September 9, 1999
Subject: Many other big blows in the face of the "FrankenIndustry" - New GM warning
from leading scientist + PANUPS: Seed Industry Giants + U.S. grain merchants paying
premium prices for non-GMO crops + Newsweek magazine has a three-page article about
genetically engineered foods
While Europe is spared from eating unsafe and untested Frankenfoods, people in America
are treated as guinea pigs in a giant lab experiment to test the long term effects
of eating foods designed to endure as much herbicides as the farmers can afford to
pay and to kill pests (and the Monarch butterflies and God knows what else, as a side-effect)
- "How do you like your dose of Bacillus Thurigensis (Bt) this morning Sir?"... all
this with the blessing of the U.S. and Canadian governments too weak to resist the lobbying tactics of the giant corporate vilains who care more about their bottom
line than our safety and health...
And Kudos to NewsWeek magazine (and Consumer Report!) for breaking the mainstream
newsmedia blackout on this crucial and most unreported issue - ask anyone in the
street if they know what GM foods or "transgenic" foods are. Most people never heard
of them. But I bet this is going to change real soon! And then watch for people's reaction
of outrage and revolt....
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
P.S. See also the other related posts on this subject:
Extensive Anti-Genetic Engineering Resource list - Farming's genetic revolution has yet to materialise and much much more and
An update on some of the problems faced
by the Genetic Engineering industry
Date: Tue, 07 Sep 1999
From: Jonathan <email@example.com
To: Ban gef <Ban-GEF@lists.greenbuilder.com
Subject: B-GE: New GM warning from leading scientist
This was on the front page of the Financial Times yesterday and it's front page of
the Daily Mail today. This piece is from today's Daily Express 97/9/99). Chesson
is generally regarded as a pro-GE scientists although like James, the head of the
Rowett, he has made a number of oblique and guarded references to similar concerns previously.
New GM warning over danger chemicals entering food chain
BY JOHN INGHAM ENVIRONMENT EDITOR
A TOP food scientist yesterday plunged the safety of genetically-modified food into
fresh doubt. He warned that current tests "may be insufficient" for new crops in
development. Dr Andrew Chesson told the Royal Society of Chemistry that tampering
with the genetic make-up of crops could produce new plant chemicals which may not be spotted
by traditional checks.
His strong comments are surprising because he played a leading role in discrediting
the research of former colleague Dr Arpad Pusztai who sparked a public scare about
Dr Chesson raised particular concern about crops such as GM oilseed rape which are
grown for industrial oils. The crushed seeds are fed to animals and any dangerous
chemicals could therefore enter the human food chain.
He said increased safeguards and new methods of disposing of these seeds may have
to be introduced. Dr Chesson, of Aberdeen's internationally- famous Rowett Research
Institute, told delegates: "No technology is risk-free. We need to be looking to
Dr Pusztai, a Hungarian-born world authority on plant research, lost his job at the
Rowett after claiming that rats fed GM potatoes suffered ill health. The claims embroiled
the Rowett in worldwide controversy.
Dr Chesson chaired the audit committee which ruled there was no evidence to support
Dr Pusztai's claims. Dr Chesson is a member of the government's Advisory Committee
on Animal Feeding Stuffs which holds its first meeting later this month.
Last night Dr Pusztai, who stands by his findings, welcomed Dr Chesson's "conversion".
He said: "Personal considerations should not really matter. It is much better that
people who are obviously in a position of power like Dr Chesson have come to realise
that you cannot take this technology on trust.
"But I do not think he has travelled far enough. He talks about improving analytical
procedures but if you do not know what you are looking for, you are most unlikely
to find it."
Pressure group Friends of the Earth said that Dr Chesson had at last "echoed" their
message. Spokesman Adrian Bebb said: "We welcome Dr Chesson's comments. It is quite
clear that GM foods are being forced into the food chain without adequate safety
tests. We welcome reputable scientists backing our concerns."
Greenpeace last night called for GM ingredients to be removed from the food chain
because of the risks detailed by Dr Chesson.
Earlier this year he told MPs he was satisfied by the safety checks on GM crops currently
being eaten in Britain. But his comments in Edinburgh yesterday raise doubts about
safety checks on all GM crops.
Predicting a rapid expansion of the GM crops grown commercially he said thought should
be given now to new procedures that will have to be adopted for "better safety scrutiny.
"He explained that when a plant is genetically modified, it may cause unexpected changes to its metabolism leading to new or differing levels of chemicals being produced.
