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GE - GMO News 03/28

GMO News 03/28 
2)  A Parting of Cultures Over Cuisine 
3) Iceland founder acts ahead of the pack 
5) Letters: Better safe than sorry on GM food 
6) Organisations to  reconsider position on GM food debate 

Newsday (New York, NY) March 28, 1999 P
BODY: FUTURE FOOD is here, or coming to your kitchen soon. 
Your dinner tonight could be  marinara 
> sauce made from genetically altered tomatoes, served over pasta 
> fortified 
> with psyllium to fight heart problems. The next ear of corn from your 
> local farm stand might be from bioengineered seed that has pesticide built
> its genes; your soda may already be sweetened with syrup from altered 
> corn. In the next few years we could be eating potatoes engineered 
> to cure traveler's diarrhea, orange cucumbers with as much 
> vitamin A as cantaloupes, maroon carrots that contain mega 
> amounts of betacarotene to improve night vision or salad 
> dressing that seems to lower cholesterol if used regularly. 
> Strawberries could be strangely plump and juicy although they 
> were picked six weeks ago - and not in season. The first 
> bioengineered potatoes on Long Island have already been planted 
> on some East End farms. 
> Across America, a quiet revolution in the way food is 
> produced is under way. Last year, American farmers planted more 
> than 50 million acres of genetically engineered soybeans, corn, 
> cotton and potatoes. Four years ago, the figure was zero. 
> In this new world, bioengineers use high-tech "gene guns" to 
> splice new DNA into vegetables and farm crops before farmers 
> plant them; the device bombards plant genes with new genes from 
> bacteria, viruses, other plants and even animals, altering crops 
> to give them new attributes - with fish genes, for instance, to 
> help vegetables resist frost. 
> Newsday (New York, NY), March 28, 1999 
> American consumers already eat and drink many products that have 
> been fortified with vitamins and more. Orange juice with added 
> calcium has long been a staple in many refrigerators. Now, 
> manufacturers are adding to that list at an accelerating pace - 
> within the next year alone, cereals and pastas, and even potato 
> chips and cookies with unprecedented health benefits added will 
> hit local stores. 
> But bioengineering goes beyond such additives to the very 
> genetic makeup of produce, meats and fish. Altered crops can 
> resist pests and viruses; vegetables can boost their nutrition, 
> flavor, and even shelf life to cut down on waste and provide 
> more food to the world - perhaps, proponents say, as much as 40 
> percent more that's now lost through spoilage and inefficiency. 
> Fish are being engineered to mature three times faster, and cows 
> of the future may produce insulin through their milk. 
> "We are only at the beginning of the story," said Sano 
> Shimoda, president of BioScience Securities, a California 
> investment banking firm that studies biotechnology. "I liken it 
> to when the Wright brothers flew in 1903 at Kitty Hawk. We are 
> going to re-create agriculture from the ground up." It is a 
> change that boosters and critics alike consider as dramatic as 
> the computer explosion, yet it has arrived with little notice in 
> this country. In Europe and parts of Asia, however, 
> bioengineering has faced stiff opposition: Protesters have 
> burned fields of test crops, or turned away shipments of 
> American bioengineered grain. And U.S. farmers, naturalists, 
> grass-roots groups and even leading chefs are increasingly 
> voicing opposition to the spread of engineered food, saying it 
> may have unexamined conseqences both for agriculture and for 
> consumers. 
> Small farmers fear that a few huge companies will control 
> most of the food supply through their bioengineered, patented 
> seeds, narrowing the pool of crops that can be grown. They say 
> such a development not only hurts farming, but could leave crops 
> at greater risk of becoming vulnerable to new strains of disease 
> or pests - and ultimately endanger the food supply. 
> Other critics note there is little government regulation of 
> the biotech industry, and are stepping up demands that products 
> containing "genetically modified organisms" be labeled as they 
> are in Britain; in the United States, there is no way for 
> consumers to know whether food has been altered at the genetic 
> level. 
> Critics are most worried that the technology is jumping far 
> ahead of our understanding. Prince Charles of Britain weighed in 
> with that view last year in an oft-quoted newspaper commentary 
> on bioengineering: "That takes mankind into realms that belong 
> to God, and to God alone." 
> Among the potential dangers that some biologists warn of - 
> though biogeneticists dismiss them - are the creation of super- 
> resistant weeds that pick up biological pesticide genes through 
> cross-pollination, or super-bugs that develop genetic resistance 
> to the pesticides in altered plants. "What bothers me as a 
> scientist who has been in this a long time, the science is not 
> good regarding safety," said Liebe Cavalieri, a molecular 
> biologist at the State University of New York at Purchase and an 
> opponent of genetic engineering. "The science is rather flimsy." 
> As early as the 1970s, when few outside the scientific 
> community knew about bioengineering, Nobel laureate in medicine 
> and physiology Dr. George Wald warned about its possibilities. 
> "It presents probably the largest ethical problem that 
> science has ever had to face," Wald wrote. "Our morality up to 
> now has been to go ahead without restriction to learn all that 
> we can about nature. Restructuring nature was not part of the 
> bargain." 
> In the past quarter century, the field has moved faster than 
> Wald could have foreseen. 
