Today in AgBioView:
* Coals to Newcastle
* Dr. Elaine Ingham & Oregon State
* Eco-vandals destroy genetically modified potatoes
* KOREA'S MAF MAPS OUT ENVIRONMENTAL GUIDELINES FOR GMO PRODUCTS
* Planting of Global Gene-altered Crops on Increase
* Sharp rise in use of modified crops
* Monsanto Welcomes ISAAA Report Highlighting Success for Biotech Crops In
* Dow AgroSciences says launching 1st cotton seed 2004
* Delta sets new cotton varieties for 2002
* US soybean group seeks clarity in China GMO rules
* EU STUDY HIGHLIGHTS AGROCHEMICAL BENEFITS
* Genetic crops' profit conditional; Researchers says pets, herbicides are factors
* GENETIC ENGINEERING: ONE THIRD OF FOODS SAID TO CONTAIN TRANSGENIC MATERIAL
* MISLEADING LABELLING
* Progress in GM foods research; PIONEERING: work to cut pollution risks
Coals to Newcastle
January 12, 2002
By Anthony Trewavas (University of Edinburgh)
John Etherington's letter perpetuates the confusion over whether bacteria in an insect's gut can pick up and spread plant genes (15 December, p 56).
Even if this did happen, would it matter ? Etherington tells us that transfer of herbicide-resistance genes from genetically modified oilseed rape to charlock is dangerous, but he doesn't explain why. Outside the farm, is resistance to a herbicide any use to a plant ? There are weeds resistant to at least 16 herbicides worldwide. But apart from large chemicals companies, who loses out ?
And why isn't Etherington alarmed by the possibility that resistance could be spread by commercially available resistant oilseed rape produced through conventional breeding rather than GM ?
Consider the likelihood that this kind of gene transfer happens at all. Caterpillars have been chewing plants for some 300 million years, presumably always with native gut bacteria. Bacteria exchange genes promiscuously between themselves, yet in none of the bacterial genome sequences currently published do we see the plant gene sequences that Etherington implies should be there.
What's more, insect guts produce acid, which rapidly degrades DNA, plus hydrolytic enzymes which rapidly dispose of intact genes. Even if a bacterium did pick up a gene, it would only flourish if the gene enabled it to out -compete bacteria without the gene. Since the resistance genes in GM rape came from bacteria in the first place, this is akin to shipping coals to Newcastle.
Please let us deal only with probable harm. The search for the endless possibilities arising from the human imagination merely trivialises the debate. No one is suggesting that any gene is innocuous, and the case-by-case approach instituted by the British Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment for the safety of any new GM product is the right one. But herbicide-resistance genes pose no problems that have not already been experienced or anticipated.
For more science news see http://www.newscientist.com
Date: 10 Jan 2002 22:31:31 -0000
From: "Gordon Couger"
Subject: Dr. Elaine Ingham & Oregon State
I just called the department of Biology and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University and Dr. Ingham does not work for them and has not for some years. Her resume says she has a courtesy privilages through the Forestry department.
In talking with the lady at Oregon State a courtesy appointment there is the same as it is here at Oklahoma State. It gives library privilages and the privigalge to be on campus. At Oklahoma state almost anyone that asks for a coursty privilages are granted them.
Eco-vandals destroy genetically modified potatoes
January 10, 2002, Thursday
Saboteurs ripped up more than 1,300 genetically modified potato plants at a New Zealand research glasshouse in the country's worst attack of eco-vandalism, it was reported on Friday.
It was the second raid on genetically engineered potato research by the state-owned Crop and Food Research organization at the Lincoln Agriculture and Science Centre, near Christchurch. In March 1999, a protest group called the Wild Greens destroyed a field of potato plants that had been modified with a genetic code from a toad to improve their resistance to soft rot.
Crop and Food's chief executive, Paul Tocker, dubbed the latest attack in the early hours of Thursday "breaking and entering a science laboratory with the intent to disrupt the progress of science", The Press newspaper reported.
