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[SANET-MG] cover up on Bt10
The article below focuses on the lack of sanity among public relations
people in corporations, government and news media. The main problem with
Bt10 was that it produced very little toxin. It makes no sense
whatsoever for Syngenta to keep growing and maintaining seeds for a line
that was never deregulated in US or anywhere. Did they get a secret
pleasure out of palming off deffective maize on US farmers?
The truth is that the claim that Bt10 and Bt11 produce the same protein
seems to be based on corporate superstition rather than reported
experiment. The Canadian documents for Bt11 showed that the Bt11 Cry1Ab
gene produced a number of peptides either by degradation or by
processing of the gene product. The regulators never questioned that nor
did they require testing of the individual peptides for insect toxicity
and possible side effects on mammals. It is very likely that the Bt10
produces a product different and possibly more dangerous than Bt11 and
the company has not been willing to provide proof of their claims and
the regulators only aid and abet the superstition.
Joint US-UK cover-up alleged over GM maize
Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Friday April 1, 2005
The whereabouts of 170,000 tonnes of contaminated GM maize and its
possible import into the UK has caused an international investigation
and claims of a cover-up on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) first put
out a statement saying the contamination was "on a small scale" but
later retracted it, instead saying the maize was unlikely to have got
into food but might have been fed to cattle.
The maize is not licensed to be grown in Europe and contains a GM
antibiotic-resistant marker of a type scientists have advised the EU to
phase out. It is theoretically possible for bacteria to become resistant
to antibiotics as a result of contact with the marker genes - although
the company which developed the maize, Syngenta, denies it.
The row intensified yesterday because it was realised that the US
administration had known of the contamination since December, but did
not notify Britain until late last month when an article in Nature
revealed the problem.
One GM maize, BT10, not licensed for Europe, was found to have been
mixed up with another GM maize, BT11, which was licensed. The two
varieties produce the same proteins, which led Syngenta and the US
watchdogs, the food and drug administration and the environment
protection agency, to claim there was no problem; the two crops were the
It was a line that Defra followed until it was realised that BT10
contained the suspect antibiotic marker. This caused anti-GM groups to
claim a cover-up by the company and the US administration.
Markus Payer, a spokesman for Syngenta in Switzerland, said yesterday
that 37,000 acres (15,000 hectares) of the suspect seed had been grown
unknowingly in the US between 2001 and 2004. It appeared BT10 seed had
been planted in the belief it was the licensed BT11. As a result the
harvested crops were mixed and sold. This was not discovered until
routine tests in December 2004 revealed BT10's DNA sequence.
A Syngenta spokesman said 150,000 tonnes would have been marketed but it
believed only a tiny amount reached Europe. Only 18% of US maize was
exported and less than 1% came to Europe. He conceded that, before 2004,
GM maize destined for Europe was not labelled, so it would be impossible
to know where it had gone. The company and the US authorities were
investigating and would notify all concerned as soon as possible.
Lindsay Keenan, a Greenpeace campaigner, said: "It is unbelievable that
Syngenta, after four months of preparation for releasing this
information, should say that these GE crops are physically identical ...
This case exposes the basic unpredictability of GMOs [genetically
modified organisms], the incompetence of Syngenta to handle GMO seeds
safely, the complete lack of regulatory controls in the US, and the lack
of implementation of controls in the EU."
The European Food Safety Authority, which advises EU states, said marker
genes conferring resistance to ampicillin "should be restricted to field
trials and not be present in GM plants placed on the market". And the
Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international food standards body,
has urged the agricultural biotech industry to use alternative methods
to refine GM strains in the future.
Brian John, of GM Free Wales, accused the US authorities and the British
government of trying to cover up the problem. "Nobody, either in the
government or in the food safety agencies, appears to be doing anything."
Defra said it believed only a small amount of the maize may have been
imported, and was unlikely to be in food, only cattle feed. There was no
danger to the public.
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