Seed Frankestein


"the food with its strange evil tastes"
~ 1984

GM Crop 'Ruins Fields for 15 Years'
by Geoffrey Lean, Independent, Oct 9, 2005

GM crops contaminate the countryside for up to 15 years after they have been harvested, startling new government research shows. The findings cast a cloud over the prospects of growing the modified crops in Britain, suggesting that farmers who try them out for one season will find fields blighted for a decade and a half. Financed by GM companies and Margaret Beckett's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the report effectively torpedoes the Government's strategy for introducing GM oilseed rape to this country.

Ministers have stipulated that the crops should not be grown until rules are worked out to enable them to "co-exist" with conventional ones. But the research shows that this is effectively impossible.

The study, published by the Royal Society, examined five sites across England and Scotland where modified oilseed rape has been cultivated, and found significant amounts of GM plants growing even after the sites had been returned to ordinary crops. It concludes that the research reveals "a potentially serious problem associated with the temporal persistence of rape seeds in soil." The researchers found that nine years after a single modified crop, an average of two GM rape plants would grow in every square metre of an affected field. After 15 years, this came down to one plant per square metre - still enough to break the EC limits on permissible GM contamination. Last night Pete Riley, the director of GM Freeze, said; "It is becoming clearer and clearer that it is going to be impossible to grow GM crops in Britain."

Company wants meat of cloned animals on menu
AP/Vancouver Sun, Oct 8, 2005

ROUND TOP, Texas - About 80 miles east of Austin, out where the fire ants bite and men still doff their baseball hats when greeting women, 20 cows pregnant with calves cloned by ViaGen Inc. have just arrived. Stampeding down a chute from a tractor trailer, the cattle join a menagerie of cloned pigs and cows that include Elvis and Priscilla, calves cloned from cells scraped from sides of high-quality beef hanging in a slaughterhouse. The cloning of barnyard animals has become so commonplace and mechanized that ViaGen says it's more than ready to efficiently produce juicier steaks and tastier chops through cloning.

It now looks like federal regulators will endorse the company's plan to bring cloned animal products to America's dinner tables. No law prevents cloned food, but ViaGen has voluntarily withheld its products pending a ruling from the Food and Drug Administration. Over the past three years, it has worked to create elite bovine and porcine gene pools that can produce prodigious "milkers," top-quality beef cattle and biotech bacon. It has aggressively gobbled up competitors and locked up patents, including the one granted to the creators of Dolly the sheep. All that really stands in ViaGen's way, besides a nod from the FDA, are squeamish consumers and skeptical food producers. The FDA is widely expected to soon endorse the findings of a 2002 National Academy of Science report it commissioned that found food products derived from cloned animals do not "present a food safety concern."

Acknowledging the many critics who have raised ethical objections as well as safety concerns, the FDA commissioner said Sept. 19 that "within weeks" the agency was prepared to publish results of its examination of the issues in a scientific journal - a rare move for the agency, which used a similar forum to make public its position on genetically modified crops in 1992. But then the commissioner, Lester Crawford, abruptly resigned, leaving the top ranks of the FDA in turmoil. FDA spokeswoman Rae Jones said in an e-mail that Crawford "was talking about a draft risk assessment that FDA is now preparing to release. This release was not related to Dr. Crawford or his resignation." But Jones said "we do not have a timeline" for the assessment's release. So without a government cloning endorsement, the deep-pocketed corporate customers ViaGen hopes to court are staying on the sidelines.

"The National Milk Producers Federation does not at this time support milk from cloned cows entering the marketplace until FDA determines that milk from cloned cows is the same as milk from conventionally bred animals," said Chris Galen, a spokesman for the trade group, which represents the $23 billion dairy industry. Dairy farmers worry that without the federal government's blessing, American consumers will blanch at pouring milk from cloned cows on their breakfast cereal. Beef and pork producers have similar concerns. A March survey by the International Food Information Council, an industry trade group, reported that 63 percent of consumers would likely not buy food from cloned animals, even if the FDA determined the products were safe.

Rapid advances in genetic technology are increasingly being applied further up the food chain. It's one thing for traditional crops like corn to be engineered to be pest-resistant, and people already eat genetically engineered soy beans in all manner of processed food. But biotech companies run into what bioethicists call the "yuck factor" when they begin tinkering with animals. An application to market salmon genetically engineered with genes from other fish to grow faster has been formally pending with the FDA for more than two years. That's why ViaGen insists that its work has nothing to do with combining the genetic material of two different species. It likens it to now common reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination.

To clone, scientists replace all the genetic material in an egg with a mature cell containing the complete genetic code from the donor. Cloners argue that the resulting animal is simply the donor's twin, containing an identical makeup, yes, but destined for its own distinct fate influenced by environment and chance. The coat of the first cat cloned, for instance, was a different color than that of its genetic donor. So there are no guarantees that the cloned calf Elvis will yield the highest quality beef - the USDA's "prime yield 1" designation - that gave him his life, but it certainly increases the odds he will produce prime meat. As it stands, "prime yield 1" ratings come along once every 12,000 cows. ViaGen's founder, Scott Davis, says knowing which cow is likely to yield premium beef could demand a $250 premium per heifer, a big markup in the notoriously low-margin industry. He said the price of a cloned cow continues to drop and, depending on the order volume, can cost as little as $8,000 per animal. "Cloning is at a commercially viable place now," Davis said.

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops. Daily Mail, Nov 3, 2008

USA okays clones as food (companies force technology on consumers). BBC, Jan 15, 2008

GM Crop Ruins Fields for 15 Years. InfoShop, Oct 9, 2005

Company wants meat of cloned animals on menu. AP/Vancouver Sun, Oct 8, 2005

Billionth acre of biotech crops harvested. TruthAboutTechnology, Oct 4, 2005





15.Life In Oceania ('the food with its strange evil tastes') and 9.Keeping Masses Down

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~