Genetic Engineering - Paradise on Earth or a Descent into Hell?

	This we know.
	All things are connected
	like the blood
	which unites one family ....

	Whatever befalls the earth,
	befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
	Man did not weave the web of life;
	he is merely a strand in it.
	Whatever he does to the web,
	he does to himself. 
				-- Ted Perry, inspired by Chief Seattle

I never imagined people would patent plants and animals. It's fundamentally immoral, contrary to the Guaymi view of nature and our place in it. To patent human material ... to take human DNA and patent its products ... That violates the integrity of life itself, and our deepest sense of morality. -- President, Guaymi General Congress

In a cooler and therefore hungrier world, the US's near-monopoly position as a food exporter ... could give the US a measure of power that it had never had before ... -- CIA

One wonders, in fact, if those who contribute to keeping these masses hungry do not know exactly what they are doing, since famished, lethargic, diseased people are notoriously bad at overthrowing anybody. -- Susan George

If you don't own any land, you never get enough to eat, even if the land is producing well. -- Indian labourer

The foreign aid program of the 1960s - as it was in the 1940s and 1950s - is planned and administered to serve the vital interests of the United States. It is a prime instrument of US foreign policy. -- Dean Rusk, former US Secretary of State

Hungry people cannot eat that which is exported. Nor are they likely to eat from export earnings or benefit from so-called development achieved through these export earnings. People will escape from hunger only when policies are pursued that allow them to grow food and to eat the food they grow. -- Frances Moore Lappe & Joseph Collins

You can judge my reputation better than I can. I regret very much being put in a situation where I had to undertake what I had to undertake. -- Dr Andrew Millar, former scientist British Biotech

It is clear that everyone is in it for the money. The risks can be dismissed by appealing to the benefits, and when the benefits are not forthcoming, the promises have to be kept alive. Biotechnology is the South Sea Bubble at the end of the millennium. -- Mae-Wan Ho

We send today a very clear message to all those who have invested in Monsanto in India and abroad: take your money out now, before we reduce it to ashes. -- Karnataka State Farmers Association, India

One is left to wonder why, if the products are as safe and wonderful as claimed, they could not be segregated, as organic products have been for years, so that consumers are given the choice of buying what they want. -- Mae-Wan Ho

If in some countries the public wants GM-free products then [Unilever] will try to find them, whether this means buying other ingredients or reverting to traditional raw materials. If we fail to respect consumers views, we should not be doing our jobs properly. -- Morris Tabaksblat, joint chairman of Unilever

Labelling is the key issue ... If you put a label on genetically engineered food, you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it. -- head of Asgrow, Monsanto seed subsidiary

One of the ironies of this issue is the contrast between the enthusiasm of food producers to claim that their biologically engineered products are different and unique when they seek to patent them and their similar enthusiasm for claiming that they are just the same as other foods when asked to label them. -- Julian Edwards, director of Consumers International

What makes genetic engineering biotechnology dangerous, in the first instance, is that it is an unprecedented, close alliance between two great powers that can make or break the world: science and commerce. -- Mae-Wan Ho

what little we know of genetic engineering so far teaches us that the only thing that can be predicted is that the impacts are unpredictable. -- Helena Paul

Most biotechnology companies use micro-organisms rather than food plants as gene donors, even though the allergenic potential of these newly introduced microbial proteins is uncertain, unpredictable and untestable. -- Dr Nestle

Transgenes transferred into the wider environment cannot be tracked down and simply recalled to the laboratory. A ripple effect on other species will take place, even if it cannot be predicted when such an effect will occur, to what extent, or in which species. -- Ricarda A Steinbrecher

My worry is that other advances in science may result in other means of mass destruction, maybe more readily available even than nuclear weapons. Genetic engineering is quite a possible area, because of these dreadful developments that are taking place there. -- Joseph Rotblat, Nobel Prize Laureate

The large-scale release of transgenic organisms is much worse than nuclear weapons or radioactive nuclear wastes, as genes can replicate indefinitely, spread and recombine. There may yet be time enough to stop the industry's dreams of turning into nightmares if we act now, before the critical genetic 'melt-down' is reached. -- Mae-Wan Ho

If something does go badly wrong we will be faced with the problem of clearing up a kind of pollution which is self-perpetuating. I am not convinced that anyone has the first idea of how this could be done, or indeed who would have to pay. -- Prince Charles

There is substantial opposition from the public, from the media, and not least, from retailers. -- leaked internal Monsanto report

Fraud - Stealth - Hype

Genetic Engineering promises much in the fields of brewing, pharmaceuticals, animal husbandry, food crops. If we take genetically modified foods, especially plants, we can improve crop yields, plant crops in areas where previously they could not grow. It is all too easy to get carried away and to forget the risks. The risks are great, all the greater as they are unquantifiable, and thus far outweigh the benefits, many of which are illusory. Geneticists are experimenting with the substance of life, and the ultimate price could be life itself.

Much hype surrounds the biotech industry, as seen with the recent dramatic collapse of the British bioengineering company British Biotech following the expose by its scientist Dr Andrew Millar. Dr Millar (highly respected head of clinical studies) went public with his results that the claims surrounding the success of the company's drugs were fraudulent - Zacutex (for treating pancreatitis) was useless and Marimastat (cancer treatment) only 40% success rate. The UK Parliament (state of biotech industry), UK Stock Exchange (insider dealings and share price rigging) US Securities and Exchange Commission (possible Federal violations), US Food and Drug Administration (misleading claims) and major shareholders, have all mounted investigations. As a consequence of the expose by Andrew Millar, British Biotech are unlikely to gain approval for their drugs from either US or European regulatory authorities. The share price collapsed from a high of 300p to 32p.

British Biotech is not the only company in trouble for making misleading claims. Cortecs made similar misleading claims for its osteoporosis and bronchitis drugs. Once rumbled its share price plummeted from 400p to 9p. Executives have resigned at Scotia and Biocompatibles in similar circumstances to the resignations at British Biotech. There are 460 biotech companies in the UK, despite the numerous extravagant claims, there has not been a single drug licence issued. Such is the concern at the many unproven claims being made by the biotech industry that there are now calls for an independent monitoring body to be established.

Monsanto (a world leader in the business of genetic exploitation) has had several well publicised failures. They were forced to withdraw from commercial sale five genetically modified cotton seed varieties due to the substandard quality of the seed. Monsanto is facing a growing number of lawsuits for the failure of its genetically modified crops to match the marketing hype. In the UK Monsanto are facing criminal prosecution for their failure to comply with regulations for trial GM-crops. Monsanto's stock market valuation is starting to collapse, to fend off action by the banks worried about their mounting indebtedness they are attempting a fire sale of NutraSweet, but no one wants it because of its links with brain damage.

Professor Harold Baum (Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry) has advised investors to steer clear of biotech companies as too risky. He has advised investors who want a flutter, to go to the race-track as a better bet. The number of law suits against biotech companies has shot up by 40-50% over the last two years. Amgen (the world's largest biotech company) was issued with a class action suit for misleading the market.

A report by Deutsche Bank has advised investors to avoid the sector. It sees it as having no future and facing imminent collapse, the industry and farmers to be tied up in expensive law suits for genetic contamination. The pariah status of GM to cause a collapse in share price.

The biotech industry has experienced explosive growth, dwarfing that of the microprocessor and software industries. It is seen, or was seen, as the industry of the late 20th century. It is driven by two factors - the curiosity of its scientists (if we can clone a human with a goat then why not?) and profits (the bigger the better). The profits to be made are enormous, and it is these profits that are blinding its proponents to all else and driving the debate.

Flawed Science

Two years after Dolly the Sheep came Cumalina and her Clones (two generations of cloned mice). The scientific world and commentators were ecstatic. The researchers behind Dolly the Sheep let it be known that they had launched a joint-venture company with half a dozen lines, every one of which was expected to spawn a multibillion dollar industry. Mass produced, identical mice for animal experimentation, cows with a human gene to produce human blood, pigs with a human gene to produce human tissue and possibly human organs for transplant, a fusion of a cow and human embryo to produce an 'almost human' for experimentation. No one questioned the morality, asked whether the animals suffered. The animals were reduced to a commodity, provided someone was making a profit there could be no other questions as that would be to drift into the realm of heresy, to question the established order.

The lack of ethics and morality will come as no surprise to seasoned observers of agribusiness of which the biotech business can be seen as a constituent part. The use of highly toxic chemicals in the Third World, whose use is banned in the West is but one example. Not that it is necessary to travel to the Third World as examples of the complete lack of morality in agribusiness can be found in the West. Students in the UK (most of whom are in dire financial straits following withdrawal of government support) were offered £600 to take highly toxic organophosphate pesticides normally tested on rats. The university at which the experiments took place were no doubt offered suitable financial incentives to see no evil, hear no evil. Organophosphates (related to nerve agents) are known to cause brain damage and may be a factor in Gulf War Syndrome. The advantages to the pesticide company conducting the tests is that they hope to use the results to argue for a tenfold increase in permitted pesticide residues.

The biotech industry is following the well trodden path of the nuclear industry, that of half-truths, downright deceptions, and extravagant claims for unproven technology. The only major difference between the two industries is that as great as the dangers are with the nuclear industry, the dangers are many orders of magnitude greater with the genetic industry. A second important comparison is that both industries are at the experimental laboratory stage and not fit to be let out into the wider world. In the case of the nuclear industry its spokesmen and apologists were either ignorant of the fundamentals of nuclear science or were engaging in deliberate deception, neither of which was good for the well being of the world at large.

An oft repeated lie by the genetic industry is that what we are doing is no different to what has been practised by selective breeding ever since man became a domesticated animal. This claim is demonstrably not true and shows (cf the nuclear industry) either an appalling level of ignorance or an act of deliberate deception.

