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Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 23:10:09 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
Kirton confirms US food bullying
The Evening Post
Neil Kirton says he felt strong US pressure over modified foods.
Claims that the US bullied New Zealand over the testing and labelling of
genetically modified food were backed yesterday by former associate health
Minister Neil Kirton who says he was visited on the issue twice by an
"aggressive" US Ambassador Josiah Beeman.
Mr Kirton said Mr Beeman visited him twice in February or March of 1997
after he called for the compulsory labelling of genetically modified food.
"He made two trips to my office, from memory," he said. "On the first
occasion it was the first time I had had a visit from a diplomat to see me.
"I was struck dumb by the aggression showed by Beeman to my stance, and
the bullying tactics he used," Mr Kirton said.
Mr Kirton said Mr Beeman claimed his stance would affect US-New Zealand
trade relations. He understood Mr Beeman was in contact with other
Ministers on the issue, including Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.
The American Embassy could not be reached for comment. Mr Kirton said that
after he was sacked as Minister, his replacement and then New Zealand
First colleague Tuariki Delamere had decided to support the stance on
non-labelling promoted by the Australian-New Zealand Food Authority,
despite the strong opposition of the NZ First caucus at the time.
GLOBAL ORGANIC GROUPS URGE BIOTECH CROP BAN LONDON, UK,
November 27, 1998 (ENS) - In a dramatic bid to heat up debate over genetic
engineering, delegates from more than 60 countries attending the
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) have
called on governments and regulatory agencies throughout the world to
immediately ban the use of genetic modification in all kinds of agriculture
and food production.
The call for concerted international global action was led by Patrick
Holden, director of the UK's Soil Association. It received overwhelming
support from 740 IFOAM member organisations attending an IFOAM congress in
Mar del Planta, Argentina, especially those representing small farmers in
the less developed nations.
Helen Browning of the Soil Association said Thursday that the declaration
was "highly significant for debate in Europe, where the widespread
application of GMOs in agriculture is now far from inevitable and can still
DO WE WANT OUR SPUDS SPICED WITH TOAD GENES ?
New Zealand Herald 3-12-98
Genetic engineers are about to learn whether they will be allowed to slip
synthetic toad genes into potatoes. PETER WILLS says we should be
concerned about these experimental programmes.
Last month the new Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) held
hearings in Wellington about a proposal from the Institute for Crop and
Food Research to grow plots of potatoes containing a synthetic gene that
encodes an antibiotic toxin from the African clawed toad. The experimental
program is designed to discover whether production of the toad antibiotic
in potatoes protects them against the troublesome soft rot that plagues
growers and distributors.
The Guardian (London) December 2, 1998
Eco soundings - India
BYLINE: John Vidal
BODY: IT'S one thing taking on middle class anti-GM activists in Europe,
but Monsanto, Novartis, Pioneer and gang are about to feel the wrath of
the very organised Indian peasant farmers who say that corporate biotech
will further destroy their livelihoods. The companies face the redoubtable
Gandhian Professor Nanjundaswamy, who leads the Karnataka State Farmers'
Association and claims the support of 10 million people.
KSFA has declared war on biotech crops and are nothing if not direct. Their
new campaign is called 'Operation Cremation Monsanto', and last weekend the
professor and his activists visited the village of Maladagudda, north of
Bangalore, where a farmer was unknowingly growing GM cotton for Monsanto.
Having been compensated by KSFA, the farmer watched hundreds of peasants
cut down the crops and torch them.
Here is a messase from: Dr. Mae-wan Ho <M.W.Ho@open.ac.uk>
Subject: GE - Horizontal gene transfer-new evidence
Horizontal gene transfer - new evidence
A group of researchers in Indiana University of the United States, headed
by Dr. Jeffrey Palmer, have just reported in the current issue of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA that a genetic parasite
belonging to yeast has suddenly jumped into many unrelated species of
higher plants recently.
This parasite is a piece of DNA called a group I intron that can splice
itself in and out of a particular gene in the genome of mitochondria.
Mitochondria are little power houses of the cell that oxdize food in order
to turn it into a form of energy that can be used for all living processes.
Until 1995, this parasite was thought to be confined to yeast and only one
genus of higher plants out of the 25 surveyed had the parasite. But in a
new survey of species >from 335 genera, 48 were found to have the parasite.
Moreover, all the higher plants that have gained the group I intron has the
same one, as the DNA base sequence is more than 92% identical.
When this intron jumps into a genome, it also adds to its tail end an extra
stretch of DNA that does not belong to the host. By comparing this extra
tail, the researchers are able to conclude that almost all of the
horizontal gene transfer events were independent and must have occurred
very recently. "This massive wave of lateral transfers is of entirely
recent occurrence, perhaps triggered by some key shift in the intron's
invasiveness within angiosperms [i.e., higher plants]"
So, what triggered this recent explosive invasion of the higher plants by
the particular genetic parasite? It could have got into the plant cells by
being carried in viruses, insects or bacteria. In order to get into the
genome, however, it has to overcome species barriers. For example, the
genome has to have a specific site of about 20 base pairs that is
recognized by the parasite. Furthermore, in order for the splicing gene
carried by the parasite to become expressed, it has to have a signal that
is recognized by the host.
The researchers themselves raise concerns about releasing transgenic crops
into the environment, if horizontal gene transfer is so widespread.
Only two months ago, it was reported in the Journal Nature that genes
transferred into transgenic plants can be up to 30 times more likely to
escape than the plant's own genes.
* Is it possible that the recent massive horizontal gene transfer from
yeast to higher plants was triggered by commercial genetic engineering
* Genetic engineering makes use of artificial genetic parasites as gene
carriers, to transfer genes horizontally between unrelated species. These
artificial parasites are made from parts of the most aggressive naturally
occurring parasites like the group 1 intron discussed here.
* The same kinds of explosive horizontal gene transfer have already been
documented among viruses and bacteria which are responsible for the recent
resurgence of drug and antibiotic resistant infectious diseases (reviewed
by Ho et al, Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease vol 10, 33-39m 1998).
* We should take this new evidence very, very seriously. There should be an
immediate moratorium on further releases of transgenic plants, in
particular those carrying antibiotic resistance genes like the Novartis
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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