SnowBall archive


GE - news 20th March

2) Brazil Orders Halt on Genetic Work
3) France's Auchan Joins Drive To Weed Out GM Foods

PA 19.03.99 03:49
(The British Retail Consortium going GM free, this IS one for the record 
books, I reckon Monsanto themselves are about all thats left from the way 
the papers are suggesting they are folding.The part about the governemtn 
not going far enough! I can see now why altroism is so rewarding. 
J Mc Nulty)
Copyright 1999 PA News. Copying, storing, redistribution, retransmission, 
publication, transfer or commerical 
exploitation of this information is expressly forbidden.

Major supermarket chains have vowed to inform consumers about any GM 
ingredients in their products after declaring 
that new Government labelling laws on genetically modified foods do not go 
far enough. 
The move came after the Government announced yesterday it was extending 
existing European Union rules on GM 
labelling to cover the catering trade. 
Diners eating out at restaurants, cafes and even burger bars will be told 
if the food they are eating contains GM ingredients. 
The Government said new powers enforcing EU regulations on the labelling of 
GM food will include fines of up to 5,000 
for anyone breaching the rules and will be extended to cover the catering 
After the announcement the UK's major food retailers - including the 
supermarket chains M&S, Sainsbury's, Safeway, 
Tesco, Asda, Somerfield, Waitrose and Morrison's - said they would now 
adopt a policy of labelling all GM derivatives. 
The British Retail Consortium, which represents 90% of UK retailers, issued 
a statement on behalf of its members stating 
that the decision had been made because the Government legislation did not 
go far enough to help consumers. 
The BRC said retailers had introduced GM labelling long before yesterday's 
announcement and the supermarkets had been 
looking into the possibility of extending this to GM derivatives for some

The major supermarkets said they will label GM soya and maize derivatives 
in all their own-brand foods although it is not 
clear how long this process will take. 
Earlier this week several major chains, including Marks & Spencer and 
Sainsbury's, said they will remove all GM 
ingredients from their own-brand products. 
BRC food and drink director Janet Nunn said: "Retailers have been labelling 
ahead of the law to promote informed 
consumer choice and are responding to customer demand for full disclosure. 
Current labelling laws stop short of labelling 
additives, there is virtually no prospect that they will do so for oils. 
"Retailers do not want their own-label customers to wait so they are taking 
action now." 
Under the new Government rules restaurants will be asked to make customers 
aware of any of their products containing 
GM material and invite them to ask staff for further information. 
The law stops short of making owners identify GM ingredients in specific 
dishes on the menu. 
Environmental campaigners calling for a total ban on GM foods said that the 
regulations were unworkable and did not 
cover all GM foods on sale in the UK or their derivatives. 
Friends of the Earth said the new laws would not enable consumers to avoid 
eating GM ingredients as more and more 
foods would become GM as unsegregated food stocks continue to be allowed 
into the UK. 
It added that as the laws only cover GM soya and maize, many food items, 
particularly processed foods, containing GM 
derivatives such as oils and lecithin will not be labelled. 
:: More than 200 top Irish chefs are to demand assurances that food they 
receive from suppliers has not been genetically 
The move follows growing concern among cookery experts in Ireland about 
continuing genetic food trials, and coincides 
with a decision by the country's Superquinn supermarket chain to join a 
consortium of European retailers in sourcing 
GM-free ingredients for own-brand foods.

