Prion disease: December 1999 News
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Pediatric CJD: the youngest cases
Cadaver corneal transplants -- without family permission
US to restrict sheep movement
Ban on bovine brain, spinal cord, eyes in cosmetics?
Beef on bone back
Slaughter procedure worries
FDA waffles on 'mad cow disease' blood-screening
Unlabeled, Untested and You're Eating it
Doctors sue USDA over phony food pyramid
UK food scares boost organic sales 40 percent

Pediatric CJD

30 Nov 99 webmaster
Once thought to be a disease largely confined to the aged, the recent confirmed nvCJD case in a 13-year old girl raises the question of whether this is the youngest known case.

In kuru, which has similarities to nvCJD in the route of infection, the youngest confirmed case is age 4. [Cervenakova et al. PNAS Vol. 95, Issue 22, 13239-13241, October 27, 1998]. Looking at Figure 1 [reproduced below], we see 1 case at 4 years, 15 cases at 5-9 years, and 17 cases in 10-14 years, out of a 92 patient sample studied for codon 129. Kuru lacks the species barrier of cow-to-human prions, though secondary nvCJD (human-to-human via, say, surgery) might also display onset at these early ages.

With contaminated cadaver growth hormone, the youngest case known was age 10:

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in 4 children treated with growth hormone.

Rev Neurol 148, 328-334 (1992).
Billette de Villemeur, T., Gourmelen, M., Beauvais, P., Rodriguez, D., Vaudour, G., Deslys, J. P., Dormont, D., Richard, P., and Richardet, J. M. 
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was diagnosed in four growth hormone recipients at the age of 10, 11, 18 and 19 years. To our knowledge, the two first cases are the first instances of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease recorded in children. Three of them were still being treated with synthetic hormone at the onset of the disease....

[This case and its background is discussed in Jennifer Cooke's prioze-winning new book "Cannibals, Cows & The CJD Catastrophe" "Norray, Isabelle: Youngest CJD victim in the world, aged 10, and among the first French hGH recipients to die of CJD in 1991."

"An epidemiological survey of hGH recipients in France was conducted after the first CJD deaths in America in 1985. The survey found no hint of the disease because it wasn't until 1989 that the first probable case of CJD in France emerged. A second case was discovered soon after and a new epidemiological survey was launched in June 1990. Carried out by the French Institute of Health and Medical Research and Association France Hypophyse, that survey was completed in December 1990 but included patients who had been followed for longer. The results were published in 1992, by which time three children had died of CJD and seven more were suspected of dying from it."

"It was only after the excalating cases of CJD were aired in the media in early 1992, that French health officials issued their first communique, a bland statement, on the risks from hGH therapy and deaths to that point. This was three years after the disease hit young Nicolas Guillemet and [Isabelle Norroy] and seven years after the first four deaths had occurred in Britain and America."

"The IGAS report of December 1992 drew attention to the appalling fact that the French led the world in the toll of hGH recipients who had died of CJD -- two of them had not even lived to their teens. It also refocused attention on the CJD legacy of human hormones."

By 1993 it was apparent that all the French CJD cases had been treated between January 1984 and June 1985, and that incubation periods were shorter in France than anywhere else. This, it was suggested in an article in the journal Science, could have been due to either bad luck or a much higher infectivity titre present in glands processed in France, many of which were exported from hospitals and morgues in Bulgaria and Hungary. In addition French batches contained an average of about 1500 glands while those in America sometimes contained thousands and it would have been easier on one view to have heavier contamination in the smaller batches."

"France, when it added its 8 molar urea purification step, also switched to the Lowry method of producing hGH from frozen glands. According to Lowry, who manufactured hGH in Britain between 1975 and 1981, the French problems might have arisen from several possibilities. These included that the infectivity of one batch of glands used may have been too high for their method of purification to handle, leading to the final material being significantly contaminated, or that an error in the production of hGH had contaminated the final material."

"In 1993 Job, after his name was splashed prominently across French newspapers, was adamant that all stocks of hGH existing after June 1985 were retreated or destroyed. This claim was contrary to the IGAS finding that some stocks were not re-treated or destroyed, a fact later confirmed by the investigating magistrate."

