This is a continuation from the very long thread: Genetically Engineered Food. Last post from that one follows:
Member posted 07-13-99 01:39 AM
>>> EUROPEAN COVER-UP REVEALED <<<
[Transcript of letters sent by me to Europe. Some really good questions!]
Copy of letter sent 6/30/99 to EuropaBio, the biotech association in Europe*
To: Paul Muys, Communication Manager EuropaBio
CC: Editor, The Independent, UK
On June 20, 1999, the UK newspaper “The Independent” printed a headline article entitled “World’s top sweetener is made with GM bacteria.” That article mentioned that several UK MPs were “hunting” around for GM processes used in food production. Yet according to the article, the GM process to produce an enzyme was not even being used in the UK, but only in the US.
Upon reading this headline, it occurred to me that the UK public (and MPs) must be completely unaware that most of the world’s cheese is produced using the enzyme chymosin, a product of genetic engineering. Indeed, tracing back many months through all the UK press debate, I have found no headline story revealing the truth in this respect. I find it quite shocking (as I think others would) that this issue hasn’t been discussed at this point, particularly considering chymosin has some solid benefits – there aren’t enough calves to go around to make the alternative rennet, for example. How can an organization like EuropaBio neglect to inform the public that the cheese supply depends on a GM enzyme, particularly since the theme of the “GM food” campaign has been the “right to know”, rather than of food safety (which has been well established)? How can cheese be excluded – is it simply because it hasn’t been mentioned in the press? This is ridiculous.
In a related case, I find it astounding that the UK is importing herbicide-tolerant soybeans (DuPont “STS”) through US Archer Daniels Midland Co., which are being sold in the UK as “GM-free”, simply because they are genetically modified using a process different than those used in Monsanto beans, and this happens to let them slip through US FDA policy (the trick is, they leave the US as “identity preserved” and are re-labeled later). Surely, these beans contain genes for herbicide tolerance – just like the Monsanto beans. This is particularly vexing since I’ve noted “herbicide tolerance” as an issue of concern which often comes up for European customers (for example, Greenpeace brings this up as a key point). Therefore, how can the “debate” in Europe concerning these products neglect to mention that consumers will still be eating beans with genes for herbicide tolerance, when campaigners told them “GM-free” implied this wouldn’t be the case? There are around ten million acres of these beans being grown, by the way. This is no small matter.
I have written a letter to The Independent (attached below), informing them of these issues. They have not yet published my letter, probably since they too find my information shocking. Nevertheless, I think it is important that these two issues be brought into the UK debate, however uncomfortable that may be at this point. In fact, I plan on contacting folks in the UK until these issues are heard, or bringing my information to prominence on the Internet. That is of course, unless these issues are on the EuropaBio agenda – please contact me as soon as possible with any plans you have in this regard.
Seattle, WA USA
*** Unpublished letter follows ***
To: Editor, Independent (UK)
Your recent headline “World’s top sweetener is made with GM bacteria” (June 20) made it all the way to the US, believe it or not. It’s not that Americans find this so surprising, given that many products here are made this way. Rather, what we find surprising is how you are hunting on our side of the Atlantic – while you still have some hunting left to do on your own side. It seems if you are looking for “secret” GM projects, you only need to look in any UK grocer:
Almost all UK cheeses (about 90 percent) are produced using GM enzymes, made in a way similar to how Monsanto’s sweetener is made. This is according to several sources in the UK, including your own government. Why has this “secret” not made headlines in any of your newspapers yet? Are all these cheeses labeled “GM”, since you say it is the customers “right to know”? How can cheeses be treated differently if they are made with GM? Could there be a "cover up’?
Many soybeans now being imported into Europe are being sold and labeled as “GM-free” – it should make you happy these aren’t the Monsanto kind. But does the UK know they are still getting soybeans genetically modified to be herbicide-tolerant, just like the Monsanto beans? These soybeans are labeled “GM-free”, simply because they get around US FDA policy. That policy states, “The agency has not required labeling for other methods of plant breeding such as chemical- or radiation-induced mutagenesis, somaclonal variation, or cell culture.” Who can assume “chemical- or radiation- induced mutagensis” – or any other science – is safer than what is done to Monsanto beans, especially when no one in the US has found any more testing data for these beans than the Monsanto ones?
Seattle, WA USA