News Update From The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foodsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Dear Health Freedom Fighters,
There are four types of genetically engineered crops: 1) Herbicide-resistant - such as Round Up Ready Soybeans 2) Built-in pesticide - such as the Bt Corn (StarLink for example) 3) Nutrient fortified - such as Golden Rice with extra vitamin A 4) Built-in vaccination - to deliver drugs through the food
The biotech industry has been promoting their products through a classic "bait and switch" sales technique. They have been talking about feeding starving children in third world countries with their vitamin A fortified Golden Rice and crops with built-in vaccinations. That is the "bait."
The "switch" is that products such as the Golden Rice and the vaccine containing crops are not yet fully developed. Instead the biotech companies are selling us herbicide-resistant soybeans and corn with built-in pesticides. These genetically engineered foods are unlabeled, untested, and are sold to an unknowing public. There is growing evidence that these biotech crops could be harmful to both the environment and human health.
Anyone who would dare to attack the "miracle of biotech foods" has been painted by the biotech industry as being against feeding starving children. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It the past few days, British and Canadian news sources have reported that the Golden Rice is not all it has been promoted to be -- the vitamin A level is actually quite low. This is a significant disclosure since the biotech industry has spend millions of dollars promoting the wonders of Golden Rice.
So far it does not seem that any of the United States media have reported this story about the misrepresentation of the facts by the biotech industry.
It turns out that someone eating an average portion of the Golden Rice would only get about 8% of the required daily intake of vitamin A. So someone would need to eat about 8 to 10 pounds of this genetically engineered rice a day to get the required amount of vitamin A.
Even the Rockefeller Foundation, a big promoter of Golden Rice, was reported as saying that the public relations campaign based on Golden Rice has "gone too far."
Greenpeace Canada has filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada demanding that misleading biotech industry advertisements be withdrawn from broadcast.
Greenpeace has also created a document on the "Reality vs. Myths on Golden Rice." You can access the Adobe Acrobat version of this at: http://www.greenpeacecanada.org/e/news/rice.pdf
Posted below is a Special Report titled "GM rice promoters 'have gone too far' " from the British newspaper The Guardian. Also posted is the Greenpeace Canada press release.
Craig Winters Executive Director The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
The Campaign PO Box 55699 Seattle, WA 98155 Tel: 425-771-4049 Fax: 603-825-5841 E-mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Web Site: http://www.thecampaign.org
Mission Statement: "To create a national grassroots consumer campaign for the purpose of lobbying Congress and the President to pass legislation that will require the labeling of genetically engineered foods in the United States."
GM rice promoters 'have gone too far'
Special report: GM debate
Paul Brown, environment correspondent Saturday February 10, 2001 The Guardian
Claims by the biotech industry and some US politicians that genetically engineered "golden rice" would save the sight of 500,000 children a year are exaggerated, according to the Rockefeller Foundation, which is funding the rice's development.
The project, which has been used worldwide by supporters of genetically modified crops as a justification for the technology, appears likely to generate only a fraction of the additional vitamin A intake it once promised. Vitamin A helps prevent eye disease.
If consumers were on a diet of 300g (11oz) of the GM rice a day - the average consumption of an Asian adult - it would provide only 8% of the required daily intake of the vitamin, according to independent scientists.
An adult would, in effect, have to eat 9kg of cooked rice (the equivalent of 3.75kg of uncooked rice) a day to satisfy the required intake and a pregnant woman would need twice that amount.
The Rockefeller Foundation says that the public relations campaign based on golden rice has "gone too far".
Syngenta, the agribusiness company which owns many of the patents on the rice, has in the past claimed that a single month of marketing delay would cause 50,000 children to go blind.
The main deficiency problem is found in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines where the lack of vitamin A in a rice diet causes childhood blindness and up to 1m deaths a year. Adding beta-carotene to rice, which the body turns into vitamin A, turns it yellow, hence the name golden rice.
The rice's development has provided a powerful propaganda tool for the GM industry. The then US president Bill Clinton said last year: "If we could get more of this golden rice, which is a genetically modified strain of rice especially rich in vitamin A, out to the developing world, it could save 4,000 lives a day, people that are malnourished and dying."
A number of bio-tech firms, including Syngenta and Monsanto, were credited with licensing patents on golden rice which would allow the technology to "be made available free of charge for humanitarian uses in any developing nation".
Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace said: "It is clear that the GM industry has been making false claims about golden rice. It is nonsense to think anyone would or could eat this much rice, and there is still no proof that it can provide any significant vitamin benefits anyway.