He said the trials were being conducted in contained laboratory conditions under strict controls set by the Environmental Risk Management Authority.
The head of the research project, Professor Tony Conner, of nearby Lincoln University, told Radio New Zealand the attack was "devastating" and would set back his team's work by a year.
He said one researcher took three years to develop about 100 plants, all of which have been lost.
KOREA'S MAF MAPS OUT ENVIRONMENTAL GUIDELINES FOR GMO PRODUCTS
January 11, 2002 Friday
South Korea's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) said today it has issued guidelines on GMO (genetically modified organisms) agricultural products.
According to the guidelines, those seeking to sell GMO goods produced domestically or abroad on the local market must submit an application to the Rural Development Administration (RDA) to verify that the products do not harm the environment. The applications can be viewed by the public for 30 days to offer information on the GMO products and allow opinions to be gathered.
The authority will give notice of the results of the inspection to applicants within 270 days of receipt of the application.
Applicants have the right to call for a second evaluation within 60 days if they are unhappy with the results.
The RDA intends to form an expert inspection committee comprising some 15 members and appoint an organization to take charge of the inspection via the committee.
Meanwhile, the United States, European Union (EU) and Japan have already implemented examinations on the potential damage to humans from GMO products.
Planting of Global Gene-altered Crops on Increase
January 10, 2002 04:13 PM
BRUSSELS, Jan 10, 2002 (Xinhua) -- Global planting of genetically modified (GM) crops was over 50 million hectares last year, equivalent to more than twice the total land area of Britain, a new report said on Thursday.
Despite widespread consumer concerns over trans-genic crops the area under cultivation has exploded more than 30-fold since 1996 with the new strains now being grown by 5.5 million farmers in 13 countries around the world, the report said.
Drawn up by international monitoring body, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), the report said the world's GM area grew by 11 percent in 2000 and 19 percent in 2001 and there was cautious optimism the figure would rise further in 2002.
It is notable that the global area of GM crops exceeded the historical milestone of 50 million hectares, ISAAA chairman Clive James told a teleconference.
There is a need to share information and knowledge with society about GM crops so that we as a global community can make informed and knowledge-based decisions about the future deployment of GM crops, which have the ability to make an important contribution to global food, feed and fibre security.
The GM world continues to be dominated by the United States with a crop area of 35.7 million hectares in 2001, 68 percent of the global total. This was followed by Argentina with a 11.8 million hectare area, Canada with 3.2 million hectares and China with 1.5 million hectares, where the area tripled last year.
ISAAA said the main GM crop remained soybeans, which occupied 33.3 million hectares, 63 percent of the total GM area. GM corn had almost 10 million hectares and transgenic cotton 6.8 million hectares.
Sharp rise in use of modified crops
Financial Times (London)
January 11, 2002
By JOHN MASON
The worldwide commercialisation of genetically modified crops expanded substantially in 2001, with poor farmers in developing countries responsible for much of the increased take-up, according to a report published yesterday.
The area of land under cultivation with GM crops rose 19 per cent to 52.6m hectares between 2000 and 2001, said the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). Some 5.5m farmers are now using the technology, with three-quarters of them from developing countries, ISAAA said in its annual report. ISAAA is a non-profitmaking group, funded by private and public sectors, aimed at increasing the transfer of biotechnology techniques from industrialised to developing countries.
Clive James, ISAAA chairman, said that despite continued consumer opposition in Europe, the increase in the global use of GM technology since its introduction in 1996 was "unprecedented" in the history of world farming.
It exceeded the enthusiasm with which US farmers adopted hybrid wheat in the 20th century to create the "bread-basket" of the Mid-west, he said.
However, use of GM technology remains largely concentrated in four countries. The US grows 68 per cent of GM crops, Argentina 22 per cent, Canada 6 per cent and China 3 per cent.
The principal crops according to land cultivated remain soybean on 63 per cent, corn on 19 per cent and cotton on 13 per cent. The largest single increase last year was in China where GM cotton cultivation tripled.
