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Bee learning behaviour affected by consumption of Bt Cry1Ab toxina
Bee learning behaviour affected by consumption of Bt Cry1Ab toxin The Bioscience Resource Project News Service, 21 October 2008

Concerns over bees, especially the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) have rarely been higher. Although there are few hard data there is a general consensus that both solitary and social bee populations are declining and that recently the still-mysterious colony collapse disorder (CCD) has dramatically worsened this situation. No definitive cause for CCD has yet been established but there is widespread agreement that CCD is caused by more than one factor (Calderone, 2008 ; Oldroyd, 2007).

One of the speculated contributors to this decline is transgenic crops and specifically those containing Bt proteins since these are insect-active toxins to which bees are exposed through various routes. In particular, bee larvae are exposed since they consume large quantities of pollen which they sometimes source from maize plants (Sabugosa-Madeira et al. 2007). Up to now however there has been no specific evidence that any Bt toxin has negative effects on bees, but equally such studies have been rare. Particularly lacking are studies on sub-lethal effects of Bt toxins on bees.

In the view of many, there is clear evidence from laboratory settings that Bt toxins can affect non-target organisms. Usually, but not always, affected organisms are closely related to intended targets (reviewed in Lovei and Arpaia 2005 and Hilbeck and Schmidt 2006). Typically, exposure is through the consumption of plant parts such as pollen or plant debris or through Bt ingested by their predatory food choices. Nevertheless, due to significant data gaps, the real-world consequences of Bt transgenics remains unclear.

Thus the lepidopteran-active Cry1Ab is, not unexpectedly, toxic to some butterflies (e.g. Losey et al 1999 and Lang and Vojtech 2006) while more distantly-related organisms affected by Cry1Ab are ladybird larvae, caddisflies and Daphnia Magna (Rosi-Marshall et al 2007; Bøhn et al 2008; Schmidt et al 2008). Other variants of Bt, such as Cry3Bb, are considered coleopteran-active but have been the subject of less research. Nevertheless, these may also affect non-target coleopterans such as ladybird larvae as well as more distantly related organisms such as lacewings (Hilbeck and Schmidt 2006; Schmidt et al 2008).

A recent paper adds to the non-target story by demonstrating that honey bees fed on the active form of purified Cry1Ab protein can be affected in the learning responses necessary to associate nectar sources with odourants (Ramirez-Romero et al 2008). This learning response is important in bee foraging behaviour and it has attracted the attention of CCD researchers since it is known to be inhibited by the insecticide imidacloprid (e.g. Decourtye et al 2004). In this latest study bees consuming artificial nectar containing 5000ppb of Cry1Ab continued to respond positively to a learned odour even in the absence of a food reward, while normal bee behaviour is to become discouraged and seek more abundant food sources.

Left unstudied by the authors however was the likely mode of action of this behavioural effect. This is of considerable interest since the principal means of Bt lethality, which is thought to be a receptor-mediated effect on gut integrity, fails to explain the observed behavioural modification. The new finding is therefore particularly interesting since it lends weight to a previous suggestion that Bt toxins may have other, non-lethal effects which become apparent only when the normal (i.e. lethal) effect is absent (Hilbeck and Schmidt 2006; Schmidt et al. 2008). If there were to be multiple modes of Bt action then many more non-target organisms would likely be at risk from Bt transgenics.

The authors propose that bees are unlikely to be exposed to the quantity of Cry1Ab that led to the defects in behaviour they observed. However, this conclusion seems premature since Bt concentrations in plants are highly variable (Lorch and Then 2007). It is also probable that in real situations bees may be exposed earlier in their development and over longer periods. Bt Researcher Angelika Hilbeck believes that experiments simulating real-world bee experiences are still lacking. "What really needs to be looked at are combinations of both the Bt toxin AND imidacloprid and not Bt toxin OR imidacloprid, and in a form that simulates the exposure routes in the field".

