Genetically Engineered Bacteria Approved by EPA in USA
On Tuesday, September 16th, EPA signed a Consent Order with Research
of St. Joseph MO, which allows commercial produciton (500,00 lbs) of
Rhizobium meliloti strain RMBPC-2.
This is a GE strain of nitogen-fixing bacteria designed to be added to
alfalfa seed to increase alfalfa crop yield. In addition to extra
of the gene controlling nitrogen fixation it also contains a gene
conferring resistance to streptomycin and spectinomycin.
This marks the first approval under the Toxic Substances Control Act for
commercial use of an intergeneric microorganism in the environment, and
such it sets precedent.
Co-op in Japan labels non-genetically engineered foods
Nikkei English News via Individual Inc. : Shutoken Co-op Consumers'
Co-operative Union in Japan has started placing labels on food items that
include no ingredients made by genetic engineering. The new system covers
17 items, including shoyu, miso and tofu, distributed by the union, which
covers 14 co-operatives in the Tokyo area. The move follows increased
concern among co-op members about food safety. >Shutoken Co-op plans to
expand the number of foods carrying the special label.
Guardian article on Monsanto strategy
The Guardian Wed, Sep 17 1997
IT'S EASY to miss even the biggest newspaper ads, when you're not looking
out for them. The three pages in the middle of yesterday's Financial
devoted to the corporate de-merger of a chemical company called Monsanto
were not exactly riveting, even for many readers of the FT. But this was
one advertisement we could ill-afford to ignore. It is one of the few
public indications of the opening of a new chapter in the world's
history. ... Monsanto has embarked on one of the most extraordinary and
ambitious corporate strategies ever launched.
The story begins simply enough, with a single chemical. Glyphosate, sold
farmers and gardeners as "Roundup", is the world's biggest-selling
herbicide. Last year, it earned Monsanto nearly $1.5 billion. But the
company's patent on Roundup runs out in the year 2000. Far from sowing
corporate catastrophe, however, this event seems likely only to enhance
Monsanto's market value. For the past 10 years it has cleverly been
developing a range of new crops, genetically engineered to resist
glyphosate. Spraying them with Roundup does them no harm, but destroys
the weeds that compete. New patent legislation in Europe and the US
Monsanto to secure exclusive rights to their production. The first
"Roundup-Ready" plant Monsanto released was a genetically engineered soya
bean. Between 50 and 60 per cent of processed foods contain soya, so the
potential market is enormous.
As the new beans were snapped up by growers in the US, Monsanto began an
extraordinary round of acquisitions, buying shares in seed and
biotechnology companies worth nearly $2 billion in the past 18 months
alone. Among its purchases are companies which produce the famous
"Flavr-savr" tomato, own the US patent on all genetic manipulations of
cotton, and control around 35 per cent of the germlines of American
Monsanto is now experimenting with new rice, maize, potato, sugarbeet,
rape and cotton varieties. It has suggested that within a few years all
the major staple crops on Earth should be genetically engineered. The new
products are so attractive to many farmers that the company has managed
get them to sign away their future rights to the seed they grow, and
Monsanto to inspect their fields whenever it wants.
Monsanto's new crops could not have become commercially viable without
major legislative change. ... Despite significant public opposition, in
July Europabio managed to persuade the European Parliament to adopt a
directive, allowing companies to patent manipulated plants and animals.
Last week, the European Commission announced that it would force
Italy and Luxembourg to repeal their laws banning the import of
genetically engineered maize.
In the United States a Monsanto vice-president is, according to the St
Louis Post, a "top candidate" to become Commissioner of the Food and
Administration (FDA), which regulates the food industry. Researchers and
lawyers from Monsanto already occupy important posts in the FDA. The
administration has approved some of the company's most controversial
products, including the artificial sweetener aspartame and an injectable
growth hormone for cattle. Only the New York Attorney General's office
taken the company to task, forcing it to withdraw adverts claiming that
Roundup is biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
But Monsanto has been most successful when appealing to multilateral
bodies. Last month, the World Trade Organisation confirmed its ruling
the European Union can no longer exclude meat and milk from cattle
with bovine growth hormone, despite the protests of farmers, retailers
consumers. As Scientific American magazine claimed, Monsanto's clinical
trials of the drug were incompletely analysed, obscuring the fact that
increases the number of infected udder cells in cows by about 20 per
Biotech firms are now trying to persuade the World Trade Organisation to
forbid the labelling of genetically engineered foods. Any country whose
retailers tell consumers what they are eating would be subject to
With astonishing rapidity, a tiny handful of companies is coming to
the global development, production, processing and marketing of our most
fundamental commodity: food. The power and strategic control they are
amassing will make the oil industry look like a cornershop.
More successfully than any other lobby, they are inhibiting the two
remaining means of public restraint on their activities: government
regulation and genuine consumer choice. All this will be a big pill for
public to swallow, which is why we'll be seeing a lot more of Monsanto
over the next few weeks. It has just engaged an advertising agency for a
major new "consultative" campaign - aimed at us this time, not just the
City. It deserves our full attention. This may be the first and the last
chance we'll get to tell the biotechnology companies what we think about
their re-engineering: of both the stuff of life itself and the means by
which it reaches us
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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