PVL+ MRSA Superbug hits Wales
(too old to reply)
2007-01-10 10:05:09 UTC
On Wed, 10 Jan 2007 09:14:38 -0000, "Pat Gardiner"
Pat's Note: Just to remind you, the Dutch have specifically linked this to
the handling of pigs and pork since 2003, they have hundreds of such people
infected. All vets, pig and pork workers are screened on or before entering
I'm taking the whole thing one step further and linking the deplorable
longstanding British pig health problems to this.
Britain been struggling to cope with disease, and exporting circovirus
infected pigs for seven years.
We now know that Britain knew they had a new pig epidemic on their hands in
1999 and even then were suspicious that it might pose a threat to human
health. They only plan to investigate human health risks from livestock this
Incidentally few of the British reports are actually consistent. One wonders
of they have a clue about just what they are handling.
They should be making PMWS - Circovirus notifiable and checking all vets and
pig/pork workers for zoonotic diseases including MRSA PCL right now without
Deadly new superbug hits Wales
Jan 10 2007
Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail
A PATIENT has been admitted to a Welsh hospital suffering from the new,
potentially lethal superbug PVL-positive MRSA.
This is the same bug that killed a nurse and a patient in the West Midlands
last year, and is thought to be one of the first cases of its kind in Wales.
The patient is being treated at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil.
It is understood that the patient, who has not been named, acquired the bug
in the community - there is no evidence currently that it was caught in a
healthcare setting.
The PVL toxin destroys white blood cells. PVL-positive MRSA commonly causes
skin infections, such as cellulitis (inflammation of layers under the skin)
and pus-producing conditions like abscesses, boils and carbuncles.
On very rare occasions it can lead to more severe infections, such as septic
arthritis, blood poisoning or necrotising pneumonia - a severe,
life-threatening form of pneumonia.
A joint statement from Paul Hollard, interim chief executive of North
Glamorgan NHS Trust, and the National Public Health Service for Wales, last
night said, "A patient with community-acquired Panton-Valentine Leukocidin
(PVL)-positive MRSA has been admitted to Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr
"The trust has liaised with the Health Protection Agency and the National
Public Health Service for Wales and the appropriate infection control
procedures have been put in place.
"The patient is comfortable and receiving appropriate treatment."
PVL is a toxin that is carried by about 2% of Staphylococcus aureus
bacteria, including the antibiotic-resistant strains MRSA
(methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and MSSA
(methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus).
But unlike MRSA and MSSA, with which the public have become familiar as the
number of cases in hospitals has risen over the years, PVL-producing strains
can affect previously healthy young children and young adults. People tend
to become infected in the community.
This is in stark contrast to so-called hospital-associated MRSA and MSSA
strains, which do not produce PVL, and affect more elderly and debilitated
Dr Eleri Davies, director of the Welsh Healthcare Associated Infection
Programme for the National Public Health Service for Wales, said, "The rate
of transmission is the same for PVL-producing strains as it is for other
Staphylococcus aureus infections - some infections will be caused by our own
bacteria getting into a breach in the skin, such as a graze or a picked
spot, or through transmission between close family members."
Until recently most cases of PVL-related infections were caused by
PVL-positive strains of MSSA, which was common in hospitals in the 1950s and
But experts have recently become aware of a small number of cases, like the
one at Prince Charles Hospital, of PVL-positive MRSA infections.
It is thought that these new strains have evolved from PVL-positive MSSA.
The Health Protection Agency is aware of seven deaths in England and Wales
associated with PVL-positive MRSA in the last two years, including the two
deaths at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire last year.
The West Midlands cases were unique in that they were the first cases of
PVL-positive MRSA that had been transmitted in a hospital or healthcare
setting in the UK. Nine other people, including another patient, were
infected in the same outbreak.
In most of the other deaths attributed to PVL-positive MRSA, the infections
were caught in the community.
Last month six babies in a hospital neonatal unit in Norfolk tested positive
for a strain of PVL-positive MSSA. One of the babies, who was born very
premature and was extremely sick, died after contracting the infection.
The HPA website states, "While PVL-producing MRSA can cause more serious
infection, we have no evidence to suggest it is more dangerous than some
other types of MRSA.
"Indeed, some previous and more recent data suggests that the PVL gene may
not be the main virulence factor even in PVL strains.
"PVL-positive MRSA has not been shown to spread more rapidly than any of the
usual hospital-associated MRSA organisms.
"There is no indication that current PVL-positive MRSA strains are more
transmissible than other MRSA strains.
"Persons with recurrent skin infections - spreading inflammation
[cellulitis], boils and abscesses - should seek medical advice.
"Standard treatment and infection control measures are highly effective."
PVL-positive MRSA can be treated with antibiotics, even though it is
resistant to methicillin. But the HPA said it was important that the
infection is diagnosed early.
As with MRSA, good hygiene is important to stop the infection spreading to
other patients and hospital staff.
"The HPA said thorough hand-washing and drying, and the use of alcoholic
hand rubs are the most important measures in reducing cross-infection in
both the community and the hospital.
Its website also states, "The infection control measures used to prevent the
spread of PVL-positive MRSA are the same as for any type of MRSA infection.
"Standard infection control measures are effective and the most important
first line of defence."
What is quite sad, is just how apathetic the public is. One thing
after the other is thrown at them, and not a peep. It's about time we
started lynching the dirty farming folk causing these filthy problems,
and killing our families. Then we can start on the politicians.

I think a cull of creepy benefit ponces like Jim Webster would be
perfectly justified. I look forward to the *MAd Max* era, when these
kind of people will get their just desserts. I don't suppose it's that
far off.
2007-01-11 09:04:58 UTC
On Thu, 11 Jan 2007 08:42:55 -0000, "Jim Webster"
Post by (o)(o)
What is quite sad, is just how apathetic the public is. One thing
after the other is thrown at them, and not a peep. It's about time we
started lynching the dirty farming folk causing these filthy problems,
and killing our families. Then we can start on the politicians.
I think a cull of creepy benefit ponces like Jim Webster would be
perfectly justified. I look forward to the *MAd Max* era, when these
kind of people will get their just desserts. I don't suppose it's that
far off.
the trouble for saddos like pete is that he will actually be forced to deal
in person in a mad max era, he cannot hide behind his sock puppets
Mind you, his trade in digging up corpses might serve him a useful turn
never mind, time to kilfile this sock puppet as well,
You'd do us all a favor if you actually knew how to use one.
2007-01-11 09:06:54 UTC
Can we be sure no cloned animals are in food chain?

Newspaper reveals existence in UK of calf born of cloned cow in the US
Defra accused of failing to regulate importation of 'Frankenstein'
livestock Cloned animals to date have suffered health problems Key
"From a scientific point of view, we would not have any additional
concerns for the animals welfare over and above those we have for any
cow. Any offspring from a cloned animal is considered to be the same
as any other naturally born cow." - DEFRA SPOKESPERSON

Story in full STANDING at just waist height to her proud owner,
six-week-old Dundee Paradise looks as unremarkable as any other calf.
But behind the distinctive flash that runs down the middle of her
face, the black and white Holstein represents what many are describing
as a "horrifying" development that could destroy confidence in food
and farming in Britain.

Dundee Paradise is the daughter of a cloned cow produced in the United
States. The calf was born after five embryos were brought into the UK
without the knowledge of the government.

Farmers want to use the cloning technology to develop supersize cows
able to produce 70 pints of milk a day.

But are British consumers ready to drink the milk and eat the meat of
animals which are the offspring of clones?

Questions are now being asked as to why the existence of the calf only
came to light in the pages of a newspaper and why regulations on
importing embryos are not tighter.

Campaigners last night said the Department of Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs (Defra) has acted irresponsibly by ignoring
recommendations by an independent body three years ago to regulate the
importation of "Frankenstein" livestock.

Defra said it was investigating whether proper procedure was followed
when the cow's embryo was flown into the UK.

Lord Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, said the
government's failure to impose regulatory controls on such a practice
was "inexcusable".

British consumers had no desire to eat meat or drink milk from animals
created in such a way, he said.

Peter Stevenson, policy advisor for Compassion in World Farming
(CiWF), said: "People will be astonished and appalled that clone
farming is not a nightmare for the future, it is absolutely horrifying
to learn it already exists on a farm in this country.

"It is doubly worrying that there is no safeguard in place to avoid
serious animal welfare and ethical problems from the introduction of
this 'Frankenstein' technology.

"The history of cloning is littered with examples of animals that are
unhealthy or die quite early and the whole process involves invasive
procedures that cause suffering.

"The UK government must act responsibly by stopping further
introductions and setting up an independent ethical watchdog to
oversee this area."

Dundee Paradise is owned by a farmer in the Midlands, however at least
three other siblings are expected to be born at undisclosed UK
locations in the next few weeks.

Defra has admitted "no specific EU regulations govern the import of
cloned animals or embryos other than those health and welfare
conditions that must be met for all embryos or animals".

A spokesman said: "Defra does not believe that any animal health and
welfare regulations have been contravened in this case.

"This case refers to a cloned animal, not a genetically modified one,
therefore the genetic material of the cloned animal would be an
identical genetic replica of the original cow.

" From a scientific point of view, we would not have any additional
concerns for the animals welfare over and above those we have for any
cow. Any offspring from a cloned animal is considered to be the same
as any other naturally born cow."

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which monitors and patrols the
quality and providence of foods produced across the UK, admitted it
had known nothing about the birth of Dundee Paradise.

But amid growing concern that meat and milk from cloned animals and
their offspring was already in the food chain, the agency moved to
reassure shoppers.

In a statement it said that products from cloned animals and their
offspring fell under EU Novel Food regulations. And it added that
anyone attempting to sell meat or milk from cloned animals or their
offspring would first have to apply to the FSA for authorisation .

"No applications have been received to date for products derived from
cloned animals," a spokeswoman said.

In 2004 Defra rejected advice from its own experts to set up a
committee with legal powers to monitor and police attempts to
introduce in the UK cloned or genetically modified animals.

Without the proper safeguards in place, campaigners said last night,
there is a very real potential that meat and milk from cloned animals
or their offspring could be passed off as products from conventional

Concern about food produced from clones is also rife in the USA where
hundreds of cloned cows, pigs and sheep have already been produced to
provide the genetic fingerprint for the "super herds and flocks" of
the future.

In December last year the American Food and Drug Administration
approved the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals.

The move was condemned by the Food Commission, Britain's independent
food watchdog, as a "giant step in the wrong direction".

However, the director of the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh, which
produced Dolly the sheep, the first mammal clone, said consumers had
nothing to fear from food from cloned animals or their offspring.

Dr Harry Griffin said: "The calf in question is the offspring of a
cloned cow which would itself have been cloned from a high-performing
dairy cow which would have been one of the very best available in the

"However, the calf is certainly not a cloned animal itself because it
went through the natural reproductive cycle. Offspring of clones
produced this way would be expected to be absolutely normal.

"Until there is evidence that cloned animals pose a risk to humans
then there is no need to change the status quo."

Dolly's death sounded first warning of how genetic clock hits health
THE early deaths of some of the world's first cloned animals have led
to concerns about their suitability as part of the food chain.

Dolly the sheep became a superstar. Yet she was doomed to live a short
life, dogged by arthritis and lung disease.

While Dolly was celebrated - her remains are now preserved and on
permanent show at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh - her curtailed life
was the first warning that cloned animals would often be in poor

Dolly was put down in 2003 at only six years of age; sheep of her
breed are usually expected to live until 12.

Her "cousin" Morag, a Welsh mountain ewe cloned in 1995, died of a
respiratory infection.

When scientists announced in 2005 that they had produced the world's
first cloned dog, called Snuppy, at first more attention was paid to
his cute looks than the price that had been paid to produce him.

Later, the scientists behind his creation at Seoul University's
College of Veterinary Medicine said they had obtained just three
pregnancies from more than 1,000 embryo transfers into 123 recipients.

Of these, one miscarried. Two clones were eventually born, but one
died of pneumonia.

