September 6, 1999

Subject: An update on some of the problems faced by the Genetic Engineering Industry: GM bosses want to pull out of UK + New Marks Spencer policy on GM food + GM INDUSTRY FACES COLLAPSE, SAYS BANK + Rachel #666: The Bad Seed + Monsanto: All-natural sweetener is focus of bitter dispute

Hello everyone

I was not planning to send you this tonight, but I'm sure many of you will be interested to read a copy of this post just sent to my media list.

Circulate as you see fit...



My only comment is that we might soon be looking at the most welcomed end of an utterly dangerous, most environmentally stupid - and most notably greed-driven - attempt to create and market so-called genetically modified foods.

Please do not hesitate to give an echo of these important new developments in your newsmedia reporting.

And thanks for your attention to this material

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator

Independent, Sunday, 9-5-99

GM bosses want to pull out of UK

Top executives of Monsanto, the world's leading biotechnology firm, are pressing the board to pull out of genetically modified crop trials in Britain, because public hostility is damaging its business.

Senior company sources have told the Independent on Sunday that a powerful group within management is arguing that the trial plantings should cease entirely. Although the Monsanto chairman, Bob Shapiro, is insisting that the trials must continue, the company has already drastically scaled back its planting in Britain. Senior managers are deeply frustrated by the success of anti-GM campaigners in disrupting them.

The Independent on Sunday has also learned that the Clinton administration is so concerned at Monsanto's troubles in Britain that it is putting heavy pressure on ministers to allow a new GM maize, developed by the company, into British shops and supermarkets.

Monsanto's withdrawal would be a devastating blow, both to the GM industry and to Tony Blair who has made support for biotechnology an integral part of the New Labour "project" for Britain.

The Prime Minister is facing a revolt within his own party - expected to surface at this month's Labour party conference - over the pro-GM stance on which he has staked much of his authority. Shortly afterwards, Mr Shapiro will fly to Britain to plead his case at a Greenpeace conference.

Investors have been deserting Monsanto and other biotechnology companies as opposition to their GM products has grown; Monsanto shares have fallen by more than 10 per cent over the past six months. Deutsche Bank, Europe's largest, predicts that GM organisms will become a "pariah" for shareholders and a "liability" to farmers and warns of "an earnings nightmare" for Monsanto.

Statistics collected by Friends of the Earth from government documents show that Monsanto has cut its trials by three-quarters over the past 12 months. This year it has only about 30 sites around the country, compared with 110 in 1998.

Pete Riley, the pressure group's GM campaigner, said: "Monsanto are drastically scaling down their operations in the face of overwhelming public opposition to their activities in the UK. It is time they packed up and went home altogether."

Monsanto officially denies that there have been discussions about ending the UK trials and says that the reduction is not evidence of an impending withdrawal. A spokeswoman at its headquarters in Missouri said: "There have been no such discussions. We think it's important that people get the information that comes out of these trials."

But senior sources in the UK privately admit that some directors are indeed advocating a withdrawal. Peter Melchett, executive director of Greenpeace, says that this would be a disaster for the company. "If they cannot make it in England, where they have the most sympathetic government in Europe, it is hard to see how they could make it anywhere," he said.

Gardeners Against GM, Page 13

New Marks Spencer policy (from

Since 1st July all Marks Spencer foods (in the UK) have been made without using genetically modified ingredients. Our team of food technologists spent three months travelling the world to source identity preserved non-GM ingredients for our entire range of 3,500 foods.

As a result, we have changed more than 1,800 recipes to bring you what you have told us you want mouth watering, top quality food minus the genetically modified ingredients.

Only 21 products still contain traces of ingredients that may have been genetically modified. These were all made before we made our commitment to remove GM ingredients and we expect all of them to be sold by the end of the summer. In the meantime, all are clearly labelled and are listed overleaf, along with answers to the most frequently asked questions about GM foods. But, if you want further information, please call our freephone helpline on 0800 389 4367


A helpline is available to answer any queries you may have: 0800 389 4367 Why has Marks Spencer decided to stop using GM ingredients completely? By listening to our customers, we know that some of you are not comfortable with the pace at which this new technology has been introduced. As a result, we have removed all GM ingredients from St Michael food products, even though we remain confident in the safety of GM foods.

