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Bt Corn Linked to Hog Breeding Problems

by Jim Riddle
Rt. 3 Box 162C
Winona, MN 55987
May 20, 2002

In its April 29, 2002, edition, the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman contained an alarming story on sow breeding problems related to the feeding of genetically engineered Bt corn.

According to the article, Shelby County, Iowa, farmer Jerry Rosman was alarmed when farrowing rates in his sow herd plummeted nearly 80 percent. Rosman, who has nearly 30 years of farrowing experience, checked and double-checked all of the usual suspect causes. He tested for diseases, verified his artificial insemination methods were being properly implemented, and poured over his nutritional program. But he found nothing out of the ordinary.

Eventually, Rosman became aware of four other producers within a 15-mile radius of his farm whose herds had nearly identical pseudopregnancies. The herds had different management styles, different breeding methods and different swine genetics.

A common denominator, Rosman says, is that all of the operations fed their herds the same Bt corn hybrids.

Laboratory tests revealed their corn contained high levels of Fusarium mold. Rosman says researchers typed the Fusarium down to four strains, and two of them (Fusarium subglutinans and Fusarium monlliforme) were consistent in all of the producers' samples.

One of the producers subsequently switched back to regular non-Bt corn, and pseudopregnancy is no longer a problem within that herd.

Rosman believes the problem manifested itself on his farm because he planted 100 percent of the same brand of genetically engineered Bt seed corn and fed 100 percent of that corn to his livestock.

According to the article, Rosman isn't sure whether or not he'll be planting any corn on his land this year. An agronomist has told him that a regular rotation of corn and soybeans might not get rid of whatever gene has contaminated his corn ground.

In a follow up article on May 13, 2002, the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman reported that shortly after the story detailing Rosman's situation appeared, he was flooded with phone calls. "It hadn't even hit the mailboxes and the phone started ringing," Rosman says.

By late last week he had received calls from 12 other producers from various parts of the state detailing situations very much like his own. The calls primarily came from smaller producers who, like Rosman, feed their own corn and noticed a sharp decline in farrowing rates recently.

The Rosman article sparked the interest of Norm Smith, who farms east of Winterset, Iowa. Smith says he started experiencing breeding problems within a few weeks of feeding the new corn hybrids he planted for the first time last spring.

"I started feeding Bt corn in late September, and within 30 days I wasn't getting anything bred," Smith said, adding that his brother encountered similar problems.

The Spokesman articles illustrate the fact that genetically engineered crops have been rushed to market without proper testing. There have been no mandatory tests on the long term effects of these crops on livestock or human health. For example, the EPA, which regulates Bt corn, requires no tests to determine how the crop impacts the reproductive systems of the animals that eat it.

Genetically engineered materials, such as products manufactured from Bt corn, are now commonly found in conventional foods. Due to a political decision made in 1992 by the Bush/Quayle administration, genetically engineered foods are not required to be segregated or labeled. Anyone who eats foods containing conventional corn, soy, canola, and/or cottonseed products is an unwitting guinea pig in a vast, uncharted ecological experiment.


The Great Containment:The Year of Playing Dangerously

GM Fall-out from Mexico to Zambia
25 October 2002

Thirteen months ago, the agbiotech industry wakened to a nightmare. Illegal and unwelcome, the presence of genetically-modified (GM) maize was reported smack in the crop's center of genetic origin in Mexico. There's never a good time for a political/ecological calamity, but the beleaguered Gene Giants were already struggling to persuade consumers, following the Taco Debacle (Starlink), that companies could control their inventions and their inventory. The seed companies were also hoping to arm-twist EU ministers into lifting the ban on GM products in Europe. Suddenly, the headlines were full of the contamination scandal. To make matters worse, the year ahead was shaping up to be the Year of the Summits - a succession of diplomatic poverty, hunger, and pollution "retros" including the Monterrey Summit on development financing in March; the 10th anniversary of the Biodiversity Convention in April; another World Food Summit (once more with feeling) in June - all boiling up to the "mother of all summits" (World Summit on Sustainable Development) in South Africa in September. For the corporations (and the United States so aggressively supporting them) the issue was: how to run the gauntlet of intergovernmental marathons with GM contamination on their backs? Thirteen months later, the issue for governments, international agencies, and civil society is: how did the Gene Giants duck and dodge their way through all these fora and end the year with Southern African governments - half a world away from the "scene of the crime" - being blamed and vilified for rejecting GM seeds?

