April 26, 2010

Supreme Court to hear arguments in GE Crop case Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms Tomorrow

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms tomorrow. This is the Roundup Ready Alfalfa case, in which plaintiffs challenged USDA's (APHIS's) deregulation of genetically engineered alfalfa under the NEPA.

The issues on which cert was granted don't have much to do with genetically engineered crops, per se, but the this is all exciting anyway. 

All of the briefs are available on the SCOTUS Wiki website, which presents the issues as follows:

Issues: (1) Whether plaintiffs under the National Environmental Policy Act are specially exempt from the requirement of showing a likelihood of irreparable harm to obtain an injunction; (2) whether a district court may enter an injunction sought to remedy a NEPA violation without conducting an evidentiary hearing sought by a party to resolve genuinely disputed facts directly relevant to the appropriate scope of the requested injunction; and (3) whether the Ninth Circuit erred when it affirmed a nationwide injunction that sought to remedy a NEPA violation based on only a remote possibility of reparable harm.

Post by Donna M. Byrne, Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law

April 26, 2010 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 13, 2010

Opposition to GE Alfalfa

NOC Last month (March 3, 2010) the Center for Food Safety posted a National Organic Coalition (NOC)  press release estimating that more than 200,000 comments were submitted to the USDA critiquing the APHIS Draft Environmental Impact Statement concerning GM alfalfa (available here). 

Also included in the Center for Food Safety Post is a letter submitted by 300 public interest groups, farmers, dairies, retailers and organic food producers who worry that GM alfalfa threatens their livelihood.

For example:
“GE alfalfa threatens the very fabric of the organic industry,” adds George Siemon, one of the founding farmers and CEO of Organic Valley. “Organic consumers want seeds and products to remain unpolluted by GE.”

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student James McEnerney for preparing this post.  Mr. McEnerney is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

April 13, 2010 in Biotech, GMOs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2010

Scientists Create GM Tomatoes with an Extended Shelf Life

In research study published recently  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal (PNAS), scientists at the National Institute of Plant Genomic Research in New Delhi, India, unveiled a tomato which has been genetically modified to extend shelf life.  The Telegraph.co.uk reported that:

  “The fruits remained firm for 45 days, three times as long as normal tomatoes which start  to wilt after just 15 days”

 “As much as 40 per cent of harvested fruit can be wasted because it ripens too quickly,  the researchers from the National Institute of Plant Genomic Research in New Delhi,  India, estimate.”

The study’s abstract in PNAS, titled Enhancement of fruit shelf life by suppressing N-glycan processing enzymes, describes the basic method of creating the genetically modified tomatoes with an enhanced shelf life:

 “We have identified and targeted two ripening-specific N-glycoprotein modifying  enzymes, α-mannosidase (α-Man) and β-D-N-acetylhexosaminidase (β-Hex). We show  that their suppression enhances fruit shelf life, owing to the reduced rate of softening.   […]  Genetic manipulation of N-glycan processing can be of strategic importance to  enhance fruit shelf life, without any negative effect on phenotype, including yield.”

The Telegraph.co.uk goes on to further discuss the implication of this research:

 “[I]t could be years before the fruits, still in the experimental stages, are available  in  Britain, if ever.  The big supermarket chains, including Tesco, have a policy against  stocking GM foods on their shelves.  GM crops, which opponents have dubbed  ‘Frankenstein food’, can also be sold in Europe only if they have passed rigorous safety  tests and European law states that GM foods have to be clearly labelled, including when  they are sold loose.”

 Link to National Institute of Plant Genomic Research in New Delhi, India.

This post was prepared by William Mitchell College of Law student, Noelle Oas.  Ms. Oas is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

February 14, 2010 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 15, 2010

US Supreme Court grants Cert in Geertson Seed Farms case (genetically engineered alfalfa)

The Supreme Court has granted cert in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms.  The case arose when APHIS decided to deregulated Roundup Ready Alfalfa (genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate) without preparing an environmental impact study.  A California District Court ordered a preliminary injunction against further planting of GE alfalfa until an environmental impact statement could be prepared. The Ninth Circuit upheld the injunction on appeal.

