>Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 11:13:54 -0500
>From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
>X-MIME-Autoconverted: from quoted-printable to 8bit by smv13.iname.net id
>From: firstname.lastname@example.org (jim mcnulty)
>Sowing Dependency or Uprooting Hunger?
>By Rick Weiss
>Washington Post Staff Writer
>Monday, February 8, 1999; Page A09
>After focusing for decades on getting crops to grow bigger and better,
>agricultural scientists are turning their talents to a more difficult task:
>making plants that kill their own offspring.
>Depending on who's talking, the quest is either a sincere effort to solve
>the world hunger crisis or a corporate plot to impose economic slavery on
>the world's farmers.
>So far, the so-called Terminator system of seed-killing genes exists in
>just a few experimental tobacco plants in U.S. greenhouses and is at least
>five years away from being commercialized anywhere. Yet the debate over the
>technology has already become so polarized and emotional that farmers in
>India recently went on a rampage and burned several fields of crops rumored
>to harbor the deadly genes.
>The "Technology Protection System" (TPS, dubbed "Terminator" by critics)
>was developed by scientists at the Agriculture Department and the Delta &
>Pine Land Co., a Mississippi seed company that is being purchased by St.
>Louis-based Monsanto Co.
>The goal was to help U.S. biotechnology companies retain control over their
>patented, genetically engineered crops by making it impossible for farmers
>to collect the seeds from those crops for replanting the following year.
>Seed saving is a tradition in much of the world, but the practice makes it
>difficult for seed companies to recoup their research and development costs.
>TPS is a clever, three-gene system that forces plants to produce a toxin
>that is fatal to their own seeds, compelling farmers to buy new seed each
>year. The poisoning--by a plant toxin that is harmless to people--occurs
>late enough in the season so the seed retains its value as a source of food
>The tricky part, said TPS co-inventor Mel Oliver of the USDA's Agricultural
>Research Service (ARS) in Lubbock, Tex., was to make a plant that kills its
>own seeds when growing in farmers' fields, but makes healthy seeds when
>growing on company land. That is necessary if the company is to grow
>multiple generations of the plants as a source of seeds to sell.
>To do so, the researchers manipulated the plant's DNA so the seed-suicide
>gene was under the control of yet another genetic mechanism, which
>suppresses the death gene indefinitely. In the suppressed state the plants
>produce fertile seeds, and the company can replant those seeds to grow more
>plants to make more seeds for sale.
>Just before they are sold, however, the seeds are sprayed with a chemical
>"inducer" (in one version, it's the antibiotic tetracycline), which
>overcomes the suppressor, waking up the dormant seed-killing gene. The
>seeds grow into plants that make any of several seed toxins, such as the
>appropriately acronymed Ribosomal Inhibitory Protein (RIP).
>Several international agricultural and environmental organizations have
>been raising alarms about Terminator, saying it directly threatens the more
>than 1 billion families in the developing world who are subsistence farmers
>unable to afford new seed each year. The Consultative Group on
>International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a foundation-supported global
>consortium that develops new seed varieties for the Third World, has
>declared that it will not incorporate the technology into any of its seeds.
>"Once you've got farmers hooked on it and they've lost their traditional
>[crop] varieties, it is very hard to go back again," said Geoffrey Hawtin,
>director general of CGIAR's International Plant Genetic Resources Institute
>in Rome. "Then these companies will be sitting pretty on a captive market."
>Other groups have called for a ban on the technology. "It is a threat
>globally to food security, which is a basic human right," said Mark
>Ritchie, president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in
>Critics also worry that pollen from Terminator plants could fertilize
>nearby native plants and make them sterile, triggering an epidemic of crop
>sterility. Recently, warnings to this effect have been popping up on Web
>sites and in seed catalogs and agricultural newsletters. "Plant diversity,
>world food supply at risk. Terminator seed technology threatens farmers
>worldwide," read a special alert inserted in the spring 1999 catalog of the
>Burlington, Vt.-based Gardener's Supply Co., recently mailed to about 1
>Carrefour To Withdraw Gene Foods From Store Shelves
>F.CAR PARIS (Dow Jones)--France's Carrefour SA (F.CAR), the world's
>third-largest retailer, announced in an in-house magazine that it will take
>all genetically modified food products off its shelves, citing scientific
>uncertainties and French public opinion.