"IGAS had also blamed the 'current dramatic situation' on 'negligence', 'lack of perception' and 'stubbornness' by Association France Hypophyse, which misinterpreted the withdrawal of cadaver-derived hGH by other countries as a marketing ploy by Kabi of Sweden to generate sales of synthetic hGH."

Cerceau, the director of the central pharmacy, had also insisted that from June 1985 his office had delivered only urea-treated hormone. Later, Bertella-Geoffroy's investigation would allegedly reveal the fact that two lots of already-packaged hGH (that was impossible to treat) were not dispatched until June 11, 1985. A third lot was marked from July 29 to October 9, 1985 and a fourth lot was made available to stunted children from October 25, 1985 to early 1986. Much later in another shattering expose, the French journalist, Casteret, revealed that Bertella-Geoffroy had consulted a chartered account about the cost of the four lots totalling 30 grams of untreated hormone, which represented 20,000 ampoules of hGH. The earning shortfall from the first two lots, alone, would have been more than FF5 million, it was claimed."

"France, alone, continued to have double the world tally of hGH recipient deaths from CJD -- all of them linked to the troubling January 1984 to June 1985 period when about 1000 of the 1700-odd pituitary derived hGH patients were under treatment. It was dominant lead that would not be relinquished in the years to come."

"Neither she nor her parents were aware of the reports in the medical literature of the demise of Nicolas Guillemet or [Isabelle Norroy] who died of CJD before reaching their teens, or of older teenagers like Jean-Philippe Mathieu."

Recent review articles on pediatric CJD:

"Pediatric" forms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Minerva Pediatr 1997 Nov;49(11):529-31 [Article in Italian]
Nigro N, Nigro G
The authors propose the name of pediatric CJD disease (nvCJD) for those forms of this pathology which appear in childhood and adolescence (about twenty cases have been reported in Europe: 1996). The "pediatric form" differs both in terms of age ("teenagers" and also 16-year-old), but also owing to its long course (mean of 14 to 35 months) and the early onset of psychiatric and sensory symptoms. Until a few years ago, discussion of a new pediatric-adolescent form of the disease (new variant of CJD) would have been laughable.

Prion diseases in pediatrics

Arch Pediatr 1999 Mar;6(3):293-301 [Article in French]
Sol-Caubel I, Castela F, Brousse V, Faivre L, Guigonis V, Thiriez G, Billette de Villemeur T
Prion diseases are rare neurologic affections with a poor prognosis, occurring in both humans and animals. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) secondary to human extracted growth hormone treatment is the most frequent condition in pediatrics. In 1994, a new type of CJD (variant CJD) was described in young adults in the United Kingdom, only 10 years after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy epidemic, with recent works showing a direct relationship between the bovine epidemic and the human cases....There are still many questions to be answered: shall we expect new pediatric cases of variant CJD? Assuming that animal-human contamination is related to alimentation, are there other ways of contamination?

Cadaver corneal transplants -- without family permission

Houston, Texas channel 11 news  28 Nov 99
Repoorted by Terry S. Singeltary Sr.son of CJD victim
"It was a story about how the Lions eye bank were harvesting corneas from victims in the Morgue, without their consent. Under Texas law, this appears to be legal (remember Texas has the Veggie liable law). Even if Family says no, this appears to happen, from what the news story said.

They said the only way to prevent this, is to fill out a form, stating not to have this done. So if you don't fill out the form, they can do this. How many people don't know about the form?

This is not only disgusting and appalling, it could be highly infectious. Without proper background checking of the donors, on their physical history, checking on past dementia, and/or family history, some of these unfortunate victims, could be passing a human TSE.

Response Jill Spitler Clevelland Eye Bank:

"No, we are not stealing.........Yes, you do have such a law in the state of Texas, but not all your state Eye Banks utilize the law. The Eye Bank that you're speaking of is only one of 43 certified Eye Bank throughout the USA.

And there are measure taken per the Medical Standards of the Eye Bank Association of America, the certifying body for eye banks and per FDA regulations to address those concerns that you speak of.