SCOTUS Blog has links to the briefs and other documents in the case.

Geertson Seed Farms is represented by Center for Food Safety lawyer, George Kimbrell.  The link is to the CFS press release on the Cert decision.

Post by Donna M. Byrne, Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law

 

January 15, 2010 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 11, 2009

Petri Dish Pork?

My only question is who will regulate this product? USDA? or FDA?  From singularityhub.com:

Artificial Meat Could Be On Your Table in 5 Years

". . . Researchers in the Netherlands may be able to sidestep ethics and solve some of the environmental issues [of meat production] with their latest creation – pork cells cultured in a petri dish. This artificial meat is grown from myoblasts (special muscle cells which repair damage) incubated in a solution derived from the blood products of animal fetuses."

Post by Professor Donna M. Byrne, William Mitchell College of Law.

December 11, 2009 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 29, 2009

Testing and Certification for "non-GMO" foods

From the New York Times:

Alarmed that genetically engineered crops may be finding their way into organic and natural foods, an industry group has begun a campaign to test products and label those that are largely free of biotech ingredients. . . .

Hundreds of products already claim on their packaging that they do not contain genetically modified ingredients, but with little consistency in the labeling and little assurance that the products have actually been tested. The new labeling campaign hopes to clear up such confusion.

Read the article here

August 29, 2009 in Biotech, GMOs, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2009

Genetically Engineered Potatoes On the Way

From London Reuters:

Genetically modified potato crop trial resumes

A crop trial of genetically engineered potatoes has resumed in northern Britain, a year after the trial was abandoned when protesters ripped up plants.

"We granted a three-year consent," a government official told Reuters on Monday. "The trial has been resumed. It's perfectly allowed," she added, denying a report in The Daily Telegraph that the resumption of the trial was "in secret."

read more

July 29, 2009 in Biotech, GMOs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2009

GE Roundtable on Seed Magazine.com

From SeedMagazine.com: Five experts debate the roots of GM opposition, the role of big agribusiness, and whether we’ve achieved real scientific consensus.

. . .

But despite Mon810’s official sanction under EU law, several countries—including France, Austria, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg—have imposed national bans on the GE crop. The most recent addition to this list is Germany, which banned the corn in April, just before this year’s seeds would have been sown.

Ilse Aigner, Germany’s federal agricultural minister, acknowledged that various federal environmental institutes had failed to come to an agreement about Mon810’s environmental risks, but said she was encouraged by the example of Luxembourg, which imposed a moratorium in late March.2

Read the rest of the article here

June 24, 2009 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 19, 2009

GE Roundtable on Seed Magazine

From SeedMagazine.com: Five experts debate the roots of GM opposition, the role of big agribusiness, and whether we’ve achieved real scientific consensus.

. . .

But despite Mon810’s official sanction under EU law, several countries—including France, Austria, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg—have imposed national bans on the GE crop. The most recent addition to this list is Germany, which banned the corn in April, just before this year’s seeds would have been sown.

Ilse Aigner, Germany’s federal agricultural minister, acknowledged that various federal environmental institutes had failed to come to an agreement about Mon810’s environmental risks, but said she was encouraged by the example of Luxembourg, which imposed a moratorium in late March.2

Read the rest of the article here

June 19, 2009 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2009

Austrian study -- GE corn linked to reduced fertility in mice

This is from a Center for Food Safety press release dated November 13, 2008:
Vienna, Austria - (November 13, 2008) - [a]. . . study[1] released Monday by the Austrian government. . . . found that mice fed a type of genetically engineered corn . . . produced fewer offspring than those fed conventional corn. . . .

The study was sponsored by the Austrian Ministry of Health, Families, and Youth, and led by Dr. Juergen Zentek, Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Vienna. For 20 weeks, Zentek and his team fed mice diets consisting of either 33% genetically engineered (GE) corn, or 33% of a closely related non-GE variety. The diets were otherwise nutritionally equivalent.

