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December 2, 2002


African Stance, Better Rice, False Dairy Products, US-EU, SA Moratorium, New


Today in AgBioView: December 3, 2002:

* Letís Take the False Labels Off Dairy Products
* Re: GM equivalence
* GM moratorium push defeated in SA parliament
* Next wave of GE crops coming


December 02, 2002

Johannesburg - EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy was cited as saying
yesterday that the European Union (EU) would not persuade African
governments to accept donations of genetically modified (GM) foodstuff,
rejecting a US complaint that its stance was worsening starvation, adding,
"Our policy is very different from US policy. There is no way we are going
to change it just for the sake of being nice to the Americans." As many as
14.4 million people in southern Africa need food aid because of grain
shortages, according to the UN Food Programme. Zambia and Zimbabwe have
refused donations of US maize that includes GM grain. The EU's support of
their stance might worsen the famine, US deputy secretary for
international trade Grant Aldonas said last month. Lamy, speaking in
Johannesburg after visiting four southern African nations (including
Zambia) to discuss trade, said he did not ask them to accept GM grain,
though he would not discourage them either.



December 2, 2002
Washington Post (Via Agnet)

Two new reports, according to this story, document successful attempts to
create superior varieties of rice -- one through biotechnology and the
other by traditional breeding. In one approach, scientists inserted into
rice a pair of bacterial genes that allowed the plants to make a sugar
called trehalose. The sugar -- common in bacteria, fungi and some insects
but rare in plants -- helps organisms maintain healthy cell membranes,
proteins and enzymes during times of physiological stress. Separately, the
story says that a scientist working in West Africa reported that hybrid
strains of rice developed during the past few years are helping struggling
farmers there produce more robust harvests. The new strains, called Nerica
("New Rice for Africa") are the result of standard crosses between modern
Asian varieties and ancient African rice, which is hardier and more
resistant to weeds but less prolific and slower to mature than Asian


Letís Take the False Labels Off Dairy Products

Center for Global Food Issues
December 3, 2002
By Dennis T. Avery

With the prevailing emphasis on truth in advertising and consumer rights,
why isnít the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banning the false and
misleading labels and advertising of the organic milk and dairy products
in our retail stores?

Iím looking at a set of ěBy Natureî brand milk and butter cartons, all
stating that the organic products therein contain ěNo Pesticides. No
Hormones. No antibiotics.î Such labels are becoming more and more common
as organic dairy products become big business.

These labels are false and misleading under the very Federal Food and Drug
Administrationís guidelines that have built nationwide consumer trust in

Labels that imply a dairy product is superior because of what it doesnít
contain are trying to frighten consumers (usually into buying more
expensive products). Without FDA guidelines, a company could frighten lots
of consumers by saying, ěOur milk contains no lead-based paint.î Of
course, no other milk contains lead-based paint, but the assertion implies
that other milks do.

Why should a milk carton shout that it contains no pesticides when no
pesticides are added to any milk or dairy products? Nor do dairymen feed
pesticides to their animals. Milk is tested continuously as it moves from
the farm to the consumer, for purity, safety, and quality. Any milk found
to contain significant pesticide residues is barred from the market, and
the dairy farm that produced it gets a quick visit from health officials.

The ěBy Natureî labels say their products contain no hormones. Thatís
silly--and wrong. All milk produced by cows contains hormones as part of
the normal biology of the cow. No cow gives milk unless sheís had a calf,
and all of her milk contains a growth hormone that is absolutely necessary
for milk production. There is no such thing as hormone-free milk. Milk is
Milk and itís all produced the same way--by cows.

The ěno hormoneî labels are trying to frighten consumers about milk from
cows that get extra growth hormone. But the milk from such cows contains
the same growth hormone found in all milk, and no more of it than is found
in other milk. The FDA says thereís no way to detect any difference. (The
growth hormone is just protein, like steak, and is digested in our
stomachs, like steak.)

The FDA even says that a label claiming the milk was produced without
additional growth hormone might be required to explain: ěNo significant
difference has been shown between milk derived from cows treated with
recombinant bovine growth hormone and milk from those which have not.î

Milk is Milk

Thankfully, most of our milk (both organic and conventional) is fortified
with Vitamin D--also a hormone, though few people realize it. This modern
miracle prevents rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. Those of
us who live in northern short-winter-day latitudes, and/or use sunblock to
protect against skin cancer, may not get enough Vitamin D without
fortified milk.

Any milk carton that says it contains no hormones is trying to manipulate
buyers--and is lying. Milk is Milk.

The big differences among the dairy products on the shelves are the
clearly labeled processing techniques that somehow change the product,
such as ěsalted butterî or ěultrapasteurized milk.î

Recent consumer surveys in New York and New Jersey showed that more than
50 percent of consumers at first believed the dairy products with the ěnoî
labels were somehow better than the conventional dairy products. Then,
after they got information on the issues, 42 percent thought the ěnoî
labels were misleading.

We hope the FDA and state health authorities clean up this mislabeling,

Abundant high-quality milk production results from the daily management of
well-fed healthy dairy cows. Dairymen use a variety of technologies, but
the milk remains the same nutritious product that provides us with
important vitamins, minerals, protein, and calcium.

If you see scaremongering labels in your supermarket, complain to the
store manager--or your local Health Department. Then relax and enjoy your
healthful milk, butter, yogurt and cheese.

From: "Malcolm"
Subject: David Schubert
Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2002 15:54:35 -0500

Re: GM equivalence

David Schubert restates a comment that I have pointed out some years ago
on this site. He states, ěThis is quite distinct from GM plants where many
copies of a gene are introduced and integrate randomlyî. Well David, when
primary transformants are produced by biolistics most have multiple copies
of the transgene. All of these are then autoclaved and only single copy
plants are studied further. You canít do anything useful with a multicopy
transgenic plant. Classical genetics will show you that even 2 copies are
too hard to deal with.

Beachy et. al. were perfectly correct in their criticism and your reply
perhaps a little superior. I donít doubt your credentials as a good
scientist but when one steps too far out of oneís field one ought to be
prepared to do some homework. This might only require asking a few people,
like Beachy and Parrot, for some advice.

Malcolm Livingstone


Wall Street Journal (Via Agnet)
December 2, 2002
By Neil King Jr.

WASHINGTON -- If the Bush administration decides to knock heads with
Europe over its ban on new U.S. biotech foods, the reason will, according
to this story, lie less in France or Italy than in drought-hit Zambia.
Though facing a serious famine, Zambian officials decided to turn away
26,000 tons of U.S. food aid in October, saying the shipments contained
genetically modified corn that wasn't safe. The kernels, Zambia's
agriculture minister said, could pollute the country's seed stock and hurt
its export markets.

The story says that to Bush aides, the move was stark proof that Europe's
antibiotech crusade has hit home even in countries critically short on
food. But the deeper fear is this: That as Zambia goes, so may go many of
the big food markets in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, where
there are also rumblings of European-style unease over genetically
modified crops and the need to block them from entry.

So how to stem the tide? Administration officials say they may have only
one choice: to file a case at the World Trade Organization against the
European Union's four-year moratorium on approving new U.S. biotech foods.
The argument would be that the ban is purely political and based on no
scientific finding of risk.

One U.S. trade official was quoted as saying, "Europe is ground zero, but
it is not at all the whole of our concern. If we allow Europe to flout
science and the international trading system, nothing will prevent others
from doing the same." Charles Margulis, a Greenpeace biotech adviser, was
quoted as saying, "No WTO case is going to get EU consumers to eat what
they don't want to eat."

But the crucial upside, U.S. officials say, could be elsewhere. They cite
the continuing feud with Europe over its refusal to allow in U.S. beef
containing growth hormones. The United States won a beef-hormone case
against Europe at the WTO four years ago. The victory did nothing to
change EU behavior, but it did keep other countries from imposing similar
bans. Peter Scher, a former agricultural trade negotiator in the Clinton
administration, was quoted as saying, "There's no question that the
hormone case sent a very strong message to the rest of the world that
these types of trade restrictions are not acceptable in the WTO. And in
that sense, it was an important U.S. victory."

GM moratorium push defeated in SA parliament

ABC News Online
3 December 2002

A push for a five year moratorium on genetically modified crops in South
Australia has been defeated in the State Parliament.

Last night the major parties combined to defeat the Democrats GMO Bill,

Democrats Primary Industries Spokesman Ian Gilfillan has criticised the
major parties for "taking the easy track".

But he says this isn't the end of the debate on GMOs. ěIt just seems to me
so tragic that almost by haphazard indifference Labor and Liberal are
letting South Australia get sucked into being a GM-producing state, I
think it's a tragedy, and I'm not prepared to take it lying down. The
battle must go on.î

A survey by the Western Australian Department of Agriculture has found
most of the state's main grain and oilseed buyers are indifferent when it
comes to GMOs.

The department surveyed 15 of the state's largest importers and only three
had any major concerns about whether the crop was genetically modified or

The Agriculture Department's Ann Morcombe says the survey is a
comprehensive indicator of market attitudes to GMOs.


The Nation (Via Agnet)
December 3, 2002
Jeff Otieno

NAIROBI -- Genetically modified maize could, according to this story, be
introduced in Kenya in the next five years. The Kenya Agricultural
Research Institute (Kari) is conducting research on transgenic maize, also
referred to as Bt maize. The maize is planned to be in Kenya's wholesale
and retail outlets by 2008 if found safe. The crop has been developed
after the alteration of the maize gene through the introduction of a soil
bacterium that produces toxins. The toxins kill the stem-borer, one of
deadliest pests affecting maize crops. Speaking at a workshop at the
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) headquarters
in Nairobi, the organisation's head of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Unit, Dr Ellie Osir, said scientists were currently developing research
guidelines for GM crops.

Next wave of GE crops coming

2 December 2002

Observers anticipate that 2003 will see a wave of second-generation
genetically engineered (GE) crops begin to emerge in agricultural

The new GE options will offer both broadened and more targeted
capabilities, and likely add fuel to the ongoing controversy surrounding
transgenic crops in general.

Most of the additions will involve genes derived from the soil bacterium
Bacillus thruringiensis (Bt). Among the Bt-based items on the near and
more distant horizons are: a new Bt trait toxic to Agostis ipsilon (black
cutworm), Spodop- tera frugiperda (fall armyworm), Diatraea grandiosella
(south- western corn borer), and Ostrinia nubilalis (European corn borer);
stacking (building in) two or more Bt traits in a crop plant so as to
control multiple pest insect species or mutations; developing a "Bt
soybean" for protection against Anticarsia gemmatalis (velvetbean
caterpillar) and other insect pests; pairing insect and herbicide
(glyphosate) resistance traits within one plant species; engineering to
increase the toxicity, specificity, and longevity of Bt proteins; and
further in the future, engineering plants to induce insecticidal
characteristics in just the tissue where insects are feeding.

Reporting in a recent issue of FARM JOURNAL, A. Burchett notes that, by
stacking multiple novel proteins within a crop plant, resistant insect
pests that survive eating one Bt protein would likely succumb to consuming
the second one, thereby preventing mutant insects from repro-ducing. The
concept has obvious implications for current refugia strategies. In "Bt's
New Bite," Burchett quotes an industry representative as saying that
"essentially, all invertebrate plant pests can be managed with Bt
technology." The representative also said that he can foresee a situation
in the future when insect control becomes predominantly based on
biological (i.e., GE techniques) rather than application of insecticidal