I would suggest that those interested/concern with transplant contact their local agencies. The Eye Bank Association of America has a web. site . Further if anyone has problems contacting or finding out about their local organization(s), call me or e-mail me I would be glad to help. My e-mail address is"

Terry Singeltary responds:

"Explain this to the family in Houston who went to their loved ones funeral, only to find out that the loved one that was in the casket, had their corneas removed without their permission, without the consent of the victim or it's family. They would not have known it, only for the funny look the victim had. So, they questioned, only to find out, the corneas, had in fact, been removed without consent.

I call that stealing, regardless what the law states. This type of legal grave robbing is not a logical thing to do without knowing any type of background of the victims medical past, which really will not prove anything due to the incubation period. Eye tissue being potentially a highly infective source, there are risks here.

Should they not at least know of the potential ramifications of TSE's (the person receiving the corneas)?

Should there not be some sort of screening?

Should there be some sort of moral issue here? If this is the case, and in fact, they can come take your corneas, without your consent, then what will they start taking next, without your consent?

Lets look at a hypothetical situation: What would happen if my Mom (DOD 12-14-97 hvCJD) would have gotten into a car wreck and died, before the symptoms of CJD appeared. Not much money, so there was no autopsy. What would have happened to that recipient of those infecting corneas?"

Comment (webmaster): Actual transmission of CJD by means of corneal transplant may or may not be rare. The incidence of infectivity in older people could be fairly high; this is not to be confused with the lower incidence of symptomatic (clinical) CJD. It is very unlikely that familial CJD would have been diagnosed in earlier generations; however, without interviewing the family even known kindreds would not be excluded.

In blood donation, a much stricter policy is followed, even though corneal transplant may be far more dangerous (being a direct link to the brain and not going through purification steps).

Since highly sensitive tests for pre-clinical CJD are now available, it would make sense to screen corneas for CJD, just as they are screened for AIDS, hepatitus, and a host of other conditions.

US to restrict sheep movement

29 Nov 99 Reuters  APHIS scrapie proposed rule 30 day comment period
The U.S. Agriculture Department on Monday proposed to limit state-to-state movement of sheep and goats in the United States to stop the spread of a deadly disease called scrapie.

Scrapie, which is similar scientifically to so-called mad cow disease, has been found in as many as 1,000 U.S. sheep and goat flocks. Scrapie is a degenerative and fatal disease that targets the central nervous systems of the animals. There is no cure for the disease, and producers who discover a sheep or goat with scrapie often must destroy many animals in the flock to stop the spread of the disease, since there is no way to test live animals for scrapie. [This is of course no longer true -- webmaster]

The USDA said it is proposing to ban the movement of sheep and goats from states that do not require that owners report scrapie on their farms or that flocks be quarantined when scrapie is discovered. The department also proposed adding a system to document when sheep and goats are shipped to a different state to help track the disease and to reinstate a program to help compensate farmers who have to kill their sheep and goats to prevent the spread of the disease.

"These changes would help protect all American livestock," the USDA said in a statement. [Especially beef. The beef industry is no doubt behind the proposed rules as they are concerned about the disease crossing over and affecting exports. Note the USDA does not require owners to actually test for scrapie using the tonsil or blood test which work on live sheep. Also, it is not clear whether pre-clinical scrapie sheep would be affected by the proposed ban.

Further details on the proposed reinstatement of the indemnity program were not available on Monday. Notice of the USDA proposal will appear in the Federal Register on Tuesday. Comments will be received until December 30, the department said.

Both scrapie and mad cow disease involve prions, which are naturally occurring brain proteins that experts say mutate into dangerous forms, resulting in a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

More than 50 people have died from a brain-wasting disease that has been linked to mad cow and producers in the United Kingdom have killed millions of cattle since a worldwide export ban was imposed in March 1996 after the link between mad cow and the human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was discovered.

Ban on bovine brain, spinal cord, eyes in cosmetics?

Thu, Nov 25, 1999 Reuters Financial Report
EU tries again for harmonised mad cow controls: The European Commission on Thursday proposed new EU-wide controls on cattle parts most at risk of carrying mad cow disease, aimed at replacing flawed legislation that has threatened a transatlantic trade row.

A decision to ban so-called Specified Risk Material (SRM) -- brain, eyes and spinal cord -- was originally passed in 1997, but has been postponed three times because it affected pharmaceuticals and cosmetics made using cattle-derived tallow. U.S. exporters said at the time it threatened to cost them billions of dollars in lost trade.