Dodge 1 - Denial: One year after the Mexican Government announced that maize in two states was contaminated with GM varieties, neither Mexico nor the international genetic resources community have taken constructive, coherent steps to arrest, fully assess, or ameliorate the contamination. Mexico is the center of origin and diversity for maize - one of the world's most vital food crops. As local farmers, joined by more than 150 social movements and civil society organizations worldwide, raged, the first reaction from pro-GM scientists (public and private) was denial. It couldn't be true. The reports were wrong. Mexico (at least, initially) and the two U.S.- based researchers who provided corroborative evidence, held their ground. When the whistle-blowers revealed that their study was being peer-reviewed by Nature, industry's nightmare became a hologram.

Dodge 2 - Diversion: Quickly, biotech's spin doctors took control, launching a vindictive e-mail and media campaign to discredit the scientific competence and political intent of the scientists. (One Mexican and one American - both located at the University of California at Berkeley.) Rather than deny contamination (the likelihood of which was scientifically undeniable), the industry strategy was to divert attention by orchestrating a row over research methodology (the vagaries of which are always academically irresistible). This strategy became doubly-important when Nature's article confirming contamination was published in November, 2001 A good scientific squabble, industry reasoned, could obscure any truth and immobilize the germplasm community for months.

CIMMYT limited: Caught like a deer in the headlights of the battle, was the Mexican-headquartered International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) - flagship of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and the developing world's leading institute for maize breeding and conservation. Mandated to help eradicate poverty and conserve maize diversity, CIMMYT soon took to the woods. Despite repeated requests from civil society for CIMMYT to weigh in on the reality of contamination and cut through the absurdity of the methodology obfuscation, the Institute limited itself to pious pronouncements about the need for scientific clarity and promises to help in any way short of action. CIMMYT went on to produce a succession of studies confirming that, whatever else may or may not be happening in the world, its own gene bank was not contaminated. The centre holds the world's largest unique maize germplasm collection. Always dependent on U.S. funding and increasingly dependent for its technologies on the biotech corporations, CIMMYT refused to publicly acknowledge what every maize researcher in the world knew -- that GM contamination of the Mexican maize crop was a reality. During the 10th anniversary of the Biodiversity Convention in April, however, the international institution did concede that the Mexican situation was grave enough for CIMMYT to adopt a moratorium on maize seed collection for conservation purposes. There was a risk that GM-contaminated seeds would find their way into the CIMMYT gene bank if collections continued. Still, CIMMYT refused to publicly-back the Mexican government's ongoing moratorium on the introduction of GM crops. A moratorium for conservation in its own genebank, but not a moratorium for commercialization or contamination. Realizing that the Precautionary Principal was being ignored and that food sovereignty was being trampled, Mexican farmers' organizations and CSOs were furious.

Dodge 3 - Delay: Industry's diversionary tactic was successful. Ultimately, Nature withdrew its support for the peer-reviewed study and the initial investigations both in Mexico and at Berkeley were widely distrusted. This accomplished, however, there was the danger that, in mid year, attention would again focus on the obvious reality that -- regardless of methodology -- farmers' fields were filling up with transgenes in at least two Mexican states. The logical solution was to call for more studies. Mexico announced that two leading national institutes would put the methodology debate to rest with two independent studies. What's more, as an act of national pride -- and to vindicate the Berkeley scientists -- Mexico would have the two studies peer-reviewed in Nature. The months ticked by. Called to act, FAO and CGIAR said they were awaiting Mexico's report. Meanwhile, the World Food Summit came and went in Rome and the GM contamination debate was not on the agenda. The World Summit on Sustainable Development came and went in Johannesburg and the unsustainability of agricultural biodiversity in the midst of GM contamination was not on that agenda either. Farmers in Mexico continued to wait.