"Our view is that the billions of pounds that has been spent developing this rice and the false hopes it has raised has diverted valuable resources away from more sensible ways of tackling VAD deficiency.
"Far from saving children's sight, 'golden rice' is preventing other more certain methods being developed."
In response to a report by Vandana Shiva, an Indian campaigner against GM foods, Rockefeller Foundation spokesman Gordon Conway said: "First it should be stated that we do not consider golden rice to be the solution to the vitamin A deficiency problem. Rather it provides an excellent complement to fruits, vegetables and animal products in diets, and to various fortified foods and vitamin supplements."
He said that for poor families lacking, for example, 10%, 20% or 50% of the required daily intake of vitamin A, golden rice could be useful, although even the best lines of rice produced by the bio-tech companies, reported in the journal Science, could contribute only 15% to 20% of the daily requirement.
He added: "I agree with Dr Shiva that the public relations uses of golden rice have gone too far.
"The industry's advertisements and the media in general seem to forget that it is a research product that needs considerable further development before it will be available to farmers and consumers."
Mr Conway added, however, that he still thought that golden rice has the potential to make an important contribution to reducing vitamin A deficiency.
February 9, 2001
Greenpeace demands false biotech advertising be removed from TV
(Toronto) Greenpeace is filing a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada demanding that misleading biotech industry advertisements be withdrawn from broadcast. The Council for Biotech Information's ads say that "Golden rice could help prevent blindness and infection in millions of children" but recent scientific evidence shows that this is not the case.
A Greenpeace report, released today, shows that the genetically engineered (GE) rice provides so little vitamin A that an adult would have to eat 10 pounds (dry weight) of rice a day to meet recommended allowances. A two year old child would need to eat seven pounds per day.
"It is shameful that the biotech industry is using starving children to promote a dubious product," said Michael Khoo of Greenpeace. "This isn't about solving childhood blindness, it's about solving biotech's public relations problem."
In a recent letter to Greenpeace, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which initially funded development of the GE rice, expressed his concern that the biotech industry's promotion of vitamin A rice has "gone too far" and is misleading the public and media. He adds that "we do not consider golden rice the solution to the Vitamin A deficiency problem."
Even the scientist who developed golden rice, Dr. Ingo Potrykus, has admitted there is not a single published study showing that the human body can convert the beta-carotene in GE rice to vitamin A.
This is not the first time the biotech industry has been caught with false advertising. In 1998, Monsanto was forced to withdraw a similar European TV commercial after leaders of 23 African countries stated to the United Nations that they "Strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations...We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century." In Canada on October 17, 2000 development groups Oxfam and CUSO joined Greenpeace to declare that "Biotech will not solve world hunger"
In the short term, childhood blindness resulting from Vitamin A deficiency could be cheaply and effectively addressed through distribution of vitamin supplements. In the long term, sustainable agriculture and diet diversification programs must be implemented to increase access to foods naturally rich in vitamin A. Expensive, limited access solutions like GE rice exacerbate the fundamental problems of hunger and malnutrition.
-- Earthmama (email@example.com), February 13, 2001
Thanks for the info Earthmama. I've always suspected that this golden rice was nothing more than a PR ploy. Why would a company want to spend all the money to develop a GE crop when providing a child with 2 Vitamin A capsules per year costs $0.04 and is much more effective? Sherri in IN
-- Sherri C (CeltiaSkye@aol.com), February 13, 2001.
Wow, a child only needs TWO vitamin A capsules per YEAR. Someone really blew all that research effort.
-- Lynn Goltz (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 13, 2001.
Here is some info about Vitamin A from The Child Survival Site at www.the childsurvivalsite.com
Why is vitamin A important?
Vitamin A can improve a child's chance of survival by as much as 25%. Vitamin A is essential for the functioning of the immune system. Children who are vitamin A deficient are at much greater risk of dying from common childhood illnesses such as measles. The problem can easily be solved with twice-yearly capsules costing just 2 cents each or by fortifying food staples such as flour or sugar.
How does vitamin A benefit the body?
Vitamin A, stored normally in the liver, is crucial for effective immune-system functioning, protecting the integrity of epithelial cells lining the skin, the surface of the eyes, the inside of the mouth and the alimentary and respiratory tracts. When this defense breaks down in a vitamin A-deficient child, the child is more likely to develop infections and the severity of an infection is likely to be greater.
How does vitamin A help prevent childhood diseases?
Through food fortification and nutrition education, vitamin A helps boost children's immunity to disease and is key to improving their survival, growth and development. This is especially important in developing areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where the population might not consistently benefit from liver, eggs, butter, green leafy vegetables or orange and yellow fruits. Vitamin A deficiency does not seem to be at such critical levels in industrialized countries because of the ready access to these foods and fortification of foods that has been standard for decades.
