Memorandum by the Soil Association
The impending introduction of genetically modified
organisms into UK agriculture poses the most serious threat ever
to the objectives and progress of the organic farming movement
in developing and introducing viable systems-based approaches
The issue goes to the heart of what the Soil
Association has been endeavouring to achieve for more than 50
years, and brings into focus the directly opposing approach of
the organic farming movement and most of the agricultural supply
industry towards the sustainability of agricultural production
Even if genetic engineering brings small reduction
in the amount of pesticide applied to some individual crops, the
whole approach of the genetic engineering industry is to make
farmers more, not less reliant on chemical inputs, in particular
soluble artificial fertilisers and pesticides. The development
of herbicide-resistant crops, for example, will lead to further
loss of biodiversity, the "sterilisation" of agricultural
crop land and the virtual elimination of food sources for predatory
species which can otherwise exist within a cropped area and which
can provide a high level of control against agricultural pests.
As such the approach is directly opposite to that adopted by organic
producers and others using techniques of integrated pest management
which have acknowledged benefits for wildlife.
While the techniques of genetic engineering
are being used to introduce new genes into agricultural crops
it is clear that, due to the selection criteria that are used,
the overall trend will be to make farmers reliant on plant varieties
which are derived from a substantially smaller genetic base. This
will make agriculture as a whole potentially more vulnerable to
the development of new pathogenic organisms that may arise in
The Soil Association is in general agreement
with the submission to the Select Committee made by GeneWatch.
To avoid duplication our evidence should be seen as additional
to that of GeneWatch.
1. THE APPROPRIATENESS
The Soil Association is concerned that most
research on genetically engineered (GE) organisms has been conducted
by or on behalf of the biotechnology companies. Very little genuinely
independent research into the possible effects of GE organisms
has been carried out because the research is viewed as "near
market" and most university research faculties are now also
financially linked to biotechnology companies. We believe this
to be a fundamental problem which the EU is well placed to address.
The development of biotechnology in agricultural crop production
poses potential major health and environmental problems. In our
view it is not sufficient to evaluate research by independent
committees, there is a genuine and urgent need for additional
independent research. The EU has a European Federation of Biotechnology
Task Group on Public Perceptions of Biotechnology which funds
work on countering public resistance to biotechnology seen as
the biggest problem for the industry. Generous grants are given
to support "public understanding".1
Our experience has been that this promotion
assumes that biotechnology is the only viable way forward
without even considering evidence that shows organic methods offer
a viable and safe future for world agriculture.2
(b) release into the environment
The release of GE crops poses a specific threat
to the integrity of organic production. Legally binding organic
farming standards make it clear that genetically modified organisms
are not acceptable in organic farming (see Appendix) yet it is
already becoming difficult to ensure that organic crops are not
"contaminated" by genetically modified material.
We feel it is vital that the regulatory process
for licensing genetically modified crops should include an evaluation
of the potential impact this may have on organic producers in
the area. So far such evaluation has not been undertaken. The
potential exists for the transfer of GMOs by cross pollination
and other means, such as slow migration of soil bacteria carrying
modified DNA, or more rapid transfer by an intermediary such as
insects, invertebrates or birds. There is also the potential of
continuing reproduction, spread, contamination and hybridisation.
This raises questions about the organic status of affected land
in addition to organic certification of individual crops.
In the UK, organic farmers are already
deeply concerned about contamination of their crops from the numerous
GE test sites around the country. If commercial planting goes
ahead as planned, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible,
for organic farming to stay free from contamination due to cross
pollination from GE crops and the spread of genes through the
micro-organisms in the soil3;
organic food produced to Soil Association
standards is the consumer's only certain guaranteein the
absence of adequate labellingof GE-free food sources. Infringement
of this will affect people's right to choose;
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
is a bacterium which has been a cornerstone in sustainable organic
agriculture since the 1960s. It is used in occasional applications
as an acceptable organic pesticide for serious threats to food
crops. Large numbers of crops are now being engineered to express
the Bt toxin continuously. Evidence has led the US EPA to predict
that these crops could result in resistant pests within 3 to 4
years. The widespread use of GE Bt plants could permanently destroy
the effectiveness of Bt against the world's primary agricultural
pests and threaten organic farming everywhere.