And that orginal decision, the implications of which only came to light after it was passed, is due to come into force on January 1 unless alternative action in the form a new decision or another postponement is taken. The Commission, which has vowed to make consumer health a top priority, is keen to push new legislation through on the subject but has previously run into objections from member states on the grounds it would drive up slaughterhouse costs.

Objections are loudest from those EU countries that at present have no incidence of mad cow disease and do not see the need for tighter EU-wide controls. "I am convinced that the approach endorsed today will lead towards the improved protection of human and animal health from the threat of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy)," EU Food Safety Commissioner David Byrne said. However, Byrne acknowldeged the issue was "a rather complex and difficult matter and has its own long history."

To beat the January 1 deadline, EU farm ministers will have to consider the proposal at their meeting in mid-December, where they will either adopt the new law or postpone the old decision for a fourth time. "There is a certain amount of political pressure this time to get a decision," one EU official said.

The reworked SRM proposal exempts medicines and cosmetics, and establishes a category system for countries, both inside and outside the EU depending on the number of confirmed BSE cases. The higher the category, the tougher the controls. A country's classification will depend on recommendations from the OIE -- the Paris-based international health body.

But all previous attempts to get the legislation passed have failed. The Commission's last try, which also included a category-based approach, was thrown out by EU farm ministers in December 1998.

Beef on bone back

Fri, Dec 3, 1999 By PA News Reporters
Butchers around Britain were today openly selling beef-on-the-bone with almost two weeks still to go to the official lifting of the ban. A survey by PA News reporters showed widespread flouting of the ban, in place until December 17. Tasty cuts like T-bone steak were banned in December 1997 because of fears over new variant CJD, suspected of being the human form of mad cow disease.

But Agriculture Minister Nick Brown announced this week that the ban would be lifted by Christmas. A spokesman for The Institute of Trading Standards Administration said: "With a few days left we are going to turn a blind eye." Many butchers seem to be making the most of that situation - but there is still some caution, mainly caused by a continuing fear of prosecution.

In the SOUTH, butcher Kelvin Howard, who owns Howards in Bracklesham Bay and East Wittering, both West Sussex, said he had never stopped selling beef-on-the-bone. He said: "We've always sold it, we never stopped. I'm a great believer in freedom of choice. My customers aren't very happy now because the price is going back up again - it went up 50p per pound overnight. "I've been pulled up by the health inspector and I've told him I'm not taking it off. My customers said they would pay any fines I got, and at the end of the day they're the customers. "We just kept it tucked in the corner of the window display. I think a lot of the smaller, independent butchers have been selling it all along. It just comes down to freedom of choice."

Meat suppliers and butchers in Dorset said they had been selling beef-on-the-bone throughout the duration of the ban, and so the only difference on December 17 would be the ability to display the product. A spokesman for Little Angus Limited in Weymouth, who supply beef to local businesses, said they would be waiting for the ban to be lifted before proudly displaying before Christmas. They said: "As far as we are concerned the lifting of the ban makes no difference to our customers. The only thing we have not been able to do is display beef-on-the-bone. "In our eyes we have done nothing wrong, because there is no single piece of legislation which would lead to prosecution."

But Nick Harper, manager of Marchment butcher's in Southsea, Portsmouth, said he would not be selling beef-on-the-bone until the ban was lifted. He said: "We've had plenty of people asking about it, even on the day it was announced. "The restaurants are keen to get T-bone steaks, and older customers like to get the ribs. Quite a few people were angry when it was banned."

Antonis Nicola, owner of the Taurus Steakhouse, in Eastbourne, East Sussex, said he was looking forward to the day his menu once more accurately reflects what he is allowed to serve. He said: "At the moment, it's still against the law, so I won't serve it, because I don't want to get into trouble." In the NORTH WEST, Steve Banks of S Banks Family Butchers, Lark Lane, Liverpool, said: "We have never stopped selling it. It has always been in demand and we do well on the T-bones. "We have had a lot of enquiries for Christmas since the announcement because people were under the impression they could not get it."

