from Claire Robinson, WEEKLY WATCH editor

There's a subtle but interesting development in the way biotech proponents push GM for the third world. Like contaminated meat buried in a hamburger, GM is being bracketed with widely accepted or vaguely-defined "goods" like irrigation and "modern agricultural technologies" in the hope that the entire package will be swallowed without question. The increasing use of this grimy used-car salesman technique (get the customer to confirm their name is Smith, and to agree that the weather has turned cold, and they're more likely to acquiesce to your next suggestion that they buy the car) points to the lack of genuine success stories from the biotech camp and is testament to the industry's growing desperation (see FOCUS ON AFRICA).

In the US, a second county has voted to ban the production of GM crops and animals, and there are more ballots in the pipeline (see NORTH AMERICA). But industry's main focus is on the federal government. In the run-up to the election, the Democrats have recruited a former Monsanto man, lobbyist Toby Moffet, to bring down presidential candidate and people's champion Ralph Nader (see LOBBYWATCH: US ELECTION SPECIAL).

Finally, watch out for some encouraging reviews of Dr Ignacio Chapela's tenure issue and, relatedly, of the damage wrought by Berkeley's controversial academic-industrial partnership with the Swiss GM giant Syngenta - CORPORATE TAKE OVER OF SCIENCE

Claire This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. /



The federal government must reveal where companies grow GM pharmaceutical crops in Hawaii, a judge ruled on 4 August. Public interest groups are seeking the information to force the government to study the environmental impact of the crops. The government and industry contend public disclosure could lead to crop vandalism and corporate espionage of trade secrets.

US District Judge David Ezra ordered the US Dept of Agriculture to identify where four companies have received permits for open-field testing of pharmaceutical crops in Hawaii and to reveal the locations to the environmental group Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit.

"It's definitely a victory," said Isaac Moriwake, an attorney for Earthjustice. "It's basically an affirmation that the defendants haven't been able to show that this kind of information is confidential."

Ezra gave the USDA another 90 days to prove that releasing the locations to the public would cause irreparable damage to the biotech industry. That step could force biotech companies to look elsewhere to conduct their pharma crop tests, a biotech industry representative said.

Representatives for both sides of the issue said this would be the first time in the US that locations of biopharm tests would be revealed to an outside party. That could set a precedent for similar disclosures in other states and could pave the way for disclosing the locations of all GM crop research.

Prof Joe Cummins and Dr Mae-Wan Ho call for a global forum and a ban on testing pharm crops, especially in Third World countries.

There is an urgent need for proper international regulation on the testing and production of plant-based pharmaceuticals. The first step may be a wider discussion of the drawbacks and dangers of plant-based pharmaceuticals as well the "advantages" put forward by proponents in academe and corporations. The overlooked dangers of pharm crops include pharmaceuticals that are toxic, that could produce immune sensitization followed by anaphylaxis, or oral tolerance leading to loss of immunity to pathogens; and general loss of confidence in the food supply.


An excellent article from Julie Newman, National Spokesperson of the Network of Concerned Farmers, looks at GM crops from an Australian farmer's viewpoint.

...we have been reassured that consumers will be able to have a choice as coexistence is possible and farmers can market as non-GM if they want to. Wrong again! It has been proven that farmers cannot avoid unwanted GM contamination in our crops. Rather than expect the GM grower to contain their product, the GM industry expected farmers to all market on the consumer rejected GM market to remove opposition and deny consumer choice.

For those of us farmers wanting to market on the consumer preferred "GM-free" market we were expected to tolerate the costs and liabilities involved. We were expected to break the law and market contaminated produce after signing guarantees and indemnities declaring no contamination.


As Kenya faces another famine, "experts" are announcing in the press that irrigation and adoption of GM crops could be the way out of hunger.

An article in the East African Standard says: "Dr [Florence] Wambugu, who was behind the production of the first genetically modified sweet potato in Africa in the early 1990s, says that GMOs are the only way out of the food crises in less developed countries. She says that biotechnology can easily develop drought and pest resistant crops."