>The decision affects 516 of the 1,783 food products the retailer sells
>under the Carrefour brand at its hypermarkets. Of the 516, 286 will be
>replaced with equivalent natural food products and 221 will be kept on the
>shelves and systematically tested to make sure they don't contain
>genetically modified organisms. Carrefour will stop producing the nine
>Carrefour said it won't put genetically modified foods back on its shelves
>until "the law is clear and precise on this matter." The company made its
>decision known earlier this week through an editorial in the February issue
>of Le Journal de Carrefour, an in-house monthly magazine.
> Greenpeace, the international environmental protection group, praised
>Carrefour's decision in a press release issued Friday, predicting that it
>would "shake the industry in the U.K. and Europe."
>-By John Carreyrou; (331) 53 00 03 03; email@example.com (END) DOW JONES
>Lord Sainsbury - surely he can't last much longer???
>UK Daily Mail 10 Feb
>Genetic Food Watch Campaign
>The Mail forces Sainsbury's to label "Frankenstein foods"
>SAINSBURY'S is to label hundreds of products containing "Frankenstein food"
>derivatives in a major victory for Daily Mail readers.
>The country's second biggest supermarket chain revealed the U-turn
>yesterday amid allegations that it had been "misleading" shoppers.
>Foreign biotech companies such as U.S. based Monsanto, the food industry
>and the Government have been accused of forcing genetically modifled (GM)
>food on to the nation. Consumers are angry that the products were
>introduced without any proper consultation or any study on their long-term
>effect on human health.
>The situation has been made worse by the fact the labelling of GM foods is
>hopelessly flawed, leaving people who want to avoid them in the dark.
>EU rules, enthusiastically adopted by the Government and the food industry,
>mean some products containing GM crops are already identified. But many
>more are not. Sainsbury's had refused to label products containing the
>derivatives of crops such as soya and maize which have been genetically
>It argued that, because the DNA of the GM crop did not exist in the
>derivatives - for example, lecithin and oil from soya and modified starch
>from maize - there was no need to label.
>The chain also insisted the derivatives had been so highly processed that
>they were no different to those produced from natural crops.
>Yesterday, however, Sainsbury's issued a statement saying: "We have decided
>to label products which contain GM soya lecithin and GM soya oils, in
>addition to labelling products containing GM soya. The first labelled
>products will begin to appear on the shelf in the next couple of months."
>"We will be informing customers about this with a new, updated leaflet."
>Sainsbury's original policy put it out of step with rivals such as Tesco,
>which labels the derivatives. GM ingredients are used in huge range of
>products - approximately 60 per cent of supermarket foods - from curry
>ready-meals to chocolate puddings and steak pies.
>If these are not labelled clearly it becomes impossible for wary families
>to avoid them. Now Sainsbury's, which conČ tinues to refuse to label the
>derivatives of GM maize, will have to either reformulate its products or
>order new packaging for many own-label products.
>The chain's statement added: "Our policy is still to reduce the number of
>products that contain GM ingredients by sourcing non-GM ingredients or,
>where possible, by finding an alternative to soya, but where we are unable
>to do so we will label products clearly."
>Sainsbury's has been at the forefront of the GM food debate, not least
>because a member of the family behind the supermarket empire, Sainsbury of
>Turville, is Labour's Science Minister.
>The former billionaire chairman of J. Sainsbury is seen as a powerful
>advocate for GM foods in government. He has poured millions into GM crop
>research through the Gatsby Foundation, a charitable trust. The industry
>and the biotech firms behind the food revolution have been accused of
>supporting a deliberately confused labelling system. There are clear
>indications that consumers who want nothing to do with GM foods will
>boycott products which are clearly labelled
>A survey published today by market research analysts Mintel shows 78 per
>cent of the public
>want GM foods to be clearly labelled to allow them to choose whether to buy
>A Government study published yesterday by the Better Regulation Task Force
>found 53 per cent believe laws are needed to curb the spread of GM food
>The survey found that almost 31 per cent of Britons consider GM foods "pose
>a serious' risk to their families" Friends Of The Earth food campaigner
>Adrian Bebb said last night: "This is a welcome retreat by Sainsbury's. It
>doesn't go far enough, but at least the stores are beginning to respond to
>public demands for fuller information."
