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From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: LEGAL ACTION AGAINST USA EPA OVER GE CROPS
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 12:47:31 -0400
EPA ACTION THREATENS FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Formal legal petition charges EPA with illegal and gross negligence in
failure to adequately regulate genetically engineered plants
Washington D.C., September 16, 1997 - The US Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) was charged with gross negligence over its approval of
genetically engineered plants in a petition filed today by a coalition
of environmental, farming and scientific organisations.
Greenpeace International, the International Federation of Organic
Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Sierra Club, the Centre for
International Technology Assessment in Washington, DC, the Institute
for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis, the National
Coalition for Mis-use of Pesticide were among the 31 groups which
filed a formal legal petition to the EPA.
This is the first step according to US law in filing litigation
against a US government agency in the Federal Court. Petitioners
demand that the EPA withdraw the approval of transgenic plants
carrying the genetic code from a soil bacterium called Bacillus
Thuringiensis and abstain from any new registration of such plants.
The petitioners will take the EPA to the US Federal District Court if
the agency does not react to their legal petition within 90 days.
"EPA's approvals are in clear violation of Federal environmental and
agricultural and procedural laws," said International Center of
Technology Assessment attorney Andrew Kimbrell, "and no court in this
country will let them get away with that".
Petitioners allege that, in approving transgenic plants carrying the
Bacillus Thuringiensis (B.t.) toxin, the EPA is seriously threatening
the future of organic agriculture and jeopardizing the genetic variety
of major food crops, such as corn, potatoes and tomatoes.
Petitioners also charge that EPA's actions violate numerous federal
laws and regulations and will cause significant human health and
environmental problems (1).
Natural strains of B.t. have been used as a biological pesticide for
nearly forty years to protect crops, vegetables and forests without
any known detrimental effects on the environment or human health. B.t.
sprays today are the single most important bio-pesticide on the market
with an annual overturn of over 60 million dollars in the US alone.
They are esspecially important to organic farmers and integrated pest
management programs (IPM).
Genetic engineers have transferred parts of the B.t. gene into a
variety of plants such as corn, potato, rice, rapeseed, eggplant,
grape, tomato, cranberry, cotton, apple, poplar, walnut and tobacco.
As these plants permanently produce high doses of the B.t. toxin in
all their cells, the manipulation makes them highly pest-resistant.
Major multinational chemical and genetic engineering companies
including Monsanto, Novartis, AgrEvo and Pioneer have now started to
commercialize such transgenic B.t.-plants. Transgenic B.t.-cotton,
-corn and -potatoes have been planted in the range of 3 million acres
(1,2 million hectares) in the US this year.
Large scale use of these transgenic B.t. plants is likely to create
resistance within the populations of the targetted insects and thus
create the need for new chemical or biotechnological pesticides - a
well known effect with many chemical insecticides. This short term
strategy of the agrochemical industry will also render the biological
B.t. sprays useless within a short time and leave organic farmers with
no biological alternative.
"Chemical companies commercializing transgenic B.t. plants are waging
an undeclared war against sustainable farming practices," stated
Benedikt Haerlin, Greenpeace International's Coordinator on Genetic
Engineering. "Regulators around the world are well aware of this
problem, but have not dared to draw the necessary conclusions. Instead
they have agreed to the thoroughly inadequate voluntary "resistance
management" presented by the chemical industry."
In addition, scientific research on the environmental effects of
transgenic B.t. plants indicate that it may also make the plants toxic
to non-target organisms and to predators of the target-insects. This
results from the fact that the genetically engineered, truncated
version of the B.t. toxins will be less specific and the toxins will
persist in the soil for longer and in higher doses.
Finally the transfer of the engineered B.t. genes to wild relatives of
the transgenic plants through cross pollination can have unpredictable
and potentially environmentally-disastrous consequences, especially in
the countries where these species originate. It could result in the
irreversible reduction and genetic pollution of the environment.and of
someof the world's most important food crops.
1. The petition alleges breaches of the National Environmental Policy
Act where the EPA failed to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement
which it is required to do so ; the Administrative Proceedure Act
where other federal agencies and scientists should have been consulted
but the EPA failed to do so; and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide
and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) where it must be proved that plant
pesticides will only be approved if it can be determined they will not
cause harm. The EPA's and Novartis's own data admits to herbicide
resistance becoming an issue.
Richard Wolfson, PhD
Campaign for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods
Natural Law Party, 500 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
Tel. 613-565-8517 Fax. 613-565-6546
Our website is: http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
It now contains previous biotech articles from Alive, articles
from Joe Cummins and John Fagan, other GE website links, etc.
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