Dogs are a species where we can see at first hand the product of many generations of selective breeding. We have many easily identifiable varieties, but can find no dog as big as a horse, no dog as small as a mouse. Many of the extremes are nothing but cruelty to dogs and make a mockery of the term animal lover. These extremes have difficulty walking, breathing. Many varieties have serious neurotic problems. No matter how much we pull and tug at the dog gene pool it will only stretch so far. Nature has its limits. If left to their own devices the dogs rapidly degenerate to the common mongrel, showing that even at this level of interference, the varieties are highly artificial.

The Friesian cow (the common black and white patterned milk producer) is another example. An efficient milk producing machine. Too efficient. Twice a day the cows have to be milked to empty a painfully full udder. Without mans' intervention the cows, left to their own devices would die. To a European Union floating away on a milk lake, genetic engineers offer more efficient milk producers. Their offerings cannot be called cows as what we have now as the result of highly selective breeding already bares too little resemblance to natural cows, selective breeding carried one stage too far. Genetic manipulation could no doubt within a generation offer an organism into which we feed genetically modified carbohydrates, starch and proteins into one end (possibly stretching a point called plants) and draw off milk at the other end. The question to be asked is do we want either morally or economically such a nightmare creation? That it is technically feasible or adds to corporate profits is not the answer.

With selective breeding we attempt to push our selection to one particular region of the existing gene pool for that species. As our experience with dogs has shown, there is a limit to how far we can go. With some species, and these are very rare occurrences, we are able to cross-breed two very closely related species (usually having diverged in the recent evolutionary past). The crucial difference between selective breeding and genetic engineering (they are not the same as many apologist try to claim) is that with selective breeding we choose (or attempt to choose) from the existing gene pool for that species, whereas genetic engineering inserts alien genes from unrelated species (eg scorpion genes into tomatoes). With selective breeding we are restricted to the species gene pool because four billion years of evolution has erected a species barrier across which genes may not easily pass.

Often only a small number of genes separate two different but closely related species. Humans and chimpanzees share in common 99% of their DNA, that is only 1% of their DNA marks the difference between the two species. Humans are closer to chimpanzees than horses to zebras or sheep to goats. Looked at in a different light, it doesn't take much alien DNA to flip a species over into something else, what we cannot say as we lack sufficient data.

Genetic engineering is in its infancy. Despite the amassing of a wealth of knowledge, it is a world of ignorance. There is far too little we know. This is not the time to release genetically modified crops into the world. To do so is to conduct a gigantic experiment on the world's ecosystem.

Free Speech Mutates to Newspeak

Monsanto claim to want a public debate. Monsanto refuse to answer questions put by journalists, especially questions relating to the long-term testing of their GM-crops. A Monsanto scientist working in the field admitted that the only tests conducted were standard toxicity tests and that there had been no long-term tests of the type that revealed that genetically modified potatoes damaged the immune system of rats. Monsanto claim their GM-crops are safe. Governments grant approval on the basis of test performed by Monsanto. Having refused to partake in a Granada TV documentary exposing the dangers of genetically modified food, Monsanto were reported a week later threatening legal action on the alleged claim that they had been unfairly portrayed.

For Monsanto, intimidation of the media is nothing new. Fox TV were intimidated to prevent the showing on WTVT of a programme by the award winning journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre that exposed the dangers of Monsanto's rBGH milk hormone. Against the Grain was eventually published, in spite of Monsanto's attempts to prevent publication. Monsanto paid an aggressive visit to the editorial offices of The Guardian to express their concern at what they saw as negative coverage of biotech issues.

The September/October 1998 issue of The Ecologist was to have been a special biotechnology issue. The original print run never saw the light of day as all copies were pulped by the printers, Penwells of Saltash, Cornwall. The issue eventually came out mid-October as The Monsanto Files (highly recommended). Newsagents refused to stock or distribute for fear of intimidation by Monsanto. In a world dominated by large multinationals an alternative viewpoint especially the truth can not be tolerated. The subsequent issue of The Ecologist has a brilliant advert on the back cover for Nonsanto.

Monsanto's idea of what constitutes public debate can be seen from a full page ad they placed on the back cover of The Sunday Times Magazine (16 August 1998). The ad consisted of a handful of meaningless statements from supporters of the biotech industry. Earlier full page ads claimed that genetically engineered foods would feed a starving world. Patently false, but then what are a few lies when billions of dollars are at stake? The back page of the November/December 1998 issue of The Ecologist has a brilliant pun on the crass Monsanto advertising in the name of Nonsanto.

Monsanto has earmarked $5 million dollars (£1 million in the UK alone) to convince an increasingly sceptical European audience of the 'benefits' of genetic engineering. A drop in the ocean to the $1 billion spent on developing the GMOs and yet more billions spent on buying seed companies, food processors, grain distributors, health companies, in an attempt to deny the consumer choice.

In a leaked internal report Monsanto were forced to admit that their crass advertising campaign was an unmitigated disaster. Far from convincing an increasingly sceptical public, it only served to highlight the dangers and stiffen resolve to reject the products Monsanto were attempting to force down the throats of the public.

The latest survey shows an ongoing collapse of public support for biotechnology and GM foods. At each point in this project, we keep thinking that we have reached the low point and that public thinking will stabilise. But we apparently have not reached that point. The latest survey shows a steady decline over the year, which may have accelerated in the most recent period.

Were Monsanto, as they claim, genuinely concerned with protecting the environment and reducing the amount of chemicals used they would fund research into organic farming, encourage farmers to move away from chemical dependency towards organic and less intensive systems. Such a policy would of course not advance corporate profits. Many farmers have been able to reduce their chemical dependency, not by heeding Monsanto's advice and moving to GM-seeds, but by spraying on the basis of need not according to the calender. The reduction in chemical usage has greatly exceeded that claimed by Monsanto for a switch to GM-crops.

In 1995, Monsanto were ranked fifth in the EPA Toxic Release Inventory. In the UK they face criminal prosecution for their failure to comply with regulations governing trial plots of GM-crops.

Monsanto claim to be a reputable company, their actions speak louder than their words. In the US they rigged the results for Bovine Growth Hormone. rBGH is known to cause mastitis in cows, breast cancer in women, prostrate cancer in men. Monsanto threatened to sue dairies that labelled their milk as rBGH free, participated in joint action to stop mandatory labelling of rBGH. In the UK, Monsanto were fined £17,000 for their failure to maintain a 6 metre gap around a test site of oil seed rape. Were the government to heed the public and ban genetically modified food and crops, Monsanto have threatened legal action to force their unwanted products onto the public. In India, Monsanto have used subterfuge, not telling farmers that their crops are genetically modified. In doing so they have acted illegally. Monsanto have behaved in an oppressive manner to any critics of their products and policies. Journals, TV documentaries, books have been banned or bans attempted. Monsanto employees have been intimidated to keep quiet. Monsanto's corporate behaviour is more akin to a Mafia family than a reputable company.

Research performed by Professor Arpad Pusztai (a scientist of international renown) highlighted the dangers to rats' immune system from eating genetically modified potatoes (and the need for long-term research on all genetically modified food). So concerned by the results was Professor Arpad Pusztai that rather than publish in some obscure journal he released his results on a TV documentary. Earlier on the same day, he gave several interviews saying he would not eat genetically modified food until more stringent testing was in place and accused the government of using the public as guinea-pigs. He called for more research of the type he had performed. Two days later Professor Arpad Pusztai was suspended from the Rowett Research Institute (on the grounds that his research was flawed, though no one had questioned his conclusions at the time) and forced into early retirement. The unprecedented step of suspending a professor for (allegedly) faulty research results raises the question of what research funding was at risk from the biotech companies, what else was at risk? 11% of Rowett's funding comes from industry. Rowett regularly carries out research for Finnfeeds (a joint venture by Monsanto and Cultor). Professor Philip James, head of Rowett, was in line to head the government's new Food Standards Agency. Many are calling for a full independent audit into the work of the Rowett Institute and an investigation into the source of its funding (funding for the GM-potatoes is believed to have come indirectly from Monsanto via the SCRI). Late in the day, during which Professor Arpad Pusztai was giving his interviews warning of the dangers, the government released a statement saying that it was conducting further research into bacteria found in milk and the possible link with a human bowel disease. Most commentators noted that the government statement contained no useful information (the bacteria had always been present and therefore did not contribute any additional health risk). But the statement did have the effect of generating an unnecessary health scare, it also had the (intentional) effect of driving the genetic story off the news bulletins and off most front pages the following day. The treatment of Professor Arpad Pusztai follows exactly the same pattern as the intimidation of research scientists to keep them quiet during the early days of BSE (mad cow disease). In a further twist to the tale Andrew Chesson, who was asked to revise Pusztai's results, said he found it difficult to believe that Pusztai could have made such a fundamental error. Many other researchers are of the opinion that Professor Arpad Pusztai will be fully vindicated and have called for his gag to be removed.

Results released on 12 February 1999 by a group of scientists fully endorsed the work of Professor Arpad Pusztai. Several months later (September 1999) Andrew Chesson, previously a critic of Pusztai and a strong supporter of GM, called for tougher testing 'No technology is risk free. We need to be looking to the future.'

A Swiss scientist barred from publishing his claims that microwaved food results in cancer-like problems in the blood, had to go to the European Court. The court ruled that his right to freedom of expression had been violated.

An Industry Built on Classic Genetics Not Modern Genetics

A fundamental concept is co-evolution. As each species evolves it exerts pressure on its environment leading to further adaptation. Random mutations take place. Many mutations are destroyed by the host protection mechanisms, many are destroyed by competing members of the same species or by environmental factors. A few may survive to pass on to the next generation. If the mutation confers a positive advantage, the ability to carve out a niche with a competitive advantage, the mutation will spread throughout the gene pool, if not it will die out.

