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GE - news Sept 1st



1) Press release from "Monsanto Quit India" Campaign - 1 Sept 1999 - MNC's  
invasion  of   Indian  Agriculture - The Real Swadeshi - Videshi issue in
Bellary
Monsanto, the world's largest biotech company has invaded India.
2) Peasants hit rushed OK of mutant crop gamble - August 27, 1999
The Kilusan ng Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)
3) Clinton Adviser Will Represent Wheat Industry At Trade Session Mickey
Kantor
To Serve; As Trade-meeting Counsel - The Spokesman Review 
4) A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE EXISTING LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR
GENETIC ENGINEERING IN SOUTH AFRICA - PRODUCED FOR BIOWATCH SOUTH AFRICA -
Prepared by Mariam Mayet - August 1999
5) Japan food maker to drop gene-altered soybeans Date: Wed, Sep 1, 1999
Copyright 1999 Reuters Ltd.  
6) GM crop trials are just not worth doing says plant geneticist
7) JIC has too many eggs in GM basket
8) Agence France Presse - New Zealand's Mike Moore takes over as WTO chief
GENEVA, Sept 1 (AFP) 
9) The ship of fools sails on - September 1, 1999 - Prof. Joe Cummins -
e-mail:
jcummins@julian.uwo.ca 
10) Date: 1 Sep 1999- From: Sprinkraft@aol.com -TRANSITIONS - SEPTEMBER 1999
Turning the Screws
==================


1) Press release from "Monsanto Quit India" Campaign - 1 Sept 1999 - MNC's  
invasion  of   Indian  Agriculture - The Real Swadeshi - Videshi issue in
Bellary
Monsanto, the world's largest biotech company has invaded India.

It now owns and controls Cargill seeds, MAHYCO, Rallis, EID Parry.  The main
Cargill seed plant, now owned by Monsanto is in Bellary. This plant was pulled
down by angry farmers in 1992 because of the high rates of seed failure.

Monsanto has taken over the biotech lab of our premier research institute, the
Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Monsanto is also robbing all our
Universities of our scientists. This is intellectual hijack and intellectual
theft. 

Monsanto has also engaged in Biopiracy by patenting our cotton, mustard, neem
and soyabean. Through patents on seeds it is trying to establish a
totalitarian
control over agriculture.

Monsanto's undertook illegal and hazardous trials of genetically engineered
Bt.
cotton. It has continued its trials in spite of the Supreme Court case.
Scientific evidence proves that toxic Bt plants kill beneficial species
such as
butterflies, bees and beetles. Bt crops also accelerate evolution of
resistance
in pests and the evolution of 'super pests'. This will lead to more debts and
more suicides and will wipe out both our biodiversity and our farmers.

Thousands of farmers have already committed suicide because of huge debts
linked to costly seeds and costly pesticides, herbicides and increasing seed
failures. Pests are becoming resistant to pesticides leading to higher debts
and higher crop failure.
Monsanto is also trying to import gene guns and virulent genetically
engineered
plasmids for making and selling Terminator seeds, and other ecologically
hazardous products. This is a gene war on our farms, against all species.

Monsanto is also trying to control drinking water and convert the growing
water
scarcity into limitless profits.

Seed famine and water famines are the most severe threats the majority of
Indians are facing today. 

However, no political party and no politician are addressing these survival
issues faced by Indian people.

Because Monsanto poses a severe threat to Indian agriculture and Indian
farmers, Indian citizens have been telling Monsanto to quit India, since Quit
India day, Aug 9th 1998.

We repeat this call during the Indian general election 1999 from Bellary,
which
is a citadel of corporate invasion into Indian agriculture. Bellary symbolizes
the combined imperialist power of Cargill, the world's largest grain trader
and
Monsanto, the world's largest seed monopoly.

This is the real Vidheshi invasion and threat to India.

Ignoring the real economic threat to the survival of the Indian people, the
Congress and BJP have reduced the Bellary Election to a "foreigner - native"
issue focussing only on individual personalities in the election contest
between the Congress President, Italian born Sonia Gandhi and BJP
representative, Sushma Swaraj. 

The Bija Satyagraha Movement started by 2500 groups around the country,
represented in Bellary by Navdanya and the Karnataka Krishak Samaj wants to
draw attention on the real Videshi invasion by Monsanto & Cargill. The Bija
Satyagraha Movement is building the Swadeshi alternative of keeping the
seed in
our hands and keeping it free of patents, genetic engineering & MNC's control.

We also want to draw attention to fact that both the BJP and Congress have
colluded with foreign MNC's.  They have allowed Monsanto and Cargill to enter
Indian agriculture and rob us of our fundamental security - our food security.

Both BJP and Congress joined hands to change Indian patent laws and allow
Bio-pirates like Monsanto to have monopoly markets through patents for
products
derived from our neem, cotton and mustard etc.

Gandhi defined Swadeshi as economic democracy.  Our politicians are corrupting
the content of this powerful word. 

The citizens of India will save "Swadeshi' from being trivialized into a call
for xenophobia and narrow nationalism. Navdanya and Karnataka Krishak Samaj
will address a press conference and march to the Cargill and Monsanto Seed
factory on 2nd September 1999. 

Our Swadeshi call from Bellary is:

1. "Monsanto Quit India"
2. "Monsanto Stop the Hijack of Indian Seed and Water"
3. "No Patents on Life"  -  "No Patents on Seeds"

Our Swadeshi test for every candidate and Political Party is 

1. The next Government must scrap the new Patent Act 1999 and Stop the
implementation of TRIPS. It must also takes step to revise and reform TRIPs by
supporting the African Proposal to WTO.
2. The next elected government must stop the genetically engineering trials
that threaten our farmers, our biodiversity and our food security.
3. The government must stop the import of the Gene Guns and genetically
engineered plasmids by Monsanto.

