SnowBall archive


GE - more weekend catch up

1) Genetically manipulated salmon exposed in New Zealand 
2) "The Stroud campaign for safe food" 
3) National Trust bans GM crops from 700 farms 
4) B-GE: Green taste of GM supremo
5) Amazon Tribal Leaders Challenge U.s. Patent They Say American Has No Right 
To Plant Used In Healing 

1) Genetically manipulated salmon exposed in New Zealand 
>Agence France Presse April 6 
>WELLINGTON, April 6 (AFP) - A small New Zealand political party 
>Tuesday exposed a fish farm company developing genetically engineered 
>salmon which grow faster and bigger than other salmon. 
>But the company, New Zealand King Salmon, denied it was doing anything 
>wrong and said it was working to "preserve our clean, green image". 
>Green Party co-leader and member of parliament Jeanette Fitzsimons 
>released documents from Communications Trumps, a public relations firm 
>hired by King Salmon, which it said suggested keeping the trial under 
>Trumps warned that King Salmon's work with genetically modified salmon 
>could easily turn into a crisis because of the strong campaign against 
>genetic engineering. 
>"Whatever protest is made, we can be certain that television and other 
>media will be extremely interested and will demand access to the 
>The paper said the company's messages about its research and 
>objectives must be clear, and clarify issues including safety, 
>environmental protections and animal welfare. 
>"Issues such as deformities, lumps on heads etc. should not be 
>mentioned at any point to anyone outside -- comments about those would 
>create ghastly Frankenstein images and would be whipped up into a 
>frenzy by Greenpeace." 
>King Salmon operations and contracts manager Mark Gillard said claims 
>by the Green Party that it was an experiment gone wrong were 
>"completely false." 
>He said the salmon involved in the trial looked "perfectly normal," 
>with the only difference being that they grew faster and bigger than 
>other salmon. 
>Gillard said the trial involved taking a chinook salmon gene, 
>rearranging it and introducing it into a chinook salmon so that the 
>fish had two of the genes, which promoted growth. 
>He said the company was closely monitoring the fish, which were kept 
>in separate containers at its facility south of here. 
>"We're concerned about risks too. We want to preserve our clean, green 
>image," he said 
>Gillard said the experimental fish he had seen were growing fast and 
>looked fine. 
>He said there was nothing secret about the firm's work, which had been 
>known about in the scientific community and the salmon farming 
>industry, and had been mentioned in overseas publications. 
>The trial, which started about four years ago, was still in its very 
>early stages and was unlikely to be applied commercially for at least 
>10 years, Gillard said. 
>Fitzsimons said she was horrified at the extent of the secrecy 
>surrounding the trial, and worried about risks to health and the 
>"Because of New Zealand's lax laws on genetic engineering, the company 
>has managed to carry on this work for several years with official 
>knowledge and consent, but with no public hearing or debate 
>whatsoever," she said. 
>She said little was known about the health risks of eating 
>genetically-engineered salmon, and there was a danger that if they 
>escaped into the wild they would cross-breed with wild salmon. 
>New Zealand King Salmon is the country's largest salmon producer, with 
>an 80 percent share of the New Zealand industry. 
>It rears pacific king salmon from smolt, growing them in sea cages in 
>the Marlborough Sounds and processing them in Nelson.
>Natural Law Party news bulletin 
2) "The Stroud campaign for safe food" 
>The following letter from Henry & Sally Brighouse, Natural Law Party 
>representatives in Stroud, tells the story of the rising waves of support 
>to make Stroud the first GMO-free ciity in the UK: 
>"When 500 people turned out to deliver a carefully worded document of 
>concern about genetically modified organisms to Stroud's five supermarkets 
>recently, it was clear that a deep concern felt by the people of Stroud was 
>coming into focus. 
