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Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 18:14:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Observer Oct 25th 98 (UK)
'Revolving door'row as aide joins Monsanto lobbyists. by Athony Barnett.
A key adviser to the Cabinet Minister responsible for evaluating
genetically modified food has taken a job with the lobbying firm that
advises Monsanto, the American biotechnology giant pioneering the
Her appointment has raised fresh concern over the 'revolving door' between
government and business, particularly in the lobbying industry.
Cathy Mc Glynn spent six years as a special adviser to Jack Cunningham,
including the period when he was Agriculture Secretary, until she resigned
six months ago. Last week Cunningham, who is now the Cabinet 'enforcer',
was appointed by Tony Blair to head a Cabinet committee monitoring the
genetically modified food industry.
Mc Glynn has now signed a contract to work for Bell Pottinger, the lobbying
firm run by Sir Tim, Margeret Thatcher's favourite public relations man.
Tony Juniper, policy director of Friends of the Earth, which has called for
a ban on genetically modified crops, reacted angrily to the news of her
"This is a clear case of money talking, corperations attempting to buy
access and influence that are denied to others. This episode will further
undermine the public confidence in the way Government oversees genetically
modified food," he said
Thanks to Paul Davis <email@example.com> for forwarding the following
article from the Oct 25, 1998
issue of the UK newspaper "The Mail on Sunday"
SCARE IN TEST CROP BLUNDER
by Christopher Leake, Consumer Affairs Editor
One of the worst fears of campaigners against genetically modified crops
has almost come true.
An experimental crop of oilseed rape that was altered to be resistant to
herbicides has had to be destroyed after it pollinated nearby plants.
The fear was that, left unchecked, a new breed of superweeds which normal
chemicals could not destroy might have resulted with devastating effects
for Britains agriculture. Now, in what could be the first case of its kind
in the UK, the Government is considering prosecuting the America chemical
giant behind the experiment for allegedly contaminating the environment.
If convicted, Monsanto, the world's leading producer of genetically
modified foods and British based sub-contractor Perryfields Holdings Ltd
face heavy fines. Monsanto's directors, headed by chairman and chief
executive, Bob Shapiro, could even be jailed if found to have been
The companies were ordered by the Agriculture Ministry to dig up and
destroy a field of oilseed rape, which is used in the production of
magerine and vegetable oils, on a 1,000 square metre Government licensed
site. All seeds harvested over the next two years within a 50-metre radius
of the site, at Rothwell in Lincolnshire, will also be ditched. The
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, headed by Deputy
Prime Minister John Prescott, will decide son whether to initiate
prosecution under the 1992 Genetically Modified Organisms Regulations. A
spokesman said the case was "too sensitive" to discuss.
Minutes of a recent meeting of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the
Environment reveal that Monsanto and Perryfields failed to prevent
genetically modified winter oilseed rape cross-pollinating with another
field of their normal oilseed rape. A pollen barrier, or buffer zone, of
only two metres instead of the required six surrounded the test site.
The minutes say that "a breach of consent occurred" and show that Monsanto
officials had not visited the trail site even though it was the company's
duty to do so.
Tony Strickland, trials manager for Perryfields Holdings, of Inkberrow,
Hereford and Worcester, said, " We expect to be prosecuted. A path was put
around the test area and those on site overlooked the fact that the pollen
barrier was then too small. This increased the risk of cross-pollination."
He added that new rules this winter would ensure that such sites operated
under much stricter conditions.
A Monsanto spokesman said,"We do not want to comment about a case that is
pending with the Ministry, but to the best of our knowledge no breach of
consent has led to environmental damage."
Dear all, the Boston Globe recently published a useful front-page report
on genetically engineered foods. It's on the web:
Here is a forwarded request--
Subject: Vote on CNN site
YOUR VOTE IS CRITICAL!!! ON GE FOODS
VOTE "NO" TO OPPOSE GE FOODS
Another poll is being taken regarding whether or not you would buy food
that has been genetically engineered. Please go to the above site and vote
NO. Results when I voted a few minutes ago were appalling: 64% YES, 36%
NO. The good news is that only 800 people had voted. We can change those
percentages with your participation.
The Globe and Mail News
Ottawa tried to control scientists' testimony --
Researchers raised fears about safety of controversial hormone
by ANNE McILROY Parliamentary Bureau 10/27/98
An internal document shows the federal Health Department had an aggressive
plan to control the testimony of scientists who appeared before a Senate
committee last week to explain how they were pressed to approve a drug they
don't believe is safe. Bovine growth hormone, manufactured by Monsanto,
boosts milk production in cows.
The genetically engineered product was approved by the United States in
1993 but is still prohibited in Europe and Canada. Environmentalists fear
it is about to get the green light even though they say there is inadequate
proof that it is safe.
Six Health Canada scientists have been ordered not to speak publicly about
their concerns about its safety. Last week, three of them made a dramatic
appearance before the Senate committee investigating the hormone,
testifying that they had been pressed by their superiors to approve drugs
including bovine growth hormone despite their concerns about safety. They
appeared after being given written assurances by Health Minister Allan Rock
on Oct. 2 that they wouldn't be punished for doing so. But the government's
strategy document, dated Oct. 20, shows the department planned to send
their superior to the hearing whether he was invited or not.
Assistant deputy minister Joseph Losos, who heads the health- protection
branch and is the scientists' boss, would, according the document, "lead"
them and "intervene as required." Initially, the department planned to send
several senior managers, but decided instead that Dr. Losos would go alone.
