Reporting Breaking News in the Biotech Food Debate
The DAILY BRIEF for Tuesday, 10 April, 2001 (( Seven Items ))
(1) Canada seeks ways to identify, trace GM crops (Reuters Securities, 9 April 2001). Monsanto. Some key figures in Canada's grain industry grappled on Monday with the issue of testing and tracing crops all the way from farmers' fields to consumers' plates as public concern grows about genetically modified foods expanding into the marketplace. For the full story, go to: http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/010409/n09117778.html
(2) Japan turns to other sources for Corn www.CropChoice.com news. (April 9, 2001 --Cropchoice news)--Rather than testing for and eliminating any U.S. corn shipments with transgenic traits it has not approved, especially StarLink, Japan is buying corn from elsewhere. It's turning to China, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa to cover the majority of its first quarter corn needs. Japan recently launched a "zero tolerance" policy toward unapproved transgenic foods. But rather than spending the money on tests that likely would reveal StarLink in U.S. shipments, inspectors and buyers are willing to pay premiums for corn from other places. The Japanese health ministry will randomly inspect 58 shipments of U.S. corn for food consumption through March 31, 2002. This amounts to 5 percent of all the 1,200 U.S. corn shipments registered during fiscal 1999-2000. Any corn that tests positive for StarLink will be directed to industrial uses, destroyed or returned to sender. In accordance with the agreement that Japan and the United States reached last year, U.S. authorities now test for Starink in all the corn that's headed to Japan. This will become even more necessary as the availability of Argentine and Brazilian corn dwindles in late July or August. Sources: BridgeNews, Doane's.
(3) Philippine President Urged to Reconsider anti-GMO Stance www.Just-Food.com news, 9 Apr 2001, Just-food.com editorial team The Crop Protection Association of the Philippines (CPAP) and members of the National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines (NAST) have both released statements urging President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to reconsider her position and allow the continued experimentation with GMOs in field trials. The statements are a reaction to a presidential statement in March in which Macapagal-Arroyo argued that GMOs have potential hazards to human health and the environment. The groups pointed out that a stringent set of guidelines were established by the National Committee on Bio safety of the Philippines (NCBP) to ensure GMO experiments are safe. So far, NCBP has only allowed two companies, Pioneer Hi-Bred Philippines and Agroseed Corp, subsidiary of agribusiness giant Monsanto, to experiment with field trials of Bt corn, a genetically modified product that contains the Bacillus thuringiensis gene, which is deadly to the Philippines' greatest agricultural pest, the Asiatic corn borer. "[Continuing the field tests] is the best way to determine if the technology is applicable to the Philippines and prove that genetically modified products are safe. This process is being undertaken by other countries as well, particularly our neighbours Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia," commented CPAP, pointing out that once approved, Bt corn will reduce production costs for farmers, who will no longer need traditional pesticides. Members of NAST pointed out meanwhile: "Biotechnology products can even provide greater benefits to consumers, who have always been the ultimate beneficiaries of product innovations. For instance, modern biotechnology can be a useful tool to attain greater nutritional security through enhanced products' vitamin content and prolonged shelf life. Modern biotechnology can also produce healthier oils and develop vaccines to fight dreadful diseases like cholera and malaria." "Scientists recognize that no technology is without risk. However, they have great confidence in the NCBP, the inter-department agency tasked to regulate R&D in modern biotechnology.... (The NCBP) has been cautious and stringent in the implementation of its regulations," the....
(4) TV Program on GM Foods, "Harvest of Fear," by PBS-NOVA-FRONTLINE, Coming Tuesday, 24 April 2001. BOSTON-- See: http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/010409/0420.html (BUSINESS WIRE FEATURES)--April 9, 2001-- A gene from a jellyfish is placed in a potato plant, making it light up whenever it needs watering. Rice plants are genetically transformed to produce vitamin A, preventing millions of African children from going blind. Crops are engineered so that they can grow in aluminum contaminated soil. Plants are modified to produce plastic or pharmaceuticals. These are just a few of the touted benefits of genetically modified agriculture--the use of genetic engineering to alter crops for the benefit of mankind. But while proponents say this new technology has the potential to end world hunger and dramatically improve the quality of life for billions of people, others argue it may constitute the biggest threat to humanity since nuclear energy. Dubbing such genetically altered products ``Frankenfoods,'' critics argue that the technology has been rushed to market and that scientists are tampering with nature, risking potentially catastrophic ecological disaster. In ``Harvest of Fear,'' airing Tuesday, April 24, at 9pm ET on PBS ((120-minutes)) (check local listings), FRONTLINE and NOVA join forces to explore the growing controversy over genetically modified agriculture. Through interviews with scientists, farmers, biotech industry representatives, government regulators, and "anti-GM'' activists, the special two-hour documentary presents both sides of the debate, exploring the potential benefits and hazards of this new technology. "Basically, this is a story about the increasing power of science to alter our world and the fear this power generates,'' says producer Jon Palfreman. ``The fact that the story is about food--a subject about which people have entrenched opinions, tastes, and beliefs--makes it that much more controversial.'' FRONTLINE and NOVA speak with representatives of large biotechnology companies as well as farmers, who tout the advantages of genetically modified crops..... (("Harvest of Fear'' is written, produced, and directed by Jon Palfreman. The senior executive producer for FRONTLINE is David Fanning. The executive producer for NOVA is Paula S. Apsell. (c)2001 WGBH Educational Foundation. See above web site URL for listing of contacts, producters, authors.))
(5) For a Listing of 80 GM-free Municipalities in Italy, see: http://www.rfb.it/comuni.liberi.ogm .and Coordinamento Comune Antitransgenico, http://www.rfb.it , both in Italian.
(6) Australian Tasmanian Government - Possible Legal Action Against Crop Multinationals, Aventis and Monsanto. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10 April 2001). http://www.excite.com.au/news/story/abc/20010410/19/tech/abc-10apr2001-1 21.inp
The Tasmanian Government is seeking advice on possible legal action against crop multinationals, Aventis and Monsanto. Reports by the federal gene technology regulator, released last week, revealed the companies breached genetically modified (GM) crop guidelines at 21 sites in Tasmania. The Environment Minister, David Llewellyn, told State Parliament the reports also reveal breaches of the Tasmanian Government's temporary ban on genetically modified organisms. "I've accordingly passed the reports to the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate two questions," Mr Llewellyn said. "One question is the legal action that may be open to the Tasmanian Government against Monsanto and Aventis for breaching the moratorium. "Another question is what next legal steps we can take to obtain the precise locations of breach sites now that they have refused to comply with our legal direction to do so."
(7) Transgenetic Products 'Almost Obligatory Step' For Mexico http://www.individual.com/servlet/BuildIssue MEXICO CITY, Apr 9, 2001 (El Financiero/Infolatina via COMTEX) via NewsEdge Corporation - Demand for food supplies over the next two decades is sufficient motivation for Mexico to become involved in "a new era of development, where biotechnology will play a defining role," Mexican biotech leader Savia said. By 2020, Mexico will be facing a population of 119.4 million inhabitants, demanding 45.8 million tons of basic grains, or 20 percent more than the demand in 2000. A 60 percent increase in demand for meat products, 70 percent for seafood and 60 percent increase in demand for dairy products are all on the cards, Savia Director Pedro Bosh Guha said. Meeting this demand with traditional agricultural methods would place a tremendous pressure on soil, water and energy resources, which opens the gate to an increased use of more efficient genetically modified products, he said.