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1Biotech crop killers - Washington Post
2U.S. renews debate over biotech foods USA TODAY
3ANALYSIS-Farmers gear for fight over GMO foods Reuters
4National radio show re GE foods advance notice
5Science Invades the Pantry NYT
8GMO crop use may boost food costs Reuters
9Growing debate over genetically altered soybeans - Columbia Daily Tribune
10> DuPont, General Mills in Soy-Foods Venture Bloomberg News
11 Mori - Nu Tofu to use non gm soya - press release
The Washington Times January 12, 2000, Wednesday, Final
> Edition SECTION: PART A; COMMENTARY; Pg. A12 LENGTH: 929
> words HEADLINE: Biotech crop killers BYLINE: Michael Fumento
> BODY: It was "a message to those who seek to benefit from
> the risky endeavor of genetically engineering the food
> supply," according to the group calling itself Seeds of
> Resistance. The "message?" They hacked down a half-acre
> plot of corn one dark August night with machetes. The
> crop's offense? The University of Maine-owned Rogers Farm
> was determining whether a new strain of corn would be
> protected from herbicides that would kill surrounding weeds.
> This would reduce the need for herbicide use, saving farmers
> money and reducing chemical runoff into water supplies. To
> have these advantages, it had a specially chosen gene from
> another plant inserted into it. For that, the corn had to
> die. So far this year, vandals have struck 14 crop sites in
> the United States, spanning the country from Maine to
> Minnesota to California. And however one feels about
> biotech crops or biotech in general, the attacks tell us
> much about biotech opponents. The American vandals directly
> acknowledge the inspiration from overseas, especially the
> U.K., where wrecking crop plots that offend one's
> sensibilities is commonplace. "Many thanks to our comrades
> in other countries for the inspiration to join them,"
> declared a communique from Reclaim the Seeds, one of the
> more U.S. active crop-busting groups. In Europe, anywhere
> between 150-200 experimental biotech fields and forests
> have been damaged or destroyed. On this side of the
> Atlantic, the crop-busters are just getting started but are
> making up for lost time in a spectacular fashion. "There
> was only one attack that I know of in the U.S. in 1998,"
> according to Jeffrey Tufenkian, spokesman for an
> anti-biotech American group that tracks crop wrecking,
> Genetix Alert of San Diego. And it isn't just fields and
> forests under attack. On the last day of September, two
> groups wrecked various crops but also disabled an
> irrigation system and vandalized three greenhouses. Earlier
> in the month, the Bolt Weevils whacked a Minnesota biotech
> corn crop and further damaged company vehicles and sheds.
> Nor do the plans stop even there. "Crops, research
> facilities and corporate offices are all sources of this
> technological threat and should be targeted," say the
> Weevils. "If corporations, governments and universities
> have any relationship to biotechnology, they are targets."
> Crime against property is serious. But the euphemisms and
> rationalizations these self-styled "garden guerrillas"
> employ are beyond ludicrous. Trespassing on public property
> to rip up crops is "peaceful direct action." The field
> isn't destroyed, it's "decontaminated." The science of gene
> transfer is called "pollution."
> Greenpeace's U.K. executive director, Lord Peter Melchett,
> who was arrested for personally "decontaminating" crops,
> even claims it "is not lawlessness." Really? Trespass and
> vandalism are legal in Britain? In this instance yes, says
> Lord Melchett, because "we act within strong moral
> boundaries." Thus the criminality of an act can be negated
> by the actor's opinion. If you feel morally justified in
> "peacefully decontaminating" your spouse via "direct
> action" with a shotgun, your actions are "not lawlessness."
> Crop-busters also make claims of heroic acts of sacrifice.
