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GE - GMO News 03/25

GMO News 03/25 
1) Kenya; Lobby cautions against genetically -modified foods 
2) Iceland's ban on GM foods pays off 
3)  Portugal feed industry says GM safety paramount 
4) Sensitive GM food test launched 
5) Yates acquires plant biotechnology business x3 Sydney 

Africa News March 25, 1999 
1) Kenya; Lobby cautions against genetically -modified foods 
BYLINE: Catherine Mgendi, The Nation  (Nairobi) 
Nairobi - There is more at stake in the on-going biosafety  debate 
> than the politics of free trade and biodiversity conservation. 
> Environmentalists say one of the greatest concerns of the 
> biotechnology 
> industry is the health implication of eating genetically -altered 
> foods. 
> According to Greenpeace International, geneticists are "altering 
> life 
> itself, dabbling with genes" to produce unnatural living plants and 
> animals. Greenpeace calls the potential consequences of this 
> millennium 
> industry " frightening", saying scientists are sourcing genes of their 
> products from organisms such as rats, scorpions, bacteria and even 
> humans, 
> which have never been part of the food chain. 
> "The danger is they are mixing genes from entirely unrelated 
> species; animal genes are going into vegetables, bacteria genes 
> into food crops, and human genes into animals." 
> How will we know what is in the food we eat when everything 
> from wine to the humble potato could contain strange genes? 
> poses Greenpeace. "Never before have genes from bacteria or 
> scorpions been part of the human diet!" says the environmental 
> lobby, lamenting that safety tests on genetically -engineered 
> foods have been "terrifyingly inadequate". How will we 
> protect our health when we can never tell what strange genes 
> have been put in our basic foodstuffs? wonders Greenpeace. 
> According to a 1995 Unep biosafety expert report, 860 
> genetically altered plants had been released into the 
> environment by 1993, 89.9 per cent being food crops. 
> The US allows unrestricted use of genetically -modified 
> tomatoes, soyabean, cotton, corn, oilseed rape, potatoes and 
> squash while Europe allows the marketing of altered oilseed 
> rape, corn and tobacco, according to Greenpeace. The US, which 
> produces half of the world's soya, harvested its first crop of 
> Roundup Ready ( pesticide -resistant) soya in 1996, planted on 
> some one million acres of land, according to Greenpeace. 
> By 1997, Europe was its biggest trading partner, importing 
> some 14 million tonnes of the crop every year. 
> "In 1996, only two per cent of the US crop was genetically - 
> engineered," says Greenpeace. "But if the market accepts it, 
> this would have escalated to around 50 per cent or more in 
> 1998." 
> Greenpeace points out that soya is found in about 30,000 (60 
> per cent) processed foods ranging from pasta, bread, margarine, 
> chocolate, ice-cream and vegetable oil. 
> Soya is also the most important non-meat source of protein 
> for vegetarians worldwide, and is further used as a protein 
> supplement for cattle. In a bid to enhance its productivity, 
> Monsanto, one of America's biggest biotechnology industries, 
> inserted genes from a bacteria, a cauliflower virus and the 
> petunia flower to make it resistant to the Roundup pesticide, 
> says Greenpeace. However, these new genes were derived from 
> sources foreign to the human diet. 
> Apparently, once the soya bean sprouts, pesticides cannot 
> be applied as they damage the crop, creating a favourable 
> environment for weeds to prosper and choke it. This, according 
> to Greenpeace, was the motivation for a pesticide -resistant 
> variety. 
> Maize, another extensively modified crop, has been 
> genetically engineered to have a built-in pesticide intended 
> to control the stem borer. This has been accomplished by 
> incorporating a poison gene from a naturally occurring soil 
> micro-organism, the bacillus thurigensis bacteria in maize. 
> Greenpeace says this poison becomes active in nature only when 
> ingested by insects. However, with this modification, the poison 
> will be produced continuously, killing other harmless insects. 
> Other than the soya bean and corn species, thousands of more 
> genetically -modified foods are on the waiting line. Says 
> Greenpeace: "Already in the laboratory, a human gene has been 
> added to salmon, trout and rice; a chicken gene to potatoes; 
> mouse genes into tobacco; and bacteria and virus genes into 
> cucumber and tomatoes." These foods and their unknown 
> components Greenpeace argues, are likely to compromise health 
> especially for people who suffer allergies. During the recent 
> biosafety meeting, Northern countries rejected a call for proper 
> labelling of genetically -modified organisms. "Allergy 
> sufferers won't stand a chance of avoiding ingredients they are 
> allergic to," it says. "They won't even know they are there!" 
> Crops with ampicillin-resistant genes also significantly 
> undermine health as the genes could spread to harmful bacteria, 
> making their control with this popular antibiotic impossible. 
> These are a few examples of the health implications of the 
> unregulated biotechnology industry. 
> The commercial growth of the industry has also raised 
> concerns about the impact of patenting genes or genetically - 
> modified organisms on food security, needless to mention the 
> environmental repercussions. 