Bøhn T., Primicerio R., Hessen D.O., Traavik T. (2008) Reduced Fitness of Daphnia magna Fed a Bt-Transgenic Maize Variety. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 55:584-92

Decourtye A.; Armengaud C., Renouc M.; Devillers J.; Cluzeau S.; Gauthier M. and Pham-Delègue M-H. (2004) Imidacloprid impairs memory and brain metabolism in the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.). Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology 78: 83-92

Hilbeck A. and Schmidt J.E.U. (2006) Another View on Bt Proteins – How Specific are They and What Else Might They Do? Biopestic. Int. 2: 1-50

Lang A. and Vojtech E. (2006) The effects of pollen consumption of transgenic Bt maize on the common swallowtail, Papilio machaon L. (Lepidoptera, Papilioni). Basic and Applied Ecology 7: 296-306

Lövei G.L. and Arpaia S. (2005) The impact of transgenic plants on natural enemies: a critical review of laboratory studies. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 114: 1-14

Lorch A. and Then C. (2007) How much Bt toxin do MON810 plants actually Produce? www.greenpeace.de/fileadmin/gpd/user_upload/themen/gentechnik/greenpeace_bt_maize_engl.pdf

Losey J.E. Rayor L.S.; and Carter M.E. (1999)Transgenic pollen harms monarch larvae Nature 399: 214

Oldroyd B. (2007) What's Killing American Honey Bees? PLoS Biol 5(6)

Ramirez-Romero R.; Desneux N.; Decourtye A.; Chaffiol A.; Pham-Delègue M.H. (2008)Does Cry1Ab protein affect learning performances of the honey bee Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera, Apidae)? Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 70:327-33

Rosi-Marshall, E.J.; J. L. Tank; T. V. Royer; M. R. Whiles; M. Evans-White; C. Chambers; N. A. Griffiths; J. Pokelsek and M. L. Stephen (2007) Toxins in transgenic crop byproducts may affect headwater stream ecosystems. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104: 16204–16208

Sabugosa-Madeira B.; Abreu I.; Ribeiro H. and Cunha M. (2007) Bt transgenic maize pollen and the silent poisoning of the hive Journal of Apicultural Research 46: 57-58

Schmidt J.E.; Braun C.U.; Whitehouse L.P.; Hilbeck A. Effects of Activated Bt Transgene Products (Cry1Ab, Cry3Bb) on Immature Stages of the Ladybird Adalia bipunctata in Laboratory Ecotoxicity Testing. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2008 Aug 20

Cotton crop problems - front page news 2.Bt cotton deaths - updates 3.Campaign against GM crops launched 4.Supreme Court orders restrictions on GM food imports 5.Mahyco denies sourcing seeds from university seed bank

NOTE: Depsite the constant claims by Monsanto-Mahyco that everything in India's GM cotton fields is lovely thanks to Bt cotton, there's a continual flow of information throwing such claims into question. (items 1 and 2)

"Blow to cotton crop with diseases" - front page news in Eenaadu

From Kavitha Kuruganti
Centre for Sustainable Agriculture
www.csa-india.org; www.indiagminfo.org

Yesterday Eenaadu, a leading telugu daily in Andhra Pradesh had a front page prominent story yesterday (21st October 2008) with the above headline. Given are some excerpts from this news report:

* Cotton farmers are in for a period of difficulties. Diseases are affecting cotton crop and the yields are declining.

* It is estimated that there would be a 40-50% decline in the cotton production estimated at 56 lakh bales this year.

* Mealy bug has spread extensively, along with tobacco caterpillar and wilting.

* Initially this season there were good rains and then there was a long dry spell. This was when the mealy bug attack started. Cropo in Adilabad, Khammam, Warangal, Karimnagar and Nalgonda districts is expected to yield less. It appears that farmers will not be able to recover their investments.

