Bt10 likely in human food chain / Bt10 not the same as Bt11 (8/6/2005)

1.MORE INFO FROM SYNGENTA - Bt10 likely in human food chain
3.Kiwi International Seed Federation president opposes low minimum thresholds for contamination
4.Australia Threatens Sanctions over NZ Biosecurity Measures


The Bt 10 contamination scandal grows and grows and at the heart of it is Syngenta's inability to control its GM seed production and marketing over a four year period and its persistent failure to release full and adequate information once the scandal came to light.

It was exactly the same corporation that, we now know, was very active in the Brazilian delegation in Montreal which played a key part in helping global genetic contamination to escape unnoticed and unscathed.

The very corporations that imperil are biosafety are calling the shots when it comes to establishing international regulations over the movement of GMOs around the globe.

Bt10 is likely to be in the human food chain

In an Email to DEFRA, obtained by GM Free Cymru through the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, Syngenta has admitted that all of the five Bt10 breeding lines involved in the infamous "contamination incident" were yellow field corn lines. This type of corn is unlikely to have been used as fresh corn on the cob or as canned or frozen sweetcorn, but it is used in a wide range of processed foods with maize ingredients intended for human consumption (see below).

This admission directly contradicts the assurances given by FSA in this country and by the EC that all of the BT10 went into animal feed and is therefore relatively harmless.

The company is still holding 19,000 sacks of Bt10 seed "in quarantine". Why this material has not been destroyed is a mystery -- maybe Syngenta is waiting for all the fuss to die down before simply slipping the seed into the food chain?

The Email confirms that one of the breeding lines "was commercialized in a very small amount" -- which would have been illegal even in the USA, since consent for Bt10 lines was never requested or given.

It also confirms that 37,000 acres of the Bt10 varieties were planted over a four-year period; as we have pointed out earlier, that could mean that around 185,000 tonnes of Bt10 maize has gone into the food chain. Most will probably have been used in the US, and the biggest export quantities would have gone into South Korea and Japan. But in the period 2000-2003 (when most Bt10 would have come into the food chain) a total of c 685,000 tonnes of maize and maize products (excluding seed and popcorn) was imported by the EU from the USA.

We cannot accept that the Bt10 maize will have been diluted evenly through the food chain. Since maize is bought in the market place in batches and shipped to food processors in Europe, there is a chance that some food products on supermarket shelves will have high concentrations of Bt10 in them. Is any testing of human food products going on, or have the food manufacturers and the EU food safety agencies simply accepted the nonsense fed to them by Syngenta -- namely that all of the Bt10 has gone into animal feed?

Source: Email from Syngenta to DEFRA, dated 5 April 2005


1. Field corn (as distinct from sweetcorn) is picked at a mature, predominantly starchy stage, dried to a more hardened state, and used in a multitude of ways--as livestock feed and, after refining, in a wide array of processed foods and drinks, from cornstarch to whiskey (as well as in many nonfood products, such as fuel, paper, and plastics).

2. The full range of manufactured maize products is enormous, including packaged sweetcorn, corn on the cob, baby food, corn oil, corn flour, corn starch, polenta, maize meal, maize pasta, maize based snacks and tortillas (including tortilla chips and tacos). How much will GM components be "degraded" in these products?

8 June 2005

Dear Friends and colleagues,

In mid-May, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), responding to increasing public pressure, released several documents that purport to support the FSANZ view that Bt10 is virtually identical to Bt11, according to Greenpeace Australia. Bt10, an unapproved and experimental GM corn, was inadvertently mistaken for Bt11, approved in some countries, and released by Syngenta from 2001-2004.

FSANZ has argued that "the two varieties have been modified in the same way and produce the same novel proteins. The presence of a non-functional antibiotic resistance marker gene (BLA) in Bt-10 corn, that is not present in Bt-11, has no impact on the safety of food produced from Bt-10 corn."

FSANZ has argued that because Bt10 is for all intents and purposes the same as Bt11 and Bt11 has been deemed safe for human consumption, then FSANZ is justified in taking no steps to remove potential Bt10 products from Australian supermarket shelves or to prevent possible continuing imports of Bt10 corn products.

However, as the Syngenta documents released by FSANZ and the critique by Dr Jack Heineman of the NZ Institute of Gene Ecology at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand as well as the leaked documents received by the Institute for Science in Society (ISIS) show, these claims do not hold water.

The Heinemann critique makes it clear that based on these documents some differences between Bt10 and Bt11 can be established.

"The Syngenta documents you have provided indicate that there are additional and possibly substantial differences between BT10 and BT11."

Further, claims relating to the similarity of Bt10 and Bt11 cannot be ascertained from the materials released.

"The report SSB-112-05 indicates that there were differences in the profiles of PAT and Cry1Ab proteins and thus there may be other undetected differences."

The Syngenta documents are now available on the Greenpeace Australia website a


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