Mice fed the GE corn diet had fewer litters, fewer total offspring, and more females with no offspring, than mice fed the conventional corn. The effects were particularly pronounced in the third and fourth litters, after the mice had consumed the GE corn for a longer period of time. The authors attributed the reduced fertility to the GE corn feed, and said it might be related to unintended effects of the genetic modification process. Dr. Zentek said that further studies are "urgently needed" to corroborate his team's findings.
Read the whole press release here.

March 18, 2009 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mexico OKs GM corn experiments

From Latin America Press
Mexico has revised its biosafety law to reverse a nationwide ban on genetically-modified corn, the country´s most important crop and the centerpiece of the Mexican diet, and allow the varieties to be used in experiments. In a press conference, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, said that the government would fight any illicit planting of genetically-modified corn, of which Mexico is the birthplace.
Read more

March 18, 2009 in Biotech, GMOs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 16, 2009

Genetically modified eggplant for India

Southeast Asia has yet to introduce any genetically modified foods. This week, the Cornell Chronicle published an article reporting that field trials of the Bt eggplant—developed by Cornell in conjunction with the US Agency for International Development and an Indian Monsanto subsidiary—will soon be approved for commercial distribution in India. India relies heavily on eggplant as a food source and the field tests suggest that the new eggplant will yield twice as much food and be resistant to some pests, while requiring 30% less pesticide.

The Cornell Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program (ABSP II) website contains briefs and reports done by Cornell regarding the development and the need for Bt eggplant in Southeast Asia.

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student, Wyatt Partridge, for preparing this post.

February 16, 2009 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 22, 2008

Genetically engineered animals

In September, FDA released draft guidance on GE animals (blogged here). JAVMA, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association, has posted an article describing the draft guidance, and it has PICTURES of genetically engineered animals!!

Click to go to Genetically Engineered Animals in the Food Supply on the JAVMA website.

October 22, 2008 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 08, 2008

USDA's new regulations on genetically engineered crops

The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Center for Food Safety have both criticized proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules governing genetically engineered crops, including food crops engineered to produce pharmaceutical and industrial products.

"The proposed rules, UCS charged, would not protect the U.S. food supply from potential contamination by drugs from "pharma" crops, and could allow drugs that it deems "safe" to enter the food supply. This contamination could occur through cross-pollination or seed mixing between pharma food crops and crops intended for consumption. " (UCS--link to press release)

The Center for Food Safety press release explains that:

". . .the proposed rules remove established criteria vital in determining the very scope of regulation. Previously, regulation of GE crops was based on the presence of genetic elements from a list of "plant pests" codified under Section 340.2. This fairly comprehensive list covered almost all of the genetic elements companies used to engineer crops. However, under the new policy, the USDA proposes "deleting the list of organisms which are or contain plant pests," effectively removing triggers to regulation and leaving the decision to the discretion of the USDA or even biotech companies themselves.

CFS continues:

"Whether a GE crop falls within the scope of regulation or not will now be much more open to interpretation," continued Freese. "We can expect the range of GE organisms subject to oversight to decrease over time, allowing for future food safety regulatory failures."

The USDA also failed to address the epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds associated with ubiquitous herbicide-tolerant GE crops. Resistant weeds have led to increased use of chemical weed killers, rising production costs for growers, and in some cases accelerated soil erosion caused by the additional mechanical tillage required to remove resistant weeds.

Another overlooked key area is the use of food crops for biopharming. The USDA proposal will continue to allow the controversial practice of growing food crops engineered as "biofactories" for pharmaceuticals and industrial compounds. Over the last several years, these crops have come dangerously close to being comingled with those destined for the human food supply, raising the possibility of untested pharmaceutical proteins ending up in our food.

The Center also believes that the USDA has failed to properly address the issue of conventional and organic crop contamination by GE varieties. This contamination often occurs through cross-pollination or seed dispersal, and has cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales and lowered profits. The new policy incorporates the USDA's Low Level Presence Policy, which states that "low level contamination" is no longer actionable. Given this, the USDA can choose to allow contamination of conventional or organic crops by untested GE experimental crops to occur without the need to stop interstate shipments of the contaminated crops.

