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Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 16:02:09 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: GE News
The Independent (UK) Saturday 10th October 98.
GENETIC CROPS MAY BE BANNED... (headline feature front page)
By: Charles Arthur and Michael Mc Carthy.
The [UK] government is considering a three year moratorium on the
commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) crops in Britain.
Yesterday it summoned leaders of biotechnology companies in Britain,
including the giant Monsanto corperation for talks about the voluntary
code, which would delay wide-scale planting of transgenic crops until at
least 2002. ...
The latest moves follow mounting concern about the possible health and
enviromental effects of the new plants, which have this year been the
subject of an outspoken attack by Prince Charles and attacks by protest
groups that have torn up scores of plants at test sites.
Last July, English Nature called for the moratorium, arguing that the use
of stronger weedkillers on crops genetically engineered to tolerate them
could have a "catastrophic" effect because it could destroy other plant,
bird and insect life.
Thanks to Paul Davis <email@example.com> for posting this:
EU committee rejects Dutch gene-altered potato
BRUSSELS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - A committee of European Union scientists has,
for the first time, rejected authorisation for a genetically engineered
crop, the EU's executive Commission announced on Thursday.
The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Plants said it had
"serious doubts" about the safety of a high-starch potato developed by the
Dutch company Avebe which is resistant to the clinically important
antibiotic amikacin. The committee said the risk that the crop would pass
on its genetically-altered qualities to other species hod not been examined
"Without an adequate risk assessment of the potential consequences of
horizontal gene transfer from the genetically modified plants to humans,
animals and the environment, the safety of the transgenic potato line
cannot be fully assessed," the scientists said.
Here is a ABC Newa anti-GE
If you go to the website of the story
You can vote online whether you want/do not want genetically engineered foods.
SPECIAL TO ABCNEWS.COM
You say Tomato, I say IGF-1
There's a food revolution going on under our noses. When foods at the
supermarket catch our eye, they may be trying to shout, "I have been
genetically altered!" Only we would never know it.
That ripe, "real" tomato (not the usual pale, waterlogged specimen) that
causes our salivary glands to twitch might be carrying genes borrowed from
bacteria or a virus in order to prevent it from getting too soft too quickly.
That large, smooth potato may have been genetically fixed to resist the
onslaught of pesticides. That milk may have come from cows who were injected
with a genetically engineered growth hormone to boost milk production. Only we
would never know it.
In fact, there are now scores of foods on the shelves, particularly those
containing corn and soybeans, that are the products of a mix-and-match genetic
revolution that tiptoed into our lives with hardly a footprint. Forget about
checking the labels. To know exactly what you're buying may one day require
taking a gene detection kit to the store.
When you try to test the regular-looking cucumbers at your neighborhood
genemart, you would likely find that an Arctic char gene had been inserted
into the cuke to keep it from freezing.
Fiddling on the Farm
As might be expected, the purveyors of these new super foods almost promise
the moon. Biotech First Marketing Principles argue that all this recombinant
fiddling will give consumers quality, safety and Great Taste! and greatly
improve farm productivity.
In an appeal to our humanity, I presume, former First Farmer Jimmy Carter,
whose own fields are bursting with genetically engineered corn and soybean
seed, recently argued that poor nations can benefit greatly from this
Of course, anyone raising doubts about these wondrous new developments should
be boiled in pesticide-resistant oil, right?
Look, can we just begin with a bit of proper labeling? I'd truly like to know
what's in my food. If my salad is going to contain virus, insect or animal
genes, please tell me about it, so that I can make a more informed choice of
iceberg or radicchio. Are the bigwigs at the FDA still comatose on this issue?
Or do I need to move to Europe where there is political support for some
Which brings me to the safety question. Yes, I know, I'm supposed to trust the
big company scientists whose major concern is my safety. In Monsanto I Trust?
Sure. And in the FDA, too, which grants fast-paced approval for short-term
It needles me to know that a lot of milk products out there are laced with
unlabeled BGH (bovine growth hormone), thanks to Monsanto's genetic
engineering. I'm sure that farmers on this bandwagon are happy with their
bigger yields, but I'm concerned about the unlabeled amount of a protein
called IGF-1 (Insulinlike growth factor-1) in this BGH-treated milk. It so
happens that preliminary research suggests that men with high levels of IGF-1
might be at higher risk for prostate cancer, and women for breast cancer.
Since I'm not convinced, as the company claims, that IGF-1 in the milk doesn't
reach body tissue because it's broken down in the digestive process, I, for
one, prefer to avoid BGH-treated products. Fat chance of that, short of
knocking off many of life's culinary goodies.
Allergies and a Weedy Mess
There are many more health issues associated with the cornucopia of
genetically engineered foods. Take food sensitivity. Unexpected allergens can
emerge from gene-recombinant technology. One study showed that soybeans
containing a Brazil-nut gene could cause reactions in people sensitive to
Brazil nuts. And what about the potential reaction from bacteria that enter
the diet for the first time? Who really knows?
Questions also remain unanswered about the environmental harm this new
technology might inflict. Will virus-resistant crops, incorporating foreign
virus genes, lead to the creation of new superplant viruses that will, in
turn, destroy crops? Lab studies suggest this is a reasonable concern. It's
disturbing to discover how little scientific reassurance there is that this
A recent report by Danish scientists showed that genes from canola specimens
genetically modified to resist herbicides were able to be transferred to their
weed relatives. These weeds - you guessed it - then became resistant to the
chemical that normally killed them. This points to a potentially frightening
scenario of humankind combatting a weed revolution, rather than enjoying the
promised benefits of a food revolution.
If all this is too stressful to think about, why not just go food shopping,
blinders on as usual, and check out the great-tasting strawberries?
Nicholas Regush produces medical features for ABCNEWS In his weekly column, he
looks at medical trouble spots, heralds innovative achievements and analyzes
health trends that may greatly influence our lives.
Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org (jim mcnulty) for posting this:
ATHENS, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : Greece has banned the
import and marketing of a genetically-altered strain of rapeseed developed
by Germany's AgrEvo even though the European Union has approved its use
across the bloc, Greek officials said on Monday.
thens also voted against plans to give EU-wide approval to a genetically
modified maize developed by chemical firm Pioneer Companies Inc, the Greek
environment ministry said in a statement made available to Reuters.
``Our country voted against this product (maize) because of reservations
about possible effects on the environment and public health,'' the
The statement quoted deputy environment minister Theodoros Koliopanos as
saying that developments in genetic engineering should be subject to
exhaustive scientific research focused ``with the greatest care on the
possible negative effects on the environment and public health.''
thens' decision to ban the oilseed produced by AgrEvo, an agrochemical
joint venture between Hoechst AG and Schering AG, is the third time a
government in the 15-nation EU has invoked health or environmental concerns
to block gene-altered crops.
Under EU rules, member states can impose unilateral bans on health or
environmental grounds but must notify, and get clearance from, the European
Commission, which consults scientific advisory committees before making its
The environmental group Greenpeace welcomed Athens' move.
``More and more governments are agreeing with environmental groups like
Greenpeace that these transgenic crops pose a risk to public health and the
environment,'' the organisation said in a statement.
The AgrEvo rapessed is genetically engineered to resist the herbicide
BASTA, produced by AgrEvo, and carries an antibiotic resistance gene as a
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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