Science in Society Archive

Summary compilation of recent Internet postings demonstrating global concern about genetic engineering

The main purpose of this compilation is to provide information on some of the worldwide concern about genetic engineering and its consequences for health, farming and the environment, given the uncertainty over the safety of the technology. Efforts range from regulations, moratoria, bans, GE-free zones to labelling requirements, on import, production and crop trials of GMOs. Action has been initiated at various levels, from the local community, local authorities, government departments, to national governments.

This document is in chronological order, with most recent first. As far as possible, links to original postings are given. Please be aware that the situation is constantly changing and this only provides a snapshot of efforts that have been taken, some of which are being currently challenged or may have been reversed. If you have any updates, corrections or additional information, do send them on to us! A summary table of this information is also available on this site.

Lim Li Ching 21 March 2002

Another Country Sets up GMO Restrictions

Date: 13 March 2002

Where: Philippines

Who: National government

What: Companies that import agricultural products to the Philippines will soon be required to issue certification stating whether or not those products contain GMOs. This certification program is part of a new set of guidelines covering GMOs to be issued soon.

How: Certification would be required from importers of soybeans, corn, potatoes and other potential GMO-containing crops being imported. The certification process will last for a prescribed period - possibly June 30, 2003 - until the country can conduct its own risk assessment of these crops.

Links: Biotech Activists,; source: newswires

4000 in bid to stop trials of GM crops

Date: 12 March 2002

Where: Scotland

Who: Local communities and campaigners

What: 12 GM trials have taken place in Scotland. Final planting of GM seeds is scheduled for next year.

How: A petition demanding an immediate stop to GM crop trials has been taken to the Scottish Parliament's Petitions Committee. More than 4000 protesters, including the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Charles Kennedy, urged Ministers to scrap all GM tests in Scotland. They are urging for a free vote in the Parliament on whether GM trials should be scrapped in Scotland.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; source: Evening Times

Tighter rules urged for French GM crop trials

Date: 11 March 2002

Where: France

Who: Group of experts (three 'wise men') commissioned by the agriculture and environment ministries

What: The French government has organised public debate on the future of GM field trials. This report recommends that French rules on outdoor trials of GM corps should be tightened.

How: Field trials should not take place until the usefulness of laboratory and greenhouse-based tests has been exhausted. The public and locally elected officials must be given a greater role in deciding how and when open-air field trials should take place. Distances between GM and conventional crops should be significantly increased, and measures to protect against transgenic pollination should remain in place long after trials are over.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; source: Environment Daily,; the report:


Date: 9 March 2002
Where: Newport, Scotland

Who: Local community

What: Crop trial of 22 acres of genetically modified oilseed rape in a field outside the town.
How: Public meeting, in which there was overwhelming approval for a motion rejecting sowing GM oilseed rape at Wester Friarton and calls for the Scottish Executive to refuse a licence to carry out the trial, with only three votes against.



Date: 9 March 2002
Where: Warwickshire, England

Who: Local community and campaigners

What: Concerns that safety procedures in place for GM trials are inadequate.

How: Direct action following a public meeting and march. Nearly 100 protesters ripped up parts of a field of GM oilseed rape in the village of Long Marston.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; sources:,

Conservationist says GM crops threat to diversity

Date: 8 March 2002

Where: n/a

Who: Yolanda Kakabadse, president of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and former environment minister of Ecuador

What: Says GM crops are threatening global diversity of animal and plant species and costing livelihoods. Fears that GM foods could harm humans.

How: Instead of introducing GM crops in developing countries, funds should be invested into bolstering production of local varieties, which would support communities and satisfy global demand.

Links: GENET-news archive:; source: Reuters


Date: 6 March 2002

Where: Vermont, USA

Who: Residents of 28 Vermont towns
What: Resolutions opposing the genetic engineering of food and crops

How: Votes at annual town meetings. Most resolutions called upon state legislators and the Vermont congressional delegation to support labelling of GE foods and seeds, as well as a moratorium on growing GE crops. Eight towns took steps toward ending the use of GE crops within their towns, either declaring a town moratorium or urging that the planting of GE seeds be actively discouraged.

Links: Biotech Activists,; contact: ISE Biotechnology Project


Date: 4 March 2002

Where: Brazil

Who: Jose Sarney Filho, Environment Minister of Brazil

What: The Brazilian government is appealing against an injunction that has blocked the planting and sale of GMOs for the past three years.

