MONTHLY REVIEW No. 26
from Claire Robinson, editor
+ ABNORMALLY HIGH DEATH RATE IN PROGENY OF RATS FED GM SOY, SAYS RUSSIAN STUDY
Abnormally high death rates and growth retardation have been found in the progeny of female rats who had GM soy added to their food, a Russian study led by Dr Irina Ermakova of the Russian Academy of Sciences has found. Some pups from GM-fed mothers were quite a bit smaller. After 2 weeks, 36% of them weighed less than 20 grams compared to about 6% from the other groups.
With the rats fed GM soy, a massive 55.6% of their progeny were dead within three weeks, compared with 9% of the progeny of rats fed non-GM soy and 6.8% of the progeny of the control group, which was fed a diet without any added soy.
Dr Ermakova commented, "The morphology and biochemical structures of rats are very similar to those of humans, and this makes the results we obtained very disturbing."
Visit http://www.regnum.ru/english/526651.html to see the data laid out in a table. Also at this URL is an astonishing picture comparing same-age rats from the GM soy group and the control group. The GM soy rat is a fraction of the size of the control rat.
+ AAEM CALLS FOR HEALTH SAFETY TESTS ON GM SOYA
"I presented Dr. Ermakova's findings, with her permission, at the annual conference of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) in Tucson on October 27, 2005. In response, the AAEM board passed a resolution asking the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to sponsor an immediate, independent follow-up of the study." reports Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, in an article which puts the new study (see below) into context.
+ TRANSGENE FOUND IN BLOOD, LIVER, SPLEEN AND KIDNEY OF GM-FED PIGS
Fragments of the Cry1A(b) transgene, present in Bt crops, have been detected in blood, liver, spleen and kidney of piglets raised with GM feed, according to a paper by Raffaele Mazza et al in Transgenic Research.
+ "SMOKE, MIRRORS AND POVERTY" - BIOTECH'S DECEPTIVE FICTION
GM WATCH readers will be familiar with the role of Monsanto-trained scientist Dr Florence Wambugu in massively hyping the failed GM sweet potato project in Kenya. But she's also been doing a similar job on (non-GM) tissue cultured bananas, a joint project of Wambugu's Africa Harvest and DuPont, according to two reports from academic researchers.
Just as with the GM sweet potato, it turns out that there's no credible evidence that any of Wambugu's claims are true and plenty of evidence to the contrary.
+ GM-FOR-AFRICA PROJECT "HOMEGROWN" AT DES MOINES, IOWA
It's interesting how the Bill Gates-backed GM sorghum project is being spun for different audiences. According to Florence Wambugu, who heads the CropLife International-backed 'Africa Harvest' lobby group that's fronting the project, this is "absolutely an African driven project" and nothing to do with "foreign companies introducing technology that may not be appropriate to Africa".
That's what Wambugu told Reuters in Johannesburg. But in the US, the Des Moines Register reports that the project is heavily dependent on the DuPont-owned subsidiary Pioneer's "crop seed expertise and vast plant genetic resources".
+ SOUTH AFRICA HALTS GM IMPORTS
All applications for commodity imports of GMOs into South Africa have been halted pending the outcome of a study that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has just commenced, which is looking at the impacts of GM imports.
+ WHITHER BIOSAFETY?
An important report from GRAIN with the above title says that in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the Biosafety Protocol is not generating the anticipated effective legislation at the national level: "In country after country, we see laws and policies being put in place to facilitate the entry of GM crops, even as governments proclaim their concern for biosafety and adherence to the Protocol."
+ AFRICAN FOOD FOR AFRICA'S STARVING ROADBLOCKED IN CONGRESS
A proposal to change the law to allow the US federal government to buy food in Africa for Africans facing starvation instead of paying enormous sums to ship it from America has been stalled in Congress.
+ GM VULTURES FEED OFF AFRICA
Dr Mae-wan Ho sent us an image used at a conference on Genetic Engineering and Sustainable Agriculture in Lusaka, Zambia by two pro-GM scientists, Luke Mumba from Zambia and Joseph M Wekundah from Kenya. It shows a starving African infant crawling along the ground with a vulture watching over it. Mae-wan tells us that people were given the impression that the child was crawling towards food aid.
