Thanks to Bradford Duplisea <email@example.com> for posting the next
LA Times Staff Writer
Sunday, March 14, 1999 (Full Page Feature Story)
In the Land of Sushi, Lab Tomato Strikes Out
Biotechnology: The Japanese government and companies face a major hurdle in
winning public acceptance of genetically engineered foods.
By SONNI EFRON, LA Times Staff Writer
TOKYO--Pity the "transgenic" tomato. It has become a marketing disaster on
both sides of the Pacific, and a cautionary tale for Japanese biotechnology.
It began life in a California laboratory as a miracle product, a tomato
bioengineered to be tasty but slow to spoil. It was the first gene-spliced
food to win approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And in
1994, when Kirin Brewery Co., Japan's top beer maker, acquired the Japanese
rights to the Flavr-Savr tomato from Calgene Inc. of Davis, Calif., it
seemed like a sure-fire winner.
Kirin quickly won approval from Japan's Health and Welfare Ministry to
market the tomato here, and set to work crossbreeding it with Japanese
species to produce the pink color, particular taste and compact growth
characteristics that consumers and farmers here prefer.
But before the tomato got near the supermarket shelves, a Japanese consumer
group that opposes genetically engineered food threatened to boycott every
Kirin product--including its beer--if the company dared to put its brave
new product on the market.
Kirin pulled the offending vegetable. In a recent interview, company
spokesmen politely avoided comment on the boycott threat, but said Kirin
will not try to market its tomato--or any other genetically modified
food--until and unless the Japanese public is prepared to accept it.
"Until we resolve the taste, color and growth issues, we can't sell it,"
explained spokesman Hirotaka Ishikawa. "In addition, we need to have the
public's understanding. Right now, people feel resistance even when they
hear the words 'genetic engineering.' "
But Kirin has by no means abandoned bioengineering. It is quietly
continuing efforts to produce a genetically superior tomato--even though
Calgene's Flavr-Savr has been a dud with U.S. shoppers. ...
Now the government is mounting a public education campaign to persuade the
Japanese public that gene-spliced foods also are unobjectionable.
Powerful anti-GMO farm lobbies, along with consumer and environmental
groups, are pitted against some of Japan's largest agribusinesses, which
are developing such genetically modified products as rice, melons,
tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers and would like to bring them to
A Lack of Incentive? Government officials are worried that unless the
prevailing negative attitude toward GMOs can be changed, the biotech
industry will have little incentive to pursue research and development and
Japan will fall even further behind in the vital technology.
"If private companies find that, like Kirin, they can develop a product and
pass all the legally required safety checks but then can't sell it, we're
in trouble," said Makoto Tabata, who works on promoting biotech research in
the Innovative Technology Division of the agriculture ministry. "They will
lose the motivation to invest."
PUBLICATION Agence France Presse English
DATE Thu 18 Mar 1999
SECTION/CATEGORY International News
BYLINE by Philip Pank
Consumer power rears its head to drive GM food off supermarket shelves
LONDON, March 18 (AFP) - Hostility to genetically engineered food reached a
highpoint across Europe Wednesday when leading supermarket chains bowed to
consumer pressure and decided to chase "Frankenstein food" from their
In Britain, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer supermarkets announced that
they would remove all genetically-modified (GM) ingredients from their
The high street giants launched a Europe-wide consortium which also grouped
the French hypermarket retailer Carrefour, Delhaize of Belgium, Migros in
Switzerland, Effelunga in Italy and the Irish group Superquinn.
The group pledged to eek out non-GM sources in farmers' fields and not to
mix these with known GM crops.
At present, genetically engineered produce is found in an estimated 60
percent of processed food.
The British government is due to clarify its policy on GM crops soon, amid
calls for a three-year moratorium on planting GM crops here. London has
recently tempered its wholehearted support for the produce.
Consumers in Britain and elsewhere have become alarmed at the potential
health hazards of eating food that has been concocted using genes from
Environmentalists fear that crops implanted with herbicide-resistant genes
will be sprayed with powerful chemicals that will decimate surrounding
plant and animal life.
They are also concerned that nature's ingenuity will create bionic bugs
capable of withstanding the chemicals used on new super crops.
"Our customers have indicated to us very clearly that they do not want
genetically-modified ingredients in their food and we are taking steps to
offer that guarantee," said a spokeswoman for Sainsbury's, Britain's second
biggest supermarket chain.
Britons are slowly waking to the benefits of eating healthy food.
The change follows a string of food scares here, including the "madcow"
panic sparked after the government admitted that consumers who ate infected
beef could contract a fatal brain-wasting disease, a deadly outbreak of
e-coli food poisoning and a spate of salmonella in eggs.
Sainsbury's environmental manager Alison Austin said that "by establishing
verified non-GM sources in the farmer's field and ensuring segregation
through the supply chain we will be GM free.
