Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Date: Sat, 8 Aug 1998 10:37:01 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
Subject: press release on Canadian Canola problems
Press release from: "NLP Wessex" <firstname.lastname@example.org> 3 August 1998
Dorset Farmers advised to avoid Genetically Modified Oilseed Rape
GM Oilseed rape results reveal poor performance
The Natural Law Party is advising farmers in Dorset that they should avoid
growing genetically modified oilseed rape next year, in the event that
government consent for the crop is granted. The Natural Law Party has
discovered results of trials in Canada showing genetically modified (GM)
varieties are being out-performed by conventional non-modified varieties,
despite being approved for official seed registration lists.
Information obtained by the Natural Law Party confirms that GM oilseed rape
has not been scoring high enough points in standard performance tests to
get onto officially approved seed lists in Canada. In order to overcome
this problem the approval committee concerned has had to change the scoring
system, and has only succeeded in getting approval for GM rape varieties by
awarding special bonus points which do not relate to crop output.
The Natural Law Party has criticised the Canadian authorities for altering
the rules in order to artificially promote GM products when they are
agronomically inferior to non-modified varieties, particularly when farmers
rely on the official listings for guidance on which crops to grow.
Harvested GM oilseed rape in Canada is showing falls in yields of up to 21%
compared to traditional varieties.
According to Mark Griffiths, Leader of the Wessex Natural Law Party and NLP
national Environment spokesman,"This is a disgraceful state of affairs.
Farmers in Dorset and other arable areas of the UK are being pressurised by
biotechnology companies to follow their colleagues in North America and
plunge into growing GM crops. They are claiming that this is necessary for
UK agriculture to remain competitive on world markets. The evidence in this
case is that exactly the opposite it is true. The official approvals
system is being manipulated to cover this up."
Testing system doctored to suit GM crops
In order to be included in approved seed lists in Canada oilseed rape
varieties are evaluated on the basis of their agronomic value. Merit scores
are awarded for yield, disease resistance, earliness etc. To be accepted
varieties have to score more than 108 points. In this case GM oilseed rape
varieties were found by the approval committee to be "not agronomically as
good as the check cultivars" and failed to score the necessary points.
However, the committee (which includes representatives from plant breeders
and seed growers) decided to change the scoring system to accommodate the
GM varieties and awarded them additional bonus points. This extra score
allowed a number of Liberty Link cultivars (bred by AgrEvo) and one Round
Up Ready cultivar (bred by Monsanto) to be registered in 1995.
The official reason given for changing the system was "the demand and
desirability of the herbicide tolerant trait" for which the varieties had
been genetically engineered. However, herbicide tolerant crops can lead to
considerable rotation management problems, particularly in relation to the
control of subsequent herbicide tolerant 'volunteers' and 'superweeds'.
AgrEvo has already admitted this will lead to farmers becoming reliant on a
wider range of their herbicides in the longer term.
GM varieties lose farmers money
Earlier this year a director of the Ontario Canola (Rape) Growers
Association revealed that yields on his farm from Monsanto's Round Up
Ready rape seed had fallen to 2.2t/ha compared with a 2.6 - 2.8/ha average
for traditional varieties, with no savings in net costs.
"The actual performance of these crops exposes the misleading and entirely
subjective basis on which the seed approval system for GM rape has itself
been modified. Farmers are being hit by this misinformation directly where
it hurts most - in their pockets," adds Mr Griffiths.
Food safety dangers
However, the wider implications of the situation are even more serious
believes a concerned Mr Griffiths: "What this experience reveals is that
the biotechnology 'experts' are not in control of their science. By
engineering one trait they are inadvertently disrupting other aspects of
the plant's functioning, which has lead to lower yields in this particular
case. But how long will it be before the inherently random techniques used
in this technology also trigger a change in plant gene expression which is
damaging to human health? The whole approach is 'suck it and see' and
unscientific, and that is completely unacceptable when we are dealing with
global food security."
The UK government is currently deliberating whether or not to allow the
first GM oilseed rape crops to be grown in Britain in 1999. The Natural
Law Party, now established in over 70 countries around the world (including
all 15 EU nations), is seeking a global ban on genetically modified food
because of the uncontainable dangers to human health and the environment.
Notes for Editors:
1.. More information on the dangers of genetically engineered food and
agronomic problems of GM crops is available from the Wessex Natural Law
Party Web site at www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex .
2.. Mark Griffiths was NLP candidate for West Dorset in the 1997
General Election, and is a Chartered Surveyor with over 20 years
agricultural land management experience in the UK and overseas. He can be
contacted on 01962 852122.
3.. Details of rape approvals in Canada relate to the activities of the
Western Canada Canola and Rapeseed Recommending Committee (WCC/RRC),
reported at a workshop meeting of FACTT 11th December 1997.
FACTT (Familiarisation and Acceptance of Crops incorporating Transgenic
Technology) is a body funded by the European Commission and partner
organisations in the agricultural sector. Plant Genetic Systems (Belgium),
a subsidiary of European biotechnology and agro-chemical company AgrEvo, is
the co-ordinator of FACTT. FACTT has a total budget of 3.6 ECU of which
1.6 million is provided by the Commission.
FACTT can be contacted in the UK through Dr Paul Meakin, Home Grown Cereals
Authority, 0171 263 3391.
4.. Ralph Baumlisberger, Director of the Ontario Canola Growers
Association, reported reduced GM oilseed rape yields in the UK's "Farmers
Weekly", 10 April 1998 (p.14).
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.
--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command