Illegal Varieties of Monsanto GE Corn Found in Europe

For Immediate Release
Monday, November 6, 2000
Friends of the Earth (Europe & USA)

Foods Contaminated by Genetically Engineered U.S. Corn Found in the United
Kingdom, Denmark

Monsanto Corn Is Not Approved for Human Consumption in Europe

Friends of the Earth Europe announced a finding of food contamination by
engineered corn grown and marketed in the U.S. but not approved for human
consumption in Europe. The corn variety is Roundup Ready (GA21), produced
by Monsanto.

"This shocking discovery is the latest in a growing list of biotech
blunders. It's becoming increasingly clear that the biotech industry can't
control its products and government regulation is pathetically lax," said
Adrian Bebb, of the Real Food campaign at Friends of the Earth, United

FoE Europe commissioned laboratory tests, similar to those conducted in the
U.S. to check for Starlink corn, on 31 products including tortilla chips,
taco shells, polenta and corn flakes. In the UK, the tests found that
Phileas Fogg AuthenticTM Tortilla Chips and house-brand tortilla chips sold
by grocers Safeway and Asda contained Monsanto's GA21 corn. Kims
ZapatasTM, purchased in Denmark, also tested positive for the presence of
GA21. The analysis was performed by GeneScan in Freiburg, Germany,
one of Europe's top laboratories. FOE Europe is demanding that all the
contaminated products be recalled.

Monsanto is currently seeking safety approval for GA21. Earlier this year
UK's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) concluded
that there was insufficient information on whether the corn which contains DNA
from bacteria, rice, and sunflower, could provoke allergic reactions. The
concern is similar to the U.S. EPA ruling that Starlink corn has "characteristics
of known allergens" due to the bacterial toxin engineered into its cells, but that
allergenicity had not been determined.

"Biotech companies like Monsanto and Aventis are marketing foods laced with
bacterial toxins and antibiotic resistance genes whether people want them
or not," said Larry Bohlen, Director of Health and Environment Programs at
Friends of the Earth, U.S. "Now, with contamination by a different
unapproved corn out in the open, American companies exporting to Europe
could take a pounding."

A briefing paper by FoE UK may be found at after 10 am.

# # #

Monsanto Commits Support For Food Companies
And Farmers Following Activist Allegations

ST. LOUIS, November 5, 2000 * Monsanto Company today
promised full support to European food companies and regulatory
agencies in response to unproven activist allegations about the corn in taco
chips and is acting to protect markets for farmers and their grain.

Hugh Grant, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Monsanto,
also urged food authorities in the United Kingdom to obtain the data and
samples used by an anti-biotechnology activist group, the Friends of the Earth.

"There are absolutely no safety concerns with Roundup Ready corn or
DEKALB Bt-Xtra," said Grant. The activist group claims to have found both
products in taco shells in the United Kingdom. Grant said all resources of
Monsanto will be made available, including technical experts, to determine if
the claims have any basis in fact.

"While we are fully confident of the safety of our products and the quality of
food available for consumers, we recognize that our grower customers need
assurance that the market for the crops they grow will not be disrupted," Grant

"To that end, we will not commercially launch new genetically improved
commodity crops for planting in the United States until they have received full
approval for food use and animal feed in the United States and Japan," he said.

"We would like to make the same commitment for European approval but we
cannot do so at this time because of the gridlock in the European regulatory

The industry has a comprehensive channeling program for products that are
still pending European approval, designed to allow U.S. growers to find
domestic markets for these products. The channeling program requires a
specific written acknowledgment in the technology agreements that all growers
must sign before planting and it is reiterated in grower contacts in person, by
telephone and by mail to provide domestic market options.

The channeling program is a collective effort of the seed industry, grain
companies, commodity organizations, processors and others. The American
Seed Trade Association (ASTA) has worked with the stakeholders involved in
the channeling program, including Monsanto, to create an industry-wide
database of confirmed domestic-use locations on its Web site (

The activist group claimed it found Roundup Ready and DEKALB Bt-Xtra corn
in store-brand taco chips in the United Kingdom, but these claims have not
been verified by any independent source.

Both products have complete approval for both human and animal consumption
by regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada and Japan, and they have
been routinely processed and consumed with other corn in those countries.

In the European Union, import approvals for Roundup Ready corn have been
stalled by a regulatory process that has caused a de facto moratorium on all
new biotechnology products unrelated to the specific safety data of any one
product. Both products received favorable recommendations from the European
rapporteur countries leading their approval submissions.

DEKALB Bt-Xtra was grown on limited acres in 1998 and 1999. After Monsanto
acquired DEKALB, production of Bt-Xtra was halted in 1999 after a strategic
portfolio consolidation and none of the product was sold in 2000.

Roundup Ready corn was grown on approximately 2.6 million acres in 2000 and
2.3 million acres in 1999. It has not only been approved by regulatory agencies
in the United States, but also approved for importation into other major markets,
underscoring the widespread regulatory confidence in this product. The European
Union is the major exception.

Kline & Company, an independent consulting firm based in New Jersey,
recently released a report indicating that biotechnology crops - including
Roundup Ready corn - will be responsible for reducing the annual use of
herbicides by 45 million-pounds in the next nine years and projecting that
insect-protected crops will reduce insecticide use by 13 million pounds per
year by 2009.

"The use of biotechnology clearly reduces the amount of pesticides that are
used in agriculture," said Grant. "Targeting a technology that has such an
enormous benefit toward the reduction of chemicals on our food, in the ground
and in our water risks compromising very real benefits to consumers who want
healthier food and a healthier planet."

Home | News | Organics | GE Food | Health | Environment | Food Safety | Fair Trade | Peace | Farm Issues | Politics
Español | Campaigns | Buying Guide | Press | Search | Donate | About Us | Contact Us

Organic Consumers Association - 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603
E-mail: Staff · Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652
Please support our work. Send a tax-deductible donation to the OCA

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.