June 4, 1999
Subject: Prince Charles' article against Genetically Modified Organisms + AVOIDING AND BANNING DANGEROUS FOODS
Following my recent posting to you on this subject, I recommend to you this most
excellent questioning by Prince Charles of the wisdom of pursuing "in the fields"
experiments with genetically modified foods and the mass cultivation of these Frankencrops.
Jean Hudon Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000
From: Steve Emmott (Stephen Emmott) [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, 2 June 1999
This is the text of an article yesterday in the UK Daily Mail - According to the media
today Prince Charles has single-handedly wrecked the Blair government's efforts to
calm public fears over GM food and crops.
Questions about Genetically Modified Organisms
An article by The Prince of Wales
The Daily Mail, 1st June, 1999
The debate about the use of GM technology continues, with daily news of claims about
the safety or the risks. The public's reaction shows instinctive nervousness about
tampering with nature when we don't know all the consequences. There are unanswered
questions which need to be asked - about the need for GM food, its safety, the environmental
consequences, consumer choice and the usefulness to feed the world's growing population.
At the end of last year I set up a discussion forum on my website on the question
of GMOs. I wanted to encourage wider public debate about what I see as a fundamental
issue and one which affects each and every one of us, and future generations. There
was a huge response - some 10,000 replies have indicated that public concern about the
use of GM technology has been growing. Many food producers and retailers have clearly
felt the same overwhelming anxiety from their consumers who are demanding a choice
in what they eat. A number of them have now banned GM ingredients from their own-brand
products. But the debate continues to rage. Not a day goes by without some new piece
of research claiming to demonstrate either the safety or the risks of GM technology.
It is very hard for people to know just who is right. Few of us are able to interpret
all the scientific information which is available - and even the experts don't always
agree. But what I believe the public's reaction shows is that instinctively we are
nervous about tampering with Nature when we can't be sure that we know enough about all
Having followed this debate very closely for some while now, 1 believe that there
are still a number of unanswered questions which need to be asked.
1. Do we need GM food in this country?
ON THE basis of what we have seen so far, we don't appear to need it at all. The benefits,
such as there are, seem to be limited to the people who own the technology and the
people who farm on an industrialised scale. We are constantly told that this technology may have huge benefits for the future. Well, perhaps. But we have all heard
claims like that before and they don't always come true in the long run - look at
the case of antibiotic growth promoters in animal feedstuff...
2. Is GM food safe for us to eat?
There is certainly no evidence to the contrary. But how much evidence do we have?
And are we looking at the right things? The major decisions about what can be grown
and what can be sold are taken on the basis of studying what is known about the original
plant, comparing it to the genetically modified variety, and then deciding whether
the two are 'substantially equivalent'. But is it enough to look only at what is
already known? Isn't there at least a possibility that the new crops (particularly
those that have been made resistant to antibiotics) will behave in unexpected ways, producing
toxic or allergic reactions? Only independent scientific research, over a long period,
can provide the final answer. 3. Why are the rules for approving GM foods so much
less stringent than those for new medicines produced using the same technology? Before
drugs are released into the marketplace they have to undergo the most rigorous testing
- and quite right too. But GM food is also designed in a laboratory for human consumption, albeit in different circumstances. Surely it is equally important that we
are confident that they will do us no harm?
4. How much do we really know about the environmental consequences of GM crops?
Laboratory tests showing that pollen from GM maize in the United States caused damage
to the caterpillars of Monarch butterflies provide the latest cause for concern.
If GM plants can do this to butterflies, what damage might they cause to other species?
But more alarmingly perhaps, this GM maize is not under test. It is already being grown
commercially throughout large areas of the United States of America. Surely this
effect should have been discovered by the company producing the seeds, or the regulatory authorities who approved them for sale, at a much earlier stage? Indeed, how much
more are we going to learn the hard way about the impact of GM crops on the environment?
5. Is it sensible to plant test crops without strict regulations in place?
Such crops are being planted in this country now - under a voluntary code of practice.
But English Nature, the Government's official adviser on nature conservation, has
argued that we ought to put strict, enforceable regulations in place first. Even
then, will it really be possible to prevent contamination of nearby wildlife or crops, whether
organic or not? Since bees and the wind don't obey any sort of rules - voluntary
or statutory - we shall soon have an unprecedented and unethical situation in which
one farmer's crops will contaminate another's against his will.