The gene pool, or better described as a gene probability density, follows a similar pattern to what we observe in space - planets, stars, solar systems, galaxies - or in other words it is clumpy with vast empty spaces. A mutation will take a very tiny direction, one of billions of directions around the central density. Many billions of these possibilities will be tested, most will fail, a few will survive and slightly move the density of the gene pool or possibly cause it to split and form two overlapping densities which may move further apart or recombine.

The process is slow and random. Genetic engineers on the other hand make a positive move along a pre-defined direction. It may involve a large displacement. Contrary to their arrogant claims we have no idea where this new direction will ultimately lead as we lack both the available information and the required computational power to make the necessary determinations. And this assumes that we set off in the intended direction, which itself is open to question, as contrary to claims, gene manipulation is not the precise engineering task it likes to be portrayed as (the actual insertion relies on random processes). In other words we may not even be inserting the DNA code sequence we intended, where we intended.

The commercialisation of genetic engineering is bad science. It assumes an exact one to one relationship between a gene and its displayed characteristic. A gene is a product of its environment. A gene exists in a complex feedback system with its fellow genes. The feedback system may change the character, move the gene around, cause the gene to mutate. It is the sum total that give the desired characteristic. There are layers of these feedback systems, genome, cell, host system, environment, each exerting influence on adjacent layers in both directions. The four billion years of species intolerance (the species barrier) causes these systems to protest against an alien intrusion, and to cause its nullification if not annihilation.

Experiments within the laboratory are too limited to provide conclusive results even though many thousands of experiments may be conducted. The only true experiment is out in the wild, by which time we may be too late as we are experimenting with the entire world ecosystem.

The inserted genes may not be stable, have the desired effect or have some undesired side effect. This instability or undesired characteristic may not become apparent for several generations. Consider: the genetically modified crop (because of its illusory advantage) takes over vast acreage, pushing traditional crops to the margins, the genetically modified crop then fails.

The vector used to implant the gene may continue with its task of implanting the gene across species. The gene may later exhibit a fatal flaw, such as rupture of cell membranes, modification of DNA sequences. Once discovered, it is too late, the vector cannot be recalled to the laboratory.

There is the desire (by the geneticists) to release genetically modified grasses into the wild (maize, wheat etc). Grasses are wind pollinated. Neighbouring crops will be affected. There are already reported cases of wild grasses containing modified genes.

Fearing the contamination of his own crops (and financial ruin), Guy Watson, a Devon organic farmer, has (with the backing of the Soil Association and Friends of the Earth) taken legal action to prevent genetically modified crops being grown adjacent to his land. Sensing a growing backlash, proponents of genetically modified crops have suggested the establishment of buffer zones to prevent cross-contamination. These would effectively be demilitarised no-grow zones, but it ignores the effect upon wild plants and what are known as 'volunteers' (self-sown crops), which would provide a biological stepping stone (plus the opportunity for mutation of the artificial gene).

Virtually self-sufficient and with virtually no inputs the organic farmer is agribusiness's worst nightmare. Adjacent planting could be seen as a deliberate attempt to sabotage organic farmers, as could the planting of genetically modified Bt-cotton and other Bt-crops (oil seed rape, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, walnut ...). Oil seed rape readily cross pollinates with wild radish and other wild brassicas (cabbage family).

Herbicide resistant oil seed rape (Brassica napus) crossed with a related weed (Brassica rapa) produced a herbicide resistant weed, that potentially could dominate fields as existing herbicides would be ineffective.

In Germany, Novartis genetically engineered maize has cross-pollinated an adjacent field of conventional maize. Additional problems with the Novartis GM-maize is that it has been found to kill green lacewings (Chrysoperla carnea) and other beneficial insects and that it contains an antibiotic resistance marker gene. The misuse of antibiotics has created a growing problem of antibiotic resistance and the creation of superbugs, other pathways in the food chain include antibiotics fed to animals as growth promoters and to combat their insanitary housing conditions.

Bt-cotton has a pesticide gene taken from the naturally occurring soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The optimum death rate to promote resistance is to kill off 80% of a population, leaving 20% to develop resistance. Bt-cotton kills off 80% of the pests. Organic farmers occasionally spray crops with an emulsion containing Bacillus thuringiensis. Bacillus thuringiensis is one of the few natural pesticides available to organic farmers. The widespread use of Bt-cotton (and Bt-maize) would render Bacillus thuringiensis useless as an organic pesticide. Apart from the dangers to organic farmers we have the nightmare scenario of Nature's own last line of defence in maintaining pest populations at tolerable levels being rendered useless. Legal action is being taken in the US to block the growing of any Bt-crop.

Within the UK there are (as yet) no commercially grown genetically modified crops. There are though more than 300 sites of experimental crops. France is the only EU country with a commercial genetically engineered crop (maize engineered by Swiss multinational Novartis). In the US the situation is different. From a level of zero in 1995, commercially grown genetically modified crops has risen to 30 million acres for 1997, with the figure for 1998 expected to double to 60 million acres. The US soya crop was 16% genetically modified for 1997, 30% for 1998. The situation is made much worse by the deliberate interplanting of modified and unmodified soya, thus deliberately denying the consumer a choice. Farmers are also being denied choice by the deliberate mixing of modified and unmodified seed.

The go-ahead has been given for the growing of genetically modified maize in the UK (following advice from an expert committee), even though research shows that lacewings (a beneficial insect) may be damaged.

The outcome of the introduction of artificial genes into a new environment we cannot predict, anyone making claims to the contrary is a liar, but we do have experience of the release of alien species into a new environment. In almost all cases the results have been bad. Rabbits into Australia is perhaps the best known example. Sometimes a secondary alien has been released to prey upon the primary alien. Once the initial job has been finished, the secondary aliens have invariably turned on native species with disastrous results, generally contributing to a worsening situation.

In 1981 a comb jellyfish hitched a ride in a ship's ballast from the US to the Black Sea. It devastated the ecosystem to such an extent that 6 years later fish catches were down by 90%.

When Western man first landed in the Americas, apart from the deliberate genocide caused by massacres, many native people were wiped out by common European diseases to which they had no natural immunity. Today, many Amazonian tribes are being wiped out through deliberate infection.

Pathways are often complex and not immediately apparent. Bacteria have the ability to exchange DNA. The aggressive mutant strain of E.coli (cause of sickness, diarrhoea and death) is thought to have arisen from the exchange of DNA between E.coli and another bacteria. The aggressive mutation is common in cattle. Cattle fed on a grain diet (often as high as 90% grain) modify their digestive system to tolerate the grain, excess acid overflows into the colon. The aggressive E.coli is able to acquire acid tolerance in the now mildly acidic environment via the switching on of an acid tolerance gene. The most common pathway between humans and cows for the E.coli infection is contaminated, undercooked beefburgers. The now acid tolerant, aggressive mutant strain of E.coli is able to survive passage through the highly acidic human stomach (E.coli is normally destroyed in the stomach). The net result of this unhappy intersection of pathways and events is sickness, diarrhoea and death for anyone who is foolish enough to eat undercooked, contaminated burgers.

When a scientist (John Durant in receipt of EU Judas gold to promote the biotech industry) makes the preposterous statement that 'the technology is absolutely safe' (therefore no need for controls as these limit profits) we instinctively know that something is wrong. [cited in Mae-Wan Ho et al 1998]

There are too many commercial clones of John Durant who dance to the pipers tune.

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Big money buys big corruption. $156,000 was given by the tobacco industry to a dozen scientists to write letters and manuscripts disputing any carcinogenic effects from passive smoking. The letters appeared 1992-93 following publication of a damning report on passive smoking by the US Environment Protection Agency. Two law firms were involved in revising some of the letters prior to publication.

Politicians the Best that Money Can Buy

There is growing concern in the UK at the corrupt and incestuous relationships between lobbyists, many of them members of New Labour and past advisers to government ministers, and their cronies who are either government ministers or their immediate advisers. David Hill, former Labour party press officer, is acting as a lobbyist for Monsanto, his long-time partner, Hillary Coffman, is a senior press officer at No 10 Downing Street.

Monsanto were major contributors to Bill Clinton's campaign funds. Clinton has lobbied Tony Blair for favourable treatment of Monsanto. On 8 September 1998, the US Attorney General launched an investigation into irregularities in Clinton's campaign funding, the House Impeachment Committee is now making similar inquiries. Many of Tony's cronies, including five senior government ministers, are members of the British-American Project for the Successor Generation. Funded by the extreme right in the US, a pre-launch meeting in the White House (March 1983) was attended by adherents to the democratic ideal including Rupert Murdoch. Many other of Tony's cronies have been funded by right-wing sources.

Novartis were sponsors of the Labour Party Autumn 1998 Party Conference. Novartis, the largest drugs group in Europe, are promoting GM-crops, they are seeking approval for the commercial growing of their GM-maize.

The revolving door that separates Monsanto from the regulators in the US also operates in the UK. Cathy McGlynn, special adviser to Jack Cunningham (Agriculture Minister) for six years, left to join Monsanto's lobbyists. Cunningham (now cabinet enforcer) heads a special cabinet committee monitoring the genetic food industry.

Threats and Failures

The US has threatened New Zealand with trade sanctions were it to bar genetically modified organisms and materials. The fear was that NZ would establish a precedent that Europe would follow.