Bija Satyagraha For Further Information please contact:
Navdanya
Karnataka Krishak Samaj A * 60, Hauz Khas, New Delhi * 110 016
Bellary Tel: 011-6968 077, 6853 772, Fax: 011- 6856 795
Email: vshiva@giasdl01.vsnl.net.in
==============================
2) Peasants hit rushed OK of mutant crop gamble - August 27, 1999
The Kilusan ng Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the national
movement of landless peasants in the Philippines, condemned the
hasty approval by the National Biosafety Committee of the
Philippines (NCBP) of the field testing of genetically engineered
corn in Bay, Laguna and General Santos City.

Rafael Mariano, chairman of the KMP, said the approval was
treacherous because the NCBP and the proponents AgroSeed Corp.
and Pioneer Hi-Bred ignored widespread public opposition to the
economic, legal, ethical and health problems posed by the release
of plants laced with genes of a pesticidal strain of bacteria,
antibiotics and bits of virus that causes plant disease.

The KMP and its local affiliate Pagkakaisa't Uganayan ng mga
Magbubukid sa Laguna (PUMALAG) voiced strong opposition in July
to field testing during a town council meeting at Bay, saying
that the testing is only a new beginning of the intensified
efforts of multinational corporations in consolidating their
control over Third World agriculture, trade and science, now in
the form of field testing of genetically modified organisms
(GMOs).

The scheme where a regulating agency such as NCBP signing an
"oath of undertaking" with private firms it is supposed to
regulate is highly irregular, KMP pointed out.

PUMALAG leaders announced Laguna peasants will launch protest
rallies with the municipal council at the Institute of Plant
Breeding, a government facility where the biotechnology firms
will be planting the corn plant mixed with the Bacillus
thuringiensis or Bt-corn.

KMP said field testing will only lead to uncontrolled
commercialization of many other mutant crops such as Bt-rice that
the International Rice Research Institute has been eager to
promote after Bt-corn's passage.

"Only top seed and chemical giants Monsanto, Cargill, Pioneer Hi
bred which have cornered 40% of the world seed market will
benefit from these crops, but it will only worsen landlessness
and poverty among millions of peasants in the country," Mariano
said.

The patented traits of GMOs will prevent local farmers from
breeding traditional crops because pollen from GMOs pollute
neighboring farms and the built-in pesticides create super pests
that are hard to eradicate.

KMP said the only clear motive of the biotechnology firms
promoting GMO technology is the profits to be made. Worldwide
value of the corn seed market, estimated at US$3.1 billion
annually, accounts for one-quarter of the entire commercial seed
industry. Pioneer controls 34% of US$1.33 billion hybrid corn
market in the US.

Corn comprises 20% of the world's grain output. Some 1.7 million
peasant households in the country depends on maize production in
2.7 million hectares and 15% of the population depend on corn for
food at 11. 86 kilograms annual per capita consumption. Daily
national consumption 14,600 metric tons or 5.3 million metric
tons annually. Corn is used as food (14%), seeds (2%) and feeds
wastage (85%).

The two main GM crops being grown commercially in the US are soya
and corn. Yet some 90-95% of soya harvests and 60% of traded corn
are consumed not by humans but by livestock.

Corporate monopolies on seeds have tightly interlocking interests
to financial capital oligarchies and multilateral/bilateral
official development aid given by the monopoly capitalist state
of the United States to Third World countries. The aid and
technical assistance promotes use of commercial technologies.

"We will fight for our traditional farmers' rights to develop
productive technology that fits our needs and keep our own seeds
for the future generations of citizens, to raise crops using
economically feasible and environment-friendly means," Mariano
added.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
82-C Masikap Extension St.
Barangay Central
Quezon City
Philippines

===================================================
3) Clinton Adviser Will Represent Wheat Industry At Trade Session Mickey
Kantor
To Serve; As Trade-meeting Counsel - The Spokesman Review -

     Mickey Kantor,  adviser  to  President
        Clinton, internationally known trade attorney and former
        U.S. Secretary of [ Commerce ] and U.S. trade
        representative, will work with the U.S. wheat industry
        at the World Trade Organization sessions.

        The WTO meeting, perhaps the largest trade session ever
        held in the United States, is scheduled for Seattle in
        November. The meeting will help set global trade ground
        rules for well into the next century.

        Key to securing Kantor's services for its industry was
        the Washington Wheat Commission.

        After working with Kantor to convince China to eliminate
        trade barriers against Pacific Northwest wheat, the
        group thought the attorney might agree to serve as
        counsel for the WTO meetings.

        Wheat industry advocates say their trade needs are too
        diverse for them to handle with just the U.S. Department
        of Agriculture.

        "We want to make sure U.S. negotiators understood them
        and knew they were a top priority," said Chris Shaffer,
        a Walla Walla farmer and chairman of the U.S. Wheat
        Associates. "Our trade needs are much larger than just
        one facet of our government."

        For representing the 17 wheat-producing states, Kanto
        will be paid $20,000 a month with money from many of the
        wheat commissions.

        "Some are not participating because of their financial
        straits," said Tom Mick, executive director of the
        Washington Wheat Commission. But the Washington
        commission figured Kantor's fee into its budget ahead of
        time.

        Idaho's wheat commission also is contributing to
        Kantor's fee. "We took a look at the last time the WTO
        process was conducted and realized we pretty much left
        everything up to the government," said David Sparrow,
        commission administrator. "I don't think the producers
        were particularly happy with the results."

        Sparrow noted that Canada and Australia still have
        government- supported wheat trading systems and that
        European crops are highly subsidized - all unfair, he
        said, to U.S. wheat farmers trying to compete in the
        same markets.

        When it comes to understanding and negotiating trade,
        Kantor's qualifications are top-notch.

        "He knows the people within the U.S. Trade
        Representatives office. A lot of them used to work for
        him," Shaffer said.

        One of Kantor's more notable achievements as trade
        representative was restarting the stalled WTO round in
        Uruguay several years ago. There the existing trade
        rules for the 134 WTO member nations were set.

        And as a board member of [ Monsanto Corp. ] , one of the
        world's leading agriculture and agrichemical companies,
        Kantor already has ties into the agriculture industry.

        "He has a lot of connections and a lot of reputation,"
        said Neal Fisher, administrator for North Dakota's wheat
        commission. "We think he's very well-placed and
        well-respected."