6. How will consumers be able to exercise genuine choice?
Labelling schemes clearly have a role to play. But if conventional and organic crops
can become contaminated by GM crops grown nearby, those people who wish to be sure
they are eating or growing absolutely natural, non-industrialised, real food, will
be denied that choice. This seems to me to be wrong.
7. If something goes wrong with a GM crop, who will be held responsible?
It is important that we know precisely who is going to be legally liable to pay for
any damage - whether it be to human health, the environment, or both. Will it be
the company who sells the seed or the farmer who grows it? Or will it, as was the
case with BSE, be all of us?
8. Are GM crops really the only way to feed the world's growing population?
This argument sounds suspiciously like emotional blackmail to me. Is there any serious
academic research to substantiate such a sweeping statement? The countries which
might be expected to benefit certainly take a different view. Representatives of
20 African states, including Ethiopia, have published a statement denying that gene technologies
will 'help farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st Century'. On the
contrary, they 'think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the
sustainable agricultural systems * and undermine our capacity to feed ourselves'. How
much more could we achieve if all the research funds currently devoted to fashionable
GM techniques - which run into billions of dollars a year - were applied to improving
methods of agriculture which have stood the test of time? We already know that yields
from many traditional farming systems can be doubled, at least, by making better
use of existing natural resources.
9. What effect will GM crops have on the people of the world's poorest countries?
Christian Aid has just published a devastating report, entitled Selling Suicide, explaining
why GM crops are unlikely to provide solutions to the problems of famine and poverty.
Where people are starving, lack of food is rarely the underlying cause. It is more likely to be lack of money to buy food, distribution problems or political difficulties.
The need is to create sustainable livelihoods for everyone. Will GM crops really
do anything to help? Or will they make the problems worse, leading to increasingly industrialised forms of agriculture, with larger farms, crops grown for export while
indigenous populations starve, and more displaced farm workers heading for a miserable,
degraded existence in yet more shanty towns?
10. What sort of world do we want to live in?
This is the biggest question of all. I raise it because the capacity of GM technology
to change our world has brought us to a crossroads of fundamental importance. Are
we going to allow the industrialisation of Life itself, redesigning the natural world
for the sake of convenience and embarking on an Orwellian future? And, if we do, will
there eventually be a price to pay? Or should we be adopting a gentler, more considered
approach, seeking always to work with the grain of Nature in making better, more
sustainable use of what we have, for the long-term benefit of mankind as a whole? The
answer is important. It will affect far more than the food we eat; it will determine
the sort of world we, and our children, inhabit.
Copyright St James's Palace and the Press Association Ltd 1999. All rights reserved.
Steve Emmott Policy Advisor-Genetic Engineering
Green Group in the European Parliament 1047 Brussels
Tel +32 2 284 2026 Fax +32 2 284 2026
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999
From: email@example.com (Peter M. Ligotti)
Subject: Banning Dangerous Foods, Executive Summary
Genetically Engineered Food--Bacteria/Virus Warning
Invincible Global Action Plan: Executive Summary
Total, Complete Internet-Based System
AVOIDING AND BANNING DANGEROUS FOODS
(This is specifically written for people who know
little about GE food. If you are "in the know," please send
this summary to your friends, etc. If you want a complete
and detailed three-part report on GE food and the plan, please
do the following: Make e-mail copies or hard copies of this
executive summary and then forward this executive summary
to five or more people. Then order the longer series --
please see below. This is an honor system, so please send this
to your five contacts first before ordering the complete plan.)
UPDATED EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: June 4, 1999
1. Foods that we assume to be natural foods and eat every day
have been genetically engineered with the DNA of bacteria,
viruses, animals, and fish. The chemical/genetic engineering
industry has done this secretly over the past three years.
2. Although the chemical/genetic engineering industry claims
to have good motives and good intentions for doing this,
they are essentially experimenting with the human race
on a mass scale.
3. The chemical/genetic engineering industry claims that
genetically engineered food is just a natural extension
of time-tested crossbreeding and hybridization. Actually this
is a new, experimental, very dangerous, AND radical technology.
The process causes unnatural mutation and combination of the
DNA in our food in a manner which excludes nature out of
the process. This means we and our children are now eating
lab-created, mutated and experimental "fake" food. They are
experimenting, not only with us and with our children, but with
the entire food chain. The European Commission has been drawing
up a 5-point emergency response designed to cope when
genetically engineered food results in widespread illness or
destruction of wildlife. The USDA, FDA, and EPA in the U.S.
support the multi-national corporations that are responsible
for this genetically engineered food disaster.
