info4action archive


GE - mixed news September 3rd

1) GM soya firm yields to pressure - The Times 3 Sept BY NICK NUTTALL,
2) Important news re: Animal feed
3) GM firms top of ethical investors' blacklist - The Scotsman
4) Agbiotech 99: Biotechnology and World Agriculture November 14-16, 1999 
London, UK
5) International Symposium on Plant Genetic Engineering December 6-10, 1999 
Havana, Cuba. 
6) USDA Launches Biotech Research Project For Sub-Saharan Africa
7) Thursday September 2, -Brazil farmers tap black market for GM soy -group By
Phil Stewart SAO PAULO, Sept 2 (Reuters) -
8) Supermarket chain Budgen's today announced all GM soya and maize
have been removed from its own-label range. It said the move reflected high
levels of customer concern.
9) Canadian groups join in anti-GM food fight-By Irene Marushko - WINNIPEG,
Sept 2 (Reuters) - 
10) BBC  Thursday, September 2, 1999 - Chicken antibiotic 'ban' welcomed
Consumers are demanding healthier foods

1) GM soya firm yields to pressure - The Times 3 Sept BY NICK NUTTALL,
ONE of the world's biggest exporters of soya and maize yesterday bowed to
consumer concerns about GM foods by announcing that it would be segregating
The United States Government and American crops suppliers have insisted for
years that it is impossible to separate GM crops from conventional ones. In
United States, the world's biggest supplier of soya, 60 million acres are
planted with genetically modified crops, with the acreage growing each year. 
But yesterday Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), which buys a third of the American
corn, wheat and soya that is processed into food, dealt the biotechnology
industry a severe blow by saying that it had yielded to pressure from
and retailers in Europe and Japan. 
The company, which has revenues of $14 billion (£9 billion), said in a
statement that it was asking its farmers to separate GM crops from non-GM ones
for the first time. 
Grain industry sources estimate that 35 per cent of this year's American corn
crop and 55 per cent of soya beans derive from GM seeds. Potatoes, cotton and
sugarbeets are among the other crops produced with GM seeds. 
Experts believe that ADM's move will slow the growth of GM agriculture in the
US and may trigger wholesale rejection of the technology among farmers.
Consumer, supermarket and green groups in Britain last night hailed the ADM
announcement as a U-turn in the US's policy towards GM crops and foods. Malcom
Walker, chairman of Iceland Frozen Foods, said: "It's a full victory." 
Sarah Burton, of Greenpeace, said: "This is the beginning of a whole market
shift among farmers and agriculture in the US." 
Last night Cargills, the other big exporter of soya, maize and other crops,
said it was evaluating its rival's move. 
John McMillin, an analyst with Prudential Securities in New York, said he
expected other big companies to follow suit. It was clear that consumer
in Europe had prompted the move, he added. 
An ADM spokeswoman said that it was hoped that crops being harvested now would
be segregated and that those being planted for next year would be separated. 
The Government yesterday announced an inquiry into the safety of all new food,
including genetically modified substances, and their impact on human health.
Supermarket chains are to be asked to provide data of all their regional sales
so that medical experts can analyse the sales and compare them with health
data supplied by local GPs. 
From: "Keenan, Lindsay" <>
2) Important news re: Animal feed
Important news in France is that Le Monde published yesterday
that the N°1 in animal feed in France (Glon-Sanders) and the European
leader in poultry (Bourgouin) have launched the first GE-free line. 
This is BIG !!

(From  GP France)
3) GM firms top of ethical investors' blacklist - The Scotsman

RESEARCH giants working on genetically modified foods
are now second only to arms manufacturers as investment
pariahs with ethical investors.

A survey of socially responsible investors by the Ethical
Investment Trust shows that concern about investing in
businesses carrying out GM research among firms has gone from being a
minor issue two years
ago to investors' second biggest concern.

The report follows the revelation that [ Deutsche Bank ] , Europe's
biggest bank, has advised
leading investors to sell their shares in companies involved in the GM
foods industry.

Guy Hooker, the director of the Ethical Investment Co-operative's
Edinburgh branch, said the
explosion in awareness about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the
call to avoid them
had been staggering.

