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GE - GMO News 08/31

GMO News  08/31
1) S.Korean firms go into GMO research amid  concerns 
SEOUL, Aug 30 (Reuters)-
2)  Study: Dolly, The Cloned Sheep, Is Not An Exact Copy LONDON (Aug. 31) 
3) US merchants encourage farmers to go non-GM in 2000 [from NLP]
4) DEVELOPMENT-PAKISTAN: Monsanto Fiddles With Plant Protection Act 
By Muddassir Rizvi ISLAMABAD, Aug 31 (IPS) 
5) Headline: Japan food maker to drop gene-altered soybeans -Wire Service: RTw
(Reuters World Report) -Date: Wed, Sep 1, 1999 Copyright 1999 Reuters Ltd.  
6) September 1, 1999 -NEW YORK TIMES -
Why Genetically Altered Food Won't Conquer Hunger By PETER ROSSET

1) S.Korean firms go into GMO research amid  concerns 
SEOUL, Aug 30 (Reuters) - South Korea's seed firms 
> said on Monday that with the help of government subsidies 
> they planned to develop genetically modified organisms 
> (GMOs), an increasingly controversial technique as 
> consumers raise concerns about possible risks. The 
> country's parliament enacted a law for labelling GMOs on 
> July 1, responding to public concerns over possible health 
> and environmental hazards. The government has yet to decide 
> which products would be labelled. "It is unavoidable for us 
> to have GMOs research centres to compete with advanced 
> nations' technologies amid public concerns," said An 
> Yeoung-sik, general manager of Nong Woo Seed Co Ltd. An 
> said the company would open a genetic engineering 
> department at its Nong Woo Seed Research Center on 
> Wednesday to develop GMO seeds, which would meet government 
> regulations and healthy for consumers. "Our current 
> technology related to developing GMO seeds has been only a 
> half-percent of those of developed countries," An said. He 
> said the company would develop GMO seeds by partly investing
> its own money and with help from government subsidies. 
>  South Korea has two major seed companies, Nong Woo Seed and
> Hung Nong Seed Co Ltd. Hung Nong is 70 percent owned by 
> U.S.-based fruit and vegetable seed company Seminis Inc 
> <SMNS.O>, a leader in the production and sales of 
> genetically-engineered fruit and vegetable seeds. Cho Young 
> Hwan, Managing Director of Hung Nong Seed Co Ltd and 
> Director of Hung Nong Seed Research Station, said the 
> company had been waiting for the government to decide which 
> products would be approved for GMO development. "Working 
> with universities, the state-run research centres and 
> Seminis, we are building GMO technologies ahead of the 'GMO 
> period'," Cho said. Cho said the company was providing 
> about 30 percent of the money for its GMO development 
> projects while the government was giving the remainder. The 
> company plans to reimburse the government once it received 
> patents and begins selling its GMO products. Plans to 
> develop genetically modified crops have triggered 
> controversy in Europe. Environmentalists in Britain have 
> repeatedly destroyed trial fields of GM crops and 
> environmental group Greenpeace had threatened to intensify 
> its campaign against genetic engineering in food across 
> Europe. While proponents of GM crops say they improve 
> yields, reduce susceptibility to disease and insects and 
> can add nutritional value, opponents worry they can harm 
> the environment, affect the resistance of nearby crops to 
> diseases and pests and could harbour unknown risks to 
> health. Japan, under pressure from consumers, has also 
> proposed that foods made with genetically altered crops be 
> specially labelled, a move that could spark trade tensions 
> with the United States, the world's largest producer of 
> such crops. 
> ===================#===================
2)  Study: Dolly, The Cloned Sheep, Is Not An Exact Copy LONDON (Aug. 31) 
> XINHUA - Scientists have found 
> that Dolly the sheep, the world's first adult cloned 
> mammal, is not a 100 percent copy of the adult sheep from 
> which she was cloned. Though the DNA in the nuclei of 
> Dolly's cells has been proved to be the same as the genetic 
> material of an adult sheep donor's mammary cells, 
> scientists were not certain whether the so-called 
> mitochondrial DNA in Dolly's cells was also copied from 
> that adult animal. Now Dr Eric Schon from Columbia 
> University, the United States, working with researchers 
> from the Roslin Institute in Scotland, where Dolly was 
> created, has shown that the answer is not. The 
> mitochondrion is the "powerhouse" of the cell, providing 
> the energy that fuels most cellular processes. It has its 
> own unique genome, which is separate from that of the 
> nucleus and is inherited exclusively from the mother. When 
> Dolly was created by a method called nuclear transfer, the 
> nucleus of a donor cell was fused with a recipient egg cell 
> that had its nucleus removed. During this process, the 
> cytoplasms, the so called cellular "soup" in which 
> mitochondria reside, of the two different cells were 
> merged. Theoretically, therefore, Dolly's mitochondria 
> could have derived from the donor cell, the recipient cell 
> or both. In their research, Dr Schon and colleagues 
> investigated the origin of the mitochondrial DNA of Dolly 
> and nine other cloned sheep. Their findings, published in 
> the September issue of Nature Genetics journal, showed that 
> in all cases, the mitochondrial DNA from the cloned animals 
> differs from that of the nuclear donor cells, but is 
> similar to that of the recipient egg cells, suggesting that 
> only the recipient egg cells contribute mitochondrial DNA 
> to cloned animals. Dr Schon's new research is an 
> "interesting observation" and the results are much as were 
> "expected", Dr Harry Griffin, Assistant Director of Roslin 
> Institute, told Xinhua in a telephone interview on Tuesday. 
> The fact that Dolly is not an exact genetic copy dosn't 
> change her position as the first animal deprived from adult 
> cell, said Dr Griffin, adding that the new findings are 
> "irrelevant" to any other commercial applications of the 
> nuclear transfer technique, which he believed is a better 
> way of producing genetically-modified livestock. Enditem 
> 31/08/99 17:29 GMT Copyright 1999 Executive News Svc. 
> ===================#===================
"NLP Wessex" <>
3) US merchants encourage farmers to go non-GM in 2000
X-UIDL: 824d5f836bfa2dc38308e078547acb2a