Why are there 21 products still on the shelves? This is some remaining stock of long life products made before our March announcement that we would remove all GM ingredients. These lines are clearly labelled, because the soya/maize ingredients may have been genetically modified. They are still perfectly safe to eat.

How long will these products remain on sale? Most of them will be sold by the end of the summer.

Have you stopped using GM derivatives? Yes. All ingredients made from soya and maize including derivatives such as oils, lecithins and starches have been checked and are now non-GM. We have also checked ingredients which themselves are sometimes made from these derivatives, such as vinegar and aspartame, and made changes where necessary.

Are GM ingredients used in animal feed? Animals are fed a diet that includes soya and maize, which could be genetically modified. We have a long track record of working with our feed suppliers to make improvements. Now we have dealt effectively with GM ingredients in our foods, we will turn our attention to animal feed.

"Modified Starch" is sometimes found in the list of ingredients. Is it genetically modified? No, but at the moment the law requires us to use this description even though it is confusing. It's made from cornflour that's been processed to make it more suitable for food use.


August 25, 1999

Daily Mail via NewsEdge Corporation : THE City has turned against 'Frankenstein Foods' with a warning from a leading investment bank that genetically modified crops have no future.

Deutsche Bank has produced a report for investors advising them to steer clear of companies associated with GM crops.

The influential report is a major blow to an enormously powerful industry which has previously tried to bully governments and consumers into accepting the tainted technology. The bank's report concludes simply that 'GM organisms are dead' because consumers are suspicious about their impact on human health and the environment.

It warns that farmers who plant GM crops could lose money, that the stock market value of GM companies could collapse and that food companies will not risk using such ingredients. The report admits that GM-free crops are already being sold at a higher price than their GM equivalent, which will encourage farmers to steer clear of the technology.

It concludes: 'If a two-tier market takes hold, we see premiums for high-value-added GM seeds collapsing. Very bad news for seed companies. test 'If GM seeds become a liability
rather than a driver of growth, we see growth rates and valuations coming down. Very bad news for seed stocks.'

City analysts including Deutsche Bank have previously been very positive about the prospects of the GM giants.

The report points out the saying they can be found in everything from soft drinks - with GM corn syrup used in some products - through to salads, with GM soya oil in the dressing. But the report warns this could be about to change: 'Perhaps we don't yet fully realise it, but genetically modified organisms have just crossed the line. Today the term GM has become a liability.

'We predict that GM, once perceived as the driver of the bull case for this sector, will now be perceived as a pariah.'

It adds: 'The message is a scary one - increasingly, GM organisms are, in our opinion, becoming a liability to farmers.'

Biotech companies and farmers who plant GM crops could be faced with expensive long-running court cases and 'a legal mess' if their pollen pollutes neighbouring fields, says the report.

More than 34 GM crops have so far been approved in the US, around 30 in Canada, more than 20 in Japan and around nine in the EU. But retailers and food manufacturers in Britain ranging from Marks Spencer to Sainsbury's, Unilever and Nestle have all turned their backs on GM ingredients in response to consumer fears.

The Deutsche Bank report, written by Tim Ramey, who is based in the US, says companies around the world are expected to take the same path.

'Expect virtually all others to follow, because the anti-GM crowd will threaten to stigmatise, demonise and boycott those that don't fall into line,' it says.

The report likens GM crops to nuclear power, in that environmental arguments can be made for both but there is little chance that either will win consumer support.

Attempts to force GM crops on to Europe seem certain to founder because of the arrival of cheap and easy tests which will allow buyers to identify and refuse them, it suggests.

The bank says predictions that the number of acres under GM cultivation will rise from 87million this year to 140million by 2001 must now be in jeopardy.

The report was leaked to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a think-tank based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which published its findings on the Internet.

British GM critic Jonathan Matthews, who has campaigned against the technology, said: 'This is a hugely significant contribution.

'The fact that a powerful City institution has realised that GM has no future because it has been rejected by consumers will send a loud message to the biotech industry.

'Without the support of shareholders, this industry has no future.'