One of the most serious problems plaguing cloning is the "biological
clock" which seems to be imbedded in the nuclei of cells, which can
switch various processes on or off, and tells the cell itself to die.
For example, it will enable processes to accelerate growth in young
children, or produce sexual hormones at puberty.

In the case of Dolly, whose genetic material was taken from a ewe, the
clock effect was later linked to her health problems.

Scientists want to perfect techniques of animal cloning in order to
have a reliable supply of special proteins, enzymes and hormones which
can be used in the treatment of humans.

And they say that one day therapeutic cloning of human cells to cure
illnesses could become as routine as IVF treatment.
2007-01-11 09:19:24 UTC
Cloned meat - the hidden agendas (5/1/2007)

EXTRACT: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s draft risk
assessment leans heavily on the work of animal-cloning companies
Cyagra and ViaGen. Over a quarter of the 700-page draft is a data dump
from those two -- a fact that the New York Times failed to mention,
even when quoting the president of ViaGen saying "I think that this
draft is going to provide the industry the comfort it needs."

GM WATCH NOTE: You can respond to the FDA's call for public comment
here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/rd/clones.htm


from Pete Shanks, author of Human Genetic Engineering: A Guide for
Activists, Skeptics, and the Very Perplexed

Hi there

The Center for Genetics and Society (CGS) now has a blog, at
http://www.biopoliticaltimes.org/, where various members of the CGS
staff post and so occasionally do guests such as myself. The central
topic is human biotech, but broader connections are often drawn. The
intro is at http://www.biopoliticaltimes.org/2006/10/welcome.html.

I recently put up an item about the connections between the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) livestock-cloning report and the cloning
companies and in turn their founders, who have human GE interests.

It's at
and also copied below, but without the links and formatting. [We've
added some of the links below - ed]

It's public comment time at the FDA...


Cloned Meat: the hidden agendas (behind the other hidden agendas)
posted by Pete Shanks

Who is pushing to legalize cloned meat? Follow the money -- and there
are strong connections to human genetic engineering.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s draft risk assessment leans
heavily on the work of animal-cloning companies Cyagra and ViaGen.
Over a quarter of the 700-page draft is a data dump from those two --
a fact that the New York Times failed to mention, even when quoting
the president of ViaGen saying "I think that this draft is going to
provide the industry the comfort it needs."

ViaGen is part of the Exeter Life Science Group, owned by billionaire
John Sperling, who also financed the notorious Genetic Savings and
Clone (GSC). Viagen's chief scientist, Irina Polejaeva, was once
GSC's, and when GSC closed ViaGen took over their gene banking
operation. The cloned pets were rightly described by Wired as "a
footnote to John Sperling's grand plan" -- and so are the cows and
pigs. The plan is people -- living forever.

Cyagra was a subsidiary of Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), of
press-release infamy. ACT sold Cyagra in one of its desperate grabs
for cash, but chief scientist Robert Lanza and his former colleague
Jose Cibelli (a co-author of Hwang Woo-suk's and a former consultant
to the California stem cell institute -- it's a small universe) are
cited throughout the FDA report.

The surface agenda the FDA addresses is public safety (though Stuart
Newman [professor at New York Medical College] says "it's potentially
a health hazard"); the agenda hidden in plain sight is that of
commercial interests; and behind that lies the specter of human
genetic engineering. It's a mutually reinforcing spiral: The animal
cloners have been relying on human medical research (and of course
feeding the starving) to make their work seem less unacceptable -- and
the human cloners rely on the animal work to make theirs seem more

The public does not want cloned meat and certainly wants it to be
labeled, which the FDA says it cannot require. All the more reason to
object now. The Center for Food Safety has been opposing animal
cloning for years. So has the Organic Consumers Association, which has
set up a handy site for responding to the FDA's call for public
2007-01-11 09:24:32 UTC
Biotech food advocate's claims don't add up (10/1/2007)

Al Skogen would have people believe that surveys conducted by the
International Food Information Council offer a superior source of
information on consumer opinions about GM food.

James Beniger, a communications professor at the University of
Southern California and past president of the American Association for
Public Opinion Research, was asked to review just such an IFIC survey
and concluded it was so biased with leading questions favouring
positive responses that any results were meaningless!

UCLA communications professor Michael Suman agreed, adding that the
questions "only talk about the food tasting better, being fresher,
protecting food from insect damage, reducing saturated fat and
providing benefits. It's like saying 'Here's biotechnology, it does
these great things for you, do you like it?'"


Biotech food advocate's claims don't square with Pew findings
By Dean Hulse
The Forum, January 10 2007

It's a new year and once again Al Skogen is trying to build a biotech
bandwagon (column, Forum, Jan. 7). This time, he's citing a survey
commissioned by the International Food Information Council. The
"recent press" Skogen acknowledges likely reflects results from a 2006
poll conducted for the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology

The latest Pew survey reaches these conclusions:

- Americans hold mixed attitudes toward genetically modified foods.

- Awareness of GM food has declined during the last five years.

- Although Americans are not well informed about animal cloning, they
are overwhelmingly uncomfortable with it.

- Americans support regulation of GM foods.

- Friends and family are the most trusted sources of information about
GM foods.

Skogen states, "Overwhelming research has concluded that this
technology is absolutely safe for consumers and the environment."

Please provide the overwhelming, peer-reviewed, third-party research
to support your claim. And while you're at it, kindly answer these

Why do so many consumers feel compelled to rely on friends and family
for information about GM foods? Wouldn't food labels be the best way
to educate consumers about what they're eating? If food labels work
for trans fats, why not GM ingredients?

Ultimately, it's up to readers - i.e. consumers - to decide what to
believe. To that end, here are some additional points to consider:
One, on its Web site, the IFIC states it is primarily a U.S.
communications organization.

And two, an article titled "Liquid Truth: Advice from the
Spinmeisters" appearing in PR Watch
(www.prwatch.org/prwissues/2000Q4/truth.html) offers the following:
"In 1992, the food industry's International Food Information Council
(IFIC) retained Dr. G. Clotaire Rapaille, international market
research expert, to research "how Americans relate to food
biotechnology and genetic engineering." IFIC, an ardent enthusiast for
the use of biotechnology in agriculture, wanted to know how it could
overcome consumer apprehensions about the new technology.

"A "core team" was assembled to aid in the research, consisting of
representatives from the Monsanto Agricultural Company, NutraSweet,
Kraft General Foods, Ajinomoto, Du Pont and Calgene. Other research
sponsors included Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and
the M&M/Mars candy company. The goal of the research team was to
"develop actionable strategies, messages, and language that will
express information positively about the process and products" without
stirring fears or negative connotations.
2007-01-11 09:25:48 UTC
Letting the polluter off the hook (10/1/2007)


EXTRACTS: It will only be necessary for businesses to argue that harm
was not predicted, and that they have not been at fault or negligent,
to avoid any economic liability.

The Welsh assembly, for GMOs only, has considered the effect of the
permit defence and proposes not to allow it. The Welsh have understood
that knowledge and experience of GMOs is limited, organisms are living
and any adverse environmental impacts may be serious.

...the government, led by the [Department of Trade and Industry], is
letting an important environmental principle drop by the wayside
despite the polluter pays being one of the 10 guiding principles in
its 2002 sustainable development strategy. Instead of fisheries,
biotechnology, waste and chemical industries taking responsibility for
their environmental impact, every opportunity is being taken to let
them off the hook.

While the public is being told that assessments into GM crops,
pesticides and waste disposal are so thorough that their use poses no
risk to the environment, this confidence evaporates when it brings
tangible corporate financial accountability in terms of environmental

Off the hook
New environmental laws bring in the notion that the polluter should
pay, so why is the UK choosing the weakest option?
Sue Mayer
The Guardian, January 10 2007

Nature conservation in Britain has long been based on the protection
of key sites and species - sites of special scientific interest
(SSSIs), for example, are identified for their biological or
geological importance. Castleton in Derbyshire's Peak District,
Wychwood Forest in Oxfordshire and Hampstead Heath Woods in north
London are just some of the 4,000 designated areas. But while they are
considered to be of great importance - covering almost 7% of Britain -
around 40% are by the government's own estimation in a lamentable

The UK also boasts a biodiversity action plan created specifically to
protect and improve the status of species and habitats of conservation
concern. But for the 391 species for which action plans have been
developed, the costs are estimated at £21.8m a year - and there is
little money.<P>Now, the environmental liability directive has given
the UK a further opportunity to greatly enhance conservation.But
rather than seizing the chance to improve environmental protection,
the UK is choosing to take the weakest option.

This piece of legislation, which was hard fought for in Europe, is due
to enter British law this year and is revolutionary in that it
introduces the "polluter pays" principle. The thinking behind it is
that by making businesses accountable for any environmental damage
they cause, they will be more cautious about what they do. In theory,
it will prevent environmental harm and remove from society the burden
of costs of putting things right.

The European directive was always seen as a base, not a ceiling, for
countries' legislation and governments can choose what teeth they give
to the legislation they must introduce. But consultation documents put
out by the government reveal that its policy is "not to go beyond the
minimum requirements unless there are exceptional circumstances
justified by a cost benefit analysis and following extensive
stakeholder engagement".

The RSPB, one of the only groups campaigning on the issue, has pointed
out that the government's own analysis shows the economic benefits to
the Treasury of strengthening the directive.

The potential legislation is wide-ranging, but the government is
choosing at every point to do as little as possible. The directive
provides for "strict" liability for certain potentially hazardous
activities. This includes the use of genetically modified organisms
(GMOs); waste management; discharge of pollutants into the air or
water; and the production and use of dangerous chemicals such as
pesticides. Strict liability means that the business undertaking the
activity should not have to be shown to be at fault or negligent.
Having gained in terms of profits, it should contribute to remediation
of any damage that may arise.

The government, however, proposes allowing a "permit" defence to be
used to avoid costs. This means that if an activity was given an
official licence, payment for damage would not be required.

State of the art

Another defence the government proposes allowing is "state of the
art": if the activity was not considered harmful according to the
scientific and technical knowledge available at the time it took
place, costs should not be payable. This is dangerous because it could
encourage a situation where it is better not to know and so restrict
scientific research into environmental effect.

Together, the state of the art and permit defences effectively make
the liability regime fault based. It will only be necessary for
businesses to argue that harm was not predicted, and that they have
not been at fault or negligent, to avoid any economic liability.

The Welsh assembly, for GMOs only, has considered the effect of the
permit defence and proposes not to allow it. The Welsh have understood
that knowledge and experience of GMOs is limited, organisms are living
and any adverse environmental impacts may be serious. Because the
public there remains sceptical about the benefits of GMOs, they are
unlikely to feel it is fair that the taxpayer pays to put any problems

Another cause for concern is that under the government's proposals,
the directive will include only a limited amount of the environment.
All biodiversity with European protection under the habitats and birds
directives must be included in the liability directive and it states
that countries can go further - but Britain does not intend to do
this. This means that a quarter, in terms of land area, of SSSIs will
be excluded. The water vole, red squirrel, brown hare and tree sparrow
are among the 70% of our biodiversity action plan species that will
also be excluded.

Nor is the government choosing to make the directive improve the
ecological quality of all our rivers and lakes. Liability rules are to
be restricted to larger lakes and rivers: streams and ponds are to be
excluded. Land damage is also part of the environmental liability
directive, but only if any harm that arises poses a risk to human
health. The government does not want to extend this to environmental

The real driving force behind the government's approach became clear
last year when the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(Defra), considered strengthening the directive. In particular, it
wanted strict liability to apply. The directive provides for
fault-based liability for any activity (such as fisheries) that might
harm biodiversity, not just those activities listed as potentially
dangerous. Defra wanted to upgrade this so that strict liability would
apply to all activities. Even this small step caused such outrage at
the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that a wholesale
reassessment was undertaken in the interests of business and the
implementation process delayed by more than nine months.

So the government, led by the DTI, is letting an important
environmental principle drop by the wayside despite the polluter pays
being one of the 10 guiding principles in its 2002 sustainable
development strategy. Instead of fisheries, biotechnology, waste and
chemical industries taking responsibility for their environmental
impact, every opportunity is being taken to let them off the hook.
While the public is being told that assessments into GM crops,
pesticides and waste disposal are so thorough that their use poses no
risk to the environment, this confidence evaporates when it brings
tangible corporate financial accountability in terms of environmental

It seems polluters don't have to worry about damaging our most
precious wildlife species and sites, and the supposed polluter pays
principle is being made so conditional as to be meaningless.