Mr James said there was cautious optimism that the increase in the cultivation of GM crops would continue in 2002. India may well adopt GM technology to boost its cotton industry, the largest in the world, he said.
Asia's three largest countries by population, China, India and Indonesia, would then all be firmly committed to using agricultural biotechnology.
Brazil might also reverse its opposition to GM and approve products, he said. This would mean the three largest Latin American economies - Brazil, Argentina and Mexico - all encouraging GM cultivation, he said.
GM technology was no "magic bullet" and the technology had to be used alongside improved conventional techniques such as the successful growth of low-till farming in south Asia. Further funding for research into both was vital, he said.
However, GM technology remained vital to fulfilling future food needs, he said. "The prevailing opinion in the scientific community is that conventional agriculture will not allow you to double food production by 2050," said Mr James.
Reservations have been expressed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation about the speed of adoption of the technology and proper assurances about safety and environmental risks given, he said.
Monsanto Welcomes ISAAA Report Highlighting Success for Biotech Crops In
January 10, 2002
ST. LOUIS, Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Monsanto Company welcomes today's report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), which demonstrates the growth in use of plant biotechnology around the world and its importance to improving agriculture in the developing world.
This report puts an important focus on the economic, environmental and health benefits biotechnology can bring the developing world, including increased yields, reduced pesticide use and disease resistance, said Robert Horsch, Ph.D., Vice President for Monsanto's Technology Cooperation program.
According to ISAAA's Global Review of Commercialized Transgenic (GM) Crops, biotech crop acreage in developing countries in 2001 represented more than one-quarter of total global biotech crop acreage.
Farmers in developing regions are beginning to have access to modern agricultural tools like biotechnology that will help grow more and better food, care for the land, and protect the environment, said Horsch. Plant biotechnology tools also help increase farmers' productivity and, in turn, their income, resulting in a reduction in poverty in their communities.
These tools are particularly valuable in developing countries where farmers, whose welfare depends on a successful harvest, often lack conventional means of crop protection.
ISAAA also reports that more than three-quarters of the farmers who benefited from biotech crops in 2001 were resource-poor farmers planting insect-resistant or Bt cotton enhanced through biotechnology to repel bollworms, mainly in China and in South Africa.
According to a recent study by the University of Reading and the University of Pretoria, in the Makhathini Flats region of South Africa where bollworms traditionally have destroyed up to 60 percent of growers' harvests, Monsanto's Bollgard cotton helped to increase yields by 33 percent, reduce pesticide sprays by six sprays per crop and increase income by an average of 27 percent.
The success of Bollgard in Makhathini Flats is a good example of how biotechnology can help farmers in Africa and throughout the developing world improve the quantity and quality of crops they depend on for income and to feed their families and communities, said Kinyua Mbijjewe, Monsanto's spokesman for Africa.
Hopefully this report will stimulate the support needed to enhance plant biotechnology research and broaden the developing world's access to the benefits of biotechnology, said Mbijjewe.
For more than ten years, Monsanto has worked in collaboration with public agricultural researchers around the world to improve crops that are particularly important in developing countries. This commitment is reflected in the New Monsanto Pledge, a series of commitments that describe the company's policies for products developed through biotechnology.
These projects include providing broad access to a working draft of the rice genome and participating in work to develop the virus-resistant papayas in South East Asia and sweetpotatoes in Africa.
ISAAA's 2000 global report mentioned that Kenya's first sweetpotato field trials were underway. Those field trials were completed in 2001 and sweetpotato research continues with Monsanto's report.
In addition, the Monsanto Fund is supporting the St. Louis-based Donald Danforth Plant Science Center's efforts to develop a virus-resistant cassava, a staple crop in Africa.
Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) is a leading provider of agricultural solutions to growers worldwide. Monsanto's employees provide top-quality, cost-effective and integrated approaches to help farmers improve their productivity and produce better quality foods. For more information on Monsanto, see: www.monsanto.com .
