info4action archive


GE - news mix 12th September

1) The Observer 12th Sep 99. GM martyr ignites global protest
2) The Observer 12/9/99 - Storm over £1m GM grants to Minister's lab
Antony Barnett, Public Affairs Editor 
3) US GM regulations - 'spot the holes' competition 
4) US biotech conference shows GM farm sector in disaray 
5) Solution to GM crops debate in sight? NLP
Is oilseed breeding set to take another turn, this time away from GM 
Researchers in Norwich believe it could.
By Charles Abel 
6) The John Innes Centre (UK biotechnology research institute) has created a 
new web site 
7) New Scientist September 11, 1999 - A very unholy war 
HIGHLIGHT: Attacking opium and coca farms with bioweapons sounds great . .
. to
8) 'GMO Foods Labeling in Japan' - by Setsuko Yasuda NO! GMO Campaign
(Consumers Union of Japan) 19990912
9) New Scientist September 11, 1999 - Operation Eradicate BYLINE: Kurt
10) The September 1999 issue of Reader's Digest magazine contains an article 
entitled 'The Truth About GM Food' by Ghillean Prance, former director of the 
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
11) This is a good indication of the current dire state of play down on the 
GE farm. It's a survey on the front page of the Farm Journal website:
12) New weed control system in soya without using GM 
September 9, 1999 Western Producer Barry Wilson Special Reports Editor

1) The Observer 12th Sep 99. GM martyr ignites global protest

A French farmer is acting as a lightning rod for growing anger
Links, reports and background: more about GM food 
Mark Honigsbaum, Chief Reporter Sunday September 12, 1999
In France they have been burning effigies of Ronald McDonald in the street. 
In the United States, a group calling itself the California Croppers has 
been converting fields of genetically modified corn into makeshift football 
Whether the protesters' target is mal-bouffe (bad food) or `toxic' pollen, 
the message to the biotechnology companies is the same: the movement 
against genetic modification nurtured in Britain is going global.
Since Greenpeace's chief executive, Lord Melchett, invaded a field of GM 
maize in Norfolk two months ago, copycat actions have spread worldwide. In 
July, 50 activists from the Danish group Green Guerrilla uprooted GM crops 
on two islands off the coast of Denmark. Last month green groups in Germany 
launched a series of `crop squats' on GM test sites. And in the United 
States, activists have been destroying GM trials on university campuses in 
protest at what they see 
as the growing links between biotech companies and academia.
Now the movement may have found its first martyr - Jose Bove, a charismatic 
sheep farmer in Millau, south-west France. Last month Bove, leader of the 
ConfÀedÀeration Paysanne, a militant French environmental group, was 
imprisoned for leading a commando raid on a McDonald's under construction 
in the Larzac, one of France's best-known gastronomic regions. Although 
ostensibly a protest against America's decision to impose a supertax on 
Roquefort cheese in 
retaliation for Europe's refusal to import American hormone-treated beef, 
Bove, who had been awaiting trial for destroying a store of Novatis GM 
maize, quickly became a lightning-rod for the global anti-GM movement.
When he was released from Montpellier prison on bail last Tuesday, crowds 
of triumphant supporters gathered at the gates to applaud him. Praised by 
everyone from President Jacques Chirac to the American farmers' union, Bove 
is now threatening to launch a worldwide citizens' movement. `These actions 
will only stop when this mad logic comes to a halt,' said Bove. `I don't 
demand clemency but justice.'
Bove's release comes as the GM industry faces a series of legal challenges. 
Last week Friends of the Earth won a judicial review of the British 
Government's decision to allow the German biotech company AgrEvo to extend 
its summer 
trials of GM oilseed rape to cover an area the size of Southampton.
The hearing, set for January, has thrown AgrEvo's four planned winter 
trials into disarray. One farmer has pulled out after protests from local 
residents and Friends of the Earth argues the company would be foolhardy to 
proceed with autumn planting while a decision on its legal permission is 
In Ireland, the environmental pressure group Genetic Concern has been given 
leave by the Supreme Court to challenge Monsanto's permission to conduct 
trials of GM sugar beet. Last month a group calling itself the Faery Army, 
citing solidarity with activists across the worl destroyed a test site of 
the company's RoundUp GM sugar beet in Cork. Five farmers have withdrawn 
from the Irish trials and three test sites have been trashed, leaving just 
two active.
But the biggest threat to the biotech industry is mounting opposition in 
America. Last week the American Corn Growers' Association advised its 
members to consider planting conventional corn next year because of 
growing consumer concern about GM foods. The advice follows a decision by
Archer Daniels Midland, America's leading grain exporter, to segregate GM 
and non-GM grains and a lawsuit challenging the Food and Drug 
Administration's decision not to require GM labelling on food products.
According to a poll by Time magazine, 81 per cent of Americans are in 
favour of GM labelling and 60 per cent say that, if GM ingredients were 
clearly marked, they would not buy the foods. Seizing the growing 
consumer disquiet, last week a Minnesota group calling itself the Bolt 
Wevil destroyed a Novartis research field and then glued shut doors at the 
company's headquarters. The action followed an attack on a field of GM 
corn in Vermont in protest at the alleged threat posed by the corn to the 
endangered Monarch butterfly.
Protesters have also been targeting university campuses in receipt of 
biotech research grants from Monsanto and Novartis. Irish campaigners say 
that the decision by Melchett and 27 Greenpeace activists to draw attention 
to the risk of genetic contamination by invading an AgrEvo farm-scale 
trial in Norfolk July has had a similarly galvanising effect in 
therepublic. `For the first time people in Ireland are beginning to realise 
that the trials could have a big knock-on effect on adjacent farms. There 
is a lot of frustration here that the government has backed off from its 
promise of a moratorium on genetic testing and is sitting on the fence,' 
said Sadbh O'Neill, a spokesperson for Genetic Concern.
In Britain, environmental groups are waiting to see whether the Government 
will continue to back GM testing in face of growing public opposition. So 
far this year, activists have wrecked around 50 field-scale experiments 
and several larger farm-scale trials. Despite the High Court pending 
judicial review of the AgrEvo trial permission, on Friday the company 
annouced that it had already planted GM winter oilseed rape at three sites 
in Lincolnshire and Hertfordshire.
Scimac, a group representing biotech companies, plant breeders and seed 
traders, welcomed the decision, saying it shared the Government's 
determination to ensure that the development of GM crop technology was 
based on `sound scientific principles'. However, Friends of the Earth said 
the Government's testing programme was now a `shambolic farce'. The 
organisation's director, Charles Secreet, said: `Government sloppiness 
means that the trials are probably now unlawful.
2) The Observer 12/9/99 - Storm over £1m GM grants to Minister's lab
Antony Barnett, Public Affairs Editor 
The Science Minister Lord Sainsbury was plunged into fresh controversy last 
night after it emerged that the government funding body he controls has 
given more than £1m to the Sainsbury Laboratory mto finance research into 
genetically modified food.
The Observer has learned that since July when Sainsbury became a Minister, 
the Sainsbury Laboratory has been awarded six government grants worth £1.1m 
by the 
Biotechnology and Biological Science Researh Council. The council comes 
under the umbrella of the Office of Science and Technology, which answers 
to the Science Minister.
Lord Sainsbury founded the laboratory to research plant genetics in 1987. 
It receives money from the Department of Trade and Industry and £2m a year 
from Sainsbury's charitable Gatsby Trust. The revelations that significant 
amounts of taxpayer's money are being directed into GM research at a 
laboratory created by the Minister will lead to further calls for his 
Sainsbury's statement that he has given a further £2m to the Labour Party 
reignited concerns last week that he was buying favours from the 
John Redwood, the Conservative environment spokesman, said: `Lord Sainsbury 
should not be Science Minister. He should be an investor in GM foods, an 
advocate for them and an adviser to the industry, but outside Government. A 
Minister must be seen to be able to balance the benefits of the biotech 
industry with the risks to the public.'
Since Sainsbury became Science Minister, the grant body covering the GM 
industry has won an extra £50m in funding over the next three years. But a 
spokesman for Sainsbury said: `The Minister has no control over who is 
awarded grants.'
John Jones, a senior scientist at the Sainsbury Laboratory, admitted that 
GM technology was at the heart of their work. But he added: `We apply for 
grants in the same way any other research institute does and our work is 
subject to peer 
review. If any thing we have a harder job in getting grants because people 
know we have other alternative sources of funding.'
The Observer has learned that the Sainsbury Laboratory is linked to the 
controversial genetic modification process at the centre of the research 
carried out by Dr Arpad Putszai in Scotland.
Last year Pusztai suggested that rats fed with potatoes with an insecticide 
gene derived from snowdrops suffered damage to their internal organs and 
immune systems. Pusztai was later sacked and his research was dismissed by 
the Government and other scientists.
In February Sainsbury angrily dismissed claims he owned the key gene 
involved in Pustzai's research. It has now emerged that Dr Iain Cubitt, a 
director of the Sainsbury Laboratory, ran Prestax, the biotech firm which 
owned the patent 
in the 1990s but sold it recently.
Sainsbury also has links with Cubitt through the BioIndustry Association, 
the lobbying group for the GM industry in Britain. Diatech, the GM firm 
once owned by Sainsbury and now in his blind trust, is a member of the 
association. When Sainsbury went to the US to research and report into 
biotechnology, recently, he was accompanied by members of the BioIndustry 
Association. The DTI helped fund the association's costs.
Charles Secrett, director of Friends of the Earth, said: `How long will it 
be before Tony Blair realises that having Lord Sainsbury as Science 
Minister completely discredits the Government?'
Earlier this year The Observer revealed that Sainsbury had lent £2m to 
Diatech, which owns the patent to a gene used in the GM process Diatech has 
helped pay contractors who are renovating Sainsbury's £3m home.
From: "NLP Wessex" <> 
3) US GM regulations - 'spot the holes' competition 