Sue Mayer is director of GeneWatch UK

Read the consultation at

Any comments on this article? Write to mailto:***@guardian.co.uk
2007-01-11 09:30:26 UTC
What the Public Needs to Know About Biotech Risks (4/1/2007)

Pig Hearts for Humans: What the Public Needs to Know About Biotech
By Heather Gehlert AlterNet, January 3 2007

In her new book, Intervention, former NY Times technology columnist
Denise Caruso talks about the risks of life on a genetically
engineered planet.

Turn on the TV, open your Internet browser, or click on your inbox and
chances are you’ll find an alarming story alerting you to the
possibility some new hazard: cancer-causing toxins in your deodorant,
mold spores in your kitchen sponge, radiation from your cell phone --
the list goes on.

In an age of information overload, it's tempting to tune risks out
entirely, especially when even the scientific community can’t seem to
come to a consensus on some things: One day eggs are good; the next,
they're bad. One day hormone replacement therapy is healthy; the next,
it causes cancer.

But, what if you knew that, instead of one product putting you at
risk, an entire field of technology was? That’s what former NY Times
technology columnist Denise Caruso tackles in her new book,
Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and
Life on a Biotech Planet.

Caruso doesn't use scare tactics -- she doesn't need to. Instead, she
merely points out the risks of living in an age when scientists are
recombining DNA from multiple species, experimenting with tissue
regeneration by growing human ears on the backs of mice, and looking
seriously at pigs for human heart transplants. Even more eye-opening,
these innovations are occurring in the near-absence of oversight and
with little attempt from government regulators or scientists to
educate the public.

So what is life like on a biotech planet? AlterNet interviewed Caruso
to find out.

AlterNet: Why did you write the book?

Denise Caruso: Well, for a lot of reasons. But mostly because I was
shocked by this ongoing schism between the people who were against
biotechnology and the people who were really in favor of
biotechnology. And I thought, well, this is supposed to be science,
right? It should be neutral. But these sides weren’t neutral. They
were so different and antagonistic -- what were they looking at? Then
I realized they must looking at different factors -- or, rather,
looking at the same thing in different ways. So, that's when I started
to dig into the whole idea of risk --

By risk you mean --

Denise: -- the probability that a hazard will come to pass. Risk isn’t
a hard concept, but it’s hard to measure, and that is where
communication breaks down. For example, one day about five years ago I
was talking with Roger Brent, who is one of the most macho molecular
biologists on the face of the planet, and we got into this
conversation about genetically modified food, which I refuse to eat.
And Roger said, ‘Why won’t you eat it? Don’t you know that you could
eat 10 kilos of genetically modified potatoes and nothing would ever
happen to you?" And I said, ‘You don’t know that. You don’t actually
know that. You guys don’t know anything about the long-term effects of
these things. You don’t know what happens after it passes through my
gut and goes back into the water -- you don’t know any of this stuff.
And I was actually really surprised that he said, ‘OK, you’re right,
we don’t. But how can we not stop progress at the same time?’ And
that’s one of the core questions I try to address in Intervention.

So how do we walk that tightrope? How do we protect people without
inhibiting progress?

We have to redefine risk and rethink how we evaluate it. Calculating
risk is tricky with biotech because you have all of these new and very
complex systems that we’ve created that are all coming into contact
with each other, trying to interact, and you don’t have any historical
data to tell us what will happen when those systems come into contact.
What ends up happening is that we are asking scientists to provide a
statement of safety or risk about something related to biotech, but
they don’t have any data.

In your book you discuss other models of risk analysis -- models that
assess chemical or toxic risks. Why can't those models be applied
here? What is it about biotech and genetic engineering that calls for
special attention and a new method?

Actually, there are a lot of different ways to parse that. So, I’ll
take the easiest example: If you look at why the EPA got started and
the work they do now, they’re looking at chemical toxins -- lab tasks
where you could put one more drop, one more drop, one more drop into a
tube, and you could figure out that at three parts per billion of this
chemical, someone’s going to get sick or they’re going to get cancer
or they’re going to die. It’s sort of a threshold thing: You find out
how much of the substance will create some kind of effect -- some kind
of negative effect. But that doesn't apply here. There's a big
difference between manipulating chemicals and manipulating living
organisms -- and I actually want to limit what I talk about here to
transgenic organisms -- those that contain genes from another species.

What are your concerns about transgenic organisms?

Well, we're talking about a potential hazard that is reproducing. And
it doesn’t just reproduce within its own plant population or its own
animal population. Genes move. The fact that we and mice share more
than 90 percent of the same genes has gotta tell you something about
how much we don’t know about where all of these genes came from. A lot
of evolutionary biologists are trying to figure out how all of that
happened but the bottom line is that if I can get the flu from a bird
then it’s not a far stretch to think that some transgene that’s in the
corn or soy that I eat could also find its way into my body and do
something harmful.

In one of your chapters you talk about pigs as potential organ donors
for humans. What problems could that present and what potential is
there for medical, economic or social disruption?

There’s potential for disruption in all of those areas depending on
the problem. The pig one is really interesting because it’s really
disruption in pretty much every dimension. So you have an incredible
strain on the healthcare system, you know -- there are thousands and
thousands and thousands of people who need these transplants and so,
healthcare trying to deal with a whole new problem -- huge economic
impact on the country, huge ecological impact, and the social impact
-- how are you going to look at somebody who’s got a pig heart? Are
you a freak?

And then there's the safety of it. If you rub a pig cell up against a
human cell, what’s the probability that a retrovirus is going to jump
and I would just get a pig virus? Most virologists would probably say
pretty low, but no human immune system’s ever seen that before. You
can’t calculate the probability of it because it’s never happened

Can you foresee any kind of future where genetic engineering could be
used as a weapon?

Oh, sure. I’m sure it’s being used as a weapon now. You know
weaponized anthrax is genetically engineered.

What about benefits or potential benefits in terms of helping to
eliminate hunger or poverty? Transgenes allow us to grow giant
potatoes and chickens with really large breasts. Is that something we
should still be talking about or should that conversation be tabled

Well, one of the things that I talk about in the book is that I reject
the saving the world from hunger as an argument because everybody in
the hunger community knows that the issue with hunger is distribution
-- it’s not volume, it’s distribution. We have plenty of food. So
until now -- until that’s solved, I think we need to table that
conversation. I think that the benefit question is really important,
and one of the things that I didn’t get to write about in the book is
that, in the olden days, when they very first started doing risk
analysis back in the sixties, they analyzed alternatives. Nobody ever
analyzed one product, one technology, one thing. They identified the
problem and then said, What are the range of solutions we have for the
problem? And what’s the most beneficial and the least potentially
harmful out of all of those solutions? But we don’t do that anymore.

Why is the public so unaware? Are scientists just ignoring these

The public is unaware because there’s no reason for the biotech
industry or the regulatory industry to make it clear to people what’s
going on. The last thing in the world that the biotech industry wants
is for people to start sniffing around and figure out what’s going on
here. A lot of legitimate researchers have asked very legitimate
questions about what was happening out in the field of transgenic
organisms, and they lost their research funding and people wouldn’t
publish their papers --

And they would be cut off because they would ask questions --

Exactly. The biotech industry has such an enormous amount of influence
over the type of research that gets done and what information reaches
the public.

You say in your book this is happening against a backdrop of conflicts
of interest. When you follow the money, what do you see?

One of the points that I make in the book is about this revolving door
between industry regulators and the biotech industry. If you look in
the upper echelons of management of virtually all of the agencies,
people go from industry into the agency, work in the agency for years
and go back into industry and so you find that really, the regulators
who are writing the legislation and regulations to protect the public
interest are actually from the perspective of people in the industry.
And some agencies have done studies on risk, but then ignored the
results. One time the FDA got sued by a biotech activist group because
of an FDA policy that said transgenic foods were substantially
equivalent to traditional food crops that are grown. And amazing
documents about how the people inside the agency were saying we have
no idea whether this stuff is risky. But at the end of the day, the
judge said that the FDA has the right to ignore its scientists’

Sounds like risk analysis shouldn’t just be left up to one government
agency or one group of scientists.

Absolutely. The process needs to be much more democratic because,
right now, ordinary people don't have much of a voice. The only way
you can actually do a proper risk assessment is to find out who all
the experts are who have any kind of expertise or interest in the
subject. In this case, you’d find all of the biologists -- not just
the molecular biologists, not just the people who sit in labs looking
through their microscopes, but people in the field -- ecologists --
and the members of the public who have an interest. So, if you wanted
to study something related to the San Francisco Bay, you would bring
in people from the fishing industry.

Basically, you would bring in the most people who were relevant to the
subject. Then you ask the question, what’s the problem? What are we
trying to do here? What’s the risk? What that does is it gives someone
who has to make the decisions -- the regulators -- a beautifully drawn
map of what we know, what we don’t know and what we could know if we
spend some money on research to find out. This could be such a
positive force because industry people today who do research are often
doing discovery research, not risk research. They want to create a
product. They want to build the tightest fence possible around the
problem and say that what’s inside the fence is safe. But, of course,
that’s not how the world works. No organism moves around in the world
with a little bubble over it.

Whose jurisdiction should risk analysis be under? Should it be at the
federal level? Is that even realistic? You mentioned earlier that any
group -- a nonprofit or even a chamber of commerce -- if given the
appropriate model, could do risk assessment.

The only way you can really effect change at the federal level is by
starting at the local level. The feds, the agencies, they’re all so
insulated by money, by power, that nothing happens until people can
rattle their tin cups against the bars loud enough for somebody to
hear it, and I think that one of the things that’s very powerful about
this method of risk assessment is that it can be completely
decentralized. That said, it would be much better if it were
centralized like it is in Sweden and some places in northern Europe,
where you have these participatory citizens groups that work with the
government to do risk assessment on the really big, critical about
where science and technology meet the public.

Are you anti-biotechnology?

Not at all. And I purposely made sure the book wasn't a rant against
biotech. It’s a rant against irresponsible risk assessment. It's a lot
easier to sell a book that's a rant about biotech. You know, what
people want to read about is you know, they want this sort of cross
between Silent Spring and Michael Creighton. They want birds dropping
out of trees and dinosaurs being brought back to life, but that’s not
what this is. I think it’s scarier -- it's scarier that we don’t know
when the birds are going to start falling out of the trees. If or

Heather Gehlert is a managing editor at AlterNet.
2007-01-11 09:31:41 UTC
New book - What's in Your Milk? (3/1/2007)

An Expose of Industry and Government Cover-Up on the DANGERS of the
Genetically Engineered (rBGH) Milk You're Drinking


CHICAGO, Illinois, January 3, 2007 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- Dr. Samuel S.
Epstein, professor emeritus of environmental medicine at the
University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and world
renowned author, has announced the publication of his new book,
"What's in Your Milk?", a powerful expose of the dangers of Monsanto's
genetically engineered (rBGH) milk, and the company's no-holds-barred
conspiracy to suppress this information.

rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) is a genetically engineered,
potent variant of the natural growth hormone produced by cows.
Manufactured by Monsanto, it is sold to dairy farmers under the trade
name POSILAC. Injection of this hormone forces cows to increase their
milk production by about 10%. Monsanto has stated that about one third
of dairy cows are in herds where the hormone is used.

Monsanto, supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), insist
that rBGH milk is indistinguishable from natural milk, and that it is
safe for consumers. This is blatantly false:

rBGH makes cows sick. Monsanto has been forced to admit to about 20
toxic effects, including mastitis, on its Posilac label.

*rBGH milk is contaminated by pus, due to the mastitis commonly
induced by rBGH, and antibiotics used to treat the mastitis.

*rBGH milk is chemically, and nutritionally different than natural

*Milk from cows injected with rBGH is contaminated with the hormone,
traces of which are absorbed through the gut into the blood.