Dow AgroSciences says launching 1st cotton seed 2004
January 10, 2002
ATLANTA, Georgia - Dow AgroSciences said on Thursday it will launch its first venture into cotton seeds in 2004 and will submit the papers to the government for regulatory approval after the 2002 growing season. (ref.2346)
Joseph Sobek, the Global Business Leader of Dow's Biotechnology Fiber Corps, told a briefing at the annual Beltwide Cotton conference here the transgenic cotton seed should be effective against an array of bollworms and loopers.
"We're talking of significant control here," he said. "It really picks up all of the army worm family, including loopers."
He added that the new seed variety will help farmers improve on the economics of producing cotton. "We expect full commercial launch for growing season 2004," said Sobek.
Dow AgroSciences is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company
Delta sets new cotton varieties for 2002
January 10, 2002
ATLANTA - Delta & Pine Land Co. said it is introducing a new batch of transgenic cotton seeds available for the 2002 cotton growing season. In statements made available Thursday, the company said they include the PM 2167 RR, PM 2266 RR, and PM 2344 BG/RR which are for use in the Texas High Plains and were bred for increased average yield and fiber length. (ref.2351)
"We believe High Plains farmers will especially like the economic benefits (of the seed varieties)," said Tom Speed, regional agronomist for Delta and Pine Land.
The company also announced the DP 448 B picker cotton seed for use in the western United States, especially in Arizona.
Delta also announced release of the DP 491 seed, which combines high yield with fiber quality for utilization in the lower U.S. Southeast, lower mid-South and South Texas.
There is also the SG 215 BG/RR seed, which is an early maturing variety with higher yield to be used in various soil types across the cotton belt.
All of the seeds have transgenic qualities to make them resistant to insecticides commonly used by cotton farmers in the United States
Delta and Pine Land is a Mississippi-based firm which is a commercial breeder, producer and marketer of cotton planting seed.
US soybean group seeks clarity in China GMO rules
January 11, 2002
WASHINGTON - China's latest attempt at clarifying rules for the import of genetically modified foods has failed to answer many questions U.S. exporters have, according to a U.S. industry official.
On Monday, China announced that, on March 20, it will begin enforcing a law passed last June governing the import of biotech foods.
The delay in publishing the regulations led to a temporary disruption last year in U.S. soybean sales to China, a $1 billion market for American farmers and exporters.
Approximately 70 percent of U.S.-grown soybeans are genetically modified.
Gil Griffis, director of Asian sales for the American Soybean Association, headquartered in St. Louis, said the new regulations raise several "points of concern."
For example, Griffis said the Chinese regulations do not appear to adequately explain the process for applying for certificates that will be required for shipping GMO foods to China.
He also said it was unclear what would happen to GMO foods that arrive in China after all the regulations go into effect but are shipped before the certificates are required.
Griffis said he wasn't certain whether the confusion was related to problems in translating China's rules into English or whether China was intentionally vague on some points.
"This is a document we are trying to understand better. We want to ensure the regulations and safety certificates do nothing to impede export of our soybeans from the United States, Griffis said.
A U.S. Agriculture Department spokeswoman said she could not comment on China's new regulations, saying USDA officials in Beijing were still working on their version of a translation.
In the meantime, Griffis said he expected U.S. soybean shipments to China to be uninterrupted after the two governments late last year agreed to an interim arrangement on GMO food shipments.
On Monday, U.S. soybean futures prices rose on the news that China had unveiled its GMO import regulations. Traders in Chicago expressed optimism the new rules would translate into increased Chinese business.
EU STUDY HIGHLIGHTS AGROCHEMICAL BENEFITS
January 8, 2002
A new study commissioned by the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) and the German agrochemical industry association, the IVA, has found that the benefits of using crop protection products in agriculture "far outweigh" the costs to a national economy and the EU as a whole. It is the responsibility of the world's citizens to ensure that chemical crop protection continues to be used, the study's author, Professor Michael Schmitz of the German University of Giessen, says. The study shows the impact that a total ban on or a significant reduction in agrochemical use would have on the financial status of both farmers and the economy as a whole.
