from Claire Robinson, WEEKLY WATCH editor
This week we've been coughing and spluttering through the smoke generated by a multitude of pants on fire. Monsanto has (again) been caught lying about the performance of its Bt cotton in India. The UN World Food Programme is pretending that USAID never forced GM food aid on countries with food shortages (HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK - GLOBAL).
And the Bush cabal and its friends at Disney are desperate to prevent Michael Moore from telling the truth about the cosy relationship between the Bushes and the Bin Ladens. Inconvenient truth is a problem that Disney and biomedical giant Eli Lilly believe they have a solution for (see WEIRD-BUT-TRUE STORY OF THE WEEK: THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF GOV. JEB BUSH).
Watch out for an important CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK
WEIRD-BUT-TRUE STORY OF THE WEEK
THE REST OF THE MONTH'S TOP STORIES
HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
+ GM ACTIONS WORLDWIDE
See news of Greenpeace actions against GE in Brazil, Spain, Australia, Germany, Brussels, Austria, Switzerland, Argentina and Chile at http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3411 And check out: http://weblog.greenpeace.org/ge/
+ GM PLASTICS AND GOLF COURSES AREN'T SAFE EITHER
Consumers don't want to eat GM products, so researchers are looking for non-food ways to use the crops. But cottons, golf courses and plastics aren't safe either, warns Sue Mayer of GeneWatch UK in an article in the Guardian coinciding with a new GeneWatch report. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3425
+ NEW STUDY SHOWS MONSANTO LIED FOR SECOND YEAR ABOUT GM COTTON
An important and detailed study by agricultural scientists of GM cotton farming in Andhra Pradesh exposes Monsanto's latest lies over Bt cotton cultivation in India.
Monsanto's recent study claims big increases in yield, huge reductions in pesticide use, and big profits for Bt farmers. However, Monsanto's study was conducted by a marketing agency, which contacted farmers through questionnaires just once. By contrast, in a new study by the AP Coalition in Defense of Diversity (APCIDD), authors Dr Abdul Qayoom, former Joint Director of Agriculture in Andhra Pradesh, and Mr Sakkari Kiran of the Permaculture Institute of India worked with farmers continuously, contacting them every 15 days. This study shows Monsanto's Bt cotton was economically outperformed by non-GM cotton.
Indeed, the new APCIDD study shows the full extent of Monsanto's hype. Monsanto has claimed four times more than the actual reduction in pesticide use, 12 times more yield and 100 times more profit!
The results of the study show that even in a year with favourable weather the reduction in pesticide consumption by Bt farmers and the marginal improvement in yield, were not enough to offset the fact that Bt seeds cost 230% more than Non-Bt hybrids. This means the total investments for Bt were 8% higher than for the cultivation of non-Bt cotton, while net profits from Bt were 9% lower than profits from Non-Bt hybrids. In other words, the benefit/cost ratio was clearly in favour of Non-Bt hybrids.
The latest APCIDD study is consistent with the results of independent studies on the first year of GM cotton production in India, which revealed Monsanto's Bt cotton performed extraordinarily badly. http://www.mindfully.org/GE/2003/India-Bt-Cotton-Failure8feb03.htm
Will the Indian government, which ignored the clear evidence from the previous year, compensate farmers who cannot afford to suffer these losses? Sadly, the government appears to be gearing up to allow the powerful industrial lobby to dismantle the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (GEAC) and hand over control to an industry-dominated committee in the name of fast-track approval - see below http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3405
For more on the Indian government's proposals to dismantle GEAC and bring in fast-track approval of GMOs: http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3406
+ INDUSTRY'S REGULATORY COUP
The FAST-TRACK proposals come from a committee set up under Green Revolution scientist MS Swaminathan. Swaminathan's committee in turn emerged from a forum on regulatory development set up by the GM giant Syngenta. Syngenta's forum established many of the principles behind the proposals and Syngenta is working to make these a model for regulation in the Third World.
Syngenta prides itself on operating far more subtly than Monsanto. It has described its approach to GM crop regulation as one of "latch lifting" - finding creative means to undermine resistance to approval of its GM products.
Swaminathan is the perfect collaborator for such a project. Unlike Norman Borlaug or CS Prakash, he is not a crude propagandist for GM crops but has a more sophisticated stance, creating the facade of an unthreatening, ecologically sensitive biotech "domesticated" to local conditions - a more acceptable face for the introduction of GMOs into the Third World.
However, his record is controversial, with his Green Revolution standing accused of neglecting high yielding indigenous varieties of rice in favour of chemical-dependent varieties, leading to declines in productivity from such crops: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2000/20001016/agro.htm#2 http://www.cseindia.org/html/dte/dte20011015/dte_analy.htm Swaminathan also claimed to have created a new high-yielding variety that led to accusations of fraud.
+ SWAMINATHAN PANEL RECOMMENDATIONS FLAYED
The Swaminathan panel's recommendations for watering down India's GM regulations have been criticised by NGOs and scientists Drs Suman Sahai (Gene Campaign) and Vandana Shiva. They want the regulations to be overhauled but in the direction of more, not less, rigor.
In particular, the panel's proposal for segregating GM from non-GM crops in zones are criticised as not feasible, given the widespread GM pollution of native Mexican maize at a time when the Mexican government had a nationwide ban on GM plantings. The only way for protecting native germplasm from foreign genes is to disallow the GM version of that crop, Dr Sahai said.
The panel has also completely overlooked the vital question of toxicological and biosafety studies of new constructs.
Dr Shiva described as "dangerous" the recommendation of another working group on agriculture headed by former Secretary RCA Jain, that once a transgene is tested for biosafety in a particular crop it need not undergo tests while implanted in other crops. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3424
+ STAY AWAY FROM GM MEDICINAL PLANTS
Gene campaign's Suman Sahai explains why the GM medicinal plants being developed in India are doomed to failure in a perceptive article at http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3415
She points out that practitioners of traditional herbal medicine try to source herbs from the wild as the active healing substances are often "stress chemicals" produced by the plant in response to challenge from the environment. Such practitioners are sceptical even of cultivated versions of these plants, let alone GM versions, and if cultivated versions must be used, the growing conditions need to mimic those found in the wild and often, specific locations in the wild. Thus the GM versions, which will be cultivated en masse without consideration of locality, are unlikely to be effective.
