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Date: Sun, 8 Nov 1998 18:56:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
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Canadian scientists under thumb of industry
By Andrea Hopkins OTTAWA, Nov 6 (Reuters) - If money is the root of all
evil, something sinister is stalking Canadian scientists searching for the
next miracle drug.
In October, six researchers at Canada's health department, fed up with
constant pressure to hurry drug reviews and ignore safety concerns, marched
into a Senate hearing and aired Health Canada's considerable dirty laundry.
The scientists said they were pressured by their managers and bribed by
chemical giant Monsanto Co. (MTC.N) to approve the company's genetically
engineered cow hormone, rBST. St. Louis-based Monsanto said the money was
to oversee studies.
Another Health Canada reviewer said she was told she would be sued by drug
manufacturer Hoechst Canada, a unit of Germany's Hoechst AG (HOEG.F), if
she continued to delay the approval of the company's growth hormone
Revalor-H. The scientists detailed incidents in which controversial files
at the agency had been shredded, stolen and locked up, allegedly to protect
the interests of the corporate clients.
Shiv Chopra, a 64-year-old reviewer with 30 years service at the
department, said he could remain silent no longer.
"The department is saying all over the place that the client -- and this is
in writing -- the client now is the industry and we have to serve the
client...We just are unable to deal with it any more," he told the Senate
The revelations came just as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed it
was investigating possible wrongdoing in Health Canada's 1982 approval of
the Meme silicone breast implant. The implant was taken off the market in
1991 after it was found to contain a suspected cancer-causing agent.
Allegations that industry influence pervades Canada's health department
came as no surprise to Dr. Michele Brill-Edwards, who in 1996 left her
senior review job there.
She said industry executives have quick and easy access to cabinet
ministers and senior bureaucrats who respond to the industry's "incessant
agitation" for drug approvals.
"It creates an untenable tension for a reviewer who has genuine unanswered
questions about safety," she said.
Now an Ottawa pediatrician, Brill-Edwards said Canadian scientists want to
report the truth but fear reprisals from the powerful corporations who fund
"The (industry) can destroy people if they try," she said.
Thanks to MichaelP <firstname.lastname@example.org> for forwarding this:
TIMES (london) November 4 1998 SCIENCE BRIEFING Line
Science Briefing: Nigel Hawkes
War on killer seed
A gene for all heights ; Dinosaurs' monster growth
THE world's largest agricultural research organisation, the Consultative
Group on International Agricultural Research, has come out against the
latest idea in plant biotechnology - the so-called "terminator gene" which
makes plants produce only sterile seeds. At its meeting in Washington last
week, the UN-funded organisation recommended that its 16 member institutes
ban the technology in their crop-improvement programmes.
Since a patent on the gene was issued last March to the US Department of
Agriculture and a small cotton seed company, Delta and Pine Land,
terminator technology has become one of the most hotly disputed issues in
an increasingly bad-tempered debate. It involves inserting three genes and
their on-switches into plants. One gene controls the other two, and when it
is dominant the seeds from the plants are fertile and will grow into new
plants. But when the master gene is activated by the manufacturer before
the seed is sold, the plants produce a toxin in their own seeds that kills
them and makes them sterile.
The terminator gene was developed to protect the intellectual property of
the seed companies - that is, to prevent farmers saving seed from one
year's crop to plant the following year. If seed companies have spent a lot
of money developing a drought-resistant crop, for example, they want to be
sure they will get their money back. The age-old practice of saving seed
would hinder that.
But the technology has another possible advantage, of greater potential
appeal to environmentalists. They worry that herbicide-resistant genes
engineered into plants will escape and hybridise with wild plants, creating
weeds that are resistant. Terminator technology could prevent that, by
making pollen infertile or by killing off hybrid seeds as they germinate.
New patent could hurt farmers
The Des Moines Register
By GEORGE ANTHAN
Register Washington Bureau
Washington, D.C. - The granting on March 3 of Patent No. 5,723,765 to [
Delta and Pine Land Co. ] of Scott, Miss., on a technologically advanced
variety of cotton seed has created an international controversy.
