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March 1, 2001


Nutritional enhancement, Mycotoxins, Survey, Oranges,


You might find some helpful examples (with footnotes) of research in
progress in two brochures published by Consumer Alert and International
Consumers for Civil Society:
"Agricultural Biotechnology and Consumer Benefits"
"Agricultural Biotechnology and Food Security"

The URLs for electronic versions are www.icfcs.org and www.foodstuff.org

Frances B. Smith
Executive Director
Consumer Alert
Phone: 202-467-5809

Date: Mar 02 2001 12:41:03 EST
From: "Bob MacGregor"
Subject: Re: Nutritional enhancement

Marcus Williamson asked for additional references on the reduced mycotoxin
content of Bt corn. Interestingly enough, the same day, AgBioView
included some notes from a conference on GMO animal feeds in Zurich which
included the following:

"Karen Aulrich, Inst. for Animal Nutrition, Federal Inst. for Agricultural
Research, Braunschweig presented numerous feeding studies involving
cattle, hogs and poultry. According to the findings of this research,
transgenic crop plant varieties and their conventional parent varieties
show fully comparable nutritional-physiological properties - a clear
indication that the introduction of new genes has produced no undesirable
changes in the metabolism of these transgenic varieties. Transgenic
varieties of corn earned significantly higher marks with respect to
contamination with mycotoxins, with levels as much as 90% lower than those
of non-transgenic varieties. Absence of tunnels bored by feeding
caterpillars left little opportunity for fungal growth."

There was a discussion of this topic on AgBioView last October/November
and one correspondent sent me a fairly extensive bibliography of relevant
references. Unfortunately, my file system has failed me; although I can
find references TO multiple studies, I cannot find the actual refs.
Perhaps another listmember will be able to oblige.

Of course, this still leaves hanging the qualification you made for
"independent" studies. Without knowing what sort of study you would
consider independent, I can't speculate on how much of the work to date
you might consider trustworthy.


Flavour Of Genetically Modified Food Seems To Improve With Age

National Business Review
Deborah Hill Cone
March 2, 2001

People are increasingly coming around to the idea of eating GM food, a new
survey out today shows.

The NBR-Compaq poll found the number of people who said they would eat
food they knew to be genetically modified has risen during the past two

The survey information has been released on the final day for submissions
to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification.

The deadline for new or rebuttal evidence to the commission is 5pm today.

The NBR-Compaq findings suggest as GM becomes better understood and more
familiar, sceptical consumers are being reassured about it and find the
idea easier to stomach.

When asked in March 1999 whether they would eat GM food 28% of people said
yes. Two years later that had risen to 35%.

Fewer people said a flat no to GM food (down from 59% to 56%) and fewer
were unsure about it (down from 13% to 9%).

But in answer to a general question about genetic modification half the
people surveyed said they needed to find out more or were unsure about the

Questioned further, 45% of that group said the risks of GM outweighed the
benefits. A third of the undecided group (33%) said the benefits of GM
outweighed the risks and 22% were unsure.

Young people were more willing to eat genetically modified food than older
people, with 69% of those aged 18-19 and 53% of those aged 20-24 saying
they would eat food which was genetically modified.

Younger age groups were also more likely to generally support the concept
of GM.

The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification is this week winding up its
formal hearings of submissions.

The commission, chaired by Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, was set up last May to
look into and report on the issues surrounding genetic modification.

It has received more than 10,000 public submissions as well as submissions
from interested persons. It is required to report to the Governor-General
by June 1.

Last week there was dissent at the commission about who should get the
final say as it prepares to wrap up. Life Sciences Network, an umbrella
group of industry figures and scientists who support genetic engineering,
wanted the chance to contradict earlier submissions and to put new
evidence before the commission - a move which angered environmental lobby
group Greenpeace.


Early fruit off GM trees

The Times
MARCH 01 2001

A GENETICALLY modified orange tree that bears fruit in its first year of
life has been developed by scientists (Mark Henderson writes).
The new trees have been grown by a team of researchers from the Spanish
National Institute of Agricultural and Food Science and Technology. Most
citrus trees take at least six years to reach maturity and some species
can take 20 years to bear fruit.

The GM trees have been engineered with two genes taken from the plant
Arabidopsis thaliana, or thale cress, so that they produce “precocious
fruit” after a single season.

Aberdeen Press and Journal

Scientist urges more GM action
March 1, 2001
Stan Arnaud

CONTROVERSIAL scientist Arpad Pusztai last night urged campaigners to keep
up their opposition to trials of genetically modified crops in the
Highlands. The internationally recognised researcher's call came as the
Scottish Executive announced two Highland farms were among four in North
Scotland to have applied to take part in evaluations of GM modified
oil-seed rape in the Spring.