Only in late October, while answering questions from reporters, did a senior Mexican official admit that the two institutions had had their findings rejected by Nature. According to the press, one of Nature's reviewers explained that the reality of contamination was too obvious to bother publishing. A second reviewer insisted that the studies had been flawed. Something for everyone! Thirteen months later and both the earth and the debate had gone full circle.

Dodge 4 - Damnation: With scientists and the scientific media already in chaos, drought and famine in sub-Saharan Africa afforded the biotech industry another opportunity to turn contamination into a virtue. Almost from the beginning, of course, some biotech enthusiasts had insisted that "if" contamination were proven to have occurred in Mexico, then the seed industry was not only providing a free gift of valuable patented traits but it was also contributing to genetic diversity. When several African countries expressed alarm that food aid containing genetically modified traits could have health, environmental, and trade risks for their people, American officials jumped in with moral outrage claiming that "beggars can't be choosers" and accusing African governments of willfully starving their citizens. Even though other nations offered GM-free food, the United States and the biotech industry pressured FAO, the World Food Program, and the World Health Organization to urge the governments to accept GM aid. Instead of focusing on the environmental and food security threat posed by contamination, the Johannesburg Summit became entangled in a debate over "despotic" African rulers and the overriding urgency of getting food to the hungry. There was no space for the discussion of alternative food supplies or of the human right to safe and culturally appropriate food.

Containment: Thirteen months after the revelation of GM contamination in Mexico, nothing has been done to change or even monitor the flow of contaminants through commercial food shipments into Mexico. The Mexican government has failed to make its own findings available to its own people with the exception of INE/CONABIO's reports. We know nothing more about the extent of GM contamination in other Mexican states. No new regulations have been put in place. Neither Mexico, CGIAR, nor FAO have undertaken any new studies on the impact of GM contamination in a center of crop diversity. No studies have been undertaken on the legal implications of the diffusion of patented traits in farmers' fields. We have no additional information on strategies to prevent contamination from entering gene banks. No wider studies have taken place anywhere in the world regarding the possibilities of contamination in other centers of diversity for other crops.

Ironically, the biotech industry is pushing for an end to the GM moratorium in Mexico, at the very time it is imposing new regulations to contain gene flow north of the border. In a desperate attempt to pre-empt public concerns over leaky genes, the biotech industry announced this week that it would adopt a voluntary moratorium on the planting of "Generation3" pharma crops - crops genetically modified to produce drugs or chemicals or plastics - in major food-producing regions of the United States and Canada. Industry's move to impose voluntary restrictions on the location of pharma crops demonstrates that GM pollution poses a serious risk. For the Gene Giants, the primary concern is not biosafety, but the need to avert a public relations disaster. One industry representative told the Washington Post, "I think we can all agree that industry cannot afford StarLink II." But industry concerns apparently do not extend to Africa and Latin America.

Farmers and biodiversity continue to be threatened. The Gene Giants have successfully "contained" the GM debate. If only the biotech industry were as successful containing its genes!

For further information:
Hope Shand: 1 (919) 960-5223 EST
Silvia Ribeiro: (52) 5555-63-26-64 CST


Demon Seed

by Margaret Wertheim
LA Weekly - Quark Soup
September 13 - 19, 2002

Can the Exorcist save us from genetically modified foods, or is it another freak in disguise?