Computer viruses offer an insight into the future. The information encoded in a binary system (cf with a 4-level biological information system) is infinitesimal compared with a DNA sequence. Contrary to popular misconception the majority of computer viruses are not malign nor were they designed to be malicious. The designers of these code sequences can be counted as some of the most talented software designers, they have a short code sequence to design, and generally have a very good understanding of the environment into which their creations will be released (extensive pre-release testing may also take place on their own systems). Nevertheless, these benign sequences once released have created havoc in the wider environment, with costs running into billions of dollars. Why? Neither the code sequence nor the environment has been as well understood as first thought, overlooked bugs, primary assumptions not borne out in the real world, the environment into which the virus is released evolves over time and creates its own hazards.

A few examples of genetic failures illustrate some of the problems that have been encountered:

It should be emphasised that this small sample is taken from known examples. There may be many more that we don't know about, not because of any cover-up by the biotech industry but because latent genetic abnormalities have not yet surfaced. If we are lucky the affected members of a species will die out, not so lucky if it is the entire species, not so lucky if the species is man.

One of the primary assumptions made by genetic engineers upon which the entire biotech industry is built is that the transferred gene will confer a desired characteristic. This assumption contains many flaws. That we have sufficient knowledge of the gene, that the properties of the gene can be viewed in isolation outside of its natural environment. It ignores the fact that the desired characteristic may be the interaction of a group of genes, it also ignores the fact that the gene lies embedded in a complex feedback path within its host system and that the host system may actively modify the gene.

A gene to confer the colour red was transferred from maize to white petunias. The gene had the desired effect, the flowers turned red, but what was totally unexpected was plants with more leaves, shoots, a higher resistance to fungi and lowered fertility. Inserting a gene for human growth hormone into mice produced very large mice, splicing the same gene into pigs produced skinny, cross-eyed, arthritic pigs.

Genes provide the instructions to enable an organism to function in the environment to which it has evolved. Only reductionists, the genetic engineers and neo-Darwinists, regard genes from a mechanistic, simplistic cause and effect viewpoint, an extremist viewpoint even within the paradigm of reductionist science. Information, including genetic coding, is meaningless taken out of context.

Feeding the World and Other Benefits to Mankind

High yields are promised for genetically modified crops. For high yields read alleviation of hunger, or bigger profits depending upon the audience.

In the West, we are suffering from over-production, thus high yields are not an advantage. In such a market a higher yielding variety is as likely to lead to collapse in the market (unless the state picks up the tab as is current practice) as to higher prices and greater profit.

In the Third World, high-tech (ie high price) crops would not be affordable to the poorest farmers or to the impoverished consumer, control of the world's seeds by a handful of transnationals runs counter to the biodiversity upon which subsistence farming depends. Monsanto's claim that GM crops are necessary to feed the starving billions in the Third World has been attacked by all the African delegates to the FAO (with the exception of the South African delegate), experts and NGOs working in the field.

Hunger and starvation is not as a result of shortage of food, though there can be temporary shortages due to various factors. Hunger and starvation is due to poverty and denied access to viable land and required inputs. Many Third World countries export foodstuffs to the West. Within the West we have an underclass that is suffering malnutrition due to poverty.

Brazil is a wealthy country, a major food producer, out of a population of 150 million, 50 million people do not get enough to eat. In the US, 1 in 7 of the population officially live in poverty, 1 in 6 rely upon food stamps and food hand-outs to keep hunger at bay. In the UK, infant mortality for the rich is 4.3 per 1,000, for the poor 18.5 per 1,000, 2,000 children die each year due to poverty. African basket-case countries export cash crops for out-of-season salads for the European table.

The so-called Green Revolution gives an idea of the many dangers ahead. Highly selective breeding gave rise to wonder crops with high yields (or to be correct, higher potential yields). These crops rest on an increasingly narrow genetic base. The crops require higher inputs of water, pesticide, fertilisers to realise their yields. In normal, prevailing, Third World conditions the wonder crops underperform existing, traditional varieties. A disease, or adverse weather patterns, can easily wipe out an entire crop, whereas the traditional crops would have partly survived due to their wider genetic base. The wonder crops require artificial irrigation, requiring large-scale dams (there has not been a single large dam that has not been an environmental and social disaster), the irrigation results in long-term soil damage and can ultimately lead to climate change. The wonder crops are often sterile F1-hybrids forcing the peasants to buy in new seed each season. Thus the peasant is dependant upon the multinational for seed, fertiliser and pesticide and drawn ever closer into the global cash economy and out of the natural subsistence economy that has provided viable support for many generations. Many of the wonder crops ripen and are ready for cropping near simultaneously. This is ideal for automation, resulting in the (more often than not forced) displacement of the rural poor, migration to regional towns and cities, where they manage a precarious life either in shanty towns on the outskirts of town or on the streets in the centre.

In contrast, the local, carefully selected seeds have adapted to their own local micro-niche, resulting in high biodiversity.

In India, farmers using Monsanto's genetically engineered seeds pay an extra 50-65 dollars per acre as a technical fee over and above the price of seed. Farmers are required to sign a contract stating that they will not buy chemicals from any other source.

The take up of pesticides and fertiliser has a deleterious effect upon the environment. The pesticides used are often those banned in the West, but they end up in the West when used on cash crops for export.

Apart from the effect upon the peasant farmer, the Green Revolution has also had the deleterious effect of eliminating indigenous native species and varieties.

Highly selective breeding, the Green Revolution has pushed many breeds and varieties to the brink of extinction. Genetic engineering through aggressive marketing to recover R&D costs and cross-breeding and cross-pollination will push many of these rarities into extinction. Rare cattle breeds have a resistance to BSE. Rare, almost extinct, native rice strains have helped to save rice crops from the ravages of disease and pests. Wild wheat have helped save commercial crops.

Over-production in the West only serves to add to the problems of the Third World peasant when surpluses (heavily disguised as food aid to ameliorate any concerns of the liberal classes) are dumped on the Third World to destroy the local economies and force ever greater dependency on the global corporations.

Crops can be grown where they have never grown before, or in other words on marginal land. It is on this marginal land that the rural poor scrape out a meagre existence and wildlife clings to a last place of refuge. Marginal land has an importance beyond its immediate social and environmental significance. Rainforests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. We are rapidly approaching the point of no return. When more than about 65% of a rainforest has been destroyed the entire ecosystem will collapse as it will no longer be self-sustaining. There are several historical precedents. The loss will not only be of one the richest and mature ecosystems but we will also knock out one the major planetary regulatory systems. The effect will thus be planet wide. We are already beginning to see the effects of the loss of planetary regulatory mechanisms with widely fluctuating weather systems and ever more severe weather.

Frivolous benefits of genetically modified crops include the ability to resist herbicides. More herbicide (quantity, toxicity or both) can be sprayed onto the field without damaging the crop. Lateral transfer of the genes would lead to a wide range of herbicide resistant plants leading to greater dependency upon higher inputs of herbicides. It therefore comes as no surprise to learn that companies big in the manufacture and distribution of biocides (eg Monsanto whose contribution to the well being of the world has included dioxin, rBGH, PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange and Roundup) are also major biotech players. Nor should it come as a surprise that intense lobbying by the same companies has led to a 200 fold increase in the permitted herbicide residues in soya.

If we can now spray herbicide tolerant soya with with higher levels of herbicide, then it follows that residue levels will increase. Increase in spray will lead to sterile fields in which nothing will grow but the tolerant crop.

Herbicide resistant beans grown in the vicinity of Roundup produce high levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen.

A rye grass (holium rigidum) in Southern Australia has developed resistance to glyphosate (Monsanto Roundup). Monsanto has tried to play down the resistance. Roundup has annual world sales of $1.5 billion (cf total Monsanto sales $9 billion).

Lateral transfer of herbicide resistant genes would lead to the creation of superweeds.

A transgenic squash (Cucurbita pepo, water-melon like plant) has been developed with virus resistance. The ecology of viruses is little understood, as has been shown by work done on wild brassicas growing on the cliff tops in Dorset. The resistance could transfer laterally to other crops, creating havoc in the ecosystem. There could be a plague of wild gourds (C. texano, native to Texas) were they to develop virus immunity.

Experiments with mustard carried out by Joy Bergelson (University of Chicago) found that the herbicide resistance gene was transferred to weedy relatives growing nearby.

Crops may have a 'pesticide' gene inserted. Superficially attractive, this could lead to long term pesticide residues. Of sufficient low level to lead to a whole new generation of superpests. Population levels of beneficial insects could be decimated. Pesticide contamination of food crops would take on a whole new meaning.

Terminator technology, a joint development by the US Department of Agriculture and Delta and Pine Land, prevents plants from producing viable seeds. Farmers will have no choice other than to buy in fresh seed each season. Fears about the misuse of this new development have been heightened by the acquisition of Delta and Pine Land by Monsanto. Nothing less than a worldwide ban on this technology is required. Rural Advancement Foundation International has launched a worldwide campaign to Stop the Terminator.

Other possibilities on offer are modified crops to produce industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals. Petroleum enriched food crops?

Of test sites in the US, 93% were of GM-crops to make food processing more profitable, only 7% laid claim to any nutritional or flavour advantages. An analysis of the trial sites in the EU shows that the vast majority are for the benefit of the chemical corporations pushing the technology, few if any are of benefit to farmers or consumers.

One of the most bizarre GM crops to date is a potato that will 'glow' when it is thirsty. A jellyfish gene has been transplanted into a potato. It causes the leaves to glow when the plant needs watering. This crazy £500,000 project at the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Edinburgh University, only goes to show how out of touch with reality are some of the scientists who are promoting GM food. Project leader, Professor Tony Trewavas, wants to see the potatoes growing in the UK by the end of 1999.