"The USDA is treading dangerous new ground here," added Freese. "While they appear at first glance to be tightening regulation of an industry that desperately needs better oversight, the structure of the new proposal actually opens loopholes that can be exploited by biotech companies and expose consumers to more untested and unlabeled genetically engineered foods."

October 8, 2008 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 23, 2008

Japanese groups reject GE sugar beet imports

Center for Food Safety news release:

Washington, DC – September 23, 2008 – The No! GMO Campaign, representing 53 of Japan’s leading farmer, consumer, and public interest groups, have joined the Center for Food Safety and a coalition of US NGOs in opposing the US cultivation of untested, genetically modified (GM)  sugar beets.  This week, members of the Seikatsu Club Consumer's Cooperative (SCCC) have come to the US with a statement, representing nearly a million Japanese people, expressing their shared desire to keep food and feed containing GM sugar beets out of Japanese markets.

"This show of opposition to the importation of products containing GM sugar beets in Japan sends a strong message to US food and feed producers to beware of losing international markets if they use GM sugar beets," said Lisa Bunin, Ph.D., Campaigns Coordinator at the Center for Food Safety.  “In the face of weak government regulation of GM food, consumers are now turning to industry to keep GM foods off the market.”

Currently, only four major GM crops – corn, cotton, soy and canola – are grown commercially in the US.  No new major GM crops have reached the market in over a decade, but the impending release of GM sugar beets into the food supply threatens to break this trend.

In addition to bringing a statement of opposition to GM sugar beets, SCCC representatives will tour Midwest farms in search of non-GM corn for cattle and dairy feed.  The 14-member delegation – which includes pig, chicken, beef, and dairy producers – is meeting with farmers and feed distributors in Louisiana, Illinois, and Missouri, to identify stable supplies of non-GM corn to sell to its member farmers. 

At present, Japan does not produce any GM crops for commercial consumption, although it allows the import of some pre-approved and labeled GM foods  “Our goal is not only to keep Japan but also the world GM free,” said Tatsumi Tanabe, SCCC’s Business Development Department General Manager.  “We believe that labeling is the best way to inform consumers about non-GM products so that they can make an informed decision whether to eat GM foods or not.”

In addition to empowering people's food-buying choices, strong opposition to corporate control and consolidation of the food supply drives the many food and agricultural collectives flourishing across Japan.  No! GMO is comprised of 53 of these cooperatives, including the SCCC, Green Coop Consumers’ Cooperative Community, Consumers Union of Japan, and the Japan Organic Agriculture Association.

“Our cooperative food movement seeks to guarantee autonomous control over our lives,” said Tanabe. “We do this by ensuring that farmers have the final decision over the seeds they save and plant, not corporations. This simply cannot happen when large multinational, GM seed conglomerates like Monsanto, control the worlds’ seed stock.”  SCCC representatives plan to firm up contracts with non-GM corn growers throughout their US tour.

#    #    #

www.centerforfoodsafety.org.

September 23, 2008 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 18, 2008

FDA Issues Draft Guidance on Regulating Genetically Engineered Animals

Logo2c FDA has issued draft guidance on regulation of genetically engineered animals.  There is a 60-day comment period that ends November 18, 2008.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, today released for public comment draft guidance on the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) animals. The guidance document is intended to clarify the FDA's regulatory authority in this field, as well as the requirements and recommendations for producers of GE animals and products derived from GE animals.

The comment period for the draft guidance, titled "The Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable rDNA Constructs," runs for 60 days and closes Nov. 18, 2008. The 25-page document is available online at http://www.fda.gov/cvm/GEAnimals.htm.

"Genetically engineered animals hold great promise for improving human medicine, agriculture, the environment, and the production of new materials, and the FDA has long been involved in their scientific evaluation," said Randall Lutter, Ph.D., deputy commissioner for policy. "Our guidance provides a framework for both GE animals and products made from them to reach the market."