The document said that Mr. Rock's office "will try to engineer" Dr. Losos's
appearance at the committee meeting. But Senate researcher Barbara Robson
said yesterday that the committee turned down the request to have him
present when the scientists testified.
Late yesterday, the Health Department released a statement confirming the
document was prepared by an official. But it said it does "not reflect the
position or policy of the department." Yet Mr. Rock sent a letter to the
committee expressing disappointment that Dr. Losos would not be allowed to
appear with the scientists. His spokesman, Cyrus Reporter, said the
minister was not attempting to stop the scientists from speaking freely.
"I think it was a legitimate request for him to appear at the same time. He
[Dr. Losos] is the scientist who is ultimately responsible for signing off
on the science of rbST [bovine growth hormone]. He is ultimately part of
the approvals process," Mr. Reporter said.
The hormone is controversial, in part, because consumers may not be able to
find out whether the milk they are buying was produced by cows injected
In 1993, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that the hormone
had been thoroughly evaluated and was safe, and that no special labels
would be required on milk.
The technology has been criticized by public-interest groups and some
scientists who warn it could increase udder infections in cows and lead to
the increased use of antibiotics, which could end up in the milk produced
by these animals.
Some scientists also say there is evidence to suggest that the milk may
contain another hormone that might stimulate the growth of cancerous
Mr. Rock has insisted it will not be approved until his department is
satisfied it is safe.
The Health Canada document, which apparently was inadvertently E-mailed to
about 60 people, also indicates the government is under pressure from
Monsanto not to release information the company believes is confidential.
"Monsanto lawyers in St. Louis and its Government Relations
representatives in Ottawa have expressed concern that, in responding to
senate committee and others, we may choose to disclose protected
They also have commented on leaks of confidential information, apparently
by Health Protection Branch employees."
The memo goes on to say that "this concern could become industry-wide" and
have implications for other applications for drug approvals. The document
also says that consideration is being given to the releasing of the
department's response to complaints the six scientists had made in a
grievance before the Public Service Staff Relations Board. Senior Health
Department officials have in the past insisted that the issue of bovine
growth hormone is more about employee-management relations than it is about
> Montreal Gazette Tuesday, October 27, 1998
Final Editorial / Op-Ed B2
2) Canada doesn't need milk-boosting hormone
BY Jennifer Robinson
Thanks to technological and medical discoveries, we are probably better off
in many respects than our parents or grandparents ever were. It's hard to
dispute the merits of penicillin or polio vaccines. The same holds true for
the potential benefits of biotechnology. Modifying the genetic makeup of a
plant to reduce disease, increase crop yield and lengthen the shelf life of
a tomato or eggplant could be a clever and worthwhile endeavour.
But just because we have the know-how to tamper with nature doesn't always
make it right, or desirable.
We have the means to inject dairy cows with growth hormones, recombinant
bovine somatotropin (rBST), to make them produce more milk. But there's no
good reason to do it. That's why Ottawa should stop dilly-dallying and
just ban the use of rBST.
Consumers don't want it. Canada doesn't need it. This country already has
more milk than we know what to do with - it imposes quotas on farmers.
What's more, there is conflicting evidence about rBST's safety.
There are indications that the growth hormone, which increases milk
production in cows by up to 15 per cent, increases the risk of illness and
disease in cows and could also have unwanted secondary affects on humans.
It is known to increase the chances of udder infections, called mastitis,
in cows. Mastitis requires treatment with antibiotics, which would be
passed on to consumers through milk. Scientists fear that over time, humans
would build up tolerance to even the strongest antibiotics, making them
useless against infection.
Another concern is that dairy cattle eventually are slaughtered for meat.
No studies have been conducted on the effects of eating beef from cows
injected with rBST.
The hormone may also increase an insulin-growth factor (IGF-1) in milk,
which has sparked fears among scientists. IGF-1 is found in the milk of
cows injected with rBST. High levels of IGF-1 have also been found in
humans suffering from cancer, particularly breast and prostate cancer.
There are also troubling questions about the ethics of making cows sick to
produce more milk. The drug has been in use in the United States since
1993 primarily through a product called Posilac produced by Monsanto.
On its packaging, Monsanto lists several side effects, many of which can be
painful for cows. These include swollen and ulcerated udders, skin rashes,
hoof disorders and reduced hemoglobin.
Canada's $8-billion dairy industry is one of the world's most productive
and safest, thanks to healthy, well-nourished herds and high industry
There is no reason to tamper with it , just because we have the technology.
Yet, that is precisely what Health Canada, allegedly under pressure from
drug companies, seems willing to do.
Five scientists from Health Canada are complaining that they have been
pressured to approve the hormone and other drugs of ``questionable
safety.'' Last week, the Senate committee on agriculture and forestry,
which has been investigating rBST, called the scientists to testify about a
grievance they filed earlier this year with a government labour board. They
say they were being pressured to sign off on a drug they felt hadn't been
Monsanto and Health Canada deny there has been undue pressure. Despite the
scientists' fears, it has already deemed that milk from cows injected with
rBST is safe for human consumption. But the department is still officially
reviewing the drug's effects on animals (it's been under review for eight
The case raises serious doubts about Health Canada's objectivity in
approving drugs, now that companies, including Monsanto, fund part of the
department's research. Health Canada's job is to protect the health and
safety of Canadians.
Yet, the department relies on multi-million-dollar subsidies and raw
research data supplied by the very companies that are seeking approval to
market their drugs in this country.
It's not a system that inspires confidence. Injecting cows with hormones
might be good for Monsanto, but for cows and Canadians, it's time Ottawa
*** END OF DOCUMENT **
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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