How: Letter saying that Environment and Health Ministries do not support the government's appeal, to federal judges who will vote on whether to lift the injunction. One of a three-strong panel of federal judges has already voted to overturn the injunction. However, a final decision will be delayed until at least March 15.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),

Stop the GM crop tests, says health chief

Date: 4 March 2002

Where: Fife, Scotland

Who: Charles Saunders, Chairman of the British Medical Association's public health committee and Consultant in public health for Fife Health Board

What: Environment Minister Ross Finnie is due to make a decision on the first GM crop site in Fife and two others in Aberdeenshire as part of Scotland's role in the UK farm scale evaluation programme.

How: Calls for end to the testing of GM crops until scientists can prove they are safe. The precautionary principle should be applied, and would therefore dictate that these trials should not be going ahead.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; source: The Herald

Freeing Scotland from GM

Date: 4 March 2002

Where: Munlochy, Scotland

Who: Local community

What: The Scottish Highlands community has been opposing their local GM field trial near Munlochy for the past two years.

How: A constant vigil (Munlochy GM Vigil) was set up at the site, which is now the focus of a movement to free Scotland from GM. A conference was held on 16 February to debate the issues. The Vigil has organised a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for an immediate end to GM trials in Scotland, and for a full parliamentary debate, with a free vote on GM crops in Scotland.

Links: Institute of Science in Society,

Labelling pact near for genetically modified food: But voluntary system inadequate, critics complain

Date: 4 March 2002

Where: Canada

Who: 53-member Canadian General Standards Committee on voluntary labelling, comprising members from a variety of agriculture, biotechnology, consumer, manufacturing and retail groups, plus representatives from federal and provincial governments

What: The committee is trying to agree a voluntary standard for labelling genetically engineered food.

How: If the committee can agree on a proposal, it would be sent to the Standards Council of Canada, which would decide whether to adopt it as national standard. Several environmental groups refused to participate on grounds the committee was "stacked" in favour of the biotechnology industry and because they oppose anything short of mandatory labels. The National Farmers Union said food products containing GM ingredients must be subject to clear, consistent, mandatory labelling.

Links: Biotech Activists,; source: Ottawa Citizen


Date: 28 February 2002

Where: Vermont, USA

Who: Non-profit farm and environment organizations

What: Resolutions opposing the genetic engineering of food and crops

How: Town to Town Campaign on Genetically Engineered Food and Crops
Links: Biotech Activists,; source: Farm News from Cropchoice,


Date: 28 February 2002
Where: Mexico City, Mexico

Who: 400 representatives of NGOs, environmentalists, social activists, academics and Indian authorities ranging from the Tzeltal nation on the southern border to the O'Odam people on the northern

What: Contamination of native maize by GM varieties threatens Mexico's maize diversity.

How: Under the banner of "The Defence of Maize" they gathered in late January to formulate a common defence and national strategy, which includes demands that the government shut the border to U.S. and Canadian corn, and for widespread testing in all corn-producing areas. The conference also called for the establishment of a network of seed banks throughout the country.

Links: GENET-news archive:; source: Now online edition, Vol. 21 (27), Canada,


Date: 27 February 2002

Where: Philippines

Who: Bureau of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture

What: All activities relating to genetically modified crops

How: Guidelines on the use of crops containing genetically modified organisms, covering field-testing, propagation, commercialization and importation of genetically engineered crops.

Links: GENET-news archive:


Date: 26 February 2002

Where: Mexico

Who: Mexican government - Interior Ministry (Secretaria de Gobernacion)

What: The Mexican government on Feb. 6 was cited as saying that it would penalize all parties who import transgenic crops and/or introduce them into the environment. Punishment includes imprisonment from 1-9 years and a fine from 300 to 3,000 times the minimum daily wage. Article 420 states that this punishment will be imposed on anyone who, in violation of previously established applicable regulations, introduces, commercializes, transports, stores, or releases into the environment any GMO that negatively alters or could negatively alter the components, structure, or function of natural ecosystems.

How: Modification to the Federal Penal Code, published in Mexico's "Diario Oficial" (Federal Register) on 6 February, 2002, effective 7 February 2002. However, enforcement of this law may be difficult.

Links: GENET-news archive:


Date: 22 February 2002

Where: Brazil

Who: Independent judiciary, NGOs, several state governments particularly Rio Grande do Sul, scientists

What: Federal government wants to approve GMOs and has introduced a bill in Congress to do so. It is appealing against an injunction forbidding GMOs until requisite studies on environmental and health risks are carried out.

How: Campaign for a GM-free Brazil. Three states, Rio Grande do Sul, Para and Mato Grosso are legislating for a moratorium, independently of the federal government.