Genetic engineering generally refers to the use of recombinant DNA (rDNA) techniques to introduce new characteristics or traits into an organism. When scientists splice together pieces of DNA and introduce a spliced DNA segment into an organism to give the organism new properties, it's called rDNA technology. The spliced piece of DNA is called the rDNA construct. A GE animal is one that contains an rDNA construct intended to give the animal new characteristics or traits.

GE animals can be divided into several classes, based on their intended use. They include animals that produce human or animal pharmaceuticals (biopharm animals); animals that serve as models for human diseases; animals that produce high-value industrial or consumer products, such as fibers; and food-use animals with new traits such as improved nutrition, faster growth or lower emission levels of environmentally harmful substances (such as phosphate in their manure).

Genetic engineering already is widely used in agriculture to make crops resistant to pests or herbicides. In medicine, genetic engineering is used to develop microbes that produce drugs and other therapeutic products for use in humans. In food, genetic engineering is used to produce microorganisms that aid in baking, brewing, and cheese-making.

Using the animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has been working with developers of GE animals to make them aware of their responsibilities to ensure that food from these animals does not enter the U.S. food supply unless the FDA has authorized such use.

The FD&C Act classifies "articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals" as drugs. An rDNA construct that is in a GE animal and intended to affect the animal's structure or function meets the definition of a new animal drug, whether the animal is intended for food, or used to produce another substance. Developers of these animals must demonstrate that the construct and/or any new products expressed from the inserted construct are safe for the health of the GE animal.

Under the draft guidance, in those cases in which the GE animal is intended for food use, producers will have to demonstrate that food from the GE animal is safe to eat. The FDA will review this information as part of its food safety assessment, consistent with that recommended in the recently adopted Codex Alimentarius Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Animals. Codex is a worldwide food safety organization sponsored by the United Nations.

The draft guidance also describes a sponsor's responsibility in meeting the requirements for environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Depending on the species of animal and its intended use, the FDA will coordinate with agencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and with other federal departments and agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, in regulating GE animals. The draft guidance indicates the areas in which the FDA will be working with those agencies to develop a coherent policy under the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology. USDA has published in the same issue of the Federal Register a "Request for Information" that seeks input on what types of actions and approaches it should consider under the Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA) that would complement FDA's guidance. The AHPA gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to take specific actions to prevent the spread of diseases and pests of livestock.

"This is a cutting-edge technology that has significant implications, including real benefits, not just for human health, but also for animal health, such as developing disease-resistant animals," said CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D. "We look forward to the public comments to help refine our thinking and approach."

The draft guidance describes how the FDA may exercise enforcement discretion, that is, not require premarket approval, for some GE animals depending on potential risk, as we did after reviewing information about Zebra danio, aquarium fish genetically engineered to glow in the dark. For example, the draft guidance states the FDA's intent to exercise enforcement discretion for laboratory animals used for research and kept in confined conditions. The agency does not expect to exercise enforcement discretion for animal species traditionally consumed as food and expects to require approval of all GE animals intended to go into the human food supply.

The draft guidance describes how the FDA regulates heritable rDNA constructs, that is, constructs inherited from one generation to the next. Non-heritable constructs, such as those used for gene therapy to treat individual animals, may be the subject of a subsequent guidance.

For more information, see http://www.fda.gov/cvm/GEAnimals.htm.

September 18, 2008 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 03, 2008

GE Alfalfa ruling upheld

Yesterday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction against planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa issued last year in Geertson Seed Farms. 

The Federal District Court for the Northern District of California had entered an injunction prohibiting the planting genetically engineered alfalfa without preparation of a full Environmental Impact Statement.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the injunction noting that there was no abuse of discretion:

There are no issues of law and we therefore review for
abuse of discretion. See Idaho Watersheds Project v. Hahn,
307 F.3d 815, 823 (9th Cir. 2002). We affirm because the district
court did not abuse its discretion in entering the injunction
after holding one hearing on the nature of the violation
of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (“NEPA”),
42 U.S.C. § 4332(C), and two hearings on the scope of
injunctive relief, as well as reviewing extensive documentary
submissions relating to an appropriate remedy. The injunction
is limited in duration to the time necessary to complete the
EIS. The existence of the NEPA violation is not disputed on
appeal.

