GE NEWS ARCHIVE
Mothers for Natural Law
International News on Genetic Engineering in Agriculture
Biweekly News 99/10/31
Thanks to Dennis Dey, Richard Wolfson, and NLP Wessex for these items.
Articles have been aggressively shortened.
"A good GM lab can test for all GM crops, can give quantitative results down to 0.01% GM contamination, and can find GM in any crop even if it doesn't know which GM to look for." Dr. John Fagan, Genetic ID
FDA Announces Public Hearings on Bioengineered Foods
The Food and Drug Administration has just announced a new initiative to inform and engage the public about bioengineered foods. This initiative will begin with a series of public meetings:
Chicago, Ill.--Thursday, November 18
Washington, D.C.--Tuesday, November 30
Oakland, Calif.--Monday, December 13
At these meetings, the public will be informed about current FDA policy for assuring the safety of bioengineered foods. The public will also be asked to comment on whether this policy should be modified--and on the best ways for the FDA to provide the public with information about bioengineered products in the food supply.
The official announcement about these public hearings, as well as complete details, can be found in the FEDERAL REGISTER, Docket #99N-4282, October 20, 1999. You can also visit the FDA website at www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/102599c.txt for more information.
IMPORTANT: TO ATTEND OR TESTIFY AT ANY OF THESE HEARINGS, YOU MUST REGISTER 15 DAYS IN ADVANCE. Space is limited in some cases, and available seating is filling up fast. We strongly urge you to attend the FDA public hearing closest to you.
PLEASE MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS TODAY!
Send Your Comments to the FDA
Submit your written comments to the FDA demanding the mandatory labeling and pre-market safety testing of genetically engineered foods by visiting
This website sends your comments directly to the FDA as well CC's your comments (for those of you in the US) directly to your senators, reps. and VP Gore.
Written comments due by January 13, 2000!
Europeans Welcome FDA Biotechnology Move
08:51 a.m. Oct 19, 1999 Eastern
By Christopher Lyddon
LONDON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - A U.S. move to consider labelling genetically modified foods looks to European campaigners like a huge climbdown in a transatlantic split over the use of biotechnology in food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Monday it would re-examine the safety of GM foods and whether special labels may be needed.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
U.S. Cautiously Welcomes EU Food Labeling Plan
08:01 p.m Oct 21, 1999 Eastern
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - A European Union plan to establish a precise threshold for when to label food containing genetically modified material is a welcome development, but vigilance is needed to ensure that the plan is not used to bar U.S. imports, a U.S. official said on Thursday. David Aaron, the U.S. Commerce Department's under secretary for international trade, said the EU plan could be used to block U.S. food products ``if it's not accompanied by strict scientific test procedures to guard against false positives.''
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
Copyright 1999 Guardian Newspapers Limited The Guardian (London)
Monsanto Pressured to Sell Off GM Assets
by Jane Martinson in New York
Monsanto, the beleaguered American biotechnology company, is coming under intense pressure from Wall Street analysts and professional investors in New York to dismember itself in the wake of the campaign against genetically modified food. New York's financial community is now convinced that successful protests from consumers and environmental groups in Europe have hurt Monsanto's growth prospects and its stock market rating so badly that the only option to realise some value for investors would be some kind of sell-off. Such pressure from Wall Street is likely to weigh heavily on the company, which earlier this year seemed set on colonising the globe with its genetically modified products. Big investors and analysts have become increasingly worried as concerns in Europe about genetically modified foods have spread around the world in the past few months. Monsanto's share price has plummeted as shareholders devalued its GM business.
Robert Koort, industry analyst at Deutsche bank, said that Monsanto had been forced to look at selling part of its business as it was dragging down the value of the entire company. 'Monsanto might sell its agricultural chemicals business as it is currently valued (by the stock market) at nothing," he said.
Copyright 1999 Sun Media Corporation The Ottawa Sun
Toxic Food for Thought
Canada's pre-eminent pop scientist says Canadians have become unwitting guinea pigs in a nationwide study on the effects of genetically modified foods. "We are performing a massive experiment," Dr. David Suzuki said yesterday. "The results will only be known after millions of people have been exposed to (these foods) for decades." Suzuki's cautionary words wrapped up a four-day meeting of the Canadian Health Food Association, where the regulation of genetically modified foods has been a pressing concern. It is estimated that 70% of food currently sold in Canadian supermarkets is genetically modified. Despite this, there are few labels to identify which foods have been altered. "Any politician or scientist who tells you these products are safe is either very stupid or lying," said Suzuki. "The experiments have simply not been done." In recent months, the potential ill-effects of genetically altered foods has become a hot potato for health officials around the world.
...Suzuki called for a moratorium on genetically modified foods until more is known about the long-term health effects. In the meantime, he wants Canadians to demand mandatory labelling for altered foods.