People may be interested to see this analysis of the US GM regulatory system 
provided on the National Corn Growers Association web site at
Is there scope for a 'spot the holes' competition' here?

USDA: Regulates the plant 
An organism is no longer subject to regulation when it is demonstrated not 
to present a plant pest risk
USDA examines potential environmental impacts in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act
Prepares an Environmental Assessment
If supported by the data, USDA reaches a Finding of No Significant Impact.
The considerations: 
The biology and cultivation of the crop 
The introduced genes, their regulatory sequences and their products in the 
plant pose no plant pest risk 
The plant has no significant potential to become a weed 
The plant will not increase the weediness potential of any other plant 
The plant is not harmful to beneficial, threatened or endangered organisms 
The plant will not adversely impact biodiversity 
The plant will not adversely affect agricultural practices or cause damage 
to raw or processed agricultural commodities 
Potential environmental impacts associated with the cultivation of the plant 
outside the United States
FDA: regulates food and feed safety 
DNA is Generally Recognized as Safe 
food produced from the fruits of biotechnology are regulated in the same way 
as foods in general 
the basis for regulation is "substantial equivalence" 
the producer follows the FDA decision tree, consults with the FDA as 
required, and labels food based on real hazard or lack of substantial 
food which is not safe is "adulterated" and is illegal
EPA: regulates plant protection traits 
and affirmatively registers the "pesticidal" protein, if it determines: 
a) its composition warrants the claims made for it, 
b) its labeling is in compliance, and 
c) it will perform its intended function without unreasonable adverse 
effects on the environment
(i.e. "air, water, land, and all plants and man and other animals living 
therein, and the interrelationships which exist among these")
EPA grants a tolerance or an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance 
for residues of the "pesticidal" protein in or on food:

…under the Food Quality Protection Act, if the tolerance or exemption is 
"safe", i.e. there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from the aggregate 
exposure to the "pesticidal" protein, including all dietary exposures
to date every trait registered by the EPA has been granted an exemption from 

©National Corn Growers Association. 
Email us |
From: "NLP Wessex" <> 
4) US biotech conference shows GM farm sector in disaray 