However, neither of the pro-GM scientists made it clear to the audience that this picture was taken in the early 1990s in Sudan, long before GM food aid became an issue. Instead, both GM proponents used it with the clear implication that any blocking of GM food aid or GM technology could result in the tragedy of a child being unable to find the relief it desperately needed.
NB: While nobody died as a result of the concern among southern African countries over GM food aid, there is evidence that pro-GM lobbyists have rewritten history to manufacture such "deaths".
+ SUSTAINABLE FARMING CAN SAVE THE WORLD
Swiss ag specialist and winner of the World Food Prize Hans Rudolf Herren says that hunger can be overcome with sustainable farming practices.
+ TROUBLE ON THE FARM: THE FIRST 9 YEARS
Links to articles and reports on the farming problems with GM crops 1996-2005.
+ GLYPHOSATE-TOLERANT PIGWEED CONFIRMED IN TENNESSEE
Roundup resistant palmer pigweed - considered one of the toughest herbicide-resistant weeds to deal with - has been found in Tennessee. It's already been found in Georgia.
+ NEW EPA RESEARCH HEAD COMES WITH CORPORATE TIES
Charging that the US Environmental Protection Agency is falling under the grasp of corporate interests, a coalition of government employees has urged federal lawmakers to deny a top spot within the agency to White House nominee George M. Gray, a free-market advocate with tight corporate ties.
+ COURT ORDERS OVERSIGHT OF GM ALGAE PROJECT
Citizen groups have obtained a court judgment in their favour in a lawsuit challenging the state Board of Agriculture's approval of a project to mass-produce GM algae on the Kona coast Hawai'i.
+ ONE-FIFTH OF HUMAN GENES HAVE BEEN PATENTED
A new study shows that 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the US, primarily by private firms and universities.
+ GENETIC HERITAGE UP FOR GRABS
Some of the world's largest corporations are scouring the surface of the earth for potentially valuable genetic property and taking patents on anything from cell lines from indigenous people in Papua New Guinea, to seeds of staple food crops.
+ PREVALENCE OF PATENTS RAISES CONCERNS
The frequency of bio-piracy has increased. Attempts to patent turmeric, neem fungicide, basmati rice, naphal wheat landrace and a method of preparing wheat flour are a few of several recent examples of how traditional knowledge of countries is being looted.
+ TERMINATOR PATENTS GRANTED
The patent for the controversial "Terminator technology" was granted in Europe on 5 October 2005. A patent was also granted in Canada on 11 October 2005. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5864
+ WTO RULING ON EU GM LAWS DELAYED
A World Trade Organization dispute panel ruling on the EU's alleged moratorium on market authorizations for new GM products is being put off until after the WTO's Hong Kong ministerial conference in December. The postponement will allow the WTO to avoid having the dispute become an issue at the ministerial conference, which is expected to be targeted by anti-globalization protestors.
+ GM CROP "RUINS FIELDS FOR 15 YEARS"
GM crops contaminate the countryside for up to 15 years after they have been harvested, startling new UK government research shows.
+ SCIENTISTS RECREATE DEADLY FLU VIRUS
Scientists at the US government's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have recreated the 1918 Spanish flu strain that killed around 50 million people. Critics say there is a real danger the virus will escape, with potentially disastrous consequences.
+ BT COTTON HIT BY MORE PROBLEMS IN INDIA
Not for the first time, wilt is affecting Bt cotton in India. In the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, a fact-finding team has been studying a large area of wilt on Bt cotton.
+ BT HYPE IN INDIA
An article in India's Economic and Political Weekly contains a reminder of the remarkable justifications given by India's official experts for the introduction of Bt cotton: "Optimistic predictions of the GEAC, the ICAR and the department of biotechnology (DBT) quoted an additional income of Rs 10,000 per acre for the farmer. The DBT also claimed that crop yields would increase by 80 per cent. For the chair-person of GEAC, the fact that Bt cotton would drastically reduce pesticide use by 80 per cent among other benefits was reason enough to grant approval."
