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Date:

December 1, 2000

Subject:

Pesticides found in Organic baby food; Bioengineering:

 

More evidence of the poor regulation and standards associated with foods
marketed as "organic". Yet more outrageous are the attempts by the organic
retailers to turn this story about their flawed product into an attack on
conventional agriculture (including the the safe use of pesticides) to
increase their own sales. Organic pesticides, ie Rotenone, are now
reported to cause Parkinsons Disease. Other well known carcinogens are
found in the "natural" pesticides used by organic growers. Virtually all
government and university studies show the same levels of pesticide
residues (usually NONE at all) on both conventional and organic crops. Yet
attack pesticides (save their own) and make pesticide-free claims (false)
at will.

In addition, not a single study has linked biotechnology crops (which
eliminate or reduce all pesticide use) to any disease or health problem;
however, organic retailers are always ready to make those unfounded claims.

Shame, shame, shame. People who live in glass houses really shouldn't
throw stones.
---------------------

PESTICIDES FOUND IN 'ORGANIC' BABY FOOD
BY: Marie Woolf The Independent (London) December 1, 2000,

RESIDUES OF potentially harmful pesticides have been found in several
brands of babyfood- including an organic variety certified chemical- free.
Tests by the Government's official watchdog on pesticides found that
popular babyfood brands, including Baby Organix and Milupa, contained
traces of chemicals used on fruit. The study, published yesterday by the
Pesticide Residues Committee, was carried out between January and June
this year. It found that babyfoods sold at Boots, Sainsbury's, Waitrose
and Tesco had traces of pesticides, including carbendazim, which is feared
to disrupt hormones. The discovery of traces of chlormequat, a pesticide
used to improve the growth of fruit, in a sample of food made by Baby
Organix, the oldest organic babyfood company in the UK, has prompted an
urgent inquiry at the company's Dorset headquarters. The founder and
managing director of the organic food firm, Elizabeth Vann, said she was
"absolutely appalled" by the findings and was reviewing suppliers and
safety checks to ensure that all her products were chemical- free. She
said she believed that chemicals drifting from neighbouring non-organic
crops may be to blame for the breach in standards. The UK Register of
Organic Food Standards has been alerted about the discovery of the
chemical Over one-third of all babyfoods now sold in Britain are organic
because of parent's fears about the effects of pesticide residues on their
children. New regulations introduced in the UK this summer, which come
into legal force in two years, have imposed tight new limits on pesticide
traces in babyfood of 0.01 per cent.

Manufacturers claim they are trying to eliminate traces of chemicals
before the deadline. However, yesterday's report found that a sample of
Milupa's peach and raspberry babyfood, sold at Waitrose in Milton Keynes,
contained residues of carbendazim. Tests on male animals found that the
pesticide effected their sperm production. Food campaigners said the
findings had troubling health implications and showed that babyfood
manufacturers were failing to meet their targets. "This is extremely
worrying because pesticides are particularly dangerous for babies," said
Sandra Bell, food specialist at Friends of the Earth. "Babies should not
be coming into contact with substances which are hormone-disrupters at a
time when their endocrine systems are developing. This shows there has
been little progress in eliminating residues in babyfood." The study also
found that two brands of peanut butter -including one sold at Sainsbury's
- contained DDT, the banned toxic pesticide. Tests of 35 samples of
lettuce found that 69 per cent had pesticide residues. A cocktail of
different pesticides were found in 40 per cent of the lettuces. The
Ministry of Agriculture said it was taking its watchdog's findings
seriously and would prosecute if it found that standards were being
deliberately flouted.
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From: Craig Sams
As Britain's second largest brand of peanut butter, (after Nestle's Sun
Pat), I'd like to comment on the reference to peanut allergy in the
Aventis submission to the EPA. Peanut allergy is a relatively new
phenomenon. Americans who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s don't remember
anaphylatic reactions to peanuts as they were very rare. An important
contributor to the increasing sensitisation of the population to peanut
proteins arose from the use of peanut protein extracts in two significant
food products: infant formula foods and nipple creams. The presence of
complex peanut protein in foods destined for children under the age of six
months played an important role in the sensitisation and subsequent
development of allergic reactions. In Britain and around the world the use
of peanut protein in infant formulas and nipple creams was discontinued in
mid 1996. It will be interesting to see what the impact is on future
levels of peanut allergy. What is of concern is that there was no evidence
that peanut allergy arose from the use of peanutprotein in baby foods
until 1996. It took several decades before the connection was discovered;
bad luck for parents, who didn't even know that this complex protein was
in their baby's diet. Without wanting to rant on about the precautionary
principle it does seem that the EPA's cautious approach may havesomething
to do with wanting to avoid a repeat of the peanut allergy story. Craig
Sams President Whole Earth Foods Ltd. In its submission to the EPA,
Aventis compared its corn to peanuts: "Peanuts account for the majority of
fatal and near-fatal, food-induced, anaphylactic reactions in the United
States. About 1.5 million Americans are allergic to peanuts. Given the
severity, prevalence, and frequently lifelong persistence of peanut
allergy, a comparison of the potential allergenicity of a new protein (is
useful)."