For the first time ever, corn growers, industry officials, government 
representatives and academia gathered June 30 and July 1 1999 in Kansas 
City, Mo., at a National Corn Growers Industry Roundtable on "genetically 
enhanced" corn.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss "biotechnology, enhance 
understanding of each stakeholder's position and lay a foundation of mutual 
In other words they held an emergency meeting to discuss 'how do we get out 
of this biotech mess'.
The meeting included breakout sessions to consider particularly pressing 
questions for US agriculture in this area. These questions are given below.
Any other country considering going down the biotech route would be well 
advised to consider these questions before deciding to take the biotech 
plunge itself.
The questions clearly acknowledge the following problems (amongst others):
* price discounts(!) for genetically "enhanced" corn 
* potential liability arising from pollen mixing 
* insect and weed resistance to GM products 
* agri-business monopoly consolidation issues for farmers 
* shipments containing genetic material that was not detected in earlier 
* potential trade issues in Japan, South Korea and Mexico and elsewhere 
* biotech grain safety for livestock feeding 
* the potential for trade disruption in the meat sector if livestock is fed 
grain that is not approved for export, or for livestock fed any biotech 
*performance differences between biotech and conventional corn 
* labeling meat from livestock fed U.S. corn and soybeans
This sounds like a lot of aggravation for the sake of growing products that 
are worth less in the market.
How about just packing the whole thing in and going back to farming instead? 
A ridiculous suggestion?
Well, the NCGA's rival organisation, the American Corn Growers Association, 
has since advised US corn growers to consider not growing GM corn varieties 
in 2000.
The following questions were presented as points of discussion during the 
four breakout sessions at the Corn Industry Roundtable on Genetically 
Enhanced Corn. Please note that some of the questions were changed by the 
breakout groups.
Corn Technology Input Sector
Are growers receiving all the information they need to make decisions about 
marketability of grain from biotech seed? 
Is information from their seed dealer and seed company consistent? 
How can farmers protect themselves from potential liability arising from 
pollen mixing? 
How should producers and product registrants respond to potential insect and 
weed resistance issues? 
What is the current status of patent protection, cross-licensing and access 
to germplasm? Are there legitimate consolidation issues for producers? 
How can growers factor in the potential for discounts on biotech corn when 
they make their seed purchase decisions? 
Will the Grain Handlers Database help assure producers a competitive price 
for their grain? 
Can industry assure growers that products that will never be approved in 
Europe will be removed from the market? 
How do we respond as an industry to emotional stories like the Monarch 
Is the Environmental Protection Agency prepared to defend its procedures for 
Bt approvals? 
How will registrants enforce grower agreements?
Grain Merchandising and Exporting Sector
How can growers avoid price discounts for biotech corn? for corn not 
approved for export to the EU? 
What is the status of testing for biotech corn? Is a quick test on the 
horizon for this fall? Will it be possible to quickly and accurately 
determine the presence of specific biotech events? 
How will the industry develop standards and procedures? Will the U.S. 
government play a role? Should the U.S. government certify grain for 
specific transgenic events? 
Can we make channeling work to the extent that exporters bid U.S. grain for 
shipment to the EU? 
Who bears the risk if a shipment contains genetic material that was not 
detected in earlier tests? 
Most of the grain export issues have focused on the European Union, but now 
other customers are considering standards for imports how can we respond to 
potential trade issues in Japan, South Korea and Mexico? 
What other countries are considering regulating trade in products of 
How can we get ahead of the game to avoid EU-like trade disruption?
Livestock Feeding and Meat Sector
Is biotech grain safe for livestock feeding? Are there any performance 
differences between biotech and conventional corn? 
Should the domestic livestock industry be concerned about antibiotic 
What is the potential for trade disruption in the meat sector if livestock 
is fed grain that is not approved for export, or for livestock fed any 
biotech grain? 
Do packers anticipate calls for labeling meat from livestock fed U.S. corn 
and soybeans?
Food and Food Ingredients Sector
Should consumers have a choice between food products containing biotech 
products and those that do not? If so, how should labeling be handled? 
Is a system that certifies a process preferable to testing? 
Should the United States support biotech standards through CODEX? 
How can we address labeling concerns in Europe and rest of the world? 
How will the food sector test for presence of biotech material in products? 
What material is relevant, protein or DNA? 
Will the food system pay less for raw agricultural commodities that either 
contain biotech grain or that have not been segregated? 
What do corn processors see as the most important issues for corn gluten 
exports to Europe?

©National Corn Growers Association. 
Email us | <>

5) Solution to GM crops debate in sight? NLP

Public reaction to the introduction of GM crops has been so unfavourable 
that major repercussions for even the very continued existence of the 
agricultural biotechnology sector are appearing on the horizon.
There has been talk of some agricultural biotechnology companies pulling out 
of Europe or even out of the entire industry irrespective of global 
location. A report issued in July by Europe's largest investment bank , 
Deutsche Bank, and circulated to major institutional investors around the 
globe recommends shareholders pull out of ag-biotech financial holdings 
(full copy of report ""Ag Biotech: Thanks, But No Thanks?" - ).
A report in the London Times (6th September 1999) reveals that, as a result 
of adverse public opinion, the European Commission is drastically scaling 
back its funding for pure science research in plant biotechnology. In its 
previous research funding round the EU approved 44 such projects, including 
work at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, the internationally renowned 
agricultural biotechnology research institute 
(<><> ).
In the EU's latest funding round only 2 out of 55 submitted proposals for 
long term GM agricultural studies have won approval.
As public concern about GMOs spreads out of Europe and into Asia and the US, 
the future for the ag-biotech industry looks bleak. Governments and 
scientists alike are increasingly concerned that a point may soon be reached 
which spells the end of the agricultural biotechnology sector.
But does that necessarily have to be the case? Can, in fact, the skills of 
biotechnologists be refocused into areas of plant science that are of 
benefit to agriculture and the environment in ways that are not accompanied 
by the enormous hazards of GM technology (for more on these see )?
Under the title "Non-GM future is mapped out" the article below published in 
one of the UK's leading agricultural journals (Farmers Weekly, 11 September 
1998) outlines just such a prospect.
According to Professor Denis Murphy, head of the Brassica and Oilseeds 
Department at the John Innes Centre, major progress in crop development can 
be successfully 
achieved without the need to use genetic modification:
"This is a novel strategy that is not widely appreciated as yet. But it 
could provide a real alternative 
to the use of GMOs....This approach could enhance agricultural diversity and 
supply us with valuable, renewable products for as long as the sun shines on 
the earth."

