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Date: Tue, 1 Sep 1998 14:07:51 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: GE News: Euro labelling, Pigs with human genes
Thanks to: MichaelP <email@example.com> for distributing this
GM foods need better labelling
The Guardian Leader
Tuesday September 1, 1998
>From today, European laws will insist that food manufacturers clearly label
products containing genetically modified, or GM foods. This is an important
step in boosting consumer confidence in these novel foods which may in time
dominate global diets, and the Government should be credited for pushing
the legislation through after years of weak proposals being tossed
backwards and forwards in Brussels. Despite massive corporate PR campaigns
and the blandishments of scientists that these foods pose no risk whatever,
European consumers continue to resist for quite reasonable environmental,
health, even religious reasons.
But the consumer should not feel reassured at the new GM labelling regime.
It is a curate's egg, designed by European governments to not inconvenience
the powerful food barons and landowners, while at the same time recognising
that there is much public disquiet. As always in this political climate, it
seems that corporate interests have triumphed and the consumer has been
fobbed off. The new labels will appear in minute type on very few products
and most people will assume that food not labelled as containing GM foods
will be GM-free. In fact, GM soya and maize, and GM lecithins, or
thickeners, may already be used in more than 60 per cent of all processed
or packaged foods, but these may escape the new labelling laws because the
manufacturing process can render them unidentifiable.
Fairly or not, Britain is widely seen to be one of the Europe's least
trustworthy food producers and barely a month passes without another scare
or more grisly revelations about how our animals are treated or how our
food is produced. It is small wonder that people are turning vegetarian or
to organics. Genetically modified foods are only the latest step in the
industrialisation of our food system and its monopolisation by the very
few. They have been launched into Europe in haste and we must not repent
them in leisure. The Iceland foodstore chain, the Vegetarian Society,
organic food producers and others are proving it is possible, with
determination and at not a little cost, to create GM-free supply chains.
There is no reason why the big four supermarket chains and food processors
should not follow suit. They should at least be honest, step beyond the new
rules and require full labelling until better scientific testing is
devised. Nothing else will reassure the battered and confused consumer, or
more restore worldwide confidence in Britain's tarnished food reputation.
Genetic label 'con to trick customers'
EU measures exempt foods containing soya oil
By Sarah Hall
The Guardian (london) Tuesday September 1, 1998
New measures forcing food manufacturers to label genetically modified
ingredients come into force today amid fears they are a "con" to trick
A European Union directive requires companies to show if genetically
modified (GM) soya and maize are used in their food stuffs. But the
regulation exempts foods which contain soya oil or other soya derivatives,
such as the thickening agent lecithin - which account for up to 90 per
cent of soya products.
Environmental and consumer rights campaigners attacked the loophole, which
could mean most processed foods contain undisclosed GM derivatives in the
More than 60 per cent of processed foods contain soya - from sausage skins
to hypo-allergenic milk, bread to chocolate, diet to baby foods - and more
than half the soya in British products is expected to be genetically
modified within two years.
The Friends of the Earth food campaigner, Adrian Bebb, said: "Shoppers are
being conned by politicians into believing that this labelling will help
them avoid genetically altered food. It won't.
"The majority of foods containing soya are in forms which are not covered
by this directive, they won't be labelled and so the consumer will still
not know if they contain genetically modified ingredients."
He added: "The Government have said only 1,400 products will be labelled
but there are thousands on supermarket shelves, so you can see this will
have little effect. It's being claimed as a great victory for consumers
when clearly it's not."
Jim Thomas, genetics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, called for a ban on all
GM food, and said: "This is just going to confuse the consumer. People have
said they want clear labelling on genetically modified products but with
this regulation they are not going to get that."
Julie Sheppard, of the Consumers' Association, added: "Consumers will still
be in the dark about whether or not many foods they are eating contain
genetically modified ingredients. And there is the risk they will wrongly
infer unlabelled foods do not contain products from genetically modified
The loophole exists since the directive stipulates labelling is only
required when protein or DNA from the genetically modified ingredient can
be detected in the finished product. Because of the way in which they are
processed, soya oils, fats and lecithins are not picked up by current
The Department of Health said such ingredients were so highly refined, they
were no longer deemed to be genetically modified. Such products had been
cleared by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, an
independent body of scientific advisors, as being safe.
"The bottom line is, if something has genetically modified soya or maize in
it it's going to have to be labelled," said a spokeswoman.
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **
This following article is about the hazards of pigs that have been
genetically engineered with human genes so that the organs of the pigs can
be used for human transplants
Thanks to : firstname.lastname@example.org (jim mcnulty) for forwarding this:
PIGS MAKE GREAT ORGAN DONORS, BUT. . . . CAN PORCINE VIRUSES INFECT HUMAN
GRAFT RECIPIENTS? EVIDENCE GOES TWO WAYS
September 1, 1998
BioWorld via NewsEdge Corporation : Transplant surgeons have great
expectations that the common pig (Sus scrofa) can become an organ donor for
They point out that hogs are the right size, easy to raise, grow quickly to
maturity and are free of infectious disease pathogens compared to subhuman
primates, such as baboons. With upwards of 60,000 people on waiting lists
for donor organs in the U.S. alone, porcine xenotransplantation could
provide a virtually unlimited supply of graft organs, tissues and cells, to
alleviate the cruel shortage of human material.