Links: Institute of Science in Society,


Date: 22 February 2002

Where: Philippines

Who: Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG)

What: Demand for a legislative ban on GMOs

How: Forum with legislators, urging support of Bills that would prohibit field testing and entry and distribution of GMOs into and within the country, as well as mandatory labelling of GMO products

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Peasant Movement of the Philippines,

Responsible management of GMOs: Commission proposes EU Implementation of Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Date: 22 February 2002

Where: European Union

Who: European Commission
What: The European Commission has proposed a Regulation on the cross-border movements of

GMOs. The aim is to establish safeguards at international level for transfer, handling and use of GMOs, and facilitate EU implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

How: The proposal will implement into EU legislation the provisions of the Biosafety Protocol. Among other things, it will set rules for identification of GMOs for exports in line with the latest EU developments on Labelling and Traceability. In parallel, the Commission is preparing a Proposal for a Council decision that aims at ensuring the ratification of the Protocol by the EU.

Links: GENET-news archive:; source: EC Press Release,|0|RAPID&lg=EN

Regulation of Transgenic Plants Should Be Reinforced; Field Monitoring for Environmental Effects Is Needed

Date: 21 February 2002

Where: USA

Who: National Academies' National Research Council

What: The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), regulates transgenic plants, reviewing applications from biotech companies wishing to field-test new transgenic plants or petitioning to have a plant deregulated. Field-testing is largely approved through the "notification" process, whereby applicants notify APHIS that a plant meets general guidelines for not causing unwanted environmental effects. If the agency agrees, the plant can be grown while the company conducts further field-testing to rule out adverse environmental effects. There is no public or independent scientific input in this process, and no limit on acreage planted.

How: The USDA should more rigorously review potential environmental effects of new transgenic plants before commercial approval and involve the public in the review process. Ecological testing and monitoring should continue after transgenics enter the marketplace. Before making precedent-setting decisions regarding field-testing or deregulation, it should solicit broad external scientific and public review and convene a scientific advisory group before changing regulatory policy. It should increase the rigor of its analysis of pest resistance and impacts on non-target species.

Links: GENET-news archive:; source: The National Academy of Sciences,; Environmental Effects of Transgenic Plants: The Scope and Adequacy of Regulation:

Need To Re-Impose Interim Ban On Genetically Modified Foods

Date: 19 February 2002

Where: Sri Lanka

Who: Environmental Foundation Sri Lanka/Friends of the Earth

What: Regulations on Genetically Modified Foods, gazetted by the last government and due to come into force 1 May 2001 were suspended until 1 September 2001 to accord with WTO requirements. These regulations under the Food Act banning the import or commercial manufacture of GM foods have now been indefinitely suspended, as has the parallel requirement that certain imported foods should carry a certificate from a competent authority from the country of origin certifying that the food has not been genetically modified.

How: Lobbying the government of Sri Lanka (directed at the New Minister of Health) to re-impose the interim ban on GMOs.

Links: From:; information service facilitated by Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific:

Calvert concerned about GM wheat

Date: 19 February 2002

Where: Saskatchewan, Canada

Who: Lorne Calvert, Provincial Premier

What: Raised concerns about GM wheat and impacts on the organic sector (Saskatchewan has largest number of organic producers in Canada) and on exports. GM wheat hasn't been approved for commercial use in Canada, but is grown in test plots.

How: Suggests working closely with Agriculture Canada and the research side to be very careful. Says however that it is not within the provincial government's jurisdiction to ban the experimental crop from Saskatchewan, but under the federal government's jurisdiction.

Links: NLPWessex:; source:

Councils ban GM trials

Date: 14 February 2001

Where: Australia

Who: 30 local councils/ local governments

What: Rosalie Shire Council, in Queensland's Darling Downs food cradle, is the latest of about 30 local governments across the nation to pass a resolution declaring itself a GM-free zone.

How: Resolution declaring GM-free zones and banning GM crop trials. However, this cannot be enforced as they have no legislative backing from state governments. Local councils are pushing for alteration of state laws to allow official GM-free zones. Tasmania has introduced a two-year moratorium on GM crops. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has said that voluntary bans by local farmers are a preferable way of creating GM crop-free areas, rather than passing State laws.

Links: GENET-news archive:; source: The Australian,,5744,3772387%255E2702,00.html


Date: 12 February 2002

Where: South Africa

Who: The Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu)

What: Fawu deputy-general secretary William Thomas said that it was asking for debate on the issue with government and business at the National Economic, Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

How: Fawu is threatening to strike if talks with Nedlac to ban GM for five years fail.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; source: Business Day,,3523,1021039-6099-0,00.html

GM crops provide Stormont food for thought

Date: 12 February 2002

Where: Northern Irealand

Who: Environment Committee

What: Raised concern about the introduction of GM crops in the UK. Northern Ireland has had one GM experiment to date but no farm-scale evaluations.