        But some question Kantor's connections.

        "There has been this close time between agriculture
        advocacy and the Trade Representative's office," said
        Beth Burrows of the Edmonds Institute, a nonprofit,
        public interest group that focuses on legally binding
        international policy and biotechnology and agriculture
        issues.

        She points out that the man who once formulated trade
        policy is now working for groups whose economics were
        affected by the laws he helped create. And as a member
        of the board for Monsanto, one of the world's largest
        agriculture and chemical companies, he was paid $90,000
        last year.

        But one economist said such connections for former
        government officials such as Kantor are
        inevitable."There are two questions," said Peter Morici,
        a senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute and
        former director of economics at the U.S. International
        Trade Commission. "One is how long it has been and two,
        did they regulate the company in the context of doing
        their jobs?"

        He said it isn't likely Kantor has violated any law or
        responsibility with his affiliations. "Mr. Kantor's been
        out of the government a long time now," Morici said.
        "Mr. Kantor's a smart guy. He's not going to break the
        rules."

        "There's also the issue of whose side is he on?," he
        said. "If he's assisting American companies abroad, I
        don't know if he's operating counter to American
        interests."

        Kantor's office said he was not available to be
        interviewed for this article.

        "We have a range of clients we represent, but we don't
        like to release them" said Michael Punke, an attorney
        with Kantor at the Mayer, Brown and Platt firm in
        Washington, D.C. "The practice is centered around
        helping predominantly U.S. interests that are trying to
        get access into foreign markets."

        For the wheat industry, Kantor and a team of attorneys
        will help develop a strategy and help ensure the
        industry is well-represented by U.S. negotiators at the
        WTO trade talks.

        Seattle is just the kickoff for the new round of
        negotiations, Punke said. "Seattle is kind of the
        starting line not the finish line."

        (Copyright 1999 Cowles Publishing Company)

        _____via IntellX_____

        [Image]
        Publication Date: August 29, 1999
        Powered by NewsReal's IndustryWatch
====================
4) A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE EXISTING LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR
GENETIC ENGINEERING IN SOUTH AFRICA - PRODUCED FOR BIOWATCH SOUTH AFRICA -
Prepared by Mariam Mayet - August 1999

for more information, contact rachel@iafrica.com

MAIN CONCLUSIONS

A detailed analysis of the GMO Act, the ECA and Regulations
pertaining to environmental impact assessments and NEMA has led
to the following conclusions:

(1) It appears as if the government is not yet ready, to protect
the environment from the potential risks arising from genetic
engineering, yet commercial planting of transgenic crops are well
under way, as are numerous field trials all around the country.

(2) The legislative framework is currently inadequate to ensure
that risks to the environment arising from genetic engineering
are prevented or minimised. This weakness stems from the
following:

(a) The GMO Act, which is administered by the DOA, is currently
merely a paper statute: it has yet to be implemented. The GMO Act
is incomplete as the Regulations, which are necessary to give
effect to the GMO Act, have yet to be finalised and promulgated.
In addition, the regulatory institution and Advisory Committee
have yet to be functional. Until such time as the Act is fully
operational, the DOA will not be able to invoke any of the
provisions of the Act. The field trials and commercial releases
of locally developed GMOs that the Department of Agriculture and
SAGENE are aware of have been through a voluntary risk assessment
procedure in terms of a set of voluntary guidelines developed by
SAGENE. Because the DOA has no powers to invoke the provisions of
the GMO Act yet, locally developed GMOs can be released into the
environment, without complying with the provisions of the GMO Act
(e.g. without having to obtain a permit from the DOA or conduct a
risk assessment).

(b) When compared to a number of international Biosafety regimes,
the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, current
environmental legislation and policies, the GMO Act has serious
shortcomings. It does not, in its present form, constitute an
adequate biosafety regime in order to ensure that GMOs are
appropriate and do not cause harm to the environment, human and
animal health. The most serious shortcomings are:

- Risk and Environmental Impact Assessments are in terms of the
Act not mandatory prior to the release of any GMO. Rather, the
Executive Council of Genetically Modified Organisms (the Council)
has extraordinarily wide discretionary powers as to when a risk
assessment is required. Having regard to the current state of
scientific uncertainty and the enormity of the risks involved, it
is an indispensable requirement in any biosafety regime that an
assessment of the risks posed by GMOs to human and animal health,
the environment and biodiversity are compulsory.

- The unfettered decision-making powers of the Council also flies
in the face of the precautionary principle advocated in
government policy. The application of a risk adverse and
precautionary approach to the release of GMOs into the
environment, is called for, taking into account GMOs arise from
technology that is new and untested and in respect of which,
there is a great deal of scientific uncertainty.

- The Act does not require socio-economic impacts, ethical
considerations and cultural values to be taken into account in
the risk assessment. The introduction of GMOs may displace
indigenous technologies or impact upon small farmers or
agricultural and food production systems in the long term, either
directly or indirectly.

- The Act does not make any provision for public participation in
the decision-making process. There are presently, no mechanisms
that allow the public to be kept informed of the status of
approvals and opportunities to submit comments. More crucially,
however, provision has not been made for civil society
representation on the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee
plays a critical role in the overall decision-making process,
since the Council is obliged in terms of the Act, to consult with
the Advisory Committee before any applications are granted or
refused. The exclusion of civil society participation on the
Advisory Committee is perhaps one of the most serious
shortcomings of the Act and is completely incongruous with the
tenants upon which South Africa's fledgling democracy has
been built and the principle of public participation in
environmental governance articulated in government policy.

- The provisions dealing with environmental liability are
astounding. The Act attempts is absolve those responsible for the
development of GMOs from liability by placing statutory liability
on farmers and other land users for environmental damage. It is
indeed extremely worrying that government should want to protect
the biotechnology industry from liability. These provisions
undermine the basic tenets of justice and equity and are
completely at odds with the polluter pays principle advocated in
government policy.

The DOA has an opportunity to cure some of these shortcomings in
its forthcoming Regulations. However, certain defects such as the
grossly inequitable liability provisions that place liability for
environmental harm on farmers and other land users, and the lack
of civil society representation on the Advisory Committee cannot
be cured by such Regulations. It will require amendment of the
GMO Act through Parliament.