In YORKSHIRE, Sheffield butcher Graham Gaydon, 49, revealed he had never stopped selling beef-on-the bone. Mr Gaydon, of Castle Market, said: "Even though it was in place, customers were asking for it and whenever they did I would supply it. Customers should always be given a choice." Ian Lee, of Edward Lee and Sons butchers in the city, said: "I have got beef-on-the-bone back in my window already."

In the NORTH EAST, family butcher George Payne said customers at his shop in Gosforth, Newcastle, had been requesting on-the-bone cuts ever since Tuesday's announcement. He said: "We will be waiting until the December 17 deadline before we start to sell beef-on-the-bone. "We are vacuum-packing them and storing them in the freezer so that customers can have them as as soon as the law allows."

Alan Newton, whose butcher's shop is in Ponteland, Northumberland, said he would also wait for the legal go-ahead to sell on-the-bone cuts. He said: "We will wait, it is not worth the risk selling them any earlier. We have been forced to wait this long so it would not make sense to break the ban now."

In the MIDLANDS, butchers Walter Smith Ltd said it was now selling beef-on-the-bone on request at its shops across Birmingham and the Black Country. A spokesman said: "We are not waiting for the ban to be lifted."

Stewart Spence, manager of the five-star Marcliffe at Pitfodels hotel on the outskirts of Aberdeen, said beef-on-the-bone would be returned to the menu at a special dinner on Saturday evening. For those whose decision to defy the ban did not escape the attentions of trading standards officers, Tuesday's announcement has left them unsure as to whether legal proceedings will be pursued against them.

Christopher Bowman, a restaurant manager who is facing charges of selling beef-on-the-bone, said he has continued to sell beef at the Drovers Inn, Bishop Thornton, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire. "I have continued to sell it and continued to eat it myself," he said. "If anyone could prove there was a problem or any detriment to human health, then I would take it off the menu. But there's no scientific evidence."

Comment (webmaster): About 3,000 clinical case of BSE are expected this year in Britain. The number of infected and infectious animals has never been tested for.

Germany wants proper labelling of British beef

Nov 30  1999 Reuters
Health Minister Andrea Fischer said on Tuesday Germany would lift its ban on importing British beef after receiving assurances that the meat and produce made from it would be properly labelled. Fischer told a briefing, however, the decisionmaking process would take some time and she did not expect the ban to be finally lifted until next February.

Berlin has demanded comprehensive labelling of beef all the way from the slaughterhouse to the shop counter so consumers can make an informed choice over what produce they want to buy. ``There is still no 100 percent guarantee that British beef is completely safe,'' Fischer cautioned.

She was speaking after meeting officials from Germany's 16 federal states, which are responsible for food safety. Four states had opposed lifting the ban and had demanded stricter safety measures to be applied to British beef. Germany and France had faced possible legal sanctions after refusing to go along with the lifting in August of a European Union ban on British beef exports originally imposed in 1996 due to mad cow disease.

FDA waffles on 'mad cow disease' blood-screening

Wed, Dec 1, 1999 By Chris Adams Dow Jones
The Food and Drug Administration is pushing back the start of a blood-screening program designed to curb the risk of so-called "mad cow disease," and also is specifying that blood from certain insulin-dependent diabetics is to be avoided.

The FDA's new policies are intended to protect the U.S. population from a human form of the degenerative brain disorder that spread through tens of thousands of British cattle in the 1980s and 1990s, and could have been passed to humans who ate tainted beef. The FDA says that 48 people have died from the disease, nearly all of them in Britain.

There is no evidence that the disease can be transmitted by blood transfusions, and there have been no reported cases in the U.S. Even so, the FDA in August called for a ban on blood from people who had spent a cumulative total of six months in Great Britain between the years of 1980 and 1996. The policy, which could affect about 2% of U.S. blood donors, is intended to stop the transmission of the disease by people who would have eaten a good deal of British beef during an extended stay.

The revised rules give blood banks an extra two months to comply with the ban. Blood industry officials had said it would be difficult to get their computer systems in order in time for the original February start date. The new blood-screening rules now must be in effect by April 17, 2000.

"The earlier timeframe would have been tight," said Richard Davey, chief medical officer of the American Red Cross. "We're pleased we do have some more breathing room."

