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Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 13:48:25 +0100
From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
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Tuesday December 15
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.(NYSE:MTC - news) permission to market rBST in the
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hormone should be withdrawn from the market immediately until possible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 long-term impacts.''
Newbury school board says no BGH
Associated Press, 09/15/98 01:04
NEWBURY, Vt. (AP) - Milk that comes from cows treated with a controversial
hormone will not be served at Central School in Newbury.
The School Board has voted to make it the first community in the state to
explicitly ban milk products that come from cows treated with the bovine
In the absence of studies on the long-term effects of drinking milk from
BGH- treated cows, the School Board decided to be cautious.
``After close study, the board decided it was better to err on the side of
caution and approve the ban,'' said board member Gerry Thomas. ``There
haven't been any long-term health studies in humans on the effects of
The Independent (UK) 18 Dec 98
Monsanto to be prosecuted over crops
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Monsanto, the multinational chemicals company, is to be prosecuted for
allegedly breaching the rules on the growth of genetically modified crops.
It is the first prosecution of its kind.
The Health and Safety Executive yesterday said that it is prosecuting both
Monsanto and an agricultural seed company, Perryfields Holdings, over their
failure to comply with regulations designed to control the spread of pollen
from modified crops.
Details of the alleged incident appeared this summer in the minutes of the
government's Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment. Members of
the committee found that herbicide-resistant oilseed rape was growing too
close to neighbouring crops.
The minutes stated: "It was found that the pollen barrier surrounding the
trial . was only two metres wide on the site of the trial, rather than the
required six metres. The trial . had already flowered and pollination with
the surrounding crop may have taken place."
The HSE said Monsanto and Perryfields Holdings allegedly failed to comply
with one of the conditions agreed under the Enviromental Protection Act by
which the companies were permitted to grow modified oilseed rape at a site
Caistor Magistrates Court in Lincolnshire is to hear the case next month
and, if found guilty, Monsanto faces a fine of up to £20,000, or an
unlimited fine if the case goes to a Crown Court.
Monsanto yesterday said it regretted the breach of consent and that it had
taken immediate steps to limit any potential enviromental impact.
The Guardian (London) December 17, 1998
SECTION: The Guardian Features Page; Pg. 20
HEADLINE: Bad taste; It is consumers, not scientists, Blair should be
listening to on the subject of genetically engineered food
BYLINE: Peter Melchett
BODY: AT a seminar on science this week, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and
David Blunkett were told that genetic engineering represents "opportunities
to be seized" and that they should beware of "bio-fundamentalists". As the
only "bio - fundamentalist" present, I said that industry and UK government
scientists were not trusted by the public - and for good reason.
In crucial areas such as food -from pesticides to mad cow disease -
they've simply got it wrong. Chatham House rules prevent other comments
Throughout the last 50 years, the Government has poured millions of pounds
into intensive, industrialised food production. The problems that Rachel
Carson highlighted in her book, Silent Spring, should have forewarned us of
the disasters to follow - the stripping of nature from the face of our
countryside, the revolting cruelty of industrialised livestock farming,
culminating in the catastrophe of mad cow disease.
At the seminar, it was clear that, 20 years later, nothing has
fundamentally changed. The agenda of official British science is still
dominated by the old -fashioned mindset that big is best, and that the more
intense our manipulation or interference with nature through science, the
better the outcome will be. Environmentalists are enthusiasts for science,
which plays a crucial role in identifying environmental problems like
damage to the ozone layer and climate change.
But scientific policy advice given to politicians comes from a tightly
drawn "inner circle". Although knowledgeable in their fields, these
"experts" have often proved to be incapable of appreciating how the real
world works (as with BSE), and equally incapable of taking seriously issues
that matter to the public (cows shouldn't eat cows).
In the UK, there is a strong presumption that the comfortable smoking-room
consensus among elite decision-makers is automatically right. They even
fail to ask the right questions, let alone provide sensible answers. THE
seminar was dominated by genetic engineering.
This new technology involves even greater conflict with natural systems
than the industrialised agriculture it builds on. It is now the dominant
force in British science.
Most of the scientists seemed to want the Government to treat applications
of genetic engineering in food and in medicine in the same way. The public
see them quite differently. Buying food for your family and getting a
prescription from your doctor are not the same, whatever the genetic
engineering enthusiasts may say. Someone who is ill, and voluntarily takes
something to make them better, chooses to take a risk explained to them,
for a clear, hoped-for, personal benefit. None of this applies to
genetically engineered food.
The Prime Minister was given some very unscientific speculation, for
example, that genetic engineering is needed to feed the world's growing
population. There is no evidence for this, and a study, just reported in
Nature, found that the positive alternatives of organic agriculture can
"produce equivalent crop yields to conventional methods".
Science has a role to play in decisions about food production.
But as a Government Research Council group of scientists said of the
arguments about dumping the Brent Spar: "Any decision to proceed, or not to
proceed, with such activities involves social, economic, ethical and
aesthetic considerations which are outside the competence of the group, and
judgments in which the technical assessment of the environmental impacts is
only one factor, and not necessarily the most important one."
The decision on whether to proceed with genetically engineered food also
involves social, economic, ethical and aesthetic considerations - and
questions about need, who benefits, who runs the inevitable risk, and
questions about the unpredictable and the unknowable. Above all, if it is
to represent the public interest, Government must listen to
environmentalists, non- establishment scientists and the public, who just
do not want it at all.
In saying some of this to Tony Blair, I was accused of exaggerating to make
a point. But my overwhelming impression was that the Prime Minister and his
colleagues, like their predecessors over the last 50 years, were being
presented with a cosy consensus, which ignored overwhelming public
concerns, and establishment science's record of failure, not success.
Lord Melchett is executive director of Greenpeace UK
India Today December 21, 1998
SECTION: Science; Pg.69
Monsanto: Seeds of Confusion
BYLINE: Subhadra Menon
The MNC's woes grow with the terminator gene mix up
BODY: It's perhaps only a case of mistaken identity. But the controversy
raging over it is assuming serious proportions. At the centre are two tiny
seeds no more the size of a pea. One is reported to be the panacea to the
woes of the Indian cotton farmer.
The other is the dreaded terminator gene that threatens the sons of the
soil with permanent dependence on western technology. Coincidentally
Monsanto, the US seeds and bio-tech company, is connected with the
development of both the seeds.
While the multinational's Bollgard is a genetically engineered strain of
cotton, the terminator -- which Monsanto is currently in the process of
acquiring from Delta and Pine Land, another American seeds concern -- is a
technology that would allow seeds to be generated only once.
For many Indian farmers and grassroots activists, this is why Monsanto is a
red rag. When the company started conducting field trials of Bollgard,
claiming it was a huge success in six countries worldwide and that it was
resistant to bollworms -- pests that feed on cotton -- farmers were
furious. The trials, carried out jointly with the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds
Company (Mahyco), covered 25 sites across eight states -- Maharashtra,
Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and
Punjab. The Bollgard gene was tailored to well-known Indian hybrids like
MECH 1, but it did little to allay the fears of farmers who set fire to
some trial sites and launched a nationwide protest.
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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