To do this, two general numerical equilibrium models developed by Professors M Brockmeier (Bundesforschungsanstalt fur Landwirtschaft, Braunschweig,
Germany) and J-H Ko (Pusan University, Korea) were applied to Germany and the EU. A complete ban on the use of agrochemicals in Germany would lead to drastic drops in production of between 50% and 84%, the study shows. Yields would decline and the market share of crops produced would be lost to competitor countries. A total ban would also result in German farmers losing between 32% and 45% of their income.
The study shows that a 75% cut in the use of crop protection products in Germany would result in the following reductions in crop production: 25% in wheat production; fodder grain (-25%); oilseed plants (-20%); fruit and vegetables (-14%); sugar beet (-11%); and other crops (-18%). The study also shows that this reduction in agrochemical use would lead to a drop in German crop exports of between 27% and 47%. Germany would then be forced to increase its imports of cereals and sugar. The loss to German agriculture that would be caused by a 75% reduction would be an estimated DM 4,400 million ($2,010 million) per year, while the overall loss annually to the German economy would be an estimated DM 35,800 million or just under 1% of its gross domestic product.
If all of the EU reduced the use of crop protection products by 75%, its economy would lose around DM 86,500 million, the study estimates. If Germany were alone in cutting its agrochemical use by 75%, the competitive advantages for the rest of the EU countries would be worth some DM 46,000 million per year. Effect of 75% reduction in agchem use on value of economy (DM 000 million)
Member state In Germany only In the EU
Germany -35.8 -34.4
France + 9.5 -13.4
Italy + 6.5 -10.9
UK + 5.4 -13.1
Denmark + 3.2 + 0.5
Spain + 2.9 - 2.2
Sweden + 2.0 - 9.1
Finland 0 - 1.6
Rest of EU(1) +16.5 - 2.3
Total EU +10.2 -86.5
(1) Austria, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Portugal.
Source: study calculations based on the Brockmeier EU model. Instead of banning or reducing the use of agrochemicals, the way in which they are used could be optimised. "This would lead to considerable savings," Professor Schmitz points out. For this to happen, users of crop protection products would need to be provided with more extensive information and guidance. This would also lead to a fall in the risks incurred by pesticide users related to poor use of information, he adds.
Professor Schmitz acknowledges that there are still many questions that should be answered before a full cost benefit analysis can be carried out. "The lacking co-ordination of national and international research results is regrettable," he adds. Furthermore, not all of the components of a comprehensive cost benefit analysis can be clearly quantified, he points out. "The effects of some crop protection methods have not yet even been researched." He also hints that organic farming does not only bring positive effects and that more research is needed. The ECPA welcomes the study, but highlights that it also reveals the gaps in the data required to "truly" evaluate the costs and benefits of agrochemicals. It also highlights the impact on the agrochemical industry and other food chain members of state intervention and "symbolic" political gestures.
"To achieve the sustainable use of crop protection products, it is vital to have all the facts before introducing political measures. We believe that a more comprehensive pan-European cost benefit analysis is required if the correct decisions are to be made," says ECPA director-general Dr Pierre Urech. Professor Schmitz believes that politicians and the agrochemical industry need to work essentially as "partners" in order that the benefits of agrochemicals be maintained and that the potential negative external effects be reduced to an "absolute minimum". Professor Schmitz makes a number of recommendations to the agricultural and agrochemical industry and those concerned on a political level. To the industry he suggests: the further development of precision farming; greater use of computers; further development of a new generation of agrochemicals that are more effective, contain smaller amounts of active ingredient, break down more rapidly and are intended for selective use only; the development of seed wi
Politicians are urged to consider: the implementation of suitable legislative measures to reduce risks to human health and the environment; the introduction of measures that distinguish between the requirements of different locations and crop types; the creation of a standardised measurement network for surface and ground water contamination by agrochemicals; the assessment of the effectiveness of current regulations covering the approval and use of crop protection products; the introduction of financial incentives and market economy rules; co-operation between parties instead of state intervention; and that any costs that arise in relation to the use of crop protection products should be borne where they are incurred.