Is oilseed breeding set to take another turn, this time away from GM 
techniques?  Researchers in Norwich believe it could. By Charles Abel 
Oilseed crops can replace oil from 
non-renewable fossil sources — 
and genetically modified crops 
need not play any role in the revo- 
New aspects of technology 
mean conventional breeding could 
be accelerated and even non-crop 
species domesticated to meet the 
needs of industry.
Within the next two years a 
multinational team of scientists 
will complete the first genetic map 
of an entire plant, pinpointing 
where in its genetic code each char- 
acteristic is controlled.
Significantly that first genetic 
map will be for Arabidopsis — an 
oil-bearing weed. Much of what is 
learned will be directly applicable 
to its near relatives, oilseed rape 
and the vegetable brassicas, says 
Denis Murphy of the John Innes 
Centre in Norwich in a paper pre- 
pared for the annual British 
Association for the Advancement 
of Science conference in Cardiff 
this week.
"This knowledge will allow us 
to identify and manipulate genes 
that control factors such as canopy 
architecture, seed weight and dis- 
ease resistance, all of which con- 
tribute to improving crop yields." 
explains Prof Murphy.
"It will also allow us to improve 
the quality of such crops, enhanc- 
ing the nutritional value of brassi- 
ca vegetables, which can form nat- 
ural protection against many 
forms of cancer."
But such developments need 
not rely upon GM techniques. One 
alternative is to use genetic maps 
and markers to accelerate the 
selection of new characters in con- 
ventional breeding programmes. 
The other option is to domesti- 
cate entirely new species as non- 
GMO sources of useful oils. 
Modern biotechnology means this 
could be done in as little as 10 
years, says Prof Murphy.
"This is a novel strategy that is 
not widely appreciated as yet. But 
it could provide a real alternative 
to the use of GMOs."
Using new crops would avoid 
many of the problems which can 
arise when several GM varieties of 
the same crop produce significant- 
ly different end products. 
Volunteer control, rotation man- 
agement and segregation during 
storage and processing would all be 
less onerous.
Moving away from GM crops 
would also solve environmental 
concerns, Prof Murphy notes. 
Crops which are highly effi- 
cient, environmentally friendly 
green factories for renewable 
resources currently obtained from 
petrochemicals can be developed, 
he says.
"This approach could enhance 
agricultural diversity and supply 
us with valuable, renewable prod- 
ucts for as long as the sun shines on 
the earth."
Farmers Weekly 11 September 1998
[Box included in FW article:
• First genetic map nearly 
• Direct application to oilseed 
rape and brassica crops.
• Agronomic, yield and quality 
characters could be changed, 
without using GM techniques.
• New crop species could be 
developed rapidly.]
Professor Murphy's interest in alternatives to GM crops is understandable.
The Brassica and Oilseeds Research Department at the John Innes Centre which 
he heads has probably the largest concentration of Brassica researchers in 
the world. Last year the department reported research showing that plants 
which contain a particular type of artificially inserted viral promoter 
(used in most transgenic varieties, not just in brassicas and oilseeds) 
could be compromised when released into the environment if they encounter a 
homologous pathogen. The study demonstrated an association between transgene 
expression and virus activity.
Despite findings of this type and further uncompleted ongoing work in the 
laboratory at John Innes to try and establish answers to important questions 
relating to GM crop risk assessment in this area (including analysis of the 
effects of 
interference from homologous DNA sequences and viral infection), 
the UK government has allowed GM field trials to take place out in the open 
Such a decision illustrates the highly unscientific way attempts to 
introduce GM crops in the UK are taking place.
It is difficult to see how environmental releases of GM plants can be 
justified in advance of the completion of fundamental laboratory work 
designed to answer important questions about the molecular biology of GM 
crops and their general behaviour at the cellular and systemic levels, 
in relation to environmental interactions (for more 
on this subject see ).
Questions such as these require answers well before field trials of any kind 
not after. Current GM risk assessments are clearly being carried out on a 
basis which is inadequately informed.
Such a blatant "cart before the horse" approach is a further clear 
indication that it is commercial rather than scientific considerations which 
are driving the current expansion of environmental releases of GM crops in 
the UK.
For more information on the unscientific approach to the introduction of GM 
crops generally see
.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/eagmconf.htm .
From: "NLP Wessex" <> 
6) The John Innes Centre (UK biotechnology research institute) has created a 
new web site as an attempt to explain GM technology and issues raised by it 
to the public.
We have not yet had an opportunity to explore it properly, but it may be 
that some of its significance is in what it does not say as much as in what 
it does.