STRANGE THINGS ARE HAPPENING among the corn rows, quite apart from crop circles. More and more foreign bits of DNA are being woven into our food supply: viral DNA, bacterial DNA and insect DNA are now routinely engineered into crops destined for the table. Asleep at the wheel for decades and largely ignorant of modern farm practice, consumers are finally waking up to the less than delectable reality of industrial food production. The question is, If we shouldn't have to inhale secondhand smoke, why should we be forced to ingest secondhand genes?

Zambians don't think they should be, and so recently rejected U.S. food aid because the offer included genetically modified maize. Vying for the Marie Antoinette "Let Them Eat Cake!" award, a USAID representative declared that "Beggars cannot be choosers." But Zambians fear that their own crops could be contaminated with foreign genes, polluting native strains and damaging exports to nations that do not want GM produce. When asked about the matter at the World Summit in Johannesburg, U.S. delegation head John Turner claimed that the United States does not use aid as a political weapon; nonetheless he added, in a masterpiece of coded understatement, "We leverage our assistance to our expectations."

No technological innovation except nuclear power has engendered more public disapprobation than genetically modified food, particularly in Europe, where the anti-GM movement is huge. Yet in the U.S., GM food is a fait accompli: Close to 100 million acres of GM crops will be planted here this year, and 60 percent of items on the average supermarket shelf already contain GM ingredients. Unless you're growing your own, chances are you are eating "frankenfoods" at pretty much every meal. Now, you might think, as many Europeans clearly do, that the right to know what you are eating is pretty fundamental, but in that case you'd have failed to appreciate the force of the trade winds blowing across the Atlantic.

In March, the U.S. muscled through the Codex Alimentarius Commission -- a U.N. panel that adjudicates issues about international food trade -- a ruling that consumers have no intrinsic right to know if food they are eating ultimately derives from genetically modified plants. Under intense pressure from the U.S., supported by its usual flunky Australia, the CAC rejected calls from the European Union to allow governments to demand genetic "traceability" of GM foods. Disclosure of genetic heritage will be required only "when a risk to human health has been identified." The Codex's acquiescence to the U.S. lobby was a triumph for Monsanto and its Big Biotech buddies, as well as for the forces of globalization, who will brook no speed bumps on the drag strips of international commerce. In effect, the CAC ruling has made it a trade violation to embargo GM produce.

As the last few rounds of WTO talks proved, and as the meeting in Johannesburg has confirmed, if you're a big, rich nation, stand-over tactics will get you everywhere. Still, the biotech industry is aware of the GM public-relations nightmare, and now one of its own scientists has proposed a solution that he believes will make everyone happy. Dubbed "Exorcist," this clever genetic trick would snip out all foreign genes from a plant before the crop is harvested -- agricultural producers could get the benefit of GM strains, but consumers would still eat au naturel (more or less).

In the land of having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too, Exorcist is as nifty a concept as they come. The idea was dreamed up and presented earlier this year in the journal Nature Biotechnology by Pim Stemmer, vice president of research at the Redwood, California, company Maxygen, and his colleague Robert Keenan. Exorcist is made possible by a little protein called Cre that comes from a bacterial virus. Cre acts like a pair of molecular scissors that snip out any DNA that lies between two special DNA markers called loxP. Stemmer's notion is that whenever scientists insert a foreign gene into a plant they would also insert the genes for Cre and loxP. Snipping out the foreign genes can then be triggered by another gene called a "promoter" that turns the Cre/loxP mechanism on or off when needed. Stemmer has even proposed a modification so you could delete all traces of the Exorcist genes themselves. The deleted DNA forms little loops that quickly break down or are diluted to undetectable levels -- that's the theory, at any rate.

EXORCIST IS A HIGH-TECH SOLUTION to a high-tech problem, and it's pretty darn ingenious. But then, so was Olestra. You remember Olestra, the fat substitute that mimicked the creamy taste and silky-smooth feel of real fat but that wouldn't make you fat. Several years ago, this fat-free fat was touted as the final solution to America's ever-expanding waistline.