I'd add to this that medicinal herbs owe much of their efficacy not to one or two "active ingredients", such as Western pharma companies try to isolate from the plant for patenting, but to many ingredients, some yet unknown, working together. The synergistic action works to boost the healing effects while minimising any toxic effects that could be exerted by any of the ingredients taken in isolation. This balancing effect may emerge from the plant's need not to poison itself or its biological allies with its own stress chemicals!
It's obvious that GM versions of these plants will be engineered to express higher levels of the supposed "active ingredients" - leading to medicinal herbs which turn out to be every bit as toxic as many pharmaceutical drugs. With a difference - the toxins, because biologically rather than chemically produced, will be less predictable.
+ DEVASTATING IMF/WORLD BANK SPONSORED PROJECTS
Read a revealing excerpt from Brian Tokar's new book, Gene Traders: Biotechnology, World Trade and the Globalization of Hunger, to be published later this month by Toward Freedom, at http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3410
Tokar shows how India is a key target for the introduction of GMOs into the Third World -
[In India] An ever-expanding array of scientists and public officials will engage in the detection, tracking, and evaluation of GMOs. While some researchers may shift their priorities from the development of new GE organisms to the evaluation of their safety, this [World Bank] project entails a significant expansion in the capacity of Indian researchers to work with GMOs and promote their "societal acceptance."
- and how the Bank has teamed up with pesticide companies to expand markets into the Third World:
Excerpt: The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) reviewed Bank documents describing over 100 agricultural projects approved between 1997 and 2000, and found a persistent focus on intensifying production and increasing farmers' access to agrochemicals, despite a 1998 policy emphasizing IPM-based alternatives.
PAN also uncovered an ongoing Staff Exchange Program, through which the Bank had entered into business partnerships with nearly all the leading pesticide companies, including biotech giants Aventis, Novartis, and Dow. "For public monies to support the placement of World Bank staff at these companies," argued Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, coordinator of PAN North America's World Bank Accountability Project, "constitutes a gross violation of the Bank's pest management policy and its business partnership guidelines. It is also antithetical to the Bank's commitment to sustainable development and a misuse of public funds."
+ AFRICAN COUNTRIES MUST NOT BE FORCED TO ACCEPT GM FOOD AID
The World Food Programme (WFP) must stop forcing African countries to accept GM food aid, African NGOs have demanded.
"The groups are demanding that the WFP and USAID immediately desist from misleading the governments of Angola and Sudan with a scenario of no choice, and forcing them to accept GM food aid," their joint letter said.
More than 60 groups representing farmer, consumer, environmental and development organisations from 15 African countries sent the open letter of protest to the WFP.
They were objecting to the pressure being put on Sudan and Angola to lift their restrictions on GM food aid. Sudan has asked that food aid be certified "GM free". Angola has said it will accept GM food aid only if the whole GM grain is first milled.
The letter coincides with a new report from Earthlife Africa titled "GM Food Aid: Africa denied choice once again" which shows that non-GM alternatives exist at national, regional and international levels, and donors should make these available to Sudan and Angola. The WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) officially recognise that Sudan has surplus food available in the country. Non-GM alternatives need to be fully explored in Angola. Bryan Ashe of Earthlife Africa told the South African newspaper Mail and Guardian that "the scenario presented by the WFP and USAID to these countries is that they either accept GM food or face dire consequences".
To view the letter addressed by African NGOs to the WFP, and the new report see: http://www.earthlife-ct.org.za http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3419
+ WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME LYING ABOUT FOOD AID TO SUDAN
An article from the South African press reports how the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) has strongly refuted claims that it forces African countries to accept GM food aid. It contains outrageously misleading claims.
The article says: "[Michael Huggins, Southern Africa regional spokesperson for the World Food Programme] denied claims that USAID has cut off food aid to Sudan..."
Huggins is then quoted as saying, "It's complete rubbish... USAID has never cut off food to Sudan and has always been the largest single donor to the country."
USAID has never cut off food to Sudan?
According to testimony made by USAID itself before the Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Africa in the US House of Representatives on March 11, USAID stopped all further food aid shipments to Port Sudan as of March 7 2004 because the Government Of Sudan had asked that US commodities be certified free of GMOs. USAID in its own testimony went on to admit, "the potential humanitarian consequences of this pipeline break for the needy in Sudan cannot be over-emphasized".
+ WFP ACCUSED OF INFLAMMATORY BEHAVIOUR
Consumers International - the global voice for consumers - has joined other joins African NGOs in their GM food aid protests. They point out that in August 2003 recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and Biosafety of the Southern African Development Community, (SADC), of which Angola is a member, stated that SADC member states should mill all GM grain before accepting it as food aid. They state, "The WFP had adequate warning from the governments of Angola and Sudan of their positions on GM food aid. Rather than act on those decisions in an appropriate and timely manner, the WFP instead chose to ignite controversy".
Amadou Kanoute, Director of Consumers International Regional Office for Africa, says: "The WFP appears to have learnt little from the Southern African food aid crisis in 2002, when several Southern African countries imposed restrictions on GM food aid. These countries also faced overwhelming pressure from USAID and the WFP. However, Zambia, which imposed an outright ban on the acceptance of GM food aid, not only managed to cope with its crisis, but is now able to export non-GM food to its neighbours." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3434
+ THE DUMPING-GROUND: AFRICA AND GM FOOD AID
Unequal power relationships in the world economic system mean that hungry Africans often have no choice but to eat GM food. Patrick Mulvany argues that the commercial policies of rich nations - especially the US - dominate food aid, not the interests of the poor. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3365
+ USAID TO PAY NIGERIA TO SPREAD GMOS
USAID is to pay Nigeria the equivalent of two and a half million Euros to develop biotech in the country. Just the day before news broke of USAID's largesse in assisting Nigeria to develop GM technology - the measure "against which the nation's development will be measured" acording to Nigeria's Science Minister - an article popped up from Prof CS Prakash in the Nigerian press puffing GMOs, including, unbelievably, the (failed!) GM sweet potato research in Kenya. Prakash was pushing the success of this project even when no data was available. Now it's been proven a failure, he evidently sees that as no reason to stop!
