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A Nov. 29 Bloomberg article says USDA soon will draft guidelines for licensing the terminator gene.
Even Monsanto has promised not to use the terminator gene, but not our USDA. By licensing it, it will profit from it. Monsanto, however, does have other tricks up its sleeve, such as traitor genes, which will also render seed saving useless.
Delta Pine and Land, which co-owns the patent with the USDA, says it is still planning on commercializing the terminator.
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This is particularly evil. Biotech companies and our USDA come out with production increasing technology. Farmers have to adopt it in order to remain competitive. However, due to the price inelasticity for farm commodities, prices fall even more for what the farmer grows.
So, once again, he finds himself in a most awkward position: he must adopt the new technology in order to stay competitive while trying to find a way to pay for it even as his income declines. And therein lies one of the evils in prohibiting a farmer from saving seed for his own use.
Make no mistake: seed saving prohibitions, whether contractually or biologically enforced, are nothing more than a shakedown on the farmer.
Moreover, I understand that Congress never intended that farmers lose their right to save seed as a consequence of the Bayh-Dole act. It is that act which has had a lot to do with our public research institutions' patenting and corporate partnering of research.
Shame on you, Glickman, and shame on the USDA. You should condemn DP&L's interest and bury the terminator.
But please don't bury it anywhere near the USDA's founder, President Lincoln.
UK GM Field Trials Contain 'Terminator' Crops
Among the GM crops undergoing field trials in the UK are Aventisí spring and winter GM oilseed rape (canola) engineered with the 'terminator technology' that makes seed or pollen sterile. The application to the UK from AgrEvo (now part of Aventis) makes clear that such terminator crops have been field-trialed in France and Belgium from the beginning of 1990, and subsequently on larger scales, also in Sweden and Canada before coming to the UK.
The original purpose of the terminator technology was to enforce corporate patents on GM seed, so farmers cannot resow harvested seeds. The first terminator patents that came to the attention of the public were jointly owned by US Department of Agriculture and Delta and Pine Land Company, which Monsanto had intended to acquire. As a result of universal condemnation and rejection by farmers and non- Government organisations world wide, Monsanto had announced it will not commercialise terminator crops. But research and development continued unabated.
Now, the technology is being promoted simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic. The USDA is soliciting public comment on the technology itself with the recommendation that it could be used to prevent gene flow http://www.usda.gov/agencies/biotech/downloads/paper72000.html
The UK Governmentís Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), meanwhile, is soliciting comments on a draft document, "Guidance on Best Practice on the Design of GM Crops", which presents the technology as one of the main methods for preventing gene flow, and thereby improving the safety of GM crops http://www.usda.gov/agencies/biotech/downloads/paper72000.html
"The technology is ineffective in preventing gene flow, and it makes use of two very dangerous genes that should never , never be released." Says Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Director of the Institute of Science in Society. The first is the gene coding for ëbarnaseí, an enzyme that breaks down RNA, an intermediate in the expression of all genes, and that is why it is a universal cell poison. "It kills all cells", says Dr. Joe Cummins, Emeritus Professor of Genetics, University of Western Ontario, Canada. "Experiments have shown that it causes cell-death when introduced into animal and human cells, and causes kidney damage when perfused into rat kidneys."
The second is the gene coding for a 'recombinase', an enzyme in the 'site-specific recombination system' which breaks and rejoins DNA at specific sites. Unfortunately, the recognition of specific sites by the enzyme is far from 100% accurate, so it has the potential to scramble genomes by breaking and rejoining at inappropriate places. This technology is not only used on plants but also in animals, and experiments have already indicated that such genome scrambling can occur.
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Institute of Science in Society, The October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester St.,London WC1N 3AL e-mail: [email protected] tel: 01908-653113; 0207-272-5636; 0207-242-9831
Gene Scare Closes US Cereal Plant
Check on modified maize OCT 25 2000
WASHINGTON - Breakfast cereal colossus Kellogg has temporarily closed one of its production plants, after concern over the genetically modified maize StarLink caused shock withdrawal of the raw material. The New York Times said that Kellog, the maker of Corn Flakes, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies shut the plant after the mills that supply it with corn grits - the roughly ground maize used in cereals - closed to check that none of its supply contained StarLink. Closure of the mills had obliged Kelloggs to temporarily close its plant in Memphis, Tennessee.