Biotechnology can easily develop drought resistant crops? Not according to Professor Tim Flowers, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, who says, "Evaluation of claims that biotechnology can produce salt-tolerant crops reveals that, after ten years of research using transgenic plants to alter salt tolerance, the value of this approach has yet to be established in the field. Biotechnologists have reasons for exaggerating their abilities to manipulate plants. If 'biotechnology' is to contribute tolerant crops, these crops may still be decades from commercial availability. The generation of drought tolerant crops is likely to have a similar period of development."

Note how Wambugu, who hyped the now failed GM sweet potato project for years, has to reach beyond GM for biotech success stories: "One example of successful application of biotechnology has been the experiment involving farmers growing tissue-culture bananas in East Africa. Farmers who have participated in the trials have trebled their incomes and doubled their yields."

Recently Wambugu trumpeted another biotech success with eucalyptus trees but the suspicion is that these are also most likely the product of tissue culture and not GM.

Note also that the article links irrigation and biotech as if the availability of water and GM were all part of the same wave of the future!
For more on Wambugu:


As part ofthe current biotech industry assault on India, the US-based International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) is slated to launch a new 'knowledge center' in India - its second in Asia - to be housed in the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

This 'knowledge centre' will be launched at the three-day conference on 'Agricultural Biotechnology: Ushering in the Second Green Revolution' beginning August 10. The conference is being organised jointly by ISAAA, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Chennai-based MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, as a means of hyping GM and pushing for a revised regulatory system in India that will help to fast-track GMOs.

The ISAAA, backed by the biotech industry, already has centres in North America, Africa and south-east Asia.

For lots more on ISAAA:


In an item in Weekly Watch 83, "INDUSTRY ASSAULT ON INDIA - FAST-TRACKING CAMPAIGN CONTINUES, BIG PRO-GM CONFERENCE COMING", we said that Dr Shanthu Shantharam, who is lobbying for the faster uptake of GM crops in India, is an employee of GM giant Syngenta.

Dr Shantharam has asked us to point out that he is no longer a Syngenta employee but is "an independent consultant on biotechnology and biosafety and environmental risk assessment of GM crops with my own consulting firm of Biologistics International."

Our statement that Dr Shantharam is an employee of Syngenta was based on information made available on the website of his own company, Biologistics International - still there at the time of writing:

"Dr Shanthu Shantharam is the Regulatory Compliance Manager at Plant Sciences Division, Syngenta Basel, Switzerland. Until recently, he was the Head of Stakeholder Relations and Technology Communications in the same company. At the corporate headquarters, Shanthu is leading a project to develop company guidelines and standard operating procedures to ensure highest level of biotechnology regulatory compliance in different parts of the world where Syngenta is conducting biotech business..."

The use of the present tense seems unambiguous. However, we accept Dr Shantharam's assurance that he has now left Syngenta and are happy to correct the record.

Dr Shantharam's recent exit from Syngenta does not, however, reassure us of his independence. Regarding the issue of someone acting on an apparently independent basis when they have been an employee of a heavily interested party, note our comment on ex-Syngenta employee Willy De Greef's recent contribution to Nature Biotechnology:

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest recently recommended that "journal editors require authors to disclose any financial arrangements they have had with private firms within the past three years, regardless of whether those arrangements relate to the subject of the article, and that the conflicts be published if they are in any way related to the article's subject."

Dr Shantharam also complains that we have mischaracterized his views on Bt cotton and the adequacy of regulatory systems. We maintain that we have represented his views fairly but leave it to readers to judge for themselves. To see Dr Shantharam's email in full along with our reply, see
To see Dr Shantharam's article on how GM foods are regulated, see


On 3 August Trinity County, California became the second county in America (after Mendocino Cty) to ban the production of GE crops and animals. By a vote of 3-1, Trinity County Supervisors adopted the ban in an effort to protect Trinity's local economy and environment. Four other California counties will vote in November to ban GE crops (Marin, Butte, Humboldt, and San Luis Obispo).