The Consumer Says No

Pedlars of genetically modified foods have tried to slip their adulterated products onto the world market in the hope that no one will notice. Absence of food labelling helps (as it does with irradiated food). Genetically modified soya is the classic example. Soya appears everywhere as a cheap filler (60% of processed foods contain soya). Foods were not labelled as it was claimed that it was impossible to source unmodified soya. That lie has been exposed by Iceland Frozen Foods (a UK frozen food chain) who thanks to the efforts of its outspoken chief executive Malcolm Walker (a strong critic of genetically modified foods) is offering its consumers a choice by refusing to use genetically modified soya in its own branded foods. The consumer led demand for unmodified soya, clearly labelled as such, will lead more farmers to demand clean seed, to enable them to meet the end demand.

Recognising that it is on to a loser by trying to slip its products past ignorant consumers, the biotech industry has gone on the offensive by launching a multi-million pound advertising campaign. The public remains unconvinced. Whilst lacking detailed scientific evidence the public's gut reaction is that something is wrong. It is self-evident and does not require a PhD in food science or genetics to see that the techniques are not natural. Opinion polls show the public to be overwhelmingly against genetically modified foods. The industry has been advised by PR consultants to steer away from real issues and concentrate on vague concepts.

A recent MORI poll commissioned by The Observer showed 76% of those surveyed (in the UK) didn't want genetically modified crops. An opinion poll conducted in March 1998 by the institute BVA on behalf of Greenpeace showed 76% of the French public not wanting to eat genetically modified food and 63% want the French government to reverse the authorisation of the planting of genetically modified maize. A poll of German consumers showed over 80% opposed to genetically engineered food. In Denmark an opinion poll by Gallup (December 1996) found that 68% of those surveyed thought genetically engineered food should be banned, 95% wanted it labelled, and 74% would choose traditional tomatoes even if the genetically engineered variety was tastier and stayed fresh for longer. A survey for The Guardian (UK, June 1998) showed 85% wanted GM and non-GM food segregated and 95% wanted GM-labelling. An Express/NOP opinion poll (UK, August 1998) showed 80% wanted tougher regulation of the food industry, 75% were more concerned about the contents of what they eat than they were a decade ago, 75% singled out genetically modified food as an issue of major concern, 56% said they were worried about what they were eating because of various food scares and 68% said their biggest priority was food being of high nutritional content and safe to eat. In a telephone poll conducted by The Express (9 February 1999) a staggering 94% said they wished to see a government ban on GM foods. Opinion polls across Europe have produced similar results. In the US, 90% of American consumers want mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.

Industry surveys have produced similar results. Uncertain World a report commissioned by Unilever from Lancaster University (March 1997) found strong opposition to genetically modified food and 'significant unease about the technology as a whole.'

The public and retailers have started to fight back. In addition to Iceland, Genetix Food Alert (a UK alliance of over 100 health food shops) have refused to stock genetically modified products. They expect the rest of the £1 billion a year wholefood industry to follow their example. In the words of Lindsay Keenan (spokesman for Genetix Food Alert) 'people want 100 per cent GM-free food.' The UK wholefood industry has set 21 September 1998 as a target date for declaring itself a GM-free sector. Vegetarians are particularly at risk as much of what they eat potentially contains genetically modified ingredients (soya, maize, tomato).

By early June 1998, more than a thousand schools in England in six local authority areas had banned GM-foods from school dinners.

Prisoners are demanding that they receive a GM-free diet as a basic human right. Ben Thompson, detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure at HMP Bullingdon, went on an eight-day hunger strike to demand this right. He came off the strike only on assurances which the prison governor reneged upon. Ben Thompson then went on a second hunger strike, which due to media attention and the tremendous support from the community the prison authorities were forced to cave in to his demands.

The Westminster all-party catering committee has barred genetically modified foods from bars and restaurants of the Palace of Westminster (House of Commons and House of Lords) on the grounds that it is not 'wholesome' and not enough is known about long-term safety. The chairman of the committee has said that in the wake of the mad cow disease scandal 'it is better to be safe than sorry', and has urged all restaurant owners to follow their example.

British Sugar has instructed farmers to harvest and destroy all trial plots of genetically modified sugar beet before harvesting the main crop to ensure segregation and to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. British Sugar have stated they will not be using genetically modified sugar beet.

In order to guarantee an unmodified crop free from cross-contamination Kellogg's are sourcing maize from Argentina. Rice is also sourced from countries free of modified crops. Nutri-bars are manufactured in the States and may contain contaminated soya.

All Birds Eye (Unilever frozen food subsidiary) products containing soya are likely to contain genetically modified soya as the soya is obtained from the States and no attempt is made to source unmodified soya. The policy is 'we support the modern biotech industry (including genetic modification), genetic modification offers advantages in quality and nutrition, consider the products to be safe and thoroughly tested and see genetically modified foods as conferring advantages on the food processing industry'. In the light of its policy of supporting the biotech industry, Birds Eye has no intention of sourcing clean inputs as it can not see the need (it is claimed that it is not possible to source unmodified soya). The policy is contradictory as Birds Eye state they will only use genetically modified foods when long term environmental impact assessments have taken place. Given the opportunity to substantiate their claims, Birds Eye were unable to do so, other than to state 'this is what we believe'. There is an ongoing process of labelling (with extremely tiny small print) genetically modified products (consumer choice), in the meantime if it contains soya, then assume it is modified. The Birds Eye position is Unilever corporate policy. Other Unilever brands include Flora, Bachelors, Stork, Oxo, Ragu, Vesta, Colmans. In a report entitled Uncertain World commissioned from Lancaster University (March 1997), Unilever found there was 'significant unease about the technology as a whole.' Unilever has been dealt a major blow by the refusal of the UK Vegetarian Society to endorse any of its GM-contaminated products. To misquote the Van den Bergh Foods (Unilever food subsidiary) corporate slogan 'out of touch with people's taste'.

Unilever, the world's biggest food company, received more than 3,000 phone calls from angry consumers in the UK. By Spring 99, it was forced to withdraw Beanfeast, its flagship GM food product and to agree to phase out all GM products.

McVitie's (a United Biscuits subsidiary, best known for its digestive biscuits) will continue to use genetically modified ingredients as it believes 'they are safe to eat'. McVitie's also trot out the familiar lame excuse that it is not possible to source clean supplies 'segregation will be difficult to achieve'.

Sainsbury's (UK supermarket chain) have reduced their own-brand lines down to half a dozen containing genetically modified soya and a tomato puree (the intention is to reduce this to zero). Own-brands containing genetically modified ingredients should display a prominent warning. Their buyers are putting pressure on their suppliers to supply only food products free from genetic modifications.

Tesco (UK supermarket chain) have reduced their own-brands containing genetically modified inputs down to 5% of the product range (all containing soya and labelled as genetically modified). The intention is to reduce this percentage to zero as soon as reliable clean sources can be found. Tesco buyers are putting pressure on all suppliers to provide food free of genetic modification. Tesco are also lobbying the government to outlaw genetically modified food.

Morrisons (north of England regional supermarket chain) intend to prominently label all own-brands containing genetically modified ingredients. No policy on the elimination of genetically modified foods. Unable to secure a reliable source of GM-free inputs. Sensitive to consumer pressure.

Co-operative Wholesale Society (suppliers to Co-op stores) have no policy on the elimination of genetically modified foods. Sensitive to consumer pressure.

In an internal memo (to staff and store managers), Holland & Barrett (ironically a UK chain of so-called health food shops) claim that it is impossible to supply food free of genetically modified soya as it is impossible to distinguish between modified and unmodified soya. The same claim is being repeated to customers (pers comm, 13 November 1998). To say the least Holland & Barrett are being economical with the truth, if not downright devious. True, two different soya crops, once mixed, cannot be separated, but there is nothing to stop them from sourcing from a clean crop, others have no problems sourcing clean soya. Farmers in US and Canada will supply unmodified soya to order, there are large stocks of unmodified soya in Latin America. For a chain that emphasises the health of its customers as a selling point, this is nothing less than gross hypocrisy.

Somerfield (UK supermarket chain) 'have not decided to second guess the Regulatory Authorities with regard to safety and we believe it is appropriate to leave those basic decisions within MAFF and the EU. To that end if a product is defined as safe and is allowed for food use, our intention would be to allow its subsequent use subject to labelling provisions which we are following.' Somerfield contempt for their consumers, their refusal to remove GM-foods from their shelves, their refusal to answer questions from worried consumers, should be matched by a consumer boycott of all their stores.

Safeway (supermarket chain) are, according to press reports, supporting the use of genetic engineering, claiming it is safe, and refusing to remove GM-foods from their shelves.

The policy at Asda (UK supermarket chain) on genetically modified food beggars belief: 'Genetic modification can be an effective and safe way of producing better foods. Conventional propagation is very hit and miss ... Scientists say genetic modification is more precise ... This change in cultivation [to herbicide resistant soya] is more efficient and environmentally friendly ... Genetically modified soya beans have been approved following rigorous assessment ... The new genetically modified version is no different from conventional beans', and so on. Asda also make the extraordinary claim that herbicide resistant soya will lead to less herbicide use and that the herbicide used [ie Roundup] breaks down easily in the soil. The in-store leaflet (on genetically modified soya) from which these quotes are taken, ends with the reassurance that 'all the information necessary' to make 'an informed decision' will be given (though they fail to label products containing genetically modified ingredients) and to emphasise the point industry trade bodies (addresses given) are listed as sources of further information. Asda has recently engaged in a number of high profile publicity stunts to convince the gullible public that is the consumer's best friend. To misquote the Asda corporate slogan: 'Excuses Guaranteed'. Following consumer pressure the policy at Asda does appear to be changing (pers comms, 28 October 1998) - whilst still maintaining GM-food is safe, Asda are, albeit with some foot dragging, starting to remove GM-ingredients from their own-brands.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has identified 74 endangered plant species which may be made extinct by glyphosate (ie Monsanto Roundup). Glyphosate reduces the nitrogen fixing properties of soil and is toxic to corrhizal fungi (responsible for nutrient recycling in soil). Glyphosate-type herbicides account for a third of of biocide problems in agricultural workers.