City - Pages 53-55

<<Daily Mail -- 08-24-99

From: "Dave" <>
Subject: FW: Rachel #666: The Bad Seed
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999

Couple of highlights from the post below:

** The American Corn Growers Association, which represents
mainly family farmers, has told its members that they should
consider planting only traditional, unmodified seed next spring
because it may not be possible to export genetically modified

** Deutsche Bank, Europe's largest bank, has issued two reports
within the past six months advising its large institutional
investors to abandon ag-biotech companies like Monsanto and
Novartis.[3] In July, 1998, Monsanto stock was selling for $56
per share; today it is about $41, a 27% decline despite the
phenomenal success of Monsanto's new arthritis medicine, Celebrex.

Dave Hartley

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Monsanto Corporation of St. Louis has been maneuvering for more
than a decade to dominate the world's supply of seed for staple
crops (corn, soybeans, potatoes) -- a business plan that
Monsanto's critics say is nothing short of diabolical. Monsanto
says it is just devilishly good business.

Monsanto has spent upwards of $8 billion in recent years buying
numerous U.S. seed companies. As a result, two firms, Monsanto
and Pioneer (recently purchased by DuPont), now dominate the
U.S. seed business. Monsanto specializes in genetically modified
seeds -- seeds having particular properties that Monsanto has

The U.S. government is very enthusiastic about these new
technologies. From the viewpoint of U.S. foreign policy,
genetically modified seeds offer a key advantage over
traditional seeds: because genetically modified seeds are
patented, it is illegal for a farmer to retain seed from this
year's crop to plant next year. To use these patented seeds,
farmers must buy new seed from Monsanto every year. Thus a
farmer who adopts genetically modified seeds and fails to retain
a stock of traditional seeds could become dependent upon a
transnational corporation. Nations whose farmers grew dependent
upon corporations for seed might forfeit considerable political
independence. The Clinton/Gore administration has been
aggressively helping Monsanto promote ag-biotech, bypassing
U.S. health and safety regulations to promote new, untested
gene-altered products.

A key component of the U.S./Monsanto plan to dominate world
agriculture with genetically modified seeds is the absence of
labeling of genetically engineered foods. All U.S. foods carry
labels listing the ingredients: salt, sugar, water, vitamins,
etc. But three separate executive agencies -- U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency -- have ruled that
genetically-modified foods deserve an exception: they can be
sold without being labeled "genetically modified." This strategy
has successfully prevented consumers from exercising informed
choice in the marketplace, reducing the likelihood of a consumer
revolt, at least in the U.S., at least for now.

Earlier this year, opposition to genetically modified foods
exploded in England and quickly spread to the European
continent. (See REHW #649.) Burgeoning consumer opposition has
now swept into Asia and back to North America. The NEW YORK
TIMES reported last week that, "the Clinton Administration's
efforts have grown increasingly urgent, in an attempt to contain
the aversion to these crops that is leaping from continent to

** Recently Japan -- the largest Asian importer of U.S. food --
passed a law requiring the labeling of genetically modified
foods.[1] A subsidiary of Honda Motor Company immediately
announced that it will build a plant in Ohio and hire farmers to
supply it with traditional, unaltered soy beans. Soy is the
basis of tofu, a staple food in Japan.

Subsequently, the largest and third-largest Japanese beer
makers, Kirin Brewery and Sapporo Breweries, Ltd.,
announced that they will stop using genetically modified
corn by 2001. Other Japanese brewers are expected to
follow suit.

** The Reuters North America wire service reported Sept. 1 that
South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand have all now passed laws
requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods. Reuters
says the U.S. government has publicly protested against such
labeling laws and has privately lobbied hard against them,

** Grupo Maseca, Mexico's leading producer of corn flour --
recently announced it will no longer purchase any genetically
modified corn. Corn flour is made into tortillas, a Mexican
staple. Mexico buys $500 million of U.S. corn each year, so the
Grupo Maseca announcement sent a chill through midwestern corn
farmers who planted Monsanto's genetically modified seeds.[1]
About 1/3 of this year's U.S. corn crop is being grown from
genetically modified seeds.

** Gerber and Heinz -- the two leading manufacturers of baby
foods in the U.S. -- announced in July that they would not allow
genetically modified corn or soybeans in any of their baby
foods.[2] After the baby food announcements, Iams, the
high-end pet food producer, announced that it would not purchase
any of the seven varieties of genetically modified corn that
have not been approved by the European Union. This announcement
cut off an alternative use that U.S. farmer's had hoped to make
of corn rejected by overseas buyers.

