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News Updates--April through December 2001

Click on a headline to read the story.

December 2001: FDA warns food makers about non-GMO labels

December 2001: Many U.S. grain elevators requiring GMO segregation

December 2001: 95% of Europeans want to know if food is GM

December 2001: GM seeds can be patented

December 2001: Australian labeling law takes effect, food prices may rise

December 2001: Mexican scientist says new genes enrich native corn varieties

October 2001: UK judge disallows 'public order' offense in crop protesters trial

October 2001: EPA renews registration for Bt corn and Bt cotton, imposes new rules

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

August 2001: 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

April 2001: FAO experts group recommends testing all GMOs for allergenicity

April 2001: UK survey shows people about evenly split on eating GM food

April 2001: 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 .

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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 http://www.acga.org/news/2001/121801.htm . The survey results, organized by state, are available at http://www.acga.org/programs/2001/Default.htm .

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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 on GMOs.

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December 2001: GM seeds can be patented

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 at http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search& search=J%2EE%2EM%2E&doc_id=2357&start=1&fullsearch=1.

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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.

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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," he said.

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&
topic_id=3&subtopic_id=14&doc_id=2310
.

The Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Iraputo offers graduate degrees in plant biotechnology. Researchers there produce and evaluate transgenic plants in field studies.

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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.

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October 2001: EPA renews registration for Bt corn and Bt cotton, imposes new rules

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/biotech/biotech09_en.pdf.

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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 http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides/ has 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.

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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
http://www.anzfa.gov.au/foodstandards/userguides/labellinggeneticallymodifiedfood/index.cfm.

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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.

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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.

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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 http://www.earthliberationfront.com/doa/. Announcements of the ELF attacks and those by various other groups can be found on the GenetiX Alert web site at http://tao.ca/~ban/ar.htm. A review of ecoterrorist attacks is available from the Seattle Post- Intelligencer at
http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/local/27872_ecoterror18.shtml.

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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.

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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.

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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 Bartsch (Saeglitz 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.

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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 at http://www.cspinet.org/new/poll_gefoods.html.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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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