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Date: Tue, 11 Aug 1998 10:42:38 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: GE News
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Brit. Minister rejects calls for genetic food ban
Immune system damage in tests
By Tim Radford, Science Editor
Guardian (london) Tuesday August 11, 1998
The row over genetically engineered foods took a new twist yesterday as the
Government refused to ban them after tests showed they could damage the
immune systems of rats and stunt their growth.
The Tory health spokesman, Alan Duncan, yesterday talked of "massive
consumer suspicion" after a television programme last night reported that
rats at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen had eaten genetically
modified potatoes for 100 days, and suffered stunted growth and damage to
their immune systems - and questioned the safety of other products.
The Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, Norman Baker, said the results
"show that we have become the guinea pigs in a gigantic experiment".
The food minister, Jeff Rooker, turned down calls for an immediate ban but
insisted that the Government would have an "ultra-cautionary" approach.
However, Labour MP Ian Gibson, a member of the Commons Science and
Technology Committee, said he was worried by the findings of the Rowett
Institute and called on the Government to act. Dr Gibson said ministers
should consider calling a moratorium on the sale of
genetically modified (GM) products while more tests were carried out.
Derek Burke, a former government adviser on food technology, said calls for
a moratorium on GM foods were "an over-reaction."
Philip James, director of the Rowett Institute, said the experiment was
only one of many specifically concerned with the safety of potential new
foods, none of which were available commercially.
There are only four genetically modified foods on sale in Britain - tomato
paste, vegetarian cheese, maize and soya.
Although environmentalists are worried about the threat of "superweeds",
triggered by the arrival of herbicide-resistant crops, the latest row is
over research into the genes that naturally protect crops from attack by
insects and worms. Arpad Pusztai of the Rowett Institute took a genetically
engineered potato containing a protein from a South American bean, and fed
it to rats in the laboratory.
Later, he told the World In Action TV programme: "We are assured this is
absolutely safe, and that no conceivable harm could come to us from eating
it. But if you gave me the choice now, I wouldn't eat it."
Thanks to Eckart Stein <email@example.com> for posting this:
The Gene Exchange Summer 1998
(Published by the Union of Concerned Scientists)
A Public Voice on Biotechnology and Agriculture
Mississippi Seed Arbitration Council Rules Against Monsanto
State board finds Roundup Ready cotton failed to meet advertised claims
The Mississippi Seed Arbitration Council ruled that Monsanto's Roundup
Ready cotton failed to perform as advertised last year and recommended
payments of nearly $2 million to three cotton farmers who suffered severe
losses. The Council rejected Monsanto's assertion that unusual weather
caused yields to fall and agreed instead with the farmers that the
herbicide Roundup Ultra was responsible. The company had advertised that
the engineered cotton would resist the toxic effects of Roundup Ultra, a
glyphosate-based weed killer, as long as farmers followed label directions.
The Council ruling was the culmination of a state-mandated process that
farmers must go through before they can sue companies for putative losses
due to defective products. Last fall, 54 cotton growers filed for
arbitration with the Council over failure of the new cotton. Soon
thereafter, Monsanto began settling with farmers--reportedly paying out
millions of dollars in Mississippi and neighboring states. However, three
growers refused the company's offers and argued for higher compensation in
a May hearing before the Arbitration Council. The board issued its
nonbinding decision on June 12, giving farmers and the companies 30 days to
decide whether to accept the recommended settlement.
Scientists are not yet certain why Roundup Ready cotton failed in so many
Mississippi Delta fields. Monsanto is speculating that the cool, wet spring
weather in the Delta slowed cotton growth--and the breakdown of glyphosate
which is necessary to avoid its toxic effects. Spraying every 10 days, as
the herbicide label allowed, probably meant that the engineered cotton was
exposed to more glyphosate than it could effectively degrade. The company
has since changed the label to caution growers to allow a certain amount of
growth between sprays.
The company has been criticized by farmers and scientists alike for rushing
the product to market without adequate testing.
Sources: Miss. Dept. Ag. and Commerce, Seed Arbitration Council,
Recommendation of settlement: Re-Thom Farms, Romar Farms, and Talley
Planting Co. v. Delta and Pine Land, Monsanto, and Paymaster Technology,
6/12/98; "Monsanto settles genetic seed complaint," N.Y. Times, p. D2,
3/23/98; 5/5/98, 5/6/98, 6/15/98 conversations with G. Barton, Monsanto; R.
McCarty, Miss. Bur. Plant Industry; C. Merkel and Steve Cox, Merkel and
Cocke law firm; J. Smith, Delta Res. and Ext. Center.
Genetically Modified Spuds Deemed Risky --- Caused Problems in Rats
L O N D O N, Aug. 10, 1998
Genetically modified potatoes can damage the immune systems of rats,
according to British research released today that calls into question the
safety of the new food technology. Research showed that rats suffered
from slightly stunted growth and were more likely to be vulnerable to
Professor Arpad Puztai of Aberdeen’s Rowett Institute said he had fed five
rats on genetically modified potatoes that carried genes from the snowdrop
and jackbean for 110 days—equivalent to 10 years in human terms. His
research showed that the rats suffered from slightly stunted growth and
were more likely to be vulnerable to disease.
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
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