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Bioengineering: Blessing or Curse?
by Robert Linnell September 25, 2000
http://www.my-oped.com/opeds/display.asp?oped=44

Last year a Cornell University entomologist reported a small lab study
showing that genetically modified (GM) Bt corn pollen sprinkled on
milkweed leaves (Monarch butterfly caterpillars' food) was toxic to the
caterpillars. Environmental groups, already suspicious of bioengineering,
seized this result to condemn the use of such products. Now a second
study, at Iowa State University, which fed milkweed to Monarch
caterpillars that had been placed near a field of Bt corn, seemed to cause
the death of two-thirds of the caterpillars; A control group using
conventional corn had no deaths. On the basis of these two studies, both
of which have been challenged as seriously flawed, some environmentalists
would have us ban the Bt corn and generalized the results, calling for a
ban on all GM products, pending more regulations and research. In the June
2000 issue of the prestigious journal, Proceedings of the National Academy
of Science, a University of Illinois Entomologist reported that
Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, placed near a field of Bt corn,
suffered no ill effects. He stated "This (Bt corn) is not a pest
management tool that should be rejected outright based on a single (now
two) lab study". This study shows that generalizing two studies on
Monarchs is not appropriate. All we know is that under certain lab
conditions, Monarch caterpillars (but not Swallowtail) forced to feed on
Bt corn dusted milk weed suffer high death rates.

Bioengineering does not lack supporters. In March 2000, 7,000 attended
Bio2000, a biotech conference in Boston. The "Declaration in Support of
Agricultural Biotechnology"signed by 2000 scientists from around the
world, (including two Nobel prize winners), was issued as part of the
conference. Dr. Prakash, of Tuskegee University, who organized the
declaration, stated, "biotech crops allow farmers to grow more food on
less land with less synthetic pesticides and herbicides."

Bt corn is named for corn with Bacillus thuringiensis (which is toxic
to the corn earworm and European corn borer) incorporated in its genetic
makeup. American farmers suffer $1. billion yearly loses from pests;
millions are spent on toxic pesticides, causing worker safety problems and
soil and water contamination. Organic farmers spray the Bt bacterium
directly on crops for pest control. These farmers oppose using Bt corn
from fear that its use will develop Bt resistant pests. Studies are needed
to assess the total environmental impact of Bt corn and other GM crops. Bt
corn can be produced at lower costs, the prime reason that many farmers
have adopted this agriculture; farmers now face marketing problems because
of consumer safety fears. Health concerns are not based on facts; approved
GM products have passed a host of safety hurdles prior to approval. Many
more studies are in progress and after several years of use there are no
reports of problems. If any new study indicates the slightest safety
problem we can be assured that watchdog environmental groups will provide
a good deal of publicity.

Bioengineering has great potential benefits to society: Plants that
produce useful drugs for many human health problems, GM cotton, potatoes,
tomatoes and others crops are in development or on the market. They offer
lower costs, less use of herbicides and pesticides, better flavor, longer
shelf life and nutritional enhancement. Feeding malnourished and starving
people could be achieved. Hassam Adamu, Agricultural and Rural Development
Minister of Nigeria wrote in recent oped in the Washington Post ("Africa
Will Feed Its People as It sees Fit") : "Organic farming, sophisticated
methods of distributing food and other approaches are well and good for
those who can afford to experiment...It is wrong and dangerous for
privileged people to assume they know what is best for everyone...Millions
of Africans, far too many of them children, suffer from malnutrition and
hunger. Agricultural biotechnology offers a way to stop the suffering.
Florence Wambugu, one of Africa's leading plant geneticists says "In
Africa GM food could almost literally weed out poverty". We don't want to
be denied this technology because of a misguided notion that we don't
understand the dangers or the future consequences. We understand... We
will proceed carefully and thoughtfully, but we want to have the
opportunity to save lives of millions of people and change the course of
history in many nations. That is our right, and we shouldn't be denied by
those with a mistaken idea that they know best how everyone should live or
that they have the right to impose their values on us". Americans should
listen to these voices from Africa. China, the world's most populous
country, imports food to survive. American produced GM seeds have an
expanding market in China; they have a large pool of talented scientists
and they are spending billions on research to modify the genes of crops
and animals. Although environmentalists correctly complain the China has
weak safety programs for these new products, GM crops are already changing
the agriculture of China.