Copyright 1999 Newspaper Publishing PLC The Independent (London)
GM Firms Are Sued for Millions
by Oliver Tickell
TOP LAW firms in the United States and Britain are to launch a series of class actions next month in which they will demand "hundreds of millions of dollars" in damages from the principal companies involved in the production of genetically modified (GM) seeds and food crops.
Targets of the actions, which are to be taken on behalf of farmers in the United States, the European Union, Central America and India, are likely to include Monsanto, Du Pont, AstraZeneca, Novartis and Agr-Evo.
In a private meeting in London this week, American lawyers and senior partners at the British law firm Mishcon de Reya discussed the action with representatives of the Soil Association, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Christian Aid, the Confederation of European Small Farmers (CPE), individual farmers and farmers' organisations from the US, Panama, and India.
The first of the actions will be launched in US courts in mid-November. They will allege "anti-competitive behaviour" in the seed market, which is dominated by a small number of companies, in violation of "anti-trust" or monopoly laws. They will also cite "questionable corporate behaviour" in pushing forward the rapid introduction of GM foods in the absence of clear data to prove their safety.
"There is the question of whether there is a collusive aspect of the behaviour of the companies to co-ordinate a joint control of over the entirety of food production," said Michael Hausfeld of the Washington DC-based lawyers Cohen, Millstein, Hausfeld and Toll (CMHT), who was at the meeting.
"And there is the question of whether or not there was a concerted effort to knowingly but prematurely force the commercialisation of GM foods when there was information that the companies knew, or should have known, that the safety of the foods was inconclusive. This would include charges of possible undue influence on legislators and regulators," Mr Hausfeld said.
As well as seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, Mr Hausfeld indicated, his clients also wished to put the deployment of GM foods on hold until their safety was scientifically proven, and to establish legal liability where farmers were burdened with unmarketable crops that were either grown from GM seed or contaminated with GM material from neighbouring fields.
One key issue will be the principle, backed by the US government, that GM foods are "substantially equivalent" to non-GM foods and consequently do not need to be tested for their safety. The idea has now been challenged by numerous scientists who say that experiments that would justify the "substantial equivalence" of GM foods have not been done.
CMHT has participated in recent anti-trust actions that have won damages exceeding $ 1bn. These include a case brought against market makers on the Nasdaq stock exchange which won a record $ 1,027m (pounds 622m) in damages. Another action, over price-fixing, is underway against the chemical companies Hoffman La Roche, Rhone Poulenc and BASF,.
Following the launch of the US cases, further actions are planned under competition law, Mishcon de Reya said. Michael Cover, one of the firm's partners, said: "Our main focus will be to seek damages under UK and EU competition law. We will specifically be looking at agreements to conduct anti-competitive practices and abuse of dominant positions in the market place, forbidden under articles 81 and 82 of the Amsterdam Treaty (which came into force this year)."
Worry over GMO food slowly growing in Japan
04:42 a.m. Oct 28, 1999 Eastern
By Aya Takada
TOKYO, Oct 28 (Reuters) - When children in the Japanese city of Kawagoe on Tokyo's outskirts sit down for their school lunch, nothing on their plate must contain genetically changed food, local officials have ruled. The decision, which follows a petition from parents, reflects a slowly growing controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that has led seven other Japanese local governments to also eliminate genetically modified (or GM) foods from school meals. An education committee in Kawagoe City, which daily provides meals to about 28,000 students in 56 local schools, basically selects home-grown farm products for the meals, because genetic engineering technology is not used in domestic farming.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
Corn Growers Publish Results of Elevator Survey as Part of Broader Program on GMO Alternatives Over 700 Grain Elevators Surveyed to Question Delivery Conditions
October 26, 1999
TULSA, Okla., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation
... the ACGA surveyed over 724 grain elevators in six of the major corn producing states and listed those grain elevators on their web site. Included in the listing are any conditions the elevators have attached to the delivery of non-GMOs, such as whether the crop needs to be certified that it is GMO free, if the elevator will segregate the crop, and if farmers must schedule delivery of their non-GMOs.
The survey showed 91.4% of the elevators are not segregating GMO from non-GMO corn, only 9.7% are asking for some sort of a certificate to verify the corn as non-GMO and 9.5% are scheduling delivery.
American Corn Growers Association www.acga.org/
The Farmer's Guardian Oct 15th 99, UK
GM free feed cannot meet rising demand.
There is insufficient non-genetically modified soya or derived products available on the international market to met growing demand for GM free animal feed, according to [National Farmers Union]'s Dr Vernon Barber.
As of 10/18 anyone can participate in a poll undertaken by TIME on whether you like GM food or not. It may be worth telling your friends so they can cast their votes.
Current results are accessible via a link on the same page.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is compiled for educational use only.
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