Critics have dubbed the development of a "terminator" technology that they
claim threatens world food security.
Officially called the "Technology Protection System," the seed was
developed jointly by the Mississippi seed company and U.S. Agriculture
Department scientists. Under the Technology Protection System, three genes
have been inserted into the cotton seed, which can be planted by the
farmer in the normal way. But when the first crop is harvested, the cycle
The new seed produced by those cotton or, subsequently, wheat or rice or
soybean plants -through a series of actions triggered by the three genes
-won't germinate and produce new plants. These second-generation seeds
will, in effect, be sterile. [ Monsanto Co. ] , which is in the process of
buying Delta Pine Land, describes the new technology this way: "The idea
is one seed, one plant." Such a development, according to Pat Roy Mooney,
director of the Rural Advancement Foundation International, "threatens
the well-being" of 1.4 billion people who "depend on saved seed for their
food security," he said.
Instead of being able to save some seed for use in planting a new crop,
the farmer would have to return to the company and buy new seed.
Although these so-called "terminator" genes are being inserted into seeds
through new, sophisticated genetic engineering techniques, the effect -the
inability of the seeds to reproduce themselves -is nothing new.
The hybrid corn seeds that have revolutionized production of that crop and
are the product of traditional plant-breeding techniques do not produce
second-generation seeds that can be effectively utilized by farmers.
Producers must buy new hybrid corn seeds for each crop if they want the
plant uniformity and productivity-enhancing features of hybrids. But wheat,
rice, cotton and soybeans are not usually grown with hybrid seeds.
Farmers traditionally have saved seeds from these crops and used them up to
several years before buying new varieties. .....
Rural Advancement Foundation International states that "the
12,000-year-old practice of farm
families saving their best seed from one year's harvest for planting the
next season may be
coming to an end."
If the "terminator" technology becomes widely marketed throughout the
world, "it will give the
multinational seed and agrochemical industry an unprecedented and
extremely dangerous capacity
to control the world's food supply," the group states. Rural Advancement
Foundation International refers to the technology as an "elegant product
of misguided science. . ."
The Times (London) November 4, 1998
War on killer seed
BYLINE: Nigel Hawkes
BODY: THE world's largest agricultural research organisation, the
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, has come out
against the latest idea in plant biotechnology - the so-called "terminator
gene" which makes plants produce only sterile seeds.
At its meeting in Washington last week, the UN- funded organisation
recommended that its 16 member institutes ban the technology in their
crop-improvement programmes. Since a patent on the gene was issued last
March to the US Department of Agriculture and a small cotton seed company,
Delta and Pine Land, terminator technology has become one of the most hotly
disputed issues in an increasingly bad-tempered debate.
Transgenics - Brazil needs international support To:
Colleagues from all over the world concerned with transgenic plants and
IDEC - Brazilian Institute for Consumer Defense is struggling to garantee
food safety and labelling of transgenics in Brazil. In this sense, an
important conquest has been achieved regarding the Roundup Ready soy of
Monsanto, but we fear it will be strike down by this powerful multinacional
entrerprise, as related bellow.
Last september, Brazilian Federal Government was about to authorize the
first petition for growth in large scale (for future consumption) of
genetically modified soil (the Monsanto Roundup Ready transgenic soil).
Fortunately, IDEC brought an action in Court which resulted in a
provisional decision to obstruct the Government authorization. It was based
on the fact that Brazil still must implement rules related to food safety,
labellying and trade of transgenic plants and food products. Another
argument used was that the countryís legislation demands a preliminary
study of environment impact.
It caused a significant impact in the country with repercussion in several
sectors of society. In one hand, farmers, independent scientists and
consumers approved the Court decision. Also, suppliers such as Carrefour
have demonstrated its concern with commerce of products containing OGM
without labelling and without segregation (of plain soil and soil with
genetically modified genes).
