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What's happening in genetics/biotechnology?

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  • Genetic engineering experiments that agriculture and drug companies have conducted or are conducting include:

    • Genes from the humans were put into sheep in Aotearoa (New Zealand), in hopes that the sheep would produce a drug to be used against emphysema. Some people agreed to give genetic samples, but nobody consented to having them put into sheep. (PPL Therapeutics of Scotland, in conjunction with Selbourne Pharmaceuticals)

    • In Virginia, human genes have been introduced into cows, in order to have the cows produce human breast milk, in a collaboration between PPL therapeutics and infant formula companies.

    • Spider genes were put into goats, so that goats will produce silk genes in their milk. The company doing this plans to use the silk for bullet proof vests and anti-ballistic missile systems (Nexia Biotechnologies of Canada)

    • Snake and scorpion genes were introduced into plants to produce virus resistant crops.

    • Mice have been genetically engineered to produce human proteins in their semen. The plan is to later use this same technique with pigs.

    • Spider venom has been patented for use in crops by AstraZenaca, scorpion venom has been patented by Agracetus/Monsanto, while snake venom for use in plants has been patented by Biogen Inc. Should venom be used in food crops? Should a corporation have a patent, giving it an exclusive right to do this?

    • Man-made copies of the flounder fish's anti-freeze gene have been inserted into potatoes, tobacco, and tomatoes to try to make them more resistant to frosts.


  • Genetically engineered Canola, Chicory, Corn, Cotton, Flax, Papaya, Potato, Soybean, Squash, Sugarbeet and Tomato have been approved for human consumption in the US on the basis of voluntary safety monitoring by the companiesü Source: US Department of Agriculture Database

  • In1999, 33% of US corn was genetically modified, 50% of US soybean and 55% of US cotton. Meanwhile 62% of Canadian canola was genetically modified. Source: GeneWatch UK

  • The US is the single largest producer of genetically modified crops. In 1999, 72% of all genetically modified crops grown worldwide were grown in the US, followed by Argentina (17%) and Canada (10%) Source:GeneWatch UK

  • In 1999, the area of genetically engineered crops grown worldwide increased by 44% from the following year. Source: GeneWatch UK.

  • The Food and Drug Administration does not require safety testing and labelling of genetically engineered foods. This is after a controversial decision by the agency in 1992 to categorize all genetically modified foods as ˝generally regarded as safe (The agency is currently facing a class action suit by an alliance of public interest groups).

  • The following plants are being genetically engineered and have been released into the environment: alfalfa, apple, asparagus, barley, beet, belladonna, bermudagrass, carrot, chicory, chrysanthemum, coffee, corn, cotton, cranberry, creeping bentgrass, cucumber, eggplant, gladiolus, grape, grapefruit, kentucky bluegrass, lettuce, melon, oat, onion, papaya, pea, pear, peanut, pelargonium, pepper, petunia, persimmon, perennial ryegrass, pine, pineapple, plum, poplar, potato, rapeseed, rice, soybean, spruce, squash, strawberry, sugarcane, sunflower, sweetgum, sweet potato, tobacco, tomato, walnut, wheat. Source: US Department of Agriculture database:

  • Companies such as Monsanto, DuPont, AstraZeneca and Novartis are developing technologies that will make plants biologically sterile so that farmers will not be able to save seed. These štraits╗ have been called Terminator Technologies╗.


  • 74% of the plant-based medicines consumed in the United States are plant medicines developed and used by indigenous peoples. Pharmaceutical companies are going direct to indigenous communities and traditional healers to find the plants and traditional ways of using them, because they have a 60% greater chance of identifying pharmaceutical potential, than when they randomly screen plants. Source: Conservation International, website:

  • Just five companies Pharmacia (Monsanto and UpJohn), Syngenta (Novartis and AstraZeneca ag and crop divisions), Aventis (Hoechst and Rhone Poulenc), DuPont and Dow Chemical control 68% of the global agrochemical market and 20% of all seed trade worldwide. Source: Rural Advancement Foundation International

  • 90-95% of all species that ever lived are extinct. Crop diversity is eroding at a rate of around 2% per year. More than 34,000 species worldwide (12.5% of all the world╗s plant life) are facing extinction. Every higher-order plant that disappears takes at least 30 other species with it (insects, fungi, bacteria). Livestock diversity may be eroding at the rate of 5% yearly (6 breeds every month). The US has lost more than 80% of its vegetable seed varieties since 1904. In just 50 years, China has lost more than 90% of its traditional wheat varieties. Sources: Rural Advancement Foundation International, Worldwatch Institute

  • 97% of all patents are held by industrialized countries. Many of the world's major staple crops - corn, potato, soybeans, rice and wheat - were developed in the by indigenous peoples and rural communities. 65% of food crop varieties were developed by Native American farmers. Sources: ActionAid UK, Traditional Native American Farmers Association

For more info, contact:

Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism (IPCB)
PO Box 72, Nixon, Nevada 89424
(775) 574-0248


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