> "We are risking jail and injury, as well as sacrificing
> time, energy and sleep," declaim the Reclaimers. Time,
> energy and sleep? Such statements reveal the mindset of
> bullies who strike by night and slip away, then convince
> themselves and others they are bold warriors who aren't
> just above the law; they make it. The U.S. crop
> vandalization group Future Farmers has declared, "The
> people have the right and the responsibility to fight
> back." "The people," of course, is as defined by these
> Future Fascists. After Reclaim the Seeds ripped up a sugar
> beet field at the University of California at Davis, it
> proclaimed "these acts as self-defensive measures on behalf
> of all beings." (Emphasis added). So now they even speak
> for birds, bees and bacteria. But what's the real motive
> here? After crunching a corn crop, the Reclaimers cried:
> "Modern agri-business and genetic mutilation is a
> capitalist machine that must be dismantled," and its
> vandalism "is a direct action that destroys corporate power
> and authority." Thus bioengineering of food and trees has
> become representative of every evil any corporation has
> perpetrated (or, shall we say, everything corporations have
> done that members of these groups don't like). Therefore
> attacking biotech is just another way of attacking
> capitalism and technology. How many environmentalist groups
> have decried this vandalism? Only three I've been able to
> find, and then just mildly. The vast majority have kept
> mum. Still, there's a silver lining to this dark cloud
> hanging over North American science and consumers. To use
> the groups' own analogy, history shows that terrorism is a
> desperation tactic of guerrillas who have abandoned hope of
> winning the "hearts and minds" of the people. The
> eco-terrorists know that just around the corner is the
> second wave of biotech foods, in which not just farmers and
> the environment will benefit but consumers as well. They
> know pressure could build in the Third World for crops to
> relieve terrible malnutrition problems that lead to
> crippling, blindness and early death. When that happens (or
> in biotech-bashers' thinking, if it's allowed to), they
> know that in the ensuing war of ideas and choice they
> cannot win. Michael Fumento is a senior fellow at the
> Hudson Institute who specializes in science and health
2U.S. renews debate over biotech foods
By James Cox, USA TODAY
01/13/00- Updated 11:14 PM ET
BASEL, Switzerland -- When activists dumped a pile of genetically engineered
corn at its headquarters here, Novartis quickly turned the protest into
public relations grist.
The pharmaceutical and biotech giant trucked in cows from outlying dairy
farms to clean up the mess. The sight of the animals grazing amid the city's
trams and office towers was irresistible to the Swiss media, which gobbled up
the story as fast as the cows could munch the grain.
That's the full extent of Novartis' public relations derring-do these days.
Europe's battle-weary biotech firms have hunkered down until the public furor
over bio-engineered crops blows over. They have halted public-image
advertising, mothballed applications for regulatory approvals and focused on
researching genetic advances that won't come to market for five to seven
years. But as they wait out the storm, many are horrified by signs that
Europe's biotech backlash may be spreading to the USA.
"What's happening in your country?" asks an incredulous Arthur Einsele,
public relations chief at Novartis Seeds, a leading developer and marketer of
Until now, Europe's biotech industry has viewed the USA as an island of
sanity in the debate about the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods. The
U.S. government has OK' d far more varieties of biotech crops than any other
country -- more than 30 vs. only nine in the 15-nation European Union . U.S.
and Canadian farmers last year planted 81 million acres of bio-engineered
seed, which accounted for 47% of the U.S. soybean harvest and 37% of the U.S.
corn crop. GM ingredients are contained in hundreds of grocery items, from
salad dressing and soft drinks to tortilla chips and cooking oil.
European biotech firms, meanwhile, have had to cope with threats and
vandalism from anti-biotech radicals, along with a regulatory stonewall that
has blocked their products from both field and food store. Public outcry over
biotech foods has prompted thousands of European supermarkets to remove them.
Share prices of industry leaders such as Novartis have been pummeled.
"We thought you already had this debate in America. But I guess we were
wrong," Einsele says.
The U.S. biotech industry suddenly faces:
Protests. Opponents costumed as mutant ears of corn took to the streets last
month in Seattle, where they and other protesters disrupted the World Trade
Organization summit. Other noisy demonstrations took place last fall at U.S.
Food and Drug Administration hearings on biotech foods in Washington, D.C.,
Chicago and Oakland.
Environmental and consumer groups fighting bio-engineered foods have
recruited Hollywood celebrities such as Jane Seymour and Roseanne to the
Washington scrutiny. This spring, Congress is likely to consider a bill to
require mandatory labeling of foods that contain GM ingredients. Labeling is
required in the EU, but the labeling issue has split U.S. biotech firms and
others close to them. Many U.S. supermarket chains quietly favor labels; most
farm groups and food manufacturers oppose the idea.
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said Monday the federal government wants
consumers to have more details about bio-foods but is unlikely to require
Farmers' uncertainty. U.S. farmers are expected to plant fewer acres of
biotech corn this spring, despite heavy lobbying and discounting by Monsanto,
DuPont and other seed companies. Most say they still believe in GM seeds but
worry about their ability to sell their grain or keep conventional and GM
crops separated, as some buyers have asked.
