*comment re ngin: Report Damns U.S. Regulation of Biotech
(1) Poll Shows Slow Down in Farmers Adopting Biotech
(2) Illinois Growers Get Biotech Warning
(3) CRACKS IN FOOD SAFETY REGULATIONS
(4) GM Beans Found on Korean Farms
(5) Monsanto to launch the first GM loaf
comment from Robert Anderson re ngin: Report Damns U.S. Regulation of Biotech
Professor Drew Kershen should confine himself to law. That in itself requires severe scrutiny after the US Court found the FDA not culpable, even though Drucker produced enormous evidence from their own scientists criticising the introduction of these foods in the first place. If that's not a travesty of justice I don't know what is. What Dr Pusztai's said of CSIRO testing claims is true of the whole industry. The New Zealand Grocery Industry Council put out thousands of pamphlets to consumers which claimed, "GM Foods are the most extensively tested foods ever sold in the history of mankind." This whole industry is based on, (to quote a great NZ QC,) "An orchestrated litany of lies."
Robert Anderson Member Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics www.psrg.org.nz
(1) Gallop Poll Shows Change in Ag, Farmers Trends, Attitudes Toward Bio-Tech, Sustainable Ag
(www.directAg.com news 12 Jan 01) .
Total Reversal in Farmers' Mood.
Excerpts: The same goes for genetically engineered products like Roundup Ready crop varieties and genetically engineered traits such as high-oil corn. Usage of engineered products increased from 41% to 50% even though 68% predicted they'd be using them. Engineered traits had the biggest jump between the two polls from 18 to 38%. Nearly half of the producers in the 1998 poll thought they'd be using this technology. One of the surprises of the 2000 poll was the number of producers using sustainable ag practices. The poll showed that 60% are aware of the practices, while only 23% are taking part in them. Drake notes that the actual number of farmers using sustainable ag may differ because of the poll's definition of sustainability. The greatest reason (89%) for not using sustainable ag was the farmers' perceptions that it causes lower productivity, says Drake. Economic reasons followed at 61%, while 'Don't know how,' 'Landlord won't allow,' and 'What will neighbors think,' also made the list. End Excerpt.
(2) Illinois Growers Get Bio-Tech Warning. StarLink
(12 Jan 01 DirectAg.com Full Text:
Continued worries over the StarLink corn debacle plague regulators and state leaders. The latest news is a letter sent by the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture to 251 registered seed dealers in the state asking that they postpone the marketing of any seed that is not yet approved for all uses in all major export markets. Aimed at protecting the state's market from the kinds of troubles caused by StarLink, the ag department and major farm groups are working to educate growers. "We're pro-biotech here," says Tom Jennings, division manager for ag industry regulation. "We want growers to make sure the what know they're growing. That's our prime goal (with this letter). We don't want to sway people one way or another." Jennings says the intent of the department is to get growers to contact their seed dealers and their grain elevators. "Farmers should make sure their grain buyers will take what they produce next fall," he says. Farm groups continue to worry about the situation, and in the next few weeks regional meetings around Illinois will aim to clear up any confusion. Those meetings, conducted by the Illinois Crop Improvement Association and the Illinois Farm Bureau, offer what Jennings calls the "education component." He adds: "The Illinois Corn Growers Association has already printed a list of approved and unapproved hybrids."
(3) CRACKS IN FOOD SAFETY REGULATIONS LEAVE U.S. AGRICUSINESS VULNERABLE. STARLINK.
(DesMoines Register, 14 Jan 01) Text:
http://www.dmregister.com/news/stories/c4789013/13486903.html Excerpt: The growing hysteria in Europe over mad cow disease should be sending a somber message to the U.S. food industry and to government policy makers and regulators over how quickly safety concerns can spin out of control with devastating economic consequences... U.S. officials, citing this country's vaunted regulatory system, have smugly dismissed the possibility of similar problems here. Still, there are recent disturbing signs of deficiencies in U.S. food safety regulation. The cracks have had no major adverse effects to date but hold the potential for snowballing. A regulatory regime divided among three agencies - the Agriculture Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration - managed, through a lack of communication and just plain ignorance, to allow an unapproved biotech corn variety called StarLink to contaminate the food system. Although no illness has been linked to consumption of products containing StarLink, the situation energized domestic and foreign opponents of genetically modified foods. The incident rightly called into question the adequacy of U.S. regulation of agricultural biotechnology. A report issued last week by the Consumer Federation of America states... End Excerpts
(4) Genetically Modified Beans Found on Korean Farms
Monday, January 15 11:50 AM SGT
SEOUL, Jan 15 Asia Pulse - A group of scientists said Sunday they have found genetically modified beans at Korean farms for the first time, the JoongAng Ilbo reported Monday.