*rBGH milk is supercharged with high levels of a natural growth factor
(IGF-1), which is readily absorbed through the gut.

*Excess levels of IGF-1 have been incriminated as a cause of breast,
colon, and prostate cancers.

IGF-1 blocks natural defense mechanisms against early submicroscopic

*rBGH factory farms pose a major threat to the viability of small
dairy farms.

*rBGH enriches Monsanto, while posing dangers, without any benefits,
to consumers, especially in view of the current national surplus of

Of still greater concern, based on 37 published scientific studies as
detailed in the book, excess levels of IGF-1 in rBGH milk pose major
risks of breast, colon and prostate cancers.

The introduction to What's in Your Milk? by Ben Cohen, Co-founder of
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, with a Foreword by Jeffrey M. Smith, author
of the bestseller Seeds of Deception

Many prominent experts in the environmental field have endorsed the
new book including Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Democrat,
House Judiciary Committee, Mark Achbar, Executive Producer of the
multiple prize-winning documentary The Corporation, Ronnie Cummins,
National Director, Organic Consumers Association, and Dr. Joseph
Mercola, founder of the world’s most visited natural health website.

The book is a unique resource on rBGH milk. It presents Dr. Epstein's
trailblazing scientific publications since 1989, which have played a
major role in influencing other nations, including Canada, 24 European
nations, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan to ban
rBGH milk. The book also presents: the author’s editorials and letters
to major newspapers, and correspondence with the FDA, Congressman John
Conyers, and other key members of Congress and the Senate. Epstein
also details evidence of interlocking conflicts of interest between
Monsanto and the White House, the American Medical Association and
American Cancer Society. He also details evidence of Monsanto's white
collar crime; the suppression and manipulation of information on the
veterinary and public health dangers of rBGH milk; and evidence of
Monsanto's "Hit Squad," which attempted to stifle and discredit him.

Of compelling interest is the story behind Fox Television's firing of
Jane Akre, a veteran journalist, following her in-depth interview on
rBGH with Dr. Epstein, his subsequent day-long deposition by Monsanto
on her behalf, her subsequent litigation against Fox, and Fox's
successful counter suit.

Monsanto's corporate recklessness, compounded by FDA's complicity and
refusal to require labeling of rBGH milk, more than justify the
rejection of any assurances of its safety. Of further interest is the
critical relevance of this information to the ongoing growing concerns
and debate on genetically engineered foods, including irrefutable
evidence discrediting the "trust us" safety assurances of Monsanto,
and other industries.

The book also presents resource materials, including listings of
national and international anti-biotech, public health, veterinary and
animal rights activist groups. Also listed are rBGH-free U.S. dairy
producers, such as Horizon Organic, and Swiss Valley Farms.

What's In Your Milk’s critical message to consumers is, BOYCOTT rBGH

The book is available from Trafford Publishing,
www.trafford.com/06-0676, or by calling Trafford’s Order Desk at
888-232-4444 or 250-383-6864, and subsequently at amazon.com and major
bookstores everywhere. Cost of "What's in Your Milk" is $24.95 USD For
overseas orders, contact national Amazon sites or other major
bookstores and on-line retailers. GBP14.35 GPB, 20.49 Euros Dr.
Epstein is professor emeritus of environmental medicine at the
University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, and
Chairman of the international Cancer Prevention Coalition. He is the
author of 270 scientific publications, and author or co-author of 12
books, including the prize winning 1978 The Politics of Cancer, the
1995 The Safe Shopper's Bible, and the 2005 Cancer-Gate: How to Win
the Losing Cancer War.

Dr. Epstein has been the recipient of many awards, including the 1998
Right Livelihood Award, the Alternative Nobel Prize, for his
"incomparable contributions to cancer prevention, and for his
leadership role in warning of the dangers of rBGH milk." Dr. Epstein
has also received the the 2000 Project Censored Award. In 2005, Dr.
Epstein was awarded the Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medal "for
Humanitarianism, and International Contributions to Cancer

Visit the Cancer Prevention Coalition: http://www.preventcancer.com
2007-01-11 21:15:31 UTC
Whistleblower on the Kill Floor -

The Satya Interview with Virgil Butler and Laura Alexander


Virgil Butler and Laura Alexander.
Virgil Butler was raised in a small town in rural Arkansas, an area
known as “Tyson country,” the home state of the world’s largest
poultry processor. Virgil’s first job as a chicken catcher helped him
pay the family bills through high school. After graduating, he
enlisted in the Army, working his way up to Special Operations and
participating in a combat reconnaissance team in Panama. After six
years in the Army, Virgil returned home to find little work other than
a position in Tyson’s Grannis slaughter plant, where he excelled as
the best chicken killer in the state.

Meanwhile, Virgil also met, fell in love with, and was inspired by
Laura Alexander, whose care for animals served as a guiding light as
each awakened and responded to the horror of Virgil’s profession.
Virgil subsequently contacted People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals (PETA) and signed a statement attesting to the Grannis Tyson
facility management’s routine practice of knowingly allowing fully
conscious chickens to be scalded to death. Based on his chilling
eyewitness account, PETA was able to call for the prosecution of Tyson
Foods and five of its employees on charges of cruelty to animals. This
received massive media attention.

PETA’s Bruce Friedrich comments: “Every time we go undercover on a
factory farm or in a slaughterhouse, we find workers sadistically
abusing animals, yet it is rare that we receive calls from
whistleblowers, and even more rare that those eyewitnesses are willing
to speak out and denounce the cruelty. Virgil and Laura are the only
ones in my experience who have both denounced the cruelty and kept
denouncing it, now three years later. Virgil and Laura are two of my
life heroes for their compassion, their bravery, and their
indefatigable commitment to making the world a kinder place, to
speaking truth to power.”

Today Virgil and Laura are vegan and take care of rescued chickens and
other critters in rural Arkansas. Kymberlie Adams Matthews spoke with
Virgil Butlerand Laura Alexander about their remarkable path to animal

Virgil, I want to first talk about your job working with chickens as a
kid. How did that come to be?
Virgil Butler: Well, I started catching chickens when I was 14 to help
support my family, as I was the oldest, and we lived in extreme
poverty. I would do this at night and then go to school during the
day. It was considered a young man’s job. The oldest person on our
crew was 19, with the average age being around 16. Young people are
about the only ones who have the stamina and energy to keep up chasing
the chickens all night long, night after night. I mean, once they
opened the door, we were really at a dead run all night. That was
because we got paid by the bird instead of by the hour. I would carry
five chickens in my left hand and four in my right, which put a lot of
pressure on them, causing pain and injury. And the ventilation in the
houses isn’t very good now, but it was much worse back then. I would
come out of there coughing up big globs of brown stuff and having lots
of nosebleeds. There was rarely a night that I went home and I didn’t
have a screaming backache. My hands would swell until they looked like
baseball gloves. I ate my supper cold, and many nights fell asleep at
the table. I did most of my homework riding the bus. I did this all
the way through high school.

That sounds so demanding for such a young boy. Can you talk about your
career with Tyson?
VB: I worked there for about 10 years at the Grannis, Waldron, and
Clarksville facilities. Waldron was the only one with a dedicated KFC
line. I worked as a hanger, a killer, a dump operator. There was no
job in that department I couldn’t do. In the hanging cage, I stood on
a line with other workers, took live chickens off the belt, and hung
them by their legs upside-down in the metal shackles. The process of
the line goes by at about 182 birds per minute, so a hanger must be
able to hang 26-30 birds per minute. As lead hanger, it was also my
job to catch the empty shackles that the new hires would miss.

I also worked the kill room. With a sharp six-inch knife you slit the
throats of the chickens the machines miss. You catch as many birds as
you can because the ones you miss go straight into the scalder alive.
My last three years working for Tyson I was a trainer on the back dock
where the live animals are handled. My job was to train new hires to
mostly kill and hang. I was even employee of the month on four
different occasions! It was sad that I was considered the best killer
in the state.

What was it like…I mean how did it feel working in the kill room?
VB: Sheer hell. I stayed bloody and sopping wet most of the time.
Since I was standing less than 10 feet from the scalders, the
temperature would reach 115°, with 98-99 percent humidity. All but one
of the most serious accidents I saw the whole time I worked for Tyson
occurred in the kill room. Some of those accidents happened to me. I
have scars all over my hands and arms where I cut myself. I had
several nasty infections from it. When I would go to my supervisor to
complain, he would tell me to prove that I got infected there and not
somewhere else. I even sewed up my own hand once at break time. It
took five stitches.

It was also not uncommon for me to have to kill up to 30 birds in a
row. And I know that I didn't get them all—I couldn’t. Killing may
look easy to someone standing there watching it, and most of the time
it is, but the hard part is having the eye to be able to see what
needs cutting and what doesn't. In order for that chicken to bleed out
before she hits the scalder, both of the carotid arteries and the
jugular must be cut without cutting into the spinal column. If you cut
into the spinal nerves, it stops the heart from beating, and the blood
just trickles out instead of spurting out, so the bird doesn't bleed
out all the way before she gets to the scalder.

When I first started killing, it really bothered me. It bothered me
because the chickens were hanging there in those shackles, helpless,
and couldn't run away. To me, it was extremely unfair simply because
they were so innocent. And it really bothered me when I missed one and
heard the poor bird go through the scalder alive, thrashing and
bumping against the sides of it as it slowly died. I worked to become
really good at killing so that I wouldn't miss so many. I did become
really good, but at a steep price. The more I did it, the less it
bothered me. I became desensitized. The killing room really does
something to your mind—all that blood, killing so many times, over and
over again. Working as a killer was what I hated the most. But since I
was good at it, that was where I got sent a good bit of the time.

Would you mind telling us about some of the violence that occurred
between the workers and the chickens?
VB: I have seen them shove dry ice up the rectums of chickens to blow
them up. I have seen them stuff the head of one inside the rectum of
another and so on, making a kind of “train” of birds. I have seen
people bash the birds against the belt, throw them into walls, stomp
them, throw them into fans, squeeze them so hard that they would spray
feces all over another worker (you could hear the bones pop in their
rib cages when they did this). These are just some of the little
“games” people would play.

Then there are the supervisor-ordered abuses. I was ordered to pull
one-leggers off the line, even if that meant pulling the leg that was
hung off the chicken. When a chicken got her head hung underneath her
foot in the shackle, we were ordered to pull the head off. The night
shift superintendent himself ordered us to throw runts into the DOA
dumpster alive to slowly smother to death by the ones on top or be
ground up alive by the augur (that ground up all of the DOAs and
undesirable parts, like bruised areas, heads, feathers, guts, etc.). I
frequently disobeyed this order by killing the runts first and was
even reprimanded for holding up production once for doing this.

And all of this brutality definitely leads to violence outside the
factories as well. I know that it did with me and others that I worked
with. Other co-workers became violent towards their own families,
even. I know that the longer I worked there, the more violent I
became. Life became meaningless—other peoples’ lives became
meaningless. I got to thinking that if I had this ability to kill and
not care, that others also did, so I trusted no one.

What is your opinion regarding all the hype about eating “free-range”
chickens, are they treated better?
VB: Not by much. Not enough to matter. I think it’s more of a way to
get people to pay a higher price and give the company better PR. These
chickens are still slaughtered at the same plants. They are still
babies when they are roughly rounded up and killed. The runts are
still culled. They are still living in filth, breathing horrible air.
And, depending on the person raising them, the mortality rate is about
the same. They are still genetically manipulated and suffer from
multiple maladies. So, no, I don’t believe there is that much of a
difference. It’s just a way for people to still be able to eat chicken
and eggs and not feel so guilty about it because they can tell
themselves that they are “free-range,” thinking that their lives are
somehow so much better, running through grassy fields or something,
when nothing is further from the truth. They are still factory farmed
birds being raised for profit. And they are treated as such.

And you weren’t treated much better, getting hurt was just part of the
VB: Yeah it was. It was the way people considered it. If you stayed
there very long you were going to get hurt. It wasn’t a matter of if,
it was a matter of when. I have cut myself badly on the line several
different times. There is also a lot of drug use because of the hours,
people start doing uppers—amphetamines—to literally keep themselves
awake, alert and able to move fast enough to keep up with the pace.
Any time you use drugs you alter your judgment, so that creates a
dangerous situation too.