Prakash is an advisor to USAID, serving as the principal investigator of a USAID funded project 'to promote biotechnology awareness in Africa'. He and his university, Tuskegee (in Alabama) receive multi-million dollar funding from USAID. http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=106&page=P Read the GM puff piece in the Nigerian press at http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3428
+ CREATING HUNGER WITH GM CROPS
One the OpenDemocracy website, the Rockefeller Foundation's president Gordon Conway argues that biotech will "immeasurably improve" the lives of African farmers, yet Conway's own article contains clear evidence that it is likely to further impoverish them.
Here are excerpts from Robert Vint's reply to Conway - full text at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/thread.jspa?forumID=95&threadID=42598&tstart=0
As he [Conway] rightly points out:
"In Africa, poverty is essentially rural and the only way out of poverty is through development based on agricultural and other rural resources.
* 70% of African employment is on small-scale farms
* 40% of all African export earnings are from agriculture
* Around 30% of African gross national product (GNP) is based on agriculture - and for most Africans there is really not a choice of employment. Either your farm succeeds or you are jobless."
What these facts clearly indicate is that the majority of Africans need to be successfully employed on small-scale farms to avoid poverty and hunger. The replacement of such 'production by the masses' with mass-production of crops on a small number of vast high-tech monocultural plantations would mean that the farms of all but a tiny minority of the population fail and they become jobless - and so go hungry. Even if overall productivity increased the result would only be food insecurity and hunger in a land of plenty. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3404
+ US: MONSANTO'S BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE LINKED WITH MAD COW DISEASE
In the wake of America's discovery of mad cow disease (BSE) in its herds, author of the 1997 book Mad Cow USA John Stauber is being deluged with press calls. After all, Stauber predicted exactly this crisis as a result of the continued feeding of slaughterhouse waste to cattle - and the use of Monsanto's GE bovine growth hormone, rBGH.
"[around 1992] I got a call from a retired Eli Lilly drug researcher who told me that if rBGH came on the market in the U.S., we would be seeing mad cow disease," recounts Stauber. He didn't see the connection. The scientist explained: "If you inject cows with rBGH, you will have to feed them fat and protein supplements," because rBGH takes a heavy toll as it hikes milk production. Likely to be used, he said, would be "the cheapest form" of fat and protein: slaughterhouse waste. And this waste, the researcher said, would inevitably include parts of animals infected with mad cow disease - and the disease would be passed on. The use of slaughterhouse waste was how mad cow disease had spread in Great Britain and elsewhere in Europe in the 1980s.
Then Stauber filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, obtaining a 1991 report that discussed the pros and cons of banning feed containing slaughterhouse waste: "The advantage of this option is that it minimizes the risk of BSE," it read. "The disadvantage is that the cost to the livestock and rendering industries would be substantial."
Stauber called a Wall Street Journal reporter who specializes in agriculture and told him of all this. The reporter said it was "a theoretical issue. Call me when they find the first cow" with mad cow disease.
Stauber told him: "They'll be calling me when they find the first cow." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3413
+ BOLLWORM CONTROL PROBLEMS IN US WITH BT COTTON
An interesting item from the Syngenta-supported Checkbiotech newslist shows that in areas where Bt-cotton is not used extensively, control of pink bollworms is better than in areas where Bt cotton is used extensively. Also non-Bt farmers are being forced to pay USD32 per acre for assessment whereas Bt farmers do not have to pay anything. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3429
+ US: GROUP SEEKS BAN ON BIOTECH CROPS
In California, environmentalists are hoping to place an initiative on the November ballot that would prohibit GM crops from being grown in San Luis Obispo County. The ballot measure was prompted by a proposal from biotech firm Ventra Bioscience to grow rice engineered with human genetic material in the county.
State regulators rejected the proposal because the company lacked a federal permit. Local environmentalists want to preclude the possibility that it could be brought back. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3408
+ NORWEGIAN IMPORTERS WILL NOT BUY US WHEAT IF GM WHEAT COMMERCIALISED
Norwegian grain importers have said in Minneapolis that they will not buy any US wheat if the country grows GM wheat. "We are not talking about what might happen," said Helge Remberg, marketing director for Unikorn, Norway's major grain importing company. "We're talking about what will happen the moment" the sale and planting of GM wheat is allowed. Norway, like other wheat buying countries, would shun all US wheat rather than run the risk of unwanted grain ending up in a shipment of conventional wheat. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3408
+ GERMANY: GM WHEAT DESTROYED BUT SECRET TRIALS EMERGE
A field of GM wheat in Germany has been destroyed by activists. The local government responded with the revelation that GM crops are being tested in no less than seven of Germany's 16 states. The Swiss firm Syngenta, whose wheat was used in the destroyed Bernburg field, said it would review whether to continue testing GM crops in Germany. However, evidence has emerged of secret GM trials in Germany. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3431
+ TRADE RULES MUST CHANGE TO PROTECT HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
Friends of the Earth's Alexandra Wandel writes in a letter to the Financial Times that current world trade rules are out of date and do not take account of societal needs or the protection of the environment.
"A clear example is the recent complaint by the US administration through the use of World Trade Organisation rules against Europe's precautionary stance against genetically modified organisms. In light of this threat, the European Commission is caving in to WTO and US pressure. The Commission intends to lift the GMO moratorium and national import bans as soon as possible. This will make the Commission very unpopular: 70 per cent of Europeans do not want to eat GMOs." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3423
+ PETITION CALLS FOR STRICT LABELLING OF GM SEEDS
EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom has been handed a 200,000 signature petition calling for the strictest possible labelling of GM seeds.
The initiative, by a group called "Save Our Seeds", comes as the commission is preparing to adopt a controversial directive authorising the "accidental or technically inevitable" presence of between 0.3 percent (for oil seed rape and maize) and 0.5 percent (for beetroot, potatoes and cotton) of GMOs in batches of seed.
The group, composed of 300 farming, ecologist, trade union and cooperative organisations, denounced the plan as "illegal, non-scientific, unjust and completely unnecessary". "These thresholds of tolerance are going to lead to massive contamination in agriculture and massive problems for farmers," said Greenpeace's Eric Gall. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3412
+ EUROPE: STILL NO GM CORN
Europe has once again failed to come to a decision on authorising a GM maize. The European Commission's regulatory committee - made up of national representatives - on Friday discussed possible approval of Monsanto's NK603, for the second time this year. But, as in February, no majority was reached either for or against.