(c) The ECA and accompanying Regulations require mandatory
environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for the genetic
modification of organisms. However, the relevant provisions in
the Regulations are so badly drafted that it appears to be of
little value to identify, assess, prevent or minimise
environmental impacts. As presently drafted, the relevant
provisions are capable of different legal interpretations and
potentially create loopholes for easy circumvention. In any case,
these provisions have yet to be implemented in respect of GMOs.
The practical implications of the relevant provisions have
therefore not been seriously considered by national government
(the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism DEAT), which
has the legal responsibility to administer and implement the
provisions. No discreet policy exists to serve as a point of
reference or guideline for the implementation of these provisions
and certainly, DEAT has little or no capacity/institutional
framework to administer and implement the provisions.

(d) NEMA is an exciting piece of environmental legislation and is
potentially the most important tool for the use by civil society
to take up the cudgels to protect the environment from adverse
effects arising from GMOs. The Act contains a number of
critically important provisions that could augment other
environmental laws such as the GMO Act and the ECA. However,
these provisions are not entirely clear cut and leave many
important questions unanswered.

- Although NEMA requires administrative decision-making to be
underpinned by a number of critically important environmental
principles, there are no guidelines to assist decision-makers to
apply these principles.

- NEMA also contains provisions that make it possible for the
potential impact of commercial releases on the environment,
socio-economic conditions and cultural heritage to be
investigated and assessed. These are extremely exciting
provisions. However, these provisions are not mandatory and will
not automatically apply for example, to commercial releases of
GMOs. NEMA also does not spell out how these provisions are
triggered, who can trigger these provisions and how the envisaged
investigation and assessment relate to the EIA procedure.
Moreover, because NEMA is a new statute, specially tailored
Regulations which lays down procedures for the conducting of the
envisaged investigation and assessment do not presently exist,
and it may be a while yet, before they are drafted and released
for public comment.

- The duty of care provisions are extremely important in the
context of genetic engineering because they create the
opportunity for the triggering of fresh EIAs in respect of
existing commercial releases of GMOs (especially for example,
where new scientific evidence of potential risks comes to light).
However, NEMA does not spell out how these provisions should be
enforced and monitored and who should be responsible for such
enforcement and monitoring. The focus is rather on what should
happen when a transgression occurs.

(3) Enforcement of environmental laws in South Africa is a
general problem long recognised and much maligned over the years.
Enforcement of the provisions of the NEMA is expected to be no
different. In fact the Act expressly provides incentives for
civil society to enforce environmental laws. It will therefore be
up to civil society to monitor compliance with environmental laws
pertaining to GMOs. However, civil society will be greatly
restrained from performing this function effectively owing to the
inadequacies of the GMO Act and the uncertainties and gaps
stemming from the NEMA itself and the ECA and the EIA
Regulations.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

1. A national policy on genetic engineering is urgently required
to address the multi-faceted and controversial issues concerning
genetic engineering. The drafting of such a policy should be
consultative and transparent. It should as its first task,
require a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, by comparing the
GE with other technologies currently being applied in South
Africa and investigate how best to ensure access to adequate food
by the poor. The policy should have regard to international
expertise and work done by international bodies such as the
British Medical Association. Such a policy should inter alia,
address the following:

- The impact of transgenic seeds on food production systems and
  food security;
- The impact of genetic engineering on traditional and indigenous
  technologies;
- The impact of intellectual biotechnology property rights on
  sustainable agriculture;
- The impact of genetic engineering on productive traditional
  farming systems and local rural economies;
- The impact of genetic engineering on the environment,
  particularly biodiversity and ecosystems;
- The role and future of organic agriculture;
- Consumer choice and public participation;
- The impact of transgenic food on human health and safety;
- The implications of genetic engineering for animal health and
  welfare;
- Ethical considerations.

2. The Regulations under the GMO Act currently being drafted
should as far as it is possible, address the shortcomings of the
Act. However, a process should also be initiated to amend those
provisions of the Act that cannot be remedied by simply making
Regulations. Here, the grossly inequitable liability provisions
come to mind as well as the representation of the Advisory
Committee.

3. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism should
provide clarity on the interpretation and application of the
current EIA Regulations in respect of GMOs. He should also be
called upon to give his opinion on the current legal status of
commercial releases in respect of which EIAs have not been
conducted. He should, until legal certainty is forthcoming -
either through policy directives or amendments to the
Regulations - take appropriate interim measures to protect the
environment. Furthermore, the Minister should be requested to
impose a moratorium in respect of any new commercial releases
until such time that there is legal certainty and the DEAT has
the administrative and expert capacity to administer the
provisions of the EIA Regulations.

===================================================
5) Japan food maker to drop gene-altered soybeans Date: Wed, Sep 1, 1999
Copyright 1999 Reuters Ltd.  

The following news report may not be republished or redistributed, in
whole or in part, without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.
    TOKYO, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Japan's largest maker of soybean protein
food products, Fuji Oil Co Ltd, said on Wednesday the group will stop
using genetically modified (GM) soybeans by next April due to consumer
concern over the safety of bioengineered crops.
     Fuji Oil will start switching to non-GM soybeans in the
October-March period, a company spokesman said. Until now Fuji Oil has
not distinguished between GM and non-GM soybeans when placing orders.
     The Fuji Oil group uses 80,000-100,000 tonnes of soybeans annually,
most of which is imported from the United States.
     Fuji Oil plans to buy non-GM soybeans imported from the United
States
by the Japanese trading house Itochu Corp. Fuji Oil is a member of the
Itochu group of companies.
     Japan imported 2.85 million tonnes of soybeans in the first seven
months of 1999. Traders expect 75-80 percent will be used for oil
production and the rest for other food products, such as tofu.
     Last month several of Japan's largest breweries announced plans to
stop using genetically altered corn, and ingredients made from such
corn, in their operations.
     Japan has approved 22 varieties of six GM crops -- soybeans, corn,
rapeseed, potatoes, cotton and tomatoes-- under its food safety
guidelines for import and sale.
     The government last month decided to impose labelling requirements
on
these crops and food products made from them, in order to allow
consumers
to make an informed choice. Foods made from soybean protein are subject
to
the label requirement.
     The government has exempted some processed food products, such as
vegetable oil, because existing technology cannot determine whether they
were made using genetically altered ingredients.
==========================
Date: 1 Sep 1999 10:12:31 -0500
From: mail@icsenglish.com
  