> ======#====== 
THE JOURNAL (Newcastle, UK) March 24, 1999 
2) Iceland's ban on GM foods pays off 
BODY: FROZEN foods retailer 
> Iceland yesterday beat even the most bullish of profit forecasts 
> following 
> its campaigning stance against genetically modified food. The 
> company 
> said its ban on GM foods had greatly extended its appeal to 
> consumers and, 
> along with its pioneering home shopping scheme, had increased its 
> number 
> of shoppers. Chairman and chief executive Malcolm Walker said: 
> "GM 
> foods re damaging to the environment and possibly damaging to 
> health. We 
> are offering customers a choice not to have them and it has certainly 
> been 
> good for sales." The company is now removing 
> artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives from all its 
> own-brand products. 
> The group had also introduced environmentally friendly 
> freezers endorsed by Greenpeace. 
> Pre-tax profits for the year to January 2 were L55.1m 
> compared with L43.5m the previous year. Turnover was L1.74bn, up 
> from L1.57bn. Iceland, which has become popular on the stock 
> market recently, saw sales rocket from its award-winning home 
> delivery operation. 
> After shoppers have paid for their goods at the checkout, 
> Iceland deliver them the same day. 
> The scheme, now just more than a year old, already accounts 
> for 11pc of the group's sales and contributed around L200m to 
> the company's turnover in 1998. Mr Walker said as well as 
> bringing in new customers, shoppers using the scheme bought 
> more, knowing they did not have to load and unload their cars. 
> Home shopping, where customers order food over the telephone, 
> was also launched but was expected to grow at a far slower rate. 
> "We are talking about totally changing people's shopping 
> habits, and that takes two or three years," added Mr Walker. 
> Internet shopping would start this year. 
> Iceland's shares closed at 2831/2p up 81/2p. 

> ======#====== 
3)  Portugal feed industry says GM safety paramount 
By David Brough  LISBON,  March 25 (Reuters) -
 Portugal's animal feed industry believes food  safety 
> is paramount in the debate over whether to use genetically modified (GM) 
> foodstuffs, a spokesman said on Thursday. Luis Marques, secretary 
> general 
> of the Feed Compounders Association (IACA), said it was too early 
> for IACA 
> to take a position on GM foods as not enough information was 
> available 
> about possible long-term health risks. Our biggest concern is for 
> food 
> safety," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. "The debate 
> on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remains confused because 
> there is 
> no concrete information on the 
> possible consequences of GMOs for health," he added. 
> IACA spokesman Jaime Pissarra said he believed privately 
> that GMOs were safe as long as they had been formally approved 
> by the appropriate authorities, such as the U.S. Food and Drug 
> Administration (FDA) and the European Union. "If countries 
> carry out adequate controls and approve GM products, then I am 
> willing to accept them," he said. 
> Pissarra said importers of maize to Portugal, a net 
> importer of cereals, had shunned U.S. crop in recent months 
> because of concerns it could include unapproved GM strains. 
> "Importers don't want to run the risk of importing 
> unapproved strains of U.S. maize, and so they have turned 
> instead to maize from Argentina and eastern Europe," he said. 
> The EU permits imports of approved strains of GM crops like 
> maize and soybeans but regulations governing growing of GM 
> crops, whether experimental or commercial, within individual EU 
> member states are still in flux. Marques and Pissarra said 
> no Portuguese importer, feed compounder, retail chain or fast- 
> food outlet was known to have refused to use GM foods. In 
> Britain, some food retailers, such as Iceland Group, have 
> imposed bans on the sale of genetically modified products as 
> shoppers shunned what the press has dubbed "Frankenstein foods." 
> Few foodstuffs sold in Portugal are labelled as containing 
> GM ingredients. Portugals main consumer group, the 
> independent Portuguese Association for the Defence of the 
> Consumer (DECO), has said it backed GM foods as long as people 
> were fully informed about the ingredients and manufacturers were 
> liable for any health risks. 
> ======#====== 
> Financial Times (London) March 25, 1999, Thursday 

4) Sensitive GM food test launched 

> Sensitive GM food test launched Rank Hovis McDougall subsidiary RHM 
> Technology launched a test it says can identify even tiny amounts of 
> genetically modified ingredients in processed food, according to 
> New Scientist magazine. 
> March 25, 1999 

5) Yates acquires plant biotechnology business x3 Sydney 
BODY: Burbank's, which is currently owned by the Corunum 
> Corporation, a subsidiary of the Japanese Koa Petroleum group, has 
> annual 
> sales of approximately $2 million, Yates said . "Burbank 
> Biotechnology 
> is a new business for Yates," managing director Greg Rich said. 
> "It is 
> a great opportunity to leverage the highly respected Yates brand in 
> a 
> market that is twice the size of and growing faster than our 
> traditional 
> garden products market," he said. He said Yates would now be able to 
> supply 
> wholesale and floriculture nurseries with Yates plantets alongside 
> Yates 
> seeds. 
> Yates said its move into the tissue culture business is part 
> of the company's strategy to leverage the Yates brand to offer 
> a broader range of garden products and services. 
> Yates shares were trading at one cent lower at $1.03 at 1123 

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