--Dan Worley in Sunny Puerto Rico--
>Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 16:22:11 -0500
>From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
>Subject: GE News
>1. Genetic engineering sement on NBC
>Several people have asked about the NBC special on genetic engineering
>March 23, 1998. It was only a few minutes and it was 99% promotional of
>biotechnology. The whole segment spoke of the fanciful wonders of genetic
>engineering with very little reference to the GE foods already on the
>market, and the dangers already here.
>It is ironic that the two stories that preceeded the genetic engineering
>segment involved the
>dangers of pesticides as the majority of genetically engineered foods now
>on the market are pesticide tolerant, and allow farmers to use more
>pesticides. One of the two segments was on mutated frogs that are turning
>up all over the country due peticides or herbicides seeping into the
>water. The other story was about child labour in the USA, and on children
>working on farms and getting sick and even dying from exposure to
>Here is a transcript by Renu Namjoshi of the genetic engineering segment on
>NBC Nightly news March 23, 1998:
>Now to the revolution that could change your diet . Companies using state
>of the art science are working to change foods that we love to eat. But is
>Imagine meat nearly fat free thanks to special animal feed. Cooking oil
>that is so healthy you could gorge on fried food and never worry about
>cholesterol. Corn that could actually fight against osteoporosis.
>All could be just a few years away. How? Through the new science of Genetic
>Engineering - manipulating genes and DNA that governs the growth of every
>Rob Frazer of Monsanto... "the field is poised for a real breakthrough".
>Ed Coco with Dupont.. " the future because of the benefits of biotechnology
>is going to be unlimited".
>And its already happened. Half of the nations soy bean crop is now
>genetically altered so that plants will no longer wilt like this after
>fields have been treated with weed killer. Potato plants altered to resist
>attack by bugs.
> And Dupont is experimenting with a new genetically engineered meat
>substitute made from soy bean protein to prepare meatless hotdogs that
>taste like the real thing. These are meatballs without meat, chicken
>nuggets without chicken, stir fry and barbecue made from soy protein too.
>And yogurt substitute free of milk and lactic acid.
>Ed Coco with Dupont.. " we will be able to produce a lot of things that are
>very very beneficial to diet and health and I think it is very exciting.
>There is even research into changing food to fight disease. Producing foods
>that could fortify our bodies defenses against cancer or modifying corn to
>make amino acids that fight osteoporosis and more.
>Rob Frazer of Monsanto... "we will be able to add high level of vitamins to
>plants and will be able to take that instead of a pill". Or you will have,
>you know, a compound in a plant that will fight cardio vascular disease.
>But should companies have to disclose on a label if food has been
>There have been experiments that failed. For instance, one company sliced
>genes from the Brazil nut and got a substance that caused terrible
>But companies say piling regulation on a field that is still in its infancy
>could stifle research.
>Left to develop some believe genetic engineering, once considered the stuff
>of science fiction, will eventually revolutionize much of what we eat.
>Independent (London, UK) Sunday, March 22nd, 1998
>'TERMINATOR' SEEDS THREATEN A BARREN FUTURE FOR FARMERS by Wayne Brittenden
>THE ancient right of farmers to save their seed and breed their plants may
>soon become a thing of the past. "Terminator" seeds, deliberately disabled
>from germinating when replanted, are threatening a farming practice as old
>as agriculture itself.
>Three weeks ago one of the most far-reaching patents ever granted went to
>the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Delta and Pine, an American
>seed company. They have developed a genetic technique that can prevent the
>seed from germinating when replanted. The new development could force
>farmers back into the seed shop for a fresh supply every year, and the
>company has the exclusive right to issue or deny licences.
>So far the technique has only worked on cotton and tobacco seeds, but
>scientists believe that within a few years crucial crops like wheat, rice
>and soya beans - staples for three-quarters of the world's poor - may also
>be under the control of international agribusiness. Second and Third World
>countries are those most likely to be targeted and it is estimated that up
>to 1.4 billion farming families worldwide will be at risk.
>At the same time governments are expected to come under intense pressure to
>adopt the new technique and perhaps even outlaw farmer-to-farmer exchange.
