Click on a headline to read the story.
FDA warns food makers about non-GMO labels
Many U.S. grain elevators requiring GMO segregation
95% of Europeans want to know if food is GM
December 2001: GM
seeds can be patented
Australian labeling law takes effect, food prices may
December 2001: Mexican
scientist says new genes enrich native corn varieties
UK judge disallows 'public order' offense in crop protesters
EPA renews registration for Bt corn and Bt cotton, imposes
September 2001: Transgenic
corn may threaten Mexico's genetic resources
August 2001: GM
outlook not as rosy as before
August 2001: U.S.
pressures EU to drop labeling of GM foods
Scientists find a gene that makes insects resistant
to Bt toxin
July 2001: European
Union announces labeling law for GMOs
July 2001: EPA
says Bt corn doesn't kill Monarch butterflies
July 2001: Australia
prepares to implement GM food labels
July 2001: UN agency
reaches agreement on safety testing of GM foods
July 2001: UN agency
supports GM crops for developing countries
June 2001: Environmental
group claims credit for damage to research facilities
June 2001: UK crop
trials damaged, marketing may be delayed
June 2001: Ecologists
urge caution regarding GMOs
June 2001: Transgenic
beet pollen escapes over barrier plantings
May 2001: U.S.
consumers want GM food labeled
April 2001: Substitute
gene may reduce the use of antibiotic resistance markers
FAO experts group recommends testing all GMOs for allergenicity
April 2001: UK
survey shows people about evenly split on eating GM
Projections for transgenic crop acreage in 2001
December 2001: FDA warns
food makers about non-GMO labels
The FDA has sent letters to several food manufacturers
warning them that their non-GMO labels are misleading.
The FDA has issued guidelines on the wording of labels
that would tell consumers whether a food product contains
transgenic ingredients. The FDA recommends that companies
avoid the phrases "GMO free" and "not genetically modified."
Instead, phrases such as "not genetically engineered"
are recommended. A Wall Street Journal article on the
FDA's action is available at http://www.agbios.com/static/news/NEWSID_3119.php
. The proposed guidelines are available at http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/biolabgu.html
December 2001: Many U.S.
grain elevators requiring GMO segregation
More than half of grain elevators in the heart of
U.S. corn growing country are storing GM and non-GM
grain separately, according to a survey done by the
American Corn Growers Association in the fall of 2001.
About 18 percent of the elevators offered premiums ranging
from 5 cents to 35 cents per bushel for non-GM corn
and soybeans. Segregation of GM from non-GM grain may
become an important issue in international trade because
some countries restrict the importation of GM foods.
The survey covered 1,149 grain elevators in 10 mid-western
states. A press release on the survey is available at
. The survey results, organized by state, are available
December 2001: 95%
of Europeans want to know if food is GM
A Eurobarometer survey shows 95 percent of Europeans
want the right to choose whether to eat GM food. Although
some people want more information about such products
before making a decision, 71 percent flatly reject GM
food. Europeans of all age levels and education levels
are skeptical of GM products. Flat rejection is the
attitude among 64 percent of young people (15-24 years
old) and 75 percent of elderly people (65 or older).
Survey analysts could not tell if young people were
less averse to GMOs because the young underestimate
risks or because they are comfortable with scientific
innovation. Concern about possible negative effects
on the environment increased with increasing level of
knowledge. Among those with the least knowledge, 48
percent said there might be harmful effects, while among
the most knowledgeable group, 66 percent agreed that
there might be harmful effects. The Eurobarometer survey
was conducted in May and June of 2001. The full report
is available as a pdf file at http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/press/2001/pr0612en-report.pdf.
Scroll down to page 40 of the report for the section
December 2001: GM seeds can
The right to patent genetically engineered seeds was
affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a ruling that
is anticipated to strengthen the position of agbiotech
companies in disputes over licensing rights. The ruling
resulted from a dispute between J.E.M. Ag Supply, an
Iowa seed company, and Pioneer Hi-Bred, a powerhouse
in the corn breeding industry. Pioneer sued Ag Supply
for allegedly reselling patented varieties of corn and
Ag Supply countered that hybrid seed corn did not have
patent protection. Restrictions on patent protection
would have been a severe setback for agbiotech companies,
which have applied for hundreds of patents on GM crops
grown from seed. A story on the court ruling is available
December 2001: Australian
labeling law takes effect, food prices may rise
A law requiring labels on foods containing GM ingredients
went into effect this month in Australia, prompting
predictions of price increases to cover the costs of
testing and labeling. Although it is often estimated
that 60 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain
GM ingredients due to the widespread use of soybeans
and corn, which are major GM crops, only about 5 percent
of processed foods in Australia are expected to sport
a GM label. Australian food manufacturers are reported
to have been seeking non-GM suppliers or finding substitutes
for ingredients that may trigger positive GM test results.
