>Date: Wed, 19 Aug 1998 16:13:55 -0500
>From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: GE News
>London TIMES August 17 1998 BRITAIN
>Samples could be worth millions if they are proven to help in treatment of
>cancer, writes Nick Nuttall
>Give us back our precious fungi, Thais urge university
>A BRITISH university is being accused of "biopiracy" after refusing to
>return up to 200 strains of marine fungi discovered in the Far East.
>The fungi, collected from floating wood, mangrove swamps and coastal waters
>around Thailand, are thought to carry promising compounds for treating
>everything from Aids to cancer and could be worth millions of pounds.
>British scientists working for the Thai Government yesterday accused
>Portsmouth University of breaking wildlife rules enshrined at the Rio
>Convention on Biodiversity. Under agreements signed by John Major and other
>world leaders at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, taking wild plants, animals and
>other lifeforms without permission is forbidden.
>Nigel Hywel-Jones, of the Biotech Institute, which is part of the Ministry
>of Science, Technology and the Environment in Bangkok, said yesterday: "We
>had a gentleman's agreement with the University of Portsmouth. Nothing was
>written down. I have always operated this way with academia. But they seem
>to be playing by different rules and we are dismayed."
>[Biopiracy has to do with the patenting of genes from third world
>countries, which are then used to develop pharmaceuticals and other
>products that bring huge profits to multi-national corporations, with
>little funds if any going back to the country of origin]
>New Scientist August 15, 1998
>SECTION: This Week, Pg. 5
>2) Spud U dislike
> BYLINE: Andy Coghlan, Kurt Kleiner
> HIGHLIGHT: Add a toxin to potatoes and it's no surprise they're bad news
> BODY: BACKERS of genetically engineered crops faced a fresh barrage of
>negative publicity last week, as new findings emerged linking altered
>plants with threats to human health and the environment.
>At a meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Baltimore, Allison
>Snow of Ohio State University in Columbus reported that weeds in a
>laboratory became as hardy as their natural relatives when they acquired a
>gene for herbicide resistance from neighbouring genetically engineered
>Do You Want Sour Cream With Your Vaccination?
>Mitchel L. Zoler, Philadelphia Bureau
>[Pediatric News 32(7):17, 1998. © 1998 International Medical News Group.]
>Seeking to make immunizations more acceptable and less costly, researchers
>have taken the first step toward making a vaccine that is delivered as
>little more than a light snack.
>Vaccine cuisine was shown to be feasible and immunogenic in a small study
>in which 11 people ate some raw potato that was engineered to contain an
>antigen from enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.
>The next step, already in progress, is aimed at developing edible vaccines
>for hepatitis B virus and for Norwalk virus, a common cause of infectious
>diarrhea, Dr. Carol O. Tacket, the lead clinical researcher on the project,
>told this newspaper.
>Date: Wed, 19 Aug 1998 04:56:06 +0100 (BST) X-Authentication-Warning:
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>From: allsorts <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: GE - newspaper clippings 17/8
>GE newspaper clippings
>The Telegraph 17.8.98
>Genetic engineering is not all bad news
> STONE tablet bearing cuneiform script has been unearthed in Mesopotamia.
>As far as can be ascertained, it records a fierce debate that raged about
>7,000BC on the subject of wheat breeding. On one side were those from
>Ur-peace, who argued that artificially bred wheat could only lead to
>disaster: it was unnatural, it would be vulnerable to pests, it would
>encourage population growth and it threatened the hunter-gathering way of
>life. On the other side, a spokesman for Ur plc pooh-poohed the fears and
>promised that hunter-gathering would not be threatened by the new wheat,
>which was quite safe to eat.
