info4action archive


GE -

2) EU scientist raises GM food regulation fears ENDS Daily - 06/09/99
3)  August 27, 1999 - Peasants hit rushed OK of mutant crop gamble
The Kilusan ng Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), 
4) Sunday Times (London) September  5, 1999 -Poison risk is greater from 
organic  foods,  says scientist BYLINE: Stephen Bevan and Lois Jones  

BRUSSELS -- David Byrne, the EU's Health and Consumer Protection
Commissioner-designate, was cited as saying that the European
Union plans to require animal feed containing genetically
modified ingredients to be labeled as such. This would extend
restrictions that already exist on genetically modified foods for
human consumption. Mr. Byrne's statement, made Friday at
confirmation hearings at the European Parliament in Brussels,
came, according to this story, amid a heated public debate in
Europe about the safety of both animal feed and genetically
modified organisms, or GMOs.

This story explained that news that motor oil and even human
sewage have found their way into European animal feed as "protein
additives" has disgusted consumers and put pressure on
politicians to strengthen rules on what is allowed into animals'
diets. Many consumers were already unsettled because of the
growing presence in European grocery stores of products
containing GMOs but not labeled as such. A requirement to label
not only grocery food products but also animal feed as "GM" or
"GM-free" would, the story says, add impetus to EU demands that
all foods be segregated at the farm before processing or
shipment. Although the EU, Japan and other countries require food
destined for human consumption to be labeled if it contains GMOs,
the U.S. has no such requirement.

About half the soybeans and corn planted in the U.S. today are,
according to this story, genetically modified, or GM. But because
the U.S. considers them "substantially equivalent" to non-GM
products, it does not require them to be labeled in any special
way. The U.S. government was cited as saying that genetic
engineering is just another form of cross-breeding. As a result,
the U.S. has lost the EU as a market for corn exports and risks
losing it as an export market for soybeans. Soybean meal is a key
protein additive in European animal feed.

A U.S. official who heard Mr. Byrne speak on Friday was cited as
saying that U.S. soybeans are the "only practical source" of
protein for European livestock, adding, "There's no realistic alternative to
our soybeans right now."

Anthony Arke, secretary general of biotechnology industry group
EuropaBio, was cited as saying he welcomed the thrust of Mr.
Byrne's comments, describing them as an improvement over the
"one-sided approach led by (departing EU Environment Commissioner
Ritt) Bjerregaard."

The story says Mrs. Bjerregaard used her role as environment
commissioner to hold up EU approval for many GMOs widely used in
other countries. The new commission will shift primary
responsibility for biotechnology issues to Mr. Byrne, who will
act in cooperation with other commissioners responsible for
trade, industrial policy and the environment. 
2) EU scientist raises GM food regulation fears
ENDS Daily - 06/09/99
EU rules governing food safety may not be strong enough to
deal with expected growth in the use of genetically modified
(GM) crops, a leading EU scientist said today.  Andrew
Chesson told a conference in Edinburgh that without a
reappraisal of food safety testing and control rules a new
generation of GM crops could result in hazardous substances
ending up in food.  Specifically, Dr Chesson called for two
key issues to be tackled.  The first is that the process of
genetically modifying a plant could produce unexpected
changes to the plant's metabolism.  Therefore, said Dr
Chesson, "new, more broad ranging analytical techniques that
do not rely on assumptions as to what is dangerous" need to
be introduced.  Dr Chesson also suggests that a new
generation of GM crops is likely to be bred for industrial
use, but might find their way into the human food chain.
"New methods of disposal and increased safeguards may have
to be implemented,"  he said.  Employed by Scotland's Rowett
Research Institute, Dr Chesson is vice-chairman of the EU's
scientific committee on animal nutrition and an advisor to
the GMO working group of the EU scientific committee on

Contacts:  Rowett Research Institute
tel: +44 1224 712 751.
3)  August 27, 1999 - Peasants hit rushed OK of mutant crop gamble
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

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

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

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
82-C Masikap Extension St.
Barangay Central
Quezon City
4) Sunday Times (London) September  5, 1999 -Poison risk is greater from 
organic  foods,  says scientist BYLINE: Stephen Bevan and Lois Jones  
BODY: ORGANIC  food is 30 times
likely to poison you than conventional food,  according to a leading
scientist and top government adviser. Professor  Alan Gray, acting
chairman of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the  Environment,
advises the government on the safety of  genetically modified (GM)
and other "novel" organisms, said it was a "myth" that  organic  food
safer. "You are 30 times more likely to poison yourself with  organic
produce because it allows Bt (the bacterium Bacillus
thuringiensis) to spread directly. There's this myth about it
being natural," he said.
Sprays containing Bt have been used for a decade by farmers
to control caterpillars. When ingested, the bacterium produces
endotoxins which attack the walls of the insects' guts. In
mammals, they can cause death from septic shock.     It is one
of a number of biological agents permitted by  organic
certifying bodies such as the Soil Association, which insists it
is safe when used properly. Ironically the production of Bt
toxin is one of the key features of many GM crops.
    "Because it's derived from the soil it's deemed to be
natural and  organic farmers are therefore allowed to spray it,"
said Gray. "But Bt affects the health of people who work with it
due to the ingestion of endotoxins." He was also concerned about
the presence of harmful bacteria such as E-coli (a cause of food
poisoning) in manures used by  organic  farmers.
    "By using manures instead of fertilisers you're recycling E-
coli from the guts of cattle and other animals," said Gray.
"This is the way the world was before we had  organic
fertilisers. I'm not against  organic  food. There's this sense
that it's safe, but in fact the risk is greater than from eating
some generic foods."
    His comments were immediately attacked as misconceived by
the Soil Association, which certifies the majority of  organic
producers. "People like Professor Gray ought to know better,"
said Richard Young, the association's agricultural policy
adviser. "We've drawn up standards for 30 years to prevent these
problems. Many diseases such as E-coli are a result of intensive
farming systems."
    Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said he
suspected Gray's comments were based on misinformation put about
by the agrichemicals industry.     "Our view is that biological
toxins are fine so long as we can show they are not dangerous
and are used in a targeted way. If there is new evidence which
challenges that we would revisit the inclusion of Bt on the
permitted list."     Holden admitted that manure from
conventional farms could contain E-coli or salmonella but said
strict rules about how it was used made it extremely unlikely
that it could contaminate any  organic  products. Radio4
presenter John Humphrys, a keen fan of  organic  food, said:
"I'm not an expert but my reaction is that this is nonsense.
I've been eating  organic food for 20 years and I haven't
suffered from it."
    The comments by Gray, who works at the Institute of
Terrestrial  Ecology's Furzebrook research station in Dorset and
is vice-president of the British  Ecological  Society, threaten
to upset the rapidly growing and lucrative  organic  market.
Supermarkets have doubled their sales of  organic  products in
the past year. In some sectors, such as baby food,  organic
products represent as much as 40% of the market despite prices
which can be as much as 50% higher.     Much of the demand is
driven by people who are looking for safer, healthier food, as
well as less intensive farming methods which are said to be
better for the environment and for animal welfare. Food
certified by the Soil Association must be produced without the
use of chemical fertilisers, herbicides or  pesticides.