As GMO crops become increasingly unsaleable on international markets, US
merchants are rapidly introducing schemes to encourage American farmers to
switch back out of GMOS in 2000.

The Consolidated Grain and Barge Company is one of the latest US companies
to take such steps and has indicated to its producers that consignments
containing GMO contamination 'no matter how trival' will not be eligible for
premium prices (CGB letter to producers 26 August 1999):

"CGB will be contracting 'non gmo' beans and corn this coming crop year.  We
are currently finalizing our premium schedule and delivery periods.

Segregating 'non GMO' grains on farm will pay dividends this coming year.
Please make sure when switching from GMO varieties to 'non GMO' varieties
that you clean, combines, trucks and wagons, conveying equipment, and
especially bins.  The testing standards and tolerance levels will be very
tight and any contamination, no matter how trivial it may seem, will lead to
positive test and will be rejected for 'non GMO' premiums.....

As suppliers we have to be responsible in meeting the needs of our

For more information contact:

Charlie Laird
Regional Merchandising Manager
Consolidated Grain and Barge Co
Post Office Box 548/Mt Vernon
Indiana 47520

Tel: (812) 838 - 4017
Fax: (812) 838 -2572

Thanks to US farmer Jim Winiger for forwarding this information.  Copies of
original the CGB letter are available in JPG format from us on request.

So much for the economic competitive advantage that GMOs are supposed to
provide farmers, to say nothing of their often lower yields and high cost of

In addition the CGB letter confirms just how many opportunities there are
for GM-free crops to become contaminated with non-gm free varieties.

How long is it going to be before the agricultural industry realises that it
is going to be far better off if it just simply abandons GMOs altogether,
and starts putting its energies into something more constructive?

GMOs are the worst possible PR for the farming industry at a time when it
desperately requires the good-will of the general population on both sides
of the atlantic.

4) DEVELOPMENT-PAKISTAN: Monsanto Fiddles With Plant Protection Act 
By Muddassir Rizvi ISLAMABAD, Aug 31 (IPS) - 
The U.S seed transnational (TNC) Monsanto has
been working overtime to get Pakistan to dilute a proposed law that will
extend protection to plant varieties under the Trade Related Property
Rights (TRIPs) agreement. 

