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Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 23:48:30 +0100
From: Road Alert!
Subject: Genetically Altered Food - protest letters

Sorry for asking you to write letters to politicians, but sometimes it could be the most effective tactic, though not very glorious.

re. Genetically Altered Food

This stuff should be banned-

> "In 1989, a dietary supplement, L-tryptophan, caused 37 U.S. deaths
> and 1,511 nonfatal cases of a disease called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome
> (EMS). The Centers for Disease Control linked these cases to tryptophan
> manufactured using genetically engineered bacteria. A study published in
> Science in 1990 confirmed that the tryptophan was contaminated with a toxic
> "novel amino acid" not present in tryptophan produced by other methods."
> John Fagan PhD (USA Today, March 6, 1997 - Genetically altered food:
> Buyer beware)

Bacteria are genetically very simple compared to plants, arguably easier to control and engineer. The lab coat gang, just like with phalidomide, didn't foresee that the optical isomer, chemically identical but structurally a mirror image, of D-tryptophan (an amino acid found in virtually every cell of your body) would be produced by the bacteria and that this would kill people. Why are they so arrogant as to presume that they aren't going to screw up again.

This is just one example. Please write to the new Agriculture Ministers - Jeff Rooker (Secretary of State), Elliot Morley and Lord Donoughue (junior ministers) at:
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Ergon House,
c/o Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR
phone 0171 238 6000 - fax 0171 238 6591

Can I suggest demanding that:

1) all genetically altered food be banned from Britain,

2) that Britain, like Austria, Luxembourg and Italy use Article 16 of Directive 90/220/EEC to ban import of Novartis Bt Maize

<<The exact wording of Article 16 is as follows:
i. Where a member state has justifiable reason to consider that a product which has been properly notified and has received written consent under this directive constitutes a risk to human health or the environment, it may provisionally restrict or prohibit the use and/or sale of that product on it's territory. It shall immediately inform the Commission and it's other member states of such action and give reasons for it's decision.
ii. A decision shall be taken on the matter within three months in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 21.>>

3) and that the Government exert pressure on the USA to segregate genetically altered soya and maize at the next harvest.

> US planting figures in million acres.
> soyabeans 1996/7: 64.2
> soyabeans 1997/8: 68.8 (highest in 17 years)
> maize 1996/7: 79.5
> maize 1997/8: 81.4 (highest in 12 years)

These figures are total planting, not just tampered-with crops.

The six largest agrochemical multinational companies, i.e. those that expect to make the most profit from such crops have a target. Their target is to supply/control 80 per cent of the worlds staple foods from their seed by the year 2000. I find that scary, 80 percent of the worlds food from a few monocultures.

Monoculture is damaging environmentally, but from a purely practical human centered perspective, it is also very risky. The main risk being the susceptibility to unforeseen disease. If you meet your dietary needs from lots of different sources, then it doesn't matter too much if one crop fails, you might go a bit hungry, but you'll have other things to live on too. New pests and diseases which will leap at the chance to colonise, ravage and chomp on sterilised expanses of monoculture are likely to proliferate in an environment free from competition and natural predation.

Natural systems are strong and work in a balance. We need to learn that we can't just eradicate what we find and replace it with what we think we want, without experiencing drastic repercussions.

In your letters you could also ask that more help is given to farmers growing organic food or wanting to switch from being agri-business to organic growers. In the mean time buy organic and hassle super markets, even just going into them and asking if they are sure that Genetically Altered food is safe. If you fancy more fun, you could try shopping trolley actions! contact for more ideas.

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