>The event was a milestone in a process of education that started three 
>years earlier with the arrival in Stroud of the Natural Law Party's clear 
>and persuasive leaflet outlining the dangers of GM food. We handed it out 
>wherever we could, and took a copy to our then MP who blandly assured us 
>there was nothing to worry about because government regulatory procedures 
>were quite adequate to protect the consumer. 
>In response, we sent a rather indignant open letter that was published in 
>the local paper, urging people to write to their MP and to supermarkets 
>expressing their concerns about GM food. 
>Local food shop owners Lyn and Trevor Searby became interested, as did 
>Green Party town councillor John Marjoram, who is now Mayor of Stroud. (The 
>Greens had no policy on GMOs at this point.) Together we decided to hold a 
>special town meeting. 
>The poster to announce the meeting showed a big red tomato with a fizzing 
>bomb fuse. 'Danger! GM food may not be what it seems,' read the caption. 50 
>people came to the meeting and from it emerged the 'Stroud campaign for 
>safe food'. 
>The Natural Law Party had established its identity as the party with a 
>clear understanding of the issue, and the NLP's leaflet about GMOs became 
>increasingly in demand in local shops and cafés. 
>The 1997 general election gave us a new MP, David Drew (Labour), who was 
>more receptive to our concerns and wisely realised that the GMO issue was a 
>serious vote-catcher, in spite of government pro-GM policy. We had gained a 
>voice in parliament. 
>The focus of the campaign was to keep writing letters by the dozen, 
>inspired by our large ongoing exhibition in the Mother Nature food shop in 
>the centre of town. 
>Food is an emotive issue, and early in the campaign our meetings could be 
>emotionally charged, as the magnitude of the problem became apparent. Then, 
>we began to integrate the knowledge of Maharishi's Vedic Science into our 
>meetings to bring a broader perspective to the issue with an understanding 
>more and more in terms of principles of consciousness, where problems turn 
>into solutions. Instead of 'fighting the darkness' and getting tired, 
>bringing the light of deeper knowledge has proved to be a more fulfilling 
>and sustainable approach. 
>It was the Mayor, with his finger on the pulse of collective consciousness, 
>who proposed a march. We met to give the idea definite shape and purpose, 
>arriving at 'The Stroud Document on GMOs' and the plan to present it 
>formally to the town's supermarkets during the march. The document clearly 
>outlines the risks and disadvantages of GMOs and recommends a boycott of 
>all processed foods, since so many of them - up to 80% - may contain GMOs. 
>'This means a healthy return to home cooking, using basic ingredients, 
>until processed foods can be guaranteed to be derived from non-GM, 
>identity-preserved sources,' proclaims the document. 
>A date was fixed just two weeks away on 6th Marchand the route agreed 
>with the police. Flyers and posters went up around the town and the local 
>paper published the 1,000-word document in full, three days before the 
>march. 25 local organisations agreed to write statements of support for the 
>Although snow was forecast, we awoke to a fine sunny morning. Gathering at 
>the top of the High Street, the crowd began to swell. A young Meditator, 
>Holly Burt, arrived with her school friends and volunteered to carry the 
>eight-foot wide campaign banner, heading the march for its two-hour 
>duration. We were amazed to find that over 500 people had joined the march 
>carrying many banners, while a band of drummers arrived to send us of. 
>The orderly procession culminated in the town square where the Natural Law 
>Party was invited to read out the Stroud Document on GMOs, after which the 
>MP David Drew replied, and the Marchioness of Worcester spoke on behalf of 
>the Green Party and presented the Iceland store manager with a bouquet of 
>flowers in recognition of the company's pioneering stand in excluding GMOs 
>from its products. A poem was read out, followed by closing remarks and 
>congratulations from the Mayor. 
>There was a sense of collective achievement, much applause and very full 
>media coverage over the following days. Our local newspaper's letters' 
>column continues to bulge with letters on the topic, whilst vendors of 
>organic produce are dramatically increasing their turnover. 
>Events are showing that collective consciousness is changing very fast. 