6) GM crop trials are just not worth doing says plant geneticist

The following letter on the GM crop trials, published in the press in
Norfolk UK, is from Dr Jeremy Bartlett who has a doctorate in plant
genetics from the John Innes Centre, often described as the UK's leading
plant biotech institute (for more on the JIC see - 
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/johninnes.htm)
....................................................................
Evening News, Tuesday, August 31, 1999
GM crop trials are just not worth doing

I am writing in response to your request for readers' views on
genetically modified crop trials in Norfolk (Evening News, August 20). 

I believe there are two fundamental questions that we must ask about
these trials. 

Firstly, what will the trials achieve and, secondly, if there are risks
involved, are they worth taking? 

The trials are supposed to provide evidence of whether GM crops can be
safely grown in this country. 

However, scientists from English Nature have described them as
fundamentally flawed, which is a view that I share. 

Numbers of wildflowers, earthworms and beetles in the trial fields are
being compared with those in nearby fields of non-GM crops. 

No monitoring is being done on the effect on soil fungi and bacteria, in
spite of concerns by leading scientists that horizontal transfer of
genes will take place from GM crops to soil microbes. 

Deer, crows or other animals could easily eat or carry off GM material,
but again this is being ignored. 

The effects of GM crops on their surroundings are likely to be subtle
and may only become known after several years. 

Yet the plan is to grow GM crops for one year on a particular site then
monitor for three years o hardly long enough to detect any long-term
changes or damage. 

As a report from Norwich's John Innes Centre has shown,
cross-pollination of GM with non-GM crops is inevitable. 

Oilseed rape, being planted in the latest trials is especially prone to
cross-pollination and GM varieties have already been shown to cross with
relatives such as wild radish. 

What are the benefits? 

Not more profits for the farmer. GM crops are very expensive to develop
and biotechnology companies charge a premium for the seeds and also
profit from selling the herbicides to which the crops are resistant. In
contrast, nongenetically-modified crops, such as soya from Brazil, can
fetch a premium price. 

Not higher yields. 

In studies in the United States, yields of GM crops have been found to
be between 12 and 20 per cent lower than non-GM varieties. 

Not fewer chemicals. 

The growing of Roundup resistant soya beans in the United States has led
to an increase in the application of this herbicide, usage doubling
since 1998. 

The British public has soundly rejected GM foods and most British
farmers have rejected GM crops. Indeed, the National Farmers' Union in
Scotland has described growing genetically-modified crops as "commercial
suicide". 

The Government seem to be the only people backing GM crops. But it is
easy for them o it is our money, as taxpayers, that they are wasting. 

Dr Jeremy Bartlett, Helena Road, Norwich.
===============
Date: 1 Sep 1999 -From: mail@icsenglish.com
7) JIC has too many eggs in GM basket

The following letter on the John Innes Centre (JIC), published in the
press in Norfolk UK, is a response to a recent article on how the
leading lights of the JIC were outraged by a letter from Friends of the
Earth (FoE) suggesting they might be among those legally liable for any
harm arising from the consumption or growing of GM crops. The original
article is pasted below the letter. For more on the JIC see -
<http://members.tripod.com/%7Engin/johninnes.htm>http://members.tripod.com/
~ngin/johninnes.htm
....................................................................
Eastern Daily Press, Wednesday, September 1, 1999

Too many eggs in the GM basket

SARAH PASSINGHAM, Star Lane, Rockland St Mary 

How disingenuous of Don O'Nions, secretary to the John Innes Centre, to
hide behind his organisation's charitable status in his reply to the
Friends of the Earth's letter, when the only beneficiary of their
research, to date, is the biotech conglomerates indirectly sponsoring
their work (EDP, August 21). 

If the directors are confident in the commitment to safety and the
quality of the advice handed over with their research, they will have
nothing to fear from the, admittedly, rather crude intimidatory tone of
the FoE. 

Directors of the John Innes Centre are right to be concerned and I have
sympathy for the invidious situation in which they find themselves.
Research, these days, is never carried out in isolation. Gone are the
times when direct government funding was handed over for pure research
with no strings attached. 

In the present climate the aim is financial competition. Research is
project-based and there is always a buyer waiting impatiently in the
wings. Sometimes the project is presented to two or three laboratories
to work on simultaneously. Winner takes all. The temptation to publish
before a technique or process is fully tested is almost irresistible. 

Deutsche Bank is reported to be advising British pension funds, among
others, to get out of GM companies. "Growing negative sentiment" is the
reason given. 

Non-GM crops are beginning to command a price premium and farmers are
increasingly seeing GM as a liability. For the last decade all the
research "eggs" have been put into one basket and it is beginning to
look as if they may be rotten. 

John Innes directors would do well to turn their attention to research
into more conventional plant breeding, perhaps aimed at speeding up the
process to compete with gene technology. . .  if they are allowed that
much freedom. 
Eastern Daily Press, Saturday, August 21, 1999
SCIENCE: Letter to research centre directors

FoE's attack sparks fury [main headline]

By MICHAEL POLLITT Agricultural Editor  

Scientists at Europe's leading centre of plant science research in
Norwich have criticised Friends of the Earth for a "crude attempt to
harass and intimidate individuals". 

The campaigning group sent letters by recorded delivery to the home
addresses of 15 directors and senior staff at the John Innes Centre. 

Don Onions [his real name is O'Nions !!], secretary to the centre on
Norwich research park at Colney, was "infuriated" by the tone of the
letters, which threatened possible legal action. 