Canadian company Penn Biotech Inc are promising to meet the burgeoning Chinese appetite for french fries and potato chips with superspuds "bio-engineered" by the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology. However, a closer look at the details has raised the suspicions of The Vancouver Sun. The paper reports that Penn Biotech is listed on the OTC Bulletin Board, the dregs of North American equity markets. It started trading last October after acquiring rights to the bio-engineered potatoes from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology. Purchase price was $31,228 US, plus a one-per-cent royalty on gross sales.

The paper says "this extremely modest price tag indicates that the technology isn't worth much, unless the institute is banking on a big royalty stream. But if it is, why did it sell the rights to a company with no track record whatsoever?"


An 'ABIC 2004' conference in Cologne (12-15 Sept 2004) aims to bring 'AgBiotech back to Europe': "With the imminent lift of the de facto moratorium on genetically modified food, the implementation of new European regulations and a more competitive European market, this conference is important as ever to give new impulses to the European AgBiotech research and AgBiotech business in Europe."

Curiously, ABIC appears to have few European connections. Here are some of its directors (more at - most of whom seem to connect to Canada, and the prairie city of Saskatoon in particular.

*Bernard Laarveld - Chair: ABIC Foundation. Head of Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Dr. Laarveld actively supports economic and corporate development for the Saskatoon biotech community. Also co-founder of Minerva Animal Health Corporation Inc.

*Ashley O'Sullivan - President and CEO Ag-West Biotech, Saskatoon, Canada. Previously worked for Monsanto Canada.

*Armand Lavoie - Saskatoon, Canada. Vice President Western Canada of Foragen Technologies Management Inc.

*Lawrence B. Schook - Chicago, Illinois, USA. President and CSO Pyxis Genomics which has operations in Canada and US

*Graham Scoles - Associate Dean. College of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Teaching and research in area of plant biotech.

*Gerry Brown - Director, Business Development Branch, Saskatchewan Research Council. Experience of broad range of corporate environments including small biotech company and Esso/Exxon family.

*Roger Kemble - President of Syngenta Biotech, Inc. (SBI), Research Triangle Park, NC, USA. Also worked for Allelix Inc. (in Canada) and Pioneer Hi-Bred, prior to Syngenta.

You can see why this crowd want agbiotech "to go Europe!" As it says of ABIC's Chairman:
"Dr. Laarveld actively supports economic and corporate development for the Saskatoon biotech community."


The academic rights of an ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, may have been violated when he was denied tenure last year, according to a report from the academic senate.

Ignacio Chapela was an outspoken critic of Berkeley's controversial academic-industrial partnership with the Swiss agribiotech firm Syngenta, which ended last year. He was also the lead author of a disputed paper in Nature in which he asserted that genes from genetically modified crops had flowed into Mexican maize, and had become scattered throughout the genome (D. Quist and I. H. Chapela Nature 414, 541-543; 2001). After a storm of criticism about the paper, Nature withdrew its support for the article, but the authors stand by their research.

Against this background, Chapela was denied tenure at Berkeley's College of Natural Resources in November 2003 (see Nature 426, 591; 2003). He appealed.

The resulting report, issued on 28 June, claims that Jasper Rine, a geneticist at the university who sat on a key committee reviewing Chapela's tenure, had conflicts of interest. It says that Rine had financial dealings with biotech firms, oversaw the Syngenta agreement and had cited Chapela's Nature paper as an example of poor science in one of his classes. Both the dean of Chapela's college and his department chair requested that Rine be taken from the committee four times; but Rine did not excuse himself nor did the committee chair ask him to leave. The report also says there was "unjustifiable" delay in the tenure-review process.

"I am glad the senate is able to rise to the occasion," says Chapela, whose contract has been extended while he appeals. ... As the senate continues its inquiry, Chapela is hoping for a second tenure review. He has also filed two claims that may precede a lawsuit. In April, he accused the university of discrimination, saying that he was denied tenure because he is Hispanic. Early last month, he claimed he was victimized by the university for speaking out against the Syngenta deal.
- Nature 430, 598, 05 August 2004

A team of scholars says universities should avoid unusual and controversial research agreements such as the one the University of California at Berkeley had with the company formerly known as Novartis. The university had invited the team of outside scholars to evaluate its relationship with the company.

