SnowBall archive


GE - GMO News 03/21 (sorry no contents list)

GMO News 03/21 
> ======#====== 
 The Dominion (Wellington) March 20, 1999 
 Police seize film for inquiry into GM food attack 
> POLICE  have seized film from three 
> Christchurch television studios as part of 
> their investigation into the attack on a genetically modified 
> potato 
> crop at Lincoln, near Christchurch. Wild Greens spokesman Nandor 
> Tanczos 
> said there was no need for police to search television studios 
> because he was happy to talk to them. 
He denied being part of the action. --  NZPA 
> Supplied by New Zealand Press Association 
> ======#====== 
 South China Morning Post March 21, 1999 
 Shoppers left in dark over genetically altered food 
BYLINE: Jo Pegg 
THOUSANDS of foods with genetically engineered ingredients - 
> the 
> focus of an international health debate - could be sold to local 
> shoppers 
> every day without their knowledge. Technology in which a gene from 
> one 
> species is introduced into another, usually to make it bigger, more 
> nutritious or hardier, could be present in products ranging from 
> bread to 
> ice- cream. But shoppers here have no way of knowing exactly what they 
> are 
> buying. The Consumer Council wants the Government to force food 
> producers to label all items that have genetically modified 
> ingredients. 
> Tomatoes, for instance, can be treated with a fish gene from 
> flounder to make them frost-resistant. 
> Some potatoes have been genetically modified to repel 
> insects. And soya beans, commonly used in products including 
> biscuits, mayonnaise and vitamin pills, have been made resistant 
> to weed killer by the introduction of genetic material from a 
> virus, a bacterium and a petunia. While most experts believe 
> the practice is safe, consumer groups and some eminent 
> scientists fear that unwanted attributes from the genes are 
> introduced into the new food, creating a health risk. 
> In one widely reported case, people with nut allergies who 
> ate beans that had been treated with Brazil nut genes to give 
> them more protein developed an allergic reaction. 
> And moral rights campaigners say people who object to 
> modified food on ethical grounds are entitled to choose what 
> they eat. 
> Hong Kong Consumer Council head of research Connie Lau Yin-hing 
> said the Department of Health had been asked to make labelling 
> compulsory and to research the safety of modified foods. "As a 
> matter of principle, the consumer has a right to know what 
> they're going to eat," she said. 
> The department said it was monitoring developments abroad. 
> "But this being a new matter, we think the consumer also has 
> the right to know about it while worldwide consensus is still to 
> be finalised," Ms Lau said. Ms Lau said tomatoes, soya beans 
> and maize were the modified foods most likely to be in Hong Kong 
> shops. "These are raw ingredients and they could be made into 
> 1,001 things." 
> Labelling of all modified foods is mandatory in several 
> countries, including India, Norway, Switzerland and South Korea. 
> Certain modified products must be labelled in Britain, France, 
> Germany and Finland. 
> Britain last week announced a voluntary three-year freeze on 
> growing genetically modified crops while safety tests are 
> done. 
> Ms Lau said the council had not asked shops and 
> suppliers to label products, but was pleased City'super, was 
> labelling some food as being free of modified ingredients. A 
> Health Department spokesman said the Government was awaiting the 
> outcome of an international forum on modified food at the end of 
> this year before revising laws on labelling. 
> Editorial, 
> ======#====== 
> Xinhua 
HEADLINE: chinese vice-premier calls for efforts to fight  drought 
shijiazhuang, march DATELINE: forts to fight drought 
shijiazhuang,  march 20  ; ITEM NO: 0320180 
BODY: chinese vice-premier wen jiabao says that  an 
> effort to fight a serious drought in some parts of the country and to 
> make  good preparations for spring sowing is urgently needed. wen, also a 
> member 
> of the communist party central committee political bureau, visited 
> fucheng, 
> wuyi and jingxian counties in hebei province from march 17 to 20. 
> wen said 
> that the drought could become worse and people in drought-stricken 
> areas 
> should take immediate steps to do a good job in combating the 
> drought and 
> in spring planting so as to ensure a good harvest for the year. he 
> asked all levels of governments to help farmers in choosing the 
> right crops that are popular in the marketplace and he urged 
> governments and agricultural departments to improve agricultural 
> services in technical training, supplies of improved seeds, 
> fertilizers, and pesticides. 
> ======#====== 
> The Dominion (Wellington) NZ March 20, 1999 
Consumers lack choice - Kedgley 
BODY: MOVES to allow companies 
> more time to get safety assessments on genetically modified foods 
> would 
> deny consumers choice, Safe Food Campaign convener Sue Kedgley said 
> yesterday. From May 13, all genetically modified foods require 
> safety 
> approval from the Australia New Zealand Food Authority. But the 
> Health 
> Ministry is asking the public to make submissions by next Thursday 
> on a 
> possible extension, after the author ity had received only seven 
> applications for approval. Ms Kedgley said this would mean it would 
> be 
> lawful for modified foodstuffs to remain in supply, even if they had 
> never 
> been assessed by New Zealand regulatory authorities. 
> "This will mean consumers will have no choice -- because 
> there is no labelling in place -- than to eat large amounts of 
> foodstuffs that have never been assessed for their safety," Ms 
> Kedgley said. 
> ======#====== 
> The Times (London) March 20, 1999 
SECTION: Business 
> Ethics man 
> BYLINE: Martin Waller 
BODY: LORD Sainsbury of Turville, minister  for 
> genetic modification, has an appointment next Wednesday which I 
> suspect 
> he wishes he had not accepted. Some time back he was invited by the 
> RSA to 
> chair a lecture to be delivered by the economist John Kay. The 
> subject 
> is "Ethics and the role of business in society". Suggested topics for 
> debate later? Well, the ethics of opening out-of-town hypermarkets 
> and 
> driving small traders out of business comes to mind. There is also 
> the 
> matter of subsequent meetings with one of his gene companies which 
> were 
> placed in a "blind trust" when he 
> became a minister. The RSA's invitation describes Sainsbury 
> as "chairman, J Sainsbury". Not since he became a minister. But 
> perhaps the RSA thinks he will be making a return to his old 
> job. 
> Martin Waller 

> ======#====== 
Washington today, Agriculture 
> Secretary Dan Glickman announced the formation of an Advisory 
> Committee on 
> Biotechnology. It will examine the impact of biotechnology from every 
> conceivable angle - its creation, application, marketability and the 
> preservation of biodiversity. "My goal is for everyone who has a 
> stake in 
> the future of biotech: research scientists, social scientists, 
> farmers, and 
> consumers, to be represented on the 25-member panel," Glickman said. 
> "One 
> of the things the advisory committee will explore is the impact of 
> biotech on the small family farmer...The ownership issues are 
> very tricky. There is a legitimate case to be made that farmers 
> own the seeds they buy and are free to replant them as they 
> choose. But those rights are at loggerheads with the legitimate 
> proprietary interest of the company that pumped millions of 
> dollars into the research that developed that seed." The 
> Advisory Committee will address the issue of public access to 
> germplasm and maintainance of seed diversity. Glickman will also 
> take into account people who want organic foods unmodified by 
> biotechnology. "Last year, we heard from 280,000 organic 
> consumers who do not want any genetically modified organisms in 
> their food," he said. 
> ======#====== 
> 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 (EMRs). "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 
> years. 
> 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 interests. 
> 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. 

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