* The cost of crop protection has increased a lot this year. Farmers who resorted to herbicides spent nearly two thousand rupees an acre on that front; further, at least six sprays of pesticides so far have cost them more than three thousand rupees an acre on an average.

Kavitha Kuruganti

BT Cotton Deaths, Updates
Dr Sudhir Kumar Kaura

We reported earlier as well on ill effects of BT cotton (for earlier reports see www.kisanbachaoandolan.co.cc) but a recent visit to some villages in Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa districts of Haryana state has opened our eyes further:

Farmers of the area say that the problems in animals related to dislike of feed items containing cotton seeds like whole seed meals and cotton seed oilcake, prolapse of uterus, premature deliveries, sudden deaths of buffaloes, reduction in milk and fat content of milk, skin problems and many other previously not so common or rare problems in animals are rising. According to villagers and medical practioners, in humans as well skin related itching and eruptions and subsequent wounds are very common who work in BT cotton fields. People say that all these problems are coinciding with the introducton of BT cotton in the area.

I was shocked to know that the village Sarpanch (village head) of Dhansu Village of District Hisar, Haryana State says some persons in his village have suffered skin problems possibly due to BT cotton and they have invested lacs of Rupees. In the same village many animals have died and the farmers say that the cause they could not ascertain. But these problems have appeared only in last 2-3 years and in the same time BT cotton was introduced in the area. Moreover, a majority of animals in the area completely refuse to eat the BT cotton seed and oil cake. To add to the truth 1 out of 10 cows who were experimented upon by National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, India did not eat BT cotton seed based feed and it was forced to eat the same by mixing the feed with some tasty preparation (so if they have added an ingredient to make feed tasty and did not add the same ingredient in any other experimented or control group animals then this experiment is scientifically invalid, and I am qualified enough to declare it invalid-Dr Sudhir Kumar Kaura).

The problems in humans and animals is going nearly unreported in the media.
I hope someone would take care, though BBC TV and The Sunday Indian (Plan Man Media Publicatino) have covered it this month in our area. But it needs detail investigation, though we have made some videos and photographs and some of these would be soon available on www.kisanbachaoandolan.co.cc or can be requested at kisanbachaoandolan @ rediffmail.com

Farmers are very much scared due to sudden deaths of buffaloes in many villages in Hisar, Fatehabad and Bhiwani districts and many of them have sold their remaining animals due fear of further death and further economic loss. Due this phenomenon, price of Buffaloes has declined sharply in the market possibly due these reasons only.

Other farmers whom we met are as follows: (all of them are feeding their animals with cotton seeds or cotton oilcake purchased from market along with other feed items)

Chandi Ram Punia Village Talwandi Rana, Hisar District who lost four of his five buffaloes in few days time due to sudden death and the cause is unkown. He sold his remaining one buffalo due to the fear of death.

Indro wife of Dharam Pal, Village Dhansu, Hisar District said that her buffalo died suddenly though it was yielding 12 litres of milk per day. (One day prior to its death its milk yield was 14 liters and two day prior to death it yielded 16 litres)

Ram Niwas son of Prithvi Singh village Badopal, Fatehabad District [Phone 01667 285254 (Purushottam) 9728468472 (Anil)] says that his buffalo died recently due to problem in pregnancy.

Ram Phal son of Ami Lal, village Dulehri, Bhiwani District says that his buffalo delivered calf prematurely in 8.5 months only. And this type of problem has become widespread in the village this year. For last 3-4 years we are facing problems in animals says Ami Lal. Animals do not prefer to eat the cotton oil cake and cotton seeds. We do not know the reason but when the animals eat cotton seeds or cotton oil cake they fall ill. The cotton seeds and cotton oil cake also has affected fertility of animals in the sense that 1-2 years gap is often coming in the pregnancy cycle and young calves are dying in high numbers. Majority of animals have started delivering prematurely. This has resulted in decline in milk yield of animals and taste of milk is not up to the mark. Earlier we used to consume milk in high quantity but now we consume less milk due to not so good taste. Fat content of milk is also reduced and it has halved compared to past. For last 2-3 years problem of prolapse of uterus has also become widespread. Milk production and fat content of milk declines due to feeding of cotton oilcake and cotton seeds.

