Many articles today. ...
In the Enviroment News Service:
BRITAIN PUSHES PANIC BUTTON OVER BIOTECH FOODS
LONDON, UK, February 19, 1999 (ENS) - An unprecedented wave of debate on
genetic technologies in agriculture has overtaken the UK over the past
week, putting the government and biotechnology firms firmly on the
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 1999
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Thanks to: Paul Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org> for posting this
The UK Independent 20 Feb 99
Scientists get the pip over GM tomatoes
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
It could turn out to be the ultimate GM nightmare for a British
biotechnology company, whose employees were pictured on the front of a
national newspaper eating genetically modified tomatoes.
The photograph in The Daily Telegraph of Dr Nigel Poole and colleagues from
Zeneca Plant Science showed the scientists munching their way through whole
tomatoes, seeds included. Now the company is to be reported to the
Government's health and safety watchdog for possible breach of the
regulations governing the escape of GM organisms into the environment.
Officials fear that the seeds of the GM tomatoes could have passed straight
through the digestive systems of the Zeneca staff and germinated in a
sewage farm somewhere in deepest Berkshire.
Professor John Beringer, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Releases to
the Environment, said yesterday that he has no option but to report Zeneca
to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which is responsible for
prosecutions under the regulations governing the containment of GM plants
"If they were knowingly eating the tomatoes including the seeds then they
are probably bringing about a release to the environment," Professor
Beringer said. "My colleagues are uncertain whether it would be examined as
a breach of the containment regulations, or whether it would be deemed a
deliberate release. It's probably a breach of containment."
Thanks to: email@example.com (jim mcnulty) for posting this:
Genetically altered foods bring new health scare to Britain
The Las Vegas Review-Journal
Chicago Tribune Publication Date: February 18, 1999
LONDON - After the mad cow scare, which put many Britons off eating beef
for a couple of years, comes concern over genetically modified foods.
It started with the disclosure that research into the effects of
genetically modified potatoes on rats showed that they suffered a weakened
immune system and damage to vital organs.
>From there it has snowballed into a major public health scare, with the
government of Prime Minister Tony Blair on the defensive, competing teams
of scientists confusing the public with conflicting reports as to whether
genetically modified food is safe and newspapers fanning the flames with
reports of "Frankenstein foods."
Blair's response to the controversy is being compared with that of the
former Conservative government, which downplayed initial reports that
British cattle were suffering from what became known as mad cow disease.
Later, a number of Britons died of a human variant of the disease, called
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and millions of cattle had to be slaughtered
after the European Union imposed a ban on British cattle sales abroad.
Up to 60 percent of processed foods in Britain contain materials that have
been genetically modified, but until last week there was no serious
suggestion they could be bad for humans.
But the Guardian newspaper revealed that British scientist Arpad Pusztai,
internationally renowned in the field of protein research, was forced to
retire from his job with the government-funded Rowett Research Institute
after he produced the report on rats, which was then suppressed. The
newspaper said 20 international scientists had signed a memorandum
supporting his findings.
Philip James, Rowett's director, has been accused of firing Pusztai because
[ Monsanto Co. ] , a leading producer of genetically modified crops,
donated $230,000 to the institute about two years ago. James denied there
had been any pressure from the St. Louis- based company.
With the government considering applications for the first commercial
planting of genetically modified crops in Britain, the scientists who
supported Pusztai called for a five-year moratorium on the sale of such
The government rejected that but ruled out any commercial planting of
genetically modified crops this year, a decision that could be overruled by
the European Union. France already faces legal action from the European
Commission for trying to block genetic crops.
There has been no continuing independent research in Britain into the
effects of genetically modified food on human and animal health.
The government was so eager to calm the public that it commissioned a
scientist, Jonathan Jones, to write an article on the benefits of
genetically modified food. Jones works for a research laboratory funded by
a charitable trust administered by Lord Sainsbury, the Labor science
minister whose family owns one of Britain's biggest grocery chains.
Sainsbury is a leading advocate of biotechnology.
Trouble for the government piled up on Wednesday when the Daily Telegraph
reported that a suppressed report written for the government last year
found that genetically modified crops could wipe out some farmland birds,
plants and animals.
The report was compiled by the biotechnology unit of the Environment
Department. The Telegraph said the government delayed its publication
indefinitely after the Agriculture Ministry expressed concern about its
Here is a message and article forwarded from Jonathan Matthews
<firstname.lastname@example.org> in UK
The following letter appeared in the Eastern Daily Press on 16/2/98, the
day that the Rowett finally lifted the gag on Dr Pusztai. It is worth
noting that the gag was only lifted after the House of Commons Science &
Technology Select Committee had invited Dr Pusztai to make a submission to
them (by 2nd March 1999) and to give a presentation to the Committee (on
8th March 1999). At that point the gag had obviously become pointless.
It is also worth noting that Dr Pusztai was gagged under a BBSRC code
that applies to all publicly funded scientists working in the area of
biotechnology in the UK.
Eastern Daily Press on 16/2/98
Scientist must not be gagged
BRIAN BAXTER, Lime Kiln Cottage, Swaffham.
Recently I spent some time in the company of Dr Arpad Pusztai and during
the whole time I spoke to him I was impressed by his knowledge, his
sincerity, his clear thinking, his good humour and his honesty. He was, in
my humble opinion, a very good man in every sense of the word.
During our conversation he told me of his work in the past under
different totalitarian regimes, all of which in their day were very
repressive. However, when he said that none of them, even Stalinist Russia,
had treated him with the repression that he has received in this country
over recent months it made me realise that we have much to be ashamed of.
It would appear for instance that no scientist is allowed to disclose any
discovery without it being passed by those in authority above. In other
words truth is no longer acceptable if it goes against the ideas or ideals
of those in power This is surely a disgrace to our nation as is the gagging
order which Dr Arpad Pusztai is still under.
Our Prime Minister has stated that the best way forward in the debate on
GM food is on the basis of scientific evidence, then surely Dr Arpad
Pusztai's evidence of the harm done to rats when fed on GM potatoes should
be evidence enough that everyone should proceed with more caution before
any of this food appears, if at all, in our diets.
[End Part 1]
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