Flavr Savr, a Monsanto genetically modified tomato, was forced off the market by consumer opposition.

The European Commission has recognised the strong and growing public opposition. Their response has not been to to draft stringent regulations, enforce better food labelling or to propose a moratorium on crop release or introduction of genetically-modified foods but to offer generous research grants to anyone who will promote better public understanding and help assuage the growing public resistance. Yet one more reason (if more were needed) for the abolition of the business-oriented anti-democratic EU.

Austria and Luxembourg have decided to go it alone and contrary to EU imposed rules have decided to ban all genetically modified crops and foods entering their countries. The response of the EU has been to threaten both countries with legal action for their contravention of 'loyalty to the EU' (a consequence of the Maastricht Treaty). The UK has imposed a voluntary three-year moratorium, but this is extremely misleading as there were no imminent plans for growing the crops listed. Simultaneously the UK has given the go-ahead for trial plots on a commercial scale (cf Japanese 'scientific' whaling). Norway (non-EU) has banned all GMOs containing antibiotic resistance genes.

The EU nevertheless has been forced by consumer pressure to agree to implement GM-labelling (1 September 1998). The proposals have been attacked by critics as confusion labelling and failing to address the real issue of a European ban on GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Derived products, eg oils, will not require labelling. The European Consumer Affairs Commissioner has agreed that GMOs in food was likely to increase, but far from addressing the public's concern and outlawing their use, she has instead offered labelling as giving consumers a choice.

In Germany, Greenpeace have distributed magnifying glasses to enable consumers to read the tiny small print.

Activists Force the Pace

In the absence of legislation and consumer protection many activists are taking the matter into their own hands. Fields of genetically modified crops have been destroyed in England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia. In France, genetically modified maize seed was destroyed. Incidents of direct action are likely to grow.

genetiX snowball (gXs, a campaign of mass non-violent civil responsibility) are engaged in a campaign of direct action against genetically modified crops. The campaign started Saturday 4 July 1998, when five women pulled up a symbolic number of genetically modified crops. Participants wore protective clothing and placed the uprooted crops in sealed bags to minimise the risk of genetic contamination. The snowball grows as each participant encourages two more to follow their example. Further actions have followed since the launch of genetiX snowball, the snowball is growing. A blanket court injunction has been served on genetiX snowball to prevent them re-engineering Monsanto test crops. In what amounts to little more than a classic Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) the founders of genetiX snowball could face unlimited damages running into millions of pounds. Handbook for Action, published by genetiX snowball, is an excellent guide not only to the issues of genetic engineering, but also how to run a successful non-violent direct action campaign.

The Cultural Terrorist Agency are upping the stakes. Using Monsanto's own seeds smuggled in from Canada, CTA are mixing them with wild weeds to create the Natural Reality SuperWeed Kit. The kits, free on request, are being used to sabotage GM crops.

Campaigners in Norfolk, including Action Against Genetic Engineering, occupied a test site for a month. The campaigners established a camp, gardens, displays and workshops to illustrate the alternatives to genetically modified crops.

The Wardens of Wiltshire in an act of social responsibility have decontaminated a test site of genetically modified oil seed rape at Haycombe Hill Farm, Sutton Veny, Warminster.

By early August 1998, more than 40 sites in the UK had been re-engineered by campaigners, Monsanto alone had lost at least 6 sites. In addition to maintaining the moral high ground the eco-warriors may have right on their side as all test sites approved for growing genetically modified crops in the UK are illegal under the 1982 Seed Regulations.

By early August 1998 there was an estimated 100 or more direct-action groups within the UK with a new group being formed every 3-4 days.

The biotech industry regards the attacks on their sites as a major setback and may force them into retreat. According to Thomas Joliffe (R&D manager of a Dutch seed company) the loss of sites may 'prejudice the chances of GM maize being approved'. At the very least Joliffe expects a year's delay in gaining approval.

The reaction of the UK government has been to offer to speed up trials by waiving the requirement for companies to submit two sets of trial data before government trials. The companies may also be offered the possibility of trials at secret locations.

It is questionable whether the trials, especially the large-scale field trials are needed at all. It does not require GM trials to determine pollen distribution and cross-pollination. Too little monitoring takes place at the sites of all the variables involved, especially long-term studies and studies of soil microbiology. The inserted genes are known to be unstable, therefore the results from one site may not easily be translated elsewhere, as has already been seen in the US once experimental planting moved to commercial planting. It is questionable as to what point do the trials serve when their is no market for the products. The argument of the industry is that the trials are necessary to see what happens. This is like arguing to release rats infected with bubonic plague to see what happens. Once the alien genes are out in the environment they cannot be recalled. It may be nothing will happen, on the other hand the entire natural world may slowly unravel. The risk is not worth taking, especially when there are no demonstrable benefits for going GM.

Attacks on genetically modified crops has not been confined to the West. Across India, angry farmers are burning fields of GM-crops. Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS, Karnataka State Farmers Association) has launched a 'Cremation Monsanto' campaign. In their first action, 1 December 1998, they burnt a field of Monsanto Bt-cotton. Their example is being copied across India. Activists, recognising the global nature of the problem, have called on people across the world to rally to their aid, they have also vowed to continue the fight until all 'corporate killers like Monsanto, Novartis, Pioneer etc leave the country'.

Monsanto's activities in India have exposed the lie 'Monsanto the reputable company'. Basanna Hunsole was persuaded by Monsanto to grow a new variety of cotton, what he wasn't told was that the cotton was genetically modified or that the trial was illegal as government approval had not been obtained. His neighbours were similarly not informed. The claim was the new variety would give wonderful results, the actual reality was a crop reaching less then half the height of traditional varieties growing in neighbouring fields, and heavy infestation of boll weevils. No safeguards were in place, no buffer zones. The first Basanna Hunsole and his neighbours learnt of the truth of this new wonder variety from Monsanto was when the Karnataka State Minister of Agriculture publicly announced the location of Monsanto's GM test sites.

Shannon Coggins has been running her own lone campaign. In the absence of prominent warnings that food is contaminated, she has been placing her own warning labels on foods 'Contaminated with genetically modified soya'. In an appalling waste of public funds and an attack on free speech, a criminal prosecution was brought against Shannon Coggins using the widely discredited 1986 Public Order Act (ironically using a section designed to protect the public from the criminal tampering with and deliberate contamination of food). Walking free from court in North London (August 1998), Shannon Coggins vowed to continue her campaign. Many others are likely to be inspired by her courageous stance.

Asda is the classic example of the impact of consumer pressure. Early September 1998, Asda were erroneously claiming that 'there is absolutely no evidence to support the suggestion that genetically modified foods are potentially dangerous', they relied upon the assurances that 'GM soya and GM maize have been passed safe by all the relevant food authorities in Britain and Europe' and made the false claim that it was not possible to source GM-free soya. By late October 1998, whilst still trying to maintain the impossible that GM-food was safe though now with 'an open mind on genetic modification' the position had changed to 'we are asking suppliers to refrain from using any GM soya or maize ... to use certified GM free sources of soya and maize ... where suppliers cannot do this they are being asked to reformulate ... where this is not possible we will fully label'. [pers comms, 9 September 1998 & 28 October 1998]

By Spring 1999, consumer pressure proved too much. All major supermarkets and food processors in the UK were forced to cave in to public opinion and remove GM products from their shelves and products.

Although campaigners had been successful in removing GM food from the market, there was still the problem of field tests, especially large scale tests. Campaigners were left with no choice but to destroy the crops themselves. In one night, nine sites were destroyed. Of the large scale trials, three were of oil seed rape. Highly irresponsible in view of the distance that pollen travels. Of the three trials, the landowner destroyed the trial at Lushill Farm (near Swindon, Wiltshire) due to growing local opposition, the trial at Model Farm (Watlington, south of Oxford) was trashed by several hundred protesters attending a GM-free rally (18 July 1999), the largest act of civil disobedience seen in the UK. A week later (26 July 1999) Greenpeace destroyed a large-scale maize trial at Walnut Tree Farm, Lyng (Norwich, Norfolk), one of the four large-scale GM maize trials in England.

Farmers are being duped into growing experimental crops. Once the trials are complete it is the farmer who is left to clean up the mess.

In 1989, a micro-organism Bradyrhizobium japonica was genetically modified to enhance its nitrogen fixing properties, with the aim of improving soil fertility. Soybeans were coated with GE rhizobia. Field trials were conducted over a year, at the end of the season the crop was incinerated and the site ploughed. The site was then replanted. The GE rhizobia has remained in the soil and due to it having a competitive advantage is displacing the naturally occurring Bradyrhizobium japonica. Ploughing has distributed the GE rhizobia over a four acre area.

The Failure to Assess Risk

There has been a marked increase in various hard-to-identify allergy related illnesses, and corresponding respiratory illnesses like asthma. 1 in 5 in the UK have a tendency towards allergy or a deficiency in their immune system. It has been estimated that as many as 15 million are suffering from allergies. Children are especially at risk, an estimated five times as many suffer allergies as twenty years ago. Many allergies, such as nut allergy, are life threatening. Asthma is one of the fastest growing diseases in the West. Various factors are thought to be to blame - air pollution, pollution in the food chain, deliberate contamination of food with addictive flavour enhancers, colourings and preservatives. Flavour enhancers encourage us to consume more junk food, preservatives extend the shelve life, enabling global corporations to force out local producers.

We know from extensive experience that introduction of an alien species into a new environment where it has not co-evolved is an extremely dangerous practice. What then of the introduction of alien genes into the food chain?