European farmers, many of whom want to try GM crops, understand the
predicament of their American counterparts.
"You have to follow the tide, and the tide is completely against GM crops,"
says French farmer Xavier Beulin. "It's not a rational issue."
Finicky customers. Japanese trading companies are the biggest foreign buyers
of U.S. soybeans, which are used to make tofu. They have quietly shifted
suppliers to ensure that they get non-GM beans.
Similarly, European food retailers and farm cooperatives are shunning biotech
corn and soybeans when they buy in the USA. U.S. officials say EU buyers'
insistence on non-GM corn cost American farmers an estimated $200 million in
lost sales in 1999, a figure certain to grow this year.
Wary retailers.Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Markets, the USA's two
largest natural-foods retailers, want manufacturers of their private-label
foods to stop using GM ingredients. Observers are watching to see if any
mainstream supermarkets follow suit.
Wall Street scorn. Shares of many biotech firms have taken a beating. Shares
in St. Louis-based Monsanto traded as high as $50 13/16 last March.
Wednesday's close: $36 3/16.
Investors in the biotech sector expected a quick pay off from the technology,
but have been spooked by anti-biotech activism, regulatory inertia and
negative publicity, says Jay Hickman, analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston.
Investor pessimism has forced big players to consider spinning off or selling
their seed and crop-protection businesses.
Last month, Novartis and Anglo-Swedish concern AstraZeneca announced plans to
merge and spin off their agriculture operations. In the USA, Monsanto and
Pharmacia & Upjohn took a similar approach last month in announcing their
marriage. Their combined agriculture business is quickly being distanced from
core pharmaceutical and life sciences operations: It will have a separate
board and headquarters; 20% of its shares will be issued in a public
Behind Europe's backlash
European mistrust of GM foods is largely a reaction to events of the past
decade, particularly Britain's Mad Cow disease and last year's dioxin chicken
and Coca-Cola scares in Belgium. Health officials were slow to react and
initially understated the risks to the public.
There are other factors. Many of Europe's anti-biotech "greens" hold public
office and are well placed to influence policy. And European supermarket
chains have tight control over the supply chain -- dictating farming methods
and food-manufacturing specifications.
U.S. officials are furious with European regulators for ducking the GM issue.
The EU has resorted to "a variety of ploys and political maneuvers to delay
and deny" approval of GM products because it can't find scientific grounds to
reject them, Commerce Undersecretary David Aaron told European officials last
He said a decade of U.S. experience shows biotech foods are as safe as those
made with conventional ingredients .
There has been "not one sneeze, not one cough, not one rash," Aaron said.
"There is simply no evidence to the contrary."
That's a story the U.S. biotech industry is eager to tell. It is mounting an
expensive image campaign, reaching out to scientists, food retailers,
regulators, Congress and anti-biotech activists. U.S. seed companies are
holding town-hall meetings with farmers and financing independent scientific
research into crop genetics.
In Europe, the approach is different. Novartis, AstraZeneca and others have
made a strategic decision to wait for perceptions to change gradually. They
are taking small steps -- opening their research labs to the public, for
instance -- but are exerting little public pressure on regulators to untangle
the approval process. They're banking on products with clear consumer
benefits -- better taste, more nutritional value, disease-fighting
capabilities -- to change public opinion.
"We see this as a very, very long game," says Nigel Poole, external relations
chief at Zeneca Agrochemicals, a division of AstraZeneca, until he retired
last month. "This is just the start of the biological revolution."
ANALYSIS-Farmers gear for fight over GMO foods
Reuters Story - January 06, 2000 13:24
By Rene Pastor
SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Farm groups around the U.S. must
brace for a bruising battle over GMO
goods demonized in Europe as 'Frankenstein food' and must do more to
counter claims by environmental activists the
technology is unsafe.
A Republican congressman and delegates attending the annual Beltwide
Cotton meeting here said Thursday the debate
over genetically modified organisms (GMO) will intensify, especially
after two supermarket chains said recently they will
remove GMO products from their shelves.
"The anti-GMO sentiment is already starting to have a chilling effect
in this country," Representative Henry Bonilla
(R-TX), a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee provinding
funding for conservation and commodity
programs, told delegates in a speech.
"This chilling effect could reach into Congress and the appropriation
process. I would hate to see this happen," he added.
Bonilla said farm groups must be "the loudest voice at the table" to
counter the environmental lobby. This would include
the lawsuit against life sciences company Monsanto for selling GMO
crops without first insuring that they were safe.
The controversy over GMO foods has spread from Europe to Japan and
poses a threat to the U.S. agro-business industry
since more than 35 percent of corn, 55 percent of soybeans and about 50
percent of cotton plants GMO seeds.
"It's going to be something we have to deal with," Art Simpson, the
National Operations Manager of Stoneville Pedigreed
Seed Company, told Reuters in an interview.
Jimmy Hargett, a farmer who plants 1,000 acres of corn and 5,000 acres
to cotton in Bells, Tenn., said farm groups should
take a more active stance on the issue.
"The media that's been put out on GMOs, those people don't know what
they're fussing about," he said.
Bonilla said that under pressure from well-financed environmental
groups, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
begun a process that could potentially result in rules which will
"strangle the new technology."
"We cannot let these radical extreme fringe groups win," he said.
Hargett said the rising scare over GMOs has not yet hit
his sales of farm products, but such a prospect hangs over an industry
already struggling from low commodity prices.
"I have that fear," said Allen Helms, a farmer who plants 3,000 acres
of cotton, 1,500 acres of cotton and 2,000 acres of
soybeans in Clarkedale, Arkansas. "There's a lot of value and a lot of
quality in the (GMO) products."
4Subject: National radio show re GE foods
February 6, 2000 (Sunday evening)
Host: Whitley Strieber
(live interview w/ listener call in)
Martin Teitel, PhD will tell us why our food has been genetically
altered--without our consent--and with no testing and no labeling--and
what we can do about it. Book: Genetically Engineered Food: Changing
the Nature of Nature: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself, Your
Family, and Our Planet
Tell all your friends to listen in. You can find a listing of stations
that carry this program at
Can be heard in Austin on KJFK-98.9FM, beginning at 10pm local time
Info about the book at:
As bioengineered crops cover ever more millions of acres,
the likelihood of side effects and unintended consequences looms
larger. Farmers will realize they were not told enough of the truth.
And consumers will see there is no escape other than to fight back and
demand an open scientific process and a response to persistent
questions, with the burden of proof right on the companies. All this
and more is why Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of
Nature is so valuable for enlightening the public.
Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Biotech Century
Martin Teitel and Kimberly Wilson have cut through all the hype and
misconceptions surrounding genetically engineered food and provided
the indispensable primer for every family in America concerned with
making wise dietary choices in the biotech century. Finally, we have
available a guide to biotech food issues that is informed,
intelligent, and chock-full of common sense. I urge every consumer to
read this book before walking into a supermarket again. It will open
up your eyes, change what you put in your mouth, and transform your
thinking about food forever.
Katherine DiMatteo, Executive Director, Organic Trade Association
By far the most accessible and informative publication on genetic
engineering in food production that I have read to date. It is written
so that the non-scientist can fully understand the scope of this
technology, with numerous footnotes and references that are a handy
resource guide for those seeking more knowledge. An excellent book.
The book that exposes the threat to our food supply from genetic
* Explains the dangers of these foods in easily understood terms.
* Provides a comprehensive guide to actions you can take to safeguard
your food supply.
Picture a world where the french fries you eat are registered as a
pesticide. Where corn plants kill monarch butterflies. Where soy
plants thrive on doses of herbicide that would kill any normal plant.
Where multinational corporations own the life forms that farmers grow
and legally control the farmers' actions. That world exists. The above
events are happening, and they are happening to us all. Genetically
engineered foods--plants whose genetic structures are altered by
scientists in ways that could never occur in nature--are already
present in most of the products you buy in supermarkets, unlabeled,
unwanted, and largely untested. The threat of these organisms to human
and environmental health has caused them to be virtually banned in
Europe, yet the U.S. government and a handful of biotech corporations,
working hand-in-hand, have actively encouraged their use while
discouraging labeling that might alert consumers to what they are
Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature is the
first book to take a comprehensive look at the many ramifications of
this dangerous science. Authors Martin Teitel and Kimberly Wilson
explain what genetic engineering is and how it works, then explore the
health risks involved with eating newly created lifeforms. They
address the ecological catastrophe that could result from these
modified plants crossing with wild species and escaping human control
altogether, as well as the economic devastation that may befall small
farmers who find themselves at the mercy of megacorporations for their
livelihood. Taking the discussion a step further, they consider the
ethical and spiritual implications of this radical change in our
relationship to the natural world, showing what the future holds and
giving you the information you need to act on your own or to join
others in preserving the independence and integrity of our food
About the Authors
Martin Teitel, Ph.D., is the author of Rain Forest in Your Kitchen and
Executive Director of the Council for Responsible Genetics, a national
nonprofit organization of concerned scientists, doctors, and activists
founded in 1983 to foster public debate about the social, ethical, and
environmental implications of genetic technology.
Kimberly Wilson directs the council's Program on Commercial
Biotechnology and the Environment.
January 1, 2000
Science Invades the Pantry
By BARNABY J. FEDER
New York Times
So far, most of the inventions of agricultural biotechnology
have been new weapons for farmers in their fight against
insects and weeds. A few make processes like making cheese
more efficient. One big seller, a cow
hormone produced in genetically altered bacteria, increases
But many consumers think that there may be unacceptable
health and environmental risks in biotechnology. The food
industry is under pressure to show that it can produce not
just more food, but also food so obviously improved that the
benefits to consumers clearly outweigh any risks.
Researchers say an impressive array of such products will
become available in just a few years. Some will be the
result of the kind of biotechnology that makes consumers
most nervous -- namely, moving genes between organisms that
would never mate naturally. Others will be created through
traditional breeding and food production.
THE ALTERATION Enriched with beta carotene, which the body
converts into vitamin A.
HOW IT'S DONE Three genes -- two from the daffodil and one
from a bacterium -- are inserted into the rice.
THE BENEFITS Would reduce the one million deaths of children
and millions of cases of blindness that are attributed to
vitamin A deficiency in developing countries each year.
WHEN AVAILABLE In 2003, to farmers.
THE RESEARCHERS The Institute of Plant Sciences in Zurich
and the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baņos,
the Philippines, which will coordinate breeding and
THE ALTERATION Conversion to polyester.
HOW IT'S DONE Bacterial genes are inserted into yeast so
that the end
product in the fermentation of corn sugar is trimethylene
glycol, a building block of high-performance polyesters
THE BENEFITS A biodegradable, easily recyclable polyester
that is too
expensive to make with current technology.
WHEN AVAILABLE In 2004, for use in upholstery, carpeting and
THE RESEARCHERS Scientists at the DuPont Company.
THE ALTERATION Elimination of the most common allergen.
HOW IT'S DONE Exposure to an enzyme during processing breaks
down beta lactoglobulin, the allergenic protein that occurs
naturally in milk.
THE BENEFITS Would help the 1 in 20 children with this
allergy avoid vomiting and diarrhea; would reduce the risk
of occasional deaths from the allergy.
WHEN AVAILABLE In 2005, to consumers.
THE RESEARCHERS Basic research led by Bob B. Buchanan at the
University of California at Berkeley.
THE ALTERATION Adding vaccines for diseases like hepatitis
HOW IT'S DONE Viral genes are inserted into the seeds.
THE BENEFITS Would replace injections with a cheaper, more
convenient means of distributing vaccines.
WHEN AVAILABLE In 2005, probably first in powdered potatoes
THE RESEARCHERS Initial research by Charles J. Arntzen and
Hugh Mason of Cornell University's Boyce Thompson Institute
for Plant Research Inc.
THE ALTERATION Enriched with appetite-reducing antibodies.
HOW IT'S DONE Hens are immunized to stimulate the production
of antibodies that activate peptides in the human digestive
system associated with feeling full.
THE BENEFITS Healthier, cheaper weight-reduction regimens.
WHEN AVAILABLE In 2005, to consumers
THE RESEARCHER Initial research by Mark E. Cook at the
University of Wisconsin.
6 Subject: SEND TO CALIFORNIANS!!! (please)
HELLO CALIFORNIA -
Your state is the first to take a stand with a grassroots political consumer
campaign for GE food labeling! Pass this along, get the signatures and GOOD
LUCK - we're right behind you -
Dec. 27, 1999
V.269, Number 22
Cover: "The Politics of Food" and "As Biotech 'Frankenfoods'
Are Stuffed Down Their Throats, Consumers Rebel" by Maria Margaronis
Cover Picture: A frankenstein drawing w/veggies & fruits for body parts.
THE POLITICS OF FOOD by Margaronis [above]
FOOD FIGHT COME TO AMERICA
U.S. corporations are working furiously to hold
back the tide of protest. BY John Stauber
DON'T LOOK, DON'T FIND by Kristi Coale
[short report on FDA's "Don't Look, Don't Find" regulatory system.]