Were there unions helping the workers out?
VB: None of the three plants I worked at were union plants. And that
let the companies pretty much treat the employees from day one as
disposables. They let you know you’re disposable, easily
replaced—there are ten people down at the unemployment office waiting
to take your place, plenty of people just chomping at the bit to get
their shot at it. And they are willing to work in conditions worse
than ours for even less pay. There were discriminatory problems, and
that bothered me. I am pretty open-minded and have no problems with
immigrants, even if they are illegal. I don’t blame anybody for trying
to better themselves as long as they are working hard.

Without unions there were a lot of safety issues that went ignored.
There is supposed to be an emergency switch at the end of the line in
case somebody gets hung up in it. You are supposed to be able to reach
up there and just slap a big red button that stops the line so you can
extricate the person without them being dragged through the stunner or
the killing machine. And that didn’t always work, and they weren’t too
keen on fixing it. A lot of times our lights wouldn’t work either. I
kicked a fan over one time because it shorted out and caught fire
because the dust gathered in it and they never cleaned it out. Clean
up crews were bad about hosing down electrical stuff. We had exposed
wires all over the place, and they would just hose them down with
water, and then you would turn on the switch, get a shock, and cause a
short. We had a problem with our climate control; I mean they never
seemed to get the heater to work in the winter or the air conditioner
to work in the summer. My boots would freeze to the floor standing in
one spot for two and a half hours.

Okay, I need a break from all of this morbid talk. I want the
scoop…how did you and Laura meet?
VB: Ha, well my mom runs a beer and burgers fast food place where I
worked as an unofficial bouncer when I wasn’t hanging chickens. Anyhow
Laura came over to my mom’s place one day, and that was back when we
were both eating meat of course, and we got to talking over
hamburgers. And one thing led to another…[laughter]

That’s it? Okay, we’ll respect your privacy [laughter]. Turning
serious again, Laura what were your feelings the first time you saw
where Virgil worked?
Laura Alexander: It is hard to describe the feeling that I felt when
Virgil opened the door of that room. Even though the plant was not
running at that time, and I didn’t actually see chickens being hung
and killed at that moment, just seeing where it was done had a great
effect on me. When he opened that door, it was almost like I hit a
wall of energy that was so horrible and strong that it was
overwhelming. The best way I have been able to describe it is the
feeling you get when you go to where people feel hopeless and they
suffer and die, like in a jail or a hospital or nursing home or some
place like that, only magnified by about 100. It just hit me in the
face—all of the suffering seemed to be embedded in that awful room.
All I could say to Virgil was, “Get me out of here.” He said that I
turned white in the face when I said that. We left immediately, and I
have never been back.

How did this impact your relationship?
LA: All the way home (which took about an hour) I just cried and
sobbed uncontrollably and couldn’t believe that this is what he did
for a living every night and that this was how he supported me and
paid our bills. I felt guilty and horrified. I just never knew. He
made sure of that, as he had forbade any of his co-workers to ever
talk about what went on down at that plant around me because he knew
how much I loved animals. I was just as ignorant as most people are
about how their food gets on the table and really hadn’t ever thought
about it. All of that changed after that night. I cried all the way
home, ranting and raving about how I couldn’t understand how someone
who was so good to me and took in strays could actually do that for a
living. He said nothing as I did this. He just sat over on the
passenger side of the vehicle, totally quiet, later telling me that he
was very ashamed and didn’t know what to say, but that for the first
time in his life he was ashamed of himself for what he did for a

That day was a major turning point in our lives. He started not
wanting to go to work, calling in sick a lot. That last year he
worked, he just became a different person, quick to anger. We argued
quite a bit about anything and everything. It was a very dark time
during our relationship. He finally decided he wanted to quit, but
didn’t want to lose his unemployment. He really had no other prospects
for work. So he decided that he would just make them fire him. It took
awhile because he was so good at what he did, but they finally fired
him after he tried to report them to OSHA for safety violations and
brought the forms to work for other employees to sign. We were both so
relieved when that day finally came. Even though we had no idea how he
would find other work to pay the bills, we just didn’t care as long as
he didn’t have to go back down to that hellhole.

Things got better between us. We swore off of eating chicken first
off. Then we decided to finish what he had started that got him
fired—helping improve the working conditions. Since he no longer
worked there or had anyone else willing to sign the papers for fear of
being fired, we decided to go at it another way—by improving the
conditions for the chickens. We wrote an email to PETA, and the rest
is common knowledge now.
VB: When I took Laura into the plant, seeing how affected she was just
changed me. She didn’t realize that people did these awful things to
animals. I got to looking at it through her eyes and I realized how
wrong it was. So I quit. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was fired
technically, but I consider myself to have quit because I made the
decision not to go back. Anyhow, my physical health was going to hell
in a handbasket on top of it. I began to realize just exactly what it
was I was doing. I decided it was a shame. I just couldn’t do it.

Can you talk about your work with PETA?
VB: PETA has been just great. They helped us get the word out in a
much more public way than we could ever have done alone. And PETA,
especially Bruce Friedrich, was a big part of why we eventually went
all the way with this, going vegan and going so public, as opposed to
just writing that one email and then going back to our lives, letting
others do the work while we maintained the status quo and never made
any changes to the way we live our lives. We still work with them, as
we do with other organizations. But we never could have reached as
many people as we did without them.

How has this ‘awakening’ changed your life?
LA: Well, even before all of this happened, I was already on a kind of
spiritual quest, I guess you could call it. I was reading a lot of
books and learning healing touch and about herbs and all of that. This
just took that even deeper. Once I realized that the food I had been
eating all of my life came from animals treated so horrendously, I
didn’t want a single cent of my money going to support that kind of
horrific suffering. Luckily, Virgil felt the same way. So, one day we
talked about it and just decided that from that point on we would
never eat another bite of meat again. But that wasn’t enough. We felt
compelled to let others know about all of this. Virgil never knew that
other people didn’t know about these things—but I did. After all, I
had been as ignorant as most people are about factory farming. He also
wrongly thought that people wouldn’t care, but I assured him that they
would, if they only knew. Even many activists were ignorant of a lot
of the specifics of what happened in those slaughterhouses. We were
being flooded with questions from many organizations. We finally got
to where when we answered a question that one person asked, we simply
sent a copy of the answer to everyone. And then, after reading the
blogs of Iraqis and soldiers fighting in Iraq, we decided to start our
own so that we could put all of the information in one place where all
of the activist organizations could find it, and hopefully a few
members of the public would stumble over it. Obviously, it worked. We
have reached many people and have a whole folder of people who have
written to tell us that they have quit eating meat after reading what
Virgil had to say on that blog.
VB: When we first started this I told Laura, no sanctuary. We will
absolutely not start a sanctuary. But if you build, they will come.
Every time I build a new yard or fence so that we have an extra pen,
someone comes along who needs it. I mean you’re driving and you see
this poor little chicken sitting by the side of the road looking all
confused, starved half to death and god only knows what else. What do
you do? You don’t just drive by and leave it there. You’re going to
take it home and take care of it. And so we have chickens, and we had
a couple of roosters. Both of them died of what the industry calls
flip-over syndrome, the latest on Christmas Eve. They aren’t really
certain what exactly that is, but I think it is more of a heart attack

I’ve got to ask…what is it like living in Arkansas after all you have
been through?
VB: Well, we are pretty isolated. Being vegans...there is no going out
to eat. I mean there is no place around where a vegan can go. We stay
at home. We have friends on the computer. Laura’s mom, believe it or
not, was vegetarian before we ever started, so we have a little
companionship there. It gets pretty hairy at times. There are those
here who are really mad at me for coming forward and speaking out.
They feel violated somehow I guess. I actually have members of my own
family that won’t speak to me anymore. I have members of my own family
that still work for Tyson. It gets bad, but there is no way that I
would leave. Here is where I am needed.

What is the most important thing you hope people learn from your
LA: That anyone can change and that no one is irredeemable or so lost
that they can’t be helped to find their way. If someone like Virgil,
who used to hang and kill chickens for years, can change and become
who he is now, anyone can.
VB: The only part I would add is that I feel that it is so strange
that so many people, even activists, are so ignorant about what really
goes on in this industry. I have been asked so many questions from
people who I thought should know the answers, especially since they
were fighting the industry. I guess this just reflects the depths to
which the industry goes to keep what happens behind those closed
doors. They are, after all, trying to keep cameras out of places like
that by making it a criminal offense to bring one in there, aren’t
they? If they are so proud of what they do, then what do they have to

Most people that work in a chicken plant don’t eat chicken, even
though they are meat-eaters. I was one of those people. It’s been
years since I ate a piece of chicken. I can’t even stand to smell it
cooking without wanting to throw up. That ought to tell you something.

My point is that if these people that work in there can’t stand to eat
chicken, that if the average person knew what happens in there, that
they wouldn’t be able to eat it either. People need to become more

Read Virgil and Laura’s blog and other Tyson whistleblower accounts at

Back Next
2007-01-12 08:39:10 UTC





Consumers should push their GM boycott into the biggest bulk market of
all - animal feeds. Feed makes up to 80-90% of the US corn export
market, and it is at least 60% of the soya grown. The UK feed industry
imported, until recently, 2 million tonnes of soya a year. The
government admits that a substantial proportion of the soya and maize
used in animal feed could be GM. The Environment Minister has agreed
that crops from the GM farm-trials in the UK may go into animal feed.
Boycotts of GM-reared chicken, milk, cheese and eggs are already
gathering pace. The shift away from GM crops has gained international
momentum, but the outcome of the battle is still far from certain.

The Europe-wide ban on feeding animals to each other [meat-and-bone
meal (MBM)] has left farmers across Europe scrambling to find
alternatives; it is leading to a huge increase in imported GM soya to
take its place. There just isn't enough grass or grain left in Europe
to feed all the animals that are now banned from eating each other.

The share price of Monsanto, the GM giant, is soaring, and analysts
who once shunned its stock are advising investors to buy. Deutsche
Bank - yes, the one that said "Whatever you do, don't buy GMO stock"
18 months ago - is the most bullish. Imports of the beans are expected
to jump by about 3.5 million tons in 2001, virtually all of it
genetically modified because almost all unmodified soya has been
bought up to meet demand following campaigns by environmental groups.
Pity the animals couldn't have campaigned against it as well.

Monsanto, depriving the multitudes of any choice in the matter, said
"Let them eat GM". And So It Came To Pass. This is the result of a
combination of agricultural arrogance, governmental arrogance, and
corporate arrogance. Wicked minds might harbour the teeniest weeniest
suspicion that BSE had been allowed deliberately to flourish by this
hand-in-glove combo of immovable (unless they smell money) objects.
See also GREENPEACE for more on this.

On October 18 2000, Professor Bob Orskov (International Feed Resource
Unit), a scientist giving evidence at a public enquiry into
genetically modified maize intended for animals, said he would not
drink the milk of cows fed on it. He said: "If the GM maize was
approved for commercial growing in the UK, then people would be
justified in turning their back on consuming milk derived from it".
The maize in question is genetically engineered to be resistant to a
particular pesticide produced by Aventis. Professor Orskov attacked
the lack of rigour that had gone into its production. "It has only
been fed as grain to chickens, not as a crop to cattle, which have
four stomachs rather than one", he said. Dr Vyvyan Howard of the
University of Liverpool said: "In Aventis's testing they have taken a
protein from another plant and fed it to rats. I do not feel that this
can be used as a basis for making judgements about the safety of this
GM maize with respect to cattle." (An interesting logical scientific
view, at variance with the normal vivisectionist argument that testing
on rats etc to produce human medicines and other consumer products is
perfectly sound.) Aventis is refusing to present any evidence at the
hearing. The hearings follow pressure by Friends of the Earth.

EU scientists are arguing over the maximum levels of dioxin to be
allowed in fishmeal, which has a naturally high dioxin level and is
widely used in animal feed. However it is banned for cattle and other
ruminants because of fears that it may be contaminated by MBM.