Officials in the Pakistani Ministry of Food and Agriculture say Monsanto
has been sending ''unsolicited suggestions'' for incorporation into the
Plant Breeders Rights Act, being devised to meet international obligations
under the TRIPs agreement. 

''Monsanto is also pulling powerful strings to influence the legislative
process in its favor sending letters to government officials, holding
meetings with politicians,'' commented an official of the ministry,
requesting not to be named. 

The TRIPS agreement requires signatories to extend protection to plant
varieties either through patents or a sui generis system. 

Pakistani has opted for the latter or a locally devised system in order to
provide maximum protection to farmers against seed TNCs that are now
eyeing the lucrative seed markets in developing countries. 

A government committee with representatives from the ministries of
commerce, agriculture and industries is working on a draft Plant Breeders
Act 1999. 

An NGO representative Dr Shahid Zia, Research Fellow with the
Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), has also
been included in the committee. 

''The proposed law would allow the farmers to save, retain and exchange
seeds, although they will be barred from using the seed for commercial
exploitation,'' Dr Zia told IPS, adding that the law proposed protection
for a period of 20 to 25 years. 

Formed on August 6 this year, the committee has already held two meetings
and has been able to come out with the first draft that proposes adequate
safeguards against transgenic seed varieties from entering the Pakistani

''The proposed law requires a genetically modified or a transgenic plant
to clear tough environmental impact and biosaftey assessments before being
given protection,'' said Dr Zia. 

The proposed law will also bind the owner of the genetically modified or
new transgenic variety to pay compensation for hazards and damages, if
caused by the use and handling of the transgenic variety. 

''In such cases, assessment of such hazards and damages shall be decided
by the bio-safety committee,'' reads a clause in the draft law prompting
Monsanto to make representations with the government. 

In a letter to the chief of the government's Seed Certification Department
dated August 16, Monsanto's Managing Director Dr A Rehman Khan has asked
for the deletion of this clause saying it will be unacceptable to the TNC. 

''In the presence of this clause, anybody from public can sue us and ask
for compensation for hazards and damages which are kind of open ended
risks. Hence, take out this clause,'' said Khan in his fax. 

''Again I repeat that this clause is not acceptable to any multinational
company and it should not be different than any non- transgenic variety,''
Khan said. 

After tough resistance to its terminator technology in the industrialiased
countries, Monsanto is now eyeing India, Pakistan and China to push its
genetically engineered seeds, whose biosafety impacts are still uncertain. 

Scientists believe that the 'sterility trait' from first- generation seed
will infect via pollen neighboring fields of open- pollinated crops and
wild relatives growing nearby. 

''Given that the technology is new and untested on a large scale,
biosafety issues remain a valid and extremely important concern,'' argues
the Canada-based Rural Advancement Foundation International, an ardent
opponent of terminator technology. 

''Monsanto is planning to begin trials of its transgenic seeds in either
Sahiwal or Faisalabad districts of the Punjab province,'' said Irfan
Ahmed, editor of the Seed Magazine, at a consultation on Plant Breeders
Rights organized by SDPI inIslambad last week. 

While 240 local companies are marketing seeds developed by public sector
research institutions, TNCs, including DuPont, Monsanto, Novartis, Pioneer
Group, AgriVo and ICI, are waiting to 

enter the market once introduces legislation to protect plant varieties is
in place. 

Although the proposed law has provided for adequate safeguards against
transgenic varieties, it has certain other flaws that need to be

''The proposed law bars farmers from commercial exploitation of seed but
the law is not clear what commercial exploitation is. Does it mean that
farmers will not be able to sell part of their crop in the market, as they
have been traditionally doing?'' Dr. Zia demands to know. 

Government officials are defending the draft law, saying it will not
impact local farmers who will be free to save, exchange and share seeds. 

''The law will provide incentives in the shape of royalties to public
sector research institutions and agriculture scientists to develop new
high quality seeds,'' said Dr Akhlaque Ahmed, head of the Seed
Certification Department. 

Public sector research institutions account for more than 90 per cent of
new plant varieties introduced in the country, while the rest are
developed by farmers themselves. 

''The law should ensure that the interests of the farmers rather than the
TNCs are protected,'' said Mushtaq Gadi who works for the Sustainable
Agriculture Action Group (SAAG), an NGO. 