StarLink has been approved by United States authorities for animal consumption but not for humans. Research has shown that a pesticide that it contains, known as Cry9; may cause, nausea and allergic reactions in humans. "This is a national food supply issue," Joseph Stewart, a Kellogg vice-president, told the New York Times. 'The appropriate federal Government agency should act swiftly to rsolve this matter and maintain consmer confidence in our food.
The US Dept of Agriculture announced this month that the
Franco-German firm Aventis, which markets the StarLink seed, had agreed to buy back StarLink crops now being grown and harvested in the United States for an estimated $U68 million ($175 million). And the Environmental Protection Agency announced that Aventis CropScience, the company's American subsidiary, had said it would no longer sell StarLink in the United States. About 130,000 hectares of US, farmland are at present planted with StarLink maize. Last month, a coalition of consumer and environmental groups known as the Genetically Engineered Food Alert revealed that certain Taco Bell products from the company Kraft contained StarLink. : Kraft opted to pull those products off store shelves. US supermarket chain Safeway followed suit, this month with its brand of taco shells. . Mission Foods also recalled some of its, that were thought to contain StarLink. Meanwhile, flour maker Azteca Mills, owned by the Gruma Corporation and Archer Daniels Midland, has recalled its maize-based flour hi response to fears that it could contain traces of StarLink. AFP
STATEMENT FOR THE FIFRA SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PANEL OPEN MEETING ON STARLINK CORN
Arlington, Virginia November 28, 2000
By John Hagelin, PhD Director, Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy
I speak to you as a scientist who is striving to ensure that our best scientific knowledge be applied for the solution-- and prevention--of society's problems. I am a nuclear physicist who has published extensively in superstring theory and, during the last three elections, I have been the Presidential candidate of the Natural Law Party. I want to address an issue much deeper than whether the CRY9C protein in StarLink corn is likely to be allergenic. I want to address the assumptions that underlie the entire agricultural bioengineering enterprise. I am deeply concerned that life scientists are implementing bioengineering technologies without adequately understanding the lessons we have learned from the physical sciences. One of the key revelations of modern physics is that phenomena unfold in a far less linear and predictable fashion than eighteenth and nineteenth century thinkers assumed. Today, we know that there are inherent limitations on our ability to make precise predictions about the behavior of a system, especially for microscopic systems and nonlinear systems of great complexity. Numerous eminent molecular biologists recognize that DNA is a complex nonlinear system and that splicing foreign genes into the DNA of a food-yielding organism can cause unpredictable side effects that could harm the health of the human consumer. Yet, the genetic engineering of our food--and the widespread presence of genetically altered foods in American supermarkets --is based on the premise that the effects of gene-splicing are so predictable that all bioengineered foods can be presumed safe unless proven otherwise. This refusal to recognize the risks of unintended and essentially unpredictable negative side effects is just plain bad science. It is astounding that so many biologists are attempting to impose a paradigm of precise, linear, billiard-ball predictably onto the behavior of DNA, when physics has long since dislodged such a paradigm from the microscopic realm and molecular biologicalresearch increasingly confirms its inapplicability to the dynamics of genomes. Moreover, the premise of predictability is not just scientifically unsound; it is morally irresponsible. The safety of our food is being put at risk in a cavalier, if not callous, fashion, not only in disregard of scientific knowledge, but in disregard of recent technological history. Here, too, lessons should have been learned from the physical sciences. Time and again, the overhasty application of nuclear technologies led to numerous health and environmental disasters. For example, in the early days of nuclear technology, the rush to commercialize led to the sale of radium tipped wands designed to remove facial hair. Nine months later the cancers came. Similarly, the failure to comprehend the full range of risks and to proceed with prudence has led to many disasters in the nuclear power industry. In the case of genetic engineering, even greater caution is called for: a nuclear disaster only lasts 10,000 years, whereas gene pollution is forever--self-perpetuating and irreversible. The irresponsible behavior that permitted the marketing of bioengineered foods has not been limited to the scientific community, but includes the executive branch of the federal government. The FDA's internal records reveal that its own experts clearly recognized