> This year, close to half of the 72-million-acre soybean 
> harvest is expected to come from genetically engineered Roundup 
> Ready, which tolerates Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. You've 
> probably eaten genetically engineered soy products: Soy is used 
> in 60 percent or more of processed foods, including bread, 
> yogurt, chocolate and pasta. 
> About a quarter of the nation's 80 million acres of corn will 
> be genetically altered before the end of the year; enough to 
> make up a large portion of the high-fructose corn syrup that 
> sweetens sodas. 
> "Corn and soybeans touch our lives every day," said Dick R. 
> Reasons, president of Optimum Quality Grains, which bioengineers 
> Optimum high-energy corn in Iowa. Everyone who eats chicken is 
> eating corn, Reasons pointed out, since corn is 70 percent of a 
> chicken's diet. 
> This summer, bioengineered sweet corn as well as the kind of 
> corn fed to animals will be coming onto the market. Though there 
> will only be small amounts for farmers to plant this year, you 
> might purchase gene-altered corn on the cob at a roadside 
> farmstand without even knowing it. It won't look any different, 
> but the seeds from which it grew may have been injected with 
> substances that protect it from disease and pests. Genetically 
> engineered foods approved for sale in the United States and 
> either here or coming soon also include four varieties of 
> canola, cotton (used in cottonseed oil), radicchio, squash and 
> tomatoes - none of which need be specially labeled under U.S. 
> regulations. Biotechnology can also alter meat, fish and 
> poultry. One patent for a transgenic salmon that grows at four 
> times the normal rate, due to the inclusion of growth hormones 
> from humans and fish, has been granted to a Toronto-based 
> partnership. Stanford University has won a patent for fast- 
> growing transgenic abalone, a kind of mollusk. Pigs, cows, goats 
> and sheep, as well as other mammals, are being altered to 
> produce a clotting protein in their milk under a patent granted 
> to the American Red Cross. 
> Talk of engineering animals with bovine growth hormone to 
> increase beef production has quieted, however, because of 
> mounting concern about ill effects of the hormones. "Surveys 
> have shown that people get really upset when you start talking 
> about animals," said Michael Hansen, a research associate at the 
> Consumers Union - even people who express approval of 
> bioengineered plants. Only 120 patents have been granted so far 
> for animal alteration, compared with more than 500 for food 
> plants in 1998 alone. 
> With or without genetic engineering, in recent years, the line 
> between food and medicine has blurred with the increase in the 
> manufacture of "nutraceuticals," foods that promise health 
> benefits because of added ingredients. 
> At the University of Wisconsin, horticulturists are 
> cultivating onions full of chemicals that inhibit blood clots 
> that bring on strokes. At Boyce Thompson Plant Research Center 
> at Cornell University, researchers have developed bananas that 
> contain their own Hepatitis B vaccine and could be produced for 
> pennies a dose for the 2 billion people affected worldwide - if 
> they can figure out an effective way to measure correct doses. 
> At the same time, scientists increasingly are finding ways to 
> exploit healthful substances that occur naturally in some foods. 
> Companies are working overtime to produce enough broccoli 
> sprouts, which naturally contain lots of cancer-fighting 
> sulforaphane GS, to meet demand. In studies over the past two 
> decades, sulforaphane was shown to be by far the most potent 
> substance to protect against cancer by activating enzymes that 
> attack carcinogens in the body. "For the first time, there was 
> a demonstration that you could block cancer," said Dr. Paul 
> Talalay at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore, 
> whose work broke new ground in the field. A small amount of 
> sprouts can make a difference; you'd have to eat more than two 
> pounds of broccoli per week to get the same benefits. 
> In its own small wave of the future, Kellogg's this month 
> introduced psyllium-added pasta, cookies, potato crisps and 
> cereal that come with an FDA-approved promise to help lower 
> cholesterol - only the second product to get approval to make a 
> food-specific health claim. Psyllium, a grain that contains 
> large amounts of soluble fiber, is marketed by Kellogg's in 
> foods under the name Ensemble in five midwestern states. 
> Ensemble foods are coming to Long Island later this year; to 
> recruit converts, Kellogg's will even hook consumers up with a 
> free personal health coach, working through doctors and clinics 
> where cholesterol levels are taken. In recent times, said 
> Bill Mayer, president of Kellogg's Ensemble Division, people 
> were looking for food that was lower in fat and sodium, but "we 
> think now that consumers are looking at the presence of 
> positives, not just absence of negatives." 
> Hain, a Uniondale company, is already selling soups enhanced 
> with the herbal remedies St. John's Wort (used as an 
> antidepressant) and echinacea (used to ward off colds), as well 
> as mega-soy beverages. Campbell's V8 Splash, packed with beta 
> carotene and with extra A and C vitamins, has gone from ground 
> zero to sales of $ 200 million in 18 months, said Mike 
> Kilpatric, group director of corporate communications for the 
> company. 
> Now that scientists know more about the health benefits of 
> some foods, plant breeders are also changing plants in 
> conventional ways to provide more nutrition. Leonard M. Pike and 
> colleagues at the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center at 
> Texas A&M in College Station have produced a maroon-colored 
> carrot marketed as BetaSweet that has levels of beta carotene so 
> high that you can get a day's requirement by eating just half a 
> carrot. The conventionally bred carrot also has high levels of 
> anthocyanin, the antioxidant found in blueberries. "We'd rather 
> do it the quickest, easiest, least expensive way," said Pike. 
