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Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 15:37:02 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hot news from ABC-TV re: FDA and BGH drug in cows/milk
ABC News just aired an explosive report on the FDA's failure to evaluate
properly recombinant bovine growth hormone (BGH) drug. The story can be
accessed right on the front page at ABC's web site, http://www.abcnews.com
Or go directly to the story at the website:
The text of the story follows: ....................................
Is Cow's Milk Additive Safe?
Consumer Group Launches Action Against FDA
A genetically engineered drug called bovine growth hormone (BGH) has been
given to 30 percent of U.S. dairy cows over the last five years to make
them produce more milk.
There has been indirect evidence that BGH might contribute to breast and
prostate cancer in humans, and today a consumer group called the Center
for Food Safety began legal action to have the hormone pulled off the
market. CFS is charging that the Food and Drug Administration has ignored
evidence of potential health hazards from BGH.
Twice a month, genetically engineered BGH is injected into 3 million
dairy cows in the United States. The milk these cows produce is then
shipped throughout the country as milk, cream, cheese and yogurt, and in
baked and other goods. Products from cows that receive BGH are almost never
labeled as such.
The FDA concluded that milk from these hormone-treated cows is "safe for
human consumption." But a recent review of the evidence challenges the
Company Supplied Data "It was their job to take a careful look at every
study," says Andy Kimbrell from the Center for Food Safety. "We now know
they did not do so."
When the FDA approved bovine growth hormone, it relied in part on an
unpublished animal study done by the Monsanto Corp., the same company that
wanted to sell the hormone.
The FDA publicly reported the study's results, saying that rats fed high
doses of the hormone over a 90-day period showed no evidence they had
absorbed the hormone.
Canadian Study Showed Risks In Canada, where the use of BGH is now being
hotly debated, government scientists recently reviewed all the data from
the Monsanto study, and came up with startlingly different conclusions.
The Health Protection Branch of the Canadian government says the Monsanto
study actually provided evidence that 20 to 30 percent of the rats did
absorb the hormone into their bloodstream. The Canadian scientists say that
the data also showed that some male rats developed cysts in the thyroid,
and that higher levels of the hormone were detected in the prostate.
Five government scientists in Canada had enough questions about the
safety of BGH that they recently took the unprecedented step of making
their concerns known to the public.
"If it wasn't for the Canadian government researchers, we probably never
would have known the full results of this 90-day rat feeding study," says
Michael Hansen of Consumers Union. "It should have triggered long-term
toxicity testing, but the FDA did not require that testing."
The FDA declined ABCNEWS requests for an interview. As for Monsanto, it
maintains that the hormone is safe, and that milk from cows treated with
the hormone is no different from any other.
But Vermont's two senators are not so certain. They have now asked Donna
Shalala, secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, to
formally investigate the FDA's approval of BGH and whether the agency
"overlooked" important evidence about its safety.
Pesticide Action Network
December 14, 1998
Monsanto Prosecutes U.S. Seed Violators
Monsanto is tracking down U.S. farmers who are replanting seed from
Monsanto's genetically engineered crops. In the company's own words,
"Monsanto is vigorously pursuing growers who pirate any brand or variety of
its genetically enhanced seed, such as Roundup Ready soybeans and cotton
and Bollgard cotton."* The company has hired five full-time investigators
to follow up on seed saving leads that it receives. To date, Monsanto has
at least 475 cases in the U.S., generated from over 1,800 leads. More than
250 of these cases are under investigation in at least 20 states. Monsanto
maintains that seed saving is illegal even if a farmer did not sign an
order or invoice statement for the seed at time of purchase.
In one case, an Illinois farmer admitted saving and replanting Roundup
Ready soybeans and also acknowledged that he traded the seed with neighbors
and a local seed cleaner in return for other goods. The farmer's settlement
with Monsanto included a US$35,000 fine plus full documentation confirming
disposal of his soybean crop. In addition, the farmer and all other parties
involved must allow Monsanto to inspect their soybean production records
and provide full access to all of their property, both owned and leased,
for inspections, collection and testing of soybean plants and seed for the
next five years.
Other cases include:
-- A Kentucky grower who was fined US$25,000 for illegally saving seed;
-- An Iowa farmer who paid US$16,000 for seed saving; and -- Two Illinois
farmers who settled with Monsanto for US$15,000 and US$10,000.