>University research departments short of money will be among the
>beneficiaries of the ensuing corporate dollars.
>Existing seed banks carefully developed by farmers may also become
>vulnerable. Some scientists predict the development of a virus that could
>disable all non-terminator seeds.
>"This is perfectly possible," said Dr Owain Williams, of the Gaia
>Foundation, which works with indigenous peoples around the world. "Already
>bacteria have been developed for fixing nitrogen into corn roots, so why
>not a killer bacteria?"
>Agribusiness companies insist that the new technique means an incentive to
>invest in the world's most important food crops, and will benefit poor
>populations with desperately needed research. While admitting that seed
>prices will rise, the corporations argue that farmers will be free to
>choose the terminator seeds or publicly bred varieties.
>03/23/98 Panel may challenge planned U.S. organic rules, By Julie Vorman
> WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Agriculture Department's plan to define
>organic food may be challenged in court for ignoring the recommendations of
>an organic-industry panel created by Congress, a panel member said Monday.
> The USDA's proposed organic rules, issued last December, unleashed a
>tidal wave of criticism from organic farmers and consumers for allowing the
>use of genetically modified seeds, human sewage sludge as fertilizer and
> Some organic farmers contend the proposed rules are designed to
>accommodate agribusiness interests, which are eager to expand into the
>fast-growing $3.5 billion organic industry by using technology and cheap
> To date, more than 23,000 individuals and organizations have commented on
>the proposed rules, a record for a USDA rulemaking. The size of the
>response virtually guarantees that no final rules will emerge in 1998,
>according to industry officials.
> ``We feel that we have statutory authority over certain organic food
>standards and that the USDA has overstepped its authority,'' Kathleen
>Merrigan, a member of the National Organic Standards Board, said.
> Merrigan said the board, created by Congress in 1990 to create a list of
>farming practices that constitute organic production, would send a letter
>to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman urging him to ``come to terms about
>how this whole decision-making process will be.''
> The board contends that the USDA cannot add to or delete from the panel's
>list of acceptable practices. If the USDA does not ban the use of sewage
>sludge, irradiation and gentically altered seeds to match board standards,
>``I imagine there will be litigation filed,'' Merrigan said in an interview.
>Message from from Joe Cummins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Genetics,
>University of Western Ontario <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
>"The following abstract of an article in Nature Biotechnology raises
>important issues for organic agriculture. Monsanto is now using
>"synthetic" genes to beat their patent commitments. USDA believes that
>genetic engineering can be ruled organic. The use of synthetic genes should
>be raised loud and clear in the briefs to USDA. By the way "synthetic"
>genes are made in the chemical laboratory. They can be made with code words
>"identical" to genes in organisms but there are a number of subtle
>modifications in living organisms that make the genes unique to organisms.
>Truly synthetic genes can be made which mimic the natural products. Such
>genes are dreadfully dangerous. The Judge dealing with the case must have
>been terribly stupid, or perhaps just evil."
>This is the article Dr. Cummins is referring to:
>Nature Biotechnology, Business & Regulatory News Volume 16
>Number 3 - March 1998
>Monsanto bypasses Mycogen with Bt synthetic genes
>A Delaware US Federal Court has ruled that by selling products genetically
>engineered with a synthetic form of insecticidal Bacillus thuringiensis
>(Bt) crystal-protein gene, Monsanto (St. Louis, MO) and its partners are
>not infringing on two patents held by Mycogen (San Diego, CA) that describe
>a method for making synthetic forms of the gene. Monsanto, DeKalb Genetics
>(DeKalb, IL), and Delta & Pine Land (Scott, MO) can sell Bollgard Bt
>cotton, YieldGard corn, and New Leaf potato seed, engineered with a
>synthetic Bt crystal-protein gene, without paying Mycogen royalties
>Richard Wolfson, PhD
>Consumer Right to Know Campaign,
>for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
>Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
>500 Wilbrod Street
>Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
>tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596
>Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
>contains more information on genetic engineering as well as
>previous genetic engineering news items
>Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months
>See website for details.
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