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June 6, 2000


Penguin, prince, Shiva and more


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

Date: Jun 06 2000 23:51:59 EDT
From: "C. S. Prakash"
Subject: Fwd: GM food - who's right? Prince Philip or Prince Charles?

At the moment, most people say Prince Philip. Click below to vote!


Date: Jun 07 2000 10:00:12 EDT
From: "C. S. Prakash"
Subject: Fwd: Vandana Shiva

From: Jennifer Thomson
Subject: Vandana Shiva

Vandan Shiva should get her facts straight before she condemns thousands of
poor Indians, struck by the Orissa super cyclone, to starvation. There is
absolutely no scientific evidence that food derived from genetically
modified corn or soya, currently on the market, is unsafe for human
consumption. The fact that Europe does not want to use it is simply due to
incorrect public perception, inflamed by the likes of Shiva, and because
Europe, unlike the victims of the cyclone in India, have enough food. I
know without a doubt that if I were to have asked the victims of the recent
catastrophic floods in Mozambique whether they would prefer to receive food
derived from GM crops, or no food at all, that they would unequivocally
request the former. I wonder whether Shiva has put this question to the
victims of the Orissa cyclone. For her to suggest that the US government
is using emergency aid to gain market access for GE products is simply
laughable. This food is being given free - hardly a way to access the

Jennifer Thomson
Department of Microbiology
University of Cape Town
South Africa

Date: Jun 06 2000 12:48:21 EDT
From: "Tracy Sayler"
Subject: Re: The Penguin

Thanks for passing this along (and for giving me something to write about
in my next column.) It also brings up a topic worthy of discussion in this
forum and elsewhere: What remedies are there for these type of
misinformation tumors on the Internet? Perhaps some of the spin docs out
there who subscribe to agbioview may have ideas. I know that the Northern
Prairie Chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association is planning a
seminar for September in Bismarck, ND on how to appropriately respond to
extreme eco-activism. It should be a topic in other forums across the
country (and internationally) as well. And in my opinion, discussion
should focus on the Web. It has fast become the most cost-effective means
to reach the masses and despite your local library, there's no discernible
distinction among the fiction and non-fiction sections.

-- Tracy Sayler

Subj: Re: The Penguin
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 1:08:04 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "James N. Siedow"

Actually, I would say there is at least one outright lie in the litany of
quotes provided. The now infamous 37 people who died from the tainted
tryptophan were not eating a "food" at all, but rather a purified (not
enough in this particular case) dietary supplement. To call it a food,
much less one that is substantially equivalent is, if not a lie,
misleading in the extreme.

Which does lead me to wonder, how much genetic engineering goes into the
various dietary supplements that appear on the shelves of the local Whole
Foods store, particularly the ones containing amino acids (i.e., that are
likely bacterial in origin)?

Jim Siedow

Date: Jun 06 2000 23:26:28 EDT
Subject: Re: Newly discovered DNA fragments in RR Soybean
From: Mark Tepfer

Dear colleagues,

Concerning the questions about the additional vector sequences in
Monsanto's soybeans, I would just like to point out that the results are
interesting, but not necessarily surprising. The few experimental systems
that yield a large-scale overview of what happens in plant transformation
experiments come from the analysis of the collections of transformed
Arabidopsis lines that have been made as a means of tagging genes of
interest by T-DNA insertion. These studies become pertinent to the question
raised, since when researchers have done genetic studies of the mutant
phenotypes and the T-DNA marker gene(s), the two often segregate (which is
of course, by the way, unfortunately for gene tagging purposes).

From what Georges Pelletier says, who's in charge of the Versailles
collection of Arabidopsis T-DNA insertions (> 50 000 lines), in on
the order of 4/5 of
the mutants analyzed the mutation and T-DNA segregate. It should be noted
that these non-tagged mutations, which most often have not been sequenced,
would include not only ones with short segments of T-DNA (like Monsanto's
soybeans), but also also ones with point mutations or other insertions or
rearrangements that affect the mutated gene.

One of the reasons why it is reasonable to do a series of
back-crosses with non-transgenic plants for
transgenics that are intended for commercial release is to eliminate just
this sort of extraneous mutations, many of which may also be induced by in
vitro culture, which is nearly always necessary for plant transformation.

We will have to see the complete Monsanto results in order to know if the
additional inserted sequences they describe are genetically linked to the
genes of interest or not. In any case, it's necessary to situate these
questions in the context of genome plasticity; as the techniques improve,
it should be expected that more plasticity will be observed.

I hope this may be of some help.


Mark Tepfer

Mark Tepfer
Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire
78026 Versailles cedex

Subj: Greenpeace launches anti-GMO Web site
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 8:54:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Tracy Sayler"

Greenpeace launches anti-GMO Web site
by Julianne Johnston20

As part of their June newsletter, Greenpeace announced the launch of
their True Foods Web site, designed at providing warnings on the use of
genetically modified foods. Here's the alert from their e-mail

Greenpeace has launched a new True Food Web site:

The site is designed to help people get involved in the issue of
genetically modified food.20

Read the latest news about Greenpeace and GMOs, take online action for
True Food, send a FrankenTony postcard to a friend, download a True Food
Action Kit and more.

Around 10:00 on June 5, about 25 activists demanded True Food by
visiting a local grocery store in San Francisco. Carrying several cases
of organic, GMO-free cereals, the activists marched into a local Safeway
store and proceeded to take all boxes of Kellogg's cereal off the
shelves and replace them with an organic alternative. The activists
cordoned off Aisle 8 with biohazard tape and put up signs to demand
Kellogg's products be removed from the store altogether.

Greenpeace GMO expert Jim Thomas explained, "Kellogg's has promised its
consumers in Europe that they are safe from GMOs. Yet in the U.S., the
company has refused to eliminate genetically modified ingredients from
its products. This is a consumer safety issue."

In related GMO news, Greenpeace also issued this item:

Greenpeace Bites Back!

To help take back the planet from industrial polluters, expose the truth
about GMOs in our food, and raise awareness about the continuing need
for action the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise will be touring the west
coast of the U.S. this summer.