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Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 16:40:29 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Alive, Sept 98
Biotech News, by Richard Wolfson, PhD
Reprinted with permission from the Sept 1998 issue of Alive: Canadian
Journal of Health and Nutrition, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC V5J
British Schools Cut Out Genetically Modified Foods
In the last few months, over 1,300 UK schools in five council areas (Kent,
Sandwell borough council, Essex, and Durham county councils, and Lewisham
borough in London) in UK have removed genetically engineered foods from
their menus. Two other councils, with several hundreds more schools, are
expected to join them soon. The move, which originated at Kent County
Council, stems from the concerns of caterers that food for schools should
meet "the highest standards of safety."
Prince Charles Enters Genetic Engineering Debate
In early June, the Prince of Wales was quoted in many articles appeared
across Europe and in North America, speaking about the hazards of
genetically engineered foods.
In The Daily Telegraph (UK), Prince Charles said: "We simply do not know
the long-term consequences for human health and the wider environment of
releasing plants bred in this way... The lesson of BSE and other entirely
man-made disasters on the road to 'cheap food' is surely that it is the
unforeseen consequences which present the greatest cause for concern. Even
the best science cannot predict the unpredictable."
AAAS Scientists Warn of Biotech Risks
Scientists at an American Association for the Advancement of Science forum
in Washington, DC in May warned of the potential risks of agricultural
genetic engineering. "I've come to believe that the potential power of
genetic engineering dwarfs that of nuclear power," said Liebe Cavalieri,
Professor of Environmental Science at State University of New York at
Purchase. Dr. Cavalieri said that society "shouldn't be carried away with
fantasies" promised by biotechnology promoters.
Dr. Margaret Mellon, Director of Agriculture & Biotechnology for the Union
of Concerned Scientists, cautioned that agricultural biotechnology is "not
a miracle technology. It's had lots of mistakes. It's an expensive
technology that's problematic." She added that there are "alternatives to
biotechnology for feeding the world and achieving a truly sustainable
agriculture, which are worthy goals, but the hype of biotechnology is
obscuring the path."
rBGH Report Suppressed
The Canadian National Farmers Union and consumer groups are requesting
access to a recent report written by Health Canada scientists on the safety
of genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH). The hormone, which
is not yet approved in Canada, is injected into dairy cows to increase milk
production. The National Farmers Union claims that the report is being
suppressed by Health Canada because of the potential hazards of rBGH
described in the report.
Link Between rBGH and Cancer Grows
An article on May 9 in the Lancet showed that the rate of breast cancer is
up to seven times higher in women with a relatively small increase in blood
levels of the growth hormone Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-1).
Elevated IGF-1 levels have also been correlated with other major cancers,
particularly colon and prostate. The January 1996 issue of the
International Journal of Health Services reported that IGF-1 concentrations
are up to 10 times higher in rBGH milk. As IGF-1 can be absorbed through
the intestine, scientists are concerned that drinking rBGH milk could
increase the risk of cancer.
Mississippi Farmers Receive $1.9 million for Biotech Crop Losses.
Monsanto Company, Delta and Pine Land Company, and Paymaster Technology
Company were forced through legal proceedings to pay more than $1.9 million
to three Mississippi cotton farmers who planted Roundup Ready cotton seed,
that was defective due to unforeseen side-effects. The farmers lost
millions of dollars because the bolls from the genetically engineered
cotton were deformed or fell off the plants. While 55 Mississippi farmers
filed complaints, most of the cases were settled privately.
Seventy-Five of the British Oppose Biotech Crops
A poll commissioned by GeneWatch, an independent organization that monitors
genetic engineering developments, showed that
* 77% of the public in UK want the growing of genetically engineered crops
to be banned in Britain, until their impacts have been more fully assessed.
* 73% of the UK public are concerned that genetically engineered crops
could interbreed with natural, wild plants and cause genetic pollution.
* 61% of the UK public do not want to eat genetically modified foods
The Toronto Star recently invited Canadians to express their views on
genetic engineering. 98% of respondents wanted genetically engineered foods
to be labelled.
For further information on biotechnology and its hazards, see the website:
Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign, for Mandatory Labelling
and Long-Term Testing of Genetically Engineered Food
500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596
Subscription to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months.
--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
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