In addition, the new FDA policy specifies that diabetics who received any bovine, or beef, insulin would be prohibited from giving blood.

The August rule on that topic was considered unclear, and, at the industry's request, was clarified so that blood donors will be asked specifically whether they had received any beef insulin. Dr. Davey said the rule wouldn't prevent many people from donating blood, as a relatively small number of diabetics use beef-derived insulin.

The recommendations, recently finalized by the FDA, build on proposals that were first released in August. The new recommendations don't contain any major changes, but were based on suggestions from blood industry representatives and were designed to clear up confusion over the earlier FDA proposal.

Slaughter procedure worries

MAFF Q & A--Oct. 25, 1999 
Q.-- Research on the risks of contamination by stunning and slaughter

A.-- A MAFF-funded team at Bristol University has been carrying out
research on the possibility that stunning and slaughter procedures may
cause cattle carcases to be contaminated by brain tissue. An article
about this research was published in the
Veterinary Record on 16 Oct. 1999.

Q.-- What does this research show?

A.-- The researchers were looking for signs of brain tissue in the
jugular vein (the blood vessel draining the head) of cattle which had
been stunned using various different methods. They found brain tissue in
jugular venous blood of one animal which had been stunned by a method
used in the UK. This was one of sixteen animals which had been stunned
using a penetrative captive bolt gun followed by pithing. None of
fifteen animals stunned by penetrative captive bolt without subsequent
pithing showed any sign of brain material in their blood.

Q.-- What is the significance of this finding?

A.-- The research has found evidence that neural contamination of the
blood could result from stunning and pithing. If traces of brain tissue
can be transported via the blood stream to the edible parts of the
carcase, there could be implications for human health in relation to

Q.-- Does this research show that beef is unsafe?

A.-- No. The research did not demonstrate that meat can be contaminated
by traces of brain tissue in the blood. Before any brain fragments in
venous blood could get into the arterial system, they would have to pass
through a network of very fine blood vessels in the lungs. Only very
small particles would in principle
be capable of doing so.

Q.-- What is SEAC's advice?

A.-- SEAC have advised that there is no reason on the basis of current
data to change the common UK practices of stunning and pithing during
slaughter of cattle.

Q.-- Why did SEAC take this view?

A.-- SEAC's view was that
    *  the finding of brain tissue in the venous blood in one of a group
of sixteen cattle
        slaughtered by penetrating captive bolt pistol and subsequent
pithing provides
        insufficient data to give an accurate assessment of the
frequency of
        this occurrence;
    *  there are no data as to whether or not neural tissue reached the
        circulation in the single positive animal;
    *  the very low number of infected animals at the late stage of the
        period entering the food chain means that there is no need to
alter current
        slaughter practices.

Q.-- What methods of stunning are used in the UK?

A.-- Animals are stunned to ensure immediate unconsciousness which lasts
        death by bleeding. Of abattoirs in the UK killing cattle for
sale for human
        consumption, about 80% currently use a penetrating captive bolt
with pithing
        and about 20% a penetrating captive bolt without pithing.

Q.-- What is pithing?

A.-- Pithing is the insertion of a rod into the brain through the hole
made by the captive bolt. It destroys brain tissue and speeds up brain
death. Pithing is carried out, before hoisting the animal, to reduce the
involuntary kicking actions of the stunned animal.

Q.-- Why is pithing used?

A.-- Pithing has benefits for both the safety of abattoir workers and
animal welfare as it reduces involuntary kicking by stunned animals and
removes any risk that a stunned animal may regain consciousness........

Unlabeled, Untested and You're Eating it! Genetically Modified Foods

  Turning Point Project 4 Dec 99
  Mothers for Natural Law
  Natural Food commission
  Genetically Engineered Food - A Serious Health Risk
Genetically Modified (GM) foods are natural foods which have been genetically engineered, or altered, to introduce genes from other organisms into a host plant. Spliced genes can include genes from plants, animals, humans, bacteria, viruses and more.

The reported purpose of producing GM foods is to make food crops more resistant to herbicides or to enhance food value. While at first glance this technology may appear appealing, under full examination it becomes a nightmare from which there is no turning back.