>There is no doubt that people are beginning to realise very clearly that 
>the process of genetic engineering - manipulating the complex mechanisms of 
>DNA and the subsequent disruption of the sequence of intelligence that 
>structures life - is a violation of Natural Law. Now, Natural Law is rising 
>to put things right. 
>Our campaign to ban GMOs continues with rising support to make Stroud the 
>first GM-free town in the country." 
>UK Daily Telegraph 1st April 1999 
3) National Trust bans GM crops from 700 farms 
> By David Brown, Agriculture Editor 
>THE National Trust joined calls for a moratorium on the commercial 
>production of genetically modified crops yesterday. 
> The trust said it was taking action to stop hundreds of its tenant farmers 
> growing them. Farmers will need explicit permission to grow GM crops from 
> now on, it said. The move affects more than 700 producers on 575,000 
> acres of National Trust land in England and Wales. 
> It follows decisions by a string of supermarkets to exclude GM 
> from their own-label foods and an announcement on Monday by the Co-op, 
> Britain's largest farmer, that it would not be taking part in "flawed" 
> Government trials in which whole fields are given over to GM crops. In a 
> statement, the trust called for a moratorium on GM crops that could pose 
> risk to wildlife and the environment, although it accepted the need for 
> scale" trials to enable the risks to be assessed. 
> John Harvey, the trust's head of nature conservation, said: "The 
difficulty with 
>GM crops is that we do not know the risks. A moratorium on the 
> commercial growing of these crops is the only sensible way forward, to 
> the risks to be scientifically assessed. It may take one year, it may take 
> There should be no commercial growing until the scientific judgment is 
> made." 
> The trust also said that it was removing all foods labelled as containing 
> ingredients from sale in its 136 tearooms and restaurants and 127 shops, 
> which sell a range of foods from jams to Christmas puddings. Inga Grimsey, 
>managing director of National Trust Enterprises, said: "We are checking 
> every food product on our shelves and every ingredient in our menus to 
>ensure they are not labelled as containing genetically modified 
ingredients, as 
> defined in recent legislation. 
>"Any GM-labelled products or those containing ingredients labelled as 
> genetically modified are being removed from sale. We are requesting 
> assurance from our suppliers that all the ingredients and goods supplied 
to us 
> are GM free." 
>She said the trust was not claiming that there was anything wrong with 
> products but felt that consumers would rather know what they were buying.
Date Posted: 03/30/1999 
Posted by: 

4) B-GE: Green taste of GM supremo
The Daily Express yesterday and today had 4 page pull outs on GM foods. 
Covering the whole subject as part of their Safe Food campaign. They have 
started listing the various foods 
and beverages which could have GM ingredients, including additives, enzymes
In addition they reported on Patrick Holden's meeting with Dan Glickman. I 
have e-mailed this story to some US papers (I have no contcts but just took 
a blind shot!!!) 
and combined it with the story of the UK Parliament not allowing GM in their
retaurant but expecting everyone else to to eat it.
UK Daily Express 31 March 99 
Green taste of GM supremo 
AMERICA'S agriculture chief likes chemical-free organic food. Agriculture 
Secretary Dan Glickman revealed his green inclinations at a Washington 
meeting with Patrick Holden, head 
of the Soil Association, which certifies British organic produce - even 
though the U.S. leads the world in genetically modified food. 
Mr Holden said: We were discussing UK organic farming and the problems 
caused by genetic engineering for organic standards in the USA. 
He suddenly said, By the way I eat organic food. You can tell the world 
about it. This means the man theoretically responsible for promoting 
hi-tech agriculture has a different 
orientation when it concerns his own food needs"
5) Amazon Tribal Leaders Challenge U.s. Patent They Say American Has No Right 
To Plant Used In Healing 
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In this land of tailored suits, the scene Tuesday was 
extraordinary: Amazon medicine men adorned in shell 
necklaces and exotic bird feathers chanting a religious 
ceremony and sipping potions.