> But in the long term, none of these developments are as 
> dramatic as the transformation of agriculture being carried out 
> by the bioengineers. "The rapid gains are going to come now," 
> said Sorenson of Novartis. "The next 10 years are going to be a 
> fascinating time." 
> Norvartis has already engineered corn - by adding protective 
> bacteria and virus genes to corn genes - that is resistant to 
> corn ear worm and European corn borer. Further down the line, 
> the company is working to remove some of the nasty-tasting 
> sulfur compounds that come out in cooked cabbage and 
> cauliflower, to make it taste "more like raw cabbage, sweeter," 
> said Sorenson. Boosters of bioengineered foods predict that 
> production will be much more efficient as well. "Forty percent 
> of the food grown today is lost to spoilage, insects, disease, 
> post-harvest losses," said Val Giddings, vice president for food 
> and agriculture at the Biotechnology Industry Organization trade 
> group. All this may be preventable through biogenetics, Giddings 
> said. Before long, Giddings added, the techniques will be so 
> simple that high school students will be able to splice genes 
> into seed. 
> Critics, however, are asking whether the cost of such 
> progress will be too high. They point out that Monsanto, DuPont 
> and other life sciences companies were originally chemical firms 
> that introduced the pesticides that bioengineered foods are now 
> designed to reduce. Other large biotechnology leaders - among 
> them Novartis, Sandoz, Semenis, Zeneca, Northrup King and 
> Protein Technologies International - have also been involved in 
> seed company buyouts and mergers that have narrowed the field of  seed
> Increasingly, bioengineered crops from such big companies are 
> leading to fewer choices, said Wendell Berry, a farmer in Port 
> Royal, Ky., and a novelist who also writes essays on the 
> environment and country matters. "Bioengineering is the next 
> thing that the corporations have thought of to keep their 
> stranglehold on farmers," said Berry. "Consumers don't recognize 
> it, but the fewer people there are in the food industry, the 
> less choice consumers have." Roger Allison, a farmer who is 
> executive director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center in 
> Columbia, is equally critical of the process. "If cross- 
> pollination between genetically altered beans and unengineered 
> varieties wiped out a whole species, we would end up with an 
> inferior product susceptible to a whole host of diseases and 
> problems," he warned. "For the benefit of a few huge 
> transnational corporations, we put our very food supply at 
> risk?" Giddings, of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, 
> scoffed at the idea that bioengineered food crops threaten the 
> food supply. 
> He said that opponents of bioengineering say that "because we 
> don't have perfect capability to predict, we should do nothing." 
> That, he said, would be "staying in bed and never facing the 
> world. We don't have perfect knowledge, but we have plenty to 
> predict that the overall outcome will be overwhelmingly 
> positive." 
> If something does go wrong, bioengineers can always fix it, 
> Sorenson of Novartis said. "We can put in an almost unlimited 
> number of genes of resistance." 
> Aside from the growing U.S. activism, the acceptance of 
> bioengineered produce is not a given in Europe or in Third World 
> countries either. Last month, despite support from more than 
> 130 countries, a proposed United Nations treaty governing 
> bioengineered seeds was rejected when large gene-modifying 
> producers such as the United States balked. Grain shipments from 
> America have been blocked at the border of Switzerland and other 
> countries because they contained "suspicious DNA." In France, 
> Britain, Ireland and India, Monsanto test crops have been burned 
> in what protesters call "Operation Cremation Monsanto." 
> Protests are having some effect. Earlier this month, Monsanto 
> announced that it has withdrawn its application for approval of 
> genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans in Brazil, the 
> world's second largest exporter of soybeans. A group of major 
> European retailers, including Marks & Spencer of Britain and 
> Carrefour of France, announced a consortium to find and sell 
> only products that have not been altered; one British member, J. 
> Sainsbury's, said it has already banned any genetically modified 
> products from bearing its label. In Japan, the tofu producer 
> Taishi Shokuhin Kogyo has stopped purchasing U.S. soybeans and 
> started selling foods free from genetic modification. 
> For its part, Monsanto acknowledged in London that aggressive 
> public relations efforts to promote genetically modified foods 
> in Europe have backfired. The company is now offering to 
> cooperate with scientific institutes conducting independent 
> research. 
> Nevertheless, bioengineers say worries over the technology 
> are exaggerated, and those who don't get with the program will 
> get left behind. Imagine, says BioScience Securities Shimoda, 
> being thrust back into the 1950s, to where Silicon Valley is 
> today, "and sitting in those farm fields, and you are trying to 
> understand what Silicon Valley is, how big it is, how it will 
> change our lives." 
> On Long Island, there has been only a smattering of the first 
> wave of crops that resist pests and viruses. Right now, farmers 
> are mostly trying them out of curiosity. 
> Dale Moyer, plant specialist at the Suffolk County Cornell 
> Cooperative Extension Service, said that last year yellow sweet 
> corn was available, and this year it may be possible to obtain 
> some bicolor (white and yellow) corn, the kind typically grown 
> on Long Island. 
> "There is no way somebody can tell by eating the product that it 
> is transgenic," Moyer said. The experimental potatoes looked 
> different, he said, and were unacceptable, "but if it is a 
> mashed potato, you can't tell it is different." 