7) New Scientist September 11, 1999 - A very unholy war 
HIGHLIGHT: Attacking opium and coca farms with bioweapons sounds great . .
. to
mind-altering drug that is harvested from a plant grown in 
just a few small regions of the world. Efforts to curb 
demand are floundering and international trade has made the 
barons of the industry rich and powerful. Then, one day, 
crop dusters fly over the crops, scattering a fungus or 
bacterium which the plants can't resist. A new way of 
waging war on crack and heroin ? Well, it could be. 
Scientists working for the US government and the UN admit 
they are trying to develop biological agents to destroy 
coca bushes and opium poppies, and make no secret of their 
desire to use them in such places as Colombia or 
Afghanistan (see p 20). But what if the fields in this 
scenario were the vineyards of Bordeaux or the Napa Valley 
? And what if the attackers were Islamic extremists bent on 
lashing out at the West's favourite recreational drug ? OK, 
so it's unlikely, but there is almost nothing to stop 
terrorists or rogue states arming themselves with 
biological agents that could be used against Japanese rice, 
Russian potatoes or Californian grapes. Plant disease 
agents are a lot easier to manufacture and deliver than 
biological weapons aimed at people. They can't attack your 
technicians, are adapted to travel vast distances on winds 
or insects, and are easy to release -upwind and you're off. 
What's more, most are fungi that produce conveniently hardy 
spores that can persist in soil for years. The agents now 
being developed to attack opium, coca and marijuana plants 
have been in the pipeline a long time. But that's mainly 
because the researchers are looking for strains that infect 
only the drug crops. Terrorists and dictators wouldn't have 
to be so fussy. A cheap and dirty anti-crop agent could be 
produced far more easily than an anthrax bomb. The notion 
isn't new. Before it disavowed biological weapons in 1972, 
the US had developed a wheat rust bomb to drop on the 
Ukraine, while in Uzbekistan, Russian scientists were 
developing something similar to drop on Kansas. Now, 
concern about this type of bioweapon is growing again among 
senior security chiefs. And while cold-war style paranoia 
may be part of it, there are some real causes for concern. 
The most obvious is the huge strain that will be placed on 
food supplies as the world's population expands, making 
crops a more seductive target. Another factor is that, 
thanks to an upsurge in new plant diseases through 
increases in global agricultural trade and monocultures, 
there are now more strains of crop pathogens for weapons 
makers to choose from - and more vulnerability in the 
fields they might target. Sceptics may doubt whether 
anti-crop agents could act quickly enough to be powerful 
instruments of war. But the lesson from BSE and the Belgian 
dioxin fiasco is that you may not need to cause mass 
starvation to wreak economic or political havoc. In many 
nations, grain prices alone make a big difference to urban 
peace. And it may take only a hint of contamination with 
fungal toxins to close down a nation's food exports. 
Against this background, the enthusiasm of the US and UN 
for using a "Fusarium" fungus to infect drug crops seems 
reckless bordering on the crazy. Advocates claim that such 
agents are ecologically safe provided they exist naturally 
in the targeted regions. And most probably do, but not in 
the quantity that spraying would bring. The sheer scale of 
the infection could increase the risk of the fungi mutating 
into strains capable of attacking non-drug plants, causing 
who knows what damage to farms or ecosystems. The UN claims 
the fungi are merely "pest control agents" which will be 
released only in countries whose governments consent. It 
also points out that various disease spores are used to 
control thistles and water weeds in the US and no one calls 
it biological warfare. Try telling this to the four million 
peasants who depend on coca or poppy crops, or to the drug 
barons, or to the neighbouring country into whose fields the 
spores may drift. Deliberately infecting crops, even drug 
crops, starts us down a slippery slope. It tells the world 
that using disease to achieve an end is legitimate -and 
fairly easy. Whatever the UN might say, these fungi 
certainly look like biological weapons, which are supposed 
to be prohibited by an international treaty. Developing 
them may well be easy. Putting the genie of biological 
weapons back into the bottle may not be. For more science 
news see LANGUAGE: English 
LOAD-DATE: September 10, 1999 [Entered September 
10, 1999] 

8) 'GMO Foods Labeling in Japan' - by Setsuko Yasuda NO! GMO Campaign
(Consumers Union of Japan) 19990912
The Advisory Committee on GMO Foods Labeling of the Ministry of Agriculture, 
Forestry and Fisheries decided about the main points of the labeling on 
August 10th, 1999, having spent over two years debating the issue since May, 
1997. The Committee will announce the regulation in April, 2000 with one 
year grace period, then put the mandatory labeling into effect from April in 
The proposed labeling regulation has the following three articles:
1. GMO agricultural crops which are not substantially equivalent with 
the conventional foods and the processed foods mainly made up from these 
materials should be labeled. The specified foods (to be expected) are 
soybeans with high oleic acid, its soybean oil and its products. The 
mandatory labeling will be expressed as "Soybeans (High Oleic Acid/ GMO)".
2. GMO crops substantially equivalent with the conventional foods and 
the processed foods in which GMO-DNA and protein of this GMO-DNA are 
present should be labeled. The mandatory labeling will be expressed as "xyz 
(GMO Not separated)".
The specified foods are
Soy beans, soy bean sprouts, fried, steamed or boiled soy beans, tofu, 
processed foods from tofu, freezed tofu, natto (fermented soy beans), soy 
milk, miso, soy bean powder
Corn on the cob, corn snacks, corn starch, pop corn, freezed corn, canned 
Raw potatoes
Main ingredients: 
Soy flour, vegetable protein, corn flour, corn grits
3. GMO crops substantially equivalent with the conventional foods and 
processed foods in which GMO-DNA and protein of this GMO-DNA are not 
present (by being eliminated and/or disintegrated) do not have to be 
labeled. These foods without labeling are soy sauce, soy oil, corn oil, 
rapeseed oil, cottonseed oil, cornflakes, starch syrup, isomeric liquid 
sugar, dextrine, mashed potatoes, potato starch, potato flakes, frozen 
potatoes, and processed foods mainly made up of the above. However, 
processed foods made up of separated Non-GMO crops may be labeled as 
"Non-GMO" or "GMO separated".