One accounting company estimated the cost for labeling
at $176 million in the first year, but a food industry
spokesman declined to set a dollar amount, saying only
that costs would be passed on to consumers. A story
on the new Australian law is available at http://www.agbios.com/static/news/NEWSID_3085.php.
December 2001: Mexican scientist
says new genes enrich native corn varieties
Dr. Luis Herrera Estrella, of the Center for Research
and Advanced Studies in Iraputo, Mexico, said native
corn varieties have been enriched by past introductions
of genes from commercial corn hybrids and there is no
evidence that the transfer of foreign genes will have
a negative impact on the germplasm that has been maintained
by local farmers for centuries. "It is very difficult
to imagine the presence of one or two new genes in the
creole maize varieties which could cause their disappearance,"
The scientific journal Nature recently published articles
(see our September 2001
news item) on the discovery that transgenic corn
had been planted in Mexican fields and that foreign
DNA had been found in native corn in a remote area of
southern Mexico despite a moratorium on the commercial
production of transgenic varieties in Mexico. Transgenic
kernels can be imported for food, but it is illegal
to plant them except for research purposes.
Articles publicizing the recent discoveries have not
contributed to a "solid scientific investigation," Herrera
Estrella said, but are serving as "a tool for the
groups who are opposed to the development of agricultural
biotechnology." . The statement by Herrera Estrella
is available at http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=newsletter&
The Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Iraputo
offers graduate degrees in plant biotechnology. Researchers
there produce and evaluate transgenic plants in field
October 2001: UK judge disallows
ëpublic order' offense in crop protesters trial
Anti-GM activists who uprooted genetically engineered
crops in a field cannot be charged with an offense against
the public order because they did not interfere with
any activity during their night-time raid, a British
judge ruled. The decision may make it difficult in the
future to convict people who damage GM crops. The charge
of disturbing the public order was adopted by prosecutors
after it became apparent that juries would not always
convict activists on charges of criminal damage. Jurors
are sometimes sympathetic toward the defense claim that
activists were averting an immediate threat to the environment
when they destroyed transgenic crops. The refusal to
consider such raids as an offense against public order
takes away the option from prosecutors hoping to avoid
the uncertainties of winning a case based on criminal
damage. A story on the decision is available at http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,575404,00.html.
October 2001: EPA renews
registration for Bt corn and Bt cotton, imposes new
The Environmental Protection Agency has renewed for
seven more years the permission to grow Bt corn and
Bt cotton commercially, which was due to run out in
September 2001, on condition that companies comply with
additional rules. Among the requirements:
- companies must develop and submit for EPA approval
a method of testing for the amount of Bt protein in
their products. Such information may be useful in
obtaining clearance for exports to Europe under the
new European Community rules. In an apparent reference
to the recent dispute over how to test properly for
Cry9C in StarLink corn, the report notes that "the
Agency and the Federal food and Drug Administration
have also recently found value in having validated
analytical methods for Plant-incorporated Protectants"
(the new jargon for pesticides, such as Bt, that are
produced within the plant).
- companies must test their Bt products for similarity
to known allergens.
- companies must test for possible long-term persistence
of Bt proteins in the soil where plants are grown.
- companies must conduct field studies of the possible
ecological impacts on non-target insects.
- corn companies must test the possible long-term
effects on birds.
- companies must study the migration pattern of Helicoverpa
zea, known as the cotton bollworm on cotton and the
corn earworm on corn, to develop plans for averting
the development of resistance in this insect.
- corn companies selling the new Cry1F Bt varieties
must develop field screening tests for development
of resistance in European corn borer, corn earworm,
and southwestern corn borer.
- cotton companies must study whether other crops
could be used on refuge acreage. companies must continue
their efforts to persuade farmers to comply with the
rules for planting refuges.
The notice of registration renewal and requirements
is available on the government's web site at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides/reds/brad_bt_pip2.htm.
Select the sections on Confirmatory Data and Terms and
Conditions of the Amendment.