Center for Food Safety attorney Andrew Kimbrell represented the plaintiffs.  Here is their press release.

The full opinion is available here: Geertson Seed Farms v. Monsanto, No. 07-16458, No. 07-16492, No. 07-16725, D.C. No. CV-06-01075-CRB, Filed 09-02-2008.

September 3, 2008 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

20 US Companies Reject Clones

News Release from the Center for Food Safety:

Washington, D.C., September 3, 2008 – The Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth today announced that 20 of America’s leading food producers and retailers have stated that they will not use cloned animals in their food.  The companies include Kraft Foods; General Mills; Gerber/Nestle; Campbell Soup Company; Gossner Foods; Smithfield Foods; Ben & Jerry’s; Amy’s Kitchen; California Pizza Kitchen restaurants; Hain Celestial; Cloverland, Oberweis, Prairie, Byrne, Plainview, and Clover-Stornetta Dairies; and grocers PCC Natural Markets, Albertsons, SUPERVALU, and Harris Teeter.  The move by these companies represents a growing industry trend of responding to consumer demand for better food safety, environmental, and animal welfare standards.

“This rejection of food from clones sends a strong message to biotech firms that their products may not find a market,” says Lisa Bunin, PhD, Campaigns Coordinator at the Center for Food Safety.  “American consumers don’t want to eat food from clones or their offspring, and these companies have realistically anticipated low market acceptance for this new and untested technology.”  This sentiment is echoed by General Mills in their letter to the Center which identified “consumer acceptance” as an important consideration with respect to the potential use of ingredients from clones in their products.

Kraft Foods expressed a similar position in a letter stating that although they defer to the conclusions of the FDA on the safety of ingredients from cloned animals, “product safety is not the only factor we consider in our products.  We must also carefully consider additional factors such as consumer benefits and acceptance...and research in the U.S. indicates that consumers are currently not receptive to ingredients from cloned animals.”

In May 2008, the Center for Food Safety began reaching out to companies involved in the production, use, and sale of meat and milk products, regarding their position on the use of food from clones.  In response, three of the top-earning food manufacturing companies indicated that they will not be using ingredients from clones or their offspring. 

Kraft Foods, North America’s second largest food and beverage company, reported revenue of approximately $37.2 billion in 2007, with products such as Cracker Barrel, Cool Whip, Velveeta, Oscar Meyer, and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.  General Mills, another leading American food processing company, with brands that include Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Totino’s, Yoplait and Haagen-Dazs, reported revenue of approximately $12.4 billion in 2007.  Gerber/Nestle, a top international food manufacturing company and leader in baby food and infant formula production, whose brands include Carnation, Toll House, Lean Cuisine, and Stouffer’s reported approximately $121 billion in revenue in 2007; Bringing their total revenue for 2007 to $170.6 billion.

Ben & Jerry's Social Mission Director, Rob Michalak, told the Center for Food Safety “Cloning presents a host of complex social, economic and animal welfare consequences.  The decision to approve clones for food use was rushed through, under the radar, without a proper, comprehensive review.  As a result, we now need to establish a national registry and tracking framework so that people know where the clones are.”

Ben & Jerry’s, Amy’s Kitchen, Clover-Stornetta, Oberweis Dairy, Prairie Farms Dairy, Plainview Dairy, PCC Natural Markets, and Hain Celestial have gone one step further by stating that they would not use ingredients from clones or their offspring.  The Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, and the American Anti-Vivisection Society are working to obtain more commitments of this kind.

In addition, Friends of the Earth has worked with top U.S. grocers to determine their policy on the use of cloned animals and their offspring in their food, and presented them with over 8,000 signatures from consumers who reject products made from these animals.  To date, Albertsons, SUPERVALU and Harris Teeter have informed Friends of the Earth that they will not sell products from cloned animals.  SUPERVALU, owner of Shaw’s, Cub Foods, Acme Markets, and partial owner of Albertsons, is the second-ranked grocer in the nation, with a reported 2008 revenue of $44 billion.  Albertsons, which operates more than 300 Albertsons supermarkets nationwide, reported over $40 billion in revenues in 2006.  North Carolina-based grocer Harris Teeter reported $3.3 billion in revenues, supplying upwards of 90% of parent company Ruddick’s profits.