** As the demand for traditional, unmodified corn and soy has
grown, a two-price system for crops has developed in the U.S. --
a higher price for traditional, unmodified crops, and a lower
price for genetically modified crops. For example, Archer
Daniels Midland is paying some farmers 18 cents less per bushel
for genetically modified soybeans, compared to the traditional

** The American Corn Growers Association, which represents
mainly family farmers, has told its members that they should
consider planting only traditional, unmodified seed next spring
because it may not be possible to export genetically modified

** Deutsche Bank, Europe's largest bank, has issued two reports
within the past six months advising its large institutional
investors to abandon ag-biotech companies like Monsanto and
Novartis.[3] In July, 1998, Monsanto stock was selling for $56
per share; today it is about $41, a 27% decline despite the
phenomenal success of Monsanto's new arthritis medicine,

In its most recent report, Deutsche Bank said, "...[I]t appears
the food companies, retailers, grain processors, and governments
are sending a signal to the seed producers that 'we are not
ready for GMOs [genetically modified organisms].'"

Deutsche Bank's Washington, D.C., analysts, Frank Mitsch and
Jennifer Mitchell, announced nine months ago that ag-biotech
"was going the way of the nuclear industry in this country."
"But we count ourselves surprised at how rapidly this forecast
appears to be playing out," they told the London GUARDIAN in
late August.[3]

In Europe, the ag-biotech controversy is playing out upon a
stage created by an earlier -- and ongoing -- scientific dispute
over sex hormones in beef.[4] About 90% of U.S. beef cattle are
treated with sex hormones -- three naturally-occurring
(estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone) and three synthetic
hormones that mimic the natural ones (zeranol, melengesterol
acetate, and trenbolone acetate). Hormone treatment makes cattle
grow faster and produces more tender, flavorful cuts of beef.

Since 1995 the European Union has prohibited the treatment of
any farm animals with sex hormones intended to promote growth,
on grounds that sex hormones are known to cause several human
cancers. As a byproduct of that prohibition, the EU refuses to
allow the import of hormone-treated beef from the U.S. and

The U.S. asserts that hormone-treated beef is entirely safe and
that the European ban violates the global free trade regime that
the U.S. has worked religiously for 20 years to create. The U.S.
argues that sex hormones only promote human cancers in
hormone-sensitive tissues, such as the female breast and uterus.
Therefore, the U.S. argues, the mechanism of carcinogenic action
must be activation of hormone "receptors" and therefore there is
a "threshold" -- a level of hormones below which no cancers will
occur. Based on risk assessments, the U.S. government claims to
know where that threshold level lies. Furthermore, the U.S.
claims it has established a regulatory process that prevents any
farmer from exceeding the threshold level in his or her cows.

In a 136-page report issued in late April, an EU scientific
committee argues that hormones may cause some human cancers by
an entirely different mechanism -- by interfering directly with
DNA.[5] If that were true, there would be no threshold for
safety and the only safe dose of sex hormones in beef would be
zero. "If you assume no threshold, you should continually be
taking steps to get down to lower levels, because no level is
safe," says James Bridges, a toxicologist at the University of
Surrey in Guilford, England.[4]

Secondly, the EU spot-checked 258 meat samples from the Hormone
Free Cattle program run jointly by the U.S. beef industry and
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This program is intended to
raise beef cattle without the use of hormones, thus producing
beef eligible for import into Europe. The spot check found that
12% of the "hormone free" cattle had in fact been treated with
sex hormones. EU officials cite this as evidence that growth
hormones are poorly regulated in the U.S. beef industry and
that Europeans might be exposed to higher-than-allowed
concentrations if the ban on North American imports were lifted.
"These revelations are embarrassing for U.S. officials," reports
SCIENCE magazine.[4] Nevertheless, the U.S. continues to assert
that its hormone-treated beef is 100% safe.

