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THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE

26 November 2002

Dear friends and colleagues,

RE: CONTAMINATION SPREADS

We wish to highlight two cases of contamination by genetically modified organisms that is occurring in the UK and Indonesia.

Tests conducted on behalf of SA Cert (Soil Association Certification Limited) in the UK have found that organic soya used in livestock feed has been contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from GM Roundup Ready soya which is manufactured by Monsanto and genetically engineered to be resistant to their Roundup herbicide.

The certified organic soya is believed to have been imported from Italy. It is yet to be established as to how or where the contamination occurred.

According to the Soil Association, this is the first time that SA Cert has received a confirmed positive result of GM contamination of an organic product.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, a study conducted by a post-graduate student has found that GM cotton grown experimentally in South Sulawesi has contaminated areas around the plantation which is owned by PT Monagro Kimia,  the Indonesian subsidiary of Monsanto.

The discovery which was made through molecular observation, has so far been denied by the company.

These cases further proves that contamination by GM crops on surrounding non-GM plants is inevitable, as asserted by the EU report entitled “GMOs:

The significance of gene flow through pollen transfer” (http://reports.eea.eu.int/environmental_issue_report_2002_28/en/gmos for www.pdf).

The issue of contamination will have serious implications to the standards of organic and conventional crops with possible negative impacts on their markets. It is increasingly becoming clearer that co-existence of GM and non-GM crops is not possible. This raises many serious issues, including unresolved issues of liability for contamination, coupled with lawsuits by the companies for patent infringement for ‘use’ of their patented seed.

For full reports on the two incidences, please see the attached items below:

1.   “Local cotton affected by genetically modified crop”, The Jakarta Post, 21 November 2002

2.   “GM contamination of organic animal feed”, The Soil Association Press Release

With best wishes,

Lim Li Lin and Chee Yoke Heong

Third World Network

121-S Jalan Utama

10450 Penang

Malaysia

Email: twnet@po.jaring.my

---------------

REF: Doc.TWN/Biosafety/2002/J

Item 1

Local cotton affected by genetically modified crop

The Jakarta Post 21 November 2002, Jakarta

www.thejakartapost.com

A study by a post-graduate student from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) has shown that genetically modified cotton grown experimentally in South Sulawesi has contaminated areas around the plantation.

Maharmah Nadir, the researcher, said on Tuesday that the contamination could be detected through molecular observation only.

Maharmah conducted her study from September 2001 through August 2002, at a South Sulawesi genetically modified cotton plantation owned and funded by American firm PT Monagro Kimia.

“Local cotton farmers will only find out that their cotton has been polluted by the modified cotton at harvest time.

“With their crops being similar to the genetically modified cotton, they could face legal charges of growing genetically modified cotton without the permission of Monsanto (the firm that holds the patent for the modified cotton),” she told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Dadang Gusyana, spokesman for Monagro Kimia, said on Wednesday that his company doubted the methodology of the latest study, and therefore could not yet accept its findings.

“We have been conducting research for three years and we have not yet found any adverse impact (from the genetically modified cotton),” he said.

He also claimed that Maharmah had conducted her study in Monagro Kimia’s fields without obtaining permission from the company.

Maharmah carried out her research in Bajeng subdistrict, South Sulawesi, where the Bolgar strain of genetically modified cotton is being cultivated close by local cotton of the Kanesia 7 variety.

She said that if the contaminated local cotton was used as raw material for oil, the oil could not be exported to countries that banned unlabeled genetically modified agricultural and food products.

Therefore, she suggested that local cotton farmers and Monagro Kimia should stagger their crops so that they would be harvested at different times.

“Another alternative would be for the genetically modified cotton and cotton plants to be quarantined,” she said.

Item 2

GM contamination of organic animal feed

The Soil Association Press Release

14 November 2002

Organic soya used in livestock feed has been found to be contaminated with genetically modified organisms. The discovery was made following tests carried out on behalf of SA Cert (Soil Association Certification Limited) during a scheduled inspection.

Samples were collected at a feed mill producing organic and non-organic animal feed. No further organic feed containing soya will leave the mill until SA Cert has identified how the contamination occurred and is fully satisfied that measures are in place to prevent any future contamination.

The organic soya has been contaminated with GM Roundup Ready soya which is manufactured by Monsanto and genetically engineered to be resistant to their Roundup herbicide.

A meeting was held on 8 November between staff from SA Cert and the feed mill. The feed mill - which is working closely with SA Cert - has started the process of identifying any affected products.

This is the first time that SA Cert has received a confirmed positive result of GM contamination of an organic product. The soya - which has been certified as organic by another UK certifier - is believed to have been imported from Italy. The certifying body has been informed about the issue and has not yet established how or where the contamination occurred.

SA Cert now commissions tests on products at risk from GM contamination - currently soya, maize and oilseed rape. In the light of this incident, SA Cert is writing to licensees immediately informing them that at-risk products certified by other organic certifiers will have to be tested and shown to be free of GM contamination prior to their inclusion in certified feed.

“The biotechnology industry must pay for testing and costs resulting from GM contamination and we have asked the Government for an urgent meeting to discuss the matter,” says Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association.

“This is a case of the polluted paying, which is fundamentally wrong. It is unjust for the cost to fall on hard-pressed organic farmers or on people who buy organic food. They didn’t create this problem. The Soil Association has predicted for some time that GM would cause widespread contamination and the current problem only came to light because SA Cert initiated its own testing programme.

“Our pledge remains to do everything possible to exclude GMOs and their derivatives from the organic food chain.”

 


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