4. The chemical/genetic engineering industry claims that
these "scientific advances" will help solve the problem of
world hunger. Their actual main motive is to create profit
windfalls by increasing sales of their pesticides and dominating
the entire food supply. For example, the patent on Monsanto's
pesticide/herbicide known as "Roundup" will expire soon.
Monsanto has enticed farmers with their experimental crops that
are genetically engineered to absorb and tolerate their
chemical pesticides and their other crops which create
their own pesticide internally. Monsanto, DuPont, and Novartis are
also taking direct action to buy out and bring the world's largest
seed companies under their control. Opponents of genetically
engineered foods call them Frankenfoods, or Frankenstein foods.
5. There have already been many serious ill effects from genetically
engineered products. Genetically engineered Tryptophan caused
50 deaths and permanently injured thousands, while the genetically
engineered sweetener Aspartame has caused thousands of documented
disease cases worldwide. Now the chemical companies
have genetically engineered soy, corn, potatoes, tomatoes,
canola, cotton, papaya, radicchio and crook neck squash.
These are now in your supermarket !!
6. To avoid these foods, shop very carefully by eating only certified
organic versions of soy, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, canola,
cotton oil (sometimes in chips/snacks), papaya, radicchio or
crook neck squash. Soy and corn derivitives
are in most processed foods.
7. We can eliminate these Frankenfoods now !! If you want
to eliminate Frankenfoods from this world, please take action.
Here's how: Forward this message to your on-line friends, relatives
and connections. Important: Also feel free to print this complete
message out and give hard copies to your off-line friends, relatives,
and connections. They can then keep it going by making MORE copies
and again giving hard copies to their friends, relatives, and
connections. When making hard copies, please keep the entire
message intact, including the Websites. Those with Internet
connections then have the luxury of being able to visit the Websites.
8. By sending this executive summary to 5 - 25 people on or off-line
or both, you are doing a wonderful good deed. By sending it to
50 to 100 people, you are taking powerful direct action to insure
that genetically engineered Frankenfoods will soon be
eliminated from this world. Please get this executive summary
to at least 5 people as a prerequisite for ordering the complete plan.
Relevant Websites About Genetic Engineering:
(Easily accessible with Netscape mail programs)
!! Stop GE Food, Avoid GE Food !!
THIS is the ONLY comprehensive global plan to 100% STOP GE FOOD in the world.
After forwarding this executive summary to 5 or more people, please send an e-mail
"banning dangerous food" in the subject heading.
We will send you the complete global plan for 100% ban
of GE food.
IMPORTANT: Your Leader's e-mail address:
Global Action Plan: Executive Summary
AVOIDING AND BANNING DANGEROUS FOODS
by Will Glenn
Since birth, 51 years ago, I have witnessed many changes to the landscape. One of my earliest memories is when I was three years old, sitting on my grandfather's shoulders, and being told to ³Be quiet, and watch that stoat take that rabbit.² My grandfather showed me a lot of the countryside around Woburn Abbey, where he worked as gamekeeper. I used to watch the deer, badgers and the other wildlife that lived in the park. Gramp taught me how to use and extend my senses in order to get a better insight into what was around me.
Over the years I saw things that were not quite right, and I didn't have any answers. Then, in 1962, a book was published, and that Christmas my mum gave me the book as a gift. I don't think she ever knew what a big gift it was. The book was 'Silent Spring' by the late Rachel Carson. It answered most of the questions that were going around in my head at the time, but not all. The rest would be answered with age and maturity. Thirty-seven years on, and we still have not learned the lessons Rachel taught. Then, in the early 60s, she was vilified by the agro-chemical industry for the 'stories of doom' that she was apparently telling.
Now, having walked on the South Downs, I am very aware that we do have a Silent Spring. Where are the skylarks that I used to see when I laid on the downland turf and watched them rise, singing their song of joy? A walk of some six miles didn't produce a single sight or sound of one. Our songbirds are vanishing and what are we doing about it? Very little by the looks of it. Even I feel ashamed at the little that I do, and yet I do something. Thirteen years ago, an eco-gentleman was asked about the 'worst case scenario'. This was his reply. "He who could do little, did nothing." Take a good look at that statement and think on.