The arrangement at Berkeley, in which nearly an entire department of biology participated in a five-year, $25-million corporate-sponsorship agreement, was "outside the mainstream for research contracts with industry," the team of evaluators concludes.

"While an intriguing experiment, there appears little rationale for repeating the approach," they say in their report.

The report also suggests that Berkeley's relationship with Novartis created a potential conflict of interest among administrators that affected the tenure review of a faculty member, Ignacio Chapela, who was an outspoken critic of the agreement. He was denied tenure in late 2003. The report does not offer an opinion on whether Mr Chapela should have received tenure, but it does state that "there is little doubt" that the Berkeley-Novartis relationship was a factor in the tenure decision.

The agreement "played a very clear role and an unsatisfactory role in the tenure process" of Mr Chapela, said Lawrence Busch, a professor of sociology at Michigan State University, who headed the evaluation.
The deal created the impression that the department was "on the dole" and "biased toward the funding source," [Busch] said. "Universities as institutions can only be objective observers on the scientific and regulatory scene to the extent that some distance remains between them and industry funding sources."
- Chronicles of Higher Education, July 30, 2004

Lord Dick Taverne recently contributed a pro-MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine article to the British Medical Journal in which he argues against legal aid being granted for a claim against its manufacturers.

In the article he is billed as the Chairman of Sense about Science. The BMJ requires disclosure of interests. Glaxo SmithKline is a major vaccine manufacturer and, specifically, an MMR manufacturer. Taverne fails to mention any link between Sense about Science and Glaxo even though the company is listed as one of the lobby group's donors.

Richard Brook, CEO of the charity Mind and a member of the UK government's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency, resigned from the Agency when it tried to cover up serious side-effects of the controversial anti-depressant Seroxat. Brook says he was threatened with legal action by Professor Kent Woods, chief executive of the MHRA, if he revealed the data. Brook says his colleagues at the Agency "appeared more interested in putting their reputations, and those of drugs companies, before the safety of patients."

Brook is not the first member of a supposedly independent committee to come under heavy pressure to fall in line with industry's wishes. During the UK government's public debate on GM in 2003, two scientists, Carlo Leifert and Andrew Stirling, fell foul of pro-GM members of the UK government's Science Review Panel. Leifert resigned and Stirling said his career and future funding had been threatened unless he stopped questioning the safety of GM foods.

This month, two members of the UK government's committee on radiation risks were barred by government lawyers from voicing fears about the dangers from radiation from nuclear plants. Dr Chris Busby and Richard Bramhall say the risk of cancer from low-level radiation dangers is greater than realised. But lawyers at Defra, the environment ministry, have sent letters to all 12 members of the committee warning them that they could be sued for defamation if they include Bramhall and Busby's 'minority report' in their report.


Francis Crick, the scientist credited with discovering the molecular construction of DNA, who died in July, was "a great scientist who was deluded about the power of science", says Bryan Appleyard in an interesting retrospective for the Sunday Times.

Crick ... produced a strange book in 1994 called The Astonishing Hypothesis. What, he said, was astonishing was that identity and free will are nothing more than "a vast assembly of nerve cells". Why such a blank statement of an ancient scientific orthodoxy should be astounding to anybody was never explained. In addition, we have had the hard scientistic propaganda of Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins. The latter's "selfish gene" hypothesis turns the human being into a mere gene-replicating machine. Such strange fetishisation of the gene has proved to be one of the most bizarre and implausible post- Christian cults.

Meanwhile, James Watson, one of the least pleasant individuals with whom I have ever had dealings, has travelled the conferences of the world making increasingly shocking statements based on his personal creed of scientism. I once asked him: if we found the gene for homosexuality and removed it from the human gene pool, what would be the impact on society? He thought for a moment, then replied, "Less ballet."

Internationally prominent gene therapy researcher Dr William French Anderson has been arrested. He's charged with sexually molesting a girl over a four-year period. The 67-year-old scientist was arrested at his Los Angeles home. The county district attorney's office says he's charged with six felony counts of assault. It accuses Anderson, who was the girl's karate coach, of abusing her at his home from 1997 to 2001.

Anderson is the University of Southern California researcher who has been leading the charge on both somatic and human germline gene therapy.