Monarch Butterflies:

For instance, a recent Cornell University controlled study determined that GM corn known as Bt-corn, which has genes from the the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) spliced into the plant, kills monarch butterflies. Bt-modified corn produces pollen containing crystalline endotoxin from the bacterium genes. When the pollen is disbursed by the wind, it lands on other plants, including milkweed, the exclusive food of monarch caterpillars and commonly found around cornfields.

No one knows the long term effects Bt-corn will have on nature, or the long term consumption of bt-corn by humans. But that hasn't stopped the producer of GM foods (Monsanto) from selling GM corn seed to farmers and ranchers.

GM foods are secretively showing up on American grocery shelves. Though other countries require labeling of GM foods, the U.S. F.D.A still does not require labels or safety tests on these foods. You would think we have the right to know if the tomato in our salad has genes of viruses spliced in. We do, but the FDA is in bed on this one with Monsanto. Monsanto does not want the feds to get involved with safety testing of these foods, and the FDA is obliging Monsanto. So as it is now, millions of Americans are consuming GM foods without their consent or knowledge.

Public Opinion:

Public Opinion polls consistently show more than 90% of Americans support the labeling of genetically modified foods. A 1999 Time poll revealed that close to 60% of Americans would avoid such foods if they were labeled. And last year, a grass roots movement of concerned Americans was successful in stopping a regulatory edict that would have allowed GM foods to be certified as "organic."

Potential Dangers:

The list of potential dangers from consuming GM foods is worth your time to know about.

TOXICITY...According to some FDA scientists, GM foods may bring "some undesirable effects such as increased levels of known naturally occurring toxicants, appearance of new, not previously identified toxicants...and undesirable alterations in the levels of nutrients." (New York Times, October 18, 99)

ALLERGIC REACTION...FDA scientists also warn that GM foods could "produce a new protein allergen" or "enhance the synthesis of existing plant food allergens." A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that when a gene from a Brazil nut was engineered into soybeans, people allergic to nuts had serious reactions. Without labeling to protect people subject to allergies, they might be harmed by the food they are eating. (New York Times, October 18, 99)

ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE... Many GM foods are modified with antibiotic resistant genes; people who eat them may become more susceptible to bacterial infections.

CANCER...European scientists have found that dairy products from animals treated with bovine growth hormone (rBGH) contain an insulin-like growth factor that may increase the risk of breast cancer, as well as prostrate and colon cancer.

ETHICAL AND RELIGIOUS CONCERNS...The consumption of unlabeled GM foods may violate religious and ethical principles. For instance, vegetarians try to avoid all animal food; but without labeling they cannot be sure that animal genes have not been inserted into their vegetables. Jews and Muslims have rigid dietary laws against eating certain animals, yet their lettuce or tomatoes may one day contain pig genes.

Partial list of Genetically Engineered Foods:

The following processed foods tested positive for being genetically modified (September 1999). These tests were not "safety tests;" they were only to establish the presence of unlabeled genetically modified ingredients.
  * Frito-Lay Fritos Corn Chips
  * Bravos Tortilla Chips
  * Kellogg's Corn Flakes
  * General Mills Total Corn Flakes Cereal
  * Post Blueberry Morning Cereal
  * Heinz 2 Baby Food
  * Enfamil ProSobee Soy Formula
  * Similac Isomil Soy Formula
  * Nestle Carnation Alsoy Infant Formula
  * Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
  * Nabisco Snackwell's Granola Bars
  * Ball Park Franks
  * Duncan Hines Cake Mix
  * Quick Loaf Bread Mix
  * Ultra Slim Fast
  * Quaker Yellow Corn Meal
  * Light Life Gimme Lean
  * Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
  * Alpo Dry Pet Food
  * Gardenburger
  * Boca Burger Chef Max's Favorite
  * Morning Star Farms Better'n Burgers
  * Green Giant Harvest Burgers (now called Morningstar Farms)
  * McDonald's McVeggie Burgers
  * Ovaltine Malt Powdered Beverage Mix
  * Betty Crocker Bac-O's Bacon Flavor Bits
  * Old El Paso Taco Shells
  * Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
Additionally, the following whole foods have been genetically engineered and approved for commercial sales. No labeling or long term safety tests were required. According to the New York Times, about one half of all soybeans and a third of all corn planted in 1999 were genetically modified.
  Canola Oil (rapeseed oil)
  Chicory, red hearted (Radicchio)
  (Source) Union of Concerned Scientists

What Can You Do?

