SnowBall archive


GE - news mix 18th March

1) Consumer power rears its head to drive GM food off supermarket shelves 
2) US sends Europe trade war warning on GMOs 
3) Often people who grow trees for lumber or for Christmas trees...
4) Novartis Enters Biotech Race For Cereal Mkt
5) French environmentalists want longer gene crop ban March 16, 1999
6)  Zeneca and Monsanto Announce Global Agreement for Touchdown On Roundup
Ready Crops 
7) Restaurants must declare any GM food 
PUBLICATION Agence France Presse English 
DATE Thu 18 Mar 1999 
SECTION/CATEGORY International News 
BYLINE by Philip Pank 
1) Consumer power rears its head to drive GM food off supermarket shelves 
LONDON, March 18 (AFP) - Hostility to genetically engineered food 
reached a highpoint across Europe Wednesday when leading supermarket 
chains bowed to consumer pressure and decided to chase "Frankenstein 
food" from their shelves. 
In Britain, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer supermarkets announced 
that they would remove all genetically-modified (GM) ingredients from 
their own-brand range. 
The high street giants launched a Europe-wide consortium which also 
grouped the French hypermarket retailer Carrefour, Delhaize of Belgium, 
Migros in Switzerland, Effelunga in Italy and the Irish group 
The group pledged to eek out non-GM sources in farmers' fields and not 
to mix these with known GM crops. 
At present, genetically engineered produce is found in an estimated 60 
percent of processed food. 
The British government is due to clarify its policy on GM crops soon, 
amid calls for a three-year moratorium on planting GM crops here. London 
has recently tempered its wholehearted support for the produce. 
Consumers in Britain and elsewhere have become alarmed at the potential 
health hazards of eating food that has been concocted using genes from 
other species. 
Environmentalists fear that crops implanted with herbicide-resistant 
genes will be sprayed with powerful chemicals that will decimate 
surrounding plant and animal life. 
They are also concerned that nature's ingenuity will create bionic bugs 
capable of withstanding the chemicals used on new super crops. 
"Our customers have indicated to us very clearly that they do not want 
genetically-modified ingredients in their food and we are taking steps 
to offer that guarantee," said a spokeswoman for Sainsbury's, Britain's 
second biggest supermarket chain. 
Britons are slowly waking to the benefits of eating healthy food. 
The change follows a string of food scares here, including the "madcow" 
panic sparked after the government admitted that consumers who ate 
infected beef could contract a fatal brain-wasting disease, a deadly 
outbreak of e-coli food poisoning and a spate of salmonella in eggs. 
Sainsbury's environmental manager Alison Austin said that "by 
establishing verified non-GM sources in the farmer's field and ensuring 
segregation through the supply chain we will be GM free. 
"We always wanted GM and standard crops to be separated and were 
extremely disappointed when this did not happen with the US soya crop." 
The supermarkets said that they would look towards Canada and Brazil for 
supplies of natural soya. 
Retailers complain that the giant US producers cannot guarantee that 
their shipments are free of genetic engineering, because they mix beans 
at source. 
Imports of soya beans from the United States into Europe has emerged as 
a political hot-potato amid a wider dispute between the two trading 
blocks over import policy. 
Three European countries, Italy, Austria and Luxembourg, have imposed 
unilateral bans on US soya imports, despite European Union clearance. 
Consumer groups insist that modified foodstuffs must be clearly labelled 
as such, if indeed they are allowed to be sold at all. 
Senior food campaigner at Friends of the Earth environmental lobby 
group, Pete Riley, said that the British government should "ban GM 
ingredients until tests on their potential health impacts have been 
London has publicly welcomed a voluntary three-year suspension of GM 
crop planting in Britain, a breathing space to better assess the impact 
of GM crops on human health and the environment. 
Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, whose family founded the supermarket 
chain, said: "Obviously the prime requirement is safety and the impact 
on the environment. 
"If this voluntary arrangement gives even more time before commercial 
planting, so there's more time to assess the environmental impact, that 
has to be good." 
Agence France Presse English 
2) US sends Europe trade war warning on GMOs 
A senior US agriculture official has warned the EU that 
disagreements over biotechnology could spark a global trade 
war unless politicians agree internationally acceptable 
regulations on genetically modified agricultural 
commodities. Richard Rominger, the US deputy secretary of 
agriculture told a conference in Brussels today that the EU 
and the US must ensure that GMO food safety does not become 
"the next trade battleground".