And, he said, these chemicals may pose a risk to human health. He called for new,
more broad-ranging analytical techniques that do not rely on assumptions as to what is dangerous.
Express Newspapers Ltd
Further to the Express article posted on Chesson's comments on how GE
may cause unexpected changes to a plant's metabolism leading to new or
differing levels of chemicals being produced with potentially toxic
effects, here's part of what Profs James and Chesson told the House of
Lords earlier this year about current GM food regulation.
Do you think the assessment of genes which do not have proven track
records for food use is adequate at the moment? Is further research
needed in any area, for example in allergenicity?
(Professor James) Dr Chesson and I were discussing that a couple of
days ago and he may wish to comment on this. I think that is a very
difficult topic to assess, how do you know what level of "allergenicity"
we normally have with a range of foods? There is a big dispute about
that. If one is going to introduce a particular protein genetically one
can look at the structure of the protein and ask if we know that this
type of structure causes allergies. But if you say the structure may be
slightly modified in this particular plant, how on earth are we going to
assess whether that is going to induce in a very small subsection of the
population an unknown allergenic response? I am not sure how we are
going to cope with that yet.
(Dr Chesson) I think I agree, allergenicity is a particular example of
some of the issues that are facing regulatory bodies. As Professor James
said, the standard technique at the moment is to compare the structure
of the unknown protein with that of known allergens. There is an
assumption which may not be warranted, which is that if there is no
strong similarity then it is probable that that protein is not
We are still not convinced on the [EU's]Scientific Steering Committee
that we have got it right.
INVESTORS' CAUTION PUTS GM FIRM OUT OF BUSINESS
September 7, 1999
Jim Armitage, City Staff, PA News
Axis Genetics, which makes vaccines from genetically modified plants
which it claims are grown in enclosed greenhouses, has been forced into
receivership after investors shied away from pumping resources into it. Chief executive
Iain Cubitt was cited as telling the Financial Times Axis had suffered from nerves
among investors over getting involved with GM-related companies. It is thought to
be the first significant British genetic engineering company to enter insolvency proceedings.
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 1999
Subject: PANUPS: Seed Industry Giants
P A N U P S
Pesticide Action Network Updates Service
Seed Industry Giants: Who Owns Whom?
September 8, 1999
A shrinking number of colossal companies -- nicknamed the "Gene
Giants" -- dominate global sales of seeds and agrochemicals, according
to a new report released by the Rural Advancement Foundation
The top five Gene Giants (AstaZeneca, DuPont, Monsanto, Novartis,
Aventis) account for nearly two-thirds of the global pesticide market
(60%), almost one-quarter (23%) of the commercial seed market, and
virtually 100% of the transgenic (genetically engineered) seed market.
"The Gene Giants' portfolio extends far beyond plant breeding,"
explains Pat Mooney, Executive Director of RAFI. "From plants, to
animals, to human genetic material, they are fast becoming monopoly
monarchs over all the life kingdoms."
Five years ago, none of top five Gene Giants appeared on the list of
leading seed corporations. In fact, three of the top five companies didn't
even exist. Zeneca and Astra merged to form AstraZeneca; Rhone
Poulenc and Hoechst became Aventis; Ciba Geigy and Sandoz became
Novartis; and DuPont swallowed Pioneer Hi-Bred earlier this year.
Seed Industry Top 10
Company 1998 Seed Sales (US) Millions
DuPont (USA) $1,835+
Monsanto (USA) $1,800 (estimate)
Groupe Limagrain (France) $733
Savia S.A. de C.V. (Mexico) $428
AstraZeneca (UK and Neth.) $412
KWS AG (Germany) $370
AgriBiotech, Inc. (USA) $370
Sakata (Japan) $349*
Takii (Japan) $300* (estimate)
Top 10 Agrochemical Companies
Company 1998 Pesticide Sales (U.S.) Millions
Aventis (Germany) $4,676
Novartis (Switzerland) $4,152
Monsanto (USA) $4,032
DuPont (USA) $3,156
AstraZeneca (UK and Neth.) $2,897
Bayer (Germany) $2,273
American Home Products $2,194
Dow (USA) $2,132
BASF (Germany) $1,945
Makhteshim-Agan (Israel) $801
*Note: 1998 sales figures were not available for some seed companies
Consolidation: Vital Statistics
% The top 10 seed companies control approximately 33% of the US$23
billion seed trade worldwide.
% The top three seed companies (DuPont, Monsanto, Novartis) account
for 20% of the global seed trade.
