the Science minister's charity, the Gatsby Foundation. 
> Other firms that could be involved include Plant Breeding 
> International 
> in Cambridge, which runs a number of test sites for GM crops, and the 
> Scottish Crop Research Institute in Dundee. 
> The Science minister has been looking increasingly embattled as 
> revelations about his role appear to contradict his statements on the 
> issue. 
> Lord Sainsbury, whose shareholding in the supermarket is in a blind 
> trust, 
> has also taken charge of another government consultation to which the 
> issue 
> of GM food and crops is central. The Government has asked the 
> pollsters Mori 
> to run a series of focus groups to canvas public opinion on GM crops, 
> genetic testing and cloning. 
> Lord Sainsbury chaired a conference on the consultation in 
> December and 
> took part in a discussion on it in a cabinet committee earlier this 
> month. 

> ======#====== 
> The Independent (London) March 12, 1999, Friday 
BYLINE: Brian Marshall 
BODY: Sir: Horses know 
> instinctively not to eat ragwort and will not willingly do so 
> because it  is poisonous to them. Cattle avoid eating buttercups for the

> reason. 
> There are many such examples in the wild. Duff Hart- Davis (Country 
> Matters, 6 March) gives us another, that pheasants will not 
> willingly eat 
> genetically modified maize. Will this information be researched? Let 
> the 
> precautionary principle apply. It is not for us to prove 
> that GM foods may be harmful. It is for Monsanto, Agrevo et al to 
> prove 
> that they never will be. BRIAN MARSHALL 
> Linton, Cambridgeshire 

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