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Recall of gen eng RR-tolerant canola seeds, real biosafety issues!

For your info - a perfect example of just one of the LOW-level negative
scenarios from genetic engineering... Is this really the path we want to
take?? P. Dines

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From: Richard Wolfson, INTERNET:rwolfson@concentric.net
To: Patricia Dines, 73652,1202
To: richard@ottawa.com
Date: Sat, May 31, 1997, 2:05 PM
Subject: GE seed contamination

Enclosed is information from John Fagan regarding a recent incident a few
months ago in which genetically engineered seeds had apparently been
contaminated in Canada:

"Seed Recall Raises Biosafety Questions"

        Three weeks before the  Intergovernmental Ad Hoc Working Group on
Biosafety met in Montreal for a second round of negotiations on an
international biosafety protocol,  Monsanto pulled two varieties of
genetically engineered canola seeds from the Canadian market. Both
varieties had been engineered to be tolerant to the Monsanto herbicide,

        This move came after testing revealed that at least one of the
patented herbicide-tolerant canola varieties contained an unexpected gene.

         Apparently Monsanto Canada Inc. and Limagrain Canada Seeds Inc.
had been working with two (different?) gene constructs  containing the
herbicide tolerant trait,  but they decided to take only one of them,
RT-73, through the regulatory process, obtaining environmental, livestock
feed, and human food clearance. However, the second, RT-200, had only
obtained environmental approval before it was shelved; nevertheless it
turned up in the seed.

        Monsanto Canada Inc. and Limagrain Canada Seeds Inc. had already
sold 60,000 bags of the canola seed throughout Western Canada , as part of
an ambitious plan to plant a million acres of its  transgenic canola.

        While Monsanto and Limagrain appeared to be forthcoming about the
fact of the seed recall, it was unclear what prompted the recall.  The
companys' statements failed to clarify what had happened to raise the alarm
that the seed they had distributed -- and which had already been planted in
hundreds of acres -- was the wrong seed.   What had caused the companies to
test for the shelved gene in the distributed seed? And further, what had
caused the companies to continue development of RT-73 and not RT-200?

        Limagrain's Gary Bauman said tests will be conducted on the
seedstock but it will be difficult to trace exactly where in the process
the contamination happened because the seedstock available for testing now
is only the progeny of the original line. "We may never know how it
happened,"  Bauman reportedly said.

        It is very worrisome when companies of the stature of Monsanto and
Limagrain appear to have lost or misplaced  the parental lines of patented
seed varieties of such obvious value. The whole 'seedy' incident raises
several disturbing possibilities:
(1) Something went wrong with the genetic engineering at the laboratory
(2) Two major biotechnology companies are using shoddy laboratory
(3) Something adverse resulted from the distributed seed.
(4) There was some gene flow (of a worrisome trait ) during  seed
(5) The companies are hiding something.

        Hopefully, both companies will continue to be forthcoming about the
nature and results of their investigations and all the above concerns will
be addressed.

Sources : Manitoba Co-Operator, 24/4/97, and The Ram's Horn, No. 147,
April, 1997.

Contributors to this article:  Third World Network, Edmonds Institute,
Oeko-Institut E.V., German NGO Working Group on Biodiversity, Ecoropa


Richard Wolfson,  PhD
Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Food
Natural Law Party
500 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON  Canada  K1N 6N2
Tel. 613-565-8517  Fax. 613-565-6546
email:  rwolfson@concentric.net
NLP Website:  http://www.natural-law.ca
To receive regular news from the Campaign to Ban
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  Intellectual Property & Biodiversity News - Vol. 6, Number 7    May 28,
Limagrain, the seed corporation licensed by Monsanto to multiply and sell
Roundup resistant canola, was forced to recall 60,000 bags of the seed due
to genetic contamination. During a quality control test, Monsanto
discovered that the canola variety contained a unlicensed gene. In
addition, the gene which had been licensed was missing from the crop. When
this error was discovered, the Canadian Government, in an unprecedented
move, suspended the plant variety. Ray Mowling, Monsantos vice-president
of government and public affairs, blames the breeding process for the
mix-up and feels that the contamination occurred in the field, a conclusion
denied by Limagrain.

The gene for Roundup resistance was isolated by Monsanto from a bacterium
originally found in their waste stream.

Mary MacArthur "Canola Seed Recalled Because of Genetic Contamination,"
WESTERN PRODUCER, April  1997; Tracy Tjaden, "Canola is First Gene
Suspension Case for Government," WESTERN PRODUCER, April 24, 1997; "The
Year of the Triffids," THE ECONOMIST, April 26, 1997.
Produced by The Institute For Agriculture and Trade Policy, Mark Ritchie,
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