>We now know that both sides were half right. In a strong field, last week's
>fiasco over genetically engineered potatoes has to be a contender for the
>silliest story of the silly season so far. An elderly and distinguished
>scientist was bamboozled, probably by pressure from hysterical journalists
>desperate for a story, into claiming that he had done an experiment which
>he had not done. He has since been suspended and his institute has
>But even if he had performed the experiment, it would have proved next to
>nothing about the safety of genetic engineering as a procedure. The
>experiment was designed to discover whether potatoes into which lectin
>genes had been inserted were bad for mice. Lectin genes make lectins and
>lectins are poisons, invented over millions of years by plants for the
>express purpose of poisoning animals that tried to eat them. Ergo, the aim
>of the experiment was: if you cause a plant to make a poison, does the
>plant become poisonous?
>Of course it does. To claim that this somehow proves genetic engineering to
>be dangerous, as many journalists rushed to do, is equivalent to claiming
>that cauldrons are dangerous, because if you cook poisons in them and then
>eat the poisons, you die. Genetic engineering is as safe and as dangerous
>as the genes that are engineered. Some are safe, some are dangerous.
>SCIENTISTS are happy with such an answer; the public on the whole is happy
>with such an answer. The media, however, are not. The producers of
>late-night news shows are scouring the land daily for people with views on
>genetic engineering; but if you say "it all depends," they say "we'll call
>you back". They want black and white, red-corner-versus-blue-corner
>certainty. They want extreme views. The typical journalist's notion of
>balance is to quote an industrialist and Friends of the Earth,
>disfranchising everybody in between.
>The true argument is not between the pro- and anti-genetic engineers. Such
>people are a small and eccentric fringe and they are on the same side, the
>side of certainty. The real argument is between them and those who think
>genetically modified food is neither good nor bad, but depends on the
>context or the detail. Plants engineered with genes that make them more
>pest-resistant, more frost-resistant and more productive - and that are
>proved to be safe - promise to improve the lives of farmers, peasants and
>consumers in poor and rich countries alike. They also promise to be good
>for the environment.
>But plants engineered with genes that confer resistance to pesticides, and
>which promise to spread that resistance to weeds, or plants engineered with
>genes that make them toxic to us as well as to pests, are indeed to be
>shunned or banned. If a scientist wishes to engineer a plant so that it can
>make, say, benzene in the hope that it can compete with oil refineries as a
>source of benzene, then we should at the very least discourage him from
>using the potato lest his potatoes are mistaken for edible ones. Let him
>use a plant that is poisonous - daffodils, for instance.
>According to Stephen Nottingham, author of Eat Your Genes (Zed Books), 60
>per cent of the crop seed sold in the America will be genetically modified
>by the year 2000. That is neither a good nor a bad thing: it is just a
>thing. In some cases good, in others bad. It is time we rose up and
>rebelled against the tryanny of the media: not all grey areas are slippery
>slopes. ______________________________________________________ The
>Scientists worried by modified food risks
>By Charles Arthur and Steve Connor
>Leading British scientists are concerned about the risk to the environment
>of genetically modified (GM) crops and foods - although most would still
>eat the products - a survey by The Independent has found.
>Some fear that genes inserted into crops to confer new traits could escape
>into the wild, or even affect human health in unpredictable ways. They
>suspect that the long-term experiments necessary to assess the risks have
>not been carried out.
>"I see worries in the fact that we have the power to manipulate genes in
>ways that would be improbable or impossible through conventional
>evolution," said Colin Blakemore, Waynflete professor of physiology at
>Oxford University and president of the British Association for the
>Advancement of Science. "We shouldn't be complacent in thinking that we can
>predict the results."
>Gordon McVie, head of the Cancer Research Campaign, is also concerned. ''We
>don't know what . genetic abnormalities might be incorporated into the
>genome [the individual's DNA]. I'm more worried about humans than about the
>environment, to be honest. One of the problems is that because it's a
>long-term thing, you need to do long-term experiments."
>David Bellamy, the botanist, condemned the commercial motives behind the
>"gene revolution". It would "disenfranchise poor people from their genetic
>inheritance and their lands", and he warned: "Supercrops and superweeds
>know no boundaries".