Denmark, Greece, Austria and Luxembourg remained opposed, and were joined by Portugal. But with Spain abstaining and Italy switching to the pro-GM camp, the yays were no stronger than the nays, and the issue will have to go to national governments. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3367
+ GM CROPS THREATEN BRITAIN'S MAMMALS, SAY EXPERTS
A new report says many of Britain's mammals are headed for extinction - and GM crops could be the final nail in the coffin. According to the report, The State of Britain's Mammals 2004, by the Wildlife Conservation Unit at Oxford University, the possible introduction of GM crops threatens biodiversity by reducing the numbers of insects around such food crops with "potentially serious consequences" for the hedgehogs, wood mice and bats that rely upon them for their basic food. Organic farms, it says, provide better environments. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3407
+ MPS CHALLENGE CROPS MOVE
The Government's decision making process in relation to GM crops being grown in Britain is being challenged by senior MPs. Ministers sanctioned commercial production of one of the controversial crops, against the advice of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee. Their formal response to the committee is being published, along with a detailed rebuttal by MPs of the Government's reasons for giving the GM crop the green light.
Chairman Peter Ainsworth said his committee's report on GM crops "deserves to be properly considered by the Government but hasn't been. They say they considered it but actually there were four days between our report and the announcement for the go-ahead for GM maize.
"We are living in a slight fantasy world here because the industry itself has effectively walked away from the commercial growing of GM crops. So we have a ridiculous situation where the Government appears to be more pro-commercial GM growing than the GM industry itself." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3422
+ PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING: OUR LEADERS' SEDUCTION BY SCIENCE IS DANGEROUS
A trenchant article with the above title has been published in The Times by former environment minister Michael Meacher.
Excerpts: We have reached an extraordinarily odd situation in the saga of genetic modification. The public continues to reject it, the supermarkets will not stock it, the industry itself has pulled out of GM cultivation, but the Government is still keen to go ahead. Why? Tony Blair said recently: "It is important for the whole debate (on GM) to be conducted on the basis of scientific evidence, not on the basis of prejudice." But being mesmerised by science is at best short-sighted and at worst disingenuous.
Science quite often gets things wrong. Biologists initially refused to accept that power stations could kill fish or trees hundreds of miles away in Scandinavia; later the idea was universally accepted. Scientists did not originally agree that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were destroying the ozone layer; but when the industry - ICI and DuPont - abruptly changed sides in 1987, ministers and scientists soon lined up with them. The Lawther working party roundly rejected that health-damaging levels of lead in the blood came mainly from vehicle exhausts, only to find that blood-lead levels fell 70 per cent after lead-free petrol was introduced. The Southwood committee of BSE scientists insisted in 1989 that scrapie in cattle could not cross the species barrier, only to find by 1996 that it did just that.
Much more subtle, and more serious, is the manipulation of science for wider political or commercial purposes. Scientific conclusions don't usually emerge innocently as an individual's inspired discovery, but out of a process dependent on financial pressures. ... A recent study found that of the five scientific committees advising ministers on food safety, 28 of the 70 committee members investigated had links with the biotechnology industry, and at least 13 were linked to one of the Big Three - Monsanto, Zeneca or Novartis. Nor is this an accident. The civil servants who select for these bodies tend to look for a preponderant part of the membership, and particularly the chairman, to be "sound"; safely relied on not to cause embarrassment to the Government or industry if difficulties arise. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3366
+ RYEGRASS HERBICIDE RESISTANCE MAY INCREASE WITH GM CANOLA
Western Australian researchers believe glyphosate resistance in ryegrass will increase with the introduction of 'Roundup Ready' canola. A report by the WA Herbicide Resistance Initiative has found resistance is continuing to worsen across Australia, with 38 cases detected. And researcher Dr Paul Neve believes GM canola will add to the problem, because higher usage of glyphosate is required. He says two types of weeds in the US are already showing resistance. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3429
+ LORD DICK(HEAD) TAVERNE RAVES ON
Lord Dick Taverne of the controversial pro-GM lobby group Sense About Science is attacking organic food and farming once again with an article in the Guardian, "The costly fraud that is organic food: Its main contribution will be to sustain poverty and malnutrition". The article repeats many of the old lies generated by the likes of Dennis and Alex Avery of the corporate-funded Hudson Institute, while giving no scientific references for its bogus claims and quoting "CJ Prakash"! It also ignores much scientific research supporting the environmental and health benefits of organics. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3427
+ GOING UP: BIOTECH PROMOTER DRAYSON
The Blair government has been accused of compromising the peerage system after a number of Labour donors were ennobled. The list of 46 new life peers includes businessman Dr Paul Drayson, who won a multimillion-pound government contract after he donated GBP100,000 to Labour.
Drayson is the head of the BioIndustry Association whose motto is Promoting UK Biotechnology. In March the government admitted that Drayson met Tony Blair at a sensitive time when he was seeking to win a lucrative GBP32m contract from the government, which was awarded to his company without any competition. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=2900
Drayson has been a financial donor to the Science Media Centre - a project supported by Lord Sainsbury, Labour's biotech-investing Science Minister and the Party's main individual donor. http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=116&page=S
+ GOING DOWN: SCIENCE COMMUNICATOR GREENFIELD
Baroness Susan Greenfield has not been included on the shortlist for membership of the Royal Society. Some fellows had threatened to resign if she was successful, arguing that her work did not merit the honour. But others said her efforts to engage the public in science made her worthy of consideration.
Greenfield has been at the heart of efforts to control how controversial scientific issues like GM crops and cloning are communicated to the public - notably, via the Science Media Centre (SMC), which she played the key role in founding, and via her work with the largely industry-backed Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), whom Greenfield advises.
She was pivotal in the SIRC and RI co-convening a Forum to lay down 'Guidelines on Science and Health Communication' - a code for the media and for scientists as to how science stories should be reported. Among the Forum's members were Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the UK Food Standards Agency , Lord Dick Taverne, who went on to become the Chairman of Sense about Science, and Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, who is part of the Living Marxism network. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3368
GM WATCH profile of Greenfield: http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=144&page=G
+ ALL BUT GONE? LORD SAINSBURY EXPECTED TO QUIT DTI
There is a growing expectation that Lord Sainsbury, the Labour peer and patriarch of the supermarket group, is preparing to quit his controversial position as science minister at the next general election in order to put more of his time into trying to rebuild the troubled family business.