The tribal leaders achieved the real purpose of their long journey just 
before their depiction of a 
ceremony. They visited the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in suburban 
Washington to 
challenge the validity of a patent awarded a California entrepreneur for 
the main ingredient of their 
healing potion - the hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca.
"Our ancestors learned the knowledge of this medicine and we are the 
owners of this 
knowledge," said Antonio Jacanamijoy, who heads a council representing 
more than 400 tribes 
and indigenous groups in South America.
Ayahuasca (pronounced eye-yuh-WAHS-cuh) looks like any bushy tree 
sprouting in the jungle. 
But to indigenous peoples in South America, it is a sacred plant whose 
name translates to "vine 
of the soul." They likened the patent in question to patenting the 
Christian cross.
The 13-year-old patent has become an issue of such magnitude that it has 
stirred physical threats, 
led to the cancellation of U.S. aid to South American tribes and all but 
shut down 
"bioprospecting" for valuable plants in Peru, Ecuador and the rest of the 
Amazon basin.
The fallout has been felt in St. Louis. The Missouri Botanical Garden, [ 
Monsanto Co. ] and 
Washington University all have found it more difficult to arrange 
bioprospecting ventures to 
South America in recent years to collect plants for new drugs and for 
traits that can be genetically 
engineered into crops. Many of the world's best- selling pharmaceuticals 
and most of its cancer 
drugs are from the tropics.
Jim Miller, who directs the Missouri Botanical Garden's global 
bioprospecting, said that many 
people in South America had wrongly associated the ayahuasca controversy 
with legitimate plant 
collecting. "It's sure got people fired up," he said. Miller, too, 
questioned whether the patent is 
The events started unfolding in the mid-1980s when Loren Miller, then a 
graduate student in 
pharmacology, brought home a variety of the plant from Ecuador. Miller 
founded the 
International Plant Medicine Corp. in California and applied for a U.S. 
patent, which was 
awarded in 1986. He had no plans to sell it as a hallucinogenic drug; he 
says he believed that the 
plant might contain properties that would be effective in psychotherapy 
and possibly in treating 
Not until 1994 did the tribes learn of the patent. They decided it meant 
that Miller would control 
what had been part of their culture for centuries. Word even went out that 
shamans wanting to 
use ayahuasca would need his permission, which was untrue.
By 1996, feelings ran so hot that the council of tribes declared Miller 
"an enemy of indigenous 
peoples." A statement by the group warned that if Miller or his associates 
returned to the region, 
tribes "will not be responsible for the consequences to their physical 
The matter would not die down and last year, because of the threat, the 
U.S. government's 
Inter-American Foundation cut off aid to the tribal council after giving 
it more than $500,000 in 
recent years.
Miller asserted Tuesday that he has been a victim of misdirected anger. He 
said that he had not 
stolen the plant; it had been given to him from the garden of a tribe that 
he wouldn't identify. He 
also said that tests had found no valuable properties in the plant and 
that he has no plan to use the 
"If they say the patent is no good, I don't care. This is so ridiculous. 
... I've never sold anything," 
he said.
Nonetheless, the tribal leaders say they have been violated. And they 
worry, they said, that the 
plant could be misused and cause harm. They likened it to coca, another 
South American cultural 
staple and the plant from which cocaine is derived.
David Downes, a lawyer in Washington representing the group, contended 
that Miller's patent is 
flawed and therefore should be revoked. The patent was awarded after 
Miller reported finding a 
new variety with flowers differently colored. William Anderson, a 
University of Michigan 
botanist supporting the challenge, said he had concluded that no new 
variety had been discovered.
Downes noted that several patents issued in the United States have 
infuriated people around the 
world. For instance, patents were awarded to companies on turmeric, a 
spice, and for basmati 
rice, both staples in India.
"When people claim as private property something that is sacred knowledge 
of thousands of 
people, we fear that patents have gone too far into the public domain," 
Downes said.
(Copyright 1999)
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