>The Independent spoke to a broad range of scientists from a variety of
>disciplines, including biology, physics and astronomy, to ask them if they
>eat GM foods; if they have any concerns about GM foods and crops; and if
>they think the public is being well-informed.
>The inquiries followed a letter published in The Independent on Friday from
>Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary scientist, who condemned "ignorant
>hysteria over scientific matters" that led many people to question the
>safety of transgenic products.
>But The Independent's survey reveals that prominent scientists are not
>convinced that biotechnology firms are completely in control of their
>products. "I have concerns about the long-term environmental effects of
>these crops," said Susan Greenfield, a leading brain researcher at Oxford
>University. The Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees, said: "Although I would
>eat them, I think one should have some concerns."
>Tom Kirkwood, professor of biological gerontology at Manchester University,
>would eat genetically modified food, but with reservations.
>''I don't think GM food would be toxic, but I do have concerns about gene
>transfer . to other plants. I think the risks are not being properly
>assessed,'' he said.
>John Sumpter, professor of biology at Brunel University and an expert on
>chemicals in the environment that mimic female hormones, is also concerned
>about the risks to wildlife. ''Eating GM food probably would not worry me a
>great deal. My concerns are about what would happen when GM crops escape
>from fields - which they will do.''
>Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said: "I think these should proper
>safety testing, like a drug, on animals, and then on humans."
>Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, said:
>"Nothing in life is ever safe, but compared to other things we have to
>worry about - bacteria and BSE, say - the risks are tiny."
>The most assured response came from Dr Keith McCullagh, chief executive of
>British Biotech, the pharmaceuticals company. "The way in which they (GM
>foods) have been modified doesn't introduce any new hazard to human health."
>l The Women's Nutritional Advisory Service, which is opposed to GM food,
>has named 20 suppliers and retailers that actively use GM products -
>including Sainsbury's, Safeway, Somerfield, Tesco, Asda, Budgens, Kwik Save
>and Spar. It also lists 47 firms that avoid genetically modified soya - the
>most widely used GM food - including Waitrose and Iceland.
>The Independent 18.8.98; Letters replying to Richard Dawkin
>Sir: Professor Dawkins (letter, 14 August) may be right in saying that
>introducing genes from one species to another "does not inherently make it
>bad or good." However, that is beside the point. The point is that there
>could be tremendous risks involved about which we have not the slightest
>idea as yet.
>While genetic engineering may have the potential for efficient and harmless
>food production, we must beware of letting profit-oriented organisations
>take our fundamental food base into their hands to manipulate it without
>sufficient knowledge of the ecological consequences.
>The mixed blessings of poisonous agrochemicals should have taught us a
>lesson about manipulating the natural system according to our needs.
>There is absolutely no need for genetic modification. Traditional breeding
>methods have already provided us with an over-production of food, and those
>countries which might benefit from genetically engineered crops will not be
>able to afford them.
>Nicolai Jungk, Aberdeen
>Sir: When I lecture to my students on plant biotechnology I try to capture
>their attention by asking the question, "Why do you suppose the coca bush
>produces cocaine?" The answer is that it is probably an insecticide.
>Plants, like any other living organism, have evolved defences against their
>predators. These are animals, mostly insects, but also including us. This
>is why out of the hundreds of thousands of species of plants on the planet
>we can safely eat very few. Even these are the outcome of thousands of
>years of breeding to partially eliminate the components that do us damage.
>On the other side we, the survivors, have acquired immunity to some of
>them. Those who did not are no longer with us.
>We now have much more powerful methods of removing undesirable components
>from our food plants by gene manipulation, and to reject what is by far our
>best chance of dealing with this situation because it makes a few people
>feel uneasy is lunacy.
>The possibilities are far-reaching. One that is particularly intriguing
>for the ruling classes is that it may now be possible to go back to
>pre-phylloxera vines. The European vine was virtually wiped out in the last
>century by phylloxera. It was only saved because an American root stock was
>found that was resistant to it, and grafting continues to this day. It is
>potentially possible to transfer the gene for resistance to phylloxera into
>the European vine and, we must hope, to do away with the need for grafting.