the potential for gene-splicing to induce production of unpredicted toxins and carcinogens in the resultant food. These same records reveal that these warnings were covered up by FDA political appointees operating under a White House directive to promote the biotech industry. It is unconscionable that the FDA claimed itself unaware of any information showing that bioengineered foods differ from others, when its own files are filled with such information from its scientific staff. And it is unconscionable that it permits such novel foods to be marketed based on the claim they are recognized as safe by an overwhelming consensus within the scientific community, when it knows such a consensus does not exist. The StarLink fiasco further demonstrates the shoddiness of the government's regulation, since the system failed to keep even an unapproved bioengineered crop out of our food. Indeed, the contamination was discovered not by the government, but by public interest groups. The FDA had no clue and had taken no measures to monitor. This incident also demonstrates how difficult it will be to remove a bioengineered product from our food supply if it is eventually found to be harmful and, therefore, how important it is to prevent the introduction of new ones to phase out those currently in use. It is high time that science and the truth be respected, and that the false pretenses enabling the commercialization of bioengineered foods be acknowledged and abolished. I call upon the members of this panel to uphold sound science so that you can hold your own heads up as the facts about the hazards of bioengineered food become increasingly well known. I call upon you not only to resist the pressures to approve the pesticidal protein in StarLink Corn; I call upon you to honestly acknowledge the inherent risks of genetic engineering and to affirm that, due to these risks, neither StarLink nor any other bioengineered food can be presumed safe at the present stage of our knowledge.
Only John Hagelin Saw Genetic Peril Editorial - The Providence Journal
One of the key issues that never got discussed in the presidential debates this campaign season was the most serious one facing us today. The fact is that our democracy has been stolen by the powerful lobbies of the special interests. The most conclusive and blatant example of this has been the dangerous experiment being conducted by the biotech industry on the American people. They have genetically manipulated our food supply so that 60 percent of the food on our supermarket shelves has been genetically engineered. The most outrageous thing is that they did it without the knowledge or consent of the American people.
Forty years ago, most scientists thought DDT a safe and promising addition to agriculture. Thalidomide was given to pregnant women by their doctors. Nuclear power was touted as the cleanest energy source on Earth. Marketed prematurely, each of these technological innovations brought unforeseen, unwanted and tragic consequences that could have been easily avoided through proper long-term safety testing. Haven't we learned anything from our mistakes?
From soil to superviruses: In 1994, a genetically engineered bacterium developed to aid in the production of ethanol produced residues that rendered the land infertile. New crops planted on this soil grew three inches tall and fell over dead.
The food chain In 1996, scientists discovered that ladybugs that had eaten the aphids that had eaten genetically engineered potatoes died. The immune system: In 1998, research by Dr. Arpad Pusztai uncovered the potential for genetically altered DNA to weaken the immune system and stunt the growth of baby rats.
Monarch butterflies: In May 1999, researchers at Cornell University discovered that monarch butterflies died unexpectedly from eating milkweed plants that had been dusted with the pollen of genetically engineered Bt corn.
Pregnant mice: A 1998 study showed that DNA from the food fed to pregnant mice ended up in their intestinal lining, white blood cells, brain cells,and their fetuses. This suggests that the genetically engineered DNA in the food we eat can end up in our own cells. Honeybees: Last May, a leading European zoologist found the genes from genetically engineered canola jumped the species barrier and were picked up by the bacteria in the digestive tracts of bees. This indicates that antibiotic-resistant genes in genetically engineered foods can cause the bacteria in our own intestines to mutate into superbugs that cannot be killed by antibiotics.
Superviruses:Viral promoters are invasive agents used by genetic engineers to trick a cell into accepting and integrating an alien gene into the cell's own DNA. Some scientists predict that releasing viral promoters into the gene pool could lead to the creation of superviruses and novel infectious diseases for organisms at every level of life--from bacteria to humans. These are just some of the dangers that are discernible in the premature marketing of genetically engineered products. The biotech industry is eager to point to their so-called successes while keeping their failures under wraps.
