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Issue 51

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Be X-tra Alert

WHO'S IN charge of the future? The ability to drastically alter the genetic makeup of plants, animals, microorganisms and humans lies in the hands of governments and multinationals.

Between 1945 and 1969 over 200 secret biological experiments were conducted by the US military e.g. 1950- US navy attacks San Francisco for 6 days with bacteria. Now big money backs genetic research.e.g.1987- Argentinia, a US based business arranged for a genetically modified microorganism to be injected into cows without the Argentine government's knowledge. Later 17 cowhands, who unknowingly handled the cattle and drank the milk, were infected by the virus. Scientists assess the risks of side effects and accidents caused by unnatural gene transfers from one species to another to be unlimited. Unpredictable effects occur when a new gene is inserted. The methods used sometimes destabilise the host's DNA and lead to unplanned gene transfers to other species, including mammals. This could create new diseases. Bacteria genetically engineered to produce large amounts of a food supplement, tryptophan, produced toxins that killed 37 people and permanently disabled 1,500 in the USA.

Processes such as cross- pollination, where newly introduced genes can cross to other species, has already led to the creation of 'super' weeds and soil bacteria which displace existing species. Health damaging effects caused by genetic engineering will be passed onto all future generations of a species.

Free the Fields
Unless we can stop it! By September people had entered 38 fields of genetically modified crops to decontaminate the sites.
• May '98 A large X is sythed into a genetically modified oil seed rape crop in Aberdeen. In Norwich a crop squat is established complete with campsite, organic gardens and info-centre.
• June '98 Crops have been pulled up in Norfolk, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire and Penicuik, Scotland.
There are currently about 300 test sites of genetically modified crops in the UK with about 70% of them controlled by just 4 multinationals. (Momsanto-110, ArgEvo/PGS-71,Novaris/Hillshog-26 and Sharps International Seeds Ltd.-24).

You can find out where these sites are at the Friends of the Earth website ( or ring the Biotechnology Unit (0171 890 5275/5277). Info on resistance - Genetic Engineering Network, PO Box 9656, London N44JY 0181 374 9516.

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