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Miscellaneous Green Files

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Miscellaneous Green Files

Villagers Organize and Win There will be at least one less trial of genetically engineered crops in England. Richard Thompson, a farmer from Lincolnshire, pulled out of plans to plant GE sugar bee.

Villagers Organize and Win
There will be at least one less trial of genetically engineered crops in England. Richard Thompson, a farmer from Lincolnshire, pulled out of plans to plant GE sugar beet. A public meeting of villagers showed overwhelming disapproval of the plans to conduct trials of GE crops in their area.
--The Times, April 12, 2000

Frankenfish on the Shelf
Aqua Bounty Farms Inc of St John’s, NF, is applying to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval of its genetically modified fish.

The salmon grow to three or four kilograms much faster than regular farmed Atlantic salmon. If approved, 10,000 of the Atlantic salmon would be the first GE fish on the market.
--Globe and Mail, April 11, 2000

Government Lobbying Itself
Access to Information Act documents prove that Industry Canada is a member of BIOTECanada. The group provides a unified industry voice and tries to influence government department decisions about biotechnology and genetically modified organisms. Not only does the group lobby Industry Canada itself, but also Health Canada and Environment Canada.

Industry Canada’s membership violates a new trend in government. Potential conflicts of interest have seen government departments withdraw as members of similar lobby groups.
--Ottawa Citizen, April 10, 2000

No Labels Yet
Polls have shown that more than 80 per cent of American consumers want genetically engineered (GE) foods labelled as such. Now that labelling is acknowledged as feasible, will the biotech industry, United States Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bend to the public will and start labelling all genetically modified foods? Not on your life. Government and industry argue with one voice that labelling is not necessary because GE foods are "substantially equivalent" to the conventional foods they have replaced. They even say labelling would be "misleading" because it would imply that there are differences between biotech foods and conventional foods.

Federal regulations governing biotech foods are founded on the premise that there are no "material differences" between GE crops and conventional crops. This argument, it turns out, was thoroughly discredited by FDA scientists before the regulations were issued. The FDA spent 1989-1992 developing regulations governing GE foods for humans and feed for animals.
--Rachel’s Environment and Health Weekly, February 3, 2000.

Hi-Tech Grain, Low-Tech Brain
Rather than being the answer to global famine, so-called miracle crops are instead being blamed for widespread brain impairment in the developing world.

The Green Revolution crops were introduced in the 1960s and early 1970s. They produce several times as much grain as traditional crops. India, for example, doubled its wheat crop in seven years. But these crops do not take up important minerals like iron and zinc from the soil.

A report by Dr Christopher Williams, research fellow with the Global Environmental Change Program in Britain, says that one and a half billion people, one-quarter of the earth’s population, are affected by "Green Revolution iron deficiency." Even though people are consuming more calories, they are getting fewer of the important micronutrients. Williams claims that the iron deficiency affects more than half of India’s schoolchildren. Figures from the United Nations show that iron deficiency also affects more than half the world’s pregnant women, which puts them and their children at risk. (Anemia causes up to 200,000 deaths a year.)

Diets lacking micronutrients not only interfere with human intelligence, but also the economic progress of developing countries. The World Bank estimates that up to five per cent of a country’s gross domestic product is threatened by iron, iodine and vitamin A deficiencies.
--The Independent, April 23, 2000

Poison Gas Incineration
A company that develops environmental technologies for the oil and gas industry recently released results of a test of a high volume portable waste gas incinerator. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and other poisonous gases are frequently released into the air by sour gas wells, with destructive results (see alive #211).

Questor Technology’s incinerator is designed to eliminate the hydrocarbon emission by-products, black smoke, carcinogens and odor associated with sour gas well flaring. Sulphur dioxide sensors in the vicinity of the well recorded no SO2 levels after the test, down from almost 11 per cent.

The company plans to redesign the incinerator so that noise levels fall with industry standards. Dan Motyka, president of Questor, says the technology "represents one of the first proven alternatives to flaring during well testing."

Nuclear Damage
Britain’s nuclear weapons plants may be contaminated by far more radioactive and toxic waste than previously thought, according to New Scientist magazine. Further proof of the harmful effects of nuclear energy came in May, when a study linked the closure of nuclear reactors to lower levels of infant deaths. The study found that radiation seepage into groundwater and the food supply harms young people.
--Reuters

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