Today in AgBioView: July 3, 2003:
* Re: Chapela Moves Office
* Bush Says Biotech Ban Still in Place
* U.S. rips Europe's biotech food plan
* U.S. sour on EU's rules for bio-foods
* BIO: New EU Biotech Foods Rules 'Impractical'
* EU VOTES TO PERMIT GM FOOD
* Laws clear way for Europe to lift GM moratorium
* QUESTION AND ANSWERS ON THE REGULATION OF GMOS IN THE EU
* Greens Dealt Another Blow
* Agriculture Sets Up Bio-Technology Lab At Kawanda
* FACTBOX - Gene crops in the European Union
Date: 02 Jul 2003 10:44:49 -0700
From: "Rick Roush"
Subject: Re: Chapela Moves Office
Can someone update us on the status of this "evidence through other
methods"? (See article below.)
What is the evidence and have any of the data been published?
Berkeley professor moves office to lawn
A study by Chapela and a co-investigator that found evidence of transgenic
>>corn in seed corn in a remote field in Oaxaca, Mexico, created a furor
>>among biotech scientists, who challenged some of the study's methods.
>>an unusual move, Nature magazine said it should not have published the
>>study, then published two criticisms and Chapela's response.
>>That was last year. Since then, other researchers have found evidence
>>through other methods that support Chapela's findings, the assistant
>>professor said Monday.
Bush Says Biotech Ban Still in Place
Bush Administration Says New EU Biotech Laws Are Onerous, Sees Ban As
Still in Place
The Associated Press
July 2, 2003
The Bush administration believes that biotech food label requirements
approved Wednesday by the European Parliament are onerous, and has not
changed its view that an illegal ban is still in place.
The new requirements end a five-year freeze on the introduction of new
genetically engineered foods but they may not meet U.S. feasibility
standards, said Richard Mills, a spokesman for the U.S. Trade
"We are concerned that the proposed traceability and labeling does not
meet this standard," Mills said in a statement after the 626-member
assembly in Brussels, Belgium approved the new requirements.
Mills also worried that the labels would only succeed in turning customers
away on a continent where many consumers already are wary of what critics
deride as "Frankenfood."
The United States considers the earlier ban on genetically altered food to
be illegal, and has joined Australia and Canada in filing a legal
challenge at the World Trade Organization. Mills made it clear that the
challenge was still active.
"Today's action does not lift the illegal moratorium on biotech products,"
The regulations require producers to trace genetically modified organisms
at all stages of production and oblige supermarkets to label products
containing more than 0.9 percent biotech material to say: "This product is
produced from GMOs."
U.S. food and biotech companies oppose Europe's efforts to require
labeling of genetically engineered food, arguing that compliance would be
cumbersome and expensive.
"It seems more likely that the new regulations will drive food
manufacturers to reformulate to shun biotech-derived ingredients
altogether as their only effective means of avoiding the impractical
burdens the new regulations would impose," said Val Giddings, vice
president of the U.S. Biotechnology Industry Organization.
Under the new laws, hundreds of American-made foods would have to be
labeled as having GMOs because many of them contain starches or syrups
derived from genetically engineered corn.
Bob Stallman, president of the farm group, American Farm Bureau
Federation, said biotech food is safe, regardless of how much of it is in
a product. "The threshold appears to be rather arbitrary and pointless,
unless one's point is to continue to restrict imports and protect domestic
producers," he said.
Mills said that the parliament's action may lead other countries to block
trade by imposing detailed information requirements "and prompt a host of
new non-tarrif barriers just as we are trying to stimulate global trade."
Mills repeated past U.S. assertions the EU moratorium had negative
consequences, among them a reluctance by famine-stricken African countries
to receive U.S. aid "because of ill-informed health and environmental
concerns" over genetically modified products.
He said European consumers, like American consumers, should have a safe
and effective labeling system that provides them with access to the world
food supply and lets them make their own decisions.