Toby Moffett is a well-connected Washington lobbyist employed at the Livingston Group, a powerful lobby firm begun by former Republican representative Robert Livingston. Moffett was previously a vice-president of Monsanto. In his youth Moffett worked for Ralph Nader and now as he did in 2000 he is trading on his "Nader's Raider" past to raise hefty contributions for a well-oiled attack campaign against Nader's run for the presidency.

According to the Seattle Times, "anti-Nader groups have been organized for months. But the efforts have taken 'a huge move' recently in fund raising, research and a detailed attack plan, Moffett said. 'This guy [Nader] is still a huge threat,' he said. 'We're just not going to make the same mistake we made in 2000.' ... A memo given to potential supporters said Moffett's group, United Progressives for Victory, will do research, community organizing, media outreach and Internet marketing aimed at weakening Nader's standing. Nader called it a smear campaign and said, 'It's the Democrats' undemocratic attempt' to quash third-party candidates."

A black woman and former Green candidate, Donna Warren, has told the Democrats to stop trying to sabotage Nader:
Warren launched a lawsuit against the CIA and the US Justice Dept for deliberately allowing crack cocaine to flow into California as part of the US's support for Contra rebels in Nicaragua. She lost her son to crack cocaine.

Nashville, Tenn.: Republican congressional candidate James L. Hart acknowledges that he is an "intellectual outlaw." He is an unapologetic supporter of eugenics. He believes the country will look "like one big Detroit" if it doesn't eliminate welfare and immigration. He believes that if blacks were integrated centuries ago, the automobile never would have been invented.

He shows up at voters' homes wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a gun, and tells them that "white children deserve the same rights as everyone else."

Despite his radical views, Hart may end up winning the Republican nomination because he is the only GOP candidate on the ballot in Thursday's primary.

"I would characterize him as a racist, an elitist," said write-in candidate Dennis Bertrand, a financial analyst and former military officer. "His idea of ... genetically altering the human race in order to build a super race with super intelligence is appalling."


In India, in the past two months, 900 farmers have committed suicide. It's a stark reminder of Devinder Sharma's recent warning that to talk of the need to usher in the "second Green Revolution" without first ascertaining where the equation has gone wrong with the first "will be mankind's greatest folly". The tragedy is, says Devinder, that while the scientific community and the policy makers will escape scot-free, it is farmers in the years to come who will continue to be sacrificed on the altar of agricultural development.

Devinder is calling for an end to the obscene diversion of public funds into hugely expensive GM crops while millions are going hungry. He points out that in India nutritious food containing on average around 9 per cent in protein is being left to rot in the countryside, while biotechnologists are celebrating the production of GM potatoes containing a mere 2.5 per cent of protein.

PV Satheesh of the Deccan Development Society has warned how, unperturbed by the problems already inflicted on the country by GM cotton, "the powerful industrial lobby in India has been instrumental in a process that might completely dismantle the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and hand over the control to an industry-dominated committee in the name of a fast track approval".

As part of the biotech industry's campaign to weaken India's regulatory system, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) will hold a big GM promotional - an "International Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology" entitled "Ushering in the Second Green Revolution" at Federation House, New Delhi, Aug 10-12, 2004.

FICCI is operating in partnership with:

(1) The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application (ISAAA) - a U.S.-based, GM promotion and 'transfer' agency whose board has contained leading biotech industry executives and which enjoys multi-million dollar funding from Bayer, Cargill, Dow, Monsanto, Novartis, Pioneer, Syngenta, in addition to funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and Western governmental funding agencies.

(2) The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) headed by the green revolution scientist, MS Swaminathan, who has been in charge of a government task force set up to revise India's regulatory system. Swaminathan has a disturbing talent for dressing up the industry's agenda in the rhetoric of village India, women's empowerment, etc.

The main conference organisers, FICCI, has already stated that it wants to see the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee's powers curtailed by "changes in rules relating to production and handling of micro-organisms, cells and genetically modified organisms (GMOs)."