 1. Make a list of these GM foods and take it with you to
     the grocery store when you go shopping. Make copies for
     other family members to use.
 2. Buy certified organic foods whenever possible.
 3. Support the movement demanding long-term independent
     safety testing and labeling of genetically engineered foods.
 4. Get informed about GM foods on the Internet. You will find
     hundreds of GM food articles and documented information.

Doctors sue USDA over phony food pyramid

30 Nov 99 Press Release, Physicians for Responsible Medicine
Health Advocates Sue Feds for Stonewalling on Financial Data Nonprofit Suspects Conflicts of Interest on Dietary Advisory Committee:

Washington, D.C. A nonprofit health advocacy group filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. today.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is suing the two agencies for failure to disclose critical information about an advisory group charged with revising the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. These Guidelines, and their accompanying Food Guide Pyramid, provide nutritional advice for all Americans and form the basis for all federal food programs. The defendants named are USDA Secretary Dan Glickman and DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala.

"We have good reason to believe that the USDA is intentionally stonewalling because of serious conflicts of interest on this committee," Mindy Kursban, PCRM's staff counsel, says. "Although we've filed four Freedom of Information Act requests and three appeals since early June, the USDA continues to withhold key documents pertaining to its committee members' funding sources."

The USDA and the DHHS appointed the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in 1998 to review the current Guidelines and decide if and how they should be revised. This process has recurred every five years since 1980. Eleven nutrition professionals comprise the committee whose recommendations are expected to be released before the end of the year. Preliminary research by PCRM's legal department reveals that at least six members have had important financial ties with the meat, dairy, or egg industries.

"Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, the Advisory Committee is not supposed to cater to special interests," Kursban says. "We believe some of the committee members may be biased and that the records will show the USDA purposefully withheld information disclosing the members' financial influences."

PCRM is spearheading a national campaign calling on the USDA to acknowledge the disproportionate toll that chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and prostate cancer exact among minorities and to revise the Guidelines to help prevent these conditions. PCRM is also asking the government to make dairy products optional rather than required because of how commonplace lactose intolerance is among minorities. More than 350 physicians, politicians, community leaders, and others have endorsed PCRM's proposal to change the Guidelines, including the NAACP, the Hispanic Medical Association, and the Indian Health Board.

For interviews with PCRM spokespeople or copies of the complaint, please call Communications Director Simon Chaitowitz at 202-686-2210, ext. 309.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization founded in 1985 and focused on preventive medicine, particularly good nutrition, and higher standards in research.

UK food scares boost organic sales 40 percent

19 Nov 99 Reuters  by Helen Jones
Sales of organic food in Britain rose 40 percent in the last year, driven by consumer worries about genetically modified produce and the effects of BSE, a report by market analysts Mintel said on Friday.

``As food-related scares escalate, the organic food market has proved to be dynamic,'' said senior market consultant James McCoy. The report said over 70 per cent of Britons have bought organic products and sales are expected to reach 550 million pounds ($895 million) in 1999.

Britain has been shaken by a series of food safety scandals over recent years. Widespread Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in the national cattle herd led to British beef exports being banned from world markets from 1996 until last July.

A new variant of the human brain-wasting ailment Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, believed to be linked to BSE, has so far resulted in the deaths of about 40 people in Britain.

Trial crops of genetically modified foods have provoked spectacular demonstrations by environmentalists amid widespread public fears of damage to the environment and public health.

The survey said that due in part to such scares, organic food has cast off its ``beard and sandals'' image and is now a mainstream purchase.

Vegetables and fruit account for almost 60 per cent of sales and the dairy sector has grown by 500 per cent between 1994 and 1998, Mintel said.

But it warned that future development of the market was threatened by limited availability, with domestic production on just 1.3 percent of the total agricultural area, and high prices, with premiums on organic food 400 percent in some cases.

``Despite rapid growth in the market in the last five years, high prices dictated by limited supply are deterring potential consumers which may ultimately restrict further growth,'' said McCoy.

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