> It is precisely because you can't tell the difference that 
> people such as Charles Margulis, a genetic engineering 
> specialist for Greenpeace, believe labeling is essential. In 
> Manhattan, chefs at such high-profile restaurants as Daniel, 
> Chanterelle, Union Square Cafe and Le Bernardin have signed a 
> petition to fight for labeling of genetically engineered food. 
> And in the absence of labels, the Holiday Inn hotel chain is 
> considering requiring food suppliers to guarantee that their 
> products "do not contain raw materials or ingredients that have 
> been genetically modified," according to an internal memo. 
> Queens residents surveyed in Newsday's Future Poll of 544 
> people were somewhat skeptical about bioengineered food. When 
> asked what attitude people will have in the year 2020 toward 
> meats and vegetables produced by genetic engineering, 38 percent 
> predicted people would eat them alongside those grown in old- 
> fashioned ways. But 45 percent said people would avoid eating 
> them. Sixteen percent said they would prefer them to those grown 
> without genetic engineering. 
> "People will eat it," predicted Marguerite Marshall, 77, of 
> Queens Village. But Marshall, a retired nurse and educator, 
> added that she would want more information first. "What are the 
> beneficial effects over the organically-grown food?" she said. 
> "Would it make a 2-pound tomato? Would it improve the texture of 
> the food? I would have a little skepticism." 
> Anthony Fasanella of Elmhurst called bioengineered foods 
> "scary." The retired carpenter said they should be labeled. "You 
> don't know the long-range effects," he said. 
> But others polled said they were more likely to take what 
> comes. If bioengineered foods are "price wise and convenient," 
> said Marion Wilson, a chef who lives in South Jamaica, "I think 
> people will accept it." Restaurant manager Muhammed Quadri of 
> Flushing said, "Most people look at the outer look of an apple 
> or a tomato. Most people will buy it if it looks good." In 
> the first part of the 21st Century, there will still be old- 
> fashioned food, too, for diehards like Fasanella. Some of this 
> food will reach us directly from farms. 
> At Moonbeam Organic Gardens, a small family farm in Cutchogue, 
> and at other farms on the Island and across the country, farmers 
> are asking urban and suburban dwellers to buy farm shares and 
> receive a basket of produce every week during the growing 
> season. It's called sustainable agriculture. There are more 
> farmers markets, and a small but steady increase in organic 
> farming. These efforts are small, compared with the progress 
> of bioengineering. Manfred Kroger believes the two can, and 
> probably will have to, co-exist. Kroger, professor of food 
> science at Penn State University, said: "Questions ought to be 
> asked, as Socrates did 2,000 years ago - embarrassing and 
> needling questions. There ought to be technological critics, so 
> that technology is not abused." 
> But, he added, "We have an obligation to discover 
> technologies, monitor them and put them to good use." MILLENNIAL 
> MENU Here are three meals made with a little something extra: 
> All these foods - available or in the near future - are infused 
> with nutrients or added DNA BREAKFAST Omega 3 Egg Omelette Eggs 
> with triple the normal level of Omega-3 fatty acids (left), 
> which boost the "good" kind of cholesterol, are now in Long 
> Island stores from Eggland's Best. The Omega 3 bost stems from 
> a chicken feed of canola oil, grains, kelp and vitamin E. 
> Vaccinating Bananas Cornell University's Boyce Thompson 
> Institute for Plant Research in Ithaca is developing bananas 
> with a Hepatitis B vaccine; the dosage control hasn't yet been 
> perfected Calcium-Enriched Orange Juice. Widely available since 
> 1987 (left), a progenitor of future foods that add nutrients. 
> No-Caffeine Bean Coffee Caffeine is brede out of the beans by 
> bioengineering, removing the need to decaffeinate. Being 
> developed at Center for Plant Biotechnology Research, Tuskegee 
> University in Alabama. LUNCH Cancer-Fighting Pizza Met-Rx 
> frozen pizza (below), developed at UCLA's Connelly Lab for 
> Applied Nutritional science, are made with added nutrients and 
> tomatoes bioengineered to contain triple the normal amount of 
> lycopene, which combat many kinds of cancer. Salad With 
> Bioengineered Canola Oil Dressing The canola oil is made from 
> plants bioengineered to resist pesticides. Anti-Cholesterol 
> Cookies The oatmeal cookies (left), sold by Kellogg's under the 
> Ensemble name in five midwestern states and soon to come to the 
> northeast, contain physillium - a cholesterol-lowering substance 
> made from grain husk. DINNER Soupeaceutical Uniondale-based 
> Hain Pure Foods sells organic soups (right) with herbal remedies 
> added, including St. John's Wort (used as an antidepressant) and 
> echinacea (used to fight colds). Sulforaphane Salad (with 
> broccoli sprouts) Broccoli sprouts recently have been found to 
> be naturally high in sulforaphane GS, a cancer-fighting 
> substance; they're available in some local markets. Soy Steak 
> Looks and tastes like steak -- or close anyway -- but made of 
> soy protein, which combats osteoporosis and cancer. Being 
> developed by Protein Technologies International of TK, which is 
> still working on flavor and constistency Physillium Fettucine 
> With Modified Tomato Sauce Fettucine (below with side salad) 
> also from Kellog's Ensemble line; tomato paste labeled in 
> Britain as "GMO --- genetically modified organism" Maroon 
> Carrots Bred conventionally by plant scientists at Texas A&M 
> University to boost beta carotene, which protects the immune 
> system and combats night blindness. Patented Potatoes 
> Monsanto's NewLeaf brand (left), grown across the country and 
> designed with biological pesticides built in to eliminate potato 
> beetles. Bioengineered Corn on the Cob Patented by Novartis, 
> the corn (right) produces a protein toxic to corn ear worms. 