"In 'top of the pops' terms, they've gone straight in at number two. In
short, the public don't want
GMOs on their plate, or in their portfolios," he said.

"They don't want to invest in GMOs on ethical grounds quite apart from the
financial risk that exists."

He added: "Coming as this information does on the heels of the Deutsche
Bank's warning to its
clients of the potential financial risks of investing in genetically
modified foods, it clearly shows
that an ethical dimension to investment choice actually reduces investment

The trust surveyed investors on their top 25 ethical concerns. Mr Hooker
said GMO businesses
had overtaken the traditional pariahs such as cigarette and alcohol
businesses, to secure number
two spot. He believed that the London-listed firm most likely to be
boycotted is AstraZeneca, the
British-Swedish pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals group, which grows
genetically modified
tomatoes, used in tomato paste. The company's agrochemical division is
also working on
developing genetically altered potatoes and rice.

In May, AstraZeneca's annual meeting in London was disrupted by protesters
dressed as
tomatoes from the campaign group, Genetic Engineering Network. About 20
were also involved in an occupation of the company's headquarters.

Deutsche Bank said growing negative sentiment was also creating problems
for [ Monsanto ] , the
American biotechnology company and Novartis, the Swiss life sciences group.

Last year, Monsanto came under fire after the revelation that its
genetically modified soya beans
were being shipped to Europe and mixed with ordinary soya. Campaigners
attacked the move as
a ploy to force the public to eat transgenic food.

(Copyright 1999)
_____via IntellX_____
Publication Date: August 31, 1999
4) Agbiotech 99: Biotechnology and World Agriculture November 14-16, 1999 
London, UK 

The symposium will explore current perspectives on agricultural
biotechnology's potential impact on global nutrition and economy.
Environmental risks and new developments in transgenic crops
engineered for insect and herbicide resistance will be discussed.
The final presentations will examine advances in the improvement of
crop yield and traits, as well as the enhancement of nutrition. The
symposium will end with a roundtable discussion of future directions
for agricultural biotechnology. 

tel: (US): 800-737-1333/(Int'l): +1-402-996-9185 
fax: +1-973-429-8234 

5) International Symposium on Plant Genetic Engineering December 6-10, 1999 
Havana, Cuba. 

The Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Havana is
hosting a five-day international symposium on plant genetic
engineering. The main topics for discussion will include: Plant
Genome; Crop Transformation; Abiotic Stress; Biotic Stress; Quality
of Plant Products; Molecular Farming; Biosecurity; and Ethical

tel: (53-7) 218466, 218008, 218164 
fax: (53-7) 214764, 336008 

6) USDA Launches Biotech Research Project For Sub-Saharan Africa

As part of the Clinton Administration's Partnership for Growth and
Opportunity for Africa, US Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman launched an
innovative scientific exchange programme to enhance crop biotechnology
research in Sub-Saharan Africa. This start-up project aims to reduce hunger,
speed scientific progress, and help bring the benefits of biotechnology to
small-scale farmers throughout Africa and the USA. The project will utilize
the resources of America's 1890 colleges and universities, one of the
parties to the agreement. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement
Centre (CIMMYT) in Texcoco, Mexico, also agreed to this new international
biotechnology partnership.

"The scientific and technical exchanges planned for this project will
benefit both the United States and Africa," Glickman said. "By sharing our
knowledge, we will speed research discoveries and improve Africa's food
security and agricultural production. Agriculture accounts for two-thirds of
the jobs and a third of all economic activity in Africa. And by helping
develop African agriculture, we also gain insights that help us support our
own farmers as well." USDA will provide $100,000 in start-up funds for the
project, begun in response to requests from 1890s universities for support
of their research efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tuskegee University,
located in Tuskegee, Ala., leads the 1890s universities' efforts, as it has
established research ties with the African National Agricultural Research
Service in Kenya, Ghana, and Senegal. Oscar Prater, chairman of the Council
of 1890 Presidents and Chancellors, signed the memorandum on behalf of all
the 1890s institutions.