Angel dust, an illegal animal growth promoter, is technically known as
clenbuterol. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous growth
promoters in the world. According to a published study by Dr Tom
Barragry of University College Dublin, angel dust residues in meat
pose a serious health threat to people with heart and nervous system
problems, and can effect diabetes sufferers.

In Belgium, recycled transformer oil was mixed into animal feed and
used widely in chicken and pig farms. Deadly dioxins were found in the
feed at 1,500 times the legal limit. This scandal has not prevented
mineral oils ending up in chicken feed and our breakfast eggs. Swiss
experts recently revealed that well over half of all mineral oils used
in the production of chicken feed exceed Swiss safety limits between
10 and 100 times. They also found traces in pork, chicken and beef.
The EU does not have any safety limit for oils, but since the majority
of the EU's and Switzerland's animal feed is imported from similar
sources, the Swiss experts suggest that Europe's situation is likely
to be as serious as Switzerland's.

In France, raw sewage had been added to poultry and pig feed. The
sewage sludge would have contained both animal and human sewage and
discarded animal parts. Five companies were involved in the practice.

A European Union report of October 1999 told us that pet animal
carcases can legally be used in farm animal feed in UK and the EU.
CIWF contacted MAFF, who said that since 1996 no mammalian meat and
bone meal (MBM) can be fed to any farm animals in the UK, although it
can still be fed to pigs and poultry (non-ruminants) in Europe. Other
animal matter is allowed: despite the horrors of the BSE crisis, many
British cows are still on a cannibal diet - they are eating 22,000
tons of cattle blood, fat and gelatine every year.

An independent study by the Advisory Committee on Animal Feeding
Stuffs reveals that alien genes used by scientists to modify crops are
surviving the manufacturing process which turns GM crops into animal
feed. The report raises fears that meat products like chicken, beef
and pork may be contaminated with modified genes if the animals they
are from were raised on GM feed. Previously, authorities and industry
bodies had reassured customers that a heating process kills any DNA in
animal fodder. There is also a concern that DNA can transfer to
bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tracts of animals fed on this
material, possibly giving them resistance to antibiotics which would
make it much harder for farmers to treat infections.

In the UK, newspaper waste is included in animal feed. MAFF and the
DETR apparently approve of this way of getting rid of the stuff. In
the US wastepaper sludge is regarded as toxic, and supposedly not fed
to animals. (See also EARTH ).

What next?
Bon appetit!
(See also What you eat, what you drink ), GENETICALLY MODIFIED
ANYTHING, and RACING (greyhounds).

Among the cheap foods fed to cattle and pigs on farms in the US are:
human sewage sludge, dead cats and dogs, chicken manure,
slaughterhouse waste (blood, bones and intestines), cement kiln dust,
old newspapers, waste cardboard, agricultural waste (corn cobs, fruit
and vegetable peelings) and old fat from restaurants and grease traps.
Those who eat meat are, of course, consuming the residues of all these
delectables. (From Animal Rights, Human Wrongs by Dr Vernon Coleman.)

The following is an excerpt from
MAD COWBOY - Plain Truth From the Cattlerancher Who Won’t Eat Meat
by HOWARD LYMAN with Glen Merzer

I am a fourth-generation dairy farmer and cattle rancher. I grew up on
a dairy farm in Montana, & I ran a feedlot operation there for 20
years. I know firsthand how cattle are raised and how meat is produced
in this country . . . if you knew what I know about what goes into
them and what they can do to you, you’d probably be a vegetarian like
me . . . If you’re a meat-eater in America, you have a right to know
that you have something in common with most of the cows you’ve eaten.
They’ve eaten meat, too.

When a cow is slaughtered, about half of it by weight is not eaten by
humans: the intestines and their contents, the head, hooves, and
horns, as well as bones and blood. These are dumped into giant
grinders at rendering plants, as are the entire bodies of cows and
other farm animals known to be diseased. Rendering is a $2.4
billion-a-year industry, processing forty billion pounds of dead
animals a year. There is simply no such thing in America as an animal
too ravaged by disease, too cancerous, or too putrid to be welcomed by
the embracing arms of the renderer. Another staple of the renderer’s
diet, in addition to farm animals, is euthanized pets - the 6 or 7
million dogs and cats that are killed in animal shelters every year.
The city of Los Angeles alone, for example, sends some two hundred
tons of euthanized cats and dogs to a rendering plant every month.
Added to the blend are the euthanized catch of animal control
agencies, and roadkill. (Roadkill is not collected daily, and in the
summer, the better roadkill collection crews can generally smell it
before they can see it.) When the gruesome mix is ground and
steam-cooked, the lighter, fatty material floating to the top gets
refined for use in such products as cosmetics, lubricants, soaps,
candles, and waxes. The heavier protein material is dried and
pulverized into a brown powder - about a quarter of which consists of
fecal material. The powder is used as an additive to almost all pet
food as well as to livestock feed. Farmers call it 'protein
concentrates'. In 1995, five million tons of processed slaughterhouse
leftovers were sold for animal feed in the United States. I used to
feed tons of the stuff to my own livestock. It never concerned me that
I was feeding cattle to cattle.

In August 1997, in response to growing concern about the spread of
bovine spongiform encephalopathy (or Mad Cow disease), the FDA issued
a new regulation that bans the feeding of ruminant protein (protein
from cud-chewing animals) to ruminants; therefore, to the extent that
the regulation is actually enforced, cattle are no longer quite the
cannibals that we had made them into. They are no longer eating solid
parts of other cattle, or sheep, or goats. They still munch, however,
on ground-up dead horses, dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, and turkeys, as
well as blood and fecal matter of their own species and that of
chickens. About 75 percent of the ninety million beef cattle in
America are routinely given feed that has been 'enriched' with
rendered animal parts. The use of animal excrement in feed is common
as well, as livestock operators have found it to be an efficient way
of disposing of a portion of the 1.6 million tons of livestock wastes
generated annually by their industry. In Arkansas, for example, the
average farm feeds over fifty tons of chicken litter to cattle every
year . . .

In the early 1980s the Swedish media revealed that 30 tonnes of
antibiotics were fed to healthy Swedish cattle each year to enhance
growth. The ensuing public criticism led to action from the Federation
of Swedish Farmers which resulted in: no antibiotics or
chemotherapeutics being routinely added to animal feed to promote
growth, only for curing disease on a vet's prescription; cutting down
the total farming consumption of antibiotics by over 40%; reduction by
90% of total volumes of antibiotics added to animal feed (there is no
sign of a black market). These actions resulted in there now being
less risk of residues in food and of building up resistance, and
animal welfare, animal environment and animal management has improved.

Swedish farmers have improved their skills and knowledge to maintain

The UK media have published similar information on chemical artificial
lazy farming habits in this country in dribs and drabs over the years,
particularly when there has been a scandal (like BSE). The National
Farmers' Union have rigidly and blindly adhered to the chemical fix
for their stock with every support from UK government Ministers and
departments, who 'compensate' sloppy farmers for their sloppiness,
from that cornucopia - the taxpayers' money chest. Apparently none of
these agricultural people in the UK have any shame.

The BSE (Phillips enquiry) report was published on 26 October 2000. It
criticised the practice of making animal feed from the carcasses of
other animals. It said: "Some say that it offended against nature to
feed animal protein to ruminants. Some say that it was doubly
offensive to turn grass-eaters into cannibals. Some say that it was
not surprising that a plague was visited upon those that tampered with
nature in this way." See also BSE Politics.

The UK Foot and Mouth disease epidemic has exposed yet another process
involving the disgusting treatment on a regular basis meted out to
millions of perfectly innocent farm animals by the British Livestock
Industry. A BBC Radio 4 programme (2 May 2001) revealed not only that
muck, called swill, is responsible for causing the Foot and Mouth
outbreak, this muck being fed to 80,000 British mother pigs at the end
of their lives to fatten them up for pet food; but it also exploded
the myth put about by the Meat and Livestock Commission that British
pigs are not fed back to their own.

Mr Graham Then, a Trading Standards Officer, said on the programme:
"There are firms that go round and collect baker's waste,
manufacturing food waste . . . and mistakes have been made where pork
pies or sausage rolls or whatever have been placed into the wrong
receptacle, and that's gone off to be processed into animal feed . . .
I think any manufacturing base that also produces meat products, pizza
tops, pork pies or whatever, then its waste should not be incorporated
into feed that goes to animals."

Farming Today reporter, Sarah Hugh, said: "Provided you comply with
the law, and heat food leftovers for at least an hour at 100oC, you
can feed pigs any food - not just meat but also other animal products
like milk, eggs, rennet, gelatine and melted fat. Pigs can also be fed
poultry waste like offal and also fish waste." Arcnews, June 2001

Almost 50% of cereal crops grown in the UK are used as animal feed. So
that's why the government want GM trialling to go ahead?

Four men have been found guilty in Antwerp of the 1995 murder of a
veterinary inspector, Mr K Van Noppen, who was investigating the
illegal use of hormones to fatten cattle. Mr Noppen was shot after
refusing to stop his investigations into the lucrative trade despite
death threats. June 2002

Food pathogens in our food animals might get into them via their feed.
Farmers in the past 50 years have changed the diets of beef cattle
from hay to grain in order to boost growth rates and reduce costs, so
if a ruminant is fed fibre-deficient feed the microbial ecology is
altered and the animal becomes more susceptible to metabolic disorders
and maybe to infectious diseases. New technologies have meant that
various materials from all over the world have been fed to animals,
including wastes such as peanut and almond shells, bakery waste, and
poultry manure. Re-circulating animal waste and by-products means new
opportunities for pathogens to enter the food supply. Antibiotics are
also fed to animals to fatten them faster. Diseases breed which have
become resistant to antibiotics when we need these medicines to fight
illness, and we lose out, we - and the animals themselves - have
nothing left to fight with.

Feeding antibiotics to animals to keep them relatively healthy under
the dire conditions of factory farms and to make the animals grow
bigger faster means that the antibiotics in animal feed exceeds that
used in human medicine. This is highly dangerous for human health. The
World Health Organisation has merely 'advised against' the practice of
using antibiotics so promiscuously. (May 2002 - Information from
National Geographic)

As we explain in our book Mad Cow USA, billions of pounds of rendered
by-product from slaughterhouse waste are fed to livestock each year in
the US. This is the practice that spread 'mad cow disease' in British
cattle, a disease that has now spread to humans and is killing a
growing number each year. The US has its own versions of mad cow-type
diseases including chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk. CWD
has apparently been spread across North America the past decade via
the exponential growth of game farms and the feeding of rendered
by-product as mineral and protein supplement to grow big antlers on
both farmed and wild animals. The US has allowed tens of thousands of
road kill deer to be rendered annually and fed back to pigs, pets and
poultry (and to cows and deer previous to 1997). Finally the FDA is
taking a step to limit this practice, but that step remains too little
and too late. The FDA takes its lead from the US livestock industry
and is protecting the continued feeding of billions of pounds of
rendered by-product each year in the US. Until the US implements the
same strict ban on feeding rendered by-products that has been imposed
in Europe, the threat remains of CWD and other US mad cow-type
diseases spreading to livestock and people. To follow this issue visit
2007-01-12 18:24:01 UTC
Post by (o)(o)
Copied so long I got bored and ignored it
Alan Holmes
2007-01-12 18:33:04 UTC
Post by Hamish
Post by (o)(o)
Copied so long I got bored and ignored it
So why didn't you?
Jim Webster
2007-01-12 19:41:44 UTC
Post by Hamish
Post by (o)(o)
Copied so long I got bored and ignored it
did you detect any signs of original thought?

Jim Webster
2007-01-12 19:45:35 UTC
Post by Jim Webster
Post by Hamish
Post by (o)(o)
Copied so long I got bored and ignored it
did you detect any signs of original thought?
Jim Webster
'Thought' and 'Oxo'? Surely that's an Oxymoron (or should it be Oxomoron?).
2007-01-20 23:00:24 UTC
Two employees of PeTA, Andrew Cook and Adria Hinkle, go on trial on Monday 22nd January 2007. They will face 22 animal cruelty charges and 3 charges of obtaining property by false pretences. On June 15, 2005, they were caught disposing of bags of dead pets in a shopping centre dumptster. Witnesses are expected to confirm that the two collected the animals from their owners earlier that day promising that PeTA would find them good homes.