> Grown in Florida.; sold in eastern U.S. **** THE FUTURE POLL 
> ENGINEERED FOOD By 2020, what attitude will people have toward 
> meats and vegetables produced by genetic engineering? Will 
> prefer them to those grown without genetic engineering 16% Will 
> eat them alongside those grown without genetic engineering 38% 
> Will avoid eating them 45% 
> GRAPHIC: Charts - 1) MILLENNIAL MENU. Here are three meals made 
> with a little something extra: All these foods - available or in 
> the near future - are infused with nutrients or added DNA. 2) 
> THE FUTURE POLL. ENGINEERED FOODS (see end of text). Newsday 
> Photos by J. Michael Dombroski - 1) (a man dressed in protective 
> medical clothing, holding a needle in one hand an vegetables in 
> the other). 2) Genetically engineered food, such as potato 
> chips, above, and 3) tomatoes, is already on the shelves of some 
> supermarkets, and more is on the way. Corn with a built-in 
> pesticide, carrots that improve night vision, strawberries that 
> stay fresh for weeks - they're all part of a real growth 
> industry. 
> ======#====== 
> The Washington Post March 28, 1999 
2)  A Parting of Cultures Over Cuisine 
BYLINE: Anne Swardson, Washington Post Foreign Service 
BODY: Never mind bananas. Everyone knows 
> that particular trade war is about politics, not fruit. Few ordinary 
> Europeans care one way or the other. The next rounds in the 
> transatlantic 
> trade fight, on the other hand, really are about food. They center on 
> U.S. 
> export of hormone-treated beef and genetically modified plants and 
> crops, 
> and they hit Europe where it hurts: in the kitchen. Both engender 
> much 
> broader and stronger negative feeling here than the banana battle has. 
> The European Union's 11-year ban on hormone-treated beef, 
> which led to the publication last week of a "hit list" of 
> European exports for possible retaliation by the United States, 
> is one of the few EU positions that real people here actually 
> noticed--and support. 
> This, despite the fact that in 10 years of trying, the 
> European Union has not been able to come up with scientific 
> evidence proving beef-hormone treatment is harmful to human 
> health, and despite the fact that the dispute-resolution system 
> of the World Trade Organization has twice ruled against the 
> European prohibition. 
> The matter of genetically modified plant products is not yet 
> before the world trade arbitration system, but European 
> consumers are so strongly opposed to these exports that experts 
> are sure they, too, will lead to trade conflict. Both cases-- 
> beef hormones and genetically modified products--reflect a 
> European view of food fundamentally different from that in the 
> United States, experts here say. However different their 
> cultures and cuisines, the countries of Western Europe share a 
> deep hostility to food fiddling of any kind. "The fact of the 
> matter is that Europeans feel more suspicion of anything 
> regarded as interference with nay-chah," said EU Trade 
> Commissioner Leon Brittan, deliberately accentuating the word 
> "nature." "The United States is more inclined to accept 
> technology." 
> "There are clear cultural elements," said Claude Fischler, 
> food expert at the French National Center for Scientific 
> Research. "Americans are very worried about bacteria. They want 
> to keep their bodies from being penetrated by foreign enemies. 
> The French and the Italians believe health is more a function of 
> an inner balance, the ancient Greek idea of the humors." 
> Continentals will happily eat raw hamburger with a raw egg on 
> top, or oysters in summer, or unpasteurized cheese (which does 
> indeed taste a lot better). They will also take their dogs to 
> restaurants. 
> Naturally. 
> But to European consumers, the idea of eating a hormone-injected 
> steak or tomatoes whose genes have been reordered by science-- 
> quelle horreur! A cartoon in Le Figaro newspaper last week 
> showed a couple eating in a restaurant examining the contents of 
> their plates through a microscope, while back in the kitchen a 
> chef wearing a surgical mask poured substances from test tubes. 
> That scares them. 
> On the same day, however, Liberation newspaper reported that 
> two people died in January from eating Epoisse cheese that 
> contained the listeria bacteria. And the government ordered a 
> recall of a certain brand of Camembert because tests had shown 
> some of the cheese contained the salmonella bacteria. 
> Somehow, nobody seems scared of cheese. 
> In France and Italy, in particular, food is definitely more 
> art than science. Walking through an open-air market in Paris or 
> Rome, the tomatoes gleam--none of those supermarket red objects 
> over here--the thin green beans nestle against one another, the 
> lettuce blooms like a big fluffy tulip. In France, dozens of 
> cheeses are displayed on straw trays; dozens of fish repose on 
> ice. In Italy, people care deeply about freshness and purity 
> even if their sauces are slightly less complex. Italians won't 
> touch overdone pasta and always prepare their own salad 
> dressing. In the land of spaghetti bolognese, tomatoes must be 
> pure. 