* The report, "A Cost Benefit Analysis of Crop Protection", by Professor Michael Schmitz of the University of Giessen in Germany is available from Stephen Weller at the ECPA. Tel: +32 2 663 1563. Fax: +32 2 663 1560.
AGROW - World Crop Protection News
Genetic crops' profit conditional; Researchers says pets, herbicides are factors
THE PANTAGRAPH (Bloomington, IL.)
January 9, 2002
BY Chris Anders
URBANA - Genetically modified grain is a bargain only if farmers exert better pest control, harvest higher yields and pay fewer expenses, according to a policy researcher.
Leonard Gianessi of the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy said new technology also doesn't qualify as a bargain if farmers can't sell their crops. Some genetically modified (GM) crops are not accepted in Europe and Japan. Gianessi spoke Tuesday to farmers and agribusiness representatives attending the Illinois Crop Protection Technology Conference at the University of Illinois.
Enduring a sixth straight year of historically low grain prices, farmers are more carefully scrutinizing the added costs of GM seed. Gianessi's work - research involving 40 case studies on 30 crops - showed that farmers make money growing Roundup Ready soybeans and Bt corn.
Roundup Ready soybeans, resistant to Roundup herbicide, were grown on more than half the nation's acreage in 2001. Gianessi said the soybeans reduce herbicide use and allow the purchase of less expensive herbicide.
"Because of Roundup Ready soybeans, the price of herbicides has declined by about 40 percent. That has resulted in a $400 million reduction in herbicide costs for growers," he said.
Gianessi cited U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data on Bt corn, which is resistant to European corn borer. If borer numbers are low, the EPA data showed farmers received $2.10 more per acre from a 5-bushel-per-acre yield increase.
If borer populations are high, farmers made an additional $12.10 per acre from yield increases of 10.8 bushels per acre, the EPA data showed. The scenario assumed farmers were paying $8 per acre more for their seed in the form of technology fees.
The National Center of Food and Agriculture Policy study was funded in part by Monsanto, a major supplier of GM seed. Gianessi said funding was supplied by a variety of sources, including the Rockefeller Foundation.
"We are not consultants. We work in a public realm, so our work is not reviewed. We just do the studies and put them out there," said Gianessi. "Not all GM crops are a bargain, like Bt eggplant."
A recent study by consultant Charles Benbrook, a former executive director of the National Academy of Science Board of Agriculture, strongly criticized GM corn as a money maker. Benbrook said farmers have lost $92 million or an average of $1.31 per acre during the last six years growing Bt corn.
The study for the Minnesota-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy was based on technology fees of $8 to $10 per acre, and average yield increases of 3.9 bushels per acre. Benbrook said farmers need to realize a yield increase of at least 5 bushels per acre to make money growing Bt corn.
Growing Bt corn paid in 1996, 1997 and 2001 when European corn borer populations were high, according to Benbrook. It did not pay in 1998, 1999 or 2000 because of very low populations, he said.
"Whether GM corn is a bargain depends on corn borer pressure," agreed Gianessi. "It's like an insurance policy against a large population developing."
GENETIC ENGINEERING: ONE THIRD OF FOODS SAID TO CONTAIN TRANSGENIC MATERIAL
January 11, 2002
France's Environment Minister Yves Cochet has expressed his support for tightening up regulations on GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) contained in foods, following the publication of a study by the French consumer organisation "Que Choisir?", in which it draws attention to the accidental presence of GMOs in a third of the foods tested. GMO contamination levels are however generally lower than the 1% tolerance margin, and Mr Cochet acknowledges that there is therefore no infringement or deception on the part of producers. However, he adds that as he told his European colleagues in October 2001, he would support a lowering of this threshold to reflect new analysis methods that now permit the detection of levels ten times lower than was previously the case. Mr Cochet is also keen that there should be no tolerance even for the accidental presence of GMOs not authorised in Europe.