Each of these growers will also undergo on-site farm and record inspections
for at least five years.
No one knows exactly how many farmers in industrialized countries save seed
from their harvest each year. By some estimates, 20% to 30% of all soybean
fields in the U.S. midwest were typically planted with farmer-saved seed, a
practice now threatened by Monsanto.
Monsanto adds a US$6.50 "technology" fee to each 50 pound bag of Roundup
Ready soybean seed, which is enough to plant just under one acre. Monsanto
introduced Roundup Ready soybean seed three years ago, and by next year,
analysts estimate that at least half of the 70 million acres of soybeans
grown in the U.S. will be Roundup Ready. Based on these figures, Monsanto
will collect approximately US$200 million in technology fees alone on the
seed next year.
Worldwide plantings of Monsanto's genetically engineered crops more than
doubled this year to approximately 55 million acres (22 million hectares).
In 1997, some 23 million acres were planted, and in 1996 Monsanto's
transgenic crops were grown on only three million acres. In 1998, the vast
majority of these crops were grown in the U.S. -- primarily Roundup Ready
soybeans (25 million acres) and YieldGard maize* (11 million acres).
For a recent presentation to the AGM of the Ecological Farmers Association
of Ontario on the issue of risks and opportunities of GE for organic
farmers, go to the home page of:
Dr. E. Ann Clark
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 2508
FAX: 519 763-8933
Financial Times (London)
December 14, 1998, Monday
LONDON EDITION 3
SECTION: WORLD NEWS - EUROPE; Pg. 02
Blow to hopes for use of genetically altered seed
BYLINE: By Robert Graham in Paris
BODY: Industry hopes that France might soon permit the use of certain
genetically altered corn seeds have been delivered a new blow.
France's Council of State, which monitors administrative law, had
previously deferred judgment on whether the government was justified in
authorising the introduction in 1997 of three varieties of corn seed
produced by Novartis, the Swiss group.
The council was due to rule on the issue later this month.
But the council has now decided to consult the European Court of Justice on
whether France was obliged to authorise the sale of Novartis' genetically
altered corn seeds, after European Commission permission in January 1997 to
put the seeds on the market. This unusual step underlines the political
sensitivity of the issue in France, where Greenpeace and radical Green
farmers' groups oppose the introduction of this type of corn.
In September the Council of State decided to freeze the distribution of the
three types of corn seed until it had made its ruling. According to lawyers
familiar with the case, the referral could delay a Council of State
decision by well over a year.
This article comes from
December 15, 1998
Senators want review of growth hormone's FDA approval
WASHINGTON, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Senators from the U.S. dairy state of
Vermont last month asked Health Secretary Donna Shalala to review a federal
approval of a bovine growth hormone, a spokesman for one of the senators
said on Tuesday.
Republican Senator Jim Jeffords and Democrat Patrick Leahy, had urged
Shalala to investigate whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
had correctly appraised studies on the safety of the genetically engineered
bovine growth hormone recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST).
The hormone is used to boost average milk yields in dairy cows by 10-15
Canadian authorities reviewing an application for use of the growth
hormone in Canada have raised questions about one of the studies the FDA
cited when it gave Monsanto Inc. permission to market rBST in the United
Canadian scientists said the study, prepared by the company itself,
included evidence that 20-30 percent of test rats given high doses of the
hormone showed signs of the chemical entering their blood streams.
Some of the rats developed cysts and prostate problems, the researchers
found, concluding that more studies were needed on the long-term effect of
rBST use. They also raised questions about the effect of the drug on cows.
Jeffords and Leahy had also cited concerns raised by Canada's review of
the Monsanto study, and asked Shalala to evaluate the FDA's handling of the
hormone's approval, said Leahy's spokesman David Carle.
Shalala's office had received the letter and promised the senators a
speedy reply, Carle added.
ABC News reported earlier on Tuesday that a consumer group, the Center
for Food Safety, had initiated legal action against the FDA, alleging the
agency had not paid enough attention to the possible dangers of using the
Mark Ritchie of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy said the
hormone should be withdrawn from the market immediately until possible
health risks could be assessed.
"We now see there's potential of cysts in thyroids, of prostate, perhaps
breast cancer," he told ABC. "It should come up until we know what are the
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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