Thus we have a classic scientific controversy characterized by
considerable scientific uncertainty. This particular scientific
dispute has profound implications for the future of all
regulation under a global free trade regime -- including
regulation of toxic chemicals -- because the European Union is
basing its opposition to hormone-treated beef on the
precautionary principle. The U.S. insists that this precautionary
approach is an illegal restraint of free trade.

The EU's position is clearly precautionary: "Where scientific
evidence is not black and white, policy should err on the side
of caution so that there is zero risk to the consumer," the EU
says.[6] The Danish pediatric researcher, Niels Skakkebaek, says
the burden of proof lies with those putting hormones in beef:
"The possible health effects from the hormones have hardly been
studied -- the burden of proof should lie with the American beef
industry," Skakkebaek told CHEMICAL WEEK, a U.S. chemical
industry publication that is following the beef controversy

It appears that European activists have seized upon hormones in
beef, and upon Monsanto's seed domination plan, as a vehicle for
opposing a "global free trade" regime in which nations lose their
power to regulate markets to protect public health or the
environment. The NEW YORK TIMES reports that a Peasant
Confederation of European farmers derives much of its
intellectual inspiration and direction from a new organization,
called Attac, formed last year in France to fight the spread of
global free trade regimes.[7] The Confederation has destroyed
several McDonald's restaurants and dumped rotten vegetables in
others. Patrice Vidieu, the secretary-general of the Peasant
Confederation, told the TIMES, "What we reject is the idea that
the power of the marketplace becomes the dominant force in all
societies, and that multinationals like McDonald's or Monsanto
come to impose the food we eat and the seeds we plant."

What began as consumer opposition to genetically-modified seed
appears to be turning into an open revolt against the
25-year-old U.S.-led effort to impose free-trade regimes
world-wide, enthroning transnational corporations in the
process. If approached strategically by ALLIANCES of U.S.
activists and their overseas counterparts (and it MUST NOT be
viewed as merely a labeling dispute) genetic engineering could
become the most important fight in more than a century.

--Peter Montague
(National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO)

[1] "Melody Petersen, "New Trade Threat for U.S. Farmers," NEW
YORK TIMES August 29, 1999, pgs. A1, A18.

[2] Lucette Lagnado, "Strained Peace: Gerber Baby Food, Grilled
by Greenpeace, Plans Swift Overhaul -- Gene-Modified Corn and
Soy Will Go, Although Firm Feels Sure They Are Safe -- Heinz
Takes Action, Too," WALL STREET JOURNAL July 30, 1999, pg. A1.

[3] Paul Brown and John Vidal, "GM Investors Told to Sell Their
Shares," THE GUARDIAN [London] August 25, 1999, pg. unknown.

[4] Michael Balter, "Scientific Cross-Claims Fly in Continuing
Beef War," SCIENCE Vol. 284 (May 28, 1999), pgs. 1453-1455.

[5] "Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures
Relating to Public Health; Assessment of Potential Risks to
Human Health from Hormone Residues in Bovine Meat and Meat
Products." European Commission, April 30, 1999. 139 pgs. The
report is available in PDF format from: .

[6] "Europe's Beef Ban Tests Precautionary Principle," CHEMICAL
WEEK August 11, 1999, pg. unknown.

[7] Roger Cohen, "Fearful Over the Future, Europe Seizes on
Food," NEW YORK TIMES August 29, 1999, pg. unknown.

Descriptor terms: genetic engineering; farming; agriculture;
monsanto; pioneer; france; peasant confederation; beef industry;

Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999
From: Mark Graffis <>
Subject: Monsanto: All-natural sweetener is focus of bitter dispute

Copyright 1999 Christian Science Monitor Service


(September 2, 1999 12:26 a.m. EDT - Mina
Brustman is a health-conscious cook with a sweet tooth. She loves the
taste of sugar but could do without the calories. She's tried, of
course, the usual sugar substitutes, but she remains leery about
what's in them. So what's Brustman to do?

Ten years ago, she heard about stevia, an all-natural, noncaloric
sweetener used throughout Latin America and Asia. It comes from a
plant originally grown in Paraguay. When the leaf is processed, it
produces a powder that is as much as 300 times as sweet as sugar.
Brustman immediately found a supplier and started whipping up rich
creams and cakes.

"I cook for a lot of people that can't eat sugar," says the South
Carolina resident.

