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People Worldwide Grappling with
Genetic Manipulation

Even a worm will turn when it's stepped on.

Enough is enough already!

People in the Orient , the Southern Hemisphere, and Europe have had enough and have already been taking matters into their own hands by refusing to permit genetically-altered crops in their soil.

Americans, on the other hand, in spite of their "Don't Tread on Me"
attitude on which their democracy was founded, have been more acquiescent.  Most have sat back while companies like Monsanto and Novartis flooded the world with genetically-altered soy beans and corn in addition to dairy products from cows treated with a genetically-altered hormone (BST) and flesh from cows treated with growth hormones.

The European Union refuses to import flesh from American cows, and Canada has so far resisted heavy pressure from US trade officials to permit the use of BST in its dairy cows.

While few Americans were taking any notice, the purveyors of GM
(genetically manipulated, or as the industry prefers, genetically modified, their new term for genetically engineered or GE.)

US trade officials have threatened the Japanese with a trade war if they pursue mandatory labeling of GM products as 91% of Japanese consumers want.

Former New Zealand associate health minister Neil Kirton was fired after refusing to kowtow to American Ambassador Josiah Beeman's demands to kill a proposed law on mandatory labeling of GM products.  Instead of sending Beeman home in disgrace, the New Zealand government fired Kirton.

These events give cause to wonder whether American government is conducted in the best interests of its citizens or the likes of Monsanto and Novartis.  India's Dr Vandana Shiva described Monsanto as a
"global terrorist".

In the Karnataka region of India, farmers, chanting "Cremate Monsanto" uprooted and incinerated test plots of Bollguard cotton and called upon the government to ban GM seed and test plots.

The demands of most protesters are moderate. Realizing that some GM foods are already a fact of life, all they are asking is that they be so labeled so that those who wish to avoid them have the information they need to do so.  Labeling might also serve to discourage the practice of mixing produce from GM seed with that grown from seed unadulterated by genes from other species.

In Europe, the EC ruled against the release of a GM potato containing antibiotic-resistant marker genes.  Austria's major supermarket chains vowed not to sell GM-derived foods;  Greece banned the import of GM canola seed;  the UK placed a 3-year moratorium on insect-resistant (Bt) crops and a one year moratorium on herbicide-resistant plants;  Germany's gigantic Raiffeisen Co-operative has announced that it will refuse to accept GM grains.

Citizen groups are hoping to draft a legally-binding international treaty at the international Convention on Biodiversity's Biosafety Protocol meeting in Colombia in February. Brazil's Carrefour supermarket chain opposed "Roundup Ready" soy beans.  The Mexican Green Party is working on legislation requiring mandatory labeling of GM crops.

People in the Philippines, Thailand and South Korea are pushing for mandatory labeling and safety-testing.

Even Americans are beginning to react.  A group called the "California Croppers" destroyed test plots of Novartis Bt corn on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley and warned of further attacks.

Meanwhile, Monsanto has been "harassing and prosecuting 480 farmers for the "crime of saving seeds" with which to plant next year's crop and has jumped on Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser for growing Roundup Ready canola without a license.  Schmeiser claims his farm has been contaminated by the invasion of genetic material invading from nearby farms.

The company is coping with seed-saving by developing "terminator" crops that produce sterile seeds that do not grow.

Some of the GM seeds have been less than satisfactory resulting in lower yields than those of unaltered seeds planted nearby. Seven Arkansas farmers have filed legal complaints against Monsanto for selling low-germination soy bean seed.

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Most of this information comes from Campaign for Food Safety (Ronnie Cummins)
860 Hwy 61m Little Marais MN 55614 <alliance @mr.net> via Marguerite Wagner,
Rabbit Information Service, Australia <rabbit@wantree.com.au>

Nobody knows the long-range effects of transplanting genes from one species to another, in effect performing overnight mutations that may interfere with species that nature has taken millennia to perfect. We do know, however,  that the introduction of a naturally evolved foreign species can upset existing ecosystems in unpredictable ways.

Scientist smells a rat in GM food

LONDON--Genetically-modified food can damage the immune system of rats and stunt their growth according to new research released yesterday.

Professor Arpad Puztai, the scientist who carried out the research, said he would not eat modified food after seeing the results of his tests.

Professor Puztai of the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, fed modified potatoes to the rats for 100 days to observe how it affected them.

The potatoes were produced by the the institute specially for the experiment, with similar modifications to those developed by commercial food producers to make crops resistant to pesticides.  Professor Puztai said his findings raised grave questions about the safety of modified food for humans.

"We are assured that this is absolutely safe and that no conceivable harm  could come to us from eating it.  But if you gave me the choice now, I wouldn't eat it," he said.

The most worrying feature of the experiment was the effect of the potatoes on the rats' immune systems, Professor Putzai said.

A growing proportion of process food available in Britain contains modified ingredients, particularly soy beans, but there are no legal requirements for consumers to be warned by labels on packaging.

Courier-Mail,  August 11, 1998

Professor Putzai was suspended by the Rowett Institute because of "inconsistencies in his data.  Monsanto is spending $1.63 million on an advertising campaign to bolster falling public acceptance.  Rats are not reliable for predicting human responses.

P.S.  January 13, 1998
  Monsanto has applied to Australia/New Zealand Food Authority for a 200-fold increase of Roundup residues in imported soybeans (.1 mg/kg to 20 mg/kg). This will apply to both ordinary and GM soy beans.

"US farmers growing ordinary soy are encouraged to defoliate it immediately  prior to harvest so leaves and twigs are stripped from bushes and do not jam harvesting machines.  They get better weed kills and increased harvesting efficiency while we get 200 times more Roundup residue in our soy."

Marguerite Wagner, Australia


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