2. The Soil Association is deeply concerned
about so-called fast track procedures. These are to be
extended and simplified, in particular in the UK. We regard it
as imperative that the opposite should occur.
More time should be given to the
public to respond (as is their democratic right) to the announcement
of an intended release than the current 14 days.
Any Member State government should
be allowed more than the current 90 days for the adequate assessment
of any application.
3. The precautionary principle should
be the guiding light for all releases. Why create a possible hazard
where there is no palpable human need? The onus should be on those
corporations wishing to release transgenic organisms into the
environment to prove that no harm will be done. At present,
the burden of proof seems to rest with NGOs who are, by comparison
to the corporations, almost without resources. GE organisms are
released until such time as it is found that unexpected and harmful
effects occurby which time in the case of living and reproducing
plants it is too late to do anything. Artificial genomes (and
the living beings they code for) can no more be stopped than natural
ones and there is real danger of an entirely unintentional epidemic
of disease due to unexpected recombination4 of viral
genes via transgenic hosts.
In view of the gross inadequacies in food safety
regulation and the scientific evidence pointing to serious hazards,
Drs Mae-Wan Ho and Ricarda Steinbrecher have recommended a number
of measures to safeguard the health of consumers and to protect
biodiversity. The precautionary principle also demands that a
moratorium on further release should be imposed until these measures
(i) No food crops are to be engineered for
producing pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals, as the engineered
crops could be mistaken for food, or cross-pollinate with non-engineered
food crops. The onus must be on the producer to prove that any
plant genetically engineered is not a food crop.
(ii) All projects involving genetic manipulation
of baculovirus for insecticidal purposes should be discontinued,
as this virus is being used in human gene therapy and invades
human liver cells readily.
(iii) Complete characterisation of inserted
gene sequence(s) of the GE organism (GEO) must be provided in
the application for market approval. This should include any antibiotic
marker gene(s), promoter(s) and enhancer(s) and their effects
on the expression of neighbouring genes. The presence of mobile
genetic elements and other proviral sequences in the host genome
likely to contribute to secondary mobility of inserts must also
(iv) No GEOs with uncharacterised foreign
gene inserts are to be considered for release. No parts of such
GEOs, nor of animals from failed GE experiments or xenotransplant
animals are to be used as human food or animal feed.
(v) No GEOs containing antibiotic resistant
genes are to be considered for release or to be used as human
food or animal feed.
(vi) A detailed record of the stability of
the GEO over at least five successive generations of field conditions
(including drought and heat) is a precondition for market approval.
(Field conditions does not mean open field conditions). This must
be supported by appropriate data indicating the stability of the
insert as well as the level of gene expression under different
conditions in successive generations.
(vii) Data on the frequency of unintended
gene transfers, including horizontal gene transfer from the GEO
under field conditions, must be included in application for market
(viii) Data on the frequency of horizontal
gene transfer from GEO to gut bacteria must be included in applications
for market approval.
(ix) Data on the ability of transgenes and
marker genes in the GEO to invade mammalian cells must be included
in applications for market approval.
(x) A specified set of tests must be carried
out to establish "substantial equivalence", which are
sufficiently discerning to reveal unintended as well as intended
effects. The comparator must be the unmodified recipient organism
itself, and results of repeated tests must be provided to support
the stability of the characteristics over at least five successive
(xi) Safety assessment must include the GEO's
potential to generate pathogens through genetic recombination.
(xii) Safety assessment must include pesticide
residues where they are integral components of the product, as
in herbicide-resistant transgenic plants.
(xiii) Product segregation, labelling and
post-market monitoring are non-negotiable conditions for market
4. The biotechnology corporations have tried
to create the impression of a need for GE organisms to "feed
the world's poor"5 or create better quality food.
To date, the only crops they are attempting to grow commercially
in Europe have been those which involve using their particular
herbicides6 and in which they retain control of seed
production. Their claim that the new crops will use less herbicide
is disingenuous and indications are that the opposite is true7.