The supermarket chain Sainsbury's has lost market share and its share price has fallen 30% over the past two years. The Labour peer was chairman of Sainsbury's for six years until he was lured into the Department of Trade and Industry in 1998. His apparent disillusionment with politics coincides with the waning of Tony Blair's power following the Iraq war and other setbacks. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3409
+ GONE - OR MAYBE NOT - LIFE SCIENCES NETWORK
There have been reports that the New Zealand pro-GM lobby group, the Life Sciences Network (LSN), being closed down because of "insufficient support". A conference planned for next month and a proposed academic journal have also been canned. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?reportID=53009
However, we wonder if LSN is not so much dead as morphed or morphed on ice. NZ's original biotech PR outfit, Gene Pool, became so embroiled in controversy that it too was wound up. It was predicted at the time that a new 'front' would soon be set up in New Zealand by the likes of Monsanto, and not long afterwards up popped the Life Sciences Network.
Up until early December 2003, the homepage of its website was attributed to Life Sciences Network (Inc), but this was suddenly changed to BioScience Communications Ltd.
Lobbyist Francis Wevers who was emplyed to run LSN set up the related Bioscience Policy Institute chaired by former Prime Minister Jim Bolger. And 'BioScience News' appears to have had the same staff and to have been run out of the same office as the Life Sciences Network. Now Wevers says the party's over but although LSN's website has been pulled, the new domain www.bioscinews.com hasn't gone - not yet at least. And according to one report LSN's chairman William Rolleston says his organisation "would continue" although without paid staff. Monies from publicly funded sience institutes to these pro-GM PR outfits have been a key - and controversial! - source. That controversy exploded when LSN placed adverts attempting to sway New Zealand's general election in the Government's favour. The Government subsequently lifted NZ's GM moratorium. The best news is, as one New Zealand paper noted: "No one has applied to release GM organisms in NZ since the moratorium ended. In the past six weeks, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania have banned GM crops, and Victoria and New South Wales have banned trials of GM canola." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3430
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Two excerpts from an interview by the Ecologist magazine with Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser:
+ ON MONSANTO'S POWERS
S: They will go into any farmer's field that they choose and take away either seeds or plants in whatever state they happen to be - even against the farmer's will. In other words, they steal them. If a farmer catches one of them in his field and says, 'you are trespassing: you are stealing some of my crops', they will just laugh at him and say, 'if you take us to court, we will drag you through the court system and you won't have a farm left'. They now add, 'we will do to you what we did to Percy Schmeiser'. Every farmer knows what it has cost me in legal fees to stand up to Monsanto. Few want to spend $100,000 or more and also put up with all the stress involved in fighting a powerful multinational. That's how Monsanto intimidates farmers.
+ ON GM FIELD TRIALS
Ecologist: How about the field trials that they [biotech companies] have done in the UK and elsewhere? What is their object? Schmeiser: They have carried out the same field trials many times in North America and other places. [For biotechnology] it is a good way of getting a toe in the door and then, of course, a foot.
E: But is the real purpose to contaminate neighbouring fields?
S: That's the object. There is no other reason for them.
E: Do the biotech firms believe that when they have contaminated all the world's crops they can go on getting royalties forever?
E: But no one is going to put up with that.
S: No, but the objective is to contaminate, and a short time ago Dale Adolphe, the head of the Canadian Seed Growers Association, which sells Monsanto's seeds, said: "There is so much opposition in the world to any further releases of GM crops that the only way that remains to go ahead with them is to contaminate." It's a hell of a thing to say. He admitted: "The way we do this is to take people's choice away." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3417
CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK
From the mighty GE Free Vermont campaign fighting in their US state for farmer protection against Monsanto: WE NEED YOU TO TELL VERMONT'S SENATORS & REPRESENTATIVES TO STAND UP TO MONSANTO BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT TO PEOPLE EVERYWHERE TO WORK FOR A GE FREE FUTURE.
These are only a few of our really strong champions, and they need all the encouragement they can get in the next few days. They need to know how important it is to people everywhere that they summon the courage to stand up to Monsanto and the biotech industry and pass the Farmer Protection Act.
Our legislative session will likely end by May 15th, so your email TODAY is urgently needed!
Speak from your heart and tell them why their courage and action is important to you. If you are working on a campaign where you live, tell them about it!
Let them know that their act of courage to tell Monsanto to pay for their contamination of our seed supply is part of our international struggle for farmer's rights, food sovereignty, and global justice!
Thank them for all they have done so far, and encourage them to stand up for all family farmers across the world!
In your subject line, please write: From _(your state/country)_ - Please pass the Farmer Protection Act!
Here is the list of key lawmakers:
THANK YOU for taking the time to send this email. You will really be helping our campaign, and helping win one battle against the corporate takeover of our seeds here inside the US Empire, that hopefully, like the victory of Mendocino, CA, will galvanize the struggle against GM crops and send the industry into a tail spin.
Please spread the word far and wide and let these lawmakers know they are on the front lines of the battle against the corporate takeover of our food and our future!
In Freedom & Unity,
Amy (and the GE Free VT campaign)
WEIRD-BUT-TRUE STORY OF THE WEEK
+ THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF GOV. JEB BUSH
We heard this week that Disney has forbidden its subsidiary Miramax from distributing American activist film-maker Michael Moore's new movie, Fahrenheit 911. The film is highly critical of the Bush/Blair invasion of Iraq, questions the validity of the 'War on Terror' and traces the decades-old and well-oiled relationship between the Bush and Bin Laden families.
According to the New York Times, Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said that Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Emanuel said Eisner expressed particular concern that it would anger Gov. Jeb Bush (Dubya's brother) of Florida and endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures there.
At first glance, Disney, best known for its cute cartoon characters, is an unlikely candidate for a Big Brother role. But Disney is politically active, giving $1.8 million in the 2000 election cycle. And it knows all about controlling what information the public is allowed access to - in fact, it owns a big chunk of the media: http://www.cjr.org/tools/owners/disney.asp#broadcast
In a particularly sinister echo of the film the Truman Show, in which Jim Carrey's character finally discovers he's spent his whole life in a TV soap set, Disney went into partnership with pharma/biotech drug company Eli Lilly to found an entire new town whose homes are all wired up to a complete computerised 'health' system in which Eli Lilly employees diagnose illness, then prescribe and dispense drugs made by (surprise!) Eli Lilly.
