GE INFORMATION BULLETIN
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Posted in Genetic Engineering | Tagged Genetic Engineering
GE implementation in the US is suffering a run of bad news. There
is ongoing fallout from last years’ rice contamination, including
the California Rice Commission rejecting field trials of GE rice,
and concerns from importers in Mexico and elsewhere about the
ability of US producers to keep experimental GE crops secure. The
USDA has been admonished twice by the courts for less than
adequate environmental reports, with an order to halt further
field trials until sorted. The court cases relate to herbicide
resistant grass and alfalfa, both Monsanto products. Meanwhile
the US Patent Office has rejected a Monsanto patent that is key
to licencing its technology to farmers.
In India an anthropological study of a GE cotton growing region
shows that novelty and marketing rather than selection skills
were reasons that farmers switched to GE cotton.
� IN THIS ISSUE:
> Importers Question Purity Of US Crops
> Is Growing Bt Cotton Merely A Fad?
> Key Monsanto Patent Rejected
> EU May Reconsider GM Labelling
> US Courts Critical Of USDA GM Approvals
> China: No Commercial Production Of GM Rice
> US Rice Contamination Crises Continues
> The Rice With Human Genes
> Rice Board Spurns Biotech
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Bulletin at http://www.geinfo.org.nz/
IMPORTERS QUESTION PURITY OF US CROPS
The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2007�� (USA)
Recent breakdowns in the system meant to keep experimental GE
plants from contaminating the hundreds of millions of acres of
crops grown in the US has farmers and import markets questioning
the purity of US goods.
Mexico, the largest foreign market for US rice, sent tremors
through the US sector midmonth when it stopped shipments on the
border out of concern the US can’t keep its experimental
transgenic long-grain rice out of commercial crops.
California’s medium-grain rice growers have demanded a statewide
moratorium on any biotech field trials to avoid the contamination
recently plaguing long-grain growers.
Full item: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/042007/01.html
IS GROWING BT COTTON MERELY A FAD?
The Hindu, February 13, 2007�� (India)
In his study published in Current Anthropology, Glenn Davis Stone
explores how the arrival of GM crops has affected farmers in
developing countries, taking Warangal, a key cotton growing
district of Andhra Pradesh known for suicides by farmers, as an
example. In 2003 to 2005, the market share of Bt cottonseed rose
from 12 per cent to 62 per cent in Warangal. [Monsanto] has been
interpreting the rapid spread as the result of farmer
experimentation and management skill.
But Mr. Stone’s multiyear ethnography shows an unexpected pattern
of “localized cottonseed fads.” Rather than a case of careful
assessment and adoption, Warangal was plagued by a severe
breakdown of the “skilling” process by which farmers normally
hone their management practices, he argues.
The seed fads had virtually no environmental basis, and farmers
generally lacked recognition of what was actually being planted,
a striking contrast to the highly strategic seed selection
processes in areas where technological change is learned and
gradual. According to him, farmers’ desire for novelty
exacerbates the turnover of seeds in the market, and the firms
frequently take seeds that have fallen out of favour, rename
them, and sell them again with new marketing campaigns.
“On the surface, [Warangal] appears to be a dramatic case of
successful adoption of an innovation,” Stone explains.
Full item: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/042007/02.html
KEY MONSANTO PATENT REJECTED
Commercial Appeal, March 4, 2007�� (USA)
The US Patent and Trademark Office has rejected a key patent in
Monsanto’s Roundup Ready arsenal, possibly stripping the
agribusiness giant of its power to license the technology to
farmers. Monsanto has the right to appeal the decision or try to
reach a compromise by reducing the breadth of the patent.
“The notion that a company can get a utility patent on a plant is
new and controversial,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst
at the Center for Food Safety. “A utility patent is for a
mechanical invention. For decades, it didn’t apply to plants
because they are not inventions.”
Full item: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/042007/03.html
EU MAY RECONSIDER GM LABELLING
Bridges Trade BioRes, Vol. 7 No. 3, February 16, 2007�� (EU)
On 8 February Greenpeace submitted a petition to EU Health
Commissioner Markos Kyprianou signed by one million EU citizens
demanding compulsory labelling of milk, eggs, meat, and other
products produced by animals fed with GM crops. The EU currently
requires processed foods to be labelled if they contain over 0.9
percent GM ingredients, however it leaves products derived from
animals raised on GM feed from any labelling requirements.