September 2001: Transgenic
corn may threaten Mexico's genetic resources
Plots of transgenic corn discovered growing in Mexico
may put at risk the purity of genetic resources in the
world's center of diversity for maize. Ignacio Chapela
of the University of California at Berkeley and the
Mexican government have detected transgenic corn in
at least 15 locations in the states of Oaxaca and Puebla
despite a ban on commercial production. Environmentalists
are calling for measures to protect Mexico's native
corn varieties and the International Maize and Wheat
Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico is offering its
help in assessing the possible impact on biodiversity
in the area.
Southern Mexico is the center of origin for maize.
The domesticated native varieties and wild relatives
that grow there are important sources of genetic variability.
Thus the transmission of foreign genes to these populations
is of concern to both environmentalists and commercial
plant breeders. Currently, transgenic corn can be imported
to Mexico only for use in food, not for commercial production.
Scientists are concerned that cross-pollination of cultivated
biotech varieties with native varieties or wild relatives
might transfer a beneficial trait such as insect resistant
to a portion of Mexico's corn stocks, giving those lines
an advantage over stocks that do not acquire the trait.
The possible decline in survival of stocks lacking the
trait would reduce the biodiversity available to future
plant breeders trying to produce cultivated varieties
with traits that benefit human populations.
The scientific journal Nature published an account
of the discovery (Nature 413:337, 2001) after stories
appeared in the Mexican newspapers. CIMMYT has released
a statement denying responsibility for spreading foreign
genes through its research work with transgenic plants
and has offered to participate in finding the source
of the contamination. A story published in the New York
Times is available at http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/02/health/genetics/02CORN.html.
A story (in Spanish) published in the La Cronica de
Hoy is available at http://www.cronica.com.mx/2001/sep/20/ciencias03.html.
CIMMYT's statement is available at http://www.cimmyt.org/whatiscimmyt/transgenic.htm.
An announcement from Greenpeace is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/~geneng/highlights/food/mexcorncontamin.htm.
Post script: Foreign DNA has been detected in Mexico's
native corn varieties, according to an article published
in Nature in November (Nature 414:541-543, 2001). Researchers
reported finding the 35 S promoter from cauliflower
mosaic virus, the nopaline synthase termination sequence
from Agrobacterium tumefasciens, and the Cry1Ab
gene from Bacillus thuringiensis. The CaMV promoter
and the nopaline synthase termination sequence are commonly
inserted to regulate the expression of transgenes in
genetically engineered plants. The Cry1Ab gene produces
the Bt protein that kills many insect pests. The foreign
DNA was found in native varieties developed and cultivated
by Mexican farmers in remote, mountainous regions of
the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Experts believe
pollen from fields of genetically engineered corn has
carried the genes to native varieties.
Post-postscript: The Mexican government confirmed in
April 2002 that GM material is present in maize in the
states of Oaxaca and Puebla. About 95 percent of the
sites that were tested showed evidence of transgenic
corn. A story on the announcement by a member of Mexico's
commission on biodiversity is available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,686955,00.html.
August 2001: GM outlook
not as rosy as before
Analysts say the future of GM food has dimmed in much
of the world, while growth remains strong in the U.S.
Static profits, reductions in research dollars, the
passage of labeling laws in several countries, and the
prospect of several more years of waiting before consumers
see products that directly benefit them are contributing
to the predictions of a slowdown in growth. Only in
the U.S., which has the lion's share of production,
is GM acreage continuing to grow. More information on
the Wall Street predictions is available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,543222,00.html.
A story on companies narrowing their focus to a few
major crops is available at http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0830/p3s1-usgn.html.
August 2001: U.S. pressures
EU to drop labeling of GM foods
The U.S. government is pressuring Europe to cancel
the new GM labeling law approved last month by the European
Commission. The labeling law is expected to have a large
impact on U.S. exports to Europe because so many U.S.
products contain some GM ingredients. The U.S. is presenting
the dispute as a free trade issue, while European officials
view it as a matter of consumer choice. A Washington
Post story on this topic is available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A599952-2001Aug24.html.
August 2001: Scientists
find a gene that makes insects resistant to Bt toxin
Scientists in the U.S. and Australia (Gahan
et al., 2001) have discovered a gene that allows
pests to survive exposure to one of the Bt toxins that
protects Bt corn and Bt cotton from attack. The gene
is naturally present at low levels in insect populations,
but scientists have worried that widespread planting
of crops incorporating the Bt toxin would lead to an
increase in the resistance gene among insects. This
would eventually reduce the effectiveness of the protection.