This will be especially true as Darwinian evolution operates as
it always has in the herbicide target plants. They will inevitably
develop resistance (just as Colorado potato beetles8
have to all insecticides bar Bt and the diamondback moth9
already has to GE plants expressing the Bt toxin through its modified
genome). This means that farmers will be forced to apply other
herbicides to control the resistant crops10.
5. Many new forms of old diseases (like the
various forms of food poisoning in which cases double almost every
year) are appearing. Why this is so is uncertain but many scientists
suspect a link between overuse of antibiotics in feed and prophylactics
in farm animals coupled with new genetic material created in laboratories
in and often disposed of into the sewerage system. Antibiotic
resistance is a desperately serious situation today with the
common pathogen Staphylococcus aureus resistant, in some
strains and in some hospitals, to almost all known antibiotics11.
A study in eastern Germany12 gives an idea of the rapidity
with which antibiotic resistance can develop and spread by horizontal
gene transfer, and yet persist after antibiotic ceased to be administered.
The antibiotic streptothricin was administered to pigs beginning
in 1982. By 1983, plasmids encoding streptothricin resistance
were found in the pig gut bacteria. This spread to the gut bacteria
of farm workers and their family members by 1984 and to the general
public and pathological strains of bacteria the following year.
The antibiotic was withdrawn in 1990, yet the prevalence of the
resistance plasmid has remained high when monitored in 1993 confirming
the ability of microbial population to serve as stable reservoirs
for replication, recombination and horizontal gene transfer in
the absence of selective pressure. Using antibiotic markers in
transgenic organisms only hastens the inevitability of further
resistance and a return to the pre-penicillin days of septicaemia
and a range of other diseases we have almost forgotten about.
The transgenic tomatoes currently marketed here and in the US
both carry genes for kanamycin resistance. Kanamycin is used to
treat TB which is reaching epidemic proportions across the world,
the TB bacteria are already resistant to many antibiotics13.
6. Post-release monitoring of GE crops
is not currently carried out. This is a serious omission and the
Soil Association strongly urges that a minimum requirement of
10 years should be applied. Negative environmental influences
may be subtle or slow to manifest themselves. The observations
that "nothing has happened" in the field tests to date
are unhelpful. In many cases, adverse impacts are subtle and would
almost never be registered when scanning a field. The field tests
do not provide a track record of safety but a case of "don't
look, don't find"14. The interconnectedness of
the complex trophic webs (from soil microbes to large animals)
is not even considered by the biotechnology industry, yet the
whole biosphere depends on the proper operation of these systems.
Risk assessment does not take account of the time factor
which would enormously increase risk, nor of the cumulative factor.
7. Horizontal gene transfer. This issue
has been almost totally ignored and yet may turn out to be the
most importantand irreversibleeffect of the deliberate
release of GE organisms into the environment. Similarly, the potential
for cross pollination has been treated in cavalier fashion
by GE proponents. Yet we already know that such pollination can
affect weed relatives of the crops15 and, in particular,
nearby non-GE and organic crops16. We also know that
both insect and wind pollination17 can be effected
over considerable distances (at least 8 kilometres) making risible
the current regulations for separating GE trial crops from non-GE
relatives. Evidence from Dr Peter Kareiva and Dr Ingrid Parker,
department of Zoology and botany in the University of Washington
in their work, "Environmental risks of genetically engineered
organisms and key regulatory issues" stated that "several
quantitative analyses of gene flow were undertaken with transgenic
plantswhile most gene flow clearly does extend to the nearest
plants, regardless of the isolation approach, some pollen always
seems to move to the distant most sampling stations (Kareiva et
al 1994 (1), Monasse 1992 (2)). Indeed one of the lessons
of ecological genetics over the last decade is that gene flow
in plant populations consistently includes some rare long distance
moves of pollen." (Ellstrand 1988 (3), Ellstrand and Hoffman
1990 (4), Klinger et al 1992 (5).
8. The conventional process whereby genes move
from one plant to another is via pollination. Evidence proves
that genes can spread from one crop to another if they are related.