“Grocers are recognizing that people do not want to eat food from cloned animals,” said Gillian Madill, Genetic Technologies Campaigner at Friends of the Earth.  “Food safety authorities must also recognize this and – in keeping with their public interest mandate – enact labeling regulations that allow Americans their fundamental right to choose.”

The American Anti-Vivisection Society, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Citizens for Health, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Humane Society of the United States, Organic Consumers Association, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Interfaith Center on Cooperate Responsibility have sent FDA over 150,000 letters from their supporters who oppose the unlabeled introduction of cloned animals and their offspring into the US food supply.

Center for Food Safety:  http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org

Friends of the Earth: http://www.foe.org/

September 3, 2008 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 21, 2008

Eli Lilly's Elanco buys Posilac (rBGH) from Monsanto

Earlier this week Monsanto announced that it was selling off it's recombinant bovine growth hormone product, Posilac.  Here is the news release from Eli Lilly, whose Elanco acquired Posilac for $300 million plus contingent consideration (whatever that is).  I don't imagine this makes any difference for anything, but it's all over the green/veggie news sites:

GREENFIELD, Ind., Aug 20, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- Elanco, a division of Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY), today announced that Lilly has signed an agreement to acquire the worldwide rights to the dairy cow supplement, Posilac® (sometribove), as well as the product's supporting operations, from Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON).

"Global dairy demand is increasing, outstripping supply, and consumers are seeing rapidly rising prices," said Jeff Simmons, president, Elanco. "With the purchase of Posilac, Elanco can enhance its overall product portfolio and work together with the industry to provide dairy farmers more options and give consumers affordable choices. Critically, we remain focused on the health and care of the cow in working with farmers to increase global milk supply.

"With our rich history and experience in the dairy industry, Elanco is the ideal steward of this vital technology," Simmons said. "Elanco remains committed to using science to address the growing need for safe, affordable food; and to choices for consumers, retailers and producers."

Elanco has exclusively sold sometribove outside of the United States for a decade. . . .

more of the news release

rBGH results in millk with higher than normal levels of Insulin Like Growth Factor (IGF-1), which some believe contributes to breast and other cancers: Cancer Prevention Coalition

August 21, 2008 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2008

Biofortification for China

Interesting article on genetically engineered crops in China -- Biofortification for China: Political Responses to Food Fortification and GM Technology, Interest Groups, and Possible Strategies, by Carl Pray (Rutgers University) and Jikun Huang (Chinese Academy of Sciences), 10(3) AgBioForum 161 (2008).

The article points out that "China was the first country to introduce a transgenic crop for commercial production.  Virus-resistant tobacco was first planted by farmers in 1992. Tomatoes with a long shelf life and resistance to virus, sweet peppers with virus resistance, and color-altered GM petunias were also grown in small amounts starting in the mid-1990s."

Abstract: Despite making enormous strides in reducing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, China still has large numbers of people who do not consume sufficient micronutrients such as iron, zinc and Vitamin A. To meet this need, government agencies in China are supporting programs in industrial fortification and vitamin supplements. In recent years the government has also supported research on biofortification of major grain crops using both conventional plant breeding and transgenic techniques. The article assesses the potential political barriers to the acceptance of biofortified crops and concludes that biofortification using non-transgenic techniques would probably not face much opposition, while biofortification with transgenic techniques might have a more difficult time. The article then assesses which groups in China are likely to support or oppose biofortification and then proposes some strategies that the government and international agencies might use if they decide to support biofortification.

Pray, C., & Huang, J. (2007). Biofortification for China: Political responses to food fortification and GM technology, interest groups, and possible strategies. AgBioForum, 10(3), 161-169. Available on the World Wide Web: http://www.agbioforum.org.

May 25, 2008 in Biotech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack