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Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 17:13:44 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: GE News
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BGH Controversy Continues in Canada
The "Gaps Analysis" report by the Health Canada scientists on the gaps in
our understanding of BST and its hazards has now been posted at the
National Farmer's Union website
On the left side of this title page, there is a heading called "special
interest". Under that is a link called rBST "Gaps Analysis" report where
you can link to see the full report.
Printers pulp Monsanto edition of Ecologist The Guardian Tues Sep 29th 98.
Paul Brown Enviroment Correspondent.
The Ecologist, the flagship of radical green for 30 years, has become
involved in a row with it's printers after an edition of the magarzine was
It had used the edition to attack Monsanto, the multinational genetic
engineering company. But the Ecologist's printers - Penwells of Saltash
Cornwall, destroyed the 14,000 print run without notice. Although it
refused to comment on it's decision, it is understood the company was
afraid of laying itself open to a libel action.
Penwells has been printing the Ecologist for twenty nine years without
complaint.Zac Goldsmith, co-editor and son of the late Sir James Goldsmith,
only discovered at the weekend that no copies of the edition survived.
His uncle, Teddy Goldsmith, Sir James's brother, funds the magazine. Mr
Goldsmith is known well in green circles for his enviromental views.
The Ecologist has been controversial since it was founded. It is read on
both sides of the Atlantic and was one of the first publications to point
to the potentially dangerous power of multinational companies.
"We are shocked and amazed. We have a long history of being forthright
about enviromental issues and attacking powerful organisations, yet not
once in 29 years has this printer complained about or expressed the
slightest qualms about what we were doing," Zac Goldsmith said yesterday.
"We have been good friends, but suddenly out of thge blue this happens. I
asked if they could send us just one copy but they said no, the lot had to
be destroyed. I just cannot find out what happened; they are not returning
New Scientist September 12, 1998
SECTION: This Week: BA Meeting, Pg. 21
HEADLINE: The devil we don't know BYLINE: Andy Coghlan
HIGHLIGHT: Viral resistance is what keeps genetic engineers awake at night
BODY: THEY could cause an environmental disaster - or have no effect at all.
It is almost impossible to predict the impact of crops genetically
engineered to resist plant viruses, warns an adviser to the British
"Viruses are, in ecological terms, something of a black box," says Alan
Gray, director of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology's Furzebrook
Research Station near Wareham, Dorset, and a member of the Advisory
Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE).
Because ecologists know so little about the role of viruses in restricting
weed populations, he says, it is almost impossible to predict what will
happen if genes for viral resistance spread from engineered crops to their
Gray presented unpublished results at the BA meeting revealing how little
we know about the susceptibility of wild plants to naturally occurring
viruses. He studied wild cabbages ("Brassica oleracea") and wild mustard
("B. nigra") on clifftops in Dorset. Gray found the plants were infected
with four different viruses. What surprised him was the wildly fluctuating
distribution of the viruses in both species. Some carried only one virus
while their nearest neighbours had all four.
Gray then exposed lab-grown wild cabbages to viruses taken from apparently
healthy clifftop plants. Sixteen per cent of the plants exposed to turnip
yellow mosaic virus died, compared with 6 per cent of the unexposed
controls and 4 per cent treated with a second virus, turnip mosaic virus.
The plants infected with the turnip yellow mosaic virus also produced fewer
Gray has few clues as to why the natural distribution of viruses should
fluctuate so wildly. And while his transmission experiments suggest that
viruses may keep weed populations in check, much more work will be needed
to understand how this works in the field.
"We're very ignorant," says Gray, who argues that risk assessments for
plants carrying genes for viral resistance should be much more thorough
than those for other engineered crops. So far, ACRE has received only
applications for trials of potatoes containing resistance genes. These were
given the go- ahead because potatoes have no wild relatives in Britain.
But virus-resistant plants with wild relatives should be much more closely
scrutinised, Gray says. Oilseed rape or canola, for example, has a weedy
relative in the wild turnip ("Brassica rapa"), which appears to readily
crossbreed with engineered oilseed rape.
In the US, squash plants ("Cucurbita pepo") engineered to resist two
viruses have already been approved for sale, though not without a prolonged
fight over the risks they may pose.
Groups opposed to engineered crops, such as the Environmental Defense Fund,
feared that the genes could spread to wild gourds ("C. texana"), which are
native to Texas, leading to plagues of these weeds. For more science news
message from RAFI:
Subject: Terminator: RAFI Launches Mail Campaign
Help Stop the Terminator
Jump to: <http://www.rafi.org/usda.html>
Monsanto in Closed Negotiations with the US Department of Agriculture to
Finalize Control of Terminator Technology
Monsanto is moving swiftly to finalize its control over the Terminator
technology. The company may extract an exclusive license from the US
Department of Agriculture (USDA) within weeks. RAFI is initiating an
urgent internet-based international campaign to stop the USDA - Monsanto
negotiations before it's too late.
A special WWW page has been set up at
<http://www.rafi.org/usda.html> to enable anyone with internet access to
send a customized message to the USDA asking it to cease negotiations and
bury this anti-farmer, anti-biodiversity technology. Additional contact
details are provided below.