But as they say, there are no free lunches. The problem with Olestra was what the manufacturers coyly termed "anal leakage." Since the fat wasn't going onto your waist, it had to go somewhere, and where it went was straight through your system and into your bowels -- and, well, out again. After a good helping of Olestra, a person better have Depends on.

If Olestra was meant to be fat-free fat, what we're being sold with Exorcist is GM-free genetic modification -- in other words, another brilliant invention from the department of wishful thinking. Stemmer is right in that the Cre/loxP system can excise foreign genes, but how efficient is this mechanism? One researcher whose work Stemmer cites notes that while Exorcist can be extremely effective in plant tissues such as leaves, in his experiments on seeds it has had a high failure rate. David Ow at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plant Gene Expression Center in Albany, California, has also shown that even when foreign genes are deleted they can mysteriously persist inside a plant's cells -- a ghost in the genetic machine. Ow doesn't know how this works, but these gene wraiths are clearly still haunting the organism.

Norman Ellstrand, a professor of genetics at the University of California, Riverside, warns that we must be careful of such high-tech mechanisms, which may work well in one environment but not necessarily in another. Ellstrand worries that while a technology like Exorcist might be effective in a U.S. field, that would not guarantee it'd work in the highlands of Mexico, say. Since vast amounts of U.S. grain are exported to Mexico and other places, we would have to be sure that any such genetic mechanisms would function properly under all potential field conditions.

For most GM opponents, moreover, the primary problem is not toxicological, it's political. Sure, there's concern about the health risks of foreign genes (such as when the gene for a protein that causes Brazil-nut allergy got into a GM soybean), but a desire for culinary caution is not the driving energy behind the anti-GM movement. To those of us who are skeptical about genetic modification of our food supply, the real question is not how to make this technology safer, but whether we should be using it at all. You only need an exorcist if you let the demons in.

Opposition to GM crops is first and foremost a political stance against the industrialization of our food supply and the takeover of agriculture by big business. Exorcist will do nothing to allay these concerns. Indeed, it only exacerbates the problem by piling on yet more genetic modifications, thereby increasing agricultural reliance on proprietary technology that enriches a few mega-corporations at the expense of small farmers the world over. That is why in 1998 Zambia and a dozen other African nations endorsed a statement to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's negotiations on "The International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources" declaring that any science imported to help alleviate the continent's food problems "should be building on local knowledge, rather than replacing and destroying it."

The very soul of agriculture is at stake here; what we need is not some genetic conjurer with a magic disappearing wand, but a serious social debate about how our food is produced and what price we are prepared to pay for a GM-free tomato.


U.S. Media Opinion Pages Present Biased View of Biotech, According to a Study by Food Policy Think Tank

For Immediate Release
April 29, 2002
Contact: Nick Parker
(510) 654-4400, ext 229

(OAKLAND, CA, April 29, 2002) Thirteen of the largest newspapers and magazines in the United States have all but shut out criticism of genetically modified (GM) food and crops from their opinion pages, according to a new report by Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy.

The report, Biotech Bias on the Editorial and Opinion Pages of Major United States Newspapers and News Magazines, found an overwhelming bias in favor of GM foods not only on editorial pages, but also on op-ed pages, a forum usually reserved for a variety of opinions. In fact, the report found that some newspapers surveyed did not publish a single critical op-ed on GM foods and crops, while publishing several in support.

"It is a great disservice to the American public when the media filters out critical viewpoints on issues that are central to our times," said Anuradha Mittal, co-director of Food First/The Institute for Food and Development Policy. "This is an issue where there is significant difference of opinion among both scientists and the general public," she said, "and those differences must be represented in the media if the public is to be able to exercise its democratic right to make informed decisions about new technologies."

The report investigated 11 newspapers and three weekly news magazines between September 1999 and August 2001. Out of 40 op-eds, 31 supported GM foods and crops while only seven were critical. Two op-eds argued for labeling of GM foods. Newspaper editorials were united in supporting GM foods and crops and only diverged on the issue of labeling.

