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Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 23:27:56 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Here is some forwarded news from the Pure Food Campaign
Thanks to: Patricia Dines <PDines@compuserve.com> for forwarding it.
FOOD BYTES #13 October 31, 1998
News and Analysis on Genetic Engineering & Factory Farming
by: Ronnie Cummins, Campaign for Food Safety/Organic Consumers Action
*** Pie in the Eye: A Bad Month for Monsanto
*** Media Matters: The New York Times Discovers the Gene Foods Controversy
*** Action Alert: Help Win the Ground-Breaking Lawsuit Against the FDA
Upcoming! Next Issue of Food Bytes--Save Organic Standards--Round Two
Monsanto Under Attack
Quote of the month:
"It's a gradual process of allaying public fears and obtaining more public
acceptance," says Monsanto U.K public and government affairs director Anne
Foster. "Gradually people will gain confidence in a new science."
After a disastrous month of internecine power struggles, a collapsed merger
with American Home Products, PR snafus, and continuing "glitches" in its
genetically engineered products, Monsanto's stock has plummeted 30%.
Despite millions of acres of its GE crops under cultivation across the
world, the Behemoth of Biotech no longer seems quite so invincible. Since
the last issue of Food Bytes the St. Louis-based multinational has suffered
a number of reverses, including the following:
*A failed $35 billion merger with American Home Products (AHP). Monsanto,
heavily in debt, has literally run out of cash. The company desperately
needs the kind of capital and sales force which a pharmaceutical giant like
AHP has in order to finance their recent multi-billion dollar acquisitions
of seed and research companies and to market the numerous genetically
engineered products in their pipeline. Without a massive influx of capital,
an over-extended Monsanto now will have no choice but to slow down its
manic rush to bio-colonize the world. In the wake of the AHP fiasco,
Citibank has agreed to front Monsanto several billion dollars in cash, and
the company announced plans to sell four billion dollars in new stocks, but
financial analysts predict that Monsanto may now be ripe for an unfriendly
takeover by one of the other larger "life science" transnationals such as
Dow, Dupont, or Novartis.
* Continuing public relations and marketing problems in Europe and around
the world. Although calls for a three to five year moratorium on planting
GE crops in Britain and across Europe apparently have been shelved, at
least for the moment, the fact that mounting public pressure has forced the
European Parliament and European Commission officials to even discuss such
a GE moratorium has Monsanto and the entire biotech industry spooked.
Across Europe genetically engineered field crops continue to be uprooted by
protestors, more and more supermarket chains are attempting to source
non-GE products, while activist organizations like Greenpeace, Friends of
the Earth, Global 2000, European Farmers Coordination (CPE), and the
Genetic Engineering Network generate steady media coverage and publicity.
* In late-September in the U.K., a special issue of The Ecologist magazine
on Monsanto was pulled off the presses and destroyed by its printer. After
finding another printer brave enough to publish the magazine, the Ecologist
then learned from leading U.K. newsstands that they would not distribute
the issue. Although Monsanto claims they haven't threatened printers or
magazine vendors, almost no one seems to believe them. As Zac Goldsmith,
the Ecologist's co-editor, stated, "Through reputation alone Monsanto has
been able, time and time again, to bring about what is in effect defacto
censorship. THeir size and history of aggression has repeatedly brought an
end to what is undeniably a legitimate and very important debate. They
believe in information, but only that which ensures a favorable public
response to their often dangerous products."
* In the United States Monsanto has begun receiving adverse publicity for
prosecuting farmers for saving Monsanto's patented herbicide-resistant
"Roundup Ready" soybean seeds. According to press reports Monsanto has
hired Pinkerton detectives to harass more than 1800 farmers and seed
dealers across the country, with 475 potential criminal "seed piracy" cases
already under investigation. A group of seed-saving farmers in Kentucky,
Iowa, and Illinois have already been forced to pay fines to Monsanto of up
to $35,000 each. Besides the cost of the seed, a $6.50 technology fee is
charged by Monsanto for each 50 pound bag of Roundup Ready seed. As
Monsanto told the Associated Press October 27, "We say they can pay (either
of) two royalties --$6.50 at the store or $600 in court,'' said Scott
Baucum, Monsanto manager for intellectual property protection.
* According to the Daily Mail (Oct 25, 1998) in the U.K., the British
government is considering charging Monsanto with violating environmental
pollution laws for a Roundup-resistant rapeseed (canola) farm test site in
Lincolnshire, where GE rapeseed plants contaminated an adjoining non-GE
*Following in the wake of mounting worldwide criticism of Monsanto's
"Terminator Technology," the CGIAR organization, the world's largest
international agricultural research network, announced that they would
boycott all Terminator Technology seeds. According to RAFI (Rural
Advancement Foundation International) Director Pat Mooney, a leading critic
of the Terminator Technology, "It's (CGIAR's) the right decision and it is
also a courageous
decision," "Since the (Terminator) patent was granted in the United States
last March, it has attracted unprecedented opposition from farmers'
organizations, environmentalists, and agricultural scientists. More than
1,850 individuals from 54 countries have written personal protests to the
US Secretary of Agriculture demanding that the technology be banned."
* In Brazil a judge at least temporarily blocked Monsanto's efforts to get
approval for farmers to plant Roundup Ready Soybeans. According to a
September 20 story by Bill Lambrecht in the St. Louis Post Dispatch,
"Monsanto discovered an unsettling reality last week: Anti-biotechnology
sentiments that are widespread in Europe are sprouting in South America.