>The consumers' Association welcomed the move too but said it was only a
>small step to providing a "clear labelling regime'" A spokesman added: "The
>decision by Sainsbury's demonstrates that even supermarkets feel the
>current GM labelling rules don't go far enough." Tory trade and industry
>secretary John Redwood, who has been in the vanguard of calls for clearer
>government policy, said: "Consumers are concerned about what is in their
>food and labelling needs to be completely clear." "We welcome the decision
>by Sainsbury's. It shows the campaign for better information is beginning
>Meddling Minister revealed: Sainsbury's links to the 'Frankenstein food'
>by Paul Eastham Deputy Political Editor
>NEW questions about the Governmentis policy on "Frankenstein foods" were
>raised last night when it emerged that Lord Sainsbury retains control of
>his #163#500 million charitable trust that pumps millions into
>genetically modified crops.
>Despite insisting he has severed all links with the GM industry, the
>Science Minister still holds ultimate "hire and fire" power at The Gatsby
>Foundation. Since 1990 alone, the foundation has injected #163#l8milllon
>into the study of genetically engineered organisms. A Daily Mail
>investigation has also established that the billionaire ex-chairman of
>Sainsbury's supermarket chain maintains a web of other links after placing
>close friends in charge of his other extensive investments in GM
>technology. The dossier is the most conclusive evidence yet to back up
>accusations that the Minister - who was one of New Labour's biggest donors
>in opposition - is involved in a "blatant conflict of interest" by being
>in charge of decisions that could affect his own shares. Tony Blair has
>admitted that Lord Sainsbury has huge influence over GM policy.
>Green campaigners and senior Tories demanded his removal, saying it was
>unacceptable that a Minister so deeply convinced of the virtues of GM food
>should be taking sensitive decisions about what appears on our plates.
>Food Fright - The more we know about how our meals are produced, the less
>reassured we are.
>By Sheila McKechnie
>Guardian (London)Wednesday February 10, 1999
>After more than a decade of food scares and scandals, is it surprising that
>we trust neither government nor industry? That we're suspicious of the
>genetic manipulation of food and we want the Government to act? That we
>want to know what is really going on and we want to make our own choices?
>We are deluding ourselves if we think that choice will solve all the
>problems. As the food chain grows ever longer we're increasingly dependent
>upon others to provide us with safe food. As we browse the supermarket
>shelves, how can we be sure that the food is healthy and isn't
>contaminated? The more we know about how our food is produced, the less
>reassured we are likely to be. How many of us will feel comfortable about
>eating chicken after John Vidal's graphic description of life
>on the chicken line in Tuesday's Guardian? We can't measure the amount of
>tin leaking into tinned tomatoes, or the amount of pesticides contaminating
>our fresh fruit and vegetables, or the presence of GMOs in many processed
>foods. Most of us can't make sense of the information which is supposed
>help us - on food labels. With words so weasel and so tiny, the average
>food label gives little away. So, increasingly, we have to trust industry
>and government and hope someone out there is looking out for us. The rise
>in food poisoning and the growing evidence of long-term health damage >from
>bad diet has convinced us that something, somewhere has gone seriously
>wrong. Despite this, the food industry has an unshakeable belief in
>whizz-bang techniques to conjure up the impossible - food that is safe and
>nutritious but also cheap enough to beat the global competition. We remain
>to be convinced that technical solutions are the answer. In fact, we're
>increasingly thinking that the opposite is true. While scientists are
>mucking about with our food, the evidence is that we want less, not more,
>technological input. This is what's driving demand for organic food and why
>it is currently outstripping supply.
>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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