Richard Wolfson <rwolfson@concentric.net>: Biggest supermarket chain in Holland loses soybean case

  Below forwarded with permission.  I thought some on the list might be

--------- Begin forwarded message ----------
From: Richard Wolfson <rwolfson@concentric.net>
To: <dan.worley@juno.com>
Subject: Biggest supermarket chain in Holland loses soybean case
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 1997 12:49:26 -0500
Message-ID: <l03102807b013af1db578@[]>

Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 08:13:50 GMT

            Biggest supermarket chain of the Netherlands
               loses case against Natural Law Party

           'Same' quality of manipulated soybean is absurd

Albert Heijn the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, published
article in the february issue of its free magazine (circulation 1.8
million) which gave an untrue and misleading representation of Monsanto's
genetically manipulated soybean. Albert Heijn is part of the Dutch
multinational Ahold which owns supermarket chains in many countries
the globe (e.g. Stop & Shop in US).

The Natuurwetpartij (Natural Law Party of the Netherlands) filed a
complaint with the Advertisement Code Commission against Albert Heijn.
Advertisement Code Commission has decided now that three out of four
charges of the Natuurwetpartij are justified and stated Albert Heijn
make no such misleading advertising any more.

The most important charge made by the Natuurwetpartij was that Albert
wrote that the quality of the genetically manipulated soybean had
the same". The company admitted that the composition of the manipulated
is different but, but still maintained the quality is the same. This is
absurd. The Advertisement Code Commission concludes: 'The quality of the
gentically manipulated soy [...] is not the same as the quality of
non-manipulated soy. The composition has been changed and in that case
cannot simply state that the quality has remained the same. For this
the statement is misleading.'

Monsanto, a multinational chemical company, has genetically manipulated
by shooting genetic material into it derived from a flower (petunia), a
bacterium and a virus. The bacterium is the Agrobacterium Tumefaciens, a
parasite that causes cancer in plants. The genetic material from this
parasite produces with the help from a so called promotor of the
cauliflower mosaic virus a protein in the soybean which has never before
been part of the human diet. The long term effects of consumption of this
protein are not known.

Dr. Joseph Cummins, professor emeritus in genetics from the university of
West-Ontario, warns: 'Probably the greatest threat from genetically
crops is the insertion of modified virus and insect virus genes into
It has been shown in the laboratory that genetic recombination will
highly virulent new viruses from such constructions. Certainly the widely
used cauliflower mosaic virus is a potentially dangerous gene. It is a
pararetrovirus meaning that it multiplies by making DNA from RNA

The Natuurwetpartij and the Advertisement Code Commission also objected
the way Albert Heijn referred to risk assessments of the bean by the
government, the European Union and the Consumers Union. It created the
impression that these institutions had themselves researched the bean,
while they had in fact reviewed summaries of the literature.

The misleading advertising made by Albert Heijn is not an unicum. The
Natuurwetpartij declares that false advertising is widely used by
interested parties to promote genetic manipulation - an extremely
objectionable practice. For example the false statement is often made
genetic manipulation is nothing but a further development of traditional
breeding practices and of techniques such as the making of yoghurt and
beer. Dr. George Wald, the professor emeritus in biology from Harvard and
Nobel laureate in medicine who passed away recently, declared: 'Such
intervention must not be confused with previous intrusions upon the
order of living organisms; animal and plant breeding, for example; or the
artificial induction of mutations, as with X-rays. All such earlier
procedures worked within single or closely related species. The hub of
new technology is to move genes back and forth, not only across species
lines, but across any boundaries that now divide living organisms. The
results will be essentially new organisms. Self-perpetuating and hence
permanent. Once created, they cannot be recalled.'

The genetic manipulation industry often falsely states that genetic
manipulation carries not more or less risk than traditional breeding.
scientists do not agree with this. Dr. Wald: 'Up to now living organisms
have evolved very slowly, and new forms have had plenty of time to settle
in. Now whole proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new
associations, with consequences no one can foretell, either for the host
organism or their neighbors. It is all too big and is happening too fast.
So this, the central problem, remains almost unconsidered. It presents
probably the largest ethical problem that science has ever had to face.
morality up to now has been to go ahead without restriction to learn all
that we can about nature. Restructuring nature was not part of the
For going ahead in this direction may be not only unwise but dangerous.
Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of
cancer, novel epidemics.' This statement of Dr. Wald annihilates the
environmental claims that are often made with regard to 'modern

Albert Heijn defends itself by saying that the quality of the soybeans
remained the same because according to our present knowledge the
manipulated soy is not harmful to health. Our present knowledge however
utterly insufficient. Dr. John Fagan, professor in moleculair biology at
Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, US, points out that the
present studies into safety 'fail to even begin to assess one very
substantial class of risks that are inherent in genetically engineered
foods. That class of risks consists of health hazards resulting from the
unanticipated side-effects of genetic engineering. Such testing schemes
completely incapable of detecting unsuspected or unanticipated health
that are generated by the process of genetic engineering itself.'

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