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Biotech industry withdraws GM foods / GM mosquitoes / GM soy baron likely Brazil's new Ag Minister (20/3/2007)

1.GMO soy maker likely to be Brazil's new Ag Minister - Dow Jones
2.GM mosquito tipped to fight malaria - The Ecologist
3.BIOTECH INDUSTRY WITHDRAWS GM FOODS - FoE Europe

EXTRACTS: There is no market for GM food and crops, and companies are even withdrawing them from the market. European citizens want GM-free food and EU leaders need to take the necessary steps to make this happen. (item 3)

"He knows his stuff, but he is not as charismatic as Roberto Rodrigues and he is being investigated for fraud in Mato Grosso. That's somewhat of a problem," said a consultant from a leading agribusiness firm. (item 1)

...the wide-scale, uncontrolled release of genetically modified organisms into the environment raises serious ecological questions. Jonathan Matthews, editor of GMwatch e-magazine, told the Ecologist that the key unknown was the consequences of wiping out traditional mosquitoes. (item 2)

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1.GMO soy maker likely to be Brazil's new Ag Minister
Kenneth Rapoza
Dow Jones, 15 March 2007 [extracts only]
http://news.morningstar.com/news/ViewNews.asp?article=/DJ/200703151739DOWJONESDJONLINE001148_univ.xml&Cat=ForMkts

SAO PAULO - The president of Brazil's largest soybean seed company, Odilio Balbinotti, will likely become Brazil's new Agriculture Minister, according to political leaders with close ties to Balbinotti in congress.

Balbinotti owns Sementes Adriana, the largest individual seed company in Brazil and a licensed maker of Monsanto Co.'s (MON) Roundup Ready soybeans, a transgenic soy seed.

Balbinotti is a congressman from the Brazilian Democratic Movement, or PMDB, representing the state of Parana, the No. 2 soy-producing state behind Mato Grosso. Sementes Adriana is based in Mato Grosso.

If approved, he would be replacing temporary Agriculture Minister, Luis Guedes Pinto. Pinto stepped in for outgoing sugarcane farmer and agribusiness consultant Roberto Rodrigues in mid-2006.

Soy farming has made Balbinotti a millionaire. He owns one of the most modern private biotechnology labs in Latin America. He also owns about 25,000 hectares of farm land, well above what his counterparts in Parana own. Parana farmers tend to own under 400 hectares.

But there is another side to the would-be minister that could take him out of the running. He is currently being investigated for falsifying documents and consumer fraud in Mato Grosso. He says the charges are unfounded. That has some people in the market saying he is off to a bad start.

"He knows his stuff, but he is not as charismatic as Roberto Rodrigues and he is being investigated for fraud in Mato Grosso. That's somewhat of a problem," said a consultant from a leading agribusiness firm.

So far, all signs currently lead Balbinotti to the Agriculture Minister's post in the days ahead. This would give him the reins to one of the world's biggest farming markets outside the U.S., demanding the attention of thousands of farmers currently coming out of two consecutive years of serious financial crises.

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2.GM mosquito tipped to fight malaria
News, The Ecologist, 20 March 2007
http://www.theecologist.org/news_detail.asp?content_id=809

A genetically modified mosquito is being hailed as the route to tackling malaria, a disease which kills more than one million people every year.

Scientists at John Hopkins University in Maryland have created a GM mosquito which is resistant to the malaria parasite, meaning that it cannot be carried and transferred to humans via a bite. [So far they've only managed to genetically engineer the mosquitoes to be resistant to a form of malaria that affects mice. This is different from the form that affects humans.]

The researchers released 1,200 GM mosquitoes into a cage containing mice infected with malaria. The cage also contained normal, non GM mosquitoes. At the end of the experiment, the researchers found that the GM mosquitoes had become the dominant strain, forming 70 per cent of the total population within the cage. Although the GM mosquitoes were physically weaker, they lived longer and laid more eggs because they were free of the malaria parasite.

Genetic modification is now being hailed as the route towards managing the malaria epidemic, in preference to sprays or drugs. The scientists believe that a batch of GM mosquitoes released into the wild would eventually become dominant over their conventional cousins.

But the wide-scale, uncontrolled release of genetically modified organisms into the environment raises serious ecological questions. Jonathan Matthews, editor of GMwatch e-magazine, told the Ecologist that the key unknown was the consequences of wiping out traditional mosquitoes. He said: "Whatever the initial advantages of GM mosquitoes, their evolutionary sustainability in the longer term is simply an unknown, and this could have a devastating impact on the food chain."