2) Brazil Orders Halt on Genetic Work
APO 20.03.99 02:33

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 
The information contained in this news report may not be published, 
broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior 
written authority of the Associated Press.
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- Authorities in a southern state of Brazil ordered 
work stopped today on a plantation where 
chemical conglomerate Monsanto is growing a new genetically altered soybean. 
The move comes only days after Rio Grande do Sul state ordered Monsanto to 
provide environmental impact statements 
for all the areas where they are growing genetically altered crops. 
"Whoever fails to inform the agriculture secretariat (about research on 
genetically altered organisms) cannot continue to 
work," said Jose Hermeto Hoffman, the state's agriculture secretary. 
Monsanto's director of corporate affairs, Rodrigo Almeida, said the company 
would go to court in order to continue 
production of the genetically modified soybeans. 
In September, the Brazilian government approved Monsanto's request to 
produce the genetically modified seeds, which 
are designed to withstand a powerful herbicide also made by Monsanto. 
Earlier in the week, Monsanto withdrew its application to register the 
seeds as intellectual property claiming they needed to 
make some corrections to the application. 
Hoffman said Monsanto was the first company to have operations halted under 
a decree issued on March 3, which 
requires companies working with genetically modified organisms to obtain a 
license from the state. The state will now 
monitor operations at all Monsanto plantations to ensure that no 
genetically altered grains make it to market. 
With 160 million people, Brazil is an important part of the Monsanto's plan 
to engineer the genetic codes of crops grown 
in different regions around the world. 
Monsanto still hopes to distribute the seeds produced in Brazil for 
commercial planting by mid-1999, for harvest in early 
3) France's Auchan Joins Drive To Weed Out GM Foods
RTos 20.03.99 06:36