Here we are, at the end of another thousand years, still trying to come to terms with our place here on Earth. Our attention span has got shorter over the years and we seem not to be too worried about 'out there', as long as we're okay and have what we need to get on with our lives, forgetting all the other lives around us.
As I look at the landscape, in many areas it feels sterile, lacking life. Yes, there are crops growing, the land is green, but it's the same green everywhere. And then there's all that yellow of oil-seed rape - yuck! It stinks and does my eyes and nose in. Some friends said, the other evening, as we passed a huge field of oil seed rape, "Doesn't that look great?". I replied that, had it been a field of sunflowers, I might have said yes. But even a field of that size was too big to be covered with just one crop, to the detriment of other species of wildlife.
Still, let's return to when it all began, at the time of the Second World War and then the Agriculture Act of 1947. During the war, farmers were guaranteed prices on all they could produce. Farming and food subsidies were born. Prices were fixed for grain, beef, milk and mutton and lamb. This caused farmers to over-produce, as they knew they would be paid for what they supplied, regardless of demand.
What with the combine harvester and the subsidies, more and more chemicals were used. Some killed insects, some killed 'weeds', while others were used to fertilise the soil so a greater yield would be achieved. Through the 50s and the early 60s, the chemical dressing of crops grew at an alarming rate. As previously stated, 'Silent Spring' came out late in 1962. Over the following years a lot of hot air issued from MAFF (the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), until, in 1969, action was finally taken. The use of DDT and some other chemicals were banned in this country. It is interesting to note that these chemicals are still manufactured and sold to developing countries, even though we are fully aware of the dangers to the environment and to ourselves.
Because of the use of DDT and other insecticides and herbicides here in the UK, we saw a crash in the numbers of birds of prey. Many wild flowers vanished, along with the associated wildlife. We had upset and broken a major food chain in the quest for more profit. Coupled with the laying down of myxomatosis (a fatal disease for rabbits, introduced by farmers to cut their numbers) we nearly lost the buzzard. In the last 25-30 years, raptor (hunting bird) numbers have been able to increase until, in certain areas, they have reached near-saturation point.
So we have brought back our birds of prey, but we have forgotten the songbirds. They too are a part of the food chain, which we have broken. Modern pesticides and herbicides may be species-specific, but they still kill. Songbirds are seed- and insect-eaters. In many cases, they eat grubs that do damage to the crops. Our small mammals are also at risk. The common shrew, one of our smallest carnivores, is not so common anymore. This in turn puts pressure on the owls and the 'Windhover', the kestrel. Yes, we see the Kes along our motorways and roads, but soon it may be the only place we will see them.
It seems to me that wherever I look, wildlife is under threat. Where are the butterflies and the other pollinators that graced the meadows of my youth? Where are all those beautiful wild flowers I saw in the cornfields and pasture? More and more questions again. I have some answers, but I wish for you to find out and see for yourselves. Seeing is believing. Then we may be able to come together and as a unified body, do something about it.
Since coming here to Somerset in the summer of 1991, many things have come to light on many different levels. When I came here, I wasn't looking for the 'new age' - I was looking for a home. Being here, I have come to feel the land much, much more. Twenty years in Brighton really does knock it out of you. One needs to feel the grass beneath one's feet.
Here, in the paddock near where I live, I can breathe clean fresh air, a lot cleaner than in Brighton. Looking around, there are some bare ploughed fields that are either 'set-aside' or waiting for autumn sowing. Autumn sowing is something that farmers never did. They farmed with the seasons. Sow in spring, harvest in autumn. In doing so, the farmers were in step with the seasons and the rest of Life. Now, there is discord in the Symphony of Life. For everything to be in accord there must be harmony and balance.
If the farmers and the rest of us care about how we and future generations are to live, then we all should start looking at how we can harmonise with Nature. Don't start playing Gods and Goddesses until you can play the Symphony of Life here on Earth. It is composed of many different melodies and harmonies linked together in many varied ways, like chains, each link playing its part. As I said earlier, the food chains have been broken by the methods of farming used. The long-term consequences of which have yet to unfold.
We are also losing the colour out of the countryside. Where are all the reds, blues and yellows of the wild flowers? The landscape used to have such a broad pallet, with all the colours, tones and hues that you could imagine. The poppy, cornflower and corn cockle, along with most of the 'weeds', have vanished from the fields in my own lifetime. The beautiful pheasant's eye is now on the endangered list, lost from most of the South Downs. Who knows, it may even be extinct now. I can remember seeing fields of golden corn awash with colour around the place where I lived, when I was a lad growing up in North Buckinghamshire.
