On March 11, the Agriculture and Forestry Committee of the Canadian Senate
released its interim report on Genetically engineered BGH. They were very
much against it. The full report can be found at:
Here are the main recommendations:
LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS
1.The Committee recommends that Health Canada ensure full adherence to its
conflict of interest guidelines and, in cases of perceived conflict of
interest, publicly declare its reasons for accepting the appointment of any
individuals for whom a conflict is perceived. (page 10).
2.The Committee recommends that decisions about the safety of drugs for
humans, and the safety and efficacy of drugs for animals, be left with
Health Canada evaluators (page 11).
3.The Committee, having heard the suggestion of some witnesses, recommends
that the government conduct an evaluation of Health Canada's drug approval
process to ensure that it fully safeguards human and animal health and
safety. This evaluation should be undertaken by independent experts, either
in conjunction with any follow-up activities of the Auditor General of
Canada regarding the Health Protection Branch or subject to review by the
Auditor General (page 13).
4.The Committee recommends that no Notice of Compliance be issued for rBST
until the manufacturer submits the long-term studies identified by Health
Canada's rBST internal review team as data missing from its submission and
until a review of those studies more precisely determines any risks to
human safety (page 17).
5.The Committee recommends that Health Canada ask that the study requested
by the evaluators of the former Central Nervous
System/Endocrine/Antiparasitic Division be conducted and submitted in order
to meet the requirement of section C.08.004.(2) of the Food and Drug
Regulations (page 18).
6.The Committee recommends that once human and animal health and safety are
assured, the government establish an ongoing mechanism that would stimulate
public discussion on economic, trade, social, ethical and other
considerations related to drugs and medical devices that are being
considered by Health Canada. This mechanism should involve the Canadian
Food Inspection Agency where relevant, and may be one outcome of the Health
Protection Branch's Transition initiative (page 21).
7.The Committee recommends that Health Canada officials appear before the
Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry no later than June
1999 to provide information about the initiatives undertaken to resolve the
management problems identified in this report (page 22).
8.The Committee recommends that any federal government department asked for
information by a parliamentary committee fulfill that request completely
and as expeditiously as possible. Information that the department believes
to be proprietary should be presented to committees in camera, with a
rationale for maintaining confidentiality (page 24).
9.The Committee recommends that Health Canada, and in particular the Health
Protection Branch, explore means by which ongoing consultation with the
public, and information dissemination to it, can continue following the
Transition initiative (page 24).
Here is an inspiring personal report from: Paul Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fri, 12 Mar 1999
Subject: B-GE: UK TV
Brilliant TV program last night!!!!
Covered the whole Pusztai story, 'substantial equivalence', Caul Mosaic
Virus, lack of control in US, GM in baby food .......
Dr. Pusztai came out like a hero. Putting his reputation on the line
because he found something wrong, even though he was the man who originally
said the snowdrop lectin was fine. He was very calm, clear and like a
shining light in contrast to his devious and unbelievable opponents.
Nice touch in an american supermarket. At the check-out, the reporter asked
which products contained GM - check-out girl had no idea. 'Has anyone asked
you that before?', 'No sir, you're the first'.
Good interview with an american scientist pointing out how unpredictable
the science is. Also Dr. Howard of Liverpool, a leading expert in child
toxology, had a great impact. His concerns for children's & babies health
came over as very genuine.
Prof. James of the Rowett must be fuming!!! Everyone is now qouting him as
saying the current regulations are not comprehensive enough!!!! And
Minister Jeff Rooker ranted on again how fed up he is people talking about
the potato - 'This potato is not on the market'. However at the end of the
program the reporter said that they had research Government & EU papers and
had found that a number of crops containing the snowdrop gene are in the
pipeline for approval - cauliflower, rice, maize..... and a POTATO!!!!!
posted by MichaelP <email@example.com>
Royal Society sets up inquiry on Pusztai expts.
INDEPENDENT (London) March 11
Inquiry into work of GM food scientist
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
A high-powered team of scientists has been appointed to investigate the
work of Dr Arpad Pusztai, whose findings triggered a furore over
genetically modified (GM) food.