Copyright 1999 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. 
The following news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole 
or in part, without the prior written consent 
of Reuters Ltd.
PARIS (Reuters) - French retailers say they have led the way in the drive 
among European supermarkets to root out 
genetically modified foods from among their own-brand products. 
Spurred on by a fresh wave of consumer concern, family-owned Auchan Friday 
added its name to a list of European 
retailers who are outlawing genetic engineering in their own-brand food. 
Both Auchan and rival Carrefour say a policy of eradicating GM ingredients 
from their own products, as heralded by 
Britain's J. Sainsbury Plc this week, has been in place in their supply 
chains for over a year. 
"For 18 months Auchan has worked with the manufacturers of its own-brand 
products and raw materials suppliers in 
order to eliminate, product by product, any risk of the presence of GMOs 
(genetically modified organisms)," Auchan said 
in a statement. 
It said 44 out of its 1,460 products had been identified as possibly 
containing modified soya protein or maize. Of those, 
Auchan could guarantee 43 were GMO-free, while the 44th -- a frozen 
mincemeat product -- would be GMO-free from 
Sainsbury's said this week it had set up a consortium with six other 
European supermarkets to work from the farming 
stage to ensure no GM ingredients make it into their own-label foods. 
Carrefour, one of the seven, said it was already able to mark its own-label 
products as GMO-free after it started weeding 
out such ingredients last year. 
"We have had conversations with Sainsbury's but for us this policy of 
precaution is not new," a Carrefour spokesman 
"Since we don't know the long-term effects of GM foods we took a decision 
last year to offer the choice. We examined all 
our own products and stopped selling those we had doubts about." 
Investigations, using a supply network set up in 1992 to allow traceability 
back to the farmer's field, led to nine of 
Carrefour's 1,783 products being taken off the shelves. Another 286 
products had alternative ingredients substituted for the 
possible GMOs. 
Under European Union law GM soya and other crops must be clearly shown on 
food labels but derivatives like oil need 
The rush to slap "GM-free" labels on food products comes in response to a 
swell of public skepticism, especially in 
Britain where newspapers have dubbed GM products "Frankenstein foods." 
"The problem with GMOs is that on the one hand (producers) guarantee they 
are harmless and on the other hand they 
wrap them up in mystery by refusing generalized labeling," said French 
consumers group UFC. 
"Consumers are well aware there is no such thing as zero risk but they want 
assurances that the commercialization of GM 
foods comes with maximum precautions." 
Carrefour said it had tried not to fan the issue by removing its GM 
products quietly. 
"There's a general awareness in the wake of mad cow disease -- everybody 
realizes we need to be careful," the spokesman 
"We have to provide the right to choose non-GM foods but at the same time 
we take great care not to scare consumers."
OTC 20.03.99 02:10
NEW DELHI, (Mar. 19) IPS - India which led opposition to the patenting of 
life forms has shot itself in the foot with 
new laws which facilitate biopiracy and give monopolies to drug and 
agrichemical transnational corporations (TNCs). 
Last week, Indian Parliament amended the Patents Act after the right-wing 
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government said 
it was necessary for a strengthened patents regime which would help Indian 
scientists and protect their inventions. 
The amendments were also necessary, the BJP said, for aligning Indian law 
with the Trade Related Intellectual Property 
rights (TRIPs) agreement under the World Trade Organization of which this 
country is a member. 
But the amendments went far beyond satisfying the WTO. It ignored 
provisions permitted by WTO to member countries 
to protect public health and nutrition in an apparent rush to accommodate 
TNCs through exclusive marketing rights 
"This is an act which bypasses the patent system to grant EMRs as a 
statutory right to pharmaceutical and agrichemical 
TNCs against patents held outside India," said Vandana Shiva chief of the 
Research Foundation for Science, Technology 
and Ecology (RFSTE). 
The RFSTE has teamed up with powerful grassroots groups such as the 
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), the People's 
Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), the Lok Shakti Abhiyan and the Joint 
Action Committee of Women to challenge the 
Patent Act through public interest litigation in the Supreme Court. 
Other concerned groups have reacted by mounting patent literacy campaigns 
to inform and educate a largely unwary 
public on the negative impact of the new law and to mobilize resistance to 
corporate monopolies. 
Said Suman Sahai of "Gene Campaign," "The people need to know how the new 
legislation failed to protect the interests 
of Indian farmers and Indian consumers and mobilize opinion before the WTO 
review this year." 
Gene Campaign set the ball rolling by carrying out, over the last week, a 
series of meetings on Intellectual Property Rights 
(IPRs) in six major towns of southern Kerala state which has a high, ninety 
percent literacy rate. 
"The predominant feeling expressed at these meetings was one of anger that 
the government had passed the Patents 
Amendment Act with little opposition from political parties," she said. 
Sahai said people in Kerala were particularly apprehensive of drug prices 
going through the roof and of medical help 
becoming even more expensive than it has already become in the last few
People in Kerala were also opposed to the patenting of life forms including 
microorganisms, plants and animals. "They 
want protection for farmers and tribals in proposed laws covering 
biodiversity and plant protection," she said. 
India is one of 12 "mega-diversity" countries that are home to most of the 
world's biological resources and has seem some 
of that diversity targeted by "life patents" brought out by MNCs in the 
drugs and agrichemical business. 
Of particular concern is the theft of traditional knowledge systems such as 
Ayurveda which describe how best to make use 
of plant diversity in treating diseases considered intractable in allopathy. 
Gene Campaign will now hold similar meetings in northern Haryana, Uttar 
Pradesh and Bihar states and conclude with 
mass signature campaigns as a means of giving voice to the poor who are 
likely to be hit most by the new laws. 
"New laws should facilitate rather than hinder the people's ability to 
access basic resources and enable and protect food and 
