GE NEWS ARCHIVE
Mothers for Natural Law
International News on Genetic Engineering in Agriculture
Biweekly News 99/07/03
Thanks to Dennis Dey and Richard Wolfson for these items.
Articles have been aggressively shortened.
This newsletter is about 1000 words overweight due to item (12), which proved to be incompressible.
NATURAL LAW PARTY NEWS FLASH
National Summit on the Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods
The Natural Law Party's National Summit on the Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods held on June 17 in Washington, D.C. was "a grand success," according to summit organizer Laura Ticciati, who heads up the NLP's Mothers for Natural Law.
A distinguished panel of scientists, physicians, farmers, clergy, food industry leaders, and consumers presented the health, environmental, and ethical risks of the unchecked genetic manipulation of the world's food supply. More than 150 people attended, including top government leaders and over 25 members of the Washington press corps.
NLP presidential candidate Dr. John Hagelin presented drafts of two pieces of legislation that would mandate labeling of all genetically engineered foods as well as mandate proper safety testing of these GE food products. The NLP is working with members of Congress to pass this legislation. Ms. Ticciati submitted nearly 500,000 petition signatures from citizens across the United States in support of the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Similar NLP-sponsored Summits on the Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods will be held in 50 cities leading up to the year 2000 election.
Petition to Congress Seeks Labels on Transgenic Foods
06:54 p.m Jun 17, 1999 Eastern
By Julie Vorman
WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) - Nearly a half-million Americans urged Congress on Thursday to require labels on foods containing genetically-modified soybeans, corn and other ingredients, reflecting growing consumer unease around the world about transgenic crops...
A petition, signed by nearly 500,000 consumers, was delivered Thursday to House Minority Whip David Boniors, a Michigan Democrat, by leaders of the Natural Law Party.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
D.C. CONNECTION : D.C. Connection
Bill Lambrecht And Deirdre Shesgreen
Grocery Makers Enter the Debate on Biotechnology
Some of your grocery money soon will sponsor voices in the emerging debate in the United States on genetically modified foods.
The Grocery Manufacturers of America, which represents more than 130 food producers, confirmed last week that it will spearhead a multimillion-dollar campaign to reassure people of the safety of genetically altered food.
Starting next month, the Washington-based trade association intends to assemble scientists, physicians and experts to convince Americans that food produced through biotechnology not only is safe, but may hold benefits.
The goal: forestalling the debate raging in Europe in which many consumers have demanded that modified foods be removed from the shelves.
BBC Wednesday, June 30, 1999
Published at 22:29 GMT 23:29 UK
M&S First to go GM-Free
Marks & Spencer says it has become the first High Street retailer to go completely genetically-modified food free.
The troubled company's move was announced by Dr Tom Clayton, the firm's head of food technology, who said that from 1 July all M&S foods will be produced without GM ingredients or derivatives.
The chain's entire 3,500-strong food range has been under review since March.
More than 5,000 ingredients made from soya and maize were checked and changes were made to 1,800 recipes to strip all products of GM ingredients or derivatives.
"Working with our suppliers, guaranteed sources of non-GM ingredients have been secured," Mr Clayton said.
"These have been checked by our technologists, visiting sources in the Far East, South America, USA, Canada and Europe."
INTERVIEW - ADM Prepared to Offer GMO-Free Foods
04:10 p.m Jun 16, 1999 Eastern
By Anna Driver
MINNEAPOLIS, June 16 (Reuters) - The chief of Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM.N) said Wednesday that his commodity processing company can offer to European food markets U.S. products guaranteed not to be derived from genetically altered crops, but that the guarantee will come at a premium. ``We have created identity preserved systems, and we have them available to be able to provide Europe with the materials they need that are non-GMO (genetically modified organisms),'' Allen Andreas, chairman and chief executive officer of ADM, told Reuters at the U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray investment conference. ``But there's no question that it is going to be more expensive if they are not going to accept any genetically modified materials in the European food environment,'' he said.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
PRESS RELEASE 30th June 1999
Consumer Representatives Applaud a Decision Today (30 June) Which Could Severely Limit the Use of the Genetically Engineered Hormone BST Around the World
Governments attending the biennial Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting in Rome failed to agree on an international standard on BST (Bovine Somatotropin) which is used to increase cows' milk production. The Codex Alimentarius Commission is the main United Nations body that sets international food standards.