The genes are transferred via cross pollination and will also
pollinate related weeds, e.g., oil seed rape has been shown to
spread to wild relatives through cross pollination of distances
over 2.5 km. The threat of cross-pollination is a real one and
is taken seriously by the Soil Association and the consumers who
buy organic food. Existing regulations do not demand that this
type of data be independently investigated before any application
can be taken into consideration. The Soil Association considers
it vital that these aspects are taken seriously with appropriate
regulation being enforced, if possible, world-wide.
(c) Novel foods and their labelling
1. The Directive should allow individual Member
States to ban the import and use of a specific GE organism
or food on other than scientific grounds if such a ban reflects
what the population wish. Numerous opinion polls throughout the
EU have shown that a majority of people are deeply concerned about
GE and do not wish to consume foods derived from it. It is important
to separate other research on and potential of GE for medical
purposes which is altogether different from GE foods. If, for
example, the British population are to be consulted by plebiscite
on whether they approve UK integration into European Monetary
Union, how much more important it would be if the population were
to be consulted about GE crops and foods. The GE issue has implications
as wide for the future as does the EMU. Fundamentally, people
elect governments one of whose duties is to ensure the health
and welfare of their electorate. People do not elect multinational
corporations who are effectively today in control of the food
supply (viz. the link-up between Monsanto and Cargill18,
the start of a new trend) and, increasingly, dictate to governments
what regulatory system (if any) they require, always ready to
wield the big stick of threats to employment. It is a truism that
"corporations have neither bodies to be punished nor souls
to be damned." They, unlike governments, are unaccountable.
2. The principle of substantial equivalence
(SE) is deeply flawed and unscientific. SE is defined thus: Selected
characteristics are compared between the GE product and any variety
within the same species. If the two are grossly similar, the GE
product will not need to be rigorously tested or labelled on the
assumption that it is no more dangerous than the non-GE equivalent.
The use of the principle of SE for risk assessment of GE foodsas
has been applied by the FAO, the US Food and Drug Authority and
the EUis thus potentially dangerous as it neglects the
potential presence in these products of unexpected new molecules.
A product could not only be SE, but even be identical with its
natural counterpart in all respects bar the presence of a single
harmful compound. Indeed, a tame tiger is "substantially
equivalent" to a wild tiger. It looks the same and roars
the same, but you would only be in danger from the second. Thus
SE is irrelevant and useless from a scientific standpoint as a
criterion for food safety. The following is a series of objections
to substantial equivalence (SE):
a GE potato, grossly altered, with
deformed tubers was nevertheless tested and passed as SE;
according to SE, 1-tryptophan19
that was derived from GE bacteria and implicated in the deaths
of 37 people in 1989 contained less than 0.1 per cent of unexpected
toxins, would have been regarded as SE and passed as safe for
there is no scientific alternative
to rigorous toxicological testing to ensure satisfactory safety
for GE foods as none of these foods currently on the market has
undergone testing that is even close to such rigorous assessment
required to ensure safety;
there is no completely reliable method
for identifying unexpected harmful substances, even with the most
rigorous safety assessment methodologies available;
there is no body of existing information
upon which to base prediction of unanticipated side effects due
to the insertion of a foreign gene into a GE organism.
3. Labelling: The Soil Association believes
that any product derived from GE organisms should be labelled
regardless of whether it is an unprocessed food (like squash or
potato) or whether it contains derivatives such as proteins, oils,
DNA, sugars, lecithin, starch etc. Trace levels of unexpected
toxins could be present in oils refined from GE crops (e.g., rape/canola,
sunflower, corn/maize) so labelling should be mandatory if there
are any GE derivatives. There are two reasons for this:
(i) Traceabilityif something does
go wrong as a result of some specific GE food component and people
become ill or die, it is imperative that the toxic agent can be
traced back to source so that the source itself can be removed
from the food chain. The l-tryptophan incident (1989, USA) is
an example of how important this is since the GE tryptophan was
not labelled and, as a result, the epidemic or illness and deaths
took months to trace to source.