Corporate donations go a long way toward explaining weak U.S. food
policy by Micah L. Sifry
THE PARABLE OF THE GOLDEN SNAIL
Third World farmers see in biotech crops a First World disaster in
the making. by Peter Rosset
Two editorials on Seattle
12/27 1841 GMO crop use may boost food costs - Chicago
> Fed CHICAGO (Reuters) - Use of genetically modified (GMO)
> crops in the food system will likely increase handling and
> processing costs and retail food prices to some extent, a
> Federal Reserve Bank economist said Monday. In a quarterly
> letter on the farm economy, Chicago Fed agricultural
> economist Mike Singer said biotechnology and GMO crops hold
> great promise to improve the environment and better human
> health. "However, concerns over the safety of these foods
> and the environmental impact of genetically enhanced crops
> have risen dramatically in recent months," Singer said.
> "Though it seems highly unlikely that the continued
> development and use of these products will be banned,
> labelling and perhaps additional regulation may increase
> costs in the food system and, ultimately, affect retail
> food prices."
> GMO crops, which in recent years caught on widely with
> U.S. farmers, usually contain genes inserted into seeds to
> help the plant withstand herbicide applications, diseases
> or serious crop pests such as the European corn borer. More
> than a third of U.S. corn and more than half U.S. soybeans
> were planted to GMO seeds this year, before a firestorm of
> consumer protests led many food processors and
> distributors in Europe and Asia to call for GMO segregation,
> further testing and labelling. Disputes over the safety
> and evaluation of GMO crops contributed to the breakdown of
> the latest World Trade Organization talks in Seattle
> earlier this month. Singer said that given the level of
> consumer concerns and their effects this year on food
> processors, it was likely that next year's GMO crops in the
> U.S. will have to be segregated, tested, labelled and
> further regulated -- all adding to costs that would be
> pushed further down the food chain. "The problem today is
> one of infrastructure, i.e. most farmers, handlers and
> processors are not prepared to segregate grain," he said,
> noting that segregation will demand either considerable
> downtime during harvest or purchase of additional equipment
> and storage devoted to keeping GMO identity intact. "Either
> approach entails a significant additional cost," Singer
> said. "Complete segregation may be all but impossible," he
> added. Singer said that by next year's harvest testing
> procedures and standards must be developed, "perhaps
> similar to standards already in existence for levels of
> foreign matter allowed in various commodities."
> Singer said it would be no surprise to see a reduction in
> plantings of GMO crops next year by U.S. farmers. "Many may
> decide to reduce the amount of GMO seed planted because of
> concern over price discounts and demand uncertainty,"
> Singer said. REUTERS Executive News Svc.
> Growing debate over genetically altered soybeans; AP
> MISSOURI PANORAMA BYLINE: By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD, Columbia
> Daily Tribune DATELINE: COLUMBIA, Mo. BODY: The soybean
> fields of Missouri lie vast and empty, waiting for the
> spring crop to be planted. The winter silence hanging over
> them is deceptively serene. A virtual battle is being
> fought over the crops that will be planted and grown here.
> Over the past three years, a quiet revolution has taken
> place with the creation of the Genetically Modified
> Organism, or GMO. The technology was released only a few
> years ago, but has spread rapidly with massive promotion
> from companies that own it. It's impossible to know just
> how many crops are GMOs because no one keeps track. But
> most in the agricultural industry estimate at least half of
> all soybeans are genetically altered. For Missouri, the
> estimate is even higher; some say as many as 80 percent are
> GMOs. There is also genetically altered corn, cotton,
> potatoes and more, though none of them is nearly as
> prevalent in Missouri as soybeans. But opposition to genetic
> modification has flared. Consumers in Europe and Asia have
> refused to eat GMO foods, and their resistance has led to a
> low- level trade war with the United States, which is eager
> to export its grain. When thousands of protesters gathered
> in Seattle to block the World Trade Organization meeting,
> GMO crops were high on their list of concerns. Recently,
> the National Family Farm Coalition filed a class-action
> lawsuit against Monsanto, accusing the agricultural company
> that developed and owns GMO technology of monopolizing
> markets. Monsanto said the company is no monopoly. In the
> middle of this turmoil are the farmers, anxiously watching
> markets at home and abroad to see if people will buy their
> grain if it's genetically modified. Right now is the season
> to order seed for spring planting, and seed dealers
> everywhere say orders are coming in slow as growers try to
> figure out just what to plant. "They're going to watch what
> happens between now and what happens next spring," said Bob
> McCoy, who works for Bartlett & Co. elevator in Waverly.
