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Genetic Engineering
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December 1999

Genetic Engineering News from Across the U.S.

Recent Breakthroughs

During the past two months, the genetic engineering (GE) debate in the U.S. has taken on an entirely new flavor, thanks to several key events that have transformed press coverage and public sentiment:

  • Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s largest banks, advised the international investment community to sell its shares in companies developing genetically engineered organisms.
  • Consumer Reports published an in-depth assessment of GE foods that recommended mandatory labeling, mandatory federal human-safety review before marketing, and legal responsibility by industry for economic or biological damage resulting from GE crops.
  • The American Corn Growers Association and the National Farm Coalition stepped forward to encourage farmers to grow non-GE crops. Archer Daniels Midland, one of the largest U.S. processors and exporters of grain, began offering American farmers a premium on non-GE crops.
  • A multimillion-dollar antitrust suit was announced against biotech companies, including Monsanto, Novartis, and DuPont, by a global coalition of farmers and food safety groups. The suit claims that these companies are using genetic engineering technologies to gain global control of agricultural markets.

These events have helped turn the national tide in favor of caution towards GE foods.


July 1999 marked the birth of the Genetic Engineering Action Network USA (GEAN USA), a significant new coalition of dozens of American organizations devoted to securing mandatory labeling and pre-market safety testing of all GE foods. The coalition’s initial organizational meeting took place at Commonweal in Bolinas, California, inspired by the desire of several large foundations to start funding activities that would bring caution and common sense into the U.S. GE debate. Laura Ticciati, Executive Director of Mothers for Natural Law, was appointed to the National Steering Committee for GEAN and is currently working with other coalition members on several legislative initiatives on Capitol Hill.

GE Summits

On September 30 in Los Angeles, over 350 people attended our highly successful, invitation-only genetic engineering symposium for the entertainment industry. The Summit was co-hosted by Mothers for Natural Law and Ed Begley, Jr., Nancy and Jim Chuda, Stephen Collins, Susanne and Greg Daniels, Bill Duke, Cami and Howard Gordon, Doug and Debby Henning, Kelly Chapman Meyer, Donna Mills, Olivia Newton-John, Patricia Richardson, Roseanne, and Vincent Spano. This symposium featured panelists Omer Rains, retired California state senator and specialist in international finance and law; Mary Sue Milliken, Food Network’s host of TV’s Too Hot Tamales; Phil La Rocca, president of California Certified Organic Farmers; Rabbi David Baron, Jewish scholar and author; and Dr. Harvey Karp and Nancy and Jim Chuda, nationally recognized experts on children’s environmental health. The compelling, insightful, and powerful comments from these speakers stunned and inspired the audience and gave rise to a whole new wave of national activity.

Only a week later, on October 8, special guest speaker U.S. Representative David E. Bonior (D-Mich.), Democratic Whip in the U.S. Congress, highlighted our GE Summit at Michigan State University in Troy. Rep. Bonior, joined via telephone by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), announced the launch of a bipartisan congressional sign-on letter to FDA Commissioner Jane Henney asking for mandatory labeling and safety testing of genetically engineered foods. This unprecedented congressional initiative heralds the beginning of a significant, coordinated GE effort on Capitol Hill.

These two summits were made possible by contributions from private donors and two of our most treasured and committed friends: Eden Foods and Whole Foods Market.

These Fall 1999 Summits will serve as a foundation for many more throughout the country in 2000, beginning with a New York Summit early next year and a Chicago Summit in February.

How You Can Help

The Natural Law Party is committed to bringing the GE issue to the forefront of the 2000 elections. Our top priority is to get on the ballot in every state and to sponsor candidates in every congressional district. From this highly publicized platform, we will hold every candidate running for local, state, and federal office accountable on the GE issue. There are many ways you can help us:

  • You can help get the Natural Law Party on the ballot in your district and state.
  • You can run for office!
  • You can help someone else run for office!
  • If you prefer to take a back seat, you can always write us a check so we can do the work for you!

Call our genetic engineering hotline for details at 800-332-0000, ext.118.

Above all, stand up and be counted. It’s time to send a clear message to the American food industry and our nation’s leaders—we demand mandatory labeling and safety testing of genetically engineered foods. And in this election cycle, we will make sure we achieve these goals.

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