The discovery of the gene will allow researchers to
monitor the progress of insect resistance, an important
component in predicting how well transgenic crops will
fend off pests.
July 2001: European Union
announces labeling law for GMOs
All transgenic food, feed and seed and all products
made from such transgenic organisms will be labeled
as genetically modified under a law introduced to the
European Commission. The new regulation, presented jointly
by the EU's commissioner for the environment and the
commissioner for health and consumer protection, requires
farm-to-table traceability of transgenic organisms and
of products made from them. A system of codes identifying
the individual transgenic components would be conveyed
along with the products at all stages of distribution
except the final sale to the consumer. Labels would
notify consumers that "this product contains genetically
modified organisms" but need not specify the GMO. Imports
would be subject to the same rules. If exporting companies
do not provide the information, importers will have
to test the products to determine whether they should
be labeled. Distributors would be required to retain
their records for five years. The tracking system will
facilitate withdrawal of products if harmful effects
are later discovered, will allow monitoring of effects
on consumers and on the environment, and will allow
verification of labeling claims, according to the commissioners.
David Byrne, the commissioner for health and consumer
protection, said the proposal was intended to "maximize
consumer information" so that buyers can choose what
to purchase. David Byrne's statement on the proposed
law is available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/biotech/biotech07_en.pdf.
The preliminary text of the proposal is available at
July 2001: EPA says Bt
corn doesn't kill Monarch butterflies
The EPA reported that even when Monarch butterflies
are affected by transgenic Bt corn pollen, they will
mature into healthy adults. Only one in 100,000 Monarchs
would be affected by the Bt toxin, the agency said,
and the results would not be fatal. Thus there is "no
unreasonable hazard" to the butterflies, according to
a department scientist .The agency declined to make
public its data because biotech companies that participated
in the research are pushing for confidentiality, according
to a report by the Associated Press (available from
the CheckBiotech web site at http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=1462&doc_id=1565&st
art=1&fullsearch=0). A discussion of some of the
findings is contained a report from March 12, 2001,
on Bt risks and benefits, available at http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/2000/october/octoberfinal.pdf.
Pages 55-57 and 58-59 of the report refer to the Monarch
research. The EPA's assessment appears to contradict
the preliminary findings of a Canadian report (http://inspection.gc.ca/english/plaveg/pbo/btmone.shtml)
released in March. That study found that exposure to
more than 133 pollen grains per square centimeter killed
some Monarch larvae, with 50 percent of the larvae dying
when Bt pollen concentrations reached 389 pollen grains
per square centimeter. However the Canadian researchers
have so far studied only Bt-176, while the American
study included other Bt corn varieties.
Postscript: On August 24, 2001, the EPA announced that
the confidential information from recent studies would
be made available to viewers who sign a confidentiality
agreement. The EPA's web site at
information on the locations at which the documents
will be available for viewing and on the agreements
that must be signed in order to view them. An executive
summary of the findings is also available on the same
EPA web site. According to the executive summary, two
versions of Bt corn, called MON 810 and Bt 11, do not
kill Monarch larvae even during the period of maximum
pollen shed when the larvae are exposed to high levels
of pollen. A third version, Bt 176, is toxic to Monarch
larvae at levels typically found in and near a corn
field. Bt 176 is not commonly grown in the U.S., accounting
for less than 2% of the corn acreage.
July 2001: Australia prepares
to implement GM food labels
Australian food companies are preparing to label foods
that contain transgenic ingredients as a new law on
labeling is scheduled to take effect in five months.
Labels may be uncommon, though, because many companies
are trying to find non-GM sources for ingredients to
avoid the GM label. A story on the impending law and
its effect on food companies is available at http://www.theage.com.au/news/state/2001/07/14/FFXK2WFU2PC.html.
Postscript: In August the Australia New Zealand Food
Authority published a user's guide to GM labeling, intended
to help companies that may need to label their products.
The guide is available at
July 2001: UN agency reaches
agreement on safety testing of GM foods
The Codex Alimentarius Commission has agreed on some
general principles for the assessment of safety in transgenic
foods. GM food should be tested and approved before
being released on the market, the 165 member countries
of the commission decided. The potential for allergenicity
is one of the characteristics that should be assessed.
The Codex Commission, a co-operative subunit of the
Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health
Organization, sets voluntary standards for a variety
of food-related issues. An announcement of the agreement
on GM foods is available at http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/OIS/PRESS_NE/PRESSENG/2001/pren0144.htm.
