GE NEWS ARCHIVE
Mothers for Natural Law
International News on Genetic Engineering in Agriculture
Biweekly News 98/10/18
Thanks to Cliff Kinzel and Richard Wolfson for these items.
Articles have been aggressively shortened.
FOCUS-Monsanto, American Home Products end merger pact
NEW YORK, Oct 13 (Reuters) - American Home Products Corp. (AHP.N) and Monsanto Co. (MTC.N) mutually terminated their mega-merger Tuesday that was worth $34 billion at its June 1 debut, over discord about who would run the combined company, analysts and traders said.
The news surprised investors, leading to a sharp sell-off in shares of both companies. By the end of the New York trading day, Monsanto stock was hammered down 26.55 percent, or $13.38, to $37, and AHP stock fell 10 percent, or $5, to $45.
From a presentation to the annual meeting of the Crop Protection Institute
FORMIDABLE CHALLENGES THREATEN TO DERAIL NEW BIOTECH DEVELOPMENTS
Mississauga - Margaret Gadsby, AgrEvo's head of regulatory affairs for North America, said the biotechnology industry is facing a near-impossible crush of challenges at the local, national and global level. The challenges run the gamut from public acceptance to trade to labelling and government regulation, she told the annual meeting of the Crop Protection Institute...
She warned that it's possible that the Canadian wheat industry might have to negotiate with 120 different countries if and when it wants to start producing and marketing new varieties that arise from biotechnology...
Another issue is cost recovery. If 120 nations all decide they need to regulate biotechnology, they will charge for that regulation, she said. "I have no idea how we would handle the costs involved here..."
Biotech Firms Have Their Eyes on Africa, Euro MPs Say
SCIENCE: Biotech Firms Have Their Eyes on Africa, Euro MPs Say
PARIS, Oct 14 (IPS) - European Union (EU) rules limiting the range of biotechnological activity appear to be prompting some biotech firms to look for new locations where they can operate more freely. In fact, biotech industrialists and researchers have reportedly started hinting about relocating, possibly to Africa, so as to circumvent strict EU regulations prohibiting some activities.
Operations banned in Europe include cloning humans, modifying the genetic identity of a human being and artifically reproducing embryos that have the same genetic information as another person, whether alive or dead. Also included on the banned list are inventions whose exploitation or publication would violate public order or morals, and any modification of the genetic make-up of animals that would cause them to suffer or to become physically handicapped where this is of no substantial medical usefulness to man or animal.
There are also restrictions to the manipulation of vegetable species and animal breeds. To get around this arsenal of constraints, transnationals are reportedly looking towards Africa as the place to go to operate with total impunity, and they are said to be banking on the elimination of trade barriers under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and moves to dismantle barriers to investment, touted by various developed nations. This holds dangers for Africa, as some European legislators pointed out at a late-September session of the European Parliament...
Secret Canadian Govt. Study Reveals Serious Faults With BGH
By STEVE WILSON
A secret study by five senior Health Canada scientists concludes that important gaps in scientific procedures and data have left legitimate human health concerns about Bovine Growth Hormone unresolved despite the drug's approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The report was written after staff scientists reviewing data submitted by Monsanto Canada complained they were being strongly pressured to approve the drug despite their serious misgivings. A Canadian Senate committee studying BGH safety issues was never given the April 21 report, nor was it ever released publicly.
A leaked copy of the document is now available on the web at www.nfu.ca/nfu/Gapsreport.html Its findings are considered "explosive" by scientists who have been following the BGH issue for years.
At the heart of the report is a finding that FDA scientists misreported the results of a key test for human safety before they approved the drug in the U.S. in 1993.
Writing in the journal Science in 1990, FDA scientists reviewing Monsanto data said, "no toxicological effects (from BGH) were found (in test rats)." The Canadian scientists say that report was false. Actually, 20 to 30% of the rats developed primary antibody responses to rBGH and some developed thyroid cysts and infiltration in the prostate. The Canadian report says those results "should have prompted the need for long-term studies.
From "The Gene Exchange"
Low-Yielding Bt cotton in Arkansas
According to the April 1998 Cotton Grower, Bt-cotton growers in Arkansas had less than a banner year last season. A University of Arkansas study of several Bt and non-Bt cotton fields showed that on average Bt cotton yielded fewer pounds and lower income per acre. One farm showed a remarkable difference in yield--Bt cotton produced 168 fewer pounds per acre than the non-Bt variety. Bt cotton, on the farms studied, yielded an average of 24 fewer pounds per acre. Also, the new varieties required more growth regulator to synchronize plant development and had to be picked twice at harvest. Non-Bt cotton is typically picked only once.
Maine Turns Down Bt Corn
The Maine Board of Pesticides Control is the first regulatory body in the United States to turn down a request for registration of Bt field corn. Two concerns turned a December Board vote against Novartis and DeKalb, the companies seeking the registration. The Board was not convinced that Maine farmers needed the new crop--Bt-corn proponents failed to show that the European corn borer, the pest targeted by the engineered corn, causes sufficient damage in Maine to warrant approval. And, the Board was worried about the possible development of resistance to Bt and its impact on the state's organic growers.
Deformed Roots in Roundup Ready Cotton
...One farmer, who has asked to remain anonymous, realized that only the portions of his fields planted with Roundup Ready(tm) cotton were adversely affected. By mid-July approximately 600 acres of his Roundup Ready acres were not performing even as his conventional seed continued to grow relatively well under the oppressive plains heat. He pulled up some of each type, conventional and transgenic, only to discover that the root systems on the Roundup Ready varieties differed dramatically from the conventional norm (see photos)...
"In some plants," he said in a recent phone call, "the roots are so deformed, it is like putting a kink in a water hose. The plants just donít seem to be getting any water or nutrients." After he started talking to his neighbors about his findings, he found others with similar problems. Steve Lee, another long-time cotton farmer from Lubbock County watched his Roundup Ready cotton come up and in spite of adequate irrigation, his plants began to lean, eventually falling over and breaking off at the base of the stalks. "In all my 36 years of farming I have never seen anything like this," he told us. "The roots are deformed, in some there is a good taproot but no feeder roots, and in others there are feeder roots but only on one side..."
Euro-deputies call for moratorium on gene crops
BRUSSELS, Oct 13 (Reuters) - The European Parliament's environment committee is due on Tuesday to urge the European Commission to impose a moratorium on all new authorisations for the marketing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The move follows a vote in committee late on Monday, when Euro-MPs also urged the EU's executive not to force Austria and Luxembourg to lift their unilateral bans on a gene-altered maize developed by the Swiss company Novartis (NOVZn.S).
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.
EU committee rejects Dutch gene-altered potato
BRUSSELS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - A committee of European Union scientists has, for the first time, rejected authorisation for a genetically engineered crop, the EU's executive Commission announced on Thursday.
The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Plants said it had ``serious doubts'' about the safety of a high-starch potato developed by the Dutch company Avebe which is resistant to the clinically important antibiotic amikacin.
The committee said the risk that the crop would pass on its genetically-altered qualities to other species hod not been examined sufficiently.
``Without an adequate risk assessment of the potential consequences of horizontal gene transfer from the genetically modified plants to humans, animals and the environment, the safety of the transgenic potato line cannot be fully assessed,'' the scientists said.
Copyright 1998 Gazeta Mercantil Inc. GAZETA MERCANTIL ONLINE
October 08, 1998, Thursday
The legal battle surrounding the approval of mass scale production of genetically engineered soy in Brazil is heating up further. Judge Raquel Fernandez Perrini, from Sao Paulo's 11th Federal Circuit Court, who had granted the Consumer Defence Institute a preliminary ruling against the liberation of commercialization of Roundup Ready soy sales, owned by Monsanto do Brazil, decided to transfer the case to Brasilia's Federal Justice.
The decision was forced upon the judge by a previous provisional remedy filed in August this year, by federal deputy Fernando Ferro, with the same request. The remedy attempts to impede the approval of planting, transporting, warehousing, selling, consuming, importing, liberating and discarding of genetically altered soy in Brazil. (Mauro Zanatta, Gazeta Mercantil)
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is compiled for educational use only.
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