He added: "Mosquito larvae can be at the base of the food chain for fish, while adult mosquitoes provide food for bats and birds. Mosquitoes are also important pollinators, as plant nectar forms a large part of their diet. So such a major human intervention could have worryingly unpredictable consequences."

The GM mosquitoes could be released in a African trial within five years.

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3.BIOTECH INDUSTRY WITHDRAWS GM FOODS
PRESS RELEASE, Friends of the Earth Europe, 20th March 2007

Brussels, March 20th, 2007 The European Union is today discussing the official withdrawal by the biotech industry of five genetically modified (GM) foods and crops, including the first GM crop that was ever grown in Europe. [1] Friends of the Earth Europe has highlighted this as further proof that GM crops are failing. [2]

Helen Holder, GMO campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "There is no market for GM food and crops, and companies are even withdrawing them from the market. European citizens want GM-free food and EU leaders need to take the necessary steps to make this happen."

"These genetically modified foods should have never been allowed to be grown in the first place, as no one knows the long term effects to both people and the environment."

Bans by EU Member States on three of these five GM crops were central to the transatlantic trade dispute in the World Trade Organisations (WTO) which ended in 2006. The WTO ruled that counties did have the right to prohibit GM crops but that the bans in the EU had not followed WTO procedures.

Helen Holder continued: "It is an absolute disgrace that European taxpayers money was spent defending a trade dispute about products that biotech companies were about to withdraw. The biotech industry should be forced to pay the EU compensation for the time and money they have wasted."

The withdrawals will be discussed at a meeting today of Member States following letters from the biotech industry stating that they will no longer be marketed as they are not grown "on global basis". [3] The products include a controversial GM maize that was initially grown in Spain but was stopped following health concerns because it contains a resistance gene to the commonly used antibiotic, ampicillin. It was also central to environmental concerns in the United States after research indicated that it could damage the Monarch butterfly.[4]

***

For more information, please contact:

Helen Holder, GM Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe: Tel : +32 2 542 0182, Mobile +32 474 857 638, Email : helen.holder@foeeurope.org Rosemary Hall, Communications Officer at Friends of the Earth Europe: Tel: +32 25 42 61 05, Mobile: +32 485 930515, Email: rosemary.hall@foeeurope.org

Notes:

[1] The first GM crop to be grown in Europe was genetically modified maize Bt176, produced by Syngenta.

[2] A recent detailed study shows that environmentally-friendly farming will create more jobs and make the EU more competitive than if it grows genetically modified (GM) crops:
http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/FoEE_biotech_MTR_midlifecrisis_March07.pdf

[3] Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health, http://ec.europa.eu/food/committees/regulatory/scfcah/biosafety/agenda41_en.pdf

[4] The products being withdrawn are:

Genetically modified maize, Bt176 produced by Syngenta Genetically modified oilseed rape, Ms1xRf1, produced by Bayer Genetically modified oilseed rape, Ms1xRf2, produced by Bayer Generically modified oilseed rape, Topas 19/2, produced by Bayer Genetically modified maize, GA21xMON810, produced by Monsanto

European Commission proposals for withdrawals:

Withdrawal from the market of Bt176 (SYN-EV176-9) maize and its derived products http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/614r1-/614r1-en.pdf

Withdrawal from the market of Ms1xRf1 (ACS BNØØ4 7xACS BNØØ1 4) hybrid oilseed rape and its derived products http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/615r1-/615r1-en.pdf

Withdrawal from the market of Ms1xRf2 (ACS BNØØ4 7xACS BNØØ2 5) hybrid oilseed rape and its derived products http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/616r1-/616r1-en.pdf

Withdrawal from the market of Topas 19/2 (ACS BNØØ7 1) oilseed rape and its derived products <http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/617r1-/617r1-en.pdf

Withdrawal from the market of products derived from GA21xMON810 (MON ØØØ21 9xMON ØØ81Ø -6) maize http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/618r1-/618r1-en.pdf

Syngenta Bt176 maize
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/614r1-/614r1-en.pdf

Bayer MS1/RF1 oilseed rape
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/615r1-/615r1-en.pdf

Bayer MS1/RF2 oilseed rape
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/616r1-/616r1-en.pdf

Bayer Falcon oilseed rape
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/617r1-/617r1-en.pdf

Monsanto GA21 x MON810 maize
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/618r1-/618r1-en.pdf

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