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Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 21:56:26 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: GE News
New Scientist October 17, 1998
Modified potato is taken off the menu
BYLINE: Debora MacKenzie
DOUBTS over the effects of genetically modified crops on health and the
environment are threatening to undermine attempts by biotech companies to
sell them in the European Union. For the first time, the European
Commission's scientific advisers have recommended that a genetically
modified plant should be withheld from the market because they cannot
guarantee its safety. And Britain's environment minister, Michael Meacher,
is considering imposing a three-year moratorium on transgenic crops grown
for commercial use.
AFRICA: BIOTECH FIRMS HAVE THEIR EYES ON AFRICA, ...
PARIS, (Oct. 14) IPS
European Union (EU) rules limiting the range of biotechnological activity
appear to be prompting some biotech firms to look for new locations where
they can operate more freely. In fact, biotech industrialists and
researchers have reportedly started hinting about relocating, possibly to
Africa, so as to circumvent strict EU regulations prohibiting some
activities. Operations banned in Europe include cloning humans, modifying
the genetic identity of a human being and artificial reproducing embryos
that have the same genetic information as another person, whether alive or
Also included on the banned list are inventions whose exploitation or
publication would violate public order or morals, and any modification of
the genetic make-up of animals that would cause them to suffer or to
become physically handicapped where this is of no substantial medical
usefulness to man or animal.
There are also restrictions to the manipulation of vegetable species and
animal breeds. To get around this arsenal of constraints, transnationals
are reportedly looking towards Africa as the place to go to operate with
total impunity, and they are said to be banking on the elimination of
trade barriers under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and moves to
dismantle barriers to investment, touted by various developed nations.
from <email@example.com> archive/latest/325
London Sundat Times October 18 1998
Food lobby kills safety watchdog
by Michael Prescott
and Stephen Bevan
PLANS for an independent food safety watchdog have been shelved by Tony
Blair after lobbying by supermarkets and manufacturers.
The pledge to set up a food standards agency to protect consumers was
contained in Labour's election manifesto and ministers promised early
legislation to restore confidence in an industry battered by the BSE
crisis, the E-coli outbreak that killed 20 people, and other food poisoning
Jeff Rooker, the food standards minister, told the industry just months
ago that it would soon have to deal with "a very powerful body" that would
be independent of the agriculture ministry, which had become too closely
associated with the farming lobby. "We cannot afford to fail on this," he
However, the expected bill to set up the watchdog will not feature in
next month's Queen's speech. Nor, it emerged this weekend, is it likely to
be introduced to parliament next year. There are increasing doubts that it
will ever see the light of day.
Yesterday one of those involved in the food industry's campaign to
lobby ministers and officials boasted about his success. "We hijacked this
from the start," he said.
From: Genetic Resources Action International <firstname.lastname@example.org> (by
way of genetics <email@example.com>)
CANOLA CROSSBREEDS CREATE TOUGH WEED PROBLEM
Canola resistant to Roundup herbicide has turned up in a northern Alberta
farm where none was recently planted. On Tony Huethers farm near Sexsmith,
the Roundup-tolerant trait appears to have been transferred through pollen
movement to canola in a neighboring field.
John Huffman, an Alberta Agriculture crop specialist in Grande Prairie said
that has caused Roundup-tolerant canola to appear in the field where none
had been seeded the year before. "It appears that some pollen has flown
across the road and pollinated the canola and the gene has shown up the
following year," said Huffman, who also worked with the departments weed
specialist Linda Hall to check the possibility of cross pollination.
"When John told me I said Thank God, now we can get the concerns out
there," said Hall of Edmonton.
"We've known and predicted this for a long time," she said. Hall said the
viability of pollen diminishes with the distance it travels from the
source. Sunshine and air impair pollen viability.
The article went on to say that in 1997, Huether planted two fields of
canola. On the west side of a county road he planted Quest, a
Roundup-resistant canola and on the east side of the road he planted 20
acres of Innovator, a Liberty-resistant variety. The rest of the 140-acre
field was planted to 45A71, a Smart canola resistant to Pursuit and
Odyssey. All are Argentine types. The two fields are about 30 metres apart.
The fields were harvested at different times, eliminating the possibility
of contamination by combine, said Huffman. This year, in the east field
where the Innovator and 45A71 were grown one year earlier, Huether sprayed
one litre per acre of Roundup on May 13 for a quick weed burnoff. Because
of dry conditions, he didn't seed the field and sprayed another
three-quarters of a litre of Roundup about a month later. "I was seeing
pretty viable canola plants before and was wondering what was happening.