Hours before a government agency met to approve Monsanto's request to plant
gene-altered soybeans, a Brazilian federal judge granted an injunction
blocking the application. For St. Louis-based Monsanto, the ruling is a
setback that would be a real defeat if the company misses the Brazilian
planting season in October and November. Brazil is a potential market worth
tens of millions in profits. With 165 million people and a thriving
economy, Brazil is a vital cog in the drive by Monsanto and its rivals to
change the genetic codes of crops--and food--around the world."
* In Canada, the controversy surrounding Monsanto's strong-arm tactics to
get government regulators to approve their controversial recombinant Bovine
Growth Hormone (rBGH or rBST) has reached new levels of intensity. Recent
revelations that Monsanto apparently concealed troubling rBGH safety tests
on rats (rats fed high levels of rBGH showed damage to thyroid and prostate
tissues--potential danger signals for cancer) from government regulators in
the US and Canada have led to renewed calls by farmer and consumer
organizations in North America to have rBGH pulled from the market. In the
October 6 Rutland Herald newspaper in Vermont spokespersons for the US Food
and Drug Administration and Monsanto flatly contradicted one another--with
Monsanto claiming they gave the controversial rat studies to the FDA prior
to rBGH approval in 1993, while the FDA stated "We do not have the data
>from that study."
* In San Francisco on October 27, Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro was
confronted by anti-GE protestors who smashed a tofu vegan cream pie in his
face. According to a press release by the "Anti-Genetix" splinter faction
of the Biotic Baking Brigade (BBB) issued on October 27 "The chief
executive of one of the world's biggest corporations was struck in the face
with a tofu creme pie on Tuesday night at the 'State of the World Forum'
conference in the Fairmont Hotel. The incident occurred after Shapiro gave
a keynote address on the brave new
world of genetic engineering." According to "Agent Apple" of the
"Monsanto has engaged in ruthless intimidation of critics; embarked upon an
aggressive global takeover of seed, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies,
with an aim to control world food distribution; and is conducting an
intensive PR "Greenwash" campaign in order to promote itself as an
eco-friendly corporation. We will not be fooled, and we will wage our
gastronomical struggle with epicurean passion" said Agent Apple. "Monsanto
and its subsidiaries have spread chemical death across every continent
through products such as PCBs, Agent Orange, Bovine Growth Hormone,
Nutrasweet, Equal, and Roundup (the world's biggest selling herbicide). The
corporation's toxic Superfund sites poison workers and community members,
and its dioxins will continue to cause birth defects and major health
problems for generations to come." The EPA has designated Monsanto as a
"potentially responsible party" at 93 Superfund sites.
For additional in-depth information on these news items and further info on
how Monsanto is "Under Attack," readers should regularly access our web
site and its links:
More and more activists, farmers, and consumer advocates around the world
are calling for a global campaign against Monsanto. Look for further
details in upcoming issues of Food Bytes.
Here is some Royal news fromUK
Prince Charles on-line gen forum
Royal News Headlines
PRINCE LAUNCHES PUBLIC DEBATE ON GM CROPS
The Prince of Wales is urging people to have their say on the
controversial issue of genetically-modified food.
In the first online forum on his official website, the Prince has invited
responses as to whether GM crops are needed.
Mixing genetic material from species that cannot breed naturally "takes
us into areas that should be left to God", he says, adding: "We should not
be meddling with the building blocks
of life in this way."
While acknowledging that genetic manipulation could lead to major
advances in medicine, agriculture and the good health of the environment,
he warns that advanced technology brings
its own dangers.
"I am not convinced we know enough about the long-term
consequences for human health and the environment of releasing plants (or,
heaven forbid, animals) bred in this way."
He adds: "I suspect that planting herbicide resistant crops will lead to
more chemicals being used on our fields, not fewer. But this isn't the
whole story. Such sterile fields will offer little or no food or shelter to
wildlife, and there is already evidence that the genes for herbicide
resistance can spread to wild relatives of crop plants, leaving us with
weeds resistant to weedkiller."
Warning that genetic material does not stay where it is put, that pollen
is spread by the wind and by insects, and that GM crops can contaminate
conventional and organic crops
growing nearby, he says: "Major problems may, as we are assured, be very
unlikely, but if something does go badly wrong with GM crops we will
be faced with a form of pollution that is self-perpetuating.
"I don't think anyone knows how to clean up after that sort of incident,
or who would have to pay for it."
He also questions the claims that some GM crops are essential to feed
the world's growing populations.
"Is it really true? Is the problem sometimes lack of money, rather than
lack of food? And how will the companies
who own this technology make a sufficient profit from selling their
products to the world's poorest people? Wouldn't it be better to
concentrate instead on the sustainable techniques which can double or
treble the yields from traditional farming systems?" The Prince's
website, which had seven million hits in its first week, is on
Here is some news from activists in India
GE - more Indian actions forwarded by post4.tele.dk
Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998
From: "PROF. NANJUNDA SWAMY" <email@example.com>
"Cremation Monsanto", the campaign launched by the KRRS in Karnataka
(India) against Monsanto's field trials on BT cotton is spreading all over
the country as many other farmers organisations are taking up the struggle.
Following the first action in Karnataka, where a Bt cotton field was
reduced to ashes, cremations have gone on also in the state of Andhra
Pradesh. Activists of Rytu Sangham (AP Farmers Association) also stormed
Monsanto's office in that state's capital, Hyderabad, on Wedenesday the 1st
As a result of all these actions and the rising concern among farmers about
genetically modified crops, the Andhra Pradesh state government has asked
the Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) pvt Ltd to stop all its field trials
being conducted in seven districts of the state. Farmers and scientists
from Andhra Pradesh have convened a meeting in Anantapur on 13th December
to intensify the movement.
--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
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