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Date: Sat, 15 Aug 1998 10:41:21 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
See the following website for an article "Genetically-Altered Crops Can
Produce Tough, Hard-To-Kill Weeds"
Food row firm's law threat to TV show
The Scotsman Aug 15, 1998
THE biotechnology giant [ Monsanto ] last night threatened legal action
against the makers of the World in Action television programme over claims
made in a documentary about genetically modified food.
The United States company, which is at the forefront of agricultural
bio-engineering designed to develop crops capable of greater resistance to
pests and diseases, claims it was defamed.
It is accusing the programme's makers of misleading the public by not
properly checking the facts before screening the documentary.
Dr Arpad Pusztai, the principal scientific officer at the independent
Rowett Institute, near Aberdeen, had claimed in Monday's World in Action
that genetically modified potatoes had damaged rats' immune systems and
affected their growth.
It later emerged that Dr Pusztai had misinterpreted data and based his
claims on the results of feeding rats with potatoes mixed with a toxic
The research centre apologised for the "misleading information" and Dr
Pusztai was suspended.
However, the producers of Granada Television's World in Action stood by the
programme, claiming that the research had not been misrepresented and that
interviews with other media had given rise to Dr Pusztai's dismissal. ....
Earlier this year Monsanto accused the Prince of Wales of being "out of
touch" after he criticised genetic engineering and warned it was taking
mankind "into realms that
belong to God and God alone."
Last month the GBP 22 billion, St Louis-based company bought Plant Breeding
International Cambridge, one of Britain's leading plant breeding and
research firms, for GBP 320 million.
Monsanto has also started a GBP 1 million campaign to promote genetically
modified foods in the
Thanks to MichaelP <papadop@PEAK.ORG> for forwarding this:
Guardian Weekly: 28 September 1998
Watch those beans by George Monbiot
IT'S EASY to miss even the biggest newspaper ads when you're not looking
out for them. The three pages in Britain's Financial Times devoted to the
corporate de-merger of a chemical company called Monsanto were not exactly
riveting, but could not be ignored. It is one of the few public indications
of a new chapter in the world's economic history.
The publicity, aimed at shareholders and corporate customers, announced
that Monsanto is to split into two firms, to pursue "applied chemistry" and
"life sciences". The life-science division will "provide better food,
better nutrition, and better health for all people". With this, 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 as
"Roundup", is the world's biggest-selling herbicide. Last year, it earned
Monsanto nearly $1.5 billion, but its patent on Roundup runs out in 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 all the weeds that compete. New patent legislation in Europe and
the United States allows Monsanto to secure exclusive rights to their
production. The first "Roundup-Ready" plant that 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.
Alarmed at possible increases in the use of herbicides, as well as the
health effects of genetically engineered crops in general,
environmentalists and consumer groups in Europe started calling for
products containing the new beans to be clearly labelled. But in the US -
from where most of Britain's soya comes - Monsanto insisted that it would
be impossible to keep Roundup-Ready beans apart from ordinary ones. About
15 per cent of this year's US crop is Roundup-Ready: the chances are that
nearly all of us will soon be consuming manipulated soya beans every week.
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 that 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 maize.
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 to
get them to sign away their future rights to the seed they grow, and allow
Monsanto to inspect their fields whenever it wants.
Monsanto's new crops could not have become commercially viable without
major legislative change. As members of the trade lobby Europabio, Monsanto
and the other big biotech companies have mastered the legal climate in
which they operate. Despite significant public opposition, Europabio in
July managed to persuade the European Parliament to adopt a new directive,
allowing companies to patent manipulated plants and animals. Last week, the
European Commission announced that it would force Austria, Italy and
Luxembourg to repeal their laws banning the import of genetically
In the US a Monsanto vice-president is reportedly a "top candidate" to
become commissioner of the food and drug administration, which regulates
the food industry. Researchers and lawyers from Monsanto already occupy
important posts in the FDA. It 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 has 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 multi-lateral
bodies. Last month, the WTO confirmed its ruling that the European Union
can no longer exclude meat and milk from cattle treated with bovine growth
hormone, despite the protests of farmers, retailers and consumers.
As Scientific American magazine claimed, Monsanto's trials were
incompletely analysed, obscuring the fact that it increases infected udder
cells in cows by about 20 per cent. Biotech firms are now trying to
persuade the WTO to forbid the labelling of genetically engineered foods.
Any country whose retailers tell consumers what they are eating would be
subject to punitive sanctions.
With astonishing rapidity, a tiny handful of companies is coming to govern
the global development, production, processing and marketing of our most
fundamental commodity - food.
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--
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