SnowBall archive


GE - GMO news 19/3 (sorry no contents list)

> Financial Times (London) 
> March 19, 1999, Friday LONDON EDITION 2 
> HEADLINE: Organic farming deserves more government support 
> BODY: 
> From Sarah Burton. 
> Sir, Whether industry and government are planning to extend 
> the voluntary controls on commercial planting of GM crops or 
> not, is irrelevant ("Modified crop producers deny moratorium 
> reports", March 16). 
> An "extension of the voluntary agreement for a further two 
> years" may appease English Nature but it goes no way towards 
> addressing the heart of the problem. Whether we have a 
> moratorium or not, 80 per cent of processed food on UK 
> supermarket shelves still contain GE ingredients, ingredients 
> that pour in unchecked week after week through UK ports. 
> The public will still not be given the right to choose the 
> unadulterated food it wants to buy. 
> There will still be irreversible and uncontrollable 
> contamination of the environment with genetically modified 
> organisms from field trials in the UK and commercial planting 
> elsewhere. 
> Nothing short of a total shift in the direction of food 
> policy towards sustainable agriculture and a permanent ban on 
> both the growing and importation of GM crops will achieve 
> solutions to all of these problems. The polls show that the 
> British public has chosen organic over GM food. Yet, while 
> demand for organic food grows by leaps and bounds, the 
> government fails to increase its support of organic farming and 
> we are forced to import between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of 
> organic food. 
> Sarah Burton, Greenpeace UK, Canonbury Villas, London N1 2PN 
> New Scientist March 20, 1999 SECTION: Letters, Pg. 51 
GM  sanctions 
BYLINE: Mark Tibbett (Bournemouth University)
 BODY: I was  disheartened to read the thinly veiled threats made by the heads
> leading biotechnology companies about future investment in British 
> bioscience in the light of the outcry about GM crops (This Week, 27 
> February, p 7). Comments such as "Britain is not the only place 
> where 
> you can do research" and "It will harm investment in the UK" are 
> doubtless 
> meant to 
> coerce scientists into supporting one side, rather than 
> tempering the alarming level of the debate in the media. 
> These companies may say they do not want to work in countries 
> that do not support their research, but it is not the research 
> that is at issue but the commercial exploitation of the 
> products. 
> People and governments have the right to say no to GM foods, 
> wrongly or rightly. The verdict on GM crops must be based on the 
> actual and perceived risk to public health and the environment. 
> The issues should be resolved without the threat by 
> transnationals of what amounts to economic sanctions. For 
> more science news see

> ======#====== 
> New Scientist March 20, 1999 
SECTION: Letters, 
HEADLINE: GM  sanctions . . 
BYLINE: Luke Gaskell (Melrose, Roxburghshire) 
BODY: You 
> make the point that it is the advances in farming techniques, not 
> new 
> herbicide-resistant plants, that are doing the real damage to 
> wildlife 
> (Editorial, 27 February, p 3). Logically, we should control the 
> introduction of new- generation pesticides if they work too well, or 
> ban 
> the introduction of new machinery which allows habitats to be 
> destroyed. But halting progress is not possible. What is needed 
> are rules, probably tied to support payments, that mean that 
> part of each farm is worked not for food production but for the 
> benefit of wildlife. Like our historic buildings, wildlife 
> needs statutory protection. It is too important to be left to 
> the whim of individuals. 
> For more science news see
> Financial Times (London) March 19, 1999, Friday 
 Zeneca wins access to GM  crop  market 
BYLINE: By David Pilling, 
> Pharmaceuticals Correspondent BODY: Zeneca, the pharmaceuticals 
> and 
> agrochemicals business, has struck an agreement with Monsanto, the 
> St 
> Louis-based life 
> science company, which will give it access to the rapidly 
> growing US market for herbicides used with genetically 
> modified crops. 
> The out-of-court settlement will allow Zeneca to market its 
> Touchdown herbicide for use with the US group's genetically 
> modified crops, which have been eagerly accepted in the US, in 
> contrast to the hostility they have provoked in Europe. Monsanto 
> estimates its brand of modified soya beans accounted for 35 per 
> cent of the $ 15bn (L9.3bn) crop in 1998. 
> "This settlement relieves uncertainty," said James 
> Culverwell, at Merrill Lynch. "We were concerned that Zeneca 
> might not be able to access the US." The shares rose 79p to 
> L25.99. 