But, in recent years, a large, dark cloud has appeared on this bright
horizon. Virologists now warn that these prospective porcine donors harbor
retroviruses that may be able to infect graft recipients, and possibly
spread through the human population, like a replay of HIV. (See BioWorld
Today, Dec. 18, 1997, p. 1.)
This week's Lancet, dated Aug. 29, 1998, carries a cautionary paper in its
"Early Reports" section titled, "Expression of pig endogenous retrovirus
[PERV] by primary porcine endothelial cells and infection of human cells."
Using sophisticated in vitro detection methods, first author Ulrich Martin
and his co-authors found that pigs pose "a serious risk of retrovirus
transfer after xenotransplantation." The German group is at the Leibniz
Research Laboratories for Biotechnology and Artificial Organs, at Hannover
Medical School, in Hannover, Germany.
In three breeds of pig, from 12 sites in Denmark, Russia, Germany and
France, they detected PERV in every sample of skin, liver, lung and aortic
endothelial cells. Co-cultivation of the aortic cells with human embryonic
kidney cells "led to productive infection of the human cells and expression
of PERV," they wrote.
Counterbalancing this somber heads-up warning were two other "Early
Reports" in the same Lancet, describing in vivo human experience with
porcine cells. "No evidence of infection with porcine endogenous retrovirus
in recipients of porcine islet-cell xenografts," one article reported.
At Sweden's Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm, between 1990 and 1993, 10
patients with late-stage insulin-dependent diabetes received 400 million to
2 billion insulin-secreting islets of Langerhans from fetal pig tissue. In
five of these subjects, the xenografts survived and functioned for up to a
That paper's first author is virologist Walid Heneine at the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control (CDC), HIV and Retrovirology Branch. A co- author is
medical epidemiologist Louisa Chapman, project leader of the CDC's working
group on porcine xenotransplantation.
She told BioWorld Today that, although the five Swedish subjects also
received immunosuppressive treatment to prevent graft rejection, they "were
unable to detect markers of PERV infection in any patient."
Another HIV-Like Pandemic?
Chapman explained that PERV "goes into part of its target cell's DNA. Every
mammalian species harbors such endogenous retroviruses. They remain dormant
in infected cells until activated to become exogenous retroviruses. The
concern over PERV is that if it becomes exogenous - like HIV - rather than
endogenous, it might spread as a new infectious agent in the population. "
It was this potential hazard that led the FDA last year to put a hold on
all clinical trials of porcine donor organs, tissues and cells. "But it's
not a global moratorium," Chapman pointed out. "Rather, [it's] a
trial-by-trial hold. It imposes three requirements. Planners of a human
study must develop or identify a PERV assay, undertake prospective
monitoring of recipients, and test all other people exposed to the virus."
Diacrin Inc., of Charlestown, Mass., has four clinical trials of
xenotransplanted porcine cells under way. The company's CEO, molecular
biologist Thomas Fraser, said, "We have one Phase I trial of fetal pig
cells transplanted into 12 Parkinson's disease patients, which is nearing
completion. A second Phase II/III study [into Parkinson's disease] is still
A separate Phase I study is treating patients with Huntington's disease.
The company is conducting these three trials in collaboration with Genzyme
Tissue Repair, of Cambridge, Mass., a subsidiary of Genzyme Corp., also of
Cambridge. On its own, Diacrin has a Phase I trial ongoing to treat
epileptic patients with fetal porcine GABA- secreting cells.
"We have tested all our clinical-trial patients," Fraser concluded, "and
found no evidence of PERV or any unknown pathogens."
Chapman observed that "whole-organ pig grafts are, ironically, years away.
They still require a lot of preclinical work. In the short run, porcine
cell preparations are more promising."
A different donor strategy consists of perfusing the blood of patients with
kidney or liver failure through living porcine organs. Two such patients
are reported in the third Lancet paper. Its title tells the story: "No
evidence of pig DNA or retroviral infection in patients with short-term
extracorporeal connection to pig kidneys."
Its first author, virologist Clive Patience, at the Institute of Cancer
Research, in London, surmised that "the absence of porcine cells in the
circulation of both patients, even in samples taken as early as six hours
after the perfusion, suggests that any porcine cells dislodged from the
kidney became rapidly sequestered from the circulation."
However, he concluded, "These negative findings on just two patients must
be interpreted with caution."
Preconditions For PERV Hazard To Come True
British virologist Jonathan Stoye postulated that "for xenotransplanted
PERVs to pose a public-health threat, a chain of seven events is required.
" Infectious, human-targeted retroviruses must exist; they must occur in
the germ line of pigs used for xenotransplantation; they must be expressed
in transplanted cells, tissues or organs; they must infect the recipient;
they must replicate and spread; they must result in disease; and they must
be transmitted to others.
In a commentary accompanying the three Lancet reports, Stoye observed that
there is now "substantial evidence [from the German paper] for the first
three events in this chain." But he cited the diabetes and kidney dialysis
reports as questioning whether infection of human beings exposed to porcine
cells will inevitably follow.
"Some unpublished studies involving other examples of exposure to pig
tissues seem to be reaching the conclusion that PERVs will not show very
high levels of transmission," Stoye told BioWorld Today. He foresees that
companies in the U.K. that have such studies ongoing "will report by year's
end on 200 to 250 recipients exposed to porcine tissues."
British health authorities, like FDA, have no global moratorium on
xenotransplantation in place, but require case-by-case consideration. "So
far," Stoye said, "we haven't had any applications." *
<<BioWorld -- 08/31/98>>
[Copyright 1998, American Health Consultants]
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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