-- Sherri C (CeltiaSkye@aol.com), February 13, 2001.
I was reading somewhere about the "golden" rice awhile back. Sorry, don't remember where, but that article was also saying that since the seed was patented, they would not be allowed to save their seed, but would have to purchase new seed every year. Their greed knows no bounds.
-- Joy Froelich (email@example.com), February 13, 2001.
Joy, you hit the nail on the head!!! Monsanto was ruled against in the one genetic engineering case where they wanted to market seeds that were "Sterile", in that they would not produce seed that would grow. It was a really hard fought battle but they lost because they couldn't assure that the sterility wouldn't "jump" to other crops. Now this is another ploy to plug the seed saving in the third world. Most people in other countries only buy seed after a drough or something causes a crop failure and they will starve to death if they don't eat their "seed". The is real folks. You can even read about it in the mainstream farm newspapers.
In the latest "Farmer's Advance" a farm newspaper we subscribe to, they were encouraging farmers to only accept "certified" seed that had been tested for the StarLink (Bt Corn) and found negative. This corn is a total bust because we can't export any of it because no one wants it. Now it is what all you good folks will be buying to feed your animals.
-- diane (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 13, 2001.
Another side to the issue is that if you don't get the neccessary fatty acids in your diet (highly unlikely if you're starving) then all of the vitamin A in the world won't help you because you won't be able to absorb it. It is a fat-soluable vitamin and starvation diets are notorious for their lack of fat. (Unless you're a hip-heavy American trying to lose weight!)
-- Soni (email@example.com), February 13, 2001.
Thanks for the post, Earthmama. The thing that is the most frightening about all of this is the tremendous political favors these mega corps garner, and then the fact that we can live without money, but we cannot live without food. The frankenfood products that have already been "out there" could end up causing problems with regular strains because of the cross pollination.... I guess we will see what happens, huh?
-- Doreen (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 13, 2001.
Personally I think 'waiting to see what happens' is not an appropriate reponse for those of us who recognize the seriousness of this issue. I know we all must pick our battles, and this is one of my biggies. What happens with GEO's affects almost EVERYTHING; it cannot be ignored. The genetic drift onto standard crops and pollution of the genetic thread thereof; the ALREADY somewhat substantiated damage to the balance of the ecosystem ( insect life; threats to the effectiveness of environmentally gentle pest controls; life-threatening allergens hidden within the cells of formerly common and assumed safe foods). Not to mention the real and symbolic power over the entire food chain (and therefore the PEOPLE) which is the definitive goal of the multinational conglomerates.
Because of the speed and power with which these huge companies wield control over the government/media/public, time is of the essence. It won't take long for GEO's to pollute ALL farmland, from which there could very conceivably be no return. It's about profit and control,for those are these companies' only values.
Please do whatever you can to stop this madness; the rest of world is lightyears ahead of this country, but unfortunately no other country has the power that this one does, and our public's apathy on this issue is astonishing. Join the Campaign click here or whatever other group is working hard on this issue ; it doesn't have to cost you anything. Please spend a little time to do your bit to give one last chance to our gasping-for-life planet. Whether you believe life on Earth came about from a Big Bang, or from a beautiful Bible story, we could all come together to save her in all her former perfection, if only we cared enough.
-- Earthmama (email@example.com), February 13, 2001.
Earthmama, I hope you didn't take my last statement to be apathetic. I am far from it on this issue. I've written a number of letters to corporations about these things. Several years ago I read a book by Texxe Mars on all of the conglomerates and it sent me into a fevered frenzy of letter writing. It actually is the best compendium of agricultural despotism I have seen. I'll go join the campaign... I just don't know how to stop it when Monsanto and Dupont and Cargill are all in bed together and have the majority of producers under their thumbs as well....Hopefully it's not further along than we think, and someone has a viable plan in place to slow/stop this.
-- Doreen (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 13, 2001.
Thanks for posting this important information, I have been following the news reports. So good to hear there is an organized group. You can do so much when there is a group. I hope lots of people join and not wait for others to do it. We our the people who make the changes. Thanks again. Joanne Aller
-- Joanne Aller (email@example.com), February 17, 2001.
Most people think they can't make a diffence. But if everyone calls companies, they do listen. I called and the lady said if enough of the public doesn't want it, they will stop using GNFood. So call. We have to work together. I heard even when 12 people call on an issue, it's enough to make them question. Thanks for all the nice information and the web site where we could sign up.
-- Joanne (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2001.