We Japanese consumers welcome the government final decision to 
label GM food but there are the following problems.
All Japanese consumer groups have requested that GMO foods should be clearly 
labeled. This means that food from GMO crops and "not-separated" crops must 
be labeled. Also, processed foods made up of these materials should be 
labeled as GMO. With scientific methods, it is 100% possible for GMO crops 
to be detected. If crops are labeled, then food makers will be able to label 
their products as well. Therefore, Japanese consumer groups demand that this 
regulation must include guidelines for certification requirements so that 
GMO crops can be identified at all stages of food production.
Because labeling in the current Japanese proposal will be restricted to the 
final food products in which GMO-DNA and protein of GMO-DNA can be detected, 
such foods subjected to labeling may become quite limited. If applied on the 
current situation, 90% of the raw materials of GMO crops imported to Japan 
would be excluded from labeling, according to the Japanese government. This 
is not acceptable. For example, consumers clearly reject that oil and soy 
sauce are excluded from labeling.
The proposed regulation does not mention animal feed from GMO crops. This is 
not acceptable and must be addressed. A very large amount of the imported 
soy and corn is used for animal feed. Animal feed labels are neccessary so 
that farmers can provide consumers with a choice.
The Japanese government propose the expression "main ingredients" and 
suggests that 3 main ingredients must always be labeled - unless their 
weight percentage is less than 5% of the total food weight. However, in many 
processed foods such as sausages, fish sticks or ham, GMO ingredients are 
used in small amounts.
Frozen GMO potatoes are for some strange reason excluded from the proposed 
regulation. Japanese consumer groups strongly protest against this.
GMO soybeans with high oleic acid are mentioned in the proposed regulation, 
even though they have not yet been approved by the Japanese government. 
Clearly they are different from the conventional soy beans. All GMO foods 
that are not substantially equivalent must be approved with a special safety 
evaluation. It is not appropriate that the proposed regulations discuss 
special cases of GMO foods that have not yet been approved or deemed as 
Concerning the optional labeling of "Non-GMO", the Ministry of Agriculture, 
Forestry and Fisheries think that Non-GMO foods may be mixed with GMO foods. 
The proposed regulations suggest a 5% maximum limit when Non-GMO foods are 
distributed through IP handling. However, EU countries are already setting a 
stricter treshhold limit of less than 0.1% for foods that can be labeled as 
"Non-GMO". If the Japanese government approves foods with lessthan 5% GMO 
detection as "Non-GMO", these foods will have to be labeled as "GMO" for the 
export to Europe.
In addition, food containing 4% GMO materials which is likely to be rejected 
for purchasing in Europe may possibly be sold at a higher price to Japan 
since it will be labeled as "Non-GMO". Japanese consumer groups think 
"Non-GMO" labeling means "GMO Free", so it is right for EU countries to set 
up a strict Non-GMO standard of 0.1% detection of GMO.
The Japanese government should not use the word "not-separated" on labeling, 
but a word such as "GMO" which is much easier for a consumer to understand.

Secretary General, "NO! GMO Food Campaign" 
Setsuko Yasuda
Consumers Union of Japan ( 
Asaga Building 2F, 1-10-16 Meguro Hon-cho, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-0002 Japan 
Tel: (81)-3-3711-7766 
Fax: (81)-3-3715-9378