> Meanwhile, a recent poll by the French firm Sofres found that 
> 63 percent of respondents would refuse to eat genetically 
> modified food. And when dinner-party conversation here turns to 
> American imperialism, as it often does, the next line always is: 
> "I don't want to eat your altered tomatoes." 
> In Europe, even where the fare is less elegant, in Britain 
> and Germany for example, people are equally suspicious. In 
> Germany, for instance, opposition to hormone-treated beef and 
> genetically modified food products is strong. "There is much 
> more a fast-food mentality," in Germany, said Susanne Commerell, 
> spokeswoman for Greenpeace Germany. "But people don't see the 
> benefit of manipulated gene food. Many feel it just helps the 
> big agricultural companies." Under a World Trade Organization 
> ruling the ban on hormone treated beef must be lifted by May 13, 
> but the EU has served notice to the United States that it will 
> not meet that target because studies are not complete. 
> Negotiations are underway to find a compromise by, for instance, 
> labeling beef that has hormones. The list of products subject to 
> tariffs is designed to pressure Europe toward a solution. 
> The situation with genetically modified food and crops is 
> more complex. There is no pending WTO case against them and, in 
> fact, some genetically modified crops already are being grown in 
> Europe. Genetically modified soybeans and a few varieties of 
> corn have been approved for sale here by European food-safety 
> regulators--an excessively slow process, in the American view. 
> But consumer sentiment is strongly against them. Major grocery 
> store chains in Britain (where it is known in the press as 
> "Frankenstein food"), Belgium, France and elsewhere have 
> announced they will sell no food or produce that has been 
> genetically modified, and in case of doubt they won't sell it at 
> all. Spanish importers refuse to buy U.S. corn for fear its 
> genes have been tampered with or that labels saying it has 
> regular genes are not reliable. Austria and Luxembourg prohibit 
> all imports of genetically modified crops, even though the EU 
> trade regime requires them to follow Europe-wide rules and 
> accept whatever is EU-approved. 
> If the past is any guide, Europeans won't always feel this way. 
> According to Georg Ruhrmann, chairman of media science at the 
> University of Gena near Berlin, these issues run in cycles. 
> Based on extensive studies of media coverage of technology 
> issues, he said, European feelings will start becoming more 
> positive as time goes on. 
> "People first are critical and skeptical, then less so," he 
> said. "Ten years ago it was information technology, now that's 
> accepted. In five years nobody will speak about the risks of 
> genetic food." 
> A farmer herds cows by the Eiffel Tower in Paris during 
> another beef dispute. The European Union has banned the import 
> of hormone-injected beef. An Amsterdam cafe: To the European 
> palate, there's no place for genetically modified food. GRAPHIC: 

> ======#====== 
> Financial Times (London) March 27, 1999  
3) Iceland founder acts ahead of the pack 
BODY: Iceland founder acts ahead 
> of the pack Malcolm Walker, founder of frozen food retailer Iceland, 
> announced the removal of genetically modified ingredients from the 
> group's own label products long before the current furore persuaded  J 
> Sainsbury and Marks and Spencer to follow suit. This week he reported  a 
> bounce back in annual profits from L43.5m to L55.1m. Page 20 

> ======#====== 
> The Toronto Star March 28, 1999 
 BODY: I wrote last week of India's farmers leading the last 
> cavalry charge against the big guns of Monsanto. Just about everyone 
> is at 
> war with Monsanto over its newest technological achievements 
> involving 
> genetically -modified crops and plants. Those few who are on 
> Monsanto's 
> side include the United States and world powers such as Panama, 
> Peru, and 
> Canada. In February, members of the European Parliament voted to 
> restrict 
> further importation of certain GM products until sufficient study 
> had been done with respect to possible dangers to human health and 
> the environment. Our own government, apparently without a mind of 
> its 
> own, has followed the American lead which is to leave it to the free 
> market 
> to decide. The exception to this was the bovine growth hormone 
> BST, a 
> Monsanto product that boosts milk production in cows. 
> The federal health department, after prolonged and bitter 
> internal debate, followed Europe's decision and banned BST, on 
> the grounds of its effect on the cows. 
> It is possible to be supportive of genetically -modified 
> seeds and yet support the need for further research. Against the 
> benefit of greater crop yields are the possible, considerable 
> dangers. The Europeans are cautious, the Americans are not (it 
> is largely their technology and to their profit); Canada 
> supports the Americans. 
> Monsanto, meanwhile, is on the warpath. It is resisting any 
> attempt by governments to require food containing GM products to 
> be labelled as such, or milk products from cows fed with bovine 
> growth hormone being so labelled. But labelling is only part of 
> the problem: Last February, European health-food importers were 
> obliged to destory 87,000 packages of tortilla chips, imported 
> from the U.S.A., found to contain traces of genetically - 
> modified corn. The tainted corn was likely cross-pollinated from 
> GM maize grown in a neighbouring field. 
> Monsanto is also militantly opposing those it suspects of 
> hijacking its patents. The company is presently suing a 
> Saskatchewan farmer for illegally growing Monsanto GM granola 
> which a hired detective agency found among his crops. The farmer 
> claims the seeds blew in from a nearby dump (where seed sacks 
> are cast away) and took root in his fields. He has spent 
> thousands thus far in legal fees; his case is due in court 
> this autumn. 