Somehow these officials all lost sight of what was happening in the first country to approve Monsanto's Bt cotton in Asia - Indonesia - which had such bad results that the company was actually forced to abandon selling GM seeds there altogether.
Bt cotton commercialisation in India was also dogged by bad reports, culminating eventually in the actual banning of three types of Monsanto's Bt cotton in Andhra Pradesh and of one type more widely.
+ INDIAN FARMERS' LEADER SAYS GM CROPS ARE ANTI-FARMER
GM crops are anti-farmer and there seem to be no good reasons to plant them, says Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary, Executive Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj (India's premier farmers' organisation).
+ BIOTECH FIRMS PROMOTE BIOTECH MYTHS IN INDIA - REPORT
An interesting report, "Biotech firms, biotech politics: negotiating GMOs in India", by Dr Peter Newell of the University of Warwick, identifies key "narratives" used to promote biotech in India as well as identifying those who help to promote these myths.
+ ASIANS CALL FOR BAN ON GM RICE
A coalition of 17 organisations from across Asia have called for a global ban on the introduction of GM rice.
+ CHINA "MORE CAUTIOUS" ON GM RICE
A recent shift in China's State Agricultural Genetically Modified Crop Biosafety Committee indicates that the country is taking a more cautious approach to approving GM crops.
+ SCEPTICISM OVER GM RICE CLAIMS
Researchers have voiced scepticism over US and Chinese scientists' claims that GM rice needs less pesticide than conventional varieties.
+ PESTICIDE-FREE VILLAGE IN ANDHRA PRADESH
Farmers in the Penta Srirampuram village in Andhra Pradesh have, over the last 3 years, successfully eliminated pesticides from their paddy fields.
+ INDIA MAY OK GM MUSTARD, RICE IN 2 YEARS, SAYS BIOTECH LOBBYIST
GM mustard is likely to get the go-ahead in less than a year, claims Sahandra Nair, managing director of India's Biotech Consortium.
+ UK JUDGE THREATENS PEACEFUL PROTESTORS WITH ASBOs, ELECTRONIC TAGGING
Five people were found guilty of aggravated trespass after they blockaded a Sainsbury's distribution centre in attempt to protect the public from the supermarkets' GM fed milk. Four of the five were first time offenders, and yet they were given 50 hours community service, and ordered to pay GBP150 costs each. The punishment is regarded as being extreme and disproportionate.
The verdict came as a surprise as there appeared to be a U-turn in the judge's attitude between the trial and the verdict. When delivering his verdict, the judge was apparently eager to be seen to apply the harshest criminal guidelines. He stated that he was considering imposing a curfew on all the defendants (which would have involved electronic tagging), and had also contemplated applying Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) to those involved. Find out how to contribute to the defendants' costs:
+ GM CHICKENS TO BEAT AVIAN FLU
The Times' science correspondent, Mark Henderson, is trumpeting British scientists' plans to beat bird flu by replacing the world's entire stock of chickens with ones genetically modified to resist the virus.
+ EU WILL NOT ACCEPT TOLERANCE LEVELS
An important test case involving a cereal manufacturer in Germany is clarifying the EU GM labelling issue. At the moment, food manufacturers do not have to label a product as containing GM ingredients if it contains material of less than 0.9% content as long as it is "adventitious" or "technically unavoidable".
However, this case has established that if your product is tested by the authorities and found to contain, say, 0.6-0.7% GM material, you must label it as containing GM ingredients *unless* you can prove that the contamination was adventitious or technically unavoidable.
+ EU MINISTERS CLASH OVER MONSANTO MAIZE
EU agriculture ministers have failed to agree over allowing imports of two Monsanto GM maizes. In a separate vote, the ministers also failed to secure a majority either to approve or reject a draft order for Greece to lift a ban on planting seeds of another Monsanto GMO maize.