9) New Scientist September 11, 1999 - Operation Eradicate BYLINE: Kurt Kleiner
HIGHLIGHT: The US is turning 
to biological controls to win the drugs war. But they could 
destroy legal crops as well as illegal ones BODY: FLORIDA'S 
law enforcement agents destroy about 100 000 marijuana 
plants every year. And that's just 20 per cent of the 
estimated total grown there. Many of the crops lie deep in 
the Everglades, where there is dense vegetation to 
camouflage them and alligators to deter inquisitive state 
officials. But last April, Jim McDonough, director of 
Florida's drug control policy, decided to get tough. He 
suggested spraying the Everglades with a fungus that would 
kill off the marijuana but leave other plants untouched. 
When the story appeared in newspapers in July, it enraged 
environmentalists and provoked a lawsuit from a 
pro-marijuana group. Some critics described it as a form of 
biological warfare. The "St Petersburg Times" urged that 
the "killer fungus" should not be released. And several 
months before the story broke, David Struhs, secretary of 
the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), 
had expressed fears that the fungus would mutate and attack 
other plant species. McDonough's suggestion was based on 
research into biocontrol funded by the US Department of 
Agriculture (USDA), aimed at finding a cheap and 
environmentally friendly alternative to herbicides. The 
Florida office of drug control policy now says both the 
media and the DEP had misunderstood McDonough's proposal. 
He never suggested actually spraying the fungus over the 
swamps, the office maintains, but merely wanted to test it 
in a quarantine facility in Gainesville. Indeed, the DEP has 
since sanctioned this proposal, but according to Albert 
Wollermann, the office's lawyer, there are no immediate 
plans to go ahead with the tests. Selective killers The 
Florida eradication scheme may have been shelved, at least 
temporarily, but the USDA continues to spend dollar 23 
million a year on research into biocontrol agents that 
would selectively kill coca plants, from which cocaine is 
derived, and opium poppies. And some of those are poised to 
move out of the greenhouse and into the open. Biocontrol of 
weeds is certainly not a new idea, but in the past it has 
usually involved insects. The use of a fungus is not, 
however, unprecedented. For the last 25 years, researchers 
have had varying degrees of success in trying to control 
rush skeletonweed ("Chondrilla juncea"), which affects 
wheat, with a fungus called skeletonweed rust ("Puccinia 
chondrillina"). The fungus at the centre of the Florida row 
is a variety of "Fusarium oxysporum". "Fusarium" species 
infect the vascular system of a number of plants, from 
bananas to wheat, causing them to whither and die. The 
Florida scheme was based on work carried out by a 
researcher at Montana State University, Bozeman, called 
David Sands, who suggested that this particular variant 
would be lethal only to cannabis. Sands did initially have 
a grant from the USDA to look at using " Fusarium" to 
control marijuana. But when he approached the Florida state 
government it was as head of his own company, Ag/Bio Con. 
The USDA says it stopped funding his research a few years 
ago, when lab tests showed the fungus was only marginally 
effective against cannabis. "The results were mediocre," 
says Eric Rosenquist, leader of the USDA's international 
programmes, who oversees the agency's funding for narcotics 
biocontrol, "If it's that mediocre in the greenhouse, it's 
unlikely to work in the field."
Sands would not speak to "New Scientist". But his company 
continues its research in this area. And recent evidence 
suggests that he has improved the technology. Before the 
story broke in July, John Masterson, director of the 
Montana office of the National Organization for the Reform 
of Marijuana Laws (NORML), received an anonymous e-mail 
informing him of the Florida proposal and the Montana 
research. He promptly phoned the university, which 
confirmed that the research was taking place. But it 
refused to say more, explaining that its policy was not to 
disclose results before publication. NORML sued, and in 
August, before any judgment was handed down, the university 
began to release documents relating to the research. In 
some, Sands discusses patent applications he has made on a 
process for "virulence enhancement" of bioherbicides. It's 
not clear what this enhancement consists of, but in a 
letter he says that he developed it after USDA funding 
stopped. In the meantime, the USDA is collaborating with 
the UN on a programme at the Institute of Genetics in 
Tashkent, Uzbekistan. They hope to use the "Pleospora 
papaveracea" fungus to control opium poppies. But its main 
effort is concentrated on another variety of "Fusarium 
oxysporum" that attacks coca plants. This fungus was 
discovered accidentally when it wiped out a test plot of 
coca being grown in Hawaii. Since then, USDA researchers 
have worked on manufacturing large amounts of the fungus in 
a form that is easy to store. More importantly, they have 
assured themselves that it will attack only coca plants. 
Since most pathogens evolve with their hosts, they can 
often survive only in that host. This selectivity can be 
confirmed in the lab by trying to persuade a fungus to 
infect first close relatives of the target plant, then 
progressively more distant relatives, until researchers are 
convinced no other plants will be affected. "We've done 
host specificity studies," says Rosenquist of the anti-coca 
fungus. "We're convinced of its safety. We're actually at 
the point now where we couldn't go any further in the 
In the case of cannabis, even the most rigorous host 
specificity studies will not reassure some people. If the 
anti- cannabis fungus is now more effective, it could spell 
disaster for farmers who grow industrial hemp. These 
varieties of "Cannabis sativa" end up as vegetable oil or 
fibre and can be grown legally because they are low in 
delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component 
of cannabis. Masterson points out that Montana, where some 
of the work on the fungus has been done, borders the 
Canadian province of Alberta, where hemp has been grown 
industrially since 1998. If the fungus somehow spreads to 
fields in Alberta, it could damage the legal crop. "For the 
hemp industry, it would be devastating for the fungus to 
get out," says Douglas Brown, a director of the WestHemp 
Cooperative in Vancouver, British Columbia. "There would be 
millions of dollars of losses. If this fungus is looking 
for "Cannabis sativa", it's not going to differentiate 
between high-THC and low-THC varieties."
And even if the fungus stays put, it could destroy wild 
cannabis that has adapted to conditions in the areas where 
it is released. Losing the wild plants could make it harder 
to breed hemp with the traits future farmers will need, 
says Brown. But Rosenquist says the real question is not 
whether a fungus will spread uncontrollably, but whether it 
will work at all. "The biggest problem with classic 
biocontrol is when you release it into a complex ecology, " 
he says. "What may work well in one place may not work in 
another." So the next step for the USDA will be to convince 
the government of one of the coca- producing nations - such 
as Peru, Bolivia or Colombia - to let field experiments 
take place there. But Pat Mooney, executive director of the 
Rural Advancement Foundation International in Winnipeg, 
says using biocontrol agents against narcotics crops is 
"agricultural terrorism," especially if it is done without 
the consent of the target country. And according to "The 
Miami Herald", some Peruvian farmers think that this has 
already happened. They have accused the US of testing an 
anti-coca fungus that has since spread to bananas, yucca 
and tangerine crops. Rosenquist denies this. And he 
stresses that work won't start without permission from the 
country concerned. But even with the country's consent, says 
Mooney, it's dangerous. "The solution to narcotics is not 
just to destroy the crops. It's a fundamental social 
problem, and it's not going to be solved by a silver bullet 
from an airplane."
For more science news see
From: Martin Haggerty <>  
10) The September 1999 issue of Reader's Digest magazine contains an article 
entitled 'The Truth About GM Food' by Ghillean Prance, former director of the 
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
He identifies three legitimate concerns about the devepment of GM: (1) 
herbicide resistance of a crop species achieved through GM could have a 
"harmful effect . . . on the biodiversity of farmland" (2) "alien genes
from a 
GM plant could escape into a wild population of a related species", thereby 
creating a "superweed" (3) "Terminator technology . . . could be 
devastating to 
some farmers in the developing world who depend upon saving some seeds for 
year's crop".
Ghillean Prance has two misconceptions: (1) "The modification of crops is 
nothing new; plant breeders have been doing it since agriculture began", 
and he 
proceeds to say that GM is merely an extension of this traditional activity: 
(2) "I believe that in Britain GM is well regulated".
His final opinion is that "Genetic modification is here to stay, and there is 
no doubt that it will save lives" and "Instead of condemning the technique,
should ensure it is used wisely".
The Editors of Reader's Digest invite the readers to give their opinions
GM. E-mails should be sent to <> and letters
Readers Reply, Reader's Digest, 11 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, London E14 
4HE. Bearing in mind that they edit letters severely, try to keep them short. 
As Reader's Digest is one of the biggest-selling magazines, I think it is 
important that Ghillean Prance's article receives an overwhelmingly anti-GM 
response. Do it soon!
Best wishes,
Martin Haggerty. 

It turns out that the e-mail address was given incorrectly in the current 
of Reader's Digest and that is how I gave it to you. Instead, it should be 
<>, i.e. with no hyphen between "readers" and 
"digest". This error should mean that a lot of their readers' messages will 
get through, which is an extra incentive for us to write in.
In my previous message, I should have said that, even if one is communicating 
with Reader's Digest via e-mail, they require your postal address and phone 
number. Sorry to have forgotten this.
Best wishes,
Martin Haggerty. 
From: Jonathan Matthews <> 

11) This is a good indication of the current dire state of play down on the 
GE farm. It's a survey on the front page of the Farm Journal website: [Farm Journal is a generally pro-GE 
publication, which claims to be the largest circulation general 
agriculture magazine in the world with just under 600,000 readers in the 
US, some in Canada, and a smattering elsewhere around the globe.]
The options farmers who've grown GE crops are offered in the survey are: 
I will segregate.../I cannot segregate.../I won't sell..
Either which way those with GE crops are in a hole. No wonder that the 
following from a grain export specialist was among several revealing 
quotes to come out of the recent Harvard Biotech conference:
"It's going to come to a head this fall. I don't know what will happen. 
Maybe violent uprisings, farmers burning grain in the street." 
-- W. Kirk Miller, Director of International Programs and Regulatory 
Affairs, North American Export Grain Association, commenting on 
diminishing markets for GM grains, and on the impossibility of 
guaranteeing, even with efforts of segregation, that American grain is 
not contaminated with GM strains.
As nlpwessex recently suggested, many North American farmers must indeed 
be thinking: 
"This is another fine mess you've got us into, Monsanto!" 
Given the current situation for marketing GMO crops I will segregate the 
GMO crops I produced this year:

Yes, I will segregate my GMO crops to be marketed. 
No, I cannot segregate my GMO crops to be marketed. 
I won't sell any of my GMO crops -- I'll feed it to livestock. 
I didn't plant any GMO crops. 
Don't know.
From: "NLP Wessex" <> 
12) New weed control system in soya without using GM 
Do farmers have to use GM herbicide resistant varieties to get satisfactory 
weed control?
One of the misplaced factors in the GM debate is that many farmers assume it 
is the only, and 
inevitable, way forward?
But how much thought has gone into considering the alternatives? This is a 
very common deficiency when arguments are put forward promoting GM 
technology complete with its attendant risks to health and the environment.
Below is an alternative approach to weed control in soya reported in the 
July/August Edition of Farm Journal, a US agricultural publication, which is 
not reliant on GM varieties and minimises use of conventional herbicides.
This system demonstates that it is possible to achieve successful weed 
control in narrow row soya systems utlising a combination crop competition 
and mechanical cultivation. It is a good example of a farmer thinking for 
himself and relying on his own intelligence to farm successfully, rather 
than adopting an approach of dependency on off-farm corporate suppliers of 
ultimately unecessary products.
By contrast there is growing evidence that GM soya systems are not providing 
the levels of weed control and herbicide savings originally anticipated. 
Multiple applications of broadspectrum herbicides plus other active 
ingredients are now often being advised by agronomists when farmers grow GM 
herbicide resistant varities 
July/August 1999 Edition of Farm Journal
Beans without weeds 
One-of-a-kind soybean system plants and culitvates 18" rows 
by Darrell Smith 

Hatred of weeds is an inherited trait. Mark Weckel of Urbana, Ill., picked 
it up from his retired father, Mack.
But he doesn’t like to spend any more money on herbicides than necessary. To 
minimize herbicide use, Weckel plants narrow rows, which provide a quick 
canopy. But, unlike most narrow-row bean growers, he also cultivates. He 
uses a planter and cultivator of his own design.
To build his planter, Weckel began with an eight-row, 38" Case IH 950, and 
added eight more row units and the seed module from a Case IH 800. He spaced 
the units 18" apart and left two 26" skip rows for wheel tracks.
For the close work required by 18" rows, Weckel wanted a front-mounted 
cultivator. "A 12" sweep works well in 18" rows," he says. "But there isn’t 
much room [for error]."
A drawback was his 2+2 tractor. Marrying a front-mounted cultivator to that 
machine left a little to be desired, says Weckel. But he figured out a way 
to do it because he loves 2+2s.
Weckel attached a Case IH front-mounted cultivator to the nose of the 
tractor. But when the tractor’s nose went down, the cultivator went down, 
too, he says.
To overcome this problem, he designed a mounting framework of 8" channel 
iron side rails that attach to a plate-and-stub pivot point bolted to the 
side of the tractor frame. The cultivator rides on its own carrying wheels 
and on the front wheels of the tractor.

The channel iron rails are flexible and give a little when the cultivator 
passes through low spots at an angle.
To see the rows, Weckel had to lean to the side. So he rigged a seat on the 
right edge of the cab, with a second steering wheel that operates the 
original one by means of pulleys and a belt.
The leverage of the cultivator results in side pull that makes the 
cultivator tough to drive, says Weckel. That and the narrow rows require him 
to stay under 5 mph.
The system wouldn’t suit everyone. "It’s a little unusual," he says with a 
grin. "But it works well for us."

Copyright © 1999, Farm Journal, Inc. All rights reserved. 
Farm Journal is a registered trademark and the property of Farm Journal, 
Inc., Philadelphia, PA 19102-2181.
September 9, 1999 Western Producer Barry Wilson Special Reports Editor
Coming sometime this autumn, to a food store near you... a farmer's 
nightmare. Demonstrators, probably some of them dressed as farm animals, 
will be stationed in front of stores warning consumers that the food they 
are planning to buy may not be safe. The target will be food products 
containing genetically modified material.
The argument will be that the federal government has not tested GMO 
products thoroughly enough or long enough to be certain they are safe from 
both health and environmental angles. Consumers will be told they should 
not trust products containing genetically modified material. Store owners 
and grocery distributors will be told they should remove GM products from 
their lineups until more is known.
In some cases, the argument also will be made that this is not an attack on 
farmers, because they too are victims in a world in which large 
corporations create GM seeds that require their plant protection products 
and annual repurchase of seed. The target date likely will be the 
Thanksgiving weekend, one of the few times in the year when the country 
symbolically thanks farmers for the nutritious foods they produce.
The likely result is that the image of farmers and the food industry will 
take a battering. The protesters will range from Greenpeace and the Council 
of Canadians to the National Farmers Union. It will be an attempt by 
biotech critics to create in Canada the kind of political debate that 
engulfs Europe, where consumers are highly skeptical and political 
decisions to ban certain GM plants and products have been taken.
Meanwhile, food industry executives and some farm leaders watch the 
impending storm with a mixture of apprehension and defiance. They have 
known it was coming for years and yet are ill-prepared. The government, 
which critics see as too pro-biotech to be a credible regulator, continues 
to claim products are safe and insists the Euroskeptics simply are looking 
for new ways to be trade protectionist.
After years of listening to the least of consumer demands -- that GM 
products be labeled so consumers can choose -- even a voluntary labeling 
code has not been announced. And the food industry has used its period of 
biotech grace to insist it is just a process and not a reflection on the 
final product, which still must go through the normal health and safety 
tests. It has done little to educate the public or to understand those who 
insist on a choice.
The first real food biotech battle was over the dairy production hormone 
bovine somatotropin. The milk supply, nature's "perfect food", was the most 
ill-advised precedent-setting battlefield ever. Through those years, 
consumers were largely quiet, unorganized or unengaged in the issue and the 
industry carried on with its assumption that biotech is just another 
neutral tool and eventually consumers will understand and embrace it.
Now, the opponents are waking up and farmers, many of whom are wedded to GM 
crops, will find themselves fighting a defensive battle. If Europe offers 
any lessons, it probably is a public relations battle the farm and food 
sectors cannot cleanly win. The customer is always right. Then what?