> The agreement brings to an end a dispute in which Monsanto 
> had tried to prevent Zeneca marketing Touchdown as a substitute 
> for Roundup herbicide, sold by Monsanto as part of a crop 
> "system" with Roundup Ready soya beans, corn and cotton. These 
> are genetically modified to resist Roundup herbicide, allowing 
> the farmer to kill weeds without damaging the crop. 
> Touchdown and Roundup are chemically similar. 
> The settlement with Zeneca is the sixth such deal struck by 
> Monsanto within the past eight months. 
> In January, it agreed to supply Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow 
> Chemical, with its glyphosate herbicide - one of the key 
> elements of Roundup herbicide. Glyphosate comes out of patent 
> in the US in late-2000, although Monsanto still has patents over 
> aspects of the Roundup formulation. Zeneca will now have to 
> persuade farmers that Touchdown is as effective on Roundup Ready 
> crops as Monsanto's product. Analysts suggested it might have to 
> discount in order to gain market share, but Zeneca disputed 
> this. Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, it 
> is understood that Zeneca will pay a licence fee in return for 
> access to the US market. It will also need approval from the 
> Environmental Protection Agency. Zeneca officials described 
> the licence fee as "modest". Monsanto said it was surprised at 
> that description, arguing that Zeneca had clearly recognised the 
> US company's intellectual property rights. 
> As part of the agreement, Zeneca, Monsanto and Pioneer 
> HiBred, a US seed company, have dropped a series of lawsuits 
> against each other. Monsanto had claimed that Zeneca's testing 
> of Touchdown on glyphosate-tolerant soya infringed its licensing 
> arrangement with Pioneer.
> The Mirror March 19, 1999, Friday 
BYLINE: Tracey Harrison 
BODY: TOP supermarkets last  night 
> blasted the Government's new labelling laws on genetically modified 
> foods 
> as not "going far enough." Bosses vowed to tell customers about 
> any GM 
> ingredients in their products. The move came after the 
> Government 
> announced it was extending existing European Union regulations on 
> labelling 
> GM food 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. 
> Anyone breaching the law could face fines of up to pounds 
> 5,000. 
> ======#====== 
> The Mirror March 19, 1999, Friday 
BYLINE: Aidan Mcgurran 
BODY:  THE  boss of the Environment Agency is allowing genetically modified 
> crop  experiments on his land for a second time, The Mirror can reveal. 
> Lord  de Ramsey, chairman of the government watchdog, sparked fury last 
> year 
> when it was revealed he was allowing GM food giant Monsanto to carry 
> out 
> experiments on his land. 
> Despite the row he is now renting 60 acres of his estate in 
> Abbots Ripton, Cambs, to a Swedish firm which is carrying out 
> three tests on oilseed rape. GM crop trials are highly 
> controversial because of increasing concern that they could pose 
> a threat to the environment. There were fresh calls last night 
> for the peer to quit his pounds 50,000-a-year part time job. 
> Friends of the Earth said: "How can someone who is supposed to 
> be protecting the environment justify growing crops that 
> threaten it?" 
> A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: "Our view is 
> that we need rigorous trials so we can have a proper debate." 
> Lord de Ramsey was unavailable for comment. 
> GRAPHIC: LAND: Lord de Ramsey 
> ======#====== 
> The Northern Echo March 19, 1999
BODY: THE North-East's first food technology 
> centre will be opened by a Government minister next week. But a 
> spokesman for the University of Teesside, where the centre is based, 
> said  the meal for guests at the opening "will ot be a GM roadshow'', 
> referring  to the controversy over genetically modified or so-called 
> Frankenstein  foods. "We have not gone out of our way to put on a GM menu,
> we  cannot  discount the fact there will be some GM material in some of the 
> food,'' said the spokesman. 
> Food Standards Minister Jeff Rooker will officially open the 
> centre, where the business manager, Barry McCrea, said: "The 
> centre will be a valuable source of food technology expertise, 
> especially to small and medium sized companies that may not be 
> able to afford a food technologist of their own." 
