WEEKLY WATCH number 179 (15/6/2006)

from Claire Robinson, WEEKLY WATCH editor

Dear all:

This week we have some interesting food safety stories from the Americas. A report points to growth hormones such as Monsanto's GM cattle drug rBGH as a possible culprit for a dangerous increase in multiple births to American women who consume dairy products. Fortunately, thanks to growing 'people pressure', America is finally waking up to the dangers of this drug in a big way, with major dairy processors attempting to source milk from rBGH-free cows. (THE AMERICAS)

Let's hope similar pressure is brought to bear on what's possibly the most hated small company in America, Ventria BioScience. Ventria was previously driven out of California and Missouri when it tried to conduct GM pharma rice field trials there. And now the Peruvian Medical Association is up in arms because Ventria's begun testing the product of its GM pharma rice on babies and children in Peru. (THE AMERICAS)

The company that's doing the experiments for Ventria claims they comply with national and international laws on drug testing. But anyone who's seen the recent reports on the appalling abuses perpetrated by drug companies on third world people in the name of clinical trials will not be reassured.

Normal practices in some of these trials -- which are quite legal -- include giving experimental drugs to people who are uneducated, mentally impaired, and not sufficiently literate to read the consent forms. Frequently, they do not understand what they are agreeing to, or they wrongly believe that they are receiving a proven new treatment for their condition.

It's not unreasonable to wonder how Ventria managed to get test subjects in Peru for its pharma rice drug and whether it would have found those subjects so easily back in the US. That said, of course, there's a long history of people of colour being the victims of unethical medical experimentation in the States. And recently the Bush administration, after listening to the lobbyists of Crop Life America and Bayer Crop Life Science, gave the go ahead for the testing of chemicals on children.

But when domestic opposition gets too hot, it's time to look at outsourcing the risk. That's why the European based Pharma-Planta Consortium plans to do its field testing in South Africa. And why when Ventria was getting run out of Missouri, the company's president began talking about moving his pharma field trials to Puerto Rico and South America. Now they're treading the same path South with testing their pharma drug.

Claire [email protected]
www.gmwatch.org / www.lobbywatch.org




The latest GM Watch podcast (no. 3) is now available for free at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=158600210

In this podcast, producer Peter Brown interviews Jonathan Matthews about the nuts and bolts of biotech PR hype, while Claire Robinson reports on the latest controversy involving a GM medicine.

More information about downloading and listening to the GM Watch podcasts, and about how to install iTunes if you need to, is available at:


Multiple births bring increased complications for both mothers and offspring. And according to a leadingresearcher in the field, "The continuing increase in the twinning rate into the 1990's... may also be a consequence of the introduction of growth-hormone treatment of cows to enhance their milk and beef production."

Gary Steinman, MD, PhD, an attending physician at Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY, found that the women who consume animal products, specifically dairy, are five times more likely to have twins. The study is published in the May 2006 issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, available May 20.

Steinman says, "Because multiple gestations are more prone to complications such as premature delivery, congenital defects and pregnancy-induced hypertension in the mother than singleton pregnancies, the findings of this study suggest that women contemplating pregnancy might consider substituting meat and dairy products with other protein sources, **especially in countries that allow growth hormone administration to cattle**." [emphasis added]

Monsanto's GM cattle drug, a bovine growth hormone (rBGH, also known as BST), is widely used for milk production in the US and is already known to increase production of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) in mily. This GM drug is banned in both the European Union and Canada.

We've received an interesting update from Rick North of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) on the escalating problems for Monsanto's GM cattle drug - rBGH, which is banned in Europe and Canada.

The last two weeks have seen an incredible explosion of news on rBGH...:

June 9 - The Dairy & Food Market Analyst, edited by Jerry Dryer, reports that Dean Foods, Wal-Mart and Kroger, and possibly others, are on a nationwide search for rBGH-free milk. In response to this and a series of actions in the past year of dairies going rBGH-free, Monsanto is now lowering the price of rBGH to try to cling to its dwindling market.

Go to a Print friendly Page

Email this Article to a Friend

Back to the Archive