>I cannot wait to see what wine buffs make of this.
>Professor Michael P Tombs, Pavenham, Bedfordshire
>Sir: Has the world gone quite mad? I am reliably informed that there are
>plans afoot to bury corrodible pipes in every street and into most every
>house in the land to carry colourless but highly poisonous and flammable,
>not to say explosive gas. This is supposed to improve our way of life!
>Other so-called do-gooders are seeking to develop a new form of personal
>transportation relying on a device which involves exploding, at the
>fantastic and frightening rate of around ten thousand times a minute, a
>highly noxious liquid refined from the bowels of the earth. These
>"progressives" assure us that the explosions will be "totally controlled"
>and safe. I even hear that there are others trying to make this sort of
>Quite obviously, if we had been meant to enjoy or suffer these things, they
>would evolve by chance and accident. To seek to plan, organise, manufacture
>and test them is plainly to court disaster on a massive scale. These Grand
>Modernising Operations should be stopped before it all ends in tears.
>David Harvey, Tynemouth
>Sir: Books have been written by scientists as eminent as Richard Dawkins to
>refute his "reductionist" view of biology. In fact the "one gene, one
>effect" picture of DNA has become quite old-fashioned. There is a complex
>web of interaction between genes, and even between genes and the
>environment. Dawkins has wrongly assigned the public and scientific doubts
>about the safety of genetically engineered
>crops to the introduced gene itself. It is the process of genetic
>manipulation that is suspect.
>Although molecular biologists know something of the interactions involved,
>they do not know the whole story. There will be unpredicted and
>unpredictable biochemical outcomes in the life of the plant. These will be
>toxic in very few cases or to a small proportion of susceptible
>people. But the risk is real.
>The statutory testing of genetically modified foods involves measuring
>levels of known toxins and allergens similar to those listed by Dawkins. It
>is the unpredicted toxins arising from the GM process that are not tested
>for. This is what the fuss is about and it is disingenuous of Professor
>Dawkins to imply a superstitious, ignorant basis to our concerns.
>Patrice Gladwin, Cambridge
>Sir: Richard Dawkins has overlooked a simple fact: as a consumer I have a
>right to know what is in my food. As a vegetarian I want to know that there
>are no animal products, genetically modified or not. There is a clear case
>to require food to be labelled stating whether it
>contains any ingredient that has been genetically modified.
>Kevin Daws, London E8
>Sir: In the present debate about genetically altered food there seems to be
>a common belief that crops so treated will require fewer pesticides and
>weedkillers. This is not correct. Farmers will feel free to apply larger
>amounts in the knowledge that the crops themselves will be immune.
>Furthermore, pests and weeds are likely to adapt to the changed challenge
>and become more resistant.
>Tony Hills, Crediton, Devon
>The Independent 16.8.98
> Gene firm tightens grip on food chain
> Environmentalists are alarmed at Monsanto's growing influence, reports
> MONSANTO, the multinational company powering the growth of genetically
>modified food, is edging closer to controlling the food chain
> Recent acquisitions have enabled it to gain a stake in every stage of food
>production from the farmer to the market place. From patented genes to a
>global seed distribution network, its influence is now so extensive that
>aid agencies have voiced concern about its role, in particular its claims
>to be able to solve the problems of famine and poor harvests in the Third
> The company, now estimated to be worth $35bn (£22bn) - a sixfold rise in
>five years - even owns the patented genes to develop new seed varieties
>resistant to herbicides and insects.
> In the past few weeks, biotechnology companies such as Monsanto have come
>under fierce attack from MPs, retailers and pressure groups over their
>development and marketing of genetically modified (GM) crops and foods.