Backed by Canada and Australia, the United States says the EU's cautious
approach is based on unfounded health fears. The three have filed a
complaint with the World Trade Organization to force Europe to lift the
U.S. rips Europe's biotech food plan
Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER
July 3, 2003
Washington, D.C. - The European Parliament on Wednesday approved strict
labeling rules for foods made from genetically engineered ingredients, a
major step toward lifting a moratorium on new biotech crops.
"Europe will now have a comprehensive and transparent system of
authorization and labeling that can only enhance business and consumer
confidence," said David Byrne, the European Union's health and consumer
But the Bush administration, which is seeking to overturn the moratorium
through the World Trade Organization, denounced the labeling rules as
excessive. The new law would require labeling of foods and animal feed
that contain more than 0.9 percent biotech ingredients, primarily corn or
The rules "may lead other countries to block trade by imposing detailed
information, traceability and labeling requirements and prompt a host of
new nontariff barriers just when we were trying to stimulate global
trade," said Richard Mills, spokesman for the U.S. trade representative.
The labeling rules approved by the parliament, which is a consultative
branch of the European Union, must be ratified by the EU"s 15 member
countries, but that is considered a formality.
Under the law, even products such as vegetable oil in which the
bioengineered genes cannot be detected would have to be labeled.
Ingredients also would have to be tracked from the farm.
Additionally, EU countries will be allowed to set restrictions on where
biotech crops can be grown within their borders to prevent
cross-pollination with conventional or organic crops.
The U.S. government considers approved biotech crops no different from
conventional varieties and has no labeling requirement for foods. Biotech
corn and soy are found in many products in U.S. stores, from snack chips
The most widely grown U.S. biotech crops were approved for sale in Europe
before the moratorium was imposed in 1998.
Still, European resistance to genetically engineered food has slowed the
spread of biotechnology by discouraging farmers in many regions of the
world from using gene-altered seeds for fear of losing European markets.
The 0.9 percent threshold is so low that it will be virtually impossible
to avoid labeling U.S. commodities as biotech, said Bob Stallman,
president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"The threshold appears to be rather arbitrary and pointless, unless one"s
point is to continue to restrict imports and protect domestic producers,"
Val Giddings of the Biotechnology Industry Organization said the rules
would discourage food manufacturers from using biotech ingredients.
The National Corn Growers Association is concerned that the law's planting
restrictions could discourage imports of U.S. grain.
"If it's good enough for our farmers, then it's good enough for their
farmers," said Hayden Milberg, a biotech expert for the group.
Forty-five percent of the corn and 84 percent of the soybeans growing in
Iowa this year are genetically engineered, the U.S. Department of
U.S. sour on EU's rules for bio-foods
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
By Jeffrey Sparshott
July 3, 2003
European lawmakers yesterday approved strict rules to identify and track
genetically modified foods, a move quickly criticized by the U.S. farm
industry and the Bush administration as a new barrier to American
The United States and European Union's running battle over biotechnology
has escalated this year, adding one more dispute to strained
trans-Atlantic trade relations.
The 15-nation European Union, citing consumer-health and
environmental-safety concerns, has effectively barred new genetically
modified crops from its market since 1998.
Bush administration officials say the EU policy is unscientific and has a
chilling effect in poor nations that could benefit from biotechnology.
The administration in May filed a case with the World Trade Organization
to force a rewrite of EU rules.
EU officials hoped the laws approved yesterday would encourage the United
States to drop the case, but American officials were not appeased.
"Today's action does not lift the EU's illegal moratorium on biotech
products," said Richard Mills, spokesman for the U.S. Trade
American farming officials said the new rules would create a bigger
barrier to trade than the informal EU policy that now blocks the
production or sale of many biotech crops inside the 15-nation bloc.
"We think their remedy for the problem is just as bad if not worse than
the problem itself," said Ron Gaskill, international trade policy
specialist with the American Farm Bureau, the country's largest farm
Legislation approved yesterday by Europe's parliament would allow the
approval of new products, but also implements a system to trace and label
biotech crops, food products and animal feed derived from biotech crops.
"We will now have the most rigorous premarketing assessment of
[genetically modified] food and feed in the world," said David Byrne, the
EU health and consumer-protection commissioner.
The European Union's 15 members must still adopt the rules passed by
parliament, but it is expected that it will be approved this year, said
Charlotte Hebebrand, special adviser in the agriculture and food-safety
section of the EU delegation in Washington.
Environmental and consumer groups in the European Union praised the
legislation, but U.S. farm groups said they would not work.
"The rules themselves on labeling and traceability are both commercially
impossible and not scientifically justified," Mr. Gaskill said.
The United States is the world leader in agricultural biotechnology.
Soybeans, corn and cotton are the most popular crops — 81 percent of all
soybeans, 40 percent of corn and 73 percent of cotton crops have been
genetically modified, according to U.S. Agriculture Department figures for
St. Louis-based Monsanto is one of the largest producers of the crops,
which are often genetically altered to withstand pests.
Because of the U.S. distribution system, which generally does not
segregate biotech from conventional crops, a wide array of U.S.-made
products sold in the European Union would be affected by the rules.
While some crops sales are limited now — corn farmers estimate they lose
$300 million annually in lost sales — new rules mean that biotech
ingredients would have to be linked back to their origin and food products
would have to be labeled.
Mr. Gaskill said soybean oil, cottonseed oil, animal feed, sweeteners and
many processed foods like tortilla chips or taco shells would fall under
the EU labeling requirements.
Food that contains 0.9 percent genetically modified ingredients would read
"This product contains genetically modified organisms" or that it is
"produced from genetically modified [name of organism]."
"There is a pretty significant impact because of the wide use of those
[biotech] products in the U.S. for many years," Mr. Gaskill said.
Mr. Mills said that the biotechnology regulations should be based on
scientific evidence, should not prejudice consumers and should be feasible
"We are concerned that the proposed EU traceability and labeling
regulation does not meet this standard," he said.
BIO: New EU Biotech Foods Rules 'Impractical'
July 2, 2003
by Julianne Johnston
Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Vice President for Food and
Agriculture Val Giddings today issued the following statement regarding
the vote taken by the European Parliament concerning traceability and
labeling of foods derived from crops improved through biotechnology:
“BIO wholeheartedly supports the stated intent of the new biotech rules
voted on today by the European Parliament. The intent of these rules is to
provide European Union (EU) consumers with the opportunity to choose foods
improved through biotechnology, or their alternatives, and to enable EU
politicians to end the moratorium on approvals of biotech-derived products
that has been in place now for more than four years.
“While BIO recognizes and appreciates the EU efforts to create a
functional regulatory system, our customers among the farming and food
producing communities tell us the new traceability and labeling standards
are impractical. Impartial observers can see they are not scientifically
defensible. We are concerned that these new rules may not, in fact, enable
European consumers to enjoy the opportunity to choose foods derived from
crops improved through biotechnology. It seems more likely that the new
regulations will drive food manufacturers to re-formulate to shun biotech
derived ingredients altogether as their only effective means of avoiding
the impractical burdens the new regulations would impose. If this happens,
as we fear, the result would be to replace an overt moratorium with a
technical barrier to trade that would be no less indefensible.
“BIO urges the EU Parliament, therefore, as a matter of urgency, to
examine the practicality of the new rules, with an eye to providing
European consumers the actual opportunity to choose which they are
presently denied. Such action would enable European farmers, consumers,
and the environment to enjoy the considerable benefits crops improved
through biotechnology are already delivering every where else in the world
they are being grown.”
EU VOTES TO PERMIT GM FOOD
The Daily Mirror
July 3, 2003
By Geoff Meade
EUROPEAN rules on the labelling of genetically-modified foods were agreed
yesterday, allowing an end to the ban on GM production.
Euro-MPs voted to improve labels on foods with GM content.
Thousands of products contain GM soya and GM maize-derived products such
as vegetable oils.
But they haven't had to be labelled because they contain no modified DNA.
Labour MEP David Bowe said: "We are trying to put in place a labelling and
information scheme which makes choice a reality."
After formal approval by agriculture ministers this month, the new rules
could be in force by the end of this year.
The deal allows EU national governments to restrict GM crop-growing to
protect farmers from cross-contamination.
And the Americans say the new labelling rules amount to protectionism.
But an EU survey found 70 per cent of the public do not want GM food and
94 per cent want choice.
Laws clear way for Europe to lift GM moratorium
By Tobias Buck in Strasbourg
July 3 2003
The European parliament yesterday cleared the way for the lifting of the
European Union's five-year moratorium on approving new genetically
modified organisms, backing two laws that form the centrepiece of a new
regulatory regime for authorising and labelling GM products.
David Byrne, the EU health and consumer affairs commissioner, said he
expected the first approvals to come through by next year.
The de facto ban was introduced in 1998, after a majority of member
states, including France, Italy and Germany, refused to grant approval to
new GMOs before a comprehensive labelling system was in place.
Yesterday's move could make redundant a US challenge to the moratorium at
the World Trade Organisation. However, the US has already voiced doubts
over the new tough labelling provisions and it could decide to launch
another WTO case to establish whether the EU's legal framework constitutes
a barrier to trade.
Mr Byrne warned against a fresh challenge. "Whether there will be another
case we can only guess at. But if there is, I have to say that the EU will
defend its position to the hilt. I believe this legislation is
The laws will force businesses and farmers to reveal the existence of GMOs
in every food and feed product containing more than 0.9 per cent of GMOs.
Labels will have to state: "This product contains genetically modified
Mr Byrne said: "Consumers will have a clear choice. Europe will now have a
comprehensive and transparent system of authorisation and labelling that
can only enhance business and consumer confidence."
Margot Wallström, the environment commissioner, said the legislation would
"reinforce [the EU's] international credibility and will certainly help in
building public confidence in new technologies".
In addition to the labelling requirement the new legislation forces
farmers, manufacturers and distributors to collect and retain detailed
information on the presence of GMOs in any product making its way through
the commercial chain - a provision criticised by the GM industry as
cumbersome and expensive. The laws also allow member states to pass
national legislation on matters such as fixing the level of damages should
GM varieties cross-fertilise conventional crops.
QUESTION AND ANSWERS ON THE REGULATION OF GMOS IN THE EU
July 1, 2003 (Via Agnet)
This questions and answers fact sheet is divided into two sections; Part A
covers legislation in force; Part B covers the legislative proposals on
tracability and labelling put forward in July 2001. The complete 27-page
document is available at:
Greens Dealt Another Blow
Act Party, New Zealand
Thursday 3 Jul 2003
ACT New Zealand Rural Affairs Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff today said that the
lifting of the ban on GM food into the EU, and the lowering of the
accidental ‘contamination’ of GM products to 0.9 percent, was a major step
towards full acceptance that genetically-modified products can be
beneficial to farmers and consumers.
“As well as that, the Green Party has been dealt another blow to its King
Canute-like belief that it can stem the tide of science,” Mr Eckhoff said.
“Even the Greens admit that thousands of products containing GM
ingredients have been eaten for years without any ill effects on consumers
and the environment. Now they want people to realize that what they have
eaten for years – while containing minute amounts of GM material – has
done them no harm, but that they should be upset anyway.
“Sue Kedgley can stick her finger in the GM dyke all she likes, it’s not
going to stop final acceptance by consumers,” Mr Eckhoff said.
Agriculture Sets Up Bio-Technology Lab At Kawanda
July 2, 2003
By Anne Mugisa And Stuart Price
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is constructing
a Bio-Technology Institute at Kawanda Research Station to promote
productivity in the agriculture sector and boost economic development.
The lab, expected to cost over US$1m, will be commissioned at the end of
August. It will include the purchase of equipment and the training of
staff in scientific and biotechnological areas, agriculture minister Dr.
Kisamba Mugerwa said yesterday.
He denied the presence of terminator seeds in Uganda which have caused
protests among farmers.
The farmers are fighting against imported genetically modified seeds,
fearing that they will be forced to keep buying seeds instead of reserving
some from their harvest for the next planting season.
Kisamba Mugerwa said Uganda currently has some locally improved hybrid of
crops which include maize and beans.
He said the opening of the lab would help promote agriculture
biotechnology in the country, clean up crops and produce fast growing
"In the rural areas, it is no longer possible to keep opening up acreage
for shifting cultivation. We need to adopt intensive farming methods," he
"The green revolution skipped Africa; it never came. Africa cannot be left
behind in science and technology...we need to embrace biotechnology for
survival," he added.
FACTBOX - Gene crops in the European Union
July 3, 2003
The labelling and traceability of GM food and feed is another key demand
of the seven pro-moratorium countries.
The European Parliament approved new rules on July 2 allowing consumers to
choose between GM and GM-free products. EU member states have to give
their final agreement for the legislation to apply across the 15-nation
The Parliament decision raises hopes that the lifting of the five-year old
GM ban is in sight, possibly by the end of 2003.
Food made from highly refined or processed GMOs and animal feed containing
GMOs will all have to be labelled as such when the new rules apply.
The draft proposal also puts meat on the traceability system.
Member states have provisionally agreed that all food and feed with more
than 0.9 percent of GMOs should be labelled.
They have also set the accidental or technically unavoidable presence of
non-approved GMOs in food and feed at 0.5 percent.
But the EU move is not expected to be enough to stop the U.S. challenge
within the WTO.
Belgium is a strong supporter of the EU's de facto ban on GM food and
wants laws on tracing and labelling in place before the moratorium is
It has not put stricter EU rules on testing and legalising GMOs into
national law due to government divisions, with the Green coalition
partners fighting for a stricter interpretation of the legislation.
The biotechnology industry refused to conduct GM field crop trials in
2003, in protest at the government's handling of the issue. It hopes that
the new administration will rapidly adopt the EU legislation and give the
green light to GM field trials.
GM planting is very marginal in France. Of the two million hectares of
maize under cultivation, less than 100 hectares are GM maize. Crops trials
take place within strictly controlled research programmes.
France's approach reflects cautious public opinion as well as active
opposition from groups such as Jose Bove's Confederation Paysanne.
It has also led the opposition to new approvals of GMOs within the EU,
saying it wants legislation on traceability and labelling not only
approved at an EU level but in place and working, before it would consider
changing its stance.
No GM crop trials have been carried out in Ireland since 2000. However,
the government is considering around 20 applications for trials from
The government has been cautious, reflecting public opinion.
In the late 1990s, Monsanto Co encountered tough resistance from
environmental groups while carrying out a number of small-scale GM crop
trials in Ireland.
Italy has a zero tolerance policy on GMOs and has banned the sowing of GM
seeds in open fields. There are no known experimental GM plantings in
Italy, according to Bologna-based Italian Seeds Association, which
represents the seed industry.
Italy's main farm groups oppose GM sowings. Seed industry officials doubt
the authorities will easily back down in their resistance to biotech in
Italian agriculture if the EU approves new GM varieties.
Spain is the only EU country to grow GM crops commercially. It plants GM
maize and has recently approved five more strains of the GM crop. In 2002
Spain grew 20,000 hectares of GM maize and is set to double its planting
area this year.
Farmers use varieties produced by Monsanto, Aventis and Syngenta.
The biotech maize is solely used by the animal feed industry as food
manufacturers prefer GM-free crops.
The 300,000 strong Spanish Young Farmers' Association has embraced the
technology and is eagerly awaiting the EU approval of GM cotton.
Britain is in the final stages of a four-year field trial focusing on
rapeseed, sugar beet and maize.
Britain is set to make a decision in coming months on whether or not to
grow GM crops commercially, taking into account results from the trials
and a public debate.