The papers surveyed were: The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Houston Chronicle, Newsday (New York), The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. The newsweekly magazines were: Time, Newsweek, and The Economist.

The report is based on searches conducted on the Nexis database using the search term "bioengineered foods or genetically modified foods or genetically engineered foods or biotechnology. The findings were reduced to "editorial or op-ed or opinion or commentary."


Mice Prefer Non-GM

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho reporting

A Dutch farmer left two piles of maize in a barn infested with mice, one pile GM, the other non GM. The GM pile was untouched, while the non GM pile was completely eaten up. Incredible! Young undergraduate Hinze Hogendoorn devised his own laboratory tests and confirmed the finding, and more. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho reports from her recent visit to Hilversum near Amsterdam, where he lives with his mum. Mum Guusje is very proud of her son, though she waited until he took the train back to University College, Utrecht, to tell me about it. A young activists group (Jongeren Milieu Aktief) presented the report Hinze has written to the Dutch parliament on 11 December, and is featuring it on their new website (

Hinze couldn't find a single scientific report on animals being tested for preference of GM versus non GM food on the web when he began. On extending his search to effects of GM foods on animals, he came across reports from companies developing GM foods, all declaring there were no adverse impacts. But he also came across independent researchers who have reported harmful effects, including Dr. Arpad Pusztai, who found GM potatoes damaged the kidney, thymus, spleen and gut of young rats. Hinze was disturbed, not just by the scientific findings, but by the fact that scientists opposing the big companies are so easily discredited. "Personally, I'm afraid these companies have too much interest invested in their products for their research to be creditable." That was another motivation for him to do his own experiments.

The 17 year-old was stumped at first, because he would have needed to go through a lot of bureaucracy to experiment on animals. However, he managed to rescue 30 female six-week old mice bred to feed snakes from a herpetology centre. The next problem was to find the appropriate food. He went to a website on the care of mice. Mice eat about 15% of their body weight every day, and they need a diverse diet. So he decided to give them a staple food along with the two foods that were to be compared, so they could really show their preference without being starved. For the staple, he used Rodent mix from the pet store, as well as some oatmeal and cereals guaranteed by their producers (Kellogg's and Quaker's) to be 'GM-free' in the Netherlands. For GM foods, he used maize and soya, and the corresponding organically grown versions as non GM. Water was supplied for the mice to drink as they pleased. And he kept track of all the food consumed each day.

Large cages were used so the mice had plenty of room to move around. At the beginning, all the mice were weighed before they were put into the cage with four bowls containing GM and non GM maize meal, and GM and non GM soya meal respectively. The mice had not eaten for some time, but amazingly, they already showed very definite food preferences. The didn't like soya meal at all, GM or non GM, and only one mouse was found feeding on non GM soya meal for one minute in the 10 minutes they were observed. In the same period, 4 to 8 mice could be found in the bowl with non GM maize, compared to 1 to 3 in the bowl with GM maize.

For the next week, Hinze continued to give the mice GM and non GM maize or soya chunks (which they did eat) in addition to their staple food, and measured the amount of each consumed daily over the next week. In all nine successive observations, more non GM was eaten than GM for maize or soya. In sum, the mice consumed 61% non GM and 39% GM food when given free choice. The results were highly significant, even though Hinze did not perform the statistical test.

For the next experiment, Hinze tested for the effects of GM food. By this time, however, one mouse had died for unknown reasons. So he removed another mouse from the experiment, assigned 14 to the group fed GM food and 14 to the group fed non GM food after weighing them. Over the next 10 days, he kept track of the amount of food that the two groups consumed each day, and weighed the mice, halfway through and at the end of the experiments.