(ii) Consumers have a right to know and Europe-wide
consumers associations (e.g., Consumers International, the UK
Consumers Association) have strongly supported proper labelling
of GE. Despite this, their demands were rejected by the UN Codex
Alimentarius commission in June 1998. Public perception is such
that they do not trust "experts" and scientific-sounding
advisory panels and, indeed, their own governments when it comes
to fundamentals such as food safety and wholesomeness. Accordingly,
people have a right to know what their food contains so that they
may make their own choices about what they, rightly or wrongly,
perceive as dangerous. If their governments' advice is not to
be trusted, their fallback position is proper labelling. Present
EU plans to label GE foods exclude between 95-98 per cent of almost
30,000 products in the supermarkets. A recent Guardian
survey20 showed that 95 per cent of people in the UK
specifically wanted clear labelling of all GE foods including
derivatives which will not be labelled under current plans. A
Citizens' Jury21 ruled that GE was unnecessary and
could have irreversible consequences. A MORI poll conducted throughout
Europe showed that 60 per cent of Europeans were opposed to GE
food. Thus EU governments are failing their own people by bowing
to the dictates of Codex (an unelected body itself) and the biotechnology
4. THE EFFECT
In May, the EU passed the Directive on the Protection
of Biotechnological Inventions. The Soil Association believes
that this Directive has been deliberately tailored to the requirements
of the biotechnology industry. It will allow patenting of genes,
plants (including their seeds) animals, cells, body parts and
micro-organisms. This, we believe, flies in the face of the original
intention of patents. Now patents on genes extend a huge incentive
to the biotechnology industry to create new GE organisms which
they can then patent and over which they can then exert monopoly
control. Since patents are mostly for 20 years, the companies
have a strong incentive to recoup the money they invested as soon
as possible regardless of safety or ethical concerns. Accordingly,
they may exert pressures on the regulators (i.e., governments)
to minimise the testing of GE crops and introduce "fast-track"
procedures. Such pressure is compounded by threats of possible
job losses if the company fails to get its way.22
Several simple but vital questions23
relating to projected food policy and implications of GE still
have not been addressed by any governments.
The availability of safe, sustainable, natural
methods of breeding and husbandry utilising the many thousand
different varieties of any given food crop makes the risks associated
with GE foods simply not worth taking. These risks are even less
acceptable when one takes into account the fact that once released
into the environment, any mistakes cannot be cleaned up or recalled
but will be passed on to all future generations indefinitely.
9 June 1998
1 For example, the chairman of this
group, John Durant, who is also Assistant Director of the Science
Museum, has been given £0.5 million to promote biotechnology
with a large exhibition mounted by the Science Museum including
a woollen jumper made from the wool of Dolly the Sheep. In a public
debate with Dr Mae-Wan Ho (debated at the Linnaean Society, Burlington
House, London), he denied that he was working to overcome public
resistance to genetic engineering. But he did assure the audience
that the biotechnology was absolutely safe, so segregation and
labelling of GE products was unnecessary.
2 Jules Pretty. The Sustainable Intensification
of Agriculture. Natural Resources Forum 1997 (UN). Volume 21,
No. 4, pp. 247-256.
3 Frank Gebhard and Kornelia Smalla
Transformation of Acinetobacter sp. Strain BD413 by Transgenic
Sugar Beet DNA Appl Environ Microbiol, April 1998, p. 1550-1554,
Volume 64, No. 4.
4 Vaden V S & Melcher U 1990
Recombination sites in cauliflower mosaic virus DNA . .
. Virology 177, 717-726.
Lommel S A & Xiong Z 1991 Recombination
of a functional red clover mosaic virus . . . J Cell Biochem
Greene A E & Allison R F 1994 Recombination
between viral RNA and transgenic plant transcripts Science
Wintermantel W M & Schoelz J E 1996 Isolation
of recombinant viruses between cauliflower mosaic virus and a
viral gene . . . Virology 223, 156-64.
5 Recently, agricultural scientists
working in the Philippines announced that they had used sophisticated
traditional breeding techniques to develop a rice variety
that increased the proportion of the plant devoted to rice grains
in ways that improved rice yields by 20 per cent, a stunning achievement
considering the importance of rice in the human diet (interestingly,
the announcement was not accompanied by headlines like "Traditional
crop breeding can feed the world") Union of Concerned Scientists.
In Latin America, organic growing and fertilisation schemes have
tripled or quadrupled yields within one year.