Failure to agree to what is known as a Maximum Residue Level (MRL) for BST means that governments will have much more leeway at the national level to decide whether to allow the use of BST in their countries. Already, the European Union has a moratorium on its use in the EU and Canadian regulators have rejected Monsanto's request for its approval. However it is widely used in the United States.
The discussion at Codex today was unexpectedly brief with the United States immediately proposing, in view of the lack of consensus, that no standard be adopted. This was supported by the European Union and then adopted by the meeting. A long debate had been expected between the EU and the US. The US proposal took the meeting by surprise, as in previous discussions on this issue they had argued strongly for Codex to adopt a standard.
For further information, visit Consumers International's website,
Monday, June 21, 1999 Published at 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Global GM Crop Investigation Begins
The G8 leaders shared food but not ideas on food safety
The world's seven richest nations and Russia have commissioned a special investigation on the global implications of genetically-modified (GM) foods and crops. However, France's proposals for "a global food policeman" have been rejected...
The compromise finally reached by the G8 was to pass the issue over to scientific experts at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. They have until next year's summit in Japan to "undertake a study of the implications of biotechnology and other aspects of food safety"...
The discussion of GM crops and food safety was added to a section of the summit's business called "Tackling Global Challenges". This placed it alongside nuclear safety, the millennium bug and the fight against the global epidemic of AIDs...
Problems of proof
The disagreement about a global food watchdog between the US and most of the European Union (EU) countries is unsurprising given their ongoing trade dispute. This has focused on hormone-treated beef and GM food. The EU argues it will not import the US foods without clear scientific proof they are safe, while the US says it should be allowed to trade because there is no scientific proof they are harmful.
EU Seen Blocking New GMOs Until About 2002
01:37 a.m. Jun 25, 1999 Eastern
By Michael Mann
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Union is unlikely to authorize any new genetically modified crops before 2002, after environment ministers signed up to strict guidelines for licensing new GMOs, officials said Friday. Ministers avoided the word moratorium but their agreement will set in stone a de facto halt on new GMO approvals until a new law on licensing the products is up and running -- probably in 2002 -- according to German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin, who chaired the talks...
The EU is also under growing pressure from the United States to open its market to GM crops grown by American farmers and developed by U.S. biotechnology companies. Reaching an initial accord on the revised rules, ministers rejected proposals for a fast-track approval process for certain GMOs regarded as ``low risk'' and closed a loophole allowing products to be authorized automatically in the absence of a ruling by regulators. All GMOs will be authorized for an initial ten-year period, after which they would have to be reviewed. The agreement also includes tighter regulations on labeling GMOs and tracing them through the food chain, and an enhanced role for an EU ethical committee in the decision-making process.
The Commission, the EU's executive, proposed changes to the process by which new GMOs are authorized to tighten safety checks and ensure more transparency in the decision-making process. Officials said they were confident the EU would be able to defend itself from any legal challenges from countries unhappy with the EU's block on GMOs. ``Under the WTO, you can base yourself on new scientific evidence,'' said acting EU Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard. ``I see no problem with what we're doing today in relation to GMOs.''
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
Independent on Sunday 20/6/99 UK
World's Top Sweetener is Made with GM Bacteria
The most widely used sweetener in the world, found in fizzy drinks and sweets, is being made using a secret genetic engineering process, which some scientists claim needs further testing for toxic side-effects.
Copyright 1999 Business Intelligence Australia Pty Ltd ABIX:
Australasian Business Intelligence
June 28, 1999 Monday
Green light for new crops that could poison animals
Sydney Morning Herald
Mark Ragg; Murray Hogarth
ABSTRACT: Australian farmers will be allowed to grow genetically modified crops that are toxic to birds, insects and grazing animals. Under a new Federal Government policy, crops "which may pose a hazard to the environment" will not be banned, but farmers must take "special care" to minimise risks to wildlife, stock and other plants. The "Good Agricultural Practice Guidelines for the Use of Genetically-Modified Plants", which could be extended to cover animals, were adopted as Government policy in June 1999 without public consultation or fanfare. The policy aims to ensure the rapid but safe introduction of genetically modified crops. Government sources say the policy opens the way for a backlog of genetically modified crops to be released for planting
Contact: Steven Druker, ph. 641-472-5554, or Bob Roth, ph. 641-469-5081
For Immediate Release:
Lawsuit Uncovers Disagreement Within FDA Over Safety of Biotech Foods
Agency Contradicted Own Experts in Approving Genetically Engineered Foods -- Misrepresented Facts in Order to Promote U.S. Biotech Industry
Statement by Steven M. Druker, J.D., executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity, coordinator of the lawsuit against the FDA to obtain mandatory safety testing and labeling of gene-spliced foods, and an attorney on the case (in collaboration with the Legal Department of the Center for Technology Assessment in Washington, D.C.).