How: One committee member raised the possibility of Northern Ireland being declared a GM-free zone.

Links: GENET-news archive:; source: Belfast Telegraph


Date: 7-9 February 2002

Where: New Hampshire, USA

Who: Panel of volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life

What: The Just Food Citizen Panel was created in response to concerns about GM foods. Ordinary citizens needed a way to develop an understanding of this technology and, based on this understanding, a way to contribute to public policy governing its use.

How: The panel participated in a 5-month learning process, involving extensive reading, intensive retreats and a two-day consultation with experts. Recommendations include effective regulation of GMOs, increasing federal funds for independent risk assessment, placing the onus on the applicant of GMO products to submit independent scientific data to demonstrate that their product will not cause harm, review and re-licensing of existing GMO crops, clear labelling of products that have GMOs, post-market/post-approval assessment of GMOs, assuring that organic and other farmers may farm without impingement from GMO agriculture, review and modify patent laws governing GMO technology, prohibit use of antibiotic resistant marker genes, consumer education regarding GMOs, and increased funding for research into agricultural systems that do not involve GMOs.



Date: 7 February 2002

Where: Sweden

Who: Swedish farmers

What: An opinion poll was conducted on a statistical sample of 1 000 farmers with over 20 hectares of arable land in December 2001.

How: The poll shows 77% of Swedish farmers will not consider growing GMO crops on their land. Answers vary slightly according to region, with small farm and animal farming regions more negative. Only 15% explicitly state that they are positive to growing GMOs.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),

Import of GM crops banned

Date: 31 January 2002
Where: Thailand

Who: National government - Agricultural Regulatory Division, Department of Agriculture

What: 37 GM crops are to be banned from entering the country except for scientific research. The Cabinet last year also forbid field tests of GM crops until the country has a biosafety law. Only research in laboratories and greenhouses is currently allowed.

How: The 37 crops will be put on the prohibited plant list under the 1964 Plant Quarantine Act. There are already 40 GM plant species on the prohibited list, which cannot be imported, whether in whole or in part, except for scientific experiments in quarantine conditions under the control of the National Biosafety Committee. Anyone wanting to import natural-born examples of the species has to show certification to guarantee that they are not GM plants.

Links: GENET-news archive:; source: The Nation, Thailand,

GM foods "still not proved to be safe"

Date: 31 January 2001

Where: France

Who: French food safety authority, Afssa

What: France is one of the strongest supporters of the EU moratorium on new GM crop approvals, in operation since 1998. It argues that authorisations should not restart until planned rules on labelling and traceability of GM foods is in place.

How: Afssa says that long-term potential health risks posed by GM material in food require further investigation before commercialisation, and that current safety testing for GM foods is insufficient. Research into the impacts of prolonged exposure is needed, with emphasis on identifying risks of gradual development of allergic reactions. Existing testing procedures designed to identify acute toxicity should be complemented by tests for "subchronic" toxicity.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin):; source: Environment Daily 31/1/02

Activists Oppose Promotion of Genetically Modified Products From U.S.

Date: 25 January 2002

Where: South Korea:

Who: Local environmentalists, including Green Korea United, the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement and Women's Link.

What: While visiting the South Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. trade officials were said to have requested the South Korean government to ease labelling restrictions on imported GMO products by raising the adventitious threshold level to 5% from the current 3%.

How: South Korean food safety laws state that when bioengineered food ingredients exceed more than 3% of a product, then it must be labelled as containing GMOs. Local environmentalists held a rally in front of the KFDA building demanding that U.S. trade officials stop pressuring South Korea to ease regulations on GMOs.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; source: Korea Times

Italy Says Will Not Tolerate GM Seed Contamination

Date: 24 January 2002

Where: Italy

Who: National government - Farm Minister Giovanni Alemanno

What: Italy will not tolerate the accidental contamination of seeds with genetic material. EU countries have imposed a moratorium on imports of biotech food, but tolerating up to 1% level of GMOs.

How: 'Zero tolerance' policy. Needs investment of at least 50 million euros in customs and other controls to guarantee seeds are free of genetic material.

Links: GENET-news archive:; source: Reuters

Mayor threatens suit vs agri firm for defying moratorium

Date: 19 January 2002

Where: Barangay Alinguigan 2nd, Philippines

Who: Mayor Delfinito Albano and local council

What: Monsanto-Philippines has defied a local council moratorium on the field trials of Bt-corn in the town. It claims that the field trials have been approved by the National Committee on Biosafety.