Neverthess, as expected, Monsanto has dedicated an imense effort to
convince Federal Government and the midia that the Roundup Ready soil is
identical to the natural soil and therefore does not need to be labelled;
also, they argued that OGM is the solution to the worldís hunger; and,
finally, that transgenics are acceptable in developed countries!
IDEC fears that Monsantoís lobbying turns back this important achievement
in our struggle. Therefore, it would be essential the international support
of organizations concerned with the matter. For that reason, we believe it
would help: 1) Multiply this information urgently throughtout the midia in
order to spread the news and reach the international support necessary at
this moment; 2) Letters to the Brazilian Federal Government demonstrating
concern about the Brazilian position about labelling of food containing
OGM, especially considering that the country is the world second largest
soil productor and one of the largest soil exporter (as well as exporter of
many other products); and finally, 3) Letters suggesting strict rules
related to food safety and requesting plain labelling of the OGM.
Attached is a brief summary of the fact that, if you wish, may be used as a
press release and at the end a list of Brazilian Federal Government bodies
If any additional information is needed, please contact Andrea Lazzarini at
IDEC / Brazil (telephone: 55 - 11 - 3872-8790 / fax: 55 - 11 - 38629844 /
e-mail: email@example.com). We thank you for your support.
The Monsantoís petition to the Brazilian Federal Government regarding the
right to use, growth and commercialization of Roundup Ready soil in the
country (the world second largest productor of soil) which should happened
last september did not occured thanks to a Court decision.
IDEC - Brazilian Institute for Consumer Defense, a Brazilian
non-governamental organization for consumer protection, brought to Court an
action and achieved a provisional decision to obstruct the Federal
Governmentí authorization to Monsantoís request. The main arguments
sustained by IDEC were: 1) Lack of rules refering to food safety, labellyng
and commerce of trangenics; 2) the impact over environment is unknown and
has not yet been studied in the country, therefore it demands a previous
study of environment impact, as stated in the federal legislation.
Monsanto has argued that OGM are the solution for the hunger, that OGM are
acceptable in developed countries and that IDECís position reflects
developing countries ignorance.
Many NGO in Brasil (such as Greenpeace, the Housewife Movements and
consumers) are bringing up the discussion to society and are alert in order
to prevent harm products to consumerís health and environment from being
brought to the market and to garantee the consumerís rights of information
(labelling) and choice.
Addresses for correspondencies:
(President of Brazil)
Presidíncia da Rep™blica - Exmo. Sr. Prof. Dr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso
EndereÁo: PraÁa dos Trís Poderes - Pal·cio do Planalto, 4† andar,
Brasìlia - Distrito Federal - cep: 70.150-900 - Brasil
Fax number: 55 - 61 - 321-5804
(Ministry of Health)
MinistÈrio da Sa™de - Exmo. Sr. Dr. JosÈ Serra
EndereÁo: Esplanada dos MinistÈrios, Bloco G, 5† andar,
Brasìlia - Distrito Federal - cep: 70058-900 - Brasil
Fax number: 55 - 61 - 225-9632 / 55 - 61 - 224-8747
(Ministry of Agriculture)
MinistÈrio da Agricultura - Exmo. Sr. Dr. Francisco SÈrgio Turra
EndereÁo: Esplanada dos MinistÈrios, Bloco D, 8† andar,
Brasìlia - Distrito Federal, cep: 70043-900 - Brasil
Fax number: 55 - 61 - 225-9046 / 55 - 61 - 226-9365
(Ministry of Environment)
MinistÈrio do Meio Ambiente, Recursos Hìdricos e da AmazÙnia Legal - Exmo.
Sr. Dr. Gustavo Krause
EndereÁo: Esplanada dos MinistÈrios, Bloco B, 5† andar,
Brasìlia - Distrito Federal, cep: 70.068-900 - Brasil
Fax number: 55 - 61 - 226-7101
MinistÈrio da JustiÁa - Exmo. Sr. Dr. Renan Calheiros
EndereÁo: Esplanada dos MinistÈrios, Bloco T, 4† andar,
Brasìlia - Distrito Federal, cep: 70.064-900 - Brasil
Fax number: 55 - 61- 226-2296
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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