The group fed GM ate more, probably because they were slightly heavier on average to begin with, but they gained less weight. By the end, they actually lost weight. In contrast, the group fed non GM ate less and gained more weight, continuing to gain weight until the end of the experiment. The results were statistically significant.

That was not the only difference observed. There were marked behavioural differences, though Hinze admitted, these were "subjective" and not quantitative. The mice fed GM food "seemed less active while in their cages". The differences in activity between the two cages grew as the experiment progressed, the mice in the non-GM cage were in the exercise wheel more often than those in the GM cage. Hinze also noticed that each time he came into the room, there tended to be more mice in the non GM cage walking or climbing around than in the GM cage.

The most striking difference was when the mice were weighed at the end of the experiment. The mice fed GM food were "more distressed" than the other mice. "Many were running round and round the basket, scrabbling desperately in the sawdust, and even frantically jumping up the sides, something I'd never seen before." They were clearly more nervous than the mice from the other cage. "For me this was the most disconcerting evidence that GM food is not quite normal."

Another "interesting result" is that one of the mice in the GM cage was found dead at the end of the experiment.

He concluded, "At the end of everything, I must admit that the experiment has done nothing to soothe my qualms concerning genetically enhanced food." His results "do seem to agree with Pusztai's".

Hinze is tall and athletic, and definitely doesn't like GM food. He is pleased to have found all that out for himself, and suggests everyone should do the same.

He has put the scientists to shame, especially those who have condemned Pusztai's work, but have done nothing since to add to our knowledge.

The Institute of Science in Society
PO Box 32097,
London NW1 OXR
Tel: 44-20-8731-7714


The Food Police?

Center for Science in the Public Interest Got Big Bucks to Flack for GE Foods

PRWATCH: Last year Michael Jacobson's Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI, also known as "the food police") received $200,000 from the pro-biotechnology Rockefeller Foundation to be a moderate voice in the raging debate over genetically engineered (GE) foods. CSPI has since made many statements very favorable to GE foods and recently called for government action against companies marketing non-GE foods. Ironically, CSPI's Integrity in Science Project criticizes and reveals the special interest funding and agendas of other nonprofit organizations.

Apparently the food police don't see accepting a $200,000 grant to flack for GE food as a "competing interest" to their own objectivity and scientific integrity.

This is an excerpt from the CSPI press release targeting organic food companies:

"The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) today asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take enforcement action against seven food manufacturers whose product labels deceive consumers with false or misleading claims about the absence of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

"CSPI's complaint concerns Polaner's All Fruit Spreads, Earth's Best Baby Foods, Healthy Times Oatmeal with Banana Cereal, Van's Organic Waffles, Spectrum Canola Oil, Bearitos Tortilla Chips, and Erewhon Wheat Flakes. CSPI is not concerned about the quality or safety of the products, but charges that their labels violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and FDA's guidance about labeling foods for GE content. . .

"'Consumers want information about GE ingredients in their foods, but that information should be presented in an accurate and non-disparaging manner,' said Gregory Jaffe, co-director of CSPI's Biotechnology Project. 'These labels bear false or misleading statements such as "No GMO's" that take unfair advantage of consumer concerns and lack of knowledge about GE crops. The labels imply that the absence of GE ingredients makes the products superior, when that is not the case.' FDA, the American Medical Association, and many other health organizations have determined that GE crops are as safe to eat as traditionally bred crops. In fact, traditionally bred crops may be treated with more pesticides, or more dangerous pesticides than their bioengineered counterparts.

". . . Given many consumers' innate skepticism of any new technology, CSPI said that manufacturers must be careful not to mislead consumers. 'FDA needs to send a clear message to manufacturers that label statements need to be both accurate and not imply superiority,' added Jaffe. Anticipating the day when biotechnology is used to provide consumer benefits, CSPI's letter also urged the FDA to guard against deceptive claims about such benefits. 'The FDA should nip this growing problem in the bud.'"

This is from the Agribusiness Examiner, #126, 9/27/01

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