Check www.PetaKillsAnimals.com for daily updates starting next week.
2007-01-12 08:44:16 UTC
The calf that heralds a worrying future

Full of spindly-legged appeal on a Midlands farm, the calf Dundee
Paradise hardly seems the harbinger of a food revolution. The only
clue to her significance is her somewhat portentous name. In other
circumstances, she might be called Buttercup or Clover.

But Dundee Paradise is the first of her kind to be born in Britain:
the offspring of a cow cloned in a U. S. laboratory.

And her birth - of which the Government, astonishingly, was blissfully
ignorant until told by the Daily Mail - raises profoundly disturbing
questions about the absence of proper regulation, the ethics of
commercial cloning, the welfare of animals, the things we eat and the
consequences for human health.

For with this one small calf, the vast biotech industry looks forward
to a Brave New World: the prospect of supersized cows, capable of
producing huge quantities of milk and supermarkets full of butter,
steaks and cheeses all derived from clone farming.

And don't imagine that queasy customers can simply turn their backs on
such products, which will almost certainly be unlabelled. Consumers
won't know what they're getting.

This revolution is gathering momentum, whether the public likes it or
not. In America, scientists are cloning pigs and chickens too. The
U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just given the green light to
the sale of unlabelled milk and meat from cloned animals.

Now 'Frankenstein farming' gains a foothold in Britain without
consultation, debate or a single question answered.

Is large-scale commercial cloning morally acceptable, when it so often
leads to abortions, deformities and produces freakishly oversized cows
that are little more than udders on legs?

Don't we owe animals more respect?

What are the long-term health implications of eating clone-derived
foods? And why should they be foisted on the public anyway, when
organic foods are becoming increasingly popular?

Scandalously, this Government couldn't care less. Three years ago, it
ignored a recommendation from its own experts on the Farm Animal
Welfare Council urging safeguards against a cloning free-for-all.

As in its obsessive promotion of GM crops, it shuts its eyes to the
ethical issues and ignores the potential risks. Now there is no
regulation worthy of the name.

This is a sad day for the cause of animal welfare and the interests of
the British public.

From bad to worse
Just when it seemed our shambolic, bungling, not fit for purpose Home
Office couldn't possibly sink lower, we learn that another gross
dereliction of duty has let hundreds - perhaps thousands - of
dangerous criminals off the hook.

This latest story of incompetence beggars belief. No fewer than 27,000
files on Britons convicted of major crimes abroad have been gathering
dust in Whitehall for years - with nobody bothering to transfer
details to the Police National Computer.

Countries that passed on the information naturally assumed Britain
would want to keep tabs on the rapists, paedophiles, murderers and
other offenders convicted outside these shores.

But no. Home Office officials with their secure jobs and
inflation-proofed pensions were too lazy or too stupid to respond. So
these convicts have no record here, don't appear on the sex offenders
register and are free to do as they please - including working with

Now the hunt is on to track them down - a classic case of shutting the
stable door once the horse has bolted.

How often we have been here before, under a Home Office that seems
capable only of lurching from bad to worse.
Derek Moody
2007-01-13 00:08:49 UTC
Post by (o)(o)
What are the long-term health implications of eating clone-derived
foods? And why should they be foisted on the public anyway, when
organic foods are becoming increasingly popular?
We've been eating cloned foods for generations - so the the long-term health
inplications are whatever you've got now. A high proportion of organic
foods are clones too so they make no difference.

Post by (o)(o)
Alan Holmes
2007-01-13 14:44:18 UTC
Post by Derek Moody
Post by (o)(o)
What are the long-term health implications of eating clone-derived
foods? And why should they be foisted on the public anyway, when
organic foods are becoming increasingly popular?
We've been eating cloned foods for generations - so the the long-term health
inplications are whatever you've got now. A high proportion of organic
foods are clones too so they make no difference.
Post by (o)(o)
What the fuck kas this to do wiht birdwatching?
Old Codger
2007-01-13 17:09:24 UTC
Post by Alan Holmes
Post by Derek Moody
Post by (o)(o)
What are the long-term health implications of eating clone-derived
foods? And why should they be foisted on the public anyway, when
organic foods are becoming increasingly popular?
We've been eating cloned foods for generations - so the the long-term health
inplications are whatever you've got now. A high proportion of organic
foods are clones too so they make no difference.
Post by (o)(o)
What the fuck kas this to do wiht birdwatching?
Very little :-)
Old Codger
e-mail use reply to field

What matters in politics is not what happens, but what you can make
people believe has happened. [Janet Daley 27/8/2003]
Derek Moody
2007-01-14 07:06:38 UTC
Post by Old Codger
Post by Alan Holmes
Post by (o)(o)
What are the long-term health implications of eating clone-derived
foods? And why should they be foisted on the public anyway, when
What the fuck kas this to do wiht birdwatching?
Very little :-)
Dunno, the #@&%ing bullfinches are already pinching (cloned) fruit buds

Post by Old Codger
Post by Alan Holmes
2007-01-11 09:33:59 UTC
GM WATCH MONTHLY REVIEW No. 40 (30/12/2006)

Claire Robinson, editor






Dr Arpad Pusztai, the scientist who found that GM potatoes harmed the
health of rats, has warned that the decision to approve trials of
blight-resistant GM potatoes in the UK could mean preventing
cross-contamination was "almost impossible".

"We are dealing with a very unstable genome which will almost
certainly be producing some toxic effects and if they get into our
human food chain it will cause a huge calamity," he said.

The biotech industry has admitted GM contamination of potatoes "cannot
be excluded". http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7357

The UK government's decision to allow trials of a new strain of GM
potato has been met with strong opposition by the potato industry and
the country's largest maker of chips. The British Potato Council said
its refusal to endorse the trials was based on consumers' mistrust of
GM technology. Bill Bartlett, corporate affairs director of chip
manufacturer McCain Foods (GB), said McCain Foods was also
disappointed with the decision.

A Derbyshire farmer dropped out of the forthcoming GM potato trials
because of threats made against him, according to media reports.
However, Derbyshire Police said the farmer had made "no specific
complaints" about any threat. The farmer's concerns apparently arose
from the "intense publicity". That did not stop pro-GM lobbyists
denouncing the "intimidation" and calling on the government and police
to act robustly to defend reason, freedom and democracy! This is not
the first time that such stories have been shown to have no basis
except black propaganda.


The undemocratic WHO organization Codex has approved a US government
proposal to develop a food safety risk assessment process for
adventitious presence. Industry body BIO has thanked the US government
for pushing through the move at Codex. This may take some years but is
still a source of concern.

COMMENT from Dr Michael Antoniou:
It is quite obvious that this is NOT the science-based food safety
assessment that it is claimed to be but something for purely political
and commercial convenience. [Dr Antoniou is Reader in Medical and
Molecular Genetics at King's College London, and an expert on GM

All but about 50ha of the sweetcorn crops grown with seed contaminated
with GM seeds in the Gisborne and Hawke's Bay regions has been

The New Zealand government may face a bill of up to $1 million to
clean up the latest GM border bungle.

GM Canadian canola is being imported into Australia. The multinational
grain trader Cargill said it had imported canola seed because of a
sharp drop in Australian canola production caused by the drought.

GM WATCH COMMENT: Seems Cargill's trying to exploit Australia's recent
drought as an excuse to dump otherwise unwanted (and hence
massively-discounted) Canadian GM canola (oilseed rape).

A study confirms that escaped GM oilseed rape (Canola) is growing
around Japanese ports.

India's GM regulatory body - the Genetic Engineering Approval
Committee (GEAC) - has decided that GM crop field trial approvals will
be given only after the locations of the trials are specified.

In other words, until now the regulators themselves have not known
where field trials are taking place because the companies didn't have
to tell them! And things are only changing now because India's farmers
are in revolt.

In addition, no trials will be allowed without the consent of the
local authorities of the area where trials are to be conducted.


Sustainable farming methods can help the poorest farmers in developing
nations out of poverty, research suggests. Scientists found that
techniques such as crop rotation and organic farming increased crop
yields by an average of 79%, without risking future harvests.

EXCERPT from article by Inter Press Service:
Organic agriculture is a potent tool to reduce emissions of greenhouse
gases, but also to alleviate poverty and improve food security in
developing countries, many experts now believe.


Environmentalists in Romania have secured a victory in getting GM soy
banned. "Romania was the biggest producer of GM soy in Europe,"
Greenpeace coordinator Gabriel Paun said. "This is to be stopped by

EU environment ministers have voted to reject a proposal to force
Austria to lift its bans on GM foods and crops. The proposal was
tabled by the European Commission in response to a ruling by the World
Trade Organisation (WTO) earlier this year, which stated that the bans
broke international trade laws. Austrian environment minister Josef
Proll said: "This is a very strong signal by the Council [of
Ministers] for the Commission to reassess its policy [on GMOs]."


"The government may issue a law banning GM crop trials. We hope the
Centre [central Government of India] will support us," said Tamil Nadu
agriculture minister Veerapandi Arumugam.


Syngenta has agreed to pay a $1.5 million penalty to the US
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for selling and distributing
seed corn that contained the unregistered GM pesticide Bt10. Late in
2004, Syngenta disclosed to EPA that it had distributed the seed corn
to the US, Europe, Japan, and South America.

In response to requests filed earlier this year by the Public Patent
Foundation (PUBPAT), the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will
undertake a review of four patents related to GM crops held by
Monsanto that the agricultural giant is using to harass, intimidate,
sue - and in some cases bankrupt - American farmers. The USPTO found
that PUBPAT had submitted new evidence that raised "substantial
questions of patentability" for every single claim of each of the four

The high court of Carcassonne (Aude) has sentenced two ex-directors of
Monsanto's former subsidiary Asgrow to pay fines of 15,000 euros each.
In April 2006 the General Directorate for Fair Trading, Consumer
Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) discovered illegal traces of GMOs
in soya.


A candlelight vigil was held in front of the Indian Embassy in
Washington DC on World Human Rights Day to bring attention to the
plight of Indian farmers. Suicide has been on the rise among Indian
farmers. For example, among cotton farmers in Maharashtra's Vidarbha
region, the number of suicides has hit an all-time high. Vidarbha
follows a pattern seen in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, and

According to an article on the suicides in the Chicago Tribune, "Most
farmers say they will lose money on their crops. They blame heavy
monsoons, poor prices from the government and a genetically modified
type of cotton from U.S.-based Monsanto that resists pests but yields
poor crops, according to farmers, activists and even government


The Indian government is firmly under the control of "buccaneers of
biotech", says an article for The People's Voice.

A renowned British scientist was on the payroll of Monsanto while
investigating cancer risks.

Sir Richard Doll was said to have received a consultancy fee of $1,500
a day during the mid 1980s from Monsanto. Doll, an epidemiologist,
also received payments from the Chemical Manufacturers Association and
the companies Dow Chemicals and ICI. Doll largely cleared the chemical
industry of having links with cancer, a conclusion which goes against
the World Health Organisation's assessment.

People are being urged by Scotland's new chief scientific adviser,
Prof Anne Glover, to embrace GM food as an answer to poverty, hunger
and toxic pollution. Glover is a business-savvy genetic engineer whose
track record includes setting up the firm Remedios, which was named
Scotland's "Best New Biotechnology Company" for Biotech Scotland by
its industry peers.


The experimental release of GM wheat at Gatersleben, Germany,
contradicts German, European and International Law, says environmental
lawyer Dr Christoph Palme. The federal German Genetic Engineering
Authority has given permission to plant GM wheat at a short distance
from an important wheat gene-bank near Gatersleben.

Victoria's first crop of GM wheat could be in the ground as early as
next year, despite a state moratorium on commercial crops of GM
canola. The government has applied for a permit for trials of
drought-resistant wheat near Horsham and Mildura.