How: Monsanto-Philippines has been asked to stop the tests and uproot the Bt-corn plants. If the firm ignores the local government's requests, they will file a case against it for defying the moratorium.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; source: Philippine Inquirer

Croatia set to ban GM food production

Date: 15 January 2002

Where: Croatia

Who: National government - Environment Ministry

What: A 1998 parliament resolution called for a ban of GMO food. The U.S. government asked the Environment Ministry to revise its course of action or face possible consequences within the WTO.

How: Croatia is drafting legislation to ban production and limit imports of food containing GMOs. They are aiming to ban production, but may allow imports of food containing a small percentage of genetically manipulated ingredients. The minimum requirement is for labelling.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),


Date: 10 January 2002

Where: China

Who: National government - Ministry of Agriculture

What: First statute on GMOs enacted in June 2001 to protect people, animals and the environment while pushing agro-biotechnology research.

How: Safety certification process on GMOs entering China for research, production and processing. Imports lacking safety certificates and relevant papers will be returned or destroyed. All genetically altered soy beans, corn, rapeseed, cotton seed and tomatoes are to be clearly labelled as GMO products after March 20. However, the US has recently won concessions for an interim arrangement that would allow trade to continue.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; source: China Daily,


Date: 8 December 2001

Where: Aotearoa/New Zealand

Who: National Maori Hui on GE

What: Maori urged to protest against GE, exercising their exclusive right under the Treaty of Waitangi How: Political campaign, direct action

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),

South Korea will import 300,000 tonnes of non- genetically modified soybeans from China each year

Date: 11 December 2001

Where: South Korea

Who: National government

What: South Korea aims to import 300,000 tonnes of non-GM soybeans from China each year, starting 2002.

How: Chinese exporters will be required to provide non-GMO certificates provided by China's Inspection and Quarantine authorities. South Korea started labelling of GM corn, soybeans and bean sprouts in March 2001. The National Agricultural Product Quality Management Service is in charge of assessing GMOs in these products. The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) is in charge of labelling GMO processed food products, and the Agriculture Ministry, labelling agricultural products with GMOs. Fines of up to 10 million won ($8,636) will be proposed for GMO produce without proper labels. Those guilty of false labelling face a maximum three-year prison sentence or 30 million won fine.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),

Mexican Congress to Fox: "Ban GM corn"

Date: 6 December 2001

Where: Mexico

Who: Mexican Congress

What: Following the discovery of transgenic material in wild corn in Oaxaca, fears abound that GM corn would threaten the genetic integrity of Mexico's crops and its food supply.

How: The Mexican Congress demanded that President Vicente Fox ban the importation of GM corn. The Senate has demanded access to the results of Agriculture's Secretariat's study of the affected corn in Oaxaca as well as advances in the creation of the federal commission for biosecurity.

Links: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),; source:,

Thousands in New Zealand Pledge to Stop GE Field Trials

Date: 31 October 2001

Where: Aotearoa/New Zealand

Who: Maori, local communities

What: The government announced on 30 October 2001 that it would allow GE field trials.

How: Non-violent direct action, anti-GE marches, civil disobedience, environmentally-responsible trial destruction ('Green Gloves') targeting direct releases into the environment.


Prajateerpu: A Citizens' Jury / Scenario Workshop on Food Futures for Andhra Pradesh, India

Date: 25 June - 1 July 2001

Where: Andra Pradesh (AP), India

Who: Representatives of small and marginal farmers from AP, small traders and food processors and consumers. Most jury members were small and marginal farmers and indigenous ('adivasi') people. Over two thirds of jury members were women.

What: The State of AP is currently re-thinking its approach to farming, land use and marketing. Its vision of the future of the State's food system is embodied in 'Vision 2020'. Whilst it proposes fundamental, profound transformations of the food system, there has been little or no involvement of small farmers and rural people in shaping this.

How: Through participatory means and deliberative democracy i.e. citizens' jury on food and farming futures. The jury were presented with three different scenarios. It was up to them to decide which of the three would provide them with the best opportunities to enhance their livelihoods, food security and environment in the future. Key conclusions were a desire for food and farming, for self reliance and community control over resources, maintenance of healthy soils, diverse crops, trees and livestock, and building indigenous knowledge, practical skills and local institutions. They opposed, among other things, GM Crops, including Vitamin A rice & Bt cotton.

Links: International Institute for Environment and Development: ; Institute of Development Studies Environment Group:

Article first published 21/3/02

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