Satyavan son of Bhola Ram village Dulehri, Bhiwani District says, ‘In our village 50 per cent people have stopped feeding cotton seeds and cotton oilcake and have replace it by wheat. She Calves don’t conceive at right time and conception age has advanced up to 2 years. Abortion in animals has become very common. Milk yield is not as expected and sometime animals stopped producing milk after 6 months. Whether cow of buffalo, all animals are affected by this problem. Animals are not satisfied with the feed containing cotton seed and cotton seed oilcake. Cotton seeds of non-BT 'desi' cotton variety are liked by animals but they dislike cotton seeds and cotton oil cake which we bring from market especially from Hansi town and other towns. Animals readily feed on other feed material like wheat but don’t prefer cotton seeds and cotton oil cake. Milk production has declined by 50%.

In Kotli Village of Sirsa District Jagir Singh son of Ujagar Singh informed us that skin itching has increased in village dogs as well since the BT cotton has come in the village. In the same village Pawan Taneja son of Ram Swarup Taneja running medicine shop says that skin itching problem is rising in labors working in BT cotton fields. Only People who work in BT cotton fields are affected by skin problems. Though incident of any death due to BT cotton related skin problems is not there. Affected labors have to take medicine of Rs 150 for 3-4 days and the medicine has effect up to 15-20 days.

Mange Ram son of Prema Ram Thapan, village Badopal, Fatehabad District says that his buffalo was ill for last 9 months and he was feeding it 5 kg of cotton seeds per day. It yielded 14 kg of milk 1 hour before dying. No cause of death could be ascertained by the government or private veterinary doctors of the area. Sunita (age 42 years) of the same household says that she does not prefer to enter BT cotton fields due fear of skin itching and wounds which will not heal as she is affected by diabetes. Some of her relatives living in the same household have been badly affected by skin problems and wounds due to working in the BT cotton field.

Banwari Lal son of Brij Lal of Village Sadalpur, Hisar District (phone 9255521224, 9991573937) says his buffalo also died suddenly. Our team collected and submitted a sample of cotton seeds to Central Institute of Research on Buffalo, , Hisar which was part of feed of a dead buffalo owned by Banwari Lal son of Brij Lal, village Sadalpur, Hisar District (phone)(it died suddenly recently) in presence of representatives of The Sunday Indian Mr Anil Pandey, Principal Correspondent and Mr Sujan Singh, Photographer. A part of sample is with us and is available to anyone interested in analysis.

*Please note that most of the farmers do not understand English, so please talk to them in Hindi or Haryanavi. Some of them may understand Panjabi to some extent.

With kind regards,


Sudhir Kumar Kaura
Phone: 9354172987 and 01662229163 (from with in India),
00919354172987 and 00911662229163 (from outside India)

Sender's E-mail Address: sudhirkaura@rediffmail.com

Killer Bt. Cotton fails again in Vidarbha
Narendra Ch
Merinews, 19 October 2008

THE KILLER Bt.cotton has once gain failed in the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra as 60 per cent of the standing crop which was earlier affected by the mealy bug has now been destroyed by a "Lalya attack" that suddenly appeared in rain fed areas where standing Bt. cotton crop gets completely damaged.

The helpless farmers vexed with the government's lack of initiative are now threatening to go on a "fast unto death" agitation from October 26 demanding immediate action at least by opening centres for procurement to stop falling prices.