> ======#====== 
> The Scotsman March 19, 1999, 
BYLINE: Camillo Fracassini 

> RESTAURANTS and shops that do not inform customers about GM 
> ingredients in 
> their food could be fined up to GBP 5,000 under labelling 
> regulations 
> launched by the Government yesterday. But the move was instantly 
> attacked by consumer groups and environmental campaigners. The 
> measures, 
> effective from today, will force shops and 
> manufacturers to ensure that all food containing genetically 
> modified ingredients is clearly labelled. Restaurants, cafes and 
> takeaways must also be able to tell customers whether GM 
> ingredients are present in their food. 
> Food retailers who do not obey the labelling requirements 
> can be prosecuted and face fines of up to GBP 5,000. The 
> regulations will apply to all 500,000 retail food outlets and 
> 125,000 catering outlets in the UK. The regulations will be 
> used to enforce a European Union directive introduced in 
> September that requires food containing modified soya and maize 
> food sold in shops to be labelled. 
> The Government's legislation goes further than the EC ruling 
> because it applies to restaurants, cafes, takeaway food 
> retailers, bakers and delicatessens. 
> However, consumer groups and environmental campaigners 
> have said the labelling regulations do not go far enough and 
> have warned that it will be difficult for local authority 
> environmental health officers to enforce them. Products 
> containing derivatives of GM crops, such as soya lecithin and 
> some oils and GM tomato paste will be exempt. 
> Restaurants will not have to list GM ingredients on menus, 
> though they will have to display a sign - and a note on menus 
> from September - saying that they will provide information about 
> GM ingredients to customers. Sheila McKechnie, the director 
> of the Consumers' Association, described the labelling 
> regulations as a "great disappointment". 
> She said: "Details of the Government's announcement reveal 
> that mandatory labelling of GM food will still not include all 
> ingredients derived from GM soya and maize. This is a lost 
> opportunity. 
> "Over 90 per cent of consumers have told us they want all 
> ingredients from a GM source to be labelled on packaged food and 
> over three-quarters also want to know whether their food is 
> genetically modified when they are eating out. "Today's 
> announcement has failed to address the loopholes in the EU 
> legislation which means many GM derived ingredients are exempt 
> and will not be labelled. 
> "The Government has not delivered what consumers really want - 
> effective choice." 
> Kevin Dunion, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, 
> said the catering industry would find it hard to source non-GM 
> ingredients because they were not being segregated from natural 
> varieties. 
> He said: "We have complete sympathy with restaurant owners 
> and catering companies who, through no fault of their own, find 
> their food has been genetically modified. 
> "Excluding some ingredients from the labelling law will mean 
> that consumers will still be eating unlabelled food containing 
> GM ingredients, depriving them of an informed choice. These new 
> labelling regulations will not allow consumers to avoid GM 
> derivatives." 
> The labelling laws come as a growing number of supermarkets 
> have moved to rid their own-label products of GM ingredients 
> amid mounting public concern about their safety. 
> Unveiling the regulations in the Commons yesterday, Jeff 
> Rooker, the food safety minister, insisted he believed there was 
> no health risk from eating GM food but he said consumers should 
> have the right to choose whether to do so. However, he 
> admitted derivatives had not been included as it was virtually 
> impossible to do scientific tests to verify their presence in 
> food stuffs. Mr Rooker said: "The Government is determined 
> that consumers should be able to choose whether or not to eat 
> genetically modified foods. This includes foods sold in 
> restaurants, cafes and takeaways and not just that available 
> from supermarkets." 
> He also dismissed fears that restaurants and caterers would 
> leave themselves open to prosecution because they would not know 
> if their food contained GM products. 
> "Frankly, people who are supplying food in shops and 
> restaurants are duty bound to know as much as they can about 
> where that food came from before they offer it to the public," 
> he said. 
> "What we are asking restaurants to do is to be in a position 
> so that if a customer asks if there are any GM ingredients to 
> know, not to say 'I will check and find out next week'." 
> But Paul Tyler, the Liberal Democrats food spokesman, said the 
> Government's regulations were "half-baked". 
> "If the Government cannot guarantee products are not free of 
> GM then labelling will not be of any use," he said. 
> "There is already doubt over the accuracy of information 
> available. Labelling could soon become a dangerous red herring, 
> and distract attention away from the need to police the genetic 
> engineers." 
> Michael Gotliebb, director of the Restaurant Association, 
> said he believed the Government's plans to regulate GM food in 
> the catering industry were unworkable. 