The group, led by Professor Park Won-mok of Korea University, said they found 10 altered genes in 3,000 bean leaves after inspecting growing beans in Kyonggi and South Chungchong Provinces last summer.
The only altered beans available are imports so most likely they are of foreign origin, the group said.
Two explanations for the presence of modified beans were given: the Rural Development Administration, which inspects agricultural imports, failed to detect genetic modifications because of inadequate detection methods, or some farmers obtained the genetically altered seeds on their own initiative.
An agricultural specialist said some farmers use foreign seeds, believing they can increase yields.
After the report, Korean scientists say a comprehensive system to inspect agricultural imports is needed before the government starts to label GMOs sold in consumer markets in March.
Korean law allows only the government to sell seeds for major grains, including corn and beans, but seeds from other groups reportedly are widely available in the black market.
Whether genetically modified organisms harm humans has yet to be confirmed with the United States and Europe presenting discordant reports.
(5) Monsanto to launch the first GM loaf
INDEPENDENT 15 January 2001
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Farm trials have begun for the world's first genetically modified wheat, which means the first GM loaf of bread could be on supermarket shelves within three years.
The GM wheat is under development by the American agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto, which intends to market it aggressively in the face of stiff opposition from environmentalists and the organic food
industry. However, any attempt to sell American-grown GM wheat in Europe
could reignite the simmering trade war between the Europeans and Americans over biotechnology and food.
The advent of GM wheat is likely to become one of the most controversial
issues in global agricultural. It is almost certain to generate intense protests from consumer groups opposed to what they see as unwarranted interference in farming and food production.
Bread is a staple item in Europe and, unlike maize or soya, the advent of the GM loaf will have a resonance with consumers who may not otherwise worry about GM cereals destined for animal feed or specialised products such as tortilla chips.
Monsanto says that the technology it has developed for wheat - a genetically complex plant - is more or less complete and that it is now awaiting the necessary regulatory approval from authorities in the US so that American farmers can begin to grow their first GM wheat crop as early as 2003.
Mark Buckingham, a spokesman for Monsanto's headquarters in St Louis, Missouri, said: "Trials are taking place in North and South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota. We're working with existing US wheat breeders, particularly the universities in those states.
"We need a certain number of trials to achieve registration from the US Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.
"We are looking at yield, disease susceptibility and weed control. We are also lookingat environmental impact, which is an important part of getting registration."
The US Food and Drug Administration is also following the farm trials closely, sensitive to the potential ramifications of any problems in a crop used for making a staple food item. A senior official in the US Department of Agriculture said the ubiquity of wheat was "one of the reasons why the industry is being very careful of this technology".
The first GM wheat will be a spring-sown variety engineered to include a gene for conferring resistance to Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller. It hopes to sell the wheat alongside the herbicide so that farmers can control weeds more efficiently.
Mr Buckingham said Monsanto would initially market the wheat in America and last month applied for the first part of the necessary product registration. Attempts to sell the wheat in Europe could, however, be blocked by European demands for GM products to be clearly labelled, which the US government is opposing.
American wheat exporters might find it difficult to convince Europe that its cereal crop is "GM free" if a GM wheat variety is widely grown on American soil.
Mr Buckingham said Monsanto was setting up a plan where wheat growers in America could ensure the grain harvested from GM varieties was kept separate from conventional breeds. "Our proposal is to launch it initially with a controlled marketing programme, with some form of traceability in place to ensure that buyers who express a preference for a minimum GM content can get that," he said.
However, similar plans to keep GM maize separate from conventionally bred maize have failed. Environmentalists demonstrated last year that a GM variety called Starlink, which was supposed to be used only for animal feed, ended up in tortilla chips sold in American supermarkets.