Don't believe me? Read Nature Biotechnology's enthusiastic 1996 editorial about the town, its ready-made customer base for biotech drugs, and the new system which so cleverly circumvents health insurance companies' reluctance to fund expensive medications: http://www.nature.com/nbt/wilma/v14n3.867429753.html
The town - called Celebration - is in Florida, where Jeb Bush is governor. Jeb Bush believes biotech will save Florida's economy: in fact, in one controversial deal, he gave 310 million dollars in public money to biomedical company Scripps Research Institute to set up home in Florida. Land, buildings, labs, offices, equipment, even employees' salaries for seven years: Scripps got it all for free, putting in no money of its own. The company will eventually repay Florida up to $155 million, half of the state's investment. But the payback provision will not kick in until 2011.
The Bush family has a long-standing relationship with Eli Lilly. George Dubya's father, former president George Bush, was owner and director of Eli Lilly from 1977-1979. Eli Lilly (along with Pfizer) is a sponsor of the Manhattan Institute, the far-right CIA-founded think tank that has been identified as one of the major influences on George Dubya's policies.
Eli Lilly provided at least $1.6 million to candidates in the last US election, 79% to Republicans. These totals don't include the estimated $30 million spent by drug makers on TV ads backing Republican candidates from front groups with innocuous sounding names like "United Seniors Association" and "Citizens for Better Medicare."
Perhaps it is no coincidence that in 2002 George Dubya's administration brought in a bill that limits legal liability for companies that produce vaccines. The bill was widely seen as a sop to Eli Lilly, which at the time faced lawsuits from families touting new research connecting thimerasol, a mercury-derived preservative used in vaccines, to autism. http://www.quinnell.us/politics/money.html
REST OF THE MONTH'S TOP STORIES
+ FRENCH EXPERTS DISTURBED BY HEALTH EFFECTS OF MONSANTO GM MAIZE
French newspaper Le Monde has run a sensational article exposing the total subjectivity of GMO approval decisions. The article explains, on the basis of documents Le Monde has seen and which would not normally have been made public, that one group of leading experts says the health effects on rats of this Monsanto GM maize are very disturbing, while another group has given this GM maize a "green light" for marketing in the EU!
The article shows how the current regulatory system in Europe is open to challenge because judgments are made, in the words of one leading expert, on the basis of little more than wishful thinking and with no credible scientific evidence. The regulatory situation in the US is still more lax.
EXCERPTS from my unofficial translation of Le Monde's article:
The French commission for genetic engineering, which delivers an opinion on GMOs, has become worried about the marketing of a GM maize after studying the results of an experiment on rats.
The European scientific committee, however, gave the GMO the green light on 19 April. The maize, produced by Monsanto company, MY 863, received on April 19 the go-ahead for marketing from the European scientific committee. This maize, in the experts' view, does not affect the health of animals, or, moreover, that of humans.
Though the opinion is public, official reports of meetings of this scientific committee, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), are confidential. As are the debates of the committees of the Member States, including those of the French commission for genetic engineering (CGB).
However the CGB, on the contrary, put out on October 28, 2003 an unfavourable report. It was very disturbed by the malformations observed in a sample of rats fed on MY 863 maize.
No one would ever have known anything of it if an association, the committee for research and of information on genetic engineering (Crii-Gen)... had not forced the door of the CGB while obtaining - thanks to the commission of access to administrative documents (CADA) - these official reports, of which Le Monde was made aware.
The opinion of the CGB is clear: the commission "is not able to show the absence of health risks to animals with regard to MY 863 maize."
...German experts immediately expressed reservations on MY 863, giving the reason that it integrates an antibiotic resistance gene ... but it is not the antibiotic which posed a problem for the French experts who are concerned with the effect on rats - the usual test to evaluate the harmlessness (or otherwise) of GMOs. One feeds GM food to a group of animals, which one compares at the end of 90 days with a control group of rats fed with the same maize, but not genetically modified. The biological examination of tens of indicators on all the rats makes it possible for toxicologists to judge if there is a significant variation.
However, the French commission for genetic engineering (CGB) worried about many biological effects: "significant increase in the white blood cells and the lymphocytes in the males" of the batch fed with the MY 863; "reduced levels of reticulocytes" (immature red blood cells) in the females; "significant increase in blood sugar in the females"; "higher frequency of anomalies (inflammation, regeneration)" in kidneys of the males. After a long debate, the CGB said, in "the absence of satisfactory interpretation of some of the significant differences observed", that it was not "able to show the absence of health risks to animals".
... However, a few days later, November 6, 2003, another French commission, the French Agency of health safety of food (Afssa), returned, on the basis of the same file, an opposite opinion: the differences observed, determined the agency, "are without biological significance", and it says that MY 863 "does not present a nutritional risk".
... But the CGB will not budge an inch. Gerard Pascal, director of research at the National Institute of agronomic research (INRA), a rapporteur of the file on MY 863 with the CGB... maintains his doubts. "I hear the argument of natural variability, but what struck me in this file is the number of anomalies. There are too many elements here where significant variations are observed. I never saw that in another file. It will have to be done again."
... There also exist, in other files, details of effects on animals: on the four GMOs examined by the CGB in 2003, which led to nutritional tests on rats, anomalies were raised. For oilseed rape WP 73, "significant effects" were observed on the liver and the kidneys of the animals, but they were related to a parameter which has since been rectified.
However, the tests on the rats were not carried out during 90 days as is usual, but only for 28. The commission also regrets that "the idea of asking for a test on dairy cows" was not retained and that follow-up data after the marketing in Canada are not available.
On the maize T 1507, the commission observes "a significant difference in food consumption" of the rats which ate the GMO. For maize NK 603, "significant differences" in 50 statistical comparisons out of 1200 were found, but they "do not have toxicological significance".
A Member of the Commission is worried about allergies to this product, and says that "it is not possible to conclude in such a final manner as to the absence of such a risk ". In spite of internal dissent, these files however received a favourable opinion from the commission, then of the EFSA. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3308
For the article in the original French (Herve Kempf, "L'expertise confidentielle sur un inquietant ma¥s transgenique", Le Monde 22 April 2004) see http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3226,36-362061,0.html
+ SPAIN WITHDRAWS GM MAIZE!