The biotech lobby's main concern is over what they see as stagnation in the GM crop sector in India. Shantu Shantharam spells it out with his complaint, "all we have is one stupid Bt cotton to talk about." India's prominence within the developing world makes what the biotech lobby sees as the slow introduction of GM crops into India particularly frustrating.

Significantly, Shantaram, who is a frequent spokesman on these issues, presents himself simply as "Dr Shantu Shantaram, Biologistics International USA". In fact, Dr Shantaram is a former employee of GM giant Syngenta.

While at Syngenta, Shantaram developed the corporation's PR strategies for biotech projects, including Golden Rice. Prior to that he worked for the US Department of Agriculture. Biologistics International is Shantaram's "consulting firm" on biosafety. No doubt he will be putting that expertise to good use to help India usher in its "Second Green Revolution".

Much of the drive to reform India's regulatory system has its roots in a forum on regulatory development set up by Syngenta, in which MS Swaminathan took a prominent part. Syngenta's forum established many of the principles behind the proposals for regulatory reform now being brought forward.

The aim seems clear: to weaken India's regulatory system and then use it as a blueprint to sell to other Asian countries - just as South Africa's fast-track system is now being promoted as a model for the entire continent.

Ushering in the Second Green Revolution - International conference in New Delhi
Clipping the wings of India's regulators
Industry asault on India

Until now AfricaBio, which presents itself as a civil society organisation - "The NGO taking biotechnology to the people of Africa" - has remained vague about who it represents and who funds it. It describes itself as "a non-political, non-profit biotechnology association" and claims a "wide spectrum" of support.

Some, however, have questioned its claims to be a disinterested part of civil society. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in late August 2002, AfricaBio unsuccessfully sought to gain formal access to civil society sessions at the Summit.

AfricaBio complained that "despite repeated requests" to be included in the programme, its "participation was refused" on the grounds that it was an industry body seeking to dilute the impact of genuine NGOs. Despite the refusal, AfricaBio's supporters did attend the Civil Society Forum and worked with others to undermine it, by first expressing dissent from the floor and then staging a walkout. AfricaBio was also represented at a carefully staged pro-GM protest rally at the Summit.

But disputing AfricaBio's claim to a broad-based civil-society style membership has been difficult in the absence of precise details about that membership - details AfricaBio has consistently refused to furnish.

However, Mariam Mayet, a lawyer with the African Centre for Biosafety, was present at AfricaBio's launch on 27 October 1999. At that launch a list of "founding members" of AfricaBio was on a sheet in the folder given out to participants.

They include AgrEvo South Africa; Carnia Seed [this has been bought by Monsanto]; Delta and Pine Lands SA. Inc; Monsanto SA Ltd (Monsanto has voting rights in AfricaBio); Novartis South Africa Ltd; Pioneer Hi-Bred RSA Ltd; Sensako [a seed company that has been bought by Monsanto]; Innovation Biotechnology [company owned by Muffy Koch who is on a sub-committee of the Advisory Committee which provides expert technical advice on South Africa's regulatory decisions on GM]; University of Cape Town, Dept of Microbiology [the Dept is headed by Jennifer Thompson, who is also an advisor to the biotech-industry funded Council for Biotechnology Information in the US, a Board Member of the biotech-industry backed ISAAA and Chair of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, which receives backing from the industry and USAID to introduce GM crops into Africa].

Note that under AfricaBio's membership and voting rights, business members have 5 votes, while research organisations and non-business members have, respectively, 2 votes and 1 vote.

South Africa is to become the guinea pig for the production and testing of an HIV/Aids vaccine that will be grown in GM plants. But local environmental activists have warned they will fight the project, for which the European Union has granted 12 million euro (about R80-million) over five years.

The first field trial of the GM vaccine is likely to be carried out in South Africa because there are fears that crops might be vandalised in the UK. The trial will be carried out by the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), based in Pretoria. Possible host plants for the drug include maize and tobacco.

The irony of this proposal to genetically engineer an anti-HIV drug into plants will not be lost on those who have read Leonard Horowitz's seminal book, Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola - Nature, Accident or Intentional? (Tetrahedron, 1996). Horowitz follows a scientific paper trail which concludes that the HIV virus was either accidentally or deliberately created through genetic engineering in US laboratories.