% The top 10 agrochemical companies control 91% of the $31 billion
% The top five Gene Giants (AstraZeneca, DuPont, Monsanto, Novartis
and Aventis) account for nearly two-thirds of the global pesticide
market (60%), almost one-quarter (23%) of the global seed market, and
virtually 100% of the transgenic seed market.
RAFI, the Rural Advancement Foundation International, is an
international civil society organization headquartered in Canada. RAFI
is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and
to the socially responsible development of technologies useful to rural
societies. RAFI is concerned about the loss of agricultural biodiversity,
and the impact of intellectual property on farmers and food security.
RAFI's newly updated chart, Seed Industry Consolidation: Who Owns
Whom? will be available on RAFI's Web site, http://www.rafi.org.
Source: Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) News
Release, September 3, 1999.
Contact: RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation Int'l.) 110 Osborne St.,
Suite 202, Winnipeg MB R3L 1Y5, Canada; phone (204) 453-5259;
fax (204) 925-8034; email firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site http://www.rafi.org.
Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA
Phone: (415) 981-1771
Fax: (415) 981-1991
To subscribe to PANUPS, send email to email@example.com
with the following text on one line in the body of the message:
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999
From: Mark Graffis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: U.S. grain merchants paying premium prices for non-GMO crops
USA: September 8, 1999
CHICAGO - Grain merchants in the U.S. Midwestern Corn Belt said
yesterday they have started paying a premium for export-bound soybeans
and corn that have not been genetically altered, despite the higher
storage and handling costs involved.
"We are in the process of working on it right now," said one grain
merchandiser in the northern Midwest. "Bids for non-GMO (genetically
modified organism) cash soybeans are generally structured at about a
10-cent premium. It would be new-crop beans," from this year's
"We are trying to keep up with end-user demands," said the merchant,
who like others declined to be identified.
The value of GMO food crops is a sensitive issue as harvest approaches
in the Midwest. Plantings of the crops have expanded rapidly in the
past three years. About 35 percent of this year's U.S. corn crop and
55 percent of U.S. soybeans are genetically modified, industry sources
But a rising storm of protests from European consumers about potential
health and environmental effects of GMO foods and crops has prompted
caution by many grain exporters.
Although more than 30 GMO crops have been approved for use in the
United States, the U.S. grain industry was shaken last week when
Archer Daniels Midland Co. , a top exporter and processor, formally
warned its grain suppliers to keep GMO crops separate from
"I have heard anywhere from 8 to 15 cents (a bushel) premium on corn
and 20 to 30 cents for non-GMO soybeans," a grain merchandiser in the
western Corn Belt said.
"We are not sure what we are going to pay yet," he said. "We hear the
end-user is paying 12 to 15 cents or more on corn and 30 cents on
soybeans," he said.
The merchandiser noted that foodmakers overseas now appeared to want
to label their finished products as non-GMO.
"Consumers in Europe and in some parts of Asia, particularly Japan,
are willing to pay more for those type of crops," the merchandiser
In the eastern Corn Belt, one Indiana merchandiser said he was posting
a 10-cent premium for non-GMO corn and soybeans. "The beans are for
harvest period and the corn is for January through April," the
One type of soybeans known as Synchrony Tolerant Soybeans (STS),
produced by DuPont Co. , is already earning from 20 to 30 cents per
bushel premium at Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. over the
genetically engineered soybeans such as the "Roundup Ready" variety
produced by Monsanto Co. , said John Haas, a merchandiser at CGB
Market Development. STS soybeans are bred to resist the Synchrony
herbicide also produced by DuPont, while Roundup Ready soybeans were
engineered with a gene to resist Monsanto's popular Roundup herbicide.
Haas said his company has been paying a premium of 20 to 30 cents a
bushel for STS IP (Identity Preserve) soybeans and that last year CGB
paid more than $3 million in farmer premiums for speciality grains.
"We will be paying premiums for various types of non-GMO beans. But
the premiums are determined by the local elevators and in accordance
with regular supply and demand and location. There are a lot of
variables," Haas said.
With the harvest coming up, the biggest problem many elevators face
now is how to certify soybeans and corn that are not genetically
"How do you test it?" a merchandiser said. "The machines are not
available yet. You need to test genetic traits on the soybean or corn.
You can't take some guy's word for it."
Story by Doris FrankeL
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 1999
From: Jonathan <email@example.com>
To: Ban gef <Ban-GEF@lists.greenbuilder.com>
Subject: B-GE: Newsweek magazine has a three-page article
forwarded: The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
Dear Health Freedom Fighters,
Newsweek magazine has a three-page article about genetically engineered foods in this
week's September 13, 1999 edition. The article is titled "Frankenstein Foods?" It
focuses on the consumer protests in Europe and how that movement has forced the United
States to listen.