Health, safety and ethical concerns over bioengineering will continue
to be in the spotlight because of the aggressive actions of many
environmental groups. If they prove to be wrong these efforts still have
the desired affect of keeping us alert to potential problems.
International effort through the UN to develop international standards
would help us deal with the conflicts between developed, developing and
underdeveloped countries. It would be foolish for Americans and Europeans
to believe that we can impose our environmental views on others who are
struggling to give their peoples a decent standard of living. We can and
must work with them in responsible ways to help in the development of
bioengineered products that are safe, useful and economical. If we don't,
we will fail to help them, fall behind in our own technology and lose our
leadership in a developing world.

Robert Linnel

Copyright 2000 by Robert H. Linnell and my-oped.com. Permission is
granted to reproduce with the following statement: "Reproduced with
permission from: www.my-oped.com" Notify editor via email at:
editor@my-oped.com when reprinting.
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From: Alex Avery
Does anyone know anything about the following story from the Bureau of
National Affairs? I thought that the Pope and Vatican had already come
down in support of biotechnology. Alex Avery, Center for Global Food Issues

BNA: No. 221 Wednesday November 15, 2000 Page A-6 ISSN 1523-567X
Regulation, Law & Economics Biotechnology Pope Expresses Opposition to
GMOs, Cites Need for 'the Respect of Nature'

VATICAN CITY--In a call that could have an impact on farming techniques in
predominantly Catholic parts of the developing world, Pope John Paul II
said that using genetically modified organisms to increase production was
contrary to God's will. Speaking Nov. 12 to an estimated 50,000 farmers
from Italy and elsewhere at a special outdoor mass dedicated to farmers,
the Pope told them and their colleagues worldwide to "resist the
temptation of high productivity and profit that work to the detriment of
the respect of nature." The pontiff added that "when (farmers) forget this
basic principle and become tyrants of the earth rather than its custodians
... sooner or later the earth rebels." Furthermore, the Pope said, if
modern farming techniques "don't reconcile themselves with the simple
language of nature in a healthy balance, the life of man will run ever
greater risks, of which already we are seeing worrying signs." He did not
specify the signs. Though experts said that the impact of the Pope's
statements on were likely to have a limited impact in developed countries,
where attitudes toward biotechnology were already well developed, the
comments could have an influence in the developing world. Heart Turner, a
Rome food safety consultant formerly associated with the World Food
Programme and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, said that the new point
of view from the Holy See could mold attitudes in Catholic regions such as
Latin America and parts of Africa."In many parts of the world, the Pope's
views on a wide variety of subjects are taken far more seriously than
their own government's views or the results of any scientific survey,"
Turner told BNA on Nov. 13.

The statements apparently represent a change for the Vatican, which had
previously said it was not opposed to some forms of biotechnology if the
science helped feed poor countries and was not misused. When contacted by
BNA on Nov. 14, a spokesman for the Vatican declined to elaborate on John
Paul II's statements. Helping Opponents? John Monyo, the head of the
biotechnology section at the United Nation's Rome-based Food and
Agriculture Organization, told BNA on Nov. 14 that the statements could
give ammunition to secular groups opposed to bioengineering. "The impact
like of something like this is very difficult to estimate, but I would not
be surprised to find the statements being used to support the views of
non-religious groups," Monyo said. "Groups already opposed to
genetically-altered products will now be able to say that even the Pope
supports their views."

Italy's Green Party, which has long opposed the use of genetically
modified organisms in Italy and elsewhere, issued a short statement dated
Nov. 14 applauding the Pope's statements. But in Italy itself, the impact
is expected to be minimal since the country is already one of the most
conservative countries in Europe in terms of the use of GMOs. Prime
Minister Giuliano Amato has repeatedly acted to tighten restrictions on
the use of genetically altered food products, and the moves so far seemed
backed by public opinion. In August, for example, Italy banned four kinds
of genetically modified corn and then refused to eliminate the ban a month
later when the European Union said the corn was safe. That case is on hold
pending a decision whether an EU member state has the right to impose
standards stricter than those from the EU even when there is no published
evidence that the products may be harmful.

The FAO's Monyo said it was important that statements from the Vatican
not affect the policies of world governments. "One thing most experts
agree on is that government policy should be secular," he said.
"Individuals can believe what they choose and be influenced by who they
choose, but it is important governments to stay clear of adopting views
(only because they are) put forth by one religion or another." A spokesman
for the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, which already takes a generally
anti-GMO stance on most issues, told BNA on Nov. 14 that it had no plans
to adjust its policies as a result of the Pope's statements. An official
with the testing division at the University of Bologna, which tests
privately-developed GMOs for safety, also said that the comments would
have no impact on the group's activities. The Nov. 12 religious service
for farmers is part of special Holy Year activities called for by John
Paul to mark the start of Christianity's third millennium. A wide variety
of professions have had special religious services held in their honor at
the Vatican City. By Eric Lyman Copyright * 2000 by The Bureau of National
Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.
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From: Alex Avery
According to a Catholic colleague, the BNA story above is a total crock.
The Pope said no such things. Attached are the Pope's two addresses to the
Jubilee ag pilgrims, his homily from Sunday the 12th reported on by BNA,
and his speech to the same group on Nov. 11.