health security," Sahai said. 
More than 1,500 groups across the country have also started a 
Gandhian-styled "Bija Satyagraha" (rightful demand for 
seeds) calling for civil disobedience of laws which "threaten livelihoods, 
biodiversity, food security and health security." 
"Citizens have also condemned the ethical corruption of elected leaders 
since many ministers and parliamentarians 
responsible for the new law were formerly participants in movements against 
it," Shiva said. 
In Parliament, Opposition came solely from the communist and left-leaning 
parties which staged walkouts to record their 
protest against the "recolonization" of India by multinationals. 
The Congress party, the largest Opposition group, supported the ruling BJP 
in moving the Bill although both claim to be 
nationalist. The BJP in fact came to power by projecting a "swadeshi" or 
ultra-nationalist plank. 
One member of the Communist Party of India, Gurudas Dasgupta alleged that 
Indian negotiators at the WTO negotiated 
better jobs for themselves in the world body by bartering away national 
Indian negotiators did agree last October to abide by the Paris Convention 
for the Protection of Industrial Property and 
Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the U.N 
patents agency. 
But as left-wing politicians and activists like Shiva and Sahai point out 
ordinary people who are likely to be affected most 
were never consulted on the negotiations. "Even Parliament was kept in the 
dark," Dasgupta said. 
Moving a resolution in the Rajya Sabha (upper house) to reject the Bill, 
Dasgupta warned, "Posterity will not forgive us if 
we pass the bill in its present form which makes India weak and susceptible 
to the world forum." 
Members accused the government of ignoring reports by various expert groups 
including the important Law Commission 
which said the bill had "certain significant omissions which impinge on the 
national interest." 
"The public will have to pay enormous sums through imports of essential 
drugs over prolonged periods of time till other 
manufacturers break a monopoly," said Justice Jeevan Reddy, Chairman of the 
Law Commission. 
"Needless to say it will be drugs required for national health programs and 
essential drugs that will be the ones most 
neglected," Justice Reddy said. 
India's lax patent laws on pharmaceuticals has for nearly two decades 
allowed local manufacturers to sell generic drugs at 
about third of the price of that even in neighboring countries. 
The new law automatically gives MNCs exclusive marketings rights (EMRs) at 
prices unaffordable for most Indians for 
drugs and agrichemicals for specified periods in India if they hold single 
patents in another country. 
Worse, it can claim EMRs on formulations based on herbs and plants 
traditionally used under the Ayurvedic system as 
medicines and continues to be the mainstay of health care in India. 
"A TNC can now claim EMRs on formulations based on ginger, pepper, neem and 
hundreds of other plants by making 
minor modifications in methods of extraction and processing and then 
claiming that they are inventions," Shiva said. 
Copyright 1999
OTC 19.03.99 19:54
Winnipeg, MB, Canada, Mar. 19, 1999 (Resource News International via COMTEX
Biotechnology companies and agricultural researchers have conducted more 
than 4,200 field trials in Canada using 
genetically altered crops during the past 10 years, according to federal 
statistics obtained through the Access to Information 
The trials have been conducted in every province except Newfoundland, with 
more than 75% of the tests done in the three 
Prairie provinces. The high number of experiments is being touted by the 
federal government in a recent advertisement 
designed to attract to Canada European biotechnology companies that face 
organized and often militant opposition to 
testing genetically altered crops in their countries. 
The government said in its ad that the "thousands" of field trials in 
Canada are "more than in the entire European Union" 
and that Canada is becoming a world recognized center for biotechnology. 
Figures on the field trials were obtained by the 
Green Party of Canada, which worries about the explosive growth in genetic 
experiments and wants a ban. 
In the crop experiments, researchers plant seeds that have been modified 
with genetic material from bacteria and other 
organisms. Researchers hope the resulting plants will have such desirable 
characteristics as herbicide and insect resistance. 
Many environmentalists are nervous about genetically modified crops because 
of fears that genes from these plants will 
escape into other related species and become what they call "genetic 
pollution." There are also worries that modified crops 
will lead to food allergies and undermine products now commonly used in 
organic agriculture. 
However, an official with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency of 
Agriculture Canada said extensive precautions are 
taken to ensure the safety of crop trials. Many of the trial sites are 
inspected, and there are precautions, such as restrictions 
on tests where there is a chance genetically altered material will escape 
into the wild. 
According to the Green Party's analysis of the field trial statistics 
dating from 1990, Saskatchewan is the leading province 
for genetic tests, with about 1,500 field trials, followed by Alberta with 
about 1, 070 and Manitoba with 683. (The Globe 
And Mail)
Copyright 1998 Resource News International 
Copyright 1999
PA 19.03.99 10:58

Copyright 1999 PA News. Copying, storing, redistribution, retransmission, 
publication, transfer or commerical 
exploitation of this information is expressly forbidden.

By Andrew Denholm, PA News 
New Government labelling rules on genetically modified food are unjust and 
have "missed the point", the Church of 
Scotland said today. 
The church's Science, Religion and Technology Project, which looks at 
ethical issues in technology, called for the 
regulations to be extended to cover all foods with GM-linked ingredients. 
The call comes after leading supermarket chains declared that the new 
regulations, which extend existing European Union 
rules on GM labelling to cover the catering trade, did not go far enough. 
"The Government announcement of new labelling regulations about modified 
food have largely missed the point," said 
Society, Religion and Technology Project director Dr Donald Bruce. 
"If your concern is not about eating strange DNA, but that genetic 
modification was used at all - for ethical, religious, 
ecological or safety grounds - than you have no effective way of choosing 
between food that has been modified and food 
that has not. 
"The new regulations change nothing in this respect and remain 
fundamentally unjust."