+ EU COMMISSION FORCES THROUGH ANOTHER GM MAIZE
The unelected EU Commission has forced through approval of GM maize 1507, jointly made by DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Dow AgroSciences unit Mycogen Seeds. The member states had failed to come to an agreement on the maize and in such a situation the Commission has the power to overrule them.
+ GM REJECTION SPREADS IN EASTERN EUROPE
In Poland, an opinion poll commissioned by Greenpeace shows that 76% of Polish consumers do not wish to eat food products that contain GM ingredients. And the Russian Consumers' Guide reveals more than 450 food companies in the country that have adopted a GM-free policy.
+ CHAPELA DROPS LAWSUIT BUT FIGHTS ON
Ignacio Chapela, the UC Berkeley professor whose tenure battle came to symbolize the movement to protect scientific research from corporate interests, has withdrawn his lawsuit against the university, but promised to continue to "expose a deeply damaging miscarriage of the university's mandate."
+ SUSTAINABLE AG CHAMPION KICKED UPSTAIRS
Fred Kirschenmann, a notable contributor to "The Future of Food" - the film that's increasingly reaching a mainstream audience in the US with its troubling questions about food production and GMOs, is no longer the director of Iowa State University's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Kirschenmann says his move from director to "distinguished fellow" came suddenly and without his own input.
This sudden purge at the top has called the Center's much-prized independence from industrial agriculture into question. Kirschenmann says the interim dean who forced him out has claimed the Leopold Center was neglecting "key stakeholders". But she has never clarified "who those stakeholders were." When asked if she might have been refering to agribusiness interests, Kirschenmann says simply, "You can draw your own conclusions."
+ ROUNDUP READY CANOLA IS BACK IN SCHMEISER'S FIELD
Percy Schmeiser, the farmer found guilty in 1998 of having Monsanto's genetics on his land after Roundup Ready canola was found to have contaminated his crop, has again discovered RR canola growing in his field. The company offered to hand pick the offending plants from the field once Schmeiser signed a document that releases Monsanto from any lawsuits associated with their products and forbids the grower from disclosing the terms of the settlement. Schmeiser refused to sign
+ OZ AG MINISTERS BOW TO BIOTECH BANDITS
State Agriculture Ministers have decided to legalise GM canola seed contamination, letting biotech companies off the hook for GM contamination of Australian crops. The Primary Industries Ministerial Council announced that they would allow up to 0.5% contamination of seeds for 2006 and 2007 and would try to reduce this to 0.1% in future years.
+ GM COMPANIES ACCUSED OF CONTAMINATING SEED
Greenpeace is accusing seed companies including Bayer of contaminating seed with GM material to force Australia to accept the technology.
+ GM CANOLA CONTAMINATION TRACED TO TASMANIA TRIAL
The GM contamination of Australia's canola crops has been traced to a Tasmanian trial in the late 1990s. The Tasmanian Government has restated its commitment to a ban on GM foods.
+ FARMERS CALL FOR COMPENSATION FOR GM CONTAMINATION
The Network of Concerned Farmers is insisting on compensation for any losses caused by acceptance of GM tolerance levels - and a complete ban on all trials grown by Bayer Cropscience until damages are paid.
+ WA STILL AIMS TO BE GM-FREE
Western Australian Agriculture Minister Kim Chance says WA will still aim to be GM-free. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5880
+ NEW BOOK: BIOWARFARE: WHO POSES THE THREAT?: BIOWARFARE AND TERRORISM
by Francis A. Boyl
This book outlines how and why the US government initiated, sustained and then dramatically expanded an illegal biological arms buildup. Most significantly, US expert Francis A. Boyle reveals how the new billion-dollar US Chemical and Biological Defense Program has been re-orientated to accord with the Neo-Conservative pre-emptive strike agenda-this time by biological and chemical warfare.
Linking US biowarfare development to the October 2001 anthrax attack on Congress - the most significant political attack on the constitutional functioning of democracy in the United States in recent history - Boyle sheds new light on the motives for the attack, the media black hole of silence into which it has fallen, and why the FBI may never apprehend the perpetrators of this seminal political crime of the 21st century.