''Ideally, the government should interpret the sui generis system in the
light of the Convention on Biological Diversity that talks about the
rights of local communities on genetic resources and biodiversity,'' Gadi
said. (END/IPS/mr/rdr/99) 
5) Headline: Japan food maker to drop gene-altered soybeans -Wire Service: RTw
(Reuters World Report) -Date: Wed, Sep 1, 1999 Copyright 1999 Reuters Ltd.  
>The following news report may not be republished or redistributed, in
>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
>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
>these crops and food products made from them, in order to allow
>to make an informed choice. Foods made from soybean protein are subject
>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.
From: "NLP Wessex" <>

This story has wide significance.  Fuji will be supplied by with GM free
soya beans by fellow Japanese company Itochu Corp, whose substantial
agri-food business interests include activities in Thailand, China,
Malaysia, Indonesia and the US.

Itochu's subsidiary, Consolidated Grain and Barge Company (CGB), is
currently encouraging US growers
to switch out of GM soya and corn in 2000 by providing non-gmo premiums.  In
a recent statement
to US producers it said: "CGB will be contracting 'non gmo' beans and corn
this coming crop year.  We
are currently finalizing our premium schedule and delivery periods.
Segregating 'non GMO' grains on farm will pay dividends this coming year."

CGB Enterprises, Inc., is a joint venture with the Japanese National
Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (ZEN-NOH) that stores
and transports grain.

6) September 1, 1999 -NEW YORK TIMES -
Why Genetically Altered Food Won't Conquer Hunger By PETER ROSSET

AKLAND, Calif. -- In the debate over genetically altered foods, proponents
like Senator Richard Luger, the Indiana Republican, argue that such
products will be essential if we are to feed the world. But this claim
rests on two persistent misconceptions about hunger: first, that people are
hungry because of high population density, and second, that genetic
engineering is the best or only way to meet our future needs.

In fact, there is no relationship between the prevalence of hunger in a
given country and its population. For every densely populated and hungry
nation like Bangladesh, there is a sparsely populated and hungry nation
like Brazil.

The world today produces more food per inhabitant than ever before. Enough
is available to provide 4.3 pounds to every person every day: two and a
half pounds of grain, beans and nuts, about a pound of meat, milk and eggs,
and another of fruits and vegetables -- more than anyone could ever eat.

The real problems are poverty and inequality. Too many people are too poor
to buy the food that is available or lack land on which to grow it

The second misconception is that genetic engineering is the best way to
boost food production. There are two principal technologies on the market.
Monsanto makes "Roundup Ready" seeds, which are engineered to withstand its
herbicide, Roundup. These seeds -- usually soybeans, canola or cotton --
allow farmers to apply the herbicide widely.

Monsanto and several other companies also produce "Bt" seeds -- usually
corn, potatoes and cotton -- which are engineered so that each plant
produces its own insecticide.

Some researchers have shown that none of the genetically engineered seeds
significantly increase the yield of crops. Indeed, in more than 8,200 field
trials, the Roundup Ready seeds produced fewer bushels of soybeans than
similar natural varieties, according to a study by Dr. Charles Benbrook,
the former director of the Board on Agriculture at the National Academy of

Far from being a solution to the world's hunger problem, the rapid
introduction of genetically engineered crops may actually threaten
agriculture and food security.

First, widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant seeds may lead to greater
use of chemicals that kill weeds. Yet, many noncrop plants are used by
small farmers in the third world as supplemental food sources and as animal
feed. In the United States, the Fish and Wildlife Service has found that
Roundup already threatens 74 endangered plant species.

Biological pollution from genetically engineered organisms may be another
problem. Monsanto is poised to acquire the rights to a genetic engineering
technique that renders a crop's seeds sterile, insuring that farmers are
dependent on Monsanto for new seed every year. Farming in the third world
could be crippled if these genes contaminate other local crops that the
poor depend on. And such genes could unintentionally sterilize other
plants, according to a study by Martha Crouch, an associate professor of
biology at Indiana University. Half the world's farmers rely on their own
saved seed for each year's harvest.

A true solution to the problem of hunger depends on attacking poverty and
inequality among both producers and consumers of food. A food system
increasingly dependent on genetically altered seeds takes us in the wrong

Peter Rosset is director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy
and co-author of "World Hunger: Twelve Myths."