His Holiness makes very clear that the single imperative is to alleviate
hunger and suffering through just distribution of goods, moderation in the
developed nations, and an ethically and scientifically sound agriculture
that uses biotech, not merely to exploit the earth for the sake of profit,
but with the intention of providing adequate nutrition to the world's
population (the growth of which, as we know, he has no intention of
artificially restricting). I also attached an older article indicating the
Vatican's support for biotech in the face of European hysteria.

We'd better gear up for a slew of propaganda articles from the greenies
claiming that the BNA reporter got the story right and that the Pope
thinks biotech is bad. Time for a concerted counter-offensive early! Alex
Avery Hudson Institute

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From: Meredith Lloyd Evans - BioBridge
Subject: Re: GM animal feeds
To: "Weatherley, Lisa"

Dear Lisa Thank you for your email. I believe that your actions are based
on wrong premisses, in particular that there is some hazard to animals or
to consumers from DNA ingested by animals in GM crops. Since the genes
used in GM plants come entirely from other plants, bacteria, agents found
in plants or from animals that are found in the environment and are
therefore constantly shedding DNA via skin,scales, dehydrated debris and
other materials, the spotlight thrown on the infinitesimally small amounts
of so-called 'foreign' DNA in feeds from GM crops is totally spurious. In
addition, our systems have evolved to be unaffected by the vast amounts of
DNA, damaged, undamaged and digested, to which we are exposed each day,
from the foods we eat, the organisms inhabiting our gut and body surfaces,
and the debris we inhale and ingest from the atmosphere and our
surroundings. If we are to be affected by DNA, we would be affected by the
99.99% of all of this that does NOT come from GM plants.

Your campaign has no science behind it, see the attached recent item
describing a review of available material to be found in the scientific
press. It has much more of the flavour of a sustained witch-hunt, based on
the same kind of doctrinaire and destructive propaganda that underpinned
Lysenko's diatribes against rational plant and animal genetics in the US
(mainly aimed at his scientific and political rivals and doubly
devastating because of the support he obtained from Stalin), Goebbels's
and Goering's campaigns against non-Aryan activities, including science
and other pursuits that might lead to national progress, and Pol Pot's
dehumanisation of his invented ideological opponents.

For this reason, I find it impossible to accept either the viewpoint of
your organisation or the use to which you put the 'Precautionary
Principle'. My only view on that is that what it really means is that
no-one should be born, because we are all at risk from dying of life's
experiences and life's developments.

Yours sincerely Mr Meredith Lloyd-Evans, Managing Partner BioBridge
Associates & Arcadia

----- Original Message -----
From: Weatherley, Lisa
To: 'Meredith Lloyd Evans - BioBridge'

Thanks for your feedback.

As you may know, Greenpeace is campaigning internationally for a global
ban on GM food. In the UK, food manufacturers and retailers have already
removed GM ingredients from their products but GM crops are still entering
the UK from the USA. Most of this is being used in animal feed. In order
to stop GM crops being grown it is necessary to close all markets and so
this is why we are now targetting GM in animal feed. The impacts of using
GM crops in animal feed is unknown and, particularly in the light of BSE,
we support the precautionary approach. GM crops are not needed and not
wanted and our Shopper's Guide offers consumers the chance (otherwise
denied) to avoid GM if they wish and to support our campaigning to see it
banned for good.

I recommend that you visit sites such as
http://www.greenpeace.org/~geneng or http://www.members.tripod.com/~ngin
or
http://www.genewatch.org for scientific information about GM and
information about the international reaction to GM.

> -----Original Message----- >
From: Meredith Lloyd Evans - BioBridge
To: shoppersguide@mail.uk.gl3 > Subject: GM animal feeds >
> I see from your web-site that you are promoting a negative and
fear-laden attitude to the use of GM materials in animal feeds. Your
stance on this is misleading, detrimental to the health and well-being of
consumers, negative for the wider environment and certainly economically
detrimental to countries that do not share your point-of-view. As far as
'red-listing' the use of GM material in animal feeds is concerned, there
is no scientific reason or even moral rightness in doing this.
Commonsense says that the DNA of a food does not affect the DNA or the
well-being of an animal or person consuming it. Or we would have the
logic that all plant-eating animals should be regarded as vegetarian when
they enter the human food chain. Your ecoimperialist attitudes are
therefore not only scientifically incorrect and deceitful, but are not
socioeconomically or morally right.
> Sincerely
> > Mr Meredith Lloyd-Evans, Managing Partner BioBridge Associates &
Arcadia