Now, the pallet has become very limited and one only has a wash of green, yellow and brown. People still look at the countryside and think how beautiful it looks, yet it has been turned into an almost sterile, monotone landscape, devoid of most of the life that existed there. And it's not just here in Britain that it is happening. When I look at Europe and other countries, I see the same thing going on.
In the global quest to 'feed the world', modern agriculture has battled against Mother Nature and has left a war-torn land. Even now, new weapons are coming online: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are being used against the land. As far as feeding the world's population is concerned, GMOs may be an answer, maybe not. But when it comes to environmental considerations they are lethal.
In many countries, the biotech companies are bullying the governments and farmers to use their products, and in some cases the farmers are fighting back, preventing trials from taking place. Governments are also passing legislation against the use of GMOs. People can't eat transgenic cotton, so why grow it? We don't need transgenic wheat, soya, maize or rice. There are many wild strains of grain that can be used, without adding a gene from, say, a fish or a brazil nut.
In the world of genetic engineering, the genetic make-up of all living organisms on Earth can be altered. Trees, fish, many other animals, other food and fibre crops, bacteria and viruses are already being genetically manipulated. Many of the organisms have received genetic material from unrelated species. Often they have been engineered to improve their ability to survive under new environmental or climatic conditions. Clearly, these GMOs have the potential to replace natural, indigenous species and to further erode the diversity of Life.
This is not the only risk. Some of the environmental risks that we face with the use of GMOs are:
* the crops themselves risk becoming pests in farms or in the wild, because of their improved ability to survive;
* they can act as conduits for new 'foreign' genes to move into wild plants;
* crops engineered to produce toxic substances such as drugs or pesticides may present dangers to other life, such as birds feeding on the crops, and to human health;
* crops engineered to tolerate harmful herbicides and pesticides may increase the use of chemicals, further polluting the land and water and poisoning wild plant and animal species.
GMOs threaten the very integrity of nature, as Mother Nature's final barriers - species barriers - against the intrusion of man are broken. We have already broken food-chains and the like before. A new form of pollution now threatens the Earth. The agrochemical technology of the past caused environmental damage that drove many species to extinction and still threatens ecological balance and human health today. Chemical pollution is one thing, but biological pollution is far more dangerous. GMOs can change, mutate, multiply and spread, but they cannot be removed from the landscape once they have been released.
If we are to avoid something far worse than 'Silent Spring', then urgent action is needed. Many countries, particularly those in the biotech frontline, such as USA and the EU countries, have tried to establish some form of regulation in an attempt to minimise environmental impact. Yet only lip-service is paid to protesting against GMOs.
The international transfer, trade and use of GMOs is not regulated in a legally-binding manner. This has led to the misuse and abuse of less-developed countries as testing sites for GMOs, especially for the very risky ones, without bothering about safety procedures required in USA and EU. Some European countries and the USA seem intent on obstructing and delaying plans to establish worldwide legislation. As we know, the major biotech companies are based here. This may be to the advantage to their industry, but who will pay the price?
The profits to the Earth must outweigh profits to the shareholders of multinationals. Every person on the planet has a share in Earth Inc. Let the people decide which way they want to go. In the meantime adopt an international moratorium on the transfer and release of GMOs. Such a moratorium would apply pressure on all countries to cooperate in moving on without delay to establish such legislation, and would further guarantee the protection of less powerful nations and the environment.
I hope that this article has whetted your appetites for more information. The little you can do is much appreciated by our Mother.
Towards the end of writing this, a friend, when he heard what I was writing about, gave me a book to read: 'The Killing of the Countryside' by Graham Harvey, published by Vintage. For me, it is another 'Silent Spring'. Answers that I have already come to are confirmed, and questions I still have are being answered, as I read it. I do suggest that, if you care about the land, read the book and then see how you feel.
Coming to the close of the Twentieth Century, are we going to take our mistakes into the next one? I hope not, and that we will pull back from the brink of ecological disaster. I have two grandchildren. What will they see in the fields in twenty years' time?
Will Glenn (Earth Hart)
My thanks to UNEP and the Council of Europe and 'Naturopa' for information supplied on a number of topics. And to Graham Harvey, for answering some more questions.
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