Apply stress to a system, any system, and it will attempt to return to a stable position, though not necessarily the original position of stability. The insertion of an alien gene into a biological system is an extreme form of system stress.

DNA is a self-organising, self-replicating macromolecule, with the ability to perform error correction. Introduction of an alien gene introduces instability. The stress will cause the molecule to try and expel, or mutate the alien gene, but the resulting shakedown may result in a new structure, with the possibility of gross malfunction.

No thorough risk assessment is taking place. All that has to be shown is that a modified plant is substantially equivalent to an unmodified plant. Thus, if a genetically modified tomato is substantially equivalent to an unmodified tomato (for which there are no known health or environmental risks), then the genetically modified tomato must be safe. This cyclic argument demonstrates nothing but contempt for public concern and safety.

The chairman of the committee responsible for food safety in the UK when questioned on the risks, countered with the crass comment that consuming food always poses risks, there is the risk of choking. She claimed that DNA is destroyed in the digestive process. She was completely ignorant of research in Cologne showing that not only does DNA fragments survive, but these fragments are found within cells, including brain cells. When questioned (summer 1998), Jeff Rooker, UK Minister responsible for food safety, could not see a problem, and considered the real problem to be the attitude of the public. His reaction was very much that of a minister in the previous administration (John Gummer), who claimed BSE was not a problem, and forced a (potentially BSE contaminated) burger into the mouth of one of his children to emphasise the point.

In 1990, John Gummer (then UK Agriculture Minister) said 'There is no reason to believe BSE will be any different from scrapie.' In 1996, John Gummer (now Secretary of State for the Environment) said 'There is no reason to believe that the genetic modification of maize will give rise to to any adverse effects on human health from its use in human food.' In 1998, in evidence to the BSE Inquiry, Kenneth Kalman (former Chief Medical Officer of Health) said 'When I said beef was safe it was not to be taken as an assurance that there are no risks in eating beef.'

Government assurances on food safety have to be placed within their historical context. The British government assured the public that beef was safe, they did so in the full knowledge that beef was BSE contaminated and that BSE can lead to human-variant CJD (human form of mad cow disease). As a result more than a twenty people have died, with potential deaths running into hundreds of thousands. The mechanism by which BSE spreads is still not known, other than small proteins called prions are involved. Scrapie (sheep form of BSE) has been studied the longest and yet little is known about this disease. There is a theoretical risk of sheep catching BSE (BSE in cows may have arisen due to cows being fed scrapie infected sheep). The government claims there is no risk to humans. The best that can be said is that we do not know as there is insufficient experimental data. Government assurances are designed to safeguard vested interests not the wider public.

Senior medical researchers are calling for the establishment of a committee of experts to monitor the effects of genetic engineering, similar to that which is now monitoring human links with BSE. The risks that have been identified include allergies, cancer, acute toxicity and major disruptions to the genetic order.

The two bodies in the UK that advise on food safety are dominated by people whose livelihood depends upon agribusiness and the food industry. Julie Hill, the only (token) environmentalist to serve on the UK Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, has described her fellow committee members as 'the wrong group of people doing the wrong job' and that they are 'enthusiasts for the technology'. According to FoE, several members of ACRE have financial interests in the trials for which ACRE is granting approval.

The situation of vested interest sitting on the very committees that were acting as regulators eventually became too much and the government were forced to sack all those with a vested interest.

A report commissioned by the UK government early 1998 to look into the dangers of genetically modified food was subsequently suppressed as it raised too many dangers were commercial growing of GM-crops to go ahead.

In 1992, the US Food and Drugs Administration decided it would not require GM-foods to undergo any testing before being put on the market, nor would it require any formal prior notification. Only if the company declared that 'sufficient safety questions exist' would FDA seek pre-market testing. When inserting alien genes, the FDA merely urges testing where the genetic engineers themselves are 'reasonably suspicious' of any risks involved. The US EPA and the Department of Agriculture merely require notification for field trials where these involve any unusual modification to corn, soybeans, cotton, tobacco, tomatoes and potatoes; a permit is required for other crops. Modified micro-organisms must be registered. Lobbyists are at work trying to remove even these minimum regulations for plants modified for herbicide and virus resistance. The FDA has allowed BST (rBGH, genetically engineered recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) onto the market (banned in the EU and Canada), dairies that wished to label their milk as free from rBGH were barred from doing so (removing the consumers right to choose). BST is identified with breast cancer in women, prostrate cancer in men; it stimulates over-production of milk in cows leading to stress, an increased incidence of mastitis, which in turn leads to increase in the use of antibiotics which find their way into the milk. The FDA official responsible for the FDA labelling policy was Michael R Taylor, previously a partner in a law firm that represented Monsanto, he then left the FDA to return to work for Monsanto. A rapidly revolving door separates Monsanto from the FDA. Staff leave Monsanto and move to the FDA to regulate Monsanto, then, mission accomplished, return to Monsanto. The lax US food regulations have led to an annual 9,000 deaths and 81 million falling ill through eating contaminated food.

Contrary to assurances given by the biotech industry and regulatory authorities, tests are construed to safeguard the industry not guarantee public safety. Standard toxicology tests are conducted by the industry, no testing by regulatory authorities (who rely on industry data), no independent scientific tests, no long term studies, no sixth, seventh, eighth and later generation studies, no monitoring of releases to the environment. In the US `regulatory relief' was granted to the biotech industry. In Europe modified soya was granted approval despite a warning from the UK Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes 'It is .... impossible to predict what long-term effects, if any, the genetic modification may have on the plant.' Much of Monsanto's data for soya, when subjected to independent analysis, has been shown to be flawed (eg modified soya shown to be 'safe' had not been treated with herbicide).

EU approval for Bt-plants for their effects on non-target insects was based on only two field trials of which only one set of test data was provided to the EU. The tests were carried out in the US where environmental conditions are markedly different to most European countries. It is known that just small environmental changes can cause gene instability and cause the gene to confer a characteristic different to that originally intended.

Environmental stress (drought) caused Bt-cotton to drop its cotton bolls. In Texas Bt-cotton failed because it was 'too hot', in Australia because it was 'too cold'. The Flavr Savr tomato failed in Florida because the conditions were different from where it had been developed in California. The trauma of transplanting genetically modified tobacco seedlings caused them to lose their designer characteristics.

The only meaningful trials taking place are those that use the human population as involuntary guinea-pigs and the environment as an outside laboratory. The Union of Concerned Scientists described the field trials taking place as 'don't look, don't find', to which Henry Miller (a strong supporter of the industry) retorted 'don't need, don't look'. Experiments on the public without their prior informed consent is a contravention of the European BioEthics Convention, it would also be a contravention of the first article of the 1947 Nuremberg Code which says that the voluntary consent of a human subject in medical experiments is essential and specifies that anyone taking part in a medical experiment must be capable of giving consent. At a meeting held in Nuremberg on the 50th Anniversary of the trial of the Nazi doctors who conducted human experiments on concentration camp prisoners, German physicians were highly critical of the lax regime for genetic experimentation.

It wasn't mandatory testing that picked up that soya containing a Brazil nut gene caused fatal nut allergy or that soil bacteria engineered to produce ethanol killed wheat seedlings, it was the curiosity of the few remaining independent research scientists.

Genetically modified material is being disposed of to the environment as liquid waste with no requirement for treatment, no requirement for monitoring. The only regulatory requirement is notification.

In the UK, public confidence in the quality of foods and the assurances given by the regulatory authorities is at an all time low. One of the main problems, in addition to numerous food scares (BSE, E.coli infections etc), is that MAFF acts to support and sponsor the food industry, whilst at the same time pretending to act in the public interest. Proposals had been put forward to establish a Food Standards Agency. Having promised much before the election, New Labour, more than 18 months into office, have failed to deliver and appear to have put the establishment of a Food Standards Agency on permanent hold.

Mid-February 1999, the week that a group of international scientists confirmed the work of Professor Arpad Puztai, public anger in the UK erupted. No matter how often Tony Blair and his ministers repeated the mantra 'GM food is safe' the public remained unconvinced. Ministers, and various 'independent' scientists deployed on behalf of the biotech industry, tried numerous smear campaigns, it was media and public hysteria, half-truths were being told. Half-truths were being told, if not downright blatant lies, but the liars were the government ministers and their scientific advisers. It was claimed that there was no scientific evidence to support the claim that GM food was not safe or that there were environmental problems, that there was tough regulation. The same week that Monsanto were fined for failing to comply with minimal environmental safeguards. The same week that Lord Sainsbury was seen on the one hand to be strongly involved in the biotech industry through family trusts and at the same time promoting the industry as a government minister. Tony Blair showed his unfitness for high office by claiming there was nothing wrong. During the week it was revealed that since taking office in May 1997, the government had held more than 81 meetings with Monsanto, that £1.5 million of taxpayers money had been given to Monsanto, part of £15 million allocated to biotech companies. It became increasing apparent that the government had sold out to the biotech industry lock, stock and barrel, most noticeable in their oft repeated comment that we have to protect the industry. As the week progressed the arrogance of Tony and his cronies and their contempt for the public become ever more apparent. What had been an issue of genetic engineering rapidly escalated into a crisis of democracy. Who was running the country, a democratic government accountable to the people or a control freak in the pocket of global corporations?

Biotech companies have been using using their artificially inflated share prices to buy up seed companies. This bodes ill for the future. Apart from the obvious restriction of choice, they may be tempted to follow the same path of previous selective breeding programs that increased fertiliser take-up and pesticide dependency.

A Rise in Disease?