The comments will be interpreted as a warning from the US 
that it will fight any regulatory regime which it sees as 
discriminating against US produce. Although Mr Rominger's 
speech was couched in diplomatic terms, it contained a clear 
message that Europe's current regulatory regime was failing 
to provide fair market access to US GM crops.
The US was "bending over backwards" to understand the 
European situation, he said, but getting frustrated by the 
EU's failure to apply its own rules. Examples of what the 
US already considers trade barriers are the unilateral bans 
imposed by Luxembourg and Austria on GM maize which in 
theory has been approved for sale throughout the EU (ENDS 
Daily 16 April 1998), and the slow progress of getting 
approval for marketing of GM crops in the EU, under a 1990 
directive which is currently being revised. 
He claimed that the US had lost trade worth about US$200m 
last year when it could not export GM maize to Spain and 
Portugal because there was a delay in getting EU approval 
for the three different strains. In private, US officials 
say France deliberately blocked the GMO approvals in order 
to thwart the US exports and sell more of its own maize.
The speech adds to rising concerns that different countries' 
GMOs will be a major stumbling block at the next round of 
WTO talks which will focus heavily on liberalising 
international markets for agriculture. The widespread 
acceptance of GMOs in the US means that between a quarter 
and one-half of the US' production of maize, soya and cotton 
is now GM.
On the other side of the argument, UK Socialist MEP David 
Bowe said he was concerned that the US might use "aggressive 
and bullying" tactics over the issue at the WTO talks. In a 
speech given in his absence by his assistant, Mr Bowe said 
that the US was "out of step" with most of the rest of the 
world on GMOs. He said evidence for this was that the US 
had been largely responsible for the recent collapse of 
international negotiations on a biosafety protocol that 
would have set rules for trading GMOs. 
Beverley Thorpe ( 
Clean Production Action 
5964 Avenue Notre Dame de Grace 
Montreal, Que 
Canada H4A 1N1 
tel: +1 (514) 484 4207 
fax: +1 (514) 484 2696
3) Often people who grow trees for lumber or for Christmas trees will use 
herbicides to kill all other plants growing around the trees. This creates 
an environment that is even more barren and hostile to the bees. Not only 
do they not have hardwood trees, but they no longer have the blossoms from 
wild berries and flowers. Some of the best nectar sources for the bees are 
blackberries, gallberries, goldenrod, mustard, and other wild plants. 
Without them the bees will starve. Jerry Cranmer, a beekeeper in southern 
Georgia, has written a letter about this problem. Click here to read his 
Bees aren't the only wildlife that suffer with the legal abuse of 
herbicides. Many wild animals feed on berries and wild plants. I recall a 
good friend living in the mountains of North Carolina who was very upset 
about the decrease in the number of birds in the mountains. It was eerie to 
him how quiet it was outdoors. His belief was that the Roundup being used 
extensively around the Christmas tree farms was hurting the wildlife in the 
A letter dated February 2, 1997, by Jerry Cranmer ( 
We have been noticing a phenomenon in S Georgia, and we feel that it is 
time to alert the community. 
Several beekeepers in our association have documented large scale, (1000 + 
acres), of planted pine forest in this region have been sprayed with 
herbicides. The resultant effects have been devastating to the plants that 
we honey producers depend on for our livelihood. 
It may also very well be a harbinger of a greater consequence for our 
ecosystem. The native shrubs like gallberry, ti ti,and palmetto are all 
vertually destroyed in these forests. All that are left are the pine trees 
and pine needles. The migratory birds , and native wildlife all must leave 
these barren areas. 
The culprits are the large lumber companies like Georgia Pacific and 
Rayonier. They are believing the chemical Co. sales pitch , that this will 
improve their profits. 
If you have any questions or would like to see photos of the sprayed 
forests contact the president of the SE Georgia beekeepers Association, 
Bobby Rowell Rt. One Box 147 Nahunta,Ga. 31553 
Jerry Cranmer
[The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition]
Dow Jones Newswires -- March 17, 1999
4) Novartis Enters Biotech Race For Cereal Mkt
LONDON -- Swiss multinational Novartis AG (Z. NOV) is planning to enter the 
cereals market in a bid to boost sales of the company's gene-modified seed, 
Wolfgang Samo, head of the Novartis Agribusiness Division, told Dow Jones 
Newswires this week.