The article is posted below, but you may want to get a copy at the newsstand to view
the accompanying photos. Photos include a Greenpeace protester in a cornfield, French
farmers dumping apples at a MacDonald's restaurant, one of the French farmers in
handcuffs, and photos of some foods commonly available that contain genetically engineered
ingredients, including MacDonald's Mickey D's shakes.
Only one photo (the Greenpeace protester) is shown on the Newsweek web site at: http://newsweek.com/nw-srv/printed/us/in/in0111_1.htm
However, the web site is worth visiting because you can play a great audio clip about
genetically engineered foods just recorded this week. Click on the "Newsweek ON LINE Related Audio link." There you will
hear an segment of about seven minutes long that includes excellent comments from
Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
One final point, if you do drop by the newsstand to pick up the current Newsweek,
make sure you also get a copy of the September Consumer Reports. Our previous e-mails
informed you that the September issue of Consumer Reports magazine would cover genetically engineered foods. Now that we have had a chance to read the actual 6-page story,
we can report the Consumer Reports article is one of the best ever written on this
Craig Winters Executive Director The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
The Campaign PO Box 55699 Seattle, WA 98155 Tel: 425-771-4049 Fax: 603-825-5841 E-mail:
mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Web Site: http://www.thecampaign.org
Mission Statement: "To create a national grassroots consumer campaign for the purpose
of lobbying Congress and the President to pass legislation that will require the
labeling of genetically engineered foods in the United States."
That's what Europeans are calling genetically modified crops that abound in America.
Exporters have been forced to listen.
By Kenneth Klee
Don't look for the southern French town of Montredon on your globe. It isn't even
on local road maps, perhaps because it has only 20 inhabitants. But one of them,
a Parisian intellectual turned activist-farmer named José Bové, may change that.
He's the leader of the mobs of farmers who've trashed several McDonald's in France lately. Last
week, with 200 supporters chanting outside the jail, Bové declined a Montpellier
court's offer of bail and remained behind bars, the better to spotlight his cause.
And that would be? "To fight against globalization and advance the right of people to eat
as they see fit," he explained. Grievance No. 1: the U.S. desire to export genetically
modified crops and foods.
So far, so French, right? But spin that same globe to Peoria, Ill., home of U.S. agribusiness
giant Archer Daniels Midland. There, even as Bové's judges readied their decision,
the self-styled "supermarket to the world" was demonstrating that the customer is, indeed, always right. In a fax to grain elevators throughout the Midwest, ADM
told its suppliers that they should start segregating their genetically modified
crops from conventional ones, because that's what foreign buyers want. It didn't
matter that GM crops are widely grown by U.S. farmers, and that there's no evidence that the taco
chips and soda you're enjoying right now are anything worse than fattening. ADM had
noticed something new sprouting under the bright, warm sun of economic interdependence: a strange hybrid of cultural and economic fears. So it decided to act before the
problem got any bigger.
Public opposition to GM foods in Europe has been mounting for more than two years,
especially in Britain and France. Both Prince Charles and Paul McCartney have come
out against the stuff. Now the protests and the tabloid headlines about "Frankenstein
Foods" have reached such a pitch that they're reverberating across the Atlantic. Secretary
of Agriculture Dan Glickman, a longtime backer of biotechnology, admitted as much
in a key speech in July. So did Heinz and Gerber when they announced the same month
that they'll go to the considerable trouble of making their baby foods free of genetically
modified organisms. Groups such as Greenpeace, which have long fought biotech on
both continents, are crowing. U.S. trade officials, who face a tough fight keeping
markets open for American agricultural products, are worrying. And U.S. consumers, who
have never really thought much about genetically modified foods, are just plain confused.
As well they might be, given the vastly different experiences the United
States and Europe have had. In the United States, the FDA issued a key ruling in 1992
that brought foods containing GM ingredients to market quickly, and without labels.
Companies such as Monsanto introduced herbicide-resistant soybeans and corn that
makes its own insecticide. U.S. farmers loved the products; by 1998, 40 percent of America's
corn crop and 45 percent of its soybeans were genetically modified. In Europe, meanwhile,
there was no real central regulator to green-light the technology and allay public concerns, and many more small farmers for whom biotech represented not an opportunity
but a threat. Leaders have tried to steer a course between encouraging a new industry
and giving the voters what they want, including labeling rules.
