Palaces For The People
Saturday, October 25, 2003

GE enzyme found in NZ bread dough used in Japan


Japanese Subway chain stores have stopped selling sandwiches after discovering their New Zealand-made bread dough contains an unauthorised genetically engineered (GE) micro-organism.

The incident comes as the New Zealand Government prepares to lift its moratorium on GE material on Wednesday, which will allow people to apply for permission to use GE material outside a laboratory.

GE opponents in New Zealand have been swift to say the Subway case -- which comes soon after the July rejection by a Japanese pizza-maker of a consignment of GE sweetcorn grown in Gisborne -- was evidence the moratorium should not be lifted.

"To argue that this not a GE release and therefore has nothing to do with lifting the moratorium misses the point," Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said in a statement.

"This episode has everything to do with our lax regulatory systems. Lifting the moratorium will only increase the likelihood of this sort of thing happening more often."

The Japan Times reported Subway Japan stopped selling sandwiches on Friday after its import dealer -- Sumitomo Corp -- learned about the GE enzyme. Subway's website says it has 94 stores in Japan.

Subway reported the findings to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which was investigating the case.

"The officials said Subway used four types of frozen bread dough containing an enzyme not approved by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare," the Times reported.

The dough is made by Taranaki firm Yarrows. Paul Yarrow told the Sunday Star Times the company had removed the enzyme believed responsible for the contamination, and had not known it had been genetically modified.

Japan's Kyodo News quoted Subway's marketing department as saying the sandwich chain removed the dough as a precautionary measure, even though it posed no health risk. The department said the dough was in use in the United States and other countries.

Sumitomo Corp told Kyodo News it failed to spot the enzyme case as the bread dough was not mentioned as an ingredient during customs checks.

Ms Fitzsimons said New Zealand's reputation as a supplier of fresh, clean, safe food was "plummeting", and current food labelling laws -- under which food processing additives like enzymes don't have to be labelled -- meant New Zealanders did know whether they were eating GE material or not.


Quake-Damaged Reservoirs Threaten China City

Sunday, October 26, 2003 12:11 a.m. ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese workers, heading off a possible disaster in the northwestern Silk Road city of Zhangye, opened reservoir sluice gates on Sunday after earthquakes cracked the embankments, officials said.

Two quakes measuring 6.1 and 5.8 on the Richter scale rocked the province of Gansu on Saturday, killing four people and injuring eight, the officials and state media said on Sunday. The quakes jolted Minle and Shandan counties, near Zhangye, at 8:41 p.m. and 8:48 p.m. local time, destroying or damaging at least 3,000 houses, a seismological official told Reuters from Zhangye.

In the village of Yaozhaizi, Minle county, 90 percent of buildings had collapsed, he said.

"The widest crack is five cm (two inches), the official said, describing the dam embankments. "We were forced to open the sluice gates and let the water go, otherwise people in the city would be in danger."

Zhangye, with a population of 1.2 million, sits aside the Silk Road, which for centuries was the path of merchants between Europe and China, and is a popular tourist destination.

JUST A REMINDER THAT PALACES FOR THE PEOPLE ARE COMPLETELY FIREPROOF, and each one has a multimillion gallon cistern of firefighting water on the premises!

Calif. Fire Destroys More Than 200 Homes
California Wildfire Destroys More Than 200 Homes, Forces Thousands of People to Evacuate Area

The Associated Press

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. Oct. 25 — A wildfire leaped through dense housing tracts in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains on Saturday, destroying more than 200 homes, threatening 1,000 others and forcing thousands of people to flee under a sky thick with smoke and tinged orange-red by flames.

The fire, which erupted around 9 a.m. about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, was propelled by fierce Santa Ana winds as it devoured 10,000 acres of chaparral within hours, spreading to a 12-mile front. The blaze and an even larger wildfire nearby that burned at least 10 homes Saturday closed highways, cut off power to thousands and choked the region with heavy smoke and flaming ash.

The fires were among several major blazes in Southern California, fueled by high winds, low humidity and temperatures that climbed into the 90s....

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