The Royal Society, Britain's most eminent body of scientists, has asked six
of the country's leading scientists to review the data that led Dr Pusztai
to warn that people who eat GM food are "unwitting guinea pigs in a mass
The six specialists were selected by the Royal Society for their expertise
in different disciplines and their independence from the Pusztai affair.
None has commented publicly on the controversy.
It is almost unprecedented for the Royal Society to establish what is
effectively an independent peer review of a scientist's unpublished work.
It was brought about because of the intense publicity associated with the
Last August, the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen suspended Dr Pusztai
after he claimed in a television interview that rats fed GM potatoes had
stunted growth and a defective immune system. The institute said Dr Pusztai
had no evidence on which to base his assertions and claimed that he had
become "muddled" over experiments that had not taken place. In February, 20
scientists, mostly friends of Dr Pusztai, signed a memorandum supporting
him, citing new evidence.
The members of the review team include experts in statistics, nutrition,
animal genetics, epidemiology and pharmacology. They will report their
findings next month.
Here is a recent Natural Law Party Press from release that I was forwarded
http://www.natural-law-party.org E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
11 March 1999
SCIENTISTS ALERT MPs TO BAN GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS
A special all-party briefing for MPs of the British parliament was held on
8 March in London in a House of Commons committee room, given by scientists
concerned about the introduction of genetically modified foods.
Professor John Fagan, an eminent molecular biologist with 23 years of
experience at the cutting edge of molecular genetics techniques in cancer
research, called for greater caution in the introduction of genetically
"If genetic engineering is to be used in agriculture and food production,
its implementation should be guided by the same kind of rigorous science
and testing that is now used to assess new pharmaceuticals and food
additives. Stringent short-term and long-term safety testing and
environmental assessment are essential," Dr Fagan told MPs.
An imprecise and uncontrolled process
Using detailed charts to explain the process of genetic engineering, Dr
Fagan showed how the insertion of specific new genes into an organism is an
imprecise and uncontrolled process that may influence biological
functioning in unpredictable ways. "There is always the risk that
genetically engineered foods may contain unintended allergens and toxins,
and may be reduced in nutritional value. Furthermore, genetically
engineered crops may disrupt the ecosystem by reducing bio-diversity,
damaging soil fertility, inducing the development of new pathogens, pests,
and weeds, and increasing the use of toxic and carcinogenic agrochemicals."
Dr Fagan is Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. He initiated
world-wide debate on genetics research in 1994 when he returned almost two
million dollars of grants from the US National Institutes of Health because
of concerns about the dangers of genetic engineering and the hazards of
releasing GM organisms into the environment. Dr Fagan is also chief
scientific adviser to Genetic I.D., a company that provides genetic testing
services to food, nutritional, and agricultural industries throughout the
world. The tests Dr Fagan has devised are significantly more sensitive than
any currently utilised by British authorities and can detect the minutest
trace of any GMO.
Medical and agricultural applications of genetic engineering
Dr Michael Antoniou, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pathology and head of a
research group at one of London's leading teaching hospitals, explained the
difference between clinical and agricultural applications of genetic
engineering. "Genetic engineering in medicine tries to correct a genetic
defect that is either inherited, as in muscular dystrophy or cystic
fibrosis, or acquired, as in cancer. Strict regulations quite rightly
demand that the use of genetic modification (GM) in medicine does not
result in the intentional release of viable GM organisms (GMOs) into the
environment," Dr Antoniou said. "In marked contrast, the use of GM in
agriculture tries to 'repair' plants that have nothing inherently wrong
with them. In agriculture, GMOs are produced specifically for their
intentional release into the environment.
"In medicine a new drug or therapy produced using GM must undergo
pre-clinical and, more importantly, clinical trials to assess not only
efficacy but also to detect any unexpected, undesirable side-effects.
However, for GM food no tests with human volunteers are required by law for
either toxicity or allergic reactions prior to marketing.