July 2001: UN agency supports
GM crops for developing countries
The United Nations Development Program in its 2001
report issued a call for development of GM crops to
benefit farmers and consumers in developing countries.
The potential advantages stemming from the use of transgenic
technology are urgently needed in countries where poor
farmers struggle to produce harvests on marginal land
and where many people go hungry or suffer from poor
nutrition, according to the report. The UNDP report
is available at http://www.undp.org/hdr2001.
News stories on the report are available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,519721,00.html
and at http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/08/world/08NATI.html.
June 2001: Environmental group
claims credit for damage to research facilities
The Earth Liberation Front, a radical group that sabotages
activities that it deems to be threats to the environment,
claimed responsibility for three attacks on facilities
at the University of Washington, the University of Idaho,
and a commercial tree farm in Oregon. Fires the night
of May 21 destroyed offices, vehicles, and plants at
the University of Washington and at Jefferson Poplar
Farms in Oregon. Damage was estimated at more than $3
million. Vandalism to the biotechnology building at
the University of Idaho occurred the night of June 10.
ELF called University of Washington plant geneticist
Toby Bradshaw "the driving force" behind genetically
engineered trees, although Bradshaw says his work has
so far involved only conventional breeding. The tree
farm was growing hybrid poplars, another conventional
breeding product that the ELF called "an ecological
nightmare." The University of Idaho was targeted because
it was pursuing genetic engineering research and had
a partnership with Monsanto to promote transgenic NewLeaf
potatoes, the ELF said. Over several years, the ELF
has spiked trees to prevent timber harvests, set fire
to buildings at the Vail, Colorado, ski resort to prevent
expansion, set fire to the offices of U.S. Forest Industries
and Boise Cascade, vandalized logging equipment, destroyed
crops, and burned and smashed facilities at the sites
of housing construction. Universities that have been
targeted include Michigan State and the University of
Minnesota in addition to the two recent attacks in the
northwest. ELF lists its attacks on its web site at
Announcements of the ELF attacks and those by various
other groups can be found on the GenetiX Alert web site
A review of ecoterrorist attacks is available from the
Seattle Post- Intelligencer at
June 2001: UK crop trials damaged,
marketing may be delayed
The movement of transgenic rape seed oil into British
markets may be delayed because of vandalism to several
of the field trials by opponents of GM products. Six
of the 13 trials around Britain have suffered intentional
damage and another two have failed naturally. The remaining
five trials may provide insufficient data for a recommendation
of licensing the product for commercial use. A story
on this development is available at http://guardianunlimited.co.uk./gmdebate/Story/0,2763,504133,00.html.
June 2001: Ecologists
urge caution regarding GMOs
All transgenic organisms should be assessed for potential
risk to the environment, according to the Ecological
Society of America, an organization with members in
academia, industry, government, and non-profit organizations.
The group called for more research on the potential
environmental effects of transgenic plants and animals.
Particular concerns include transgenic organisms might
be able to survive without human assistance and those
that might spread their genetic material by breeding
with wild organisms. The full statement released by
the ESA is available at http://esa.sdsc.edu/statement0601.htm.
June 2001: Transgenic beet
pollen escapes over barrier plantings
Pollen from transgenic sugar beets escaped over a
4-meter-high containment planting of hemp to pollinate
plants outside the containment area, according to researchers
at the Aachen University of Technology in Germany. Wind-blown
beet pollen can travel 1,000 meters from the originating
plant, so barriers to pollen travel might be necessary
to prevent gene flow from transgenic fields to wild
plants. Barrier plantings are a commonly used strategy
for isolating plants to produce pure seed lots of a
commercial cultivar. Christiane Saeglitz and Detlef
et al., 2000) used male-sterile, that is, female-only
beet plants outside the containment area to detect the
escape of transgenic pollen from the hemp barrier. Pollen
grains were able to travel up to 200 meters from the
transgenic source plants despite the 12-foot-high hemp
barrier. A report on the research, entitled "Transgenic
Pollen Escape--Need for Consequence Assessment Instead
of Containment," is available in the ISB News Report
for June 2001 at http://www.isb.vt.edu/news/2001/news01.jun.html.