Next is the story of rBGH, recombinant bovine growth hormone (or the story of genetically engineered milk). A Monsanto lawyer drafted a letter to the FDA to get rBGH approved. He then stepped down from Monsanto and took an appointment as FDA deputy commissioner for policy. He then opened his own letter and helped draft the FDA's 1992 policy on genetically engineered food and rBGH. The law that followed, in true violation of First Amendment rights, states that it's illegal to say rBGH is in milk and it's illegal to state that it's not in milk. The lawyer returned to corporate life and became Monsanto's vice president for public policy. Incidentally, rBGH is banned in Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand--all major dairy producers. It is also banned in other countries. I quote Neal D. Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, from a magazine entitled Safe Food News (to get this magazine and to sign the national Genetically Engineered Food Alert petition, call 1-800-REAL-FOOD). "Monsanto's rBGH increases milk production. It also increases udder infections (mastitis) and reproductive problems in cows and shortens their life span. To treat the mastitis, farmers have to give their cows antibiotics. Studies have shown that milk from rBGH cows often contains residues from those antibiotics. And because rBGH-induced mastitis leads to increased amounts of white blood cells--or pus--this is also secreted into rBGH milk. But the risks of rBGH go far beyond even this. More troublesome is the fact that rBGH has been linked to increased risk of breast, prostate and colon cancers."
From pizza to chips, soda to infant formula, ice cream to cookies, vitamins to candies, genetically engineered organisms are in the foods we feed our kids every day. Virtually every food you can think of is in the genetically engineered pipeline. And coming soon . . . rat genes in your lettuce, cows that make human milk, and bananas with vaccines. The only presidential candidate who brought this issue to the forefront of his campaign and informed the American people of the hazards of genetically engineered foods has been the quantum physicist John Hagelin of the Natural Law/Independent Party. As he traveled the country during the campaign speaking in public forums, he talked frankly about the long-term consequences of such experimentation, asking the question: "Who gave the biotech companies the right to threaten our food and environment? The Clinton-Gore administration and our 'Republicrat' Congress, awash in biotech money. We need mandatory labeling and safety testing of genetically engineered foods, plus a moratorium on the release of these experimental lifeforms into the environment until proven safe."
Inheritable Human Genetic Modification Opposed NZ Herald 20 Sep 2000
WASHINGTON - Attempting to rerrange genes and create future generations of perfect human beings is dangerous, irresponsible and should not be permitted now, a panel of United States experts says in a report. A committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science has called for the creation of a public committee to monitor and oversee the increasingly sophisticated research into genetic modification. Much of the research is concentrating on modifying the genes to correct health problems in living humans. This is called somatic gene modification and involves changing the genes in existing mature cells. But, the committee says there is animal research in which there is an alteration of genes that affect future generations. This is called "inheritable genetic modification," or IGM.
Applied to humans, IGM could, in theory, allow the production of "designer children," or babies born with genes modified to make them, and future generations taller, more athletic, more beautiful or more intelligent. IGM could also be used to remove from a family lineage the genes that cause inherited diseases. Theodore Friedmann, of the University of California, San Diego, said IGM technology now "is not safe for humans." He said experiments had produced animals born with serious birth defects, gross 'physical distortions and fatal abnormalities. The same thing, he said, could happen in humans if the present IGM technology was used.
For each triumph there could be scores of animals born with terrible and usually lethal genetic problems. Evidence to the committee showed IGM research was not yet safe to use on humans. "In animal experiments, this technology has been highly inefficient and not of proven safety," said Friedmann. "There are major technical barriers to using this technology in humans." Sondra Wheeler, a teacher at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, said IGM research in humans could be socially disruptive. She said there was the possibility that genetic changes to produce healthier and improved children would be available only to the wealthy. "This would widen the gap between the. 'haves' and the 'have nots' to an unprecedented extent"" the report said. The cormnittee report said a public committee should be organised to monitor and oversee any IGM research on humans. - AP