In May 1998, a coalition of public interest groups, scientists, and religious leaders filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to obtain mandatory safety testing and labeling of all genetically engineered foods (Alliance for Bio-Integrity, et. al. v. Shalala). Nine eminent life scientists joined the coalition in order to emphasize the degree to which they think FDA policy is scientifically unsound and morally irresponsible. Now, the FDA's own files confirm how well-founded are their concerns. The FDA was required to deliver copies of these files--totalling over 44,000 pages--to the plaintiffs' attorneys.
False Claims and a Policy at Odds with the Law
The FDA's records reveal it declared genetically engineered foods to be safe in the face of disagreement from its own experts--all the while claiming a broad scientific consensus supported its stance. Internal reports and memoranda disclose: (1) agency scientists repeatedly cautioned that foods produced through recombinant DNA technology entail different risks than do their conventionally produced counterparts and (2) that this input was consistently disregarded by the bureaucrats who crafted the agency's current policy, which treats bioengineered foods the same as natural ones.
Besides contradicting the FDA's claim that its policy is science-based, this evidence shows the agency violated the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in allowing genetically engineered foods to be marketed without testing on the premise that they are generally recognized as safe by qualified experts.
FDA Scientists Protest Attempt to Equate Genetic Engineering with Conventional Breeding
The FDA admits it is operating under a directive "to foster" the U.S. biotech industry; and this directive advocates the premise that bioengineered foods are essentially the same as others. However, the agency's attempts to bend its policy to conform with this premise met strong resistance from its own scientists, who repeatedly warned that genetic engineering differs from conventional practices and entails a unique set of risks. Numerous agency experts protested that drafts of the Statement of Policy were ignoring the recognized potential for bioengineering to produce unexpected toxins and allergens in a different manner and to a different degree than do conventional methods.
According to Dr. Louis Priybl of the FDA Microbiology Group, "There is a profound difference between the types of unexpected effects from traditional breeding and genetic engineering which is just glanced over in this document." He added that several aspects of gene splicing "...may be more hazardous."
Dr. Linda Kahl, an FDA compliance officer, objected that the agency was "...trying to fit a square peg into a round hole ... [by] trying to force an ultimate conclusion that there is no difference between foods modified by genetic engineering and foods modified by traditional breeding practices." She said: "The processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different, and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks."
Moreover, Dr. Jim Maryanski, the FDA Biotechnology Coordinator, acknowledged there is no consensus about the safety of genetically engineered foods in the scientific community at large, and FDA scientists advised they should undergo special testing, including toxicological tests.
Misrepresenting the Facts in Order to Approve the Foods
Nonetheless, so strong was the FDA's motivation to promote the biotech industry that it not only disregarded the warnings of its own scientists about the unique risks of gene-spliced foods, it dismissed them and took a public position that was the opposite. Its official policy asserts: "The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way...." Thus, although agency experts advised that genetically engineered foods should be subjected to special testing, the bureaucrats in charge of the policy proclaimed these foods require no testing at all.
Violating Federal Law
Besides violating basic canons of ethics, the FDA's behavior flagrantly violates the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which mandates that new food additives be established safe through testing prior to marketing. While the FDA admits that bioengineered organisms fall under this provision, it claims they are exempt from testing because they are "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS), even though it knows they are not recognized as safe even by its own scientists let alone by a consensus in the scientific community.
Further, the statute prescribes that additives like those in bioengineered foods can only be recognized as safe on the basis of tests that have established their harmlessness. But no such tests exist for gene-spliced foods. So, although the GRAS exemption was intended to permit marketing of substances whose safety has already been demonstrated through testing, the FDA is using it to circumvent testing and to approve substances based largely on conjecture--conjecture that is dubious in the eyes of its own and many other experts.
Consequently, every genetically engineered food in the U.S. is on the market illegally and should be recalled for rigorous safety testing. The FDA has deliberately unleashed a host of potentially harmful foods onto American dinner tables in blatant violation of U.S. law.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is compiled for educational use only.
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