May 2001: U.S. consumers
want GM food labeled
About two-thirds of American consumers want labels
on food stating whether it was made using biotech methods,
but they don't want labeling to increase the cost of
food, according to a survey conducted in April by the
Center for Science in the Public Interest. Among several
production technologies mentioned, consumer interest
in the issue of GM food was second only to that of food
sprayed with pesticides. Three-quarters of the respondents
wanted food to be labeled if it had been sprayed with
pesticides. About one-third of respondents said genetically
engineered food was worse than conventionally produced
food. Fifty-two percent said they would choose a box
of cereal labeled GMO-free over a box of cereal with
a label indicating that it contained genetically engineered
ingredients, while 38 percent said it made no difference
to them. Eight percent said they would choose the box
labeled "contains genetically engineered ingredients."
Respondents were unwilling to pay much for labeling.
Forty-four percent said they would not be willing to
pay anything. Seventeen percent said they would be willing
to pay an extra $10 per year for their groceries in
order to have labels, while 16% said they would pay
up to $50 extra per year for labeling. A short press
release on on the survey is available at http://www.cspinet.org/new/labeling_gefoods.html.
A longer analysis is available at http://www.cspinet.org/reports/op_poll_labeling.html.
The survey questions and percentage results are available
April 2001: Substitute gene may
reduce the use of antibiotic resistance markers
Scientists at the University of Central Forida (Daniell
et al., 2001) have succeeded in substituting another
gene for the antibiotic resistance genes commonly used
to develop transgenic plants. Betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase,
abbreviated BADH, was used in experiments aimed at developing
an alternative to the use of antibiotic resistance genes.
In tobacco, BADH allowed plant cells to detoxify the
toxin betaine aldehyde on which the cells were being
grown, analogous to the way that antibiotic resistance
genes allow cells to survive on a medium laced with
antibiotics. The use of antibiotic resistance genes
has drawn criticism and the European Union has called
for them to be phased out over the next few years.
April 2001: FAO experts
group recommends testing all GMOs for allergenicity
A panel of experts convened by the Food and Agriculture
Organization has recommended that all transgenic foods
be tested for allergenicity regardless of the source
of the transgene. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
currently asks to see such tests if the transgene is
derived from a source that is well known to cause allergic
reactions, such as peanuts, but allergenicity testing
is not done routinely on all transgenic food products.
The FAO panel's report is available at http://www.fao.org/es/esn/gm/allergygm.pdf.
April 2001: UK survey shows
people about evenly split on eating GM food
A survey commissioned by a British pro-GM advocacy
group has found that consumers are about evenly split
in their willingness to eat transgenic food. Forty-eight
percent of the people surveyed said they would eat transgenic
food, while 44 percent said they would not, and 8 percent
were undecided. In 2000, 46 percent of respondents said
they would eat transgenic food, while 50 percent said
they would not. In the most recent survey, when asked
to specify the benefits of transgenic foods, 13 percent
said it would benefit third-world or developing countries.
Smaller percentages mentioned improved nutrition, cheaper
prices, and reduced chemical spraying. Twenty-two percent
said there were no benefits and 31 percent said they
didn't know what the benefits were. When asked to specify
the risks, 25 percent said there were health risks.
Smaller percentages mentioned the spreading of transgenes
to other plants and too much control in the hands of
small groups. Thirteen percent said there were no risks
and 38 percent said they didn't know what the risks
were. When asked to balance the risks against the benefits,
14 percent said the risks outweighed the benefits, 13
percent said the benefits outweighed the risks, and
69 percent said they didn't know enough to make a decision.
The full results of the survey are available at http://www.cropgen.org/databases/cropgen.nsf/?Open
. Select "news" and then "Click here to view current
press releases" for a menu of topics. The survey results
are under "Results of NOP Survey into GM foods."
April 2001: Projections
for transgenic crop acreage in 2001
Acreage for transgenic soybeans planted in the United
States will increase in 2001 while acreage for transgenic
cotton and transgenic corn will remain at about the
same levels as in 2000, according to projections released
by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Based
on interviews with farmers, the NASS estimates that
transgenic soybeans will make up 63 percent of the total
soybean acreage in 2001, an increase from 54 percent
in 2000. Transgenic cotton is estimated to make up 64
percent of the cotton acreage, up only slightly from
61 percent in 2000. Transgenic corn is estimated to
be 24 percent of the total corn acreage, essentially
unchanged from last year's 25 percent figure. The full
report on acreage projections is available at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/nassr/field/pcp-bbp/.
Choose "Prospective Plantings 03.30.01" for the 2001
projections. Both a text file and a pdf file are available.
Pages 23 and 24 of the report contain the information
for biotech varieties.
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