Meanwhile, nine more suicide by farmers has been reported in the last three days. This year the damage is much larger as areas under Bt.cotton cultivation is under more than 12 lakh hectares and losses are to the tune of Rs.2000 crore. All victims of farm suicides belong to backward Dalit and tribal families who were in debt and in acute financial crisis due to sudden crop failure.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishor Tiwari said the government also failed to come to the rescue of the farmers by providing remunerative price to their remaining crops. According to him in the last fortnight cotton prices have fallen from Rs.3200 per quintal to Rs.2300 per quintal and local traders have started cotton procurement below the minimum support price MSP.

He said the farmers are forced to sell the cotton at throw away prices in distress sales as the Maharashtra government failed to start its procurement centres on October 2 as announced earlier. In addition, there is no action at the level of the state run cotton marketing federation to start its centres before Diwali. He said that cotton growers will face huge losses resulting in more suicides in Vidarbha.

He said that if the government failed to procure the farmers' cotton at MSP then its move to raise the MSP would be ridiculed and will create more complications to the existing agrarian crisis.

2.Farmer suicides in Vidarbha
[taken from GMWatch's Weekly Watch 261]

Dr Julian Little of the biotech industry's Agricultural Biotechnology Council wrote to the Independent on Sunday to say Charles's claims [of suicides amongst Indian farmers growing GM crops] were emotive and not based on facts. So here are some facts for Dr Little to ponder.

*Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti, the farmers' NGO on the ground in Vidharbha, has consistently reported that it is Monsanto-Mahyco's Bt cotton that the majority of cotton farmers have been growing in Vidarbha who've taken their own lives. Vidarbha is the main cotton belt of Maharashtra - the state in India where there has been the biggest uptake of Bt cotton by farmers.

*The failure of Bt cotton in the main cotton growing area of Vidarbha has even been confirmed by the (pro-GM) Maharashtra agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Nagpur/Bt_cotton_has_failed_in_Vidarbha /

*Aruna Rodrigues, who led the recent public interest lawsuit to stop GM releases in India, included data on the suicide problem among Bt cotton farmers in sworn evidence before the Supreme Court of India.

*The terrible problems with Bt cotton have also been attested to by the world-renowned Indian development journalist Palagummi Sainath from his on the ground investigations and from official reports.

P Sainath has called the impact of Monsanto in Maharashtra "devatstaing" and the hyping of expensive Bt cotton seed to debt-laden farmers there who are overwhelmingly cultivating cotton in dry unirrigated conditions, "murderous... stupid... killing."

Feeding the World Conference

Feeding The World... Are GM Crops fit for Purpose? If not, then what?
Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, 12 November 2008

This conference will examine, searchingly and honestly, the claims and counter claims of one of the most critical issues of our time.

Defra Ministers recently declared support for the use of GM crops and have given opponents a year to come up with proof that they are harmful.

Yet, a major scientific study, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), has questioned the relevance of GM to food security and has called for a shift to agro-ecological food production.

But will that be enough? Is it possible to feed a growing population on a planet of finite and diminishing resources? This question, together with the claims and counter claims about the potential and limitations of GM cropping, as well as the status of agro-ecological alternatives will be examined by leading researchers and practitioners.

With the support and participation of charitable foundations, academics, researchers, NGOs, farmers and policy makers from the UK and abroad this conference brings a wide and challenging perspective to questions and issues too often mired in cliche and propaganda.

[Event details below]
Event details
The programme so far. Please visit again for more updates and news.

Are GM crops fit for purpose? If not, then what?