6 Furthermore, claims that glyphosate
(Roundup) and glufosinate (Basta) are environmentally benign are
strongly disputed, as shown by the following reference list:
Cessna A J and Cain N P (1992) Residues of glyphosate
and its metabolite AMPA in strawberry fruit following spot and
wiper applications. Can J Plant Sci 72:1359-1365.
Chakravarty P and Chatarpaul L (1990) Non-target
effect of herbicides: I Effect of glyphosate and hexazinone on
soil microbial activity. Microbial population, and in-vitro growth
of ectomycorrhizal fungi. Pestic Sci 28:233-241.
Chakravarty P and Sidhu S S (1987) Effects of
glyphosate, hexazinone and triclorpyr on in-vitro growth of five
species of ectomycorrhizal fungi. Eur J For Path 17:204-210.
Cox C (1995 a) Glyphosate, Part 1: Toxicology,
Herbicide Factsheet, Journal of Pesticide Reform, Fall 1995 Volume
15, No. 3, (from the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides).
Cox C (1995 b) Glyphosate, Part 2: Human Exposure
and Ecological Effects, Herbicide Factsheet, Journal of Pesticide
Reform, Winter 1995 Volume 15, No. 4, (from the Northwest Coalition
for Alternatives to Pesticides).
Crawley M (1996) "The Day of the Triffids".
New Scientist 6 July pp. 40-41.
Crawley M J, Hails, R S, Rees, M, Kohn, D &
Buxton, J (1993) Ecology of transgenic oilseed rape in natural
habitats. Nature 363: 620-623
Estok D, Freedman B and Boyle D (1989) Effects
of the herbicides 2, 4-D, glyphosate, hexazinone, and triclopyr
on the growth of three species of ectomycorrhizal fungi. Bull.
Environ Contam Toxicol 42:835-839.
Folmar L C, Sanders H O and Julin A M (1979)
Toxicity of the herbicide glyphosate and several of its formulations
to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Arch Environ Comtam Toxicol
Greenpeace (1995) Pestizide im Grundwasser,
Ergebnisse einer Befragung Deutscher Gesundheitsaemter 1994, Greenpeace
Hino A (1994) Safety assessment system of field
tests in Japan. Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium
on the Biosafety Results of Field Tests of Genetically Modified
Plants and Micro-organisms. 13-16 November 1994, Monterey, California.
University of California: Oakland. pp. 177-182.
Jewell L D (1998) Agricultural Statistics 1987
United States Department of Agriculture, Washington.
Kareiva, P & Parker, I (1994) Environmental
risks of genetically engineered organisms and key regulatory issues.
Greenpeace International: Amsterdam.
Keeler, K H (1989) Can genetically engineered
plants become weeds? Bio/Technology 7: 1134-1139.
Nordlee J A, Taylor S L, Townsend J A, Thomas
L A and Bush R K (1996) Identification of a brazil-nut allergen
in transgenic soybeans, The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume
334, No. 11:688-692.
Pease W S et al. (1993) Preventing pesticide-related
illness in California agriculture: Strategies and priorities.
Environmental Health Policy Program Report. Berkeley, CA: University
of California. School of Public Health. California Policy Seminar.
Piccolo A et al. (1994) Absorption and
desorption of glyphosate in some European soils. J Environ Sci
Sidhu S S and Chakravarty P (1990) Effect of
selected forestry herbicides on ectomycorrhizal development and
seedling growth of lodgepole pine and white spruce under controlled
and field environment, Eur J For Path 20:77-94.
Springett J A and Gray R A J (1992) Effect of
repeated low does of biocides on the earthworm Aporrectodea
caliginosa in laboratory culture. Soil Biol Biochem 24((12):1739-1744.
Taylor, S L (1994) Evaluation of the allergenicities
of foods developed through biotechnology. Proceedings of the 3rd
International Symposium on the Biosafety Results of Field Tests
of Genetically Modified Plants and Micro-organisms. 13-16 November
1994, Monterey, California. University of California: Oakland.
USDA/AHPIS (1994) Response to Monsanto petition
P93-258-01 for determination of non-regulated status for glyphosate
tolerant soybean line 40-3-2. United States Department of Agriculture,
Animals and Plant Health Inspection Service, Biotechnology, Biologics
and Environmental Protection.
US EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. Special
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decision (RED): Glyphosate, Washington, D C (September).
Wang Y, Jaw C and Chen Y (1994) Accumulation
of 2, 4-D and glyphosate in fish and water hyacinth. Water Air
Soil Pollut 74:397-403.
Williamson, M (1994) Community response to transgenic
plant release: predictions from British experience of invasive
plants and feral crops. Molecular Ecology 3: 75-79.
World Heath Organisation, United Nations Environmental
Program, International Labour Organisation (1994) Glyphosate,
Environmental Health Criteria 159. Geneva, Switzerland.
Yates W E, Akesson N B and Bayer D E (1978)
Drift of glyphosate sprays applied with aerial and ground equipment.
Weed Sci 26(6):597-604.
7 The New York Times recently
reported that farmers in the States were using more herbicides
on their crops because they knew they could do it with impunity
and ensure maximum kill of the weeds. Monsanto have doubled their
capacity to produce Roundup. The sales for glufosinate are predicted
to rise by $200 million per year as a result of GE crops.
8 New Scientist Chips are
down for killer potato, 6 April 1995, 9.
9 New Scientist A growing
irony 8 March 1997, 3. A single gene change in diamondback
moth can confer resistance to four Bt toxins. Here is scope
for rapid resistance spread if indiscriminately used. Monsanto's
Bt cotton flopped when many pests survived. This could act as
a super-selector for resistant insects, making Bt useless.
10 It has been said that "potential
development of insect resistance to the Bt toxin cannot be considered
an adverse environmental effect as existing agricultural means
of controlling such resistant species will still be available".
In a similar vein, one could claim that pollution of a river does
not matter because there are other rivers available.
11 New Scientist, 14 September
1996, 50; 27 August 1996, 7.
H. The spread of plasmids as a function of bacterial adaptability.
FEMS Microbiol, Ecol 1994; 15: 23-32.
13 New Scientist, 4 May 1996.
14 M Mellon & J Rissler 1995
Transgenic crops: USDA Data on small-scale tests contribute
little to commercial risk assessment. Bio/Technology 13: 96.
15 Experiments have now shown that
there can be appreciable and effective hybridisation of transgenic
canola with Brassica campestris, the wild and weedy form
of Brassica rapa:
Mikkelsen, T R, Andersen, B & Jorgensen,
R B 1996 Nature 380, 31.
And with hoary mustard, Hirschfeldia incana,
with effective gene flow from crop to weed: Lefol E et al
1995 J Appl Ecol, 32, 803-808.
16 Riverford Farm, DevonBritain's
largest organic farm situated within a few hundred metres of a
test site for glufosinate-resistant maize.
17 (1) Kareiva P, W Morris + C M
Jacobi 1994 studying and managing the risk of cross fertilisation
between transgenic crops and wild relatives. Molec ecol 3:15-22.
(2) Monasse R, 1992 ecological risks of transgenic
plants: effects of special dispersion on gene flow. Ecological
(3) Elstrand N, 1988, pollen as a vehicle for
the escape of engineered genes/ TREE3:S30-S32/TIBTECH 6: S30-S32.
(4) Elstrand N AND c Hoffman 1990 hybridisation
as an avenue of escape for engineered genes. Bioscience 40: 438-42.
(5) Klinger T, P Arriola and N Elstrand. 1992.
Crop-weed hybridisation in radish: effects of distance and population
size. American J bot 79: 1431-35.
18 Farmers Weekly, June 1998.
19 Mayeno A N & Gleich G J 1994
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20 The Guardian 4 June 1998.
21 A cross section of the British
population who were asked about agriculture and food, designed
by East London University and reported on Channel 4 News on 2
22"Given the importance of Novartis
on the Irish market, (not allowing glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet
trials) would have serious implications for the Irish sugar
beet industry" Affidavit to Irish High Court, section
47d, 1997 by Monsanto Europe.
23 Taken from questions to the Advisory
Committees prepared by Ricarda Steinbrecher (WEN and Genetics
Forum) and Ian Taylor (Greenpeace).