"We always wanted GM and standard crops to be separated and were extremely
disappointed when this did not happen with the US soya crop."
The supermarkets said that they would look towards Canada and Brazil for
supplies of natural soya.
Retailers complain that the giant US producers cannot guarantee that their
shipments are free of genetic engineering, because they mix beans at
Imports of soya beans from the United States into Europe has emerged as a
political hot-potato amid a wider dispute between the two trading blocks
over import policy.
Three European countries, Italy, Austria and Luxembourg, have imposed
unilateral bans on US soya imports, despite European Union clearance.
next article posted by Paul Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
UK Daily Mail 18 March 99
GM giant's milk hormone "is cancer risk"
By SEAN POULTER
Consumer Affairs Correspondent
A HORMONE designed by "Frankenstein Food" giant Monsanto to make cows
produce more milk could put the health of the animals and humans at risk. A
damning report compiled by scientists for the European Commission reveals
that the genectically-engineered drug BST is deeply flawed. The chemical,
which is injected into the animal, is said to increase yields by 10-15 per
cent, so increasing profits for farmers.
But research suggests the milk may contain higher levels of a hormone which
has been linked to increased incidence of certain cancers. The damning
report is set to start an international trade war between Europe and the
United States, where the drug is already in use. The U.S. government is
demanding that a two-year moratorium on the use of BST in Europe must be
lifted by the end of the year - opening up a lucrative new market for
Monsanto. However the evidence of the study can only lead European
governments, including Britain, to oppose any attempt to legalise BST.
The push by Monsanto and the Clinton administration to bully Britain and
the rest of Europe to take BST has echoes of the controversy involving
genetically-modified crops. Monsanto effectively forced Europe to take its
Roundup Ready GM soya by mixing it with natural crops shipped across the
Atlantic. As many as 30 per cent of American cows are injected with BST and
U.S. campaigners complain that most of the milk stream is adulterated
because milk from different dairies is mixed before it reaches consumers.
The EU investigation suggests the extra milk production promised by BST
treatment puts enormous strain on animals which are already struggling to
cope with creating unnatural amounts of milk. Specialist breeding
techniques already mean cows are 20 per cent bigger than 20 years ago,
while the yield has soared by 50 per cent.
Cows have become no more than an udder and stomach on thin legs-producing
80 pints of milk a day, eight times more than any calf can drink. Professor
Donald Broom, who carried out the EU study says the animals cannot tolerate
the even greater strain produced by BST, with particular problems of udder
infections, or mastitis.
"There's too much mastitis, leg disorders, reproductive disorders and
injection site problems - and this is not a medicine, this is a substance
that doesn't have to be used, and we think it shouldn't be used," he said.
His views will carry enormous weight for he is world renowned in the field.
He is both Professor of Animal Welfare at Cambridge University and Chairman
of the European Union's Scientific Veterinary Committee.
His committee has concluded that claims by Monsanto that it is has carried
out research proving the safety of BST - Bovine Somatotropin - are deeply
flawed. Details were revealed on Channel 4 News last night, which has also
seen parallel research on the potential impact on human health.
This separate study will warn of a small but significant increase in the
risk of cancer from BST milk. It suggests that a hormone - IGF-1 - is
increased in milk by the use of BST This same hormone has been linked to
some cancers. Monsanto's research found IGF-l was not increased by BST, but
Professor Brown argues: "They got it wrong."
next article posted by Paul Davis <email@example.com>
>From the BBC March 18, 1999
Fines back up GM labeling rules
Restaurants will be fined if they do not label GM food
The UK Government is claiming to lead the way in Europe by bringing in
tough new regulations to force all food-sellers to tell customers if items
contain genetically-modified ingredients.
Local authorities are being given powers to enforce a European Union
directive requiring labelling of all products containing GM soya or maize.
These will be backed up by £5,000 fines for those who fail to provide full
information to consumers.
In a written parliamentary answer, Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker
said: "The government is determined that consumers should be able to
choose whether or not to eat genetically-modified foods.
Restaurants must declare any GM food
The Daily Telegraph London
March 18, 1999
RESTAURANTS and cafes will be forced to tell their customers about any
genetically modified ingredients contained in their food under measures to
be announced by the Government today.
It is expected that declarations will have to be made on menus. Bakers and
delicatessens will also have to comply with the new labelling controls,
which will exceed current European Union requirements.
At present EU labelling regulations lay down that all foods sold in shops
and supermarkets must be clearly marked if they contain more than two per
cent of GM ingredients.
The move follows an announcement this week that Marks & Spencer is to ban
all genetically modified food from its shelves.
Sainsbury's said yesterday that it is to ban genetically modified
ingredients from its own-brand foods and that it has joined a consortium to
ensure supplies of non-GM ingredients in future.
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, payable to "BanGEF" and mailed to the above
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