In order to soften up public opinion, a panel of three senior
Victorian bureaucrats has recommended state and federal government
funding of a major advertising campaign!

Plans to field test GM grapes in South Africa are reported to have led
buyers in the UK, one of South Africa's top export markets, and in
Germany to cancel orders for South African wine.

Send an email to protest against GM vines - it's easy:

Cotton growing in West Africa is booming, but land is running out and
the GM companies are moving in.


The Supreme Court of India has expressed concern over the possibility
of the deployment of genetic use restrictive technologies (GURTs) by
Delhi University in the development of its GM mustard crop.

The Supreme Court has asked a committee to examine the impact of the
GM mustard field trials, following expert opinion that the trials
could result in the release of toxic elements in the environment.


Monsanto's home-town paper - the St Louis Post-Dispatch - has run a
series of articles that claim to explore "hunger in Africa and the
role that biotech has in stemming it". The articles appear designed to
promote the work of Monsanto's "non-profit" partner in St Louis, the
Danforth Center.

According to the Post-Dispatch, "The center is trying to give away a
genetically engineered cassava, one of the most important foods in
Africa. A spreading virus is wiping out the crop. The St Louis
scientists think they have the cure."

The virus is the African cassava mosaic virus (CMVD). Only a few
months ago, however, the Danforth Center quietly admitted that its GM
cassava varieties had lost their resistance to CMVD.

The cassava has now been re-engineered. What the Post-Dispatch doesn't
mention, though, is that the failure of the previous GM varieties took
7 years to show up, making it a little early to be talking up a cure
for the virus! The Post-Dispatch also underplays the fact that non-GM
virus resistant varieties are already available.

GM lobbyist Jennifer Thomson has a new book out called GM Crops: The
Impact and the Potential. Its publisher - CSIRO - is advertising the
book as, "A balanced, scientific perspective on the issues surrounding
genetically modified crops." And they describe Thomson as an
"international author who has much credibility" and who is
"internationally respected".

These statements are all seriously open to question. Thomson is a
board member of AfricaBio, a biotech industry-backed body which an
article in the science journal Nature describes as, "fighting tooth
and nail, often by somewhat controversial methods, to spread the word
about GM crops". The article also says that, "the group's methods
would be considered in some countries to be blatant media

More info and links at: http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7385


Representatives of different farmers' organisations, trade unions,
consumer groups, self-help groups and other NGOs belonging to South
India issued a declaration on National Farmers' Day opposing GM crops
as a serious threat to the environment, the farm economy, food
sovereignty and health.

Ten years after GM crops were first planted commercially in the US,
Americans remain poorly-informed about and uncomfortable with GM food,
according to the fifth annual survey on the topic. The poll also
confirmed that most Americans do not like the idea of eating meat or
milk from cloned animals.

A Judge in Lleida in the west of Catalonia, Spain, has acquitted
Albert Ferre, who was facing a fine of around 500,000 euros over the
destruction in 2004 of a GM wheat trial in Gimenells (Lleida,

Roberto Requiao, Governor of the state of Parana, has signed a decree
to expropriate an experimental test site owned by Syngenta. The decree
was made in the public interest because Syngenta illegally planted 12
hectares of GM soybeans at the site. The action is said to be
representative of the growing desire among Latin American politicians
to resist the increasing power of agribusiness corporations, as well
as evidence of the increasing organization and power of civil society
in the region.

The US food industry is not ready to embrace GM wheat. Said Ron Olson,
General Mills' vice president of grain operations, "The food market is
not ready for that. Our stock would get killed."

China, the world's biggest rice producer and consumer, has yet again
put off any commercial introduction of GM rice amid growing concerns
about biosafety and potential loss of markets.


A cloned GM pig with raised levels of omega-3 fatty acids should not
be allowed onto the market and is a waste of precious research
resources, says Dr Autumn Fiester in a letter published in Nature

... there is something profoundly amiss in our stampede down the
biotech path for every trivial application. The level of the change
now possible, the speed at which we can make these dramatic
alterations and the potential consequences for animals, the
environment and ourselves - for the world as we know it - ought to
give us great pause. It is naive to think that this research,
unbridled, will have only a trivial impact. This latest work already
says a great deal about us, and it isn't flattering. One scientist
commented about the potential of the omega-3 pig: "People can continue
to eat their junk food. You won't have to change your diet, but you
will be getting what you need". We are altering the genome of an
animal to enable consumers to continue with their self-destructive
eating habits. What does this say about us if that is reason enough to
manipulate sentient life?

The sale of milk and meat from cloned animals has moved a step closer
after the US Government ruled that the products were safe to eat and
could be sold in supermarkets without labelling. The landmark draft
decision, taken by the US Food and Drugs Administration, was condemned
by consumer groups and food safety experts, who gave warning of the
implications for food consumption throughout the world.

A US farmer in financial difficulties says he may sell his cloned cows
for hamburgers, even while a voluntary ban on food from cloned
livestock is still in place.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization claims, "We clone an animal
because we want a genetic twin of that animal. It's not a genetically
engineered animal; no genes have been changed or moved or deleted."
But we know clones are far from perfect copies and that all clones
are, in one way or another, defective with multiple flaws embedded in
their genomes. Rudolf Jaenisch, a geneticist at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, estimates that something like 4-5% of the
genes in a cloned animal's genome are expressed incorrectly.

And these genetic defects can have tangible results - some subtle and
hard to reckon but others all too clear. Clones have been born with
incomplete body walls or with abnormalities in their hearts, kidneys
or brain function, or have suffered problems like premature ageing and
"adult clone sudden death syndrome".

Quite apart from the uncertainties, and any health concerns, the
defects of clones may pose for consumers, people might well wish to
avoid the products of a process that is so disastrous for animal
welfare. But, as with GM, they won't be given the choice if food from
clones goes unlabelled.


Intervention: Confronting The Real Risks of Genetic Engineering And
Life On A Biotech Planet, a new book by former NY Times business
columnist Denise Caruso, highlights how vulnerable we are making
ourselves as a species, hurtling forward at breakneck speed with
biotech creations and mutations.

Using genetic engineering and emerging biotechnologies as its model,
the book paints a vivid picture of the scientific uncertainties that
biotech risk evaluations dismiss or ignore, and lays bare the power
and money conflicts between academia, industry and regulators that
have sped these risky innovations to the market.
2007-01-11 09:35:18 UTC
Health risks of genetically modified foods (22/12/2006)

Author discusses health risks of genetically modified foods during
By SHANNON BURKDOLL, The Prairie Star editor
The Prairie Star, December 21 2006

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Genetically modified ingredients in foods may
cause life-threatening health risks, according to author Jeffery

Smith discussed different cases where genetically modified crops had
affected humans either during consumption, harvest or processing and
research conducted on these crops during a lecture featuring his book,
Seeds of Deception, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, in Great Falls, Mont. The
meeting was the first of a five-day marathon in which Smith was to
address the issues in his book while traveling through Montana.

The first case Smith discussed was the bovine growth hormone and its
effects on the dairy milk production. A Minnesota dairy was sued by a
multinational chemical company because it was labeling its milk as
being hormone-free. The chemical company settled the case by forcing
the dairy to include a label in its milk that indicated there is no
difference between milk from cows given growth hormones as opposed to
milk from cows given no growth hormones even though research proved
the opposite.

The research, said Smith, found there was more pus, antibiotics,
residue growth hormones and IGF-1 present in the milk. "IGF-1 may
promote cancer," he noted. "The milk had a 26 percent increase of
growth hormones compared to the hormone-free milk, and when
pasteurized 120 times more than normal only 19 percent of the hormones
were destroyed in the milk. Since they didn't get the results they
wanted, they added highly concentrated powdered hormone to the milk,
then heated it and then the pasteurization process destroyed 99
percent of the hormones - that is what the FDA (Food and Drug
Administration) quoted. That is completely rigged research."

Furthermore, the same multinational chemical company allegedly got
two-star television reporters fired in Florida because they were about
to release a story showing the research done on the milk containing
RBGH hormones was rigged. The reporters sued the company for
injustice, but lost because the Florida courts determined it is not
illegal to lie on television, said Smith.

"The GM companies determine the safety of the food they produce," he
continued. "The FDA doesn't investigate these claims of safety. The
FDA was instructed by the White House to promote biotechnology, and as
a result there are no regulations on biotech crops."

Smith is mistaken on the process of claiming safety of biotech foods,
according to Dr. Mike Phillips, vice president of food and agriculture
for Biotechnology Industry Organization in Washington, D.C.

"Biotech crops and foods have to go through safety reviews and
environmental reviews that are very strenuous in the United States
before they will be put in the marketplace," he said. "The EPA
(Environmental Protection Agency), USDA (U.S. Department of
Agriculture) and FDA have to all concur the biotech foods pose no
health effects or they are not allowed in the marketplace."

The first genetically modified food produced was the FlavrSavr tomato,
modified with a gene to delay ripening. This tomato was tested for
health affects by scientists who found the research rats refused to
eat it, and of those that did seven out of 40 died in two weeks and
seven of 20 developed stomach lesions.

"Animals when given a choice will typically avoid genetically modified
foods," said Smith. "There was a question of safety with the FlavrSavr
tomato, but they approved it anyway."

There are health risks to introducing antibiotic resistant genes into
crops and foods because these genes could transfer to the gut bacteria
of a body and cause problems because it is engineered not to die in
the presence of specific antibiotics, leading to the development of
super diseases, said Smith. A Nature Biotechnology 2004 study of a
group of people fed soymeal in burgers and milkshakes proved the genes
do transfer to the body's gut bacteria and survived digestion, Smith
noted. "The concern of the scientists was validated," he said.

A United Kingdom scientist found the process of genetically modifying
foods poses more safety hazards than the actual genes used in the
modification, continued Smith. "It disrupts the natural function of
the DNA and creates mutation and deletion of genes, and altered gene
expression system-wide," he explained. "The gene could also produce a
protein that could be harmful to us if ingested."

Phillips disagrees with Smith again, suggesting there have been
studies done based on the genetic makeup of the product and compared
to the differences of the conventional product, finding "they are the
exact same as the conventional product," he said.

Genetically modifying food crops poses health risks because they could
contain properties of known allergens, damage the DNA, increase
metabolic activity, alter the gene expression, create a different
protein than intended, lead to more herbicide residue than in non-GM
crops and transfer promoters, virus-resistant genes or antibiotic
resistance into the body's gut bacteria.

"It is difficult to know if they are causing problems because no one
is monitoring them and they could cause symptoms similar to other
diseases," said Smith.

"That is a ridiculous point of view," countered Phillips. "This is an
example of the huge myths being spread about genetically modified
foods. We have been manipulating genes since the beginning of
agriculture. Biotechnology is another revolution of genetic
manipulation to have more food supply to feed the world."

Smith is promoting biotech food awareness as he travels across Montana
and the nation. "Awareness is very low," he said, but he has devised a
word-of-mouth strategy to increase awareness of the potential health
risks of eating genetically modified foods.

"The health conscious shoppers don't avoid GMOs when buying
non-organic purchases," said Smith. "We need to help educate them to
help them choose non-genetically modified foods."

Smith's awareness plan includes targeting parents, health conscious
shoppers and schools, as well as telling his story to talk show hosts
such as Oprah Winfrey, getting the marketplace to label the non-GMO
foods and discourage consumption of genetically modified foods through
his books, CDs, DVDs and videos documenting cases of health risks
posed by genetically modified foods.

"The solution is for the entire industry to demand no open-air trials
of genetically engineered crops in their commodity groups," he said.
"In two days, genetically engineered crops could do to wheat what it
did to rice in Japan."

Genetically modified foods are limited to four crops: corn, soybeans,
canola and cotton, in five countries carrying two traits. "It is
really a question of education," concluded Smith. "You need to choose
not to feel like a victim, but choose to feel like a victor. Don't
worry but make choices that will feed you emotionally, spiritually and
help you reach your goals."

Those interested can learn more about Smith's philosophy at
http://www.ResponsibleTechnology.org or
http://www.seedsofdeception.com/ . To learn more about the third-party
evaluation of biotech foods, go to http://www.bio.org .
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