"To send a letter by recorded delivery to employees of a charity is a
waste of money," said Mr Onions 

He wrote to Charles Secrett, executive director of FoE: "You have used
funds donated to Friends of the Earth to make personal threats against
the trustees and employees of the John Innes Centre, which is a charity
undertaking research to promote economically and environmentally
sustainable agriculture. 

"It is a pity you could not have used these donations more
productively." 

On behalf of the JIC, Mr Onions regretted the tone of their letter,
which was "a crude attempt to harass and intimidate individuals". 

"More regrettable is the deep ignorance you display of the work of the
JIC and its role in producing independent scientific information, new
knowledge and trained scientists," he said. 

A total of 15 directors, who serve as unpaid trustees and officers of
the JlC's governing council, were "hurt and upset" by the letters, he
said. 

Mr Onions said the JIC had more than 80 years' experience in plant
biology and was pre-eminent in Europe, with a world-wide reputation for
its excellence of science. 

An independent research organisation, it is accountable to more than 68
bodies including Government, the Charity Commissioners and health and
safety regulators. 

He stressed that scientists had developed and used genetic modification
as a research tool but did not produce GM crops for farmers to cultivate
or GM foods for supermarket shelves. 

FoE told the 15 directors it considered they "should be legally liable
in the future if damage is caused by growing or consumption of these GM
crops". 

It warned that the directors "might also incur civil liability at common law"
=====================
8) Agence France Presse - New Zealand's Mike Moore takes over as WTO chief
GENEVA, Sept 1 (AFP) 

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Mike Moore took
up his post Wednesday at the head of the World Trade Organization,
preparing to steer it into the Millennium Round of world trade
negotiations.

Moore, 50, a former trade unionist and committed left-winger, said as he
entered the WTO building that he would strive for "balanced results" in
upcoming trade talks.

"The smaller guys who have felt locked out will have a chance to engage
and benefit from a system," he pledged.

He was expected to focus the WTO spotlight on how to spread the wealth to
developing nations which have increasingly demanded a share in the strong
economic growth and prosperity of recent years.

A man whose job history included stints as a construction worker, a
printer, and a social worker, Moore left school at age 15 and entered
politics early, becoming New Zealand's youngest-ever MP in 1972.

But for a politician, he has in the past had an unfortunate way with
words, speaking from the heart, often emotionally and at times
illogically.

Moore says he is motivated by a desire to fight injustice. "I get
incoherent with anger sometimes and it shows, unfortunately...," he has
said.

Moore was scheduled to remain at the WTO helm for three years and then
hand over to Thai Deputy Premier Supachai Panitchpaki, 52, under an
unprecedented accord forged to peserve the WTO's vaunted process of
consensus.

Each had lobbied hard for the job -- at times acrimoniously -- with
support split mainly along geographic lines, and in the end the WTO had to
acknowledge the stalemate and split the tenure between them.

The urbane Supachai's credentials as a free trade advocate equal those of
Moore. While Moore would open the six-year Millennium Round, Supachai
would have to close it.

Representatives of 134 nations were returning to WTO headquarters
Wednesday after a summer break to tackle some tough questions and pave the
way for a key ministerial conference in the US city of Seattle in November
that will kick off the Millennium Round.

Serious trade disputes and divergences over topics ranging from
agriculture, textiles and biotechnology to intellectual property awaited
the Geneva staff.

Among other issues, the European Union was expected to seek to put
environment and health on the agenda as well as biotechnology controls.
Developing nations however were concerned this might lead to obstacles to
their textile exports.

While the watchword in the developed world has become globalisation, many
developing states, anxious to protect their markets, questioned the
advantages of rapid market opening.

Moore meanwhile also faced the task of naming deputy directors-general to
assist him, a task made more delicate by the need for geographical
balance.

Agriculture was likely to be the toughest subject, with enormous stakes.
Subsidies by developed countries to their farming sector reached some 362
billion dollars (344 billion euros) in 1998, the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) said.

One of the big unknowns was the question of China's WTO membership. Some
analysts believed Washington and Beijing were seeking a membership accord
in time for the Seattle session.

The United States is also in conflict with Japan and other countries over
steel exports.

==================================

9) The ship of fools sails on - September 1, 1999 - Prof. Joe Cummins -
e-mail:
jcummins@julian.uwo.ca 

Earlier I described  experiments done in London, Ontario in which tobacco
plants modified with human interleuken genes ( a regulator of the immune
system) were field tested without prior animal tests to determine the
toxicity
and without open discussion prior to the tests. Such  gene products are 
active at very low dose and released from the test site in pollen, by
sucking
insects and in surface and ground water from damaged or decaying plant
material.

Some of those undertaking the above experiment have been involved with
promoting the humanized pig to human transplants. Novartis sponsored 
the
Ontario project using humanized pigs from the Cambridge, England project
which
has been delayed by the "international" moratorium  based on the
observed
release of endogenous retrovirus from pig cells to human cells when the
living
tissues were placed in contact. London, Ontario has  been relatively
free of
public scrutiny and the Canadian news media tend to identify themselves
with
government authority and  large companies and to avoid issues that
distress
authorities.

Today, it was announced that the Cambridge humanized pigs had been used 
for
several months in transplant experiments with baboons. The baboons
transplanted with humanized pig kidneys did not immediately reject the
kidneys
showing the experiment was a success. However, the baboons  rejected the
transplants within two months and died in great pain. Presently
transplanted
animals are being treated with anti-rejection drugs and it is expected
that
the animals will tolerate the humanized pig grafts. The experiments were
undertaken without public review and kept secret.

Baboons being closely related to human do not seem to be a safe way to
avoid
the problem of virus release. Such virus could easily spread rapidly
because
human has not previously encountered them. A worldwide epidemic could
follow
within two or three years of the first release. Therefore the issue is a
global, not a local concern. Furthermore, local authorities ,conniving
with a
multinational company and the national government ,will certainly
undertake
human transplants under conditions of extreme secrecy. Clearly, the
residents
of  London and Ontario are being used as white mice in dangerous
experiments.
Along with that the world population is being put a great risk without
any
chance  to express permission or not.