> An effort by 170 nations to reach an accord regulating the 
> commerce in genetically -engineered products foundered at this 
> month's meeting in Colombia. The United States, along with a 
> host of lobbying corporations, and of course Canada, were among 
> those seeking to undermine the initiative. They succeeded. 
> The Colombia protocol was intended to follow the convention on 
> Biological Diversity, ratified by 174 nations, including Canada, 
> at the 1992 Earth Summit meetings in Rio de Janeiro. The 
> Americans, however, have not yet concurred. Although President 
> Clinton signed the treaty in 1993, the Senate has delayed giving 
> consent. 
> English Nature, the British government's statutory adviser 
> on these matters, has written Prime Minister Tony Blair to offer 
> its measured opinion: ''Our position,'' the letter reads, 
> ''on the likely effect of herbicide tolerant crops is based on 
> good scientific evidence, which demonstates that declines in 
> wild plants, insects, and birds on agricultural land is partly 
> due to the use of more efficient herbicides. More research has 
> recently been commissioned ... but will not report until 2003 at 
> the earliest. ''Our advice to government has been that 
> herbicide tolerant crops and insect- resistant crops, not all GM 
> crops, should not be released commercially until this research 
> has been completed... It is important that English Nature be in 
> a position to reassure the public that the technology is 
> environmentally safe. .. We cannot assure the public about this 
> currently.'' The British consumer has, at least, a friend in 
> the court of Tony Blair. Canadians have - you won't like this - 
> only the Canadian Senate, whose Agriculture Committee alone took 
> on Monsanto and its bovine growth hormone, along with senior 
> health department officials, and the minister, Allan Rock. The 
> government, apparently, is in mortal fear of being sued through 
> chapter 11 of the NAFTA - every multinational corporation's best 
> friend - and of losing face in the WTO. 
> Monsanto, you may recall, are the wonderful folk who brought 
> the world Agent Orange, a defoliant as deadly to people as to 
> weeds, a leading manufacturer of PCBs which cause cancer, and 
> who sued farmers daring to label their produce ''BST free.'' 
> It was the Senate of Canada that gave health department 
> researchers the opportunity to testify to their unwillingness to 
> approve BST and to report Monsanto's friendly offer of $1 
> million to $2 million to Drs. Haydon and Drennan, made by a 
> Monsanto representative and which Drennan has said he considered 
> as a bribe. (Monsanto has denied it.) 
> The Minister and senior officials sought to intimidate the 
> witnesses and censor their testimony, and the government has 
> denied the Senate committee the power to subpoena department 
> records. 
> This is a Liberal government? 
> Dalton Camp is a political commentator. His columns appear 
> Sundays and Wednesdays in The Star. 

> ======#====== 
> Belfast Telegraph March 27, 1999 
5) Letters: Better safe than sorry on GM food 
BODY: CONGRATULATIONS to Stephen Winn (Writeback, March 
> 9)  regarding his opinion on the issue of GM foods which was addressed 
> in a 
> previous newspaper article by academic experts from the University 
> of 
> Ulster. As a research scientist, I have considerable experience of 
> toxicological testing and safety evaluation of new chemical and 
> biologically derived products, as well as a knowledge of plant 
> breeding and 
> I totally agree with the sentiments and concerns expressed by Mr 
> Winn. 
> GM technologies, in agricultural practices, are derived from 
> a completely different scientific concept to that practised in 
> traditional plant breeding methods. In the case of the latter, 
> scientists select those strains or species which, through time, 
> have adopted characteristics most suited to the prevalent 
> conditions. 
> However, in the case of GM scientists are in essence using 
> a type of "enforced natural selection" whereby their goals are 
> forcibly attained by transferring genetic material from one 
> species to another, irrespective of whether these species are 
> compatible from nature's perspective. The application of GM 
> products in food technology is a very dangerous approach, in 
> particular if there is no knowledge of what the long-term 
> consequences maybe for man and/or the environment. 
> Surely we should have learned from the disastrous 
> consequences of the BSE crisis which resulted from the transfer 
> of biological material from one species to another. 
> Prior to that crisis we were also advised by a panel of 
> scientific experts that there were no inherent problems with 
> BSE. We now of course are only too well aware of the detrimental 
> effects which BSE had on human health. In future when 
> considering the introduction of high-tech scientific issues such 
> as GM, we should remember the well known adage - "the more haste 
> and the less speed". 
> Alternatively, do we have to await the onset of a GMSE 
> crisis or the appearance of a frog with eight legs and two heads 
> before we realise that GM was maybe not such a good idea after 
> all. 
> Co Armagh. 

> ======#====== 
> The Irish Times March 27, 1999
6) Organisations to  reconsider position on GM food debate 
> The 19 organisations which withdrew from a consultation process on 
> genetically modified organisms - including GM foods - are 
> reconsidering 
> their position following the Minister for the Environment's 
> announcement 
> of independent evaluators of two national debates on the issue. The 
> process was set up by Mr Dempsey to inform national policy due to be 
> established before the EU attempts to grapple with the controversy 
> surrounding GM food regulation and labelling in June. But the NGOs, 
> which 
> are opposed to the way GM foods are being developed and 
> commercialised, claimed the initial format was unbalanced. 