"The combined skills of ARS, CIMMYT, the 1890s universities, and the African
institutions bring a critical mass of scientists who will provide unique
solutions to problems associated with agricultural production in Africa,'
said Glickman. "Biotechnology is one of the most important tools we have to
help us generate higher yields without straining our natural resources and
to fight hunger and malnutrition in Africa." Following a needs assessment,
the project will provide biotechnology training for both African scientists
and 1890s faculty at USDA laboratories or at CIMMYT. Co-operative research
projects may be established to develop maize and wheat varieties that mature
faster, grow well with fewer chemicals, and have enhanced nutrients. Part of
this project will be promoting an awareness of the benefits of biotechnology
for developing nations and ensuring the crops produced this way are healthy
and safe.

Contact Frankie D. King, Special Trade and Development Staff, Foreign
Agricultural Service, at +1 (202) 690 0787.

(AgBiotechNet 99)

7) Thursday September 2, -Brazil farmers tap black market for GM soy -group By
Phil Stewart SAO PAULO, Sept 2 (Reuters) -
 Brazil's farmers are skirting a ban on
genetically-modified (GM) crops and turning to the black market for illegal
soybean seeds smuggled in from neighboring Argentina, a top industry
group said on Thursday.

The Brazilian Association of Seed Producers (Abrasem) said demand is so
great for the contraband soybeans that the
illegal varieties might account for up to 10 percent of Brazil's upcoming
crop, the world's second largest. The U.S.
ranks number one.

``Obviously, smuggling of transgenic soybeans exists. What is alarming is
how rapidly the area is increasing,'' said
Joao Henrique Hummel, the director of Abrasem.

Hummel estimated that all of the smuggled soy goes by the brand name
``Roundup Ready,'' a variety engineered by
U.S. biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MTC - news) to save farmers
money on herbicides. It is already legal
in Argentina, and covered half of last year's crop there.

But Roundup Ready has faced an uphill battle in Brazil to make its way off
test-plots and onto farmland.

Earlier this year, Monsanto appeared to have broken Brazil's ban on
genetically modified crops by winning safety
approval for the altered soybeans.

But the action opened a floodgate of controversy in Latin America's
agricultural giant, which also grows more coffee,
sugar and oranges than anywhere else on the planet.

Environmental group Greenpeace successfully argued in court last month that
the government's safety approval was
based largely on research conducted in the U.S., instead of Brazil, home to
the world's largest rainforest.

Monsanto must now conduct a new, one-year study closely examining the
effects these new genes could have Brazil's
fragile environment, apparently shelving the company's plans to sell
Roundup Ready in Brazil this year.

Some farmers have sided with Greenpeace. Planting genetically-altered
crops, they say, could cost them sales to their
key European market, where consumers have demanded that so-called
``Frankenstein foods'' be wiped off supermarket

But as the proliferation of illegal soybeans suggests, not all farmers are
convinced that shunning the advances of
science is a wise business move.

Hummel said the sheer savings generated from Roundup Ready has made it a
necessity for farmers competing in a
world market offering the lowest soybean prices in recent history.

``We are not opposed to transgenic soybeans. In fact we are in favor... Why
do you think the farmers are planting
more? It's because they work,'' Hummel said.

Hummel said that almost all of the contraband soybeans would be planted in
Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil's third
largest grower which borders Argentina. The seeds could cover about 30
percent of the area dedicated to soybeans, he

Rio Grande do Sul's left-wing government, which is trying to ban
genetically-modified crops, has denied the
wide-spread proliferation the contraband seeds.

Officials linked to the state's agriculture department said no studies
existed quantifying the degree of smuggling of
transgenic soybeans.
8) Supermarket chain Budgen's today announced all GM soya and maize
have been removed from its own-label range. It said the move reflected high
levels of customer concern.
9) Canadian groups join in anti-GM food fight-By Irene Marushko - WINNIPEG,
Sept 2 (Reuters) - 

Several Canadian environmental and
public interest groups said on Thursday they would join forces to educate
Canadians about genetically modified (GM) foods and possibly push to
have them removed from store shelves.

``We arrived at agreement around the table that we wanted to work together,
that public education was necessary, and
to look at the regulatory framework in Canada,'' said Jean Christie of
Rural Advancement Foundation International.