> "Some farmers have placed tentative orders with us" for
> seed "so they can change it if they need to."
> And then there are the consumers, the ones who buy the
> beans and corn, the ones who have been eating GMOs for
> years, whether they know it or not. >--- It was a
> miraculous creature that sprung from the ground. Tiny
> leaves struggled through the soil and opened to the sun and
> began to grow. It looked like a soybean plant, but in a
> fundamental way it was not. It was unlike anything that had
> ever lived before. The only way to tell it was different
> was to look at its DNA - the microscopic genetic material
> at the core of every living thing. The genes of this little
> seedling were a human creation, snipped and spliced in a
> laboratory. The genes were basically those of a soybean,
> with some genetic material from bacteria thrown in, a DNA
> mixture between biological kingdoms impossible without
> human intervention. Mike Hustedde watched this
> revolutionary crop grow. He was not impressed. "When they
> came up, they were weak and spindly," he said. "I don't
> know ... they just didn't look right."
> Hustedde knows what a soybean plant looks like; he's been
> growing them for years on his farm near Fayette. In 1998, he
> decided to plant genetically altered beans for many reasons.
> "You heard every one talking about how good they were," he
> said, adding that seed outlets are now selling mostly GMOs.
> The sales pitch behind GMOs is a strong one. The beans are
> touted to give higher yields and make the growing process
> easier. This is because their genes were tweaked and spliced
> with a very specific design in mind. The plants are
> engineered to survive applications of a pesticide called
> glyphosate, known by the brand name Roundup, which has been
> used for decades. The promise of "Roundup Ready" beans is
> that they make weed control easier than ever. Fewer
> pesticide applications are said to be needed, so the cost
> of growing will be cheaper than conventional beans. With
> fewer weeds competing for nutrients in the soil, beans grow
> healthier and faster. But Hustedde said none of these
> promises came true for him. "It wasn't a bit cheaper. It's
> just not living up to its claim," he said. Costs that were
> saved in fertilizer were negated, he said, because of the
> agreement he had to make to plant the seed. Roundup Ready
> beans are owned by Monsanto. The St. Louis-based company
> owns the very genes of the plant, giving it unprecedented
> authority over the bean market. It charges an extra
> "technology fee" for the seed of $6.50 a bag, which
> translates to roughly $9.50 an acre. Hustedde, like
> thousands of farmers, figured the tech fee would even out
> in the end. But when he bought the seed, he had to sign a
> contract with Monsanto promising he wouldn't save any of
> the seed from his crop. Farmers have saved seed for
> thousands of years, which cuts costs considerably the
> following year. But with modern GMO contracts, they are
> dependent on the seed company to supply them every year and
> must pay each time. The contract also gives Monsanto the
> right to inspect farmers' fields. If farmers save seed,
> they face fines up to $500 an acre. Currently, Monsanto is
> suing at least 36 farmers in Missouri for saving seed. This
> arrangement helped turn Hustedde back to conventional
> beans. To make matters worse, some grain elevators have
> announced they will segregate GMO beans from conventional
> beans. With European and Japanese markets excluding GMOs,
> many farmers fear they won't be worth as much. "If they
> sell at a low price, I just can't stand that," Hustedde
> said. Even if Hustedde plants conventional beans next year,
> there's no promise they won't be contaminated with GMO
> strains. Once you plant a crop, he said, it's virtually
> impossible to eradicate it. >--- On the other side of the
> fence is Danny Sells in Audrain County, who hopes his
> fields grow genetically engineered crops for a long, long
> time. A farmer for years, Sells joined the GMO revolution
> three years ago. He sells Roundup Ready seed from his home
> through a small company called M-Pride. He avoids using the
> "scary" term GMO, referring to the seeds as "biotech." He
> says genetic modification has gotten a bad rap from
> Greenpeace and other groups that know little about it. "If
> they don't have a struggle, they'll make one up. All you
> ever hear about biotech is the bad," he said. Monsanto
> spokeswoman Karen Marshall also downplayed concerns about
> GMOs. "It's just the next step in breeding," she said.