"Medicines are clearly labelled, and they are taken voluntarily, and the
effects are carefully monitored. None of this applies to GM foods. Under
current EU regulations most foods (90%) containing GMO-derived ingredients
need not be labelled. The lack of effective segregation means the public
has no choice as to whether to eat GM foods or not, and finally
post-release monitoring is non-existent. Any problem that subsequently
arises would therefore be virtually impossible to trace," he said.
Respecting natural boundaries
"If BSE has taught us anything it is that we should think twice about using
a technology in a manner that violates well established natural boundaries.
Nature works according to the principle of 'least action' (maximum economy)
suggesting that everything exists for a purpose. Natural boundaries or laws
can be seen as the means by which the evolutionary direction and integrity
of life is maintained.
"We should not lull ourselves into a false sense of security: we should not
think that by regulating something which is inherently unpredictable and
uncontainable it automatically becomes safe," he said.
Dr Antoniou is the author/co-author of more than 50 publications and is
biotechnology adviser to many organisations including the Soil Association
and the Society for the Promotion of Nutritional Therapy.
A total ban
Dr Geoffrey Clements, leader of the British Natural Law Party and a
physicist by training, emphasised that the scientific knowledge behind the
so-called technology is totally inadequate to guarantee that the GMOs now
being produced are free from hazards.
"It is like expecting a physicist trained under Newton to operate a nuclear
reactor," Dr Clements said. "The actual methods employed are intrinsically
dangerous and highly unnatural," he said, referring to the fact that
genetic modification can involve pieces of DNA from scorpions, fish
viruses, bacteria and other species being implanted in the DNA of cereals,
vegetables, fruits and animals.
"Contrary to the arguments being put forward, these are mutations of the
DNA that could never occur in nature. They are being made to occur in
isolated species over a time scale of one or two years. In nature,
evolution of the DNA usually takes place over millions of years, in a
natural environment of all species living together in balance.
"This means that we have no way at all of predicting any adverse results
that may happen. When the methods of genetic modification are understood -
that they involve pieces of virus and bacterial DNA, for example - it is
clear that we are unleashing potential disaster for all life forms.
"The only safe way forward is a total ban on all new GM crops and foods,
and a recall of all crops and products already being grown and prepared."
The Natural Law Party was the first political party to declare itself
opposed to GM foods, and it is now actively campaigning on the issue in 80
GM Farmers have Grounds for Concern
Experts warn of fall in land values similar to effect of contamination or
11th march 1999
GENETICALLY modified crops could reduce the value of agricultural land
across Britain and leave tenant farmers open to legal action, the
Government has been told.
In a warning which has sent tremors through the already crisis-hit farming
the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has said GM crops could
have the same effect on land values as contamination or the outbreak of
The RICS has sent a report to the Office of Science and Technology and several
other Government departments calling for the setting up of a land register
which potential buyers and banks could find out if and when GM crops had
been grown on a particular holding.
Environmentalists have backed the RICS and warned of disastrous
consequences for British agriculture if the Government presses ahead with
commercial scale GM
[This is top story for Mar 11, 1999 on OneWorld News
AGRICULTURE: Death To Monsanto, Say World Scientists
By Ranjit Dev Raj NEW DELHI, Mar 11 (IPS) - Conscientious genetic engineers
and activists from across the world Thursday called for a slow but sure
death for Monsanto, the U.S seed giant they say threatens life on earth
with its genetically modified crops.
''It must be death by a thousand cuts,'' said Tony Clarke, director of the
Polaris Institute in Canada which assists social movements to develop
tools, skills and strategies for fighting economic globalisation and
Clarke was among participants selected to devise future strategies against
'Genetic Engineering and Patents on Life' at the close of the two-day
'Biodevastation II' meet here.
Monsanto figured high on the agenda because of stiff resistance put up in
this country by farmers and activists to field trials in 40 widely separate
locations of genetically engineered Bt cotton carried out by the
corporation on doubtful authorisation.
