GM battle rages - Russia/Japan/USA/Brazil (29/9/2003)

"A study carried out at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Nutrition showed that rats fed on beetroot and transgenic potato developed abnormal changes in liver and other organs."

"Despite massive opposition from scientists, experts predict that Russia will not be able to hold out against the onslaught of GM products." (item 1)

"We have looked to you, sir, as a leading light in the struggle for the rights of the poor and homeless. Please, for God's sake, have the raw courage to reverse this decision, even in the face of immense US pressure." (item 2)

1.GM food battle moves to Russia
2.Letter to Lula - from South Africa
3.Japan Flour Millers told no GMOs
4.rGBH labeling may harm dairy industry
1.GM food battle moves to Russia
The Hindu, India, by Vladimir Radyuhin, Sep 16, 2003
MOSCOW SEPT. 16. Now that Europe has succumbed to American pressure to allow genetically modified foods, the battle is shifting to Russia.

Current Russian legislation bans development and production of GM foods, but allows their import and marketing. Since last year producers are required to label their foodstuffs if they contain five or more per cent of GMO (genetically modified organisms). However, many companies ignore the demand taking advantage of the lack of testing laboratories in Russia.

Supporters of GMO technologies in Russia feel greatly encouraged by the European Union's July decision to drop a ban on transgenic crops. They argue that unless Russia joins the growing family of nations which cultivate GM crops, it will lose the race for competitive agricultural technologies. According to the Russian grain union president, Arkady Zlochevsky, the ban on the growth of GM food benefits American exporters, as GM wheat costs 20 per cent less to grow than conventional wheat.

Opponents of genetic engineering say that biosafety of GM products has not been proved.

"Biological evolution has ruled out transmission of genes, for example, from mice to a plant. Genetic engineering has overcome this barrier, inserting alien genes into organisms," said Vladimir Kuznetsov, head of the Timiryazev Institute of Plant Physiology. "Long-term effects of consuming such products have not been studied."

A study carried out at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Nutrition showed that rats fed on beetroot and transgenic potato developed abnormal changes in liver and other organs.

"The most visible side-effects of GM food on human beings is allergy and increased resistance to antibiotics," said Dr. Kuznetsov. Another danger in growing GM plants is the possibility of cross-breeding with conventional crops, ecologists warn, as this may trigger unpredictable changes in ecological systems.

Despite massive opposition from scientists, experts predict that Russia will not be able to hold out against the onslaught of GM products.

"As genetic engineering scales new heights and with Russia poised to join the World Trade Organisation, it is reasonable to expect a growing flow of GM products to the Russian market," said a statement issued after recent parliamentary hearings.

Aggressive lobbying by Western biotechnology companies like Monsanto, coupled with low awareness of the GMO problem among Russian customers make this forecast highly plausible.
2.South African response to Lula

From: "Kevin SNYMAN" <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Cc: <[email protected]>; <[email protected]>;
<[email protected]>; <[email protected]>;
<[email protected]>; <[email protected]>; <[email protected]>;
<[email protected]>; <[email protected]>; <[email protected]>;
<[email protected]>; <[email protected]>
Sent: Monday, September 29, 2003 12:37 PM
Subject: GMO food production

Dear Mr President

Your government's decision to allow the cultivation of GM soya crops comes as painful news to many people here in South Africa. The promises by GM producers - that their products will eradicate hunger - are a cleverly disguised children's story. They sing lullabyes to the poor whilst setting their sights on the immense profits to be made at the expense of those very poor they piously claim to care for.

We have looked to you, sir, as a leading light in the struggle for the rights of the poor and homeless. Please, for God's sake, have the raw courage to reverse this decision, even in the face of immense US pressure.

The name Mandela will always be remembered as a symbol of determination and fearlessness in the face of almost overwhelming odds. Today, the name Lula is spoken with almost the same passion, for it brings hope to millions.

Please do not let that change, for we all need examples (dare I say heroes?) to emulate in our own journeys of courage.

Yours in Christ


"Be Thou my vision O Lord of my heart"

Rev Kevin Snyman & Nadene Penny
Gonubie Uniting Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 138
Gonubie 5256
South Africa
+27 43 7343439/+27 82 5938649
3.Japan Flour Millers told no GMOs

Dear friends,
NO! GMO Campaign has sent an urgent request to Japan Flour Millers Association recently.
Here is the English translation for you.
Best wishes,
Akiko Frid

NO! GMO Campaign

Date: September 18, 2003, Tokyo, Japan

Attention to:
Japan Flour Millers Association
Chairman, Mr. Kazui Kondo

NO! GMO Campaign Japan
Representative, Keisuke Amagasa

Urgent: Important Request
Please oppose genetically modified wheat, in solidarity with consumers

We are a broad network of food producers, consumers, food distributors and retailers that are opposed to genetically modified crops.

The majority of consumers in Japan are opposed to genetically modified food. Several opinion polls have shown that more than 80% do not want to eat GM food, and more than 90% demand proper labelling in order to be able to make an informed choice. Moreover, because consumer rejection is strong, there is no commercial cultivation of such crops in Japan.