The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre London SW1P 3EE November 12th 2008

PROGRAMME (As at October 13th 2008 )
10.00 Registration and coffee

Session 1: Tackling the GM claims

Chair : Dr Jeremy Cherfas – Bioversity ROME 10.30 The UK Government’s case. (Minister invited)

11.00 Why GM technology is not going to deliver.
Dr Michael Antoniou Kings College LONDON

11.30 Why the GM route won't feed a hungry Africa Eric Kisiangani – Practical Action, Nairobi, Kenya

12.00 The inevitability of geneflow – environment and health risks.
Prof. Jack A Heinemann University of Auckland NZ

12.30 – 14.00 LUNCH

Session 2: Feeding the World
Chair: Prof. Dr. Hardy Vogtmann – President, Organic Research Centre

14.00 What is feeding the world and food security anyway. Are these realistic aims?
Dr Charlie Clutterbuck

14.30 Nutritional diversity and food-based approaches to malnutrition Dr Jeremy Cherfas Bioversity ROME

15.00 IAASTD critique of industrial agriculture & the relevance of small-scale agroecology.
Dr Janice Jiggins Wageningen University HOLLAND

15.30 Examples of successful agro-ecology Julia Wright Garden Organic (HDRA) UK

16.00 The Slow Food vision
Speaker from Slow Food UK (tbc)

16.30 Summing up
Prof. Dr. Hardy Vogtmann

16.45 Conference ends

Day tickets available at a supported rate of GBP65 including lunch, refreshments and conference pack.

Partners - why this event is important

Feeding the World Conference partners tell us why this event is so important to them. It is a big debate, with many issues, many questions and very few real answers.

"There is a breath-taking naivety about the belief that GM can be a silver bullet to solve all the problems agriculture is currently facing. All the energy the Government and the proponents of GM are currently investing in a renaissance of the debate about the benefits of GM is a distraction from the real issues."

"There is no evidence that GM crops increase yields, reduce pesticide use or bring any public benefits to society. And there is a growing body of evidence there could be health risks. There is also the genie out of the bottle argument that once these organisms are released you cannot recall them and the choice issue because the fact remains that the vast majority of consumers in Europe do not want to purchase GM foods if they can help it.”
- Patrick Holden, The Soil Association

"GM crops have failed to deliver the long-promised benefits of the biotech industry. Instead, increased pesticide use caused by these crops threatens the environment and communities around the world.”

"The biotech industry tells Africans that we need GM crops to tackle the food needs of our population. But the majority of GM crops are used to feed animals in rich countries, to produce damaging agrofuels, and don't even yield more than conventional crops."

- Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International GMO coordinator in Nigeria

"It is now clearer than ever that Europe is right to take a precautionary approach to GM crops. They are not the solution to the urgent environmental and economic challenges facing farmers both in Europe and in developing countries. More and more evidence is showing that around the world green farming methods are providing real solutions whilst boosting local economies and creating jobs.”

- Clare Oxborrow, Friends of the Earth’s GM Campaigner

"Quite simply, the GM route reinforces an outdated model of industrial, energy reliant agriculture, wholly unsuitable for adapting to and dealing with the conditions that climate change and expensive, scarce oil bring for global food security."

"Most importantly we have to ask if undue research and commercial focus on GM foods and crops is diverting our attention from the development of truly reliable alternatives of sustainable (organic) agriculture which are capable of feeding a hungry world today and tomorrow.”
- Richard Sanders, The Organic Research Centre

“World hunger and food shortage are complex issues largely social and economic in nature. There is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone, it's just that the economic system put in place by politicians has failed to ensure that that food reaches the people who need it most whilst other sectors of the population are becoming obese. The IAASTD process concluded that 'business as usual is not the answer' to world hunger…”

“The Government should stop listening to industry propaganda that is shamelessly trying to exploit the current food price rises – there is no evidence that GM crops have increased average yields. The reasons we have no GM crops in the UK are either that the Labour Government did not approve them or the industry withdrew approved crops on a voluntary basis.”

- Pete Riley, GM Freeze.

Report Shows Food Authority is Failing New Zealand GE Free NZ, 21 October 2008

A new report shows the food authority 'FSANZ' is undermining the rights of New Zealanders to choose safe food, as well as threatening our safety-record for exports.

The independent report into FSANZ's operations in Australia has revealed a damning record of complicity and compromise in maintaining food standards that are truly world-class, and which provide genuine safety testing of the food supply.

