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News Updates--September through December 2000



Click on a headline to read the story.

December 2000: GM food can't be labeled 'organic'

December 2000: Trans-Atlantic panel recommends labeling

December 2000: Risk-benefit studies called incomplete

September 2000: Labeling lawsuit dismissed

September 2000: EPA deems Bt crops environmentally safe

September 2000: UK protesters acquitted of destroying GM crops

September 2000: Bird populations may drop due to herbicide-tolerant crops


December 2000: GM foods cannot be labeled "organic"

Transgenic crops cannot be labeled "organic," according to the federal government's rules regulating organic foods. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman announced the final rules on December 20. Crops created by "gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the position of genes when achieved by recombinant DNA technology" are specifically prohibited from carrying an "organic" designation. This is a major change from the rules originally proposed three years ago, which would have allowed crops created by transgenic techniques but grown under organic conditions to be labeled "organic." The rules become effective after 60 days. A New York Times article on the organic regulations is available at http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/21/science/21ORGA.html. The USDA announcement is available at http://www.usda.gov/news/releases/2000/12/0425.htm. The complete text of the rules is available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards.html. For the list of methods that are not permitted in organic foods, go to http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards/DefineReg.html and scroll down to the entry "excluded methods." For the paragraphs specifying that foods produced using these excluded methods may not be labeled "organic," see http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards/LabelReg.html and http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards/ApplicReg.html.

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December 2000: U.S.-European panel recommends labeling of transgenic foods

Genetically modified foods should be labeled so consumers can make informed choices, according to the EU-US Biotechnology Consultative Forum. The panel of representatives from the United States and the European Union, established by U.S. President Bill Clinton and European Commission President Romano Prodi, made 23 recommendations in a report issued December 18. The report called for "content-based mandatory labelling requirements for finished products containing novel genetic material." The panel also suggested that farmers in developing countries should be free to plant seeds they have saved from patented crops. The full report, in pdf format, is available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/us/biotech/ biotech.htm.

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December 2000: Risk-benefit studies called incomplete

Published studies evaluating the environmental risks and benefits of transgenic crops are incomplete and more research needs to be done, according to an article in the journal Science (Wolfenbarger and Phifer, 2000). Dr. LaReesa Wolfenbarger and Dr. Paul Phifer examined 35 published studies and found them insufficient to demonstrate either risks or benefits. The New York Times story announcing publication of the article can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/14/science/14BIOT.html

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September 2000: Labeling lawsuit dismissed

A lawsuit to require labeling of foods made from transgenic crops was dismissed by a U.S. federal judge on September 29. In dismissing the suit, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly stated that the Food and Drug Administration "lacks a basis upon which it can legally mandate labeling, regardless of consumer demand", unless FDA finds that transgenic foods differ significantly from conventional products.
Source: Los Angeles Times

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September 2000: EPA report considers Bt crops environmentally safe

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a report Sept. 20 stating that Bt insect-resistant corn and other crops cause "no unreasonable adverse effects" on non-target organisms, including Monarch butterflies. Attention had focused on the effects of Bt corn pollen on Monarch larvae following a Cornell University laboratory study published last year. Source: Washington Post

The report, entitled Biopesticides Registration Action Document: Bt Plant-Pesticides, is available at http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/

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September 2000: UK protesters who destroyed GM crop trial found not guilty

Twenty-eight environmental activists, including the executive director of Greenpeace UK and 13 fellow members of Greenpeace, were acquitted of charges of trespass and criminal damage in a crown court trial in Norwich, UK. The protesters destroyed a field trial of transgenic maize on a private UK farm in July 1999, claiming that cross-pollination from the GM crop would contaminate other crops in the area and posed an environmental threat. More information can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,371076,00.html.

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September 2000: British scientists warn of bird population decline due to herbicide-tolerant crops.

Herbicide-tolerant crops might reduce supplies of weed seed to the point where seed-eating bird populations could be seriously affected, according to a simulation study by British researchers. The study was published in Science (Watkinson et al., 2000), along with a commentary by Firbank and Forcella, 2000.

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Archive: News Updates for July through December 2002

Archive: News Updates for January through June 2002

Archive: News Updates for April through December 2001

Archive: News Updates for January through March 2001

Archive: News Updates for March through August 2000

Page last updated : January 10, 2006

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