Developing cereal crops would give Novartis access to a vast market. The 
value of the world wheat market alone for biotechnology companies was put 
by one industry analyst at around $70 billion.
Research is underway to engineer a variety of barley which would be easier 
to malt, said Samo. He said the market for such 'output traits', qualities 
designed to benefit the processor or consumer of the crop, is even larger 
than the market for crops engineered to resist weeds and insects.
"Input traits are just the door openers for biotech. Output traits (will) 
determine the market - I think it is unlimited," said Samo.
The acquisition of French grain seed company C.C. Benoist S.A. last year, 
the second purchase of such a company by Novartis, should help Novartis to 
eventually penetrate the wheat market. Although Novartis is not currently 
running any research projects on wheat, a spokesman said developing a 
herbicide-resistant wheat seed is a long-term aim for the company.
Sales of herbicide resistant seeds and their compatible pesticides are 
already big business for German biotechnology firm AgrEvo GmbH and Monsanto 
Corp (MTC). Sales of Monsanto soybeans engineered for resistance to its own 
brand of herbicide, Roundup, have boomed in the U.S. over the last year.
By delaying the start-up of research projects into wheat, Novartis risks 
falling behind other biotechnology companies. A spokesman for Monsanto, 
which sources say has made the most progress of all biotechnology firms 
towards genetically modifying wheat, said it aims to have its wheat on the 
market within the next five to seven years.
"We are not really a big wheat seeds company," said Samo. "We will first 
get to know the market better before embarking on big GMO (genetically 
modified organism) projects."
Samo said research is still being conducted into the herbicide - called a 
protoporphyrinogen oxidase inhibitor, or PPO - that would eventually work 
together with Novartis herbicide-resistant crops.
He said Novartis PPO-resistant corn, which would be marketed in conjunction 
with PPO, should be on the market by 2003. The company already sells corn 
seeds genetically modified to produce bacillus thuringiensis, an 
insect-killing bacteria.
"We have the chemical pesticide in development. It is not yet fully 
developed," Samo said.
A research manager at the company has said the new Acuron gene, which makes 
plants resistant to PPO, could eventually be applied to wheat, soybeans and 
rice. According to Samo, Novartis genetically modified wheat is "quite a 
long way down the line".
Novartis will be aided in marketing corn by its joint venture with 
U.S.-based Land O' Lakes Inc., which is, according to Samo, among the 
largest cooperatives of corn producers in the U.S.
Engineering new genetically modified varieties of rice is not part of 
Novartis' immediate plans, Samo said. He added that Novartis donated the 
right to use its Bt gene in rice to the International Rice Research 
Institute in the Philippines.
Using the Bt gene, the IRRI is trying to develop a rice resistant to the 
plant hopper, an insect which damages rice crops in much of southeast Asia.
-By Daniel Balint-Kurti 44-171-832-9561;
Copyright © 1999 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
5) French environmentalists want longer gene crop ban March 16, 1999
PARIS, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : French environmental groups, 
spurred on by talk of a possible freeze on gene-crops in Britain, on Monday 
called for a longer, broader moratorium in France so wider tests could be 
carried out. ``This is a sign of encouragement which should push the French 
government to reconsider the risks from gene modified foods,'' said 
campaigner Etienne Vernet at Ecoropa. ``We want a moratorium on all types 
of GM food for three to five years so we can do more tests. If Britain did 
impose a three year freeze, France should do the same thing.''
Greenpeace France Director Bruno Rebelle also backed a freeze on GM crops 
until at least 2002 and more rigorous tests. France imposed a two-year 
freeze on genetically engineered oilseed varieties last July after 
concerns the modifications could be transmitted to other crops.
6)  Zeneca and Monsanto Announce Global Agreement for Touchdown On Roundup
Ready Crops 

Thursday March 18, 8:56 am Eastern Time
Company Press Release
Zeneca and Monsanto Announce Global 
Agreement for Touchdown On Roundup 
Ready Crops
WILMINGTON, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 18, 1999--Zeneca 
Agrochemicals and Monsanto Company today announced a long term 
license agreement on undisclosed terms under which Zeneca will test, 
develop and register Touchdown® herbicide 
products for use on or over the top of Roundup Ready® soybeans, corn and 
cotton in the United States.
Under the agreement, Zeneca, once it has obtained U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency registration, will sell 
Touchdown herbicide for application on or over the top of these crops.