Even before the second application, I was wondering if the Roundup was
doing the job. I sprayed it and it was the same story. They just kept
going," said Huether. When Huffman was called to Huethers farm 10 days
later, he found some canola had survived.
The Roundup had worked except for a large number of healthy blooming canola
plants, said Huffman.
The unexpected Roundup-resistant canola grows thickest near the road, but
is present throughout the 140-acre field, said Huether. Samples have been
taken from the plants, but haven't been tested. "We're pretty sure they're
highly tolerant because he sprayed them twice," Hall said.
Aaron Mitchell, biotechnology manager for Monsanto in Saskatoon, said he
hadn't heard about the field of cross-pollinated canola, but it isn't
There have been studies of cross-pollination between canolas at various
distances in test plots. Mitchell said, "This is the first known example of
cross-pollination in a field situation. We always expected a level of
natural outcross would occur within the species." He doubts whether wind
carried the pollen across the road, noting bees are more likely the cause.
Pollen of Argentine canola tends to be too heavy for wind. Huether said
there are native bees in the area, and the closest commercial hives are
about 13 kilometres away.
Because seed companies and researchers were aware of possible
cross-pollination, Mitchell said he has promoted the importance of farmers
talking to their neighbors about the varieties of canola they grow. More
than half the canola seeded on the Prairies this year was
herbicide-tolerant and the number of acres is expected to increase as new
varieties reach the market.
RESISTANT CANOLA EXPECTED Oct. 15/98
In a related article, Gary Stringam, a University of Alberta professor who
conducted canola pollination studies when he was with Agriculture Canada in
Saskatoon during the 1970s said it was just a matter of time before
volunteer herbicide-resistant canola from cross-pollination appeared on the
Those studies used recommended pedigreed seed isolation distances. Plots
were established to see how far the pollen would travel from its source.
Researchers found five or six percent out-crossed canola plants up to 400
metres from the original source with Polish canola, said Stringam. Pollen
from Argentine varieties doesn't travel as easily, but outcrosses were
still found 400 metres from the original Argentine plants. Stringam said
the canola can spread up to eight kilometres if there are lots of bees in
the area to carry pollen.
"Pollen movement isn't something we totally understand. There hasn't been a
lot of research. Its true napus or Argentine variety pollen doesn't move
that well on the wind, but that's not to say it doesn't happen. With more
herbicide-tolerant canola being grown on the Prairies. Farmers will need to
be more vigilant about where their canola is grown, what herbicides they
use and what types of canola their neighbors grow."
Girona 25, pral.
08010 Barcelona Spain
Tel: (34-93) 301 13 81
Fax: (34-93) 301 16 27
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (jim mcnulty)
Environment/U.S. biotech giant patents on "terminator technology"
October 21, 1998
WASHINGTON - Inter Press Service via NewsEdge Corporation : The U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) is forging ahead with plans to give a U.S.
corporation an exclusive patent on new seed technology, despite an
international outcry that it threatens the livelihood of Third World
Developed jointly by the USDA and Delta and Pine Land Co., a subsidiary of
the U.S.-based chemical and biotech giant Monsanto, the new bio-engineering
process is called Technology Protection System. It enables a company to
genetically alter seeds to produce crops that in turn produce sterile seeds.
Small-farmer advocacy groups and non-profit research organizations charge
that the new process, dubbed "terminator- technology," will force farmers
to return to the commercial seed market every year since they will no
longer be able to save seed from their harvest. This process, sometimes
called brown-bagging, is a tradition mainly in developing countries.
NETHERLANDS FILES SUIT TO CANCEL EU PATENTING OF PLANTS AND ANIMALS
Agence France Presse
THE HAGUE, Oct 19 (AFP) - The Dutch government filed a suit with the
European Court of Justice on Monday in a bid to cancel a directive over
the patenting of biotechnological discoveries, the economics ministry
The EU Life Patents Directive, which came into being in July, permits the
patenting of biotechnological discoveries, such as the genetic manipulation
of plants and animals as well as the technical methods used to change the
The Dutch government, which voted against extending biotechnological
patents to plants and animals, filed an appeal seeking to nullify the
directive on legal grounds, claiming that it violated international
treaties and basic human rights, the economics ministry spokesman said.
"We voted against the directive because we felt it went too far and should
not have included patents on living beings," the spokesman added.
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.
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