The report is endorsed by 10 international scientists, including New Zealand molecular biologist Dr Jack Heinemann, at the University of Canterbury.

It comes just weeks after New Zealand milk products destined for Korea were rejected because of melamine contamination. At the time a spokesperson from the Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) Sandra Daley dismissed the issue and said the low levels of melamine did not trigger any concerns for New Zealand's Food Authorities.

This astonishing response, coming on the heals of Fonterra's San Lu contamination incident, shows staff at the NZFSA and FSANZ have failed to realise that both Australia and New Zealand must be able to meet the highest food safety standards in the world to protect our people and export reputations.

"We cannot have our Food Authorities dismissing other country's standards as 'too stringent': we have to match and exceed them, or we will be seen as second-rate commodity-exporters," says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

The new report into FSANZ reveals that the Authority has been selling people short in terms of consumer choice and protection from GE imports. The contents of the study are a wake-up call to government on both sides of the Tasman that our food supply has been hijacked and is open to dangerous compromise by overseas interests.

It was already clear that the New Zealand government has been dismissive of consumer rights by refusing to allow country-of-origin labeling that Australian's have secured. But it is now more than ironic that the statutory requirement of the food authorities to “promote trade” is threatening the economic wellbeing of our export-based economies.

"The actions and policies revealed in the report constitute an astonishing betrayal of the public interest in a world where Australia and New Zealand food systems need to be genuinely clean, green, ethical and safe for consumers at home and abroad," says Jon Carapiet.

"They have sold out the consumer on protection from GE foods, and the fear is that they will sell out our export reputation by compromising standards down to the lowest common denominator.”

Despite the warning of The Australian Insurance Council that food manufacturers could face 'asbestos-style' lawsuits in decades ahead arising from the use of GE foods, FSANZ has continued to approve them into the food chain. Yet there is no public health monitoring of the effects on consumers, so doctors cannot even know if a diet-related factor is at work in disease.

The UK government proposed 'tracking' of consumers of GE foods by monitoring their supermarket purchases using loyalty cards, much as people use at Foodtown and Woolworth's in New Zealand.

"The New Zealand government may have once expressed an interest in this approach to public health monitoring of GE foods but as far as we know there is absolutely no tracking or monitoring of health effects in our populations," says Jon Carapiet. "There is nothing at all.”

The report highlights facts that give the lie to FSANZ's misleading claims about their scientific and rigorous approach to GE food testing.

These facts include:

-No standardised testing for GE foods

-Failure to phase out the use of antibiotic-resistance marker genes

-Inadequate assessment of potential toxicity, and allergens

-Reliance on industry data which is notoriously unreliable

-No monitoring of the effects of eating GE food

The report also warns that the rapid commercialisation of Genetic Engineering may be fundamentally flawed. The report cites Prof.Jack Heinemann as saying: “The real worry for us has always been that the commercial agenda for biotech may be premature, based on what we have long known was an incomplete understanding of genetics. Because gene patents and the genetic engineering process itself are both defined in terms of genes acting independently, regulators may be unaware of the potential impacts arising from these network effects.”

New Zealanders and Australians deserve better from those people at FSANZ and the NZFSA appointed as watchdogs, paid by the public purse, and trusted to genuinely care for the integrity of the food supply.


Jon Carapiet - 0210507681


Eating in the Dark - How Australia's food regulator is failing us on genetically engineered food. Greenpeace Australia Pacific, October 2008