        "We want to make sure U.S. negotiators understood them
        and knew they were a top priority," said Chris Shaffer,
        a Walla Walla farmer and chairman of the U.S. Wheat
        Associates. "Our trade needs are much larger than just
        one facet of our government."

        For representing the 17 wheat-producing states, Kanto
        will be paid $20,000 a month with money from many of the
        wheat commissions.

        "Some are not participating because of their financial
        straits," said Tom Mick, executive director of the
        Washington Wheat Commission. But the Washington
        commission figured Kantor's fee into its budget ahead of
        time.

        Idaho's wheat commission also is contributing to
        Kantor's fee. "We took a look at the last time the WTO
        process was conducted and realized we pretty much left
        everything up to the government," said David Sparrow,
        commission administrator. "I don't think the producers
        were particularly happy with the results."

        Sparrow noted that Canada and Australia still have
        government- supported wheat trading systems and that
        European crops are highly subsidized - all unfair, he
        said, to U.S. wheat farmers trying to compete in the
        same markets.

        When it comes to understanding and negotiating trade,
        Kantor's qualifications are top-notch.

        "He knows the people within the U.S. Trade
        Representatives office. A lot of them used to work for
        him," Shaffer said.

        One of Kantor's more notable achievements as trade
        representative was restarting the stalled WTO round in
        Uruguay several years ago. There the existing trade
        rules for the 134 WTO member nations were set.

        And as a board member of [ Monsanto Corp. ] , one of the
        world's leading agriculture and agrichemical companies,
        Kantor already has ties into the agriculture industry.

        "He has a lot of connections and a lot of reputation,"
        said Neal Fisher, administrator for North Dakota's wheat
        commission. "We think he's very well-placed and
        well-respected."

        But some question Kantor's connections.

        "There has been this close time between agriculture
        advocacy and the Trade Representative's office," said
        Beth Burrows of the Edmonds Institute, a nonprofit,
        public interest group that focuses on legally binding
        international policy and biotechnology and agriculture
        issues.

        She points out that the man who once formulated trade
        policy is now working for groups whose economics were
        affected by the laws he helped create. And as a member
        of the board for Monsanto, one of the world's largest
        agriculture and chemical companies, he was paid $90,000
        last year.

        But one economist said such connections for former
        government officials such as Kantor are
        inevitable."There are two questions," said Peter Morici,
        a senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute and
        former director of economics at the U.S. International
        Trade Commission. "One is how long it has been and two,
        did they regulate the company in the context of doing
        their jobs?"

        He said it isn't likely Kantor has violated any law or
        responsibility with his affiliations. "Mr. Kantor's been
        out of the government a long time now," Morici said.
        "Mr. Kantor's a smart guy. He's not going to break the
        rules."

        "There's also the issue of whose side is he on?," he
        said. "If he's assisting American companies abroad, I
        don't know if he's operating counter to American
        interests."

        Kantor's office said he was not available to be
        interviewed for this article.

        "We have a range of clients we represent, but we don't
        like to release them" said Michael Punke, an attorney
        with Kantor at the Mayer, Brown and Platt firm in
        Washington, D.C. "The practice is centered around
        helping predominantly U.S. interests that are trying to
        get access into foreign markets."

        For the wheat industry, Kantor and a team of attorneys
        will help develop a strategy and help ensure the
        industry is well-represented by U.S. negotiators at the
        WTO trade talks.

        Seattle is just the kickoff for the new round of
        negotiations, Punke said. "Seattle is kind of the
        starting line not the finish line."

        (Copyright 1999 Cowles Publishing Company)
==========================
10) Date: 1 Sep 1999- From: Sprinkraft@aol.com -TRANSITIONS - SEPTEMBER 1999
Turning the Screws

Around three years too late, but by no means a dollar short, the GMO 
protagonist crowd has launched a saturation bombing campaign on the airwaves 
and in print to salvage a war they probably lost for good in 1998. As Tim 
Ramey, an analyst of one major German bank recently wrote: "Today GM has 
become a liabilityO. Without the support of shareholders, this industry has 
no future.":

A "failure to communicate" is not the only overwhelming problem which 
industry fronts like the Biotechnology Industry Organization, US agricultural 
land grant colleges, the US Department of State and the Department of 
Commerce now face. You can forget about the USDA, by the way, the power 
patrol wants the big guns at State to step in. If there was a diplomatic 
equivalent of the Delta Force, they would sooner call them in. There is no 
way that a be-lated media campaign can turn the tide now that the underground 
has built its digital tunnels through the monolithic media forest, no matter 
how many undersecretaries stamp their feet and insist. By the way, its a good 
time to buy a lot of French Roquefort cheese, now that the US has imposed 
tariffs on such imports in order to bring the Euros to heel over GMOs. 

There are many pathetic examples of how at twilight the gang that couldnit 
shoot straight now closes the corral gate as the horses are clearing the last 
hill.

US-based Talk Radio is not going to get the job done, thatis for certain, and 
a proactive campaign  may only exacerbate industry problems because the 
public relations effort will be perceived as so blatantly one sided. On the 
afternoon of August 26th, failed 1998 Republican candidate for governor Dan 
Lungren, now host of his own daily national radio program on Catholic Family 
Radio, invited industry cheerleader Henry Miller, the  former  Director of 
the Office of Biotechnology at the Food and Drug Administration,  to calm the 
troubled waters buffeting the stalled agricultural biotechnology revolution ( 
or hostile take-over, whichever you prefer). Dr. Miller, who now spoon-feeds 
his  blindered belief system to the unwitting geniuses rolling around under 
the redwoods at Stanford University, was the man who looked the other way 
when FDA research personnel flew the caution flag on gene-splicing the food 
system during his 1989-94 tenure at FDA.