Spain has withdrawn a GM maize from the market at the request of the EU. The reason given is that Syngenta's (GM) Bt176 maize could generate resistance to antibiotics. The withdrawal follows a report from the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) calling for an end to cultivation of several GM maize varieties. Cultivation of Bt176 maize (maize) occupied 20,000 hectares in Spain, the only member state of the EU with significant commercial GM crop acreage.
Syngenta wants to replace the withdrawn Bt176 with Bt11 maize, but Bt11 has not yet received authorisation in the EU. In fact, the French and Belgium expert committees have both refused Syngenta's Bt11 maize the green light, saying that Syngenta has not performed sufficient toxicological tests with the actual GMO but mainly provided the results with a Bt11 fodder maize. Both expert committees have demanded full toxicological studies with the GMO for which the approval is requested.
These problems are of wider significance as Syngenta is trying to gain approval for its maize elsewhere in the world and is likely to support its applications with the same "evidence" which has been rejected by the French and Belgian scientists. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3344
+ KILLER MAIZE?
Thanks to Dr Maewan Ho for pointing out that THIS WITHDRAWN MAIZE IS THE SAME ONE THAT APPARENTLY KILLED 12 COWS ON A FARM IN HESSE, GERMANY http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?ArcId=1890
This episode will not be talked about publicly in relation to the withdrawal of this maize - but you can bet that it has come up in behind-closed-doors discussions. This is yet another piece of evidence in support of the necessity of making public the details of all GM research carried out by industry. Only then will we be able to inspect the quality of what's been done and the extent of the omissions.
+ US SEEKS GBP1BN FROM EUROPE OVER GM BAN
The US has demanded that the EU abandon its ban on the growing of GM crops and pay at least $1.8bn (GBP1bn) in compensation for loss of exports over the past six years. The challenge is outlined in papers filed to the World Trade Organisation and leaked to the Guardian newspaper.
The papers accuse the EU of imposing a moratorium on GM products in 1998 without any scientific evidence and in defiance of WTO free trade rules. The EU has until the end of May to reply before a WTO panel meets in June to adjudicate.
If it finds in favour of the US, the body will decide what trade sanctions can be imposed to force Europe to fall in line. The US has said it has lost $300m a year as a result of lost maize imports and would expect sanctions against the EU to help recoup the sums.
+ US MAY ALSO USE WTO TO ATTACK AUSTRALIA
Western Australia was declared GM free last month but WA Farmers president Trevor De Landgrafft predicts the US may mount a legal case to push the issue in Australia. The WA government says it is not worried about a complaint to the WTO about bans on genetically modified crops. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3356
+ US'S FIRST GMO LABELING LAW PASSED
Vermont has become the first state to require manufacturers of GM seeds to label and register their products. Under the bill, GM seeds must be labeled as such after October 1. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3356
+ VIVA VENEZUELA--GM BANNED IN VENEZUELA-- MONSANTO TERMINATED!
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Frias has announced that the cultivation of GM crops will be prohibited on Venezuelan soil. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3307
+ GERMANY'S MINISTER KUENAST INTENDS TO EXPAND COMPULSORY GMO LABELING
German federal minister for consumer affairs, Renate Kuenast, wants compulsory GMO labelling on products made from animals raised on GM feed. Kuenast said she had tried to achieve acceptance for this with the EU Commission but EU Commissioner David Byrne had rejected it. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3298
+ GM NON-FOOD CROPS WILL CONTAMINATE FOOD AND NATURE
A new GeneWatch UK report reveals how the production of GM crops intended for non-food uses could contaminate food crops and wild species. The full report can be downloaded as a pdf file from www.genewatch.org/CropsAndFood/Reports/non-food_crops_part2.pdf
+ AUSTRALIA: GM MORATORIA IN FOUR STATES "STUN" AND "AMAZE" BIOTECHS
Press Release from AusBiotech, 1 April 2004
"AusBiotech, Australia's biotechnology industry organisation, is stunned and amazed at a week in politics that has seen GM moratoria placed in four states in five days. In such a short period of time, many of AusBiotech's members and biotechnology players have been left wondering at the timing, coordination and coincidental moratorium periods and legislation announced in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3138
+ AUSTRALIA: "NO MARKET" FOR GM CANOLA
Several users of canola oilseed, including some of Australia's big food manufacturers, say they are not interested in buying the GM product. New South Wales has just approved three small GM trials. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3166
+ LORD SAINSBURY'S BIOTECH FIRMS HIT THE ROCKS Two biotech firms linked to UK science and innovation minister Lord Sainsbury of Turville are facing serious financial difficulties. Diatech Limited, which holds several patents for techniques which could be useful to the GM food industry, has gone into liquidation, while biotechnology investment firm Innotech is making huge losses. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3286
+ "GM WILL NEVER BE GROWN IN BRITAIN"
According to an article in the Independent, ministers are prepared for GM crops never to be grown commercially in Britain after the strain approved for cultivation was withdrawn by Bayer, the company that developed it. The article claims ministers are determined not to compromise on strict conditions for growing the crops, which Bayer blamed for its decision not to proceed with the GM maize given the go-ahead by the government last month. Unless the controls are relaxed, Bayer says it will abandon the technology in Britain. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3167
+ CONSUMER OPPOSITION BEHIND BAYER DECISION?
An article by Sean Poulter in the Daily Mail says of Bayer's decision to withdraw its GM maize, "the biotech farming lobby viewed it as a disaster, setting back such cultivation many years. ... Bayer is believed to have abandoned its plans after realising that consumer opposition could make it impossible to find a market for the product." http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3167
+ DEVINDER SHARMA ON THE GREAT GENE ROBBERY
The world's largest collection of plant germplasm from some 6,00,000 plants, largely collected at public expense, is under the control of the US Department of Agriculture and set to make profits for corporations. These genetic resources lie stored at Fort Collins/Fort Knox in the United States, outside the purview of any international treaty. The countries where these were collected have no control or say over these resources, nor do they get any benefit from providing these valuable resources. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3295
+ ARGENTINA'S BITTER HARVEST - NEW SCIENTIST
New Scientist has published an excellent article on how GM soya has wreaked ecological and economic devastation in Argentina, titled, "Argentina's bitter harvest: Genetically modified soya promised so much for hard-pressed farmers. Now it has all gone horribly wrong".