Trials of the crop are already being carried out near Munlochy on the
Black Isle.
Mr Pusztai, formerly of the renowned Rowett Research Institute in
Aberdeen, was addressing a public meeting held by Highlands and Islands GM
Concern in Inverness.

The academic lost his job at the institute, where he had worked for 36
years, after revealing rats had developed significant immune system
problems after being given GM potatoes. His views on the subject led to an
invitation to discuss it with GM opponent Prince Charles.

At last night's meeting, Mr Pusztai questioned the need for the trials of
the GM oil-seed rape, claiming the environment was being polluted for what
was a "dubious exercise".

He said: "GM oil-seed rape has already been extensively tested in
North-west Canada and from those tests we know all the problems it can
cause. I don't see the point of more experiments here because we know it
all already."

He added that he believed the risk of other crops being contaminated by
the trial plants could be greater because the tests were being carried out
in isolated communities.

And he predicted that, if the Government did not stop the trials, the
actions of opponents would inevitably become more militant.

Mr Pusztai added: "I can't say to people what they ought to do. It is
commendable to go about it the political way, but eventually, if all else
fails, people will take the law into their own hands."

The Scottish Executive's announcement that farms, at Auldearn near Nairn
and Smithton by Inverness and two at Daviot in Aberdeenshire had applied
for approval to take part in the next round of GM oil-seed rape tests was
condemned by campaigners last night.

The Scottish Executive said approval would only be given if ministers were
satisfied the trials did not pose a threat to the environment or public

Rural affairs minister Ross Finnie said it would consider any
representations supported by scientific evidence submitted by the public.

Mr Finnie said: "The GM crop to be used in the evaluations has been
through years of rigorous safety tests required by strict EU regulatory
framework and has satisfied the independent scientific experts that it
does not pose a threat to the environment or public safety."

'Distrust and polarisation' in GE debate

New Zealand Herald
March 3, 2001

The battle lines have been drawn in the gene debate, creating a climate of
"distrust and polarisation," New Zealand's environmental watchdog says.

The comments, from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr
Morgan Williams, come as the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification
winds up and prepares to write its report.

Dr Williams told the commission this week there was a perception that
"expert arrogance" on one side and "interest-group pressure" on the other
had hardened attitudes in the debate.

"There must be far greater transparency and constructive dialogue than has
been the case thus far," he said.

Over the past six months the four commissioners, charged by the Government
to investigate where New Zealand should stand on the GE issue, have heard
47 days of sometimes mind-bogglingly complicated scientific evidence,
along with pleas from animal rights and religious groups for consideration
of moral and ethical issues.

Before the commission are 11,000 public submissions, evidence from more
than 300 experts, and comments from hundreds of people who attended 15
public meetings and 10 regional hui.

Meanwhile, the pro- and anti-GE lobbies have gone head-to-head.

Broadly, Greenpeace, the Green Party, organic farmers, religious
organisations and Maori have pleaded for caution.

They argue that there are too many unknowns to allow genetically
engineered organisms - anything from modified pine trees to calves
injected with a human gene - to be released into the environment.

They want strict containment until safety guarantees can be given.

But some of New Zealand's top scientists, along with industry groups, have
argued that their work is too important to be curtailed by red tape.

Some called for a relaxation of the rules on importing genetically
engineered organisms, and university medical researchers in particular
outlined the potential medical and agricultural benefits their work will

Life Sciences Network, a pro-GE umbrella group representing scientists and
industry groups, painstakingly cross-examined anti-GE groups through the
formal hearings.

Executive director Francis Wevers says there is a chasm between the two

"We believe it's necessary to move forward and continue to do the work.
Opponents believe we should stop doing it to reduce the risk, and those
two views are polar opposites."

But he said the group felt that both sides got a fair hearing.

"There's been a lot of light shed on what has been a very complex and
difficult issue for people to grapple with."

Greenpeace spokeswoman Annette Cotter believed that the arguments put
before the commission favoured a precautionary approach - in line with
what Greenpeace wants.

Commission chairman Sir Thomas Eichelbaum believes that public awareness
of GE is low, despite constant publicity over the past year. "There are a
lot of people who are very committed and passionately involved in the
debate, but there are hundreds of thousands of others who ... have no idea
what we are on about."

As the commission prepares to retire, its chairman, at least, is looking
forward to the task ahead. "We've got a huge amount of information to sort
through but it's been a very interesting and challenging exercise. I'm
very glad to have been a part of it."