VERMONT: Compass school considers saying no to GMO's
Compass School

International bestselling author, Jeffery Smith is a man with a mission. His Institute educates people about the documented health risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and provides them with healthier non-GMO choices. Last week, he was focused on school lunch as he brought his message of this environmental and social injustice to the Compass School in Westminster, Vermont. He explained to a group of 100 students, teachers, and community members how dangerous "Franken-Foods" have snuck into our school lunches. And he has a plan for Compass students to fight back against this invisible monster.
Compass senior Max Schadt said that Smith's visit, "Motivated and inspired me to make changes in my own eating habits and to start working with other individuals and communities to help eliminate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from all food."
One of the foremost authorities on Genetically Modified (GM) food in the world, Smith captivated the Compass audience as he shared meticulously documented risks of consuming food that contains hidden GMOs. Smith explained that GM plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola have had foreign genes forced into their DNA which come from bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that have never before been in the human food supply. Since 1996 Americans have been eating GM ingredients in most processed foods. The FDA has ignored dozens of laboratory studies linking GMOs to thousands of toxic and allergic reactions producing sick, sterile and dead livestock with damage t o virtually every organ studied.
Compass junior Zoe Reichsman said, "I was shocked to learn about the manipulation and corruption of our country's government agencies. The FDA has a responsibility to Americans to give us food that is known to be safe!" Smith explained that the FDA does not require any safety evaluations for GMOs. Safety testing is left up to the very Bio-Tech companies that design and engineer these products for mass food production and consumption. After a wave of consumer concern about GMOs swept Europe in 1999, within a single week virtually every major food manufacture committed to remove GM ingredients from their products.
"It's chilling to realize that our school children have been abandoned by the very government agencies assigned to protect their health and well-being. The lack of regulation on GM foods is potentially allowing the sacrifice of our children's health in the interest of profits for big business. Who will protect the school childre n of our nation from these Bio-Tech bullies?"asked Compass school teacher Amah Greenstein.

Engineering a False Hope
By Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Mother Earth News, OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2008

*Sustainable agriculture, not genetic engineering, may be the answer to the world’s growing food needs.*

The recent spike in food prices, as well as concerns about what the future may hold, are weighing on the minds of people across the globe. The biotech industry is exploiting such worries and claiming, contrary to evidence, that genetically engineered (GE) crops must be accepted to help the world feed itself. The industry hopes to use these scare tactics to expand into the many countries, especially in Europe and the East, that have wisely rejected GE foods because their human health and environmental safety have not yet been assessed.

After 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, GE crops have a track record that allows us to evaluate their performance. So far, there has been little progress in achieving important goals such as increased yields, better stress (drought) tolerance and improved sustainability in the form of decreased need for fertilizers, tilling and pesticides. Moreover, food safety and environmental risks from genetic engineering also remain to be addressed.

The most widely grown genetically engineered crop in the United States, herbicide-tolerant soybeans, has not increased yield above its conventional counterparts, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) trend data and numerous field studies. Insect-resistant GE crops have sometimes indirectly improved yields, but such yield increases have been modest, and recent studies suggest that much of the apparent improvements may instead be due to advances in conventional breeding. New insights from our growing knowledge of crop genetics are improving these conventional breeding techniques — without genetic engineering.

What about environmental benefits? Those, too, have been modest at best. Overall pesticide use (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) has not been reduced through genetic engineering. In fact, some weeds have developed a resistance to the herbicide used with GE crops, which forces greater overall herbicide use and cancels out the decreased insecticide use from insect-resistant GE crops.

In many cases we can accomplish the same or better results at less expense by applying the science of agroecology. Insecticide use can be reduced by increased crop rotation. Soil erosion and degradation can be reduced by planting cover crops between seasons and decreasing tillage. These and other practices improve soil condition, which thereby retains more water, helping crops through droughts. Many of these issues are discussed in a recently published report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, an organization sponsored by the World Bank and The United Nations.

Finally, to the extent that genetic engineering may provide benefits in the future, it must be adequately regulated to ensure food safety and protect the environment. Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only a voluntary regulatory process for GE food safety, and the USDA was criticized in 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences for insufficient scientific rigor in its environmental safety assessments. Its own inspector general severely criticized its regulatory apparatus in 2005. The USDA is revising its regulations, but current drafts do not adequately address previous criticisms.