In an attempt to head off public hostility to GM in Europe, the industry has shifted its focus from food to pharming. The European Union has handed over 12 million in taxpayer Euros to research the production of drugs in plants - and the UK's John Innes Centre is among the first in line to trouser its share of the cash. Of course, the European public won't tolerate pharmacrops growing amongst its food crops, so the dirty side of the business will be done in Africa!

The aim of the "pharming" project is advertised as being to use plants to produce vaccines and treatments against major diseases including AIDS, rabies, diabetes and TB. Which sounds very noble, but GM WATCH has already discovered that one of the two projects planned for the UK involves developing cheap pig vaccines, presumably to assist industrial agriculture.

The consortium, called Pharma-Planta, will develop the concept from plant modification through to clinical trials. The scientists involved will be all too familiar to GM WATCH readers: Phil Dale, who worked so hard to bring us GM food plants, Paul Christou, who was at the forefront of the attacks on Ignacio Chapela over his maize contamination research, and Julian Ma, who has been at Peter Lachmann's shoulder in his attacks on the BMA and others.

The John Innes Centre will also be involved in "exploring biosafety issues" associated with pharma plants.

GeneWatch UK report on pharma crops:

A letter from representatives of "NGOs" to the UN Food and Ag Organisation in support of that body's recent report hyping GM crops for the third world, brings a whole new meaning to the word "NGO".

Most of the signatory organisations are free-market libertarian groups who campaign against restrictions on almost anything, i.e. they're anti-Kyoto, pro-GM, pro-smokers' rights, etc. Several receive funding from biotech corporations like Monsanto, plus other corporate sponsors. For instance, one signatory, the Free Market Foundation in South Africa, acknowledges funding from GlaxoSmithKline, Monsanto South Africa, Eli Lilly, British American Tobacco, and Exxon Mobil.

And then there's signatory Horacio Marquez, a Partner in The Latin America Finance Group, Inc. of Princeton, New Jersey. If you think they don't sound much like your normal NGO, you're right. They're investment bankers! LAFG at one time headed a group planning to take over Chiquita, the controversial multinational (formerly United Fruit). One can imagine what a commitment such an "NGO" must have to safeguarding the future of small farmers!

You can read the letter at
We've provided links below many of the signatories to GM WATCH or other profiles where you can find out more about the background of the signatories and what kind of "NGOs" they represent.

Three senior Health Canada scientists known for questioning the department's commitment to veterinary drug safety have been fired. Health Canada claims the reason for the termination of Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon and Gerard Lambert has nothing to do with their outspokenness.

But Steve Hindle, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, disagrees: "This is retribution for having spoken out about what's going on at Health Canada and the concerns they have around the safety of drugs for veterinary use," he said.

Chopra and Haydon protested against the approval in Canada of Monsanto's GE bovine growth hormone, variously known as rBGH, BGH or by its brand name Posilac. In the wake of Chopra's and Haydon's revelations, the drug was not approved in Canada and is now quietly being withdrawn from sale in the US by Monsanto. It's also banned in the EU.

Two articles from the Center for Science in the Public Interest address the vital need to disclose possible conflicts of interest of those who generate/author reports in the media and science journals.
Full articles:

The EU's 25 national governments failed to back a European Commission proposal to open Europe's door to imports of Monsanto's NK603 maize.

Adrian Bebb of FoE Europe said, "The European Commission has now failed seven times in a row to get enough support to approve new genetically modified foods. Their position is increasingly untenable and clearly incompatible with the wishes of the citizens and Governments of Europe. It is time that they put the welfare of the European public before the business interests of the biotechnology industry."

An article in the Financial Times says BASF, the world's largest chemical company, may move its GM crop research to the US unless Europe becomes more receptive to new technologies. Jurgen Hambrecht, chief executive, said the German chemicals giant could not afford to keep investing in research if there was no market for its products. The Anglo-Swiss agrochemicals company said it would close its laboratories because of the poor business outlook for the technology.

In an article for ISIS, GM Watch editor Claire Robinson takes a look at the biotech industry's track record and prospects. This article can be found on the I-SIS website at and also at

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