> Their spokeswoman, Ms Iva Pocock of Voice, yesterday accepted 
> that an independent four-person panel to oversee the process was 
> indicative of a willingness to change the format. "We are 
> evaluating this, and considering if it's sufficient," she said. 
> A Genetic Concern spokesman, Mr Quentin Gargan, said there 
> were some positive elements in it though he hoped "a panel of 
> ordinary citizens" would judge the debate as had happened 
> elsewhere. 
> He was also concerned that it was a departmental rather than 
> Government process, as this week's Dail debate on GM foods had, 
> in his opinion, exposed broad divergence between Departments. 
> The Minister had stressed that he was "acutely aware of the 
> critical importance of independent management of the debate and 
> of the value of having an independent report on the outcome". 
> Without setting any preconditions to the outcome, he repeated 
> his commitment to "strong, effective precautionary legislation"; 
> maximum transparency and the provision of full information as a 
> basis for good public debate. But the Green MEP, Ms Nuala 
> Ahern, accused the Government of panic on GM food, indicated by 
> the introduction of "yet another layer of bureaucracy". She 
> claimed an attempt had been made to "bounce" the 19 NGOs into an 
> unbalanced system of consultation but, when that failed, the 
> independent panel was added. This, she claimed, would drag out 
> the process until after the European and local elections in 
> June.  
> ======#====== 
> Los Angeles Times March 28, 1999 
> Opinion Desk 
Alexander Cockburn writes for the Nation  and other publications 
BODY: Even in the darkest days of Princess Di 
> mania, when his name was mud among the masses, I had high hopes for 
> Prince  Charles as a radical thorn in the side of business-as-usual. He's 
> always  been conspicuous for sensible environmental positions athwart 
> conventional  opinion--on the Amazon rainforest, land use and organic
> Now  he's justifying my expectations, launching princely broadsides against 
> some  of capital's mightiest corporate powers, specifically Monsanto and
> genetic -industrial complex. 
> Last month, Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered the 
> prince to shut down his royal Web site 
> (, which features vigorous 
> denunciations by the heir apparent of GM-- genetically modified 
> crops. (In the U.S., it's GE-- genetically engineered crops.) 
> The prince refused point blank the prime minister's command. 
> Genetic material, the prince thunders in one posting, "does 
> not stay where it is put. Pollen is spread by the wind and by 
> insects. GM crops can contaminate conventional and organic crops 
> growing nearby." Such crops eventually mean "sterile fields 
> offering little or no food or shelter to wild life." The 
> prince adds, "I wonder about the claims that some GM crops are 
> essential to feed the world's growing populations. . . . H ow 
> will the companies who own this technology make a sufficient 
> profit from selling their products to the world's poorest 
> people? Wouldn't it be better to concentrate instead on the 
> sustainable techniques which can double or treble the yields 
> from traditional farming systems?" 
> It may seem ironic that the British heir apparent should be 
> adopting a principled, enlightened position in marked contrast 
> to Blair and the social democrats. But their roles are in 
> character. Blair's tradition of social democracy has a frenzied 
> enthusiasm for supposed technological progress. It was Harold 
> Wilson, Labor Party leader in the '60s, who used to hymn "the 
> white heat of technology." The tradition of rambling and rural 
> hiking that used to mark British radicals has long since gone. 
> Far dearer to Blair's heart are big corporations--most notably 
> Monsanto--that are pushing patents for genetically modified 
> crops into Europe. Blair ordered the prince to shut down his Web 
> site, calling it political meddling. GM is a hot issue in the 
> UK. The stakes are high for Monsanto. Consumers Union 
> estimates that Monsanto's bovine growth hormone, rBGH, could 
> earn the company $ 500 million a year in the U.S. and another $ 
> 1 billion a year internationally. The haul from Monsanto's 
> Round-Up Ready soybeans, potatoes and corn and its terminator 
> seeds could be tens of billions more. 
> Faced with the almost certain prospect that the European 
> Union would ban the import of Monsanto genetically modified 
> corn in 1998, the company unleashed an unprecedented lobbying 
> effort, flying a group of critical journalists to the U.S. to 
> visit its corporate headquarters and labs with a side trip to 
> the White House. Bill Clinton and Al Gore got into the act, 
> engaging in some last-minute arm-twisting of the Irish and 
> French prime ministers. France and Ireland caved in to the 
> pressure by last July. This spring, Monsanto's GM corn will be 
> planted in Europe. 
> In Britain, the Labor government, secure in its majority, is 
> nonetheless embarrassed by blunders on the GM issue, including 
> that Lord Sainsbury, Labor's science minister, who is deeply 
> involved in GM decision-making, had financial and familial ties 
> in GM companies. 
> Prince Charles commands considerable public support from 
> Britons deeply suspicious of scientific manipulation of their 
> food. The '60s live on, in the most surprising ways. A decent 
> slice of Prince Charles's world view--cosmic holism, organic 
> communitarianism--mirrors that of an American hippie in the late 
> '60s. After all, organic agriculture in America owes much to the 
> hippies, as does Humboldt Gold, an example of biological 
> manipulation of the most uplifting sort. 

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