Excerpts from the New Scientist article:
When genetically modified soya came on the scene it seemed like a heaven-sent solution to Argentina's agricultural problems. Now soya is being blamed for an environmental crisis that is threatening the country's fragile economic recovery. ... Argentina used to be one of the world's major suppliers of food, particularly wheat and beef. But the "soyarisation" of the economy, as the Argentinians call it, has changed that.
About 150,000 small farmers have been driven off the land. Production of many staples, including milk, rice, maize, potatoes and lentils, has fallen sharply.
Many see Argentina's experience as a warning of what can happen when production of a single commodity for the world market takes precedence over concern for food security. When this commodity is produced in a system of near monoculture, with the use of a new and relatively untested technology provided by multinational companies, the vulnerability of the country is compounded. As yet, few countries have opted for GM technology: the US and Argentina together account for 84 per cent of the GM crops planted in the world. But as others, including the UK, seem increasingly prepared to authorise the commercial growing of GM crops, they may be well advised to look to Argentina to see how it can go wrong. Complete article at http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3280
+ BRAZIL'S PARANA STATE BANS MONSANTO, BASF PESTICIDES ON RISKS
Brazil's Parana, the country's biggest soy-producing state, ordered Monsanto and BASF AG to suspend the sale of some pesticides as it seeks more information about their impact on human health. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3237
+ BIOTECH RICE PLANS STALLED
The California Department of Food and Agriculture denied Ventria Bioscience's application to grow more than 120 acres of GM pharmaceutical rice engineered with human proteins in Central and Southern California because federal regulators haven't issued a permit. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3270
+ US IS BIGGER THREAT THAN TERROR - BBC POLL
Globalisation, the US and giant multinationals pose a more serious threat to the world than war and terrorism, according to a BBC poll. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3277
+ EU INTRODUCES STRICTER GM FOOD LABELLING
Sales of food in the EU containing more than minute traces of GM ingredients will soon be illegal unless indicated on content labels. A new law stipulates that any food containing 0.9 percent or more of GM substances must display details of the amount on packaging.
From 18 April the tougher GM labelling rules will:
*Cover 'derivatives' from GM crops including oils and lecithin;
*Tighten the labelling threshold from one per cent to 0.9 per cent;
*Include 'feed' fed to animals.
+ AGBIOVIEW CO-FOUNDER TAKES MONEY FROM MONSANTO
Greg Conko of the US think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), has admitted that CEI takes funding from Monsanto: "While saying that less than a quarter of the CEI's agriculture programme funding comes from corporations, Conko confirmed that Monsanto is the biotechnology sponsor of the institute".
Conko and CEI co-founded CS Prakash's AgBioWorld campaign. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3165
+ THE HONESTY OF SCIENCE IS BEING COMPROMISED AT EVERY TURN
A brilliant essay with the above title has been published in the New Statesman (26 April 2004) by Dr Colin Tudge, Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and a three-time winner of the Glaxo/ABSW Science Writer of the Year Award, as well as former features editor of New Scientist. The essay is well worth reading in full at http://www.newstatesman.com/site.php3?newTemplate=NSArticle_People&newDisplayURN=200404260019
Tudge concludes that unless drastic action is taken to challenge the current corporate take over of science, "the future life of humanity is going to be both more brutal and far shorter" than it need be.
Excerpt: ...rationality is increasingly equated with expediency, and expediency with profit. So it is "rational" to seek to make as much money as possible out of farming, say, and "irrational" to bang on about employment, and ways of life, and autonomy, and suchlike abstractions. As the coup de grace, policy is increasingly decided on the basis of what is "rational", which is equated both with what is commercially expedient and with what science says should happen. So it is that GM crops are being wished upon us on the grounds that there are no "scientific" reasons for not growing them. Anyone who cares about science - as well as anyone who cares about humanity, and good thinking - should be appalled by such nonsense. But it has become the norm, and is presented with all the pompous piety for which we deride the worst of clerics. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3360
Our thanks to all of you who have donated to GM WATCH. For those who have not yet contributed, you can donate online in any one of five currencies via PayPal, at http://www.gmwatch.org/donate.asp OR by cheque or postal order payable to 'NGIN', to be sent to: NGIN, 26 Pottergate, Norwich, NR2 1DX, UK. We appreciate your support.
HEADLINES OF THE WEEK: from the GMWATCH archive
6/5/2004 Bollworm control problems in US / GM canola could make resistance problems worse
6/5/2004 Taverne blasts organics as "costly fraud"
6/5/2004 Tougher (not weaker) bio-safety rules needed in India
6/5/2004 USAID to pay Nigeria to spread GMOs
5/5/2004 African Groups respond to WFP accusations of inaccuracy
5/5/2004 Against the grain - GM cottons, golf courses and plastics aren't safe either
5/5/2004 MPs challenge GM crops move
5/5/2004 Swaminathan panel flayed for ambiguity
5/5/2004 Trade rules must change in favour of public health
4/5/2004 Africa GM food aid claims are 'rubbish' (indeed!)
4/5/2004 Africa in revolt over GM food / African countries 'forced' to accept GM food aid
4/5/2004 African groups accuse WFP and USAID over GM food aid
4/5/2004 Benefit sharing is dead - Devinder Sharma
4/5/2004 Stay away from genetically modified medicinal plants
4/5/2004 The man that took on Monsanto - new Schmeiser interview
4/5/2004 Troubled waters: flourescent fish spark GM row
3/5/2004 200,000 petition calls for strict labelling of GM foods
3/5/2004 Cowed Media Disease - from GM drug to mad cow USA
3/5/2004 Exciting news from Brazil, Spain, Australia, Germany, Brussels, Austria, Switzerland, Argentina
3/5/2004 Lord Sainsbury expected to quit
2/5/2004 Devastating IMF/World Bank sponsored projects
2/5/2004 GM crops threaten Britain's mammals, say Oxford experts
2/5/2004 More US bans sought / Norwegian importers tells US it would shun all US wheat
1/5/2004 Creating Hunger With GM Crops
1/5/2004 Industry's regulatory coup in India
1/5/2004 New study nails Monsanto's lies over GM cotton in India
30/4/2004 Corporate science communicator humiliated
30/4/2004 GM maize fails again
30/4/2004 Public health warning: our leaders' seduction by science is dangerous
30/4/2004 The dumping-ground: Africa and GM food aid
29/4/2004 THE WEEKLY WATCH number 70
FOR THE COMPLETE GMWATCH ARCHIVE: http://www.gmwatch.org/archive.asp