Said Pushpa Bhargava, a distinguished India biotechnologist who has the
French Legion d'Honneur to his credit, ''clearance for the trials should
have come from Indian Council of Agricultural research (ICAR) - instead
clearance came from the Department of Biotechnology and after the trials
The Christian Science Monitor
March 10, 1999, Wednesday
SECTION: USA; GLOBAL REPORT; Pg. 1
Signs of the food fight to come
BYLINE: Laurent Belsie, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
HIGHLIGHT: Gene-spliced plants and hormone-treated beef raise ethical
questionsabout how much to fool with nature.
BODY: Geneticists are on the verge of revolutionizing
agriculture and medicine in much the same way computers have transformed
business. Labs around the world are working on crops that could feed a
growing planet, plants that could clean up contaminated soils, and pigs
whose organs may one day get trans-planted into people.
But to do these things, scientists are fooling with nature's basic building
blocks. As they do, they are kicking up dissent around the world as one
nation tries to sell its genetically altered foods to another's grocers.
The current food fight between the United States and Europe - over
hormone-treated beef and genetically altered soy beans - could be just a
prelude of arguments to come. That's because the greatest risks probably
don't lie with today's simple genetic alterations. Future rounds of exotic
agriculture pose bigger threats because they will put organisms to
completely new uses. The fundamental question: How much should science
manipulate nature to care for mankind?
And there's no going back, scientists say. Consider the US experience.
While Europeans debate how far to proceed with the new technology,
Americans are quietly ingesting the new foods, often without knowing it.
"The genie can't be put back," says Marshall Martin, an agricultural
economist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. "Anyone who eats
pizza or cheese on their hamburger has consumed genetically modified
food.... We pulled the cork out of the bottle in a sense with the discovery
For example, three-quarters of America's cheese gets its start with a
bioengineered enzyme. Nearly 1 out of 6 dairy farmers injects his cows with
a genetically engineered growth hormone to boost milk production. And
genetically modified crops are increasingly taking over farmlands - with
some 70 million acres planted worldwide, 60 million of it in North America.
This planting season promises more inroads. For example, half of America's
soybeans, perhaps more of its cotton, and a third of its corn could be
genetically modified - a remarkable adoption rate in the four years since
the new seeds were introduced.
Other countries are also moving rapidly to incorporate the technology. Last
year, some 650,000 farmers in China planted genetically modified cotton.
And this year Monsanto, which produces the cotton seed, expects to double
that number. Even the European Union has approved bioengineered soybeans
and corn. Small quantities of corn, genetically modified to resist pests,
are being grown in Spain and, if approved by France's high court, could
start showing up in the fields of Europe's largest corn producer.
Daily Express 12 March 99
Why soya is a hidden destroyer
Exclusive by Mark Townsend
Fresh fears over the safety of genetically modified foods surfaced faced
yesterday after new research revealed that food allergies relating to soya
Increased by 50 per cent last year A study by Europe’s leading specialists
on food sensitivity found health complaints caused by soya - the ingredient
most associated with GM foods - have increased from 10 in 100 patients to
15 in 100 over the past year.
Researchers at the York Nutritional Laboratory said their findings provide
real evidence that GM food could have a tangible, harmful impact on the
The findings were sent to Health Secretary Frank Dobson last night as
scientists urged the Government to act on the information and impose an
instant ban on GM food, while further safety tests are carried out. Dr
Michael Antoniou, senior lecturer in molecular pathology at Guy's Hospital,
Central London, said: "This is a very interesting if slightly worrying,
development. It points to the fact that far more work is needed to assess
their safety. At the moment no allergy tests are carried out before GM
foods are marketed and that also needs to be looked at."
John Graham, spokesman for the York laboratory, said: "We believe this
raises serious new questions about the safety of GM foods because it is
impossible to guarantee that the soya used in the tests was GM-free." It is
the first time in 17 years of testing that soya has crept into the
laboratory's top 10 foods to cause an allergic reaction in consumers.
Richard Wolfson, PhD
Consumer Right to Know Campaign
for Mandatory labelling and long-term
testing of genetically engineered food
500 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N2
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