> "You're just inserting one gene to tell the plant what to
> Studies are ongoing to insure the safety of GMOs, Marshall
> said. "What people need to know is that a lot of people
> around the world are looking at these crops and assessing
> the risk," she said. For Sells, GMOs represent a bright
> future and high-tech dreams for farmers. "You're gonna see
> this whole thing explode into a whole new area," he said.
> Once the technology advances, its benefits will multiply,
> he said. There could be crops containing medicinal
> chemicals or soybeans that can be processed to yield
> plastic. Right now, the soybean market is more than bleak.
> "Prices are lower than they have been in 20 something
> years," Sells said. "It's a pretty hard deal right now on
> the farmers because the equipment prices keep going up and
> the commodity prices keep going down."
> Sells said farmers are limited as to where they can sell
> their beans. "The market is strictly ADM," he said,
> referring to grain-buyer Archer Daniel Midland. The best
> price Sells can get for beans is less than $5 a bushel. But
> if he were to grow genetically modified crops containing
> medicinal chemicals, his prices would surge. "The farmers
> have expanded to their limits. You can't get any more
> acres. But you can add value to what you grow," he said,
> "and that's what I'm doing with my business."
> Sells isn't alone in his enthusiasm for a GMO future. "I
> believe that GMO, in the long run, will be a benefit to
> mankind," said Ron Utterback, vice president of the crop
> protection, farm supply and seed division of MFA Inc. From
> his corner office in MFA's headquarters in Columbia,
> Utterback has watched GMO technology spread. "It was a
> very, very rapid adoption curve," he said. "That was the
> fastest I've ever seen. It just shot through the ceiling."
> But that was before the global outcry over GMOs began, and
> Utterback said he's seen a significant impact since. "Our
> ordering is slower than last year," he said. "Is it
> significantly slower than this time last year? Yeah,
> probably. Am I concerned? Not yet. Most of the hype we're
> seeing is just that - hype. The grower's decision is being
> pulled in a lot of different directions."
> Utterback said the rise of GMO is not easy to reverse. The
> seed stock MFA has purchased for the market is roughly 75
> percent GMO, he said, although like Sells, he avoids the
> term "genetically modified organism" in favor of the more
> flattering "genetically enhanced organism."
> "If they told me in the next three months that they'd no
> longer approve GEO," he said, "the supply of conventional
> seed would not be enough to meet the demand."
Friday, January 14, 2000 | Print this story
> DuPont, General Mills in Soy-Foods Venture
> Bloomberg News
> DuPont Co., which has been expanding beyond its traditional
> chemical businesses into agriculture and other industries,
> and cereal maker General Mills Inc. have formed a joint
> venture to develop and market soy foods. Terms were not
> disclosed. Under the agreement, DuPont's Protein
> Technologies International unit will develop soy foods to
> supply Minneapolis-based General Mills, which makes
> products such as Cheerios cereal and Betty Crocker dessert
> mixes. DuPont said the soy products will be from beans grown
> by traditional methods without bioengineering. U.S. sales of
> soy-food products are expected to top $2.5 billion this year
> and grow at a 15% to 20% annual rate during the next five
> years. Shares of Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont closed off 56
> cents at $68.50,
> while General Mills closed up 13 cents at $33.44. Both trade
> on the NYSE.
DEAR VALUED BROKERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND RETAILERS,
Like many of you, Mori - Nu is concerned about genetic modification of
foods. We are dedicated to bringing you the freshest, most pure tofu
available. To that end, by mid January 2000, we will be using 100%
certified non-GMO soybeans (called "Identity Preserved" by seed
manufacturers) to create all varieties of Mori-Nu Tofu. The isolated soy
protein used in Mori-Nu tofu will also be certified non-GMO.
For your assurance, we will provide certificates that our soybeans and
isolated soy protein are "Identity Preserved" on request. We will also
submit samples of the new Mori-Nu Tofu made with non-GMO soybeans to the
Genetic ID lab in Fairfield, Iowa; we will supply you with the test
results when they are available.
We are in the process of updating all Mori-Nu packaging to include a seal
which states "Made with Non-GMO Soybeans". We anticipate the new
packaging in stores around April - May 2000.
In addition, while our current soybeans are not certified organic, recent
analysis of Mori-Nu Tofu detected no pesticides. We are currently
developing an organic variety of Mori-Nu which should be available later
We sincerely hope that you will share our commitment to health and food
safety with your buyers.
Mr. Y. Kumoda
President, Morinaga Nutritional Foods
Genetic Engineering Network
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