> He said: "Most of our suppliers don't have a clue whether or 
> not their products contain GMs so how can they tell 
> restaurateurs in the first place. "How on earth can this be 
> enforced? Are we going to have inspectors coming into 
> restaurants and then testing every single ingredient to see 
> whether or not they contain any GMs. It's just not possible." 
> The British Retail Consortium said many major retailers - 
> including Safeway, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury - had already gone 
> further than the new legal requirements by unilaterally agreeing 
> to label all GM ingredients, including derivatives, two weeks 
> ago. 
> An industry source said: "The real problem is with the 
> independent manufacturers who are refusing to label anything 
> they don't have to." 
> ======#====== 
> The Times (London) March 19, 1999, Friday 
> Caterers given respite over GM labelling
 BYLINE: Valerie Elliott,  Whitehall  editor 
BODY: SHOPS and supermarkets face fines of up to Pounds  5,000 
> from today if they fail to label any food which contains 
> genetically 
> modified soya and maize. However, the country's 125,000 
> restaurants, 
> fast-food outlets, cafes, pizza chains and hot-dog stands have until 
> September 19 before they must know the GM contents of the dishes they 
> serve. Menus will not have to list the GM content of every dish on 
> offer. 
> Instead notices will be 
> on display on premises if any food contains GM soya or maize. 
> Customers will have to ask waiters and waitresses for specific 
> information about dishes which contain a GM product. Restaurants 
> will not be able to get away with "defensive labelling" saying 
> that food "may contain" GM products.Jeff Rooker, the Food Safety 
> Minister, said: "Forget 'may contain'. We are not in the 
> business of 'may contain'. It's got to say genetically 
> modified or genetic modification. The EU directive states 'does 
> contain'. 
> "What we are asking restaurants to do is to be in a position 
> so that if a customer asks if there are GM ingredients to know, 
> not to say 'I will check and find out next week'." 
> GM tomato paste is excluded from the new law but Mr Rooker 
> said that premises had "a moral obligation" to inform customers 
> if it was used. He suggested that Zeneca's tomato paste 
> could also soon be covered by further new laws which would also 
> be extended to the GM content of additives and flavourings. The 
> Government would also have to decide soon if a GM-produced 
> tomato by Zeneca could be approved for sale. 
> The six-month gap for catering companies will allow staff to 
> be trained to answer queries and will give them time to check 
> upon their own supplies and if their ingredients contained GM 
> soya or maize, Mr Rooker said. If mistakes were made, the 
> prosecution would be against the catering owners or management 
> and not the table staff. 
> The new laws will be enforced by environmental health 
> officers but it is understood they intend to "go gently" until 
> people understand the requirements. The new laws will not apply 
> to ingredients such as the emulsifier lecithin and cooking oils. 
> Although these products are derived from the GM process they 
> contain no GM protein and so any meal cooked in GM soya oil or 
> a chocolate biscuit can be labelled GM-free. 
> Most supermarkets in Britain have already introduced their 
> own GM labels and most have also included GM derivatives not 
> covered by the new laws. Some retailers have also banned GM 
> ingredients in their own-brand products. Catering companies said 
> that the new laws were unworkable and unenforceable. Michael 
> Gotliebb, director of the Restaurants Association, said: "Our 
> members have spent a lot of money designing and printing menus 
> and these may have to be changed to accommodate the new rules. 
> "Also, most of our suppliers don't have a clue whether or 
> not their products contain GMs so how can they tell 
> restaurateurs in the first place?" He called on the Government 
> to say if the foods were safe: "If they are not they should not 
> be produced and if they are then the Government should stick to 
> its guns and not bow to idiotic pressure." 
> The new laws were also described as inadequate by 
> environmental groups who believed the Government had deceived 
> the public and put the burden on small businesses instead of 
> large companies such as Monsanto. Friends of the Earth said: 
> "The reality is that the public will still be eating unlabelled 
> food containing GM ingredients even after this law is passed." 
> Lord Sainsbury of Turville, the Science and Technology 
> Minister, has met the director of a company involved in 
> genetically modified food research in which he had an interest 
> "a number of times", the Trade and Industry Secretary said 
> yesterday. 
> Stephen Byers said in a Commons written reply: "I understand 
> that he has met Christopher Stone of Diatech Ltd on a number of 
> times on a personal basis but on no occasion were any aspects of 
> the work or investments of any of the companies placed in the 
> blind trust discussed." 
> John Redwood, the Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary, said: 
> "How can the public believe that this minister is independently 

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