The issue of tolerance thresholds is the subject of an on-going debate within the EU's Environment Council, with Ministers yet to agree on the adoption of a Directive on the traceability and labelling of GMOs. Several EU Member States have blocked further authorisation for GMOs since 1999, pending progress on traceability and labelling. The French Minister insists that Europe must stand firm on GMOs for those who do not wish to see such products imposed.
According to the study in the monthly bulletin "60 million consumers" for January 2002, of 103 common foods containing maize and soya, 36 were found to contain GMOs. Of these 103 foods, traces of GMOs were detected in 14 aperitif biscuits (out of 18 tested), 3 sauces (out of 17), 4 sweet biscuits (out of 15), 2 polentas (out of 2), 1 soya steak, 2 breakfast cereals (out of 14 analysed), 9 pet foods (out of 9) and 1 ready meal (out of 22).
The manufacturers of the products analysed are not however in breach of regulations on labelling, which only require an indication of the presence of transgenic material where products contain more than 1%, according to the bulletin "60 million consumers" survey, which considers traceability and the means of establishing a GMO-free sector. Of the 36 samples tested positive, only one contained a quantity of genetically modified material above 1%, namely a vegetable and cereal-rich Leader Price brand dog food supplement containing about 15% of a GMO identified as the soya-variety Roundup Ready developed by Monsanto. However, pet foods are not subject to the labelling requirements. None of the other 35 samples contained GMO levels above 1%. Twenty-five contained levels below 0.1% and it proved impossible to be more precise in the other cases.
January 10, 2002
A NUMBER of food products available in Ireland use misleading labelling in relation to the presence of genetically modified ingredients, according to a survey by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
'The Survey of Foodstuffs for the Presence of Genetically Modified (GM) Soy' which looked at soy products such as soy infant formulae, found 18 of the 37 samples tested were found tocontained GM ingredients. All 18 samples were under the threshold of one per cent which triggers mandatory GM labelling. However, six of the samples were mislabelled - five indicated that they contained no GM ingredients, while one was labelled organic.
Under current European legislation, a food cannot be labelled as GM-free or organic unless it contains absolutely no GM ingredients.
The FSAI stressed that there were no known health implications arising from the presence of the GM ingredients found in the products.
The authority has contacted the retailers, suppliers and manufacturers of the products involved in the survey to inform them of the results and to ensure their future compliance with labelling regulations.
Progress in GM foods research; PIONEERING: work to cut pollution risks
January 9, 2002
By Kate Tarling
RESEARCHERS at the University of Bath are making rapid progress with pioneering research into genetically modified foods.
The Bath team, headed by Professor Rod Scott, is working on a new way of growing crops that could deliver higher yields without the risks of genetic pollution that have made the subject of GM foods so controversial.
The researchers are focusing on a mechanism which governs the growth of the endosperm in flowering plants such as wheat and maize. The endosperm performs a similar function in plants to that of the placenta in mammals - it feeds the growing embryo.
The Bath team has found a way to allow the endosperm to grow up to 50 per cent bigger which would then produce bigger seeds, higher yields and less waste.
At the same time the team is working to make these genetically modified plants incompatible with related plants, so cross-pollination cannot occur and modified genes cannot escape into the wider environment.
Prof Scott said the results of his research could be put to use in both the developed and the developing world.
"It could be used where there are problems with food shortages but also in the developed world for reducing land usage and the pollution that goes along with it, " he said.
He said he did not expect to see the results of his research growing in UK fields for another ten years.
But he added that in the next ten to 20 years, the farming industry would be looking to alternative ways of increasing its yields.
"The whole of farming in the developed world is a joke because it's non -sustainable, " he said.
"The only way we get good yields is by using oil to make pesticides and fertilisers, and when that oil runs out we will have to produce more food without relying on oil. People tend to lose sight of that."
The Bath team is working closely with several major companies to develop its groundbreaking research, and patent applications have already been filed.