So, to each his own, right? Not in 1999. If Europe is selling America Chanel perfume
and Land Rovers, America will want to sell Europe its soybeans and corn and maybe
even its fervent faith in progress. While European biotech companies such as Novartis
avoided the limelight, St. Louis-based Monsanto decided to press its case. The timing
was terrible. GM fears were already running high last summer when Monsanto ran an
informational campaign; Britain's 1996 bout with mad-cow disease, though unrelated,
had weakened European confidence in regulators and industrial-strength agriculture. Monsanto's
PR effort only made the mood worse, as have a string of bad-news food headlines since
then: dioxin-contaminated chicken in Belgium last spring; tainted Coke in Belgium
and France this summer, and a punitive U.S. tariff on imports of foie gras and other
products, imposed in July because Europe won't accept American hormone-fed beef.
That last, also nongenetic, dispute actually triggered the vandalism at McDonald's
last month. But to many of France's famously irascible small farmers, it's all of
a piece. Even among the broader public in France and Britain, the GM-foods issue
seems to be intersecting with second thoughts about globalization. French farmers protest American
imperialism. But just last week their biggest customers, grocery giants Carrefour
and Promodes, announced a $16.5 billion merger that will position them well in a
global battle with America's Wal-Mart and put further cost pressures on farmers. Britain
is a hotbed for Internet start-ups. But Brits still tune in to the BBC radio soap
"The Archers" to see if young Tommy will go to jail for helping a group of eco-warriors
wreck a GM-crop trial site on his uncle's land.
Would an American jury let Tommy go? Probably not. Consumers Union, whose Consumer
Reports magazine features a big piece on GM foods this month, has put together an
array of poll data suggesting Americans would like to see GM food labeled, but remain
interested in its benefits. Of course, if Tommy's trial were held in Berkeley, Calif.,
where the school board has announced a ban on GM foods, he might walk.
U.S. activists, encouraged by the successes of their European brethren, hope to build
on such sentiments. Some of the rhetoric is extreme, and one group or perhaps it's
just one person has resorted to vandalism, trashing a test-bed of GM corn at the
University of Maine last month and crediting the act to "Seeds of Resistance." But there's
science going on, too. A Cornell University study published in the journal Nature
in May found that half of a group of monarch-butterfly caterpillars that ate the
pollen of insecticide-producing Bt corn died after four days. What if the pollen spreads to
the milkweed the monarchs lay their eggs in? "The arguments aren't enough to say
we shouldn't have any biotechnology," says Rebecca Goldburg of the Environmental
Defense Fund. "But they are enough to say we should be looking before we leap."
Of course we should, says Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation and
an agricultural ecologist. Invited to speak to the Monsanto board in June, he used
the forum to talk about the need to go a little slower. But, he adds, don't worry
about the monarch. Bioengineers can stop the pesticide (which is supposed to kill caterpillars;
they eat the corn) from being expressed in pollen. "There are always problems in
the first generation of a new technology," he says. And, he adds, successes. The
foundation just unveiled a genetically modified rice grain it funded to improve nutrition
in the developing world. If a shouting match over GM foods should derail such not-for-profit
efforts, he says, "that would be a tragedy."
Agriculture Secretary Glickman doesn't see Americans growing as fearful as Europeans,
mainly because he thinks Americans have more faith in their regulators. He also thinks
that labeling of GM foods is a big part of the answer not mandatory labeling, which industry opposes and activists demand, but voluntary labeling. "I'm not going to
mandate this from national government level," he told Newsweek, "but I believe that
more and more companies are going to find that some sort of labeling is in their
own best interest." Especially companies that want to export.
Because, as ADM showed with its heartland-stopping announcement on Thursday, it isn't
only up to Americans anymore. Brian Kemp, a Sibley, Iowa, farmer, made an urgent
call to his elevator on Thursday to see if it would still buy his GM corn. It will
this year. "Europe is so important to the industry that it could mean we'll really have
to pull back on growing GM crops in this country," says Walt Fehr, head of Iowa State
University's biotech department. "Given the choice, who wants to grow GM?"
Glickman says the trade issue which is sure to generate plenty of heat at the November
World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle will be a tough one to resolve. "But
I think over the next five years or so we can get it done." That's a mighty slow
pace, considering how quickly the industry came along in the previous half decade. But then,
you generally do travel faster when you travel alone.
With John Barry in Washington, Scott Johnsonin Montpellier, Jay Wagner in Des Moines,
William Underhill in London and Elizabeth Angell in New York
Newsweek, September 13, 1999
BACK TO THE FIRST HOME PAGE OF THIS SITE