>Last week, however, the GM food companies won a boost to their credibility
>when a scientist who had claimed that genetically modified food could
>damage human health was suspended after it emerged he had confused two
> But the companies themselves remain dedicated to the development of GM
>foods. So keen are they that to date there have been 25,000 field trials on
>60 different crops, conducted in 45 different countries, in consultation
>with hundreds of scientists from all over the world.
> Most significantly, Monsanto paid $4bn for Delta and Pine Land, the
>company that developed and patented "terminator technology", which
>genetically alters seeds so they will not germinate if replanted.
> Among products and companies Monsanto owns are:
>* Roundup, the world's best-selling herbicide. A quarter of all soyabean
>farmers in the US use Roundup-ready soyabeans.
>* American Home Products, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical and
>healthcare products companies
>* Dekalb Genetics Corp, a corn-seed producer, which it bought in May for
>$1.4 bn, grabbing around 45 per cent of the US corn-seed market.
>* Cargill's, the giant grain trader and food processor, bought in June for
>* The crop-breeding unit of Unilever - once British government-owned -
>bought in July for £320m, giving it a foothold in the huge potential market
>for hybrid wheat. The seed costs twice as much but the yield is higher and
> Sano Shimoda, of US analysts BioScience Securities, said Monsanto had
>"taken the market by storm" over the past three years. It was set to become
>one of three or four companies, such as DuPont and the Swiss Novartis, that
>will dominate the field, Mr Shimoda said.
> Monsanto spokesman Philip Angell claimed the company's influence was not
>as widespread as critics claimed. "We're probably the largest biotech
>company but it doesn't necessarily mean we dominate the market. This is a
>very young industry in a state of flux."
> The sceptical British consumer is proving one of the biggest sticking
>points for Monsanto and its rivals, whatever their market power. As Europe
>prepares to introduce new labelling for foods containing GM products,
>Monsanto has spent £1m on an advertising campaign to persuade people to
>trust such foods.
> "There's a unique problem in the UK because the institutions that the
>Government has established to check safety are not trusted because of BSE,"
>Mr Angell said. "But there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever in any
>study by anybody that says these foods aren't safe."
> Monsanto's public-relations battle to convince doubters that genetically
>modified crops are harmless and could help to solve world food shortages
>took a further blow when a bank that pioneered small loans for the poorest
>peoples pulled out of a partnership deal. The Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank
>ended its relationship with Monsanto after widespread criticism from green
>groups and aid agencies.
> The joint venture was announced in New York in June at a summit of the
>microcredit movement with a $150,000 donation to launch a new technology
>centre in Dhaka.
> Robert Shapiro, Monsanto's chairman and chief executive, said: "The
>Grameen Monsanto Centre will provide the opportunity to demonstrate how
>sustainable technologies, combined with microcredit, can transform people's
>lives, allowing them to improve their quality of life and the environment."
> But the arrangement was immediately condemned by Third World campaigners
>who feared it would be used to encourage small farmers to buy grain and
>herbicides they could not afford.
> Professor Mohammed Yunus, the Grameen Bank's founder, said: "We were not
>informed of Monsanto's massive involvement in agriculture which the
>environmentalists at home and abroad have argued is detrimental to the
>interests of the poor farmer."
> Mr Angell said the bank ended the deal only because of the pressure;
>Professor Yunus accepted the benefit of the centre and it would continue in
>Bangladesh without him.
> Mr Angell also claimed that in the face of a rapidly growing world
>population and limited arable land available, biotechnology could help.
>Genetically improving seeds could produce higher yields without the need
>for lots of environmentally damaging chemicals.
> However, aid agencies claim that poor distribution of food - not any
>absolute shortage - is the main problem with feeding people in the Third
> The Indian Council of Agricultural Research also fears that
>cross-pollination could kill off the country's ancient cereal varieties,
>such as basmati rice.
> Dr Vandana Shiva, an Indian environmentalist and feminist, said
>genetically engineered crops were not environmentally friendly or
>sustainable. "Monsanto ... is emerging as a global monopoly which threatens
>food security worldwide," she said.
>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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