More than 90 percent of the EU’s imports of GM crops are used in
Upon receiving the petition, Commissioner Kyprianou said “A
petition supported by one million citizens shows strong interest
in this issue. We will look into the matter again. We will look
into the science … to see if what is asked of us would be
justified.” Until now, The European Commission has not considered
such labelling necessary.
Full item: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/042007/04.html
US COURTS CRITICAL OF USDA GM APPROVALS
Bridges Trade BioRes, Vol. 7 No. 3, February 16, 2007�� (USA)
US federal courts have handed down two decisions in the last
weeks chiding the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for not
properly evaluating the environmental impact of GE crops before
permitting field trials. The courts ordered the USDA to halt
approval of all new field trials of GE crops until more thorough
environmental reviews are conducted, and ruled that past
approvals were illegal.
The first case, decided on 5 February, involved trials of
herbicide-resistant grasses manufactured by Monsanto and the
Scotts Company. A second ruling was handed down on 14 February
over Roundup Ready alfalfa, also manufactured by Monsanto.
Plaintiff’s in the second case said they would ask for an
injunction on future sales or plantings of the modified alfalfa.
Monsanto said it would explore its legal options.
Both cases were filed by a coalition of farmers, consumers, and
environmentalists led by the Center for Food Safety. They allege
that the major threat of genetically engineered crops is genetic
drift, whereby pollen from the modified plant can transfer traits
to organic crops and native plants from wind, workers clothes, or
Full item: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/042007/05.html
CHINA: NO COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION OF GM RICE
Xinhua, February 25, 2007�� (China)
China, the world’s top rice producer, has shelved proposals for
commercial production of GM rice for the fourth time since 2004,
but has given the green signal for experimental cultivation of a
A national committee for safety of GM food has shelved the
commercial production of GM rice in November 2006, the Beijing
‘The application was rejected because some safety-related data
were missing,’ said Lu Baorong, a member of the State Committee
for the Safety of Agricultural Transgenic living Things.
Full item: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/042007/06.html
US RICE CONTAMINATION CRISES CONTINUES
Bridges Trade BioRes, Vol. 7 No. 5, March 16, 2007�� (USA)
Unauthorised GM material has again contaminated US rice.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, seed of CL131 - an
approved GM rice variety - contains “trace levels of genetic
material not yet approved for commercialisation.” The
unauthorised genetic material in question is LLRICE601, developed
by Bayer CropScience. The discovery of trace levels of the same
material led to Japan and EU halting rice imports from US at the
end of the 2006 growing season. Now, the USDA is asking farmers
and seed dealers to destroy the contaminated seed or planted
Meanwhile, Mexico, the largest buyer of US rice, has halted
imports at the border. Again, the reason is potential LLRICE601
contamination, with the Mexican government asking for
certification that their rice imports are uncontaminated.
Full item: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/042007/07.html
THE RICE WITH HUMAN GENES
The Daily Mail, March 5, 2007�� (UK)
The first GM food crop containing human genes is set to be
approved for commercial production. The rice produces some of the
human proteins found in breast milk and saliva.
Its US developers say they could be used to treat children with
diarrhoea, a major killer in the Third World.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Clare Oxborrow said: “Using food
crops and fields as glorified drug factories is a very worrying
development. If these pharmaceutical crops end up on consumers’
plates, the consequences for our health could be devastating. The
biotech industry has already failed to prevent experimental GM
rice contaminating the food chain.”
In the US, the Union of Concerned Scientists, a policy advocacy
group, warned: “There would be little control over the doses
people might get exposed to, and some might be allergic to the
As well as the contamination fears there are serious ethical
concerns about such a fundamental interference with the building
blocks of life. Yet there is no legal means for Britain and
Europe to ban such products on ethical grounds.
Full item: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/042007/08.html
RICE BOARD SPURNS BIOTECH
Sacramento Bee, March 15, 2007�� (USA)
The California Rice Commission on Wednesday called for a
moratorium on experimental plantings of genetically modified rice
in the state, saying federal controls meant to keep such
varieties from contaminating commercial rice are inadequate.
The vote is advisory, but Tim Johnson, president of the Rice
Commission, said it is likely to carry weight with the AB 2622
Advisory Board, which controls nearly all test plantings of rice
in the state.
The decision by the 40-member group was driven largely by
concerns that the contamination of the state’s rice supplies with
even a tiny amount of genetically engineered material could
devastate sales to touchy export markets such as Japan and South
Full item: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/042007/09.html
The items in this Bulletin are excerpts from articles which
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interest use only.
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