Our dependence on imported food is high, especially in the case of wheat, which is our staple food after rice, and which appears on our kitchen tables at almost every meal, in the form of noodles, bread, desserts and so on. Monsanto Co. applied for approval of its herbicide tolerant wheat to the U.S. and the Canadian governments in 2002. If this genetically modified wheat is approved and cultivated, the possibility of such wheat entering into Japan will be increased. In all probability, gene contamination would occur and spread, contaminating not only to wheat, but also to other oats, such as barley and rye.

Therefore, we, Japanese consumers, strongly oppose genetically modified wheat.

If genetically modified wheat is approved and commercial cultivation starts, we will immediately strengthen our opposition and actions in order to achieve the total rejection of GM wheat imports into Japan.

Recently, the executive director of your association, Mr. Tsutomu Shigeta, was quoted in the international media saying, "If there is GM (genetically-modified) wheat, there is some potential for the collapse of the U.S. wheat market in Japan, that is exactly what Japanese consumers believe.

We have also approached the U.S. and Canada requesting strongly that they not approve genetically modified wheat in order to maintain the friendly relationship between exporting countries and importing country. Furthermore, we have addressed our demand to Monsanto Co. and also to the Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Finally, we would like to urge Japan Flour Millers Association to express strongly to wheat exporters that you are not prepared to accept or have anything to do with genetically modified wheat.

Thank you for your attention.

NO! GMO Campaign
75-2F, Wasedamachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
162-0042 Japan
TEL: +81-3-5155-4756
FAX: +81-3-5155-4767
[email protected]
4.rGBH labeling may harm dairy industry
Badger Herald News, USA, by Nick Wolfmeyer, Sep 22, 2003

[rBGH is Monsanto's genetically engineered cattle drug - it's banned in all major industrialised countries outside the US]

rGBH labeling may harm dairy industry

Consumers are paying up to three dollars more for non-genetically modified milk and their buying behavior is causing milk prices to fall, according to a University of Wisconsin study released last week. The study may have broad implications on the issue of milk labeling in the dairy industry.

Jeremy Foltz, the UW agriculture and applied economics professor who directed the study, said milk free of recombinant bovine somatotrophin, known as rBST or rBGH, represent a small share of the market.

"[Organic and rBST-free milks] together represent barely one percent of the overall market, but the people that are buying them are paying significant premiums of $1.50 extra per gallon for rBST-free and $3 extra for organic," Foltz said. "Our study found that just having these types of labels has a competitive effect and drops [the price of all types of milk] by 2 cents a gallon. Whether you drink it or not, you benefit from it being in the market because it adds competition."

Recombinant bovine growth hormone is an artificial growth hormone that increases milk productivity in cows. The FDA approved the hormone additives in 1993 amid a national controversy over genetically modified foods.

Once touted as a revolution in dairy farming, rBST has been adopted by about 15 percent of U.S. dairy herds, which account for roughly one-third of the nation's cows. Its use has since been banned by Canada and the European Union.

Meanwhile, the introduction of rBST in the United States has coincided with the organic milk industry's rise as the fastest growing segment of the dairy industry, creating a polarization of the industry that has turned the rBST's safety issue into an issue of legality of milk labeling.

Foltz, who co-authored the study with University of British Columbia assistant professor of marketing Tirtha Dhar, said it was possible the study would increase the labeling of rBST-free milk.

"It requires a little bit of organization on the processing side, but consumers are willing to pay significant premiums, and in most parts of the country it's not hard to find farmers who are not using rBST," Foltz said.

Foltz said it is not a foregone conclusion that labeling milk as rBST- free will increase sales of rBST-free milk. Instead, Foltz said that his study shows people are more willing to pay for the whole organic process.

Monsanto, a St. Louis-based company that manufactures rBST, filed a lawsuit in July against a milk producer in Maine that labeled its milk as being rBST-free and paid its farmers a premium to avoid using rBST. Monsanto's lawsuit claimed that the producer's labeling implies their chemical is potentially harmful.

"One thing that could keep labeling from increasing is [the Monsanto lawsuit]," Foltz said. "People may be watching and waiting to see what the outcome of that suit is." Wisconsin currently permits the labeling of milk as rBST-free, but at least one prominent Wisconsin farmer agreed with Monsanto's position."

Todd Doornik, president of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and owner of a 1,500-cow dairy farm in Baldwin, Wisconsin, said that labeling milk as rBST-free or organic could lead consumers to wrongly think other milk is unsafe or dangerous.

"I think anything that differentiates milk is bad for the industry," Doornik said.

Doornink said that although his farm does not use rBST, the decision whether to label his milk as rBST-free is up to his dairy coop. He added that he did not know if his milk is labeled as such, and suggested that most farmers are also unaware of whether their milk is labeled rBST-free.

Foltz's and Dhar's research was conducted by analyzing supermarket scanner data in 12 major U.S. cities and funded by UW's non-partisan Food System Resarch Group, which in recent years has taken on a major economic watchdog role in the U.S. food industry.

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