With a jaw-dropping list of inaccuracies and out-right lies, Dr. Miller 
patiently swept aside the feverish citizens from Chicago, Kansas City and 
Green Bay who called to question biotechnologyis promise. When Dr. Miller 
said that the use of Monsantois recombinant Bovine Somatropin ( known also as 
rBGH) would mean FEWER vet bills it was an obvious sign that these people 
have slipped their anchor and are headed onto the reef. The cattle hormone is 
most famous for increasing the risk of diseases like mastitis in dairy cattle 
rather than preventing it. Its still too early to stick a fork in 
agricultural biotech, but I sense an important environmental victory just 
around the corner. But it will still take an immense push. How foolishly do 
they waste their time and money? Now the folks at Novartis and Monsanto are 
setting up special training sessions to teach regional soybean and corn 
association members how to defend the very products that have them over a 
barrel. Now? I think the firing squad is standing in a circle.

Schmonarch Butterflies

Now that the Bambi repercussions have given way to other developments, it 
would be a fine opportunity to redirect research on the hundreds of other 
moths and butterflies that may be impacted by the widespread use of Bt corn 
and cotton. One pro-GMO entomologist brushed aside the concerns raised in  
the Cornell University experiment where Monarch larvae were fed Bt pollen by 
saying that the Monarchs are not hatching while the corn is tasseling. We 
shouldnit care to rebut the simplistic observation, but instead focus on 
Plain Jane, the little moth that is found in much larger numbers than the 
regal symbol of summer,  and which actually may be worming its way towards 
flight while the pollen is drifting across the countryside. Another 
ridiculous assumption that GMO defenders use in the Monarch debate is that " 
its doubtful how much pollen would be available to the larvae in the wild". 
What wild?  In reality, the only wild where milkweed grows is in that pitiful 
15 feet of ditch between the highway and the first row of corn. 

Same Old Same

Diversification is a term that rolls off the tongue rather easily these days, 
but for many farmers its a lot easier to say than actually do. Its a bit 
astounding that organic farmers are involved in the same cropping rut that 
now plagues the grain belt, but what are their alternatives? No matter 
whether its conventional or organic ground, its either in soybeans or corn, 
and with a thirty percent annual increase in organic farmers and acreage, 
especially from Nebraska through Ohio, this is having an affect on prices 
paid, particularly for soybeans. But diversification is not just another crop 
to plant. Diversification is frequently other equipment to use, more workers 
to employ, a different market to serve, and more risk to take. If the organic 
corn needs a buffer harvest, you can send that to the elevator, but what does 
one do with a buffer harvest of green beans, of potatoes, of blue corn? 

Grow Nattos, the brokers said. And the organic farmers grew the little yellow 
soybean that yielded a little less but brought a better price. The problem is 
that the world doesnit want to eat as many organic Natto soybeans as were 
produced. And when the beans were harvested there might have been a bit of 
discoloration or mud on the husk, and the inferior cosmetics precluded 
shipment. So the Nattos are sitting, thousands of bushels of languishing 
Nattos. Those that grew them donit know that the Natto is a bean that is 
meant to be fermented, after soaking in water where the dirty husk floats 
away anyway, and while fermenting the beans turn brown, probably about the 
same shade of brown that  the market uses as an excuse to keep them from 
being shipped. 


Neighboring Land Use

Maintaining a twenty-five to thirty foot buffer between organic crops and 
conventional ground is a concept we expect to live with and work around. Some 
farmers seed down a wide grass lane between them and that property next door 
that the Bank rents out to S and L Agri-Management, who can be counted on to 
pour on the chemicals year in and year out. Until now, many were content to 
feed the buffer to livestock which were not destined for the organic market.  
The coming deal in organic beef production  now provokes a lot of concern 
regarding buffer management because its not merely what happens next door 
that is of concern, but also the chemicals which were applied upstream two 
miles away that now course through the creek running through the pasture. 
Organic farmers with cattle or other grazing ruminants, from buffalo to goats 
to swine, have been seeding down the riparian areas to permanent sod, grazing 
the beasts thereon, and setting aside the flood-free ground to organic 
cropping. Until the 14th of January, 1999, when the interim organic meat 
label was provided by USDA Secretary Glickman, the details concerning 
production were not thoroughly evaluated. Feed or forage is not the chief 
practical issue that needs to be addressed, but how to water the livestock. 
We are talking about fencing cattle out of permanent-flow riparian areas, but 
not very seriously. Most folks owning ground near such a stream know that to 
lay a fence down in the flood plain is asking for trouble because one dark 
day the rainwater will push your fence into the next township. Reconfiguring 
the entire farm is one option, but you have to look at the place you may have 
grown up on as if you have never seen it before. Its hard to think of old 
Field W-5 any other way, since you have made that left turn at the corner, 
down where you ran into the culvert, since 1976. However, if you face 
watering issues or pastures or hay ground which fronts conventionally cropped 
ground, what was once the outside may have to become the inside, and that 
bottom ground might best be placed in CRP instead of fenced. Double-fencing 
the pasture is a poor alternative, although it is done. Instead, perhaps that 
grazing ground could be put into alfalfa, with the buffer hayed into small 
square bales for the pony people. Then, if one still has cross-fences on the 
interior ground, another piece of cropland could be seeded down to grass and 
clover for pasture. 

Meat Market

Another challenge facing cattle, swine and sheep-raisers is how to fit a calf 
crop of 20 per year into a marketing system that is based on two-thousand 
pounds of ground round a day. One has to figure-in not just production, but 
transportation, market destination, slaughter, processing and final product 
packaging. The only way for the thousands of small-scale organic livestock 
producers to participate in the macro-market is to work with each other to 
identify each component of the process and then plan accordingly, from 
production forwards towards consumers. Frequently the first question to ask 
is how much beef does the chain want each day. The alternative is to seek out 
the support of the local community, use the local slaughter and locker 
facility and sell it yourself in quarters or in consumer packs.


Media Market

New Hope Communications, which publishes the Natural Foods Merchandiser, and 
co-hosts with the Organic Trade Association the annual natural foods trade 
shows in Baltimore and Anaheim every year, has been purchased by an Ohio 
outfit called Penton Media.  New Hope's core products include Natural 
Products Expo East and Natural Products Expo West, two of the largest trade 
shows in the United States, according to the 1999 Tradeshow Week 200 
rankings; five magazines, including Natural Foods Merchandiser, the leading 
magazine serving the natural foods/health foods and organic foods market; and 
the Healthwell.com Web site.