The group, which monitors Canada's international policy negotiations on
biodiversity, joined environmental groups like
the Sierra Club and Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians, an independent
citizens' group, to act together on the

The groups at the least advocate labeling of GM food products made from
crops that have been genetically modified to
resist pests or herbicides.

At the most, they want sales of the products stopped.

``There's just not enough information,'' Christie told Reuters from Ottawa.

She said more research must be done to ensure that GM foods are safe to
human health. The foods came into wide use
in North America three years ago.

Awareness of GM foods has been slow to grow in Canada and the United
States, in sharp contrast to Europe where
protests have been so strong that many retailers have refused to sell GM

European buyers have rejected Canadian canola, a major oilseed crop which
is mostly genetically modified.

Canadian farmers also grow GM soybeans and corn, but the province of
Ontario recently said it would begin
segregating GM corn from regular corn to meet the demands of buyers who are
responding to public concerns.

``It happened surreptitiously in Canada,'' Christie said. ``We never had a
debate about whether people wanted to eat
genetically modified food.''

The agricultural industry in North America has defended GM products, saying
they are no different from regular food.

But several large agribusiness companies have started to ask grain
suppliers to segregate the crops to meet customer

European protests have centered on concerns about the health and
environmental effects of GM crops and foods, and
consumer groups, food makers and supermarkets have increasingly demanded
segregation and labeling of GM food

Christie estimated that 84 million acres worldwide have been planted to GM
crops. This area is forecast to increase to
140 million acres next year.

``They (GM crops) are in two-thirds of the processed food that's sold in
Canada,'' she said.

U.S. agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE:ADM - news)
recently warned its grain suppliers to begin
segregating genetically modified corn, soybeans and other crops from
conventional crops.

10) BBC  Thursday, September 2, 1999 - Chicken antibiotic 'ban' welcomed
Consumers are demanding healthier foods
>Supermarkets and food campaigners have welcomed a move by Britain's
>biggest chicken producer to stop using antibiotics to make the birds grow
>The Grampian Country Food Group, which supplies 200m broilers a year, is
>stopping the use of growth-promoting drugs in response to consumer demands
>for healthier eating.
>[ image: Antibiotics are used extensivly in intensive pig-rearing]
>The move follows concern that the overuse of antibiotics poses a threat to
>human health by helping to create so-called microscopic "superbugs" which
>are resistant to modern medicines.
>The decision could have a substantial impact across a farming industry
>which has previously claimed that antibiotics help to improve the quality
>and efficiency of production while also keeping businesses viable.
>Two of Grampian's biggest customers, Marks & Spencer and Tesco, welcomed
>the move.
>M&S spokeswoman Sue Sadler said: "This is an important development. It is
>something we have been looking at for some time and we are pleased that
>Grampian have announced this step forward of their own accord."
>[image: Some bugs are developing resistance to antibiotics]
>She added M&S would now expect other meat producers to look at the
>possibilities of stopping the use of antibiotics to speed growth.
>Grampian, which supplies nearly a third of all home-grown chickens in the
>UK, made the announcement after an antibiotic-free trial involving up to
>1.5m birds showed no deterioration in their quality or welfare.
>Malcolm Smith, chief executive of the firm's chicken division, said: "We
>have conducted exhaustive field trials with focus groups who have all said
>they would like us to remove growth promoters from the food chain."
>He said the Aberdeen-based company did not intend to charge a premium for
>its antibiotic-free birds.
>Investment in rearing birds with improved heating and ventilation along
>with good quality feed had reduced the stress on birds, making it possible
>to remove the antibiotics, according to Grampian.
>Food safety experts at Friends of the Earth welcomed the decision.
>Adrian Bebb, food campaigner for FoE, said: "It is quite clear that there
>is a huge problem with resistance building up in the human population and
>it is partly because of unnecessary use of antibiotics in farming."
>Growth promoters have been used extensively in animals' feed and water in
>British farming for 40 years, especially in the pig and poultry
>Ben Gill of the National Farmers Union told BBC radio: "There is nothing
>to suggest that any effects in the meat are causing any problems with
>human health. It is more regulated now than ever before."
>But he said the industry did want to trim its dependency on antibiotics.
>"We want to reduce our input costs. This is one way we can do it, if it's
>sustainable," he said.