Additionally, Monsanto and Zeneca have agreed to negotiate in good faith 
access to additional Roundup Ready crops in 
the United States and to all Roundup Ready crops globally, as they are 
commercialized. Negotiations for commercial 
access after the second commercial season will occur on a country and crop 
Under this agreement, Zeneca would test, develop and register its products 
while negotiations are taking place.
As a part of the agreement, Zeneca, Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred 
International Inc. have agreed to dismiss the 
lawsuits they have pending against each other in Delaware and Missouri. 
These relate to the use of Touchdown over 
Roundup Ready crops and related Monsanto patents, and to Monsanto's 
marketing practices.
Monsanto's Roundup and Zeneca's Touchdown will compete with each other in 
the agricultural weed control market.
Zeneca Agrochemicals is the crop protection and plant science business of 
the Zeneca Group. Zeneca Group PLC 
(NYSE:ZEN - news) is a $9.1 billion international bioscience company which 
provides products and services to 
improve human health, nutrition and the quality of life.
The group, which employs some 32,000 people world-wide, is engaged in the 
research, development, manufacture and 
marketing of ethical (prescription) pharmaceuticals, agricultural and 
specialty chemicals products and the supply of 
healthcare services.
As a life sciences company, Monsanto Company (NYSE:MTC - news) is committed 
to finding solutions to the 
growing global needs for food and health by sharing common forms of science 
and technology among agriculture, 
nutrition and health. The company's 30,000 employees worldwide make and 
market high-value agricultural products, 
pharmaceuticals and food ingredients.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Roundup and Roundup Ready are trademarks of Monsanto 
Company. Touchdown is a 
trademark of Zeneca Limited.
7) Restaurants must declare any GM food 
The Daily Telegraph London
RESTAURANTS and cafes will be forced to tell their 
customers about any genetically modified ingredients 
contained in their food under measures to be announced by the 
Government today.
It is expected that declarations will have to be made on menus. Bakers and 
delicatessens will also 
have to comply with the new labelling controls, which will exceed current 
European Union 
At present EU labelling regulations lay down that all foods sold in shops 
and supermarkets must 
be clearly marked if they contain more than two per cent of GM ingredients.
The move follows an announcement this week that Marks & Spencer is to ban 
all genetically 
modified food from its shelves.
Sainsbury's said yesterday that it is to ban genetically modified 
ingredients from its own-brand 
foods and that it has joined a consortium to ensure supplies of non-GM 
ingredients in future.
Last night [ Monsanto ] , the leading company in GM crop research and 
development, said it could 
not confirm a report from Greenpeace that it had been forced to withdraw 
applications to release 
genetically modified soya for commercial production in Brazil after 
protests from 
environmentalists and consumer groups.
The GM soya is immune to Roundup, one of the world's most widely used 
weedkillers, allowing 
farmers to control the weeds easily without damaging their crops.
The company was also forced to defend the use of BST, a synthetically 
reproduced cattle 
hormone which is injected into cows to make them produce more milk, after 
a leading British 
scientist claimed that the drug caused too many animal health problems.
This product, developed by Monsanto, is used in 50 countries including the 
United States, but is 
banned in the EU under a moratorium which ends in December.
Prof Donald Broom, who led an independent EU veterinary investigation into 
BST, which 
concluded that the drug should remain banned because claims for its safety 
were flawed, said: 
"There is too much mastitis, leg disorders, reproductive disorders and 
injection site problems - 
and this is not a medicine, this is a substance that doesn't have to be 
used, and so we think it 
shouldn't be used."
It was also claimed that separate research suggested that a hormone called 
IGF-1, which is linked 
to some human cancers, could be increased in milk produced with the aid of 
BST. Monsanto 
claims that IGF-1 is not increased by using BST.
Prof Broom from Cambridge University's veterinary school, said: "They got 
it wrong."
Monsanto said: "BST has repeatedly been proved safe for people and 
animals. The human safety 
has been confirmed by over 50 countries throughout the world.
"Less than six weeks ago the US Food and Drug Administration reaffirmed 
the product as safe 
for humans. The European Union's Committee on Veterinary Medicinal 
Products and the World 
Health Organisation's Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives have also 
ruled that the product 
is safe for humans."
The company said BST was now the fastest selling animal health product on 
(Copyright 1999 (c) The Telegraph plc, London)
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