In the past four years, stevia has taken off in the United States. In
1994, there was only one supplier in Texas. Now there are more than
50, accounting for some $10 million of sales.

There's only one problem: Stevia is illegal as a food additive. In
1991, the [3]Food and Drug Administration banned the importation of
stevia and its use use in foods, saying it had questions about its
safety. In 1995, the agency relented somewhat. The FDA lifted the
import embargo and allowed the herb into the United States, but only
as a "dietary supplement."

Even so, the move infuriated many in the health-foods industry and
heightened their already tense relations with the FDA. It also
strengthened their belief that the government watchdog agency is in
the pocket of the powerful lobby of the chemical sweetener industry.

"They say it's safe as long as you use it as a dietary supplement, but
if you try to use it as a food it's unsafe?" says James Kirkland,
author of The Stevia Cookbook. "The battle goes back to influence on
the FDA from the artificial sweetener industry."

The FDA adamantly denies such assertions. Officials contend they're
simply trying to protect the American food chain from a product that
is unproven and potentially risky. In the original 1991 order banning
the import of stevia, the FDA pointed to some studies raising
questions about the herb's impact on blood sugar levels and fertility.

"The tests weren't very good; it was hard to tell what was even
tested," acknowledges Dr. George Pauli, director of the FDA's division
of product policy. "But there weren't any good ones either. It was
really the lack of studies that raised alarms."

The health-food lobby contends the studies the FDA relied on were old
and flawed. Supporters brought to its attention more than 180 studies
done in England, Japan, and Brazil which found the herb to be safe.

But the FDA needed more evidence. For a sweetener to be approved in
the United States, it requires a series of long-term tests on rodents
and other large animals. "We felt that since consumption would be
pretty high that the testing just hadn't been done," says Pauli.

But in 1994, Congress passed a law known as the Dietary Supplement
Act. That essentially says that if the FDA wants to ban a supplement,
it must prove that it's unsafe. Thus, stevia's position is an oxymoron
- deemed safe as a nutritional supplement, but not as a food additive.

As stevia's use continues to grow, so has criticism of the FDA and
some of its tactics. Last year, it started detaining shipments going
to a company called Stevita in Arlington, Texas, and ordered them to
stop selling their product, even though it was properly labeled a food
supplement. The company's crime? It was selling Kirkland's stevia
cookbook, which told consumers how to use stevia as a sweetener.

Marshals arrived at Stevita's offices. According to the letter from
the FDA's regional office, they were there to "witness destruction of
the cookbooks ... and other publications for the purpose of verifying

"I'm not going to burn books, no way. It really upset me
tremendously," says Oscar Rodes, the president of Stevita. "I gave a
VCR to my secretary and said, 'If I have to burn books, everything
will be on tape.' "

Rodes' daughter then called in the local media. That gave the
investigators pause. They marked six books so they couldn't be sold
then relented and left. Rodes's attorney raised First Amendment
issues. A month and a half later, the FDA released the shipments and
allowed Stevita to continue distributing its literature, except the

Such actions have fueled both resentment against the FDA and the rumor
that the artificial sweetener industry is pressuring the FDA to keep
stevia out of the market. In particular, Mary Stoddard, founder of the
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network, points to Monsanto, the makers of
aspartame, more commonly known as NutraSweet. In the mid-1980s, the
company bought a patent on a process to make stevia "table top" ready.

"Monsanto wields a lot of power in this country that's not immediately
apparent to the outside," says Stoddard.

But Monsanto officials deny they are working to keep stevia off the
market. "Food additives are a very, very regulated market. The
barriers are significant. They're not from Monsanto, it's just the way
the FDA works," says Etienne Veber, of Monsanto's NutraSweet division.
"It's very difficult for small entrepreneurs."

Rodes definitely agrees with that. He says he doesn't have the money
to do the kind of testing the FDA requires. But he believes that
stevia should fall into the FDA's category called GRAS, meaning
"generally regarded as safe." That applies to all foods that were
commonly used in this country before 1958. Since stevia was commonly
used throughout Brazil and Paraguay for many centuries, and has been a
leading sweetener in Japan and much of Asia for the past 25 years to
no ill effect, he believes the FDA should give it a GRAS designation
as it has with other foreign products.