A Monsanto subsidiary, Delta & Pine Land (D&PL), is currently negotiating
with the USDA to exclusively license the US Government's interest in the
controversial Terminator technology patent, a genetic technique that
renders farm-saved seed sterile. The seed-sterilizing technology -
developed with US taxpayer dollars - will prevent farmers from saving seed
from their harvest, forcing them to return to the commercial seed market
The Terminator patent (US # 5,723,765) is jointly owned by D&PL and the
USDA. Under US law, since D&PL worked with USDA to develop the technology,
the company has the option to negotiate an exclusive license. Hoping to
find a gullible international public, Monsanto's PR machine in Brussels,
New Delhi, Harare, St. Louis, and points in between, are massaging jittery
governments and publicly trying to distance the company from the Terminator
technology by referring to it as "conceptual" and "not yet proven." But
the company's move to negotiate an exclusive license with USDA confirms
that Monsanto is eager to commercialize Terminator seeds.
Despite international controversy boiling over in at least two UN agencies
rather than engage in public dialog, a leaked internal memo by Deputy
Administrator K. Darwin Murrell reveals that USDA hopes to quietly manage
controversy over the patent. The memo warns USDA employees that
Terminator research is "a sensitive issue that requires an extra level of
review" to help "avoid potential political and legal pitfalls." But the
USDA insists that the Terminator is a beneficial technology and confirms
that its scientists are themselves interested in developing the seed
sterilizing technique as platform to host a package of "stacked" traits in
genetically engineered plants.
SAY NO TO TERMINATOR!
RAFI invites you to join an international e-mail campaign being initiated
today to protest the licensing and commercial development of the Terminator
technology. RAFI has set up a special web page
automatically sends a customized e-mail to US Secretary of Agriculture Dan
Glickman (also see address information below). We urge you to write to US
Department of Agriculture officials to demand that USDA cease licensing
negotiations and abandon all international patent applications on a
dangerous and immoral technology that should never see the commercial light
RAFI is urging government institutions to hold public inquiries on the
alarming rate of seed industry consolidation, and to take steps to
safeguard - not eliminate - the fundamental right of farmers to save seed
and breed crops.
RAFI is also calling for protest over the fact that public research funds
were used to develop a technology that will bring no agronomic benefit to
farmers, and no benefits to consumers. The Terminator technology is
designed simply to increase seed industry profits by forcing farmers to
return to the commercial seed market every year.
The potential impact of the Terminator technology goes far beyond US
borders. It is an international issue, with global implications. Delta &
Pine Land says that it will target the use of Terminator seeds in the
South, where over 1.4 billion people - primarily poor farmers - depend on
farm-saved seed as their primary seed source. Monsanto, which recently
merged with American Home Products, is the world's second largest seed
corporation and the number one agrochemical corporation.
The owners of the Terminator patent have indicated that they will apply for
patents in 87 countries worldwide. The patent is pending at the European
Patent Office, in Canada, Australia, Japan and South Africa. USDA should be
asked to abandon all international patent applications, and to revoke
Terminator patents that have already issued, on the basis of public
morality as provided in Article 27(2) of GATT TRIPS.
The Terminator technology is the subject of controversy and debate
worldwide. For example:
Ö In May, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological
Diversity (COP IV) recommended that the precautionary principle be applied
to the Terminator technology. COP IV also directed its scientific body to
examine the technology's impact on farmers and biodiversity. In light of
>the Biodiversity Convention's ongoing assessment, USDA should cease
negotiations that will lead to its commercial development.
Ö India's agriculture minister Som Pal told the Indian parliament in August
that he has banned the import of seeds containing the terminator gene
because of the potential harm to Indian agriculture.
Ö By majority vote, the Dutch Parliament recently moved to oppose the
European Patent Directive by appealing to the European Court of Justice.
The Terminator patent is one of the key issues that prompted the Dutch to
renew objections to the Patent Directive that was passed by the European
Parliament earier this year.
Negotiations between USDA and Monsanto are now underway, it is important to
act now! Stop Monsanto's bid to license and control the dangerous
Terminator technology. E-mail messages and/or faxes should be sent to the
following USDA officials and members of Congress. To see sample letters,
and automatic sending options, go to RAFI's web site:
The Honorable Dan Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture United States
Department of Agriculture 200-A Whitten Bldg. 1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington DC 20250 <mailto:email@example.com>mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 202
720-3631 fax: 202 720-2166
Dr. Floyd P. Horn, Administrator USDA Agricultural Research Service 302-A
Whitten Building 1400 Independence Ave., SW Washington DC 20250
<mailto:email@example.com>mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 202 720-3656
Fax: 202 720-5427
The Honorable Robert F. Smith, Chair House Agriculture Committee 1126
Longworth Bldg. Washington DC 20515-3702
<mailto:Bob.email@example.com>mailto:Bob.firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 202
225-6730 Fax: 202 225-0917
The Honorable Richard G. Lugar, Chair Senate Agriculture Committee 306 Hart
Senate Office Bldg. Washington DC 20510-1401
: 202 224-4814 Fax: 202 224-1725
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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