It is in the area of pharmaceuticals that some of the largest profits beckon. The pharmaceutical industry is highly profitable. Great claim is made of the advances in medical care as a result of the highly profitable drug culture. Most of these claims are false. The Romans lacked knowledge of microbiology but they knew living near swamps caused malaria so they drained the swamps and the incidence of malaria dropped. The outbreaks of Cholera and Typhoid that plagued Europe markedly dropped with the supply of clean water and proper sanitation. The great advances in general health took place at the turn of the century, with improvement in sanitation, diet, living conditions. The great peddling of drugs did not start until the Second World War. The major contribution of the drug companies, apart from saddling all of us with a massive health bill, has been the rise in the number of drug resistant diseases (widely recognised to be the problem for the new millennia). The chemical and biological warfare being waged against microbes can only give short-term advantages as the microbes have many more ways of defending themselves then we have weapons in our chemical arsenals, that is apart from the various side effects of the current regime. In the US, 2 million hospitalised, 180,000 deaths per annum, are attributed to iatrogenic diseases (diseases caused by prescribed drugs). Adverse reaction to prescribed drugs is the fourth commonest cause of death in the US. New drugs that come onto the market are either 'me too' drugs to avoid royalty payments, or new wonder drugs, developed less with a concern for the human condition, than in the hope that they too will become the new mega-earners. With the rise in poverty and the collapse of welfare systems we are seeing a correspondent rise in disease. The most dramatic example is in the former Soviet Union where diseases once thought conquered are now rampant and (except for the very rich) life expectancy has dropped by several years within the remarkable short space of a decade.

Genetic engineering may lead to a worsening in the rise of disease. In transferring a gene from one species to another we may also be transferring disease vulnerability, antibiotic resistance, cancer and a host of problems we are not yet aware of. Three decades ago Legionnaire's disease was unknown, two decades ago AIDS was unknown, one decade ago Mad Cows disease was unknown.

Alien genes produce alien proteins (that is why they have been inserted), which in turn may produce unknown allergies. These new allergies can not be tested for until the subject has become sensitised.

The allergic reaction caused by transferring a nut gene to soya was caught because nut allergies are known and were tested for. Similarly the damage to a rat's immune system caused by genetically modified potatoes was caught because the transferred genes generate lectins which are known to damage immune systems and thus the potential damage was tested for. By definition the dangers caused by the transfer of novel genes are unknown thus cannot be tested for.

Bacteria and viruses possess the natural ability for lateral gene transfer. Viruses posses the ability to self-repair. The use of 'crippled' viruses offers little protection as the virus can pick up DNA to either repair itself or to mutate into a novel more virulent strain against which we may have no natural defences. The construction of transfer vectors from several different viruses that attack a wide range of species could result in viruses that are non-species specific. There has been a sharp increase in antibiotic resistance and virulence. The use of antibiotic marker genes in transferred genes will lead to increased antibiotic resistance. The misuse of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture has led to antibiotic resistance. The use of antibiotics can promote the rate of gene transfer by factors of 10 to 100. Genetic engineering will provide a novel gene pool to draw from. DNA sequences found in virulent strains are thought to be the result of genetic engineering. The aggressive vectors used to transfer genes (often spliced from aggressive, virulent viruses) will continue their work as disease vectors, possibly across species. Transfer vectors are designed not only to overcome the species barrier, but also to defeat cellular defence mechanisms that would normally break down or deactivate the alien DNA. There is no regulatory requirement to monitor horizontal gene transfer. We are rapidly approaching the situation where for some diseases, previously treatable by antibiotics, there will be no effective antibiotics.

One millilitre of E.coli is sufficient to infect the entire human population. A single cell of E.coli can, in optimum conditions, produce 1 ml in 24 hours. In non-optimum conditions E.coli can lie dormant, picking up DNA. A laboratory strain of E.coli disappeared in sewage for 12 days, before reappearing with a vengeance as a virulent strain with multi-drug resistance.

DNA contains long strands of 'junk DNA' the exact function remains unknown, but may contain evolutionary dead-ends, redundant coding. In amongst this junk lies fragments of viral DNA, possibly echoes from our evolutionary past. The inserted gene, or the aggressive viral vector, could link with these virus fragments to form new viruses against which we have no evolutionary protection.

Viruses are able to insert themselves into bacteria and with the help of genetic material from the virus turn the bacteria into a deadly killer. Unlike higher life forms bacteria lack a species barrier and possess the ability to transfer DNA laterally, that is between bacteria.

Patents on Life and Other GM Concerns

Although not a food, thus not directly related to health, though allergy sufferers who wear natural fibres may be effected, cotton is a major environmental threat due to the acreage devoted to cotton. GM cotton finds its way into the human food chain through the use of cotton 'waste' in animal feedstock, it is also used in medicines. Use of GM cotton was a major issue raised by shareholders at a M&S AGM. Retailers are being asked to remove GM cotton from their clothes racks. Irrigated cotton is a major cause of salinization, the large amounts of toxins used in growing and processing cotton are a major environmental and health hazard. Poor people are forced off their land to grow cotton for export, rather than food for local consumption.

The next threat will be GM trees, modified to be faster growing, more 'efficient'. GM trees pose a greater threat than food crops. They will put pressure to clear fell more virgin forest. Their life span being very much longer than food crops, means it will be many years before any problems become apparent.

There are several problems related to genetic engineering, though not discussed here. One is the patenting of 'discovered' genes. Patents exist to protect and reward intellectual endeavour. No intellectual endeavour is involved in the automated (or soon to be) cataloguing of genes. In Cambridge a bank of automated DNA sequencers are busy sequencing human DNA as part of the Human Genome Project. Indigenous peoples are having blood samples taken and their genes patented. DNA sequences from crops are being patented with the intention of charging a licence fee for their continued use. Having raped and pillaged the Third World, global corporations are now intent on stealing their genes. Another problem is genetic screening, by which means people are being denied life insurance and employment (and other civil violations not yet dreamt of). The new wonder treatment of gene therapy, promising mega-bucks to the drug companies, has failed to deliver. This in part appears to be because there is no such thing as a single gene disease, genes give a propensity towards a disease, the environment is the dominant factor.

Another related problem though not discussed here which has a genetic dimension and raises similar moral, ethical and scientific issues is the transfer of organs from animals to humans. Ethical and moral considerations to one side there is the grave danger of unknown viruses crossing the species barrier.

Does Life on Earth Have a Future?

Global corporations have the ultimate aim of controlling everything in the life process from birth to death - who is born, how we are born, when and where we are born, health care, what we eat, breath and drink, how and when we will die and the genetic creations down on the pharm.

Man's poor stewardship of the planet has caused a squandering of its genetic riches (agribusiness, Green Revolution, Rain Forest destruction). In Victorian England there were many hundreds of varieties of soft fruits, now we are lucky to see a mere handful on supermarket shelves, and it is extremely rare to see named varieties. By the year 2000 we will have lost 95% of the genetic diversity that was utilised in agriculture at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the face of this massive man-made loss of genetic resources it is an act of perversion to then attempt to create a few artificial genetic resources. Genetic engineering is the single most important danger that threatens us as we approach the 21st century. It takes only one rogue gene.

English Nature (UK Government Wildlife Adviser), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Women's Environmental Network, Genetics Forum, Genetic Engineering Network, genetiX snowball, Prince Charles and many other organisations and concerned individuals are calling for a moratorium on the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment.

Any human endeavour involves risks, there is then a trade-off against benefits. The acceptable level of risk is a political decision, once the risk has been assessed. With genetic engineering the risks are unquantifiable due to the degree of unknowns. For the population at large there are no benefits, nor is there a demand to be satisfied. There are no environmental benefits. That is not to say there are no benefits. The biotech companies hope to make a big killing. It may be a bigger killing than they anticipated.

The big question is who benefits: the consumer, the environment or industry?

Genetic engineers, neo-Darwinists and the biotech industry are the new Nazis. The Nazis in the 1930s only experimented on the Jewish race, the new Nazis are experimenting on the entire human race.

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Keith Parkins, Biopiracy and Intellectual Property Rights, July 1999

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Keith Parkins, Genetically Engineered Trees, August 1999

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John Vidal, Students are paid to eat pesticides, The Guardian, 30 July 1998

John Vidal, Genetic crops move upsets green groups, The Guardian, 22 October 1998

John Vidal & David Hencke, Genetic food facing crisis, The Guardian, 18 November 1998

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Hugh Warwick, The Next GM Threat: Frankenstein Trees, The Ecologist, July 1999

Nicholas Watts, Genetic food minister should be axed, The Guardian, 15 February 1999

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Emily Wilson, Food scientist 'got it wrong', Daily Mail, 13 August 1998

Paul Wilkinson, Crop experiment giant admits farm safety lapse, The Times, 18 February 1999

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Marie Woolf, Farm drugs face ban over superbug scare, The Independent on Sunday, 30 November 1998

Marie Woolf, Revealed: risks of genetic food, The Independent on Sunday, 13 December 1998

Marie Woolf, Labour pays GM giants to come to UK, The Independent on Sunday, 14 February 1999

Marie Woolf, Ministers told to study GM health risks, The Independent on Sunday, 2 May 1999

Marie Woolf & Geoffrey Lean, The Seeds of Destruction, The Independent on Sunday, 14 February 1999

Robin Young, GM pants and socks next on protesters list, The Times, 19 July 1999

Bibi van der Zee, Label warfare, consumer section, The Guardian, 27 August 1998

Gibby Zobel, Welcome to Cold Britannia, The Big Issue, 23-29 November 1998

Gibby Zobel, Food Fight, The Big Issue, 19 December 1998 - 3 January 1999

Gibby Zobel, 'Superweed' is the new weapon in guerrilla gardeners' genetic food fight, The Big Issue, 1-7 February 1999

Gaia index ~ Life ~ Gaia ~ GM trees ~ Biopiracy ~ Xenotransplants
(c) Keith Parkins 1998-1999 -- September 1999 rev 20