“When the Supreme Court unanimously sided with Monsanto recently, it upheld the company’s right to prohibit the replanting of patented seed – handing the biotech giant a major victory. The court ruled that the doctrine of ‘patent exhaustion,’ which an Indiana farmer argued should apply after the first sale of patented seed, ‘does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission.’
“‘It’s not surprising the court ruled in Monsanto’s favor. Still, the case had merit: The farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, wasn’t challenging Monsanto’s claims that he knowingly planted seed with its protected genetics. Instead, he challenged the way patent law is currently applied to self-replicating products – a worthy effort, considering the injustices patents on seed have sown across America.
“It’s relatively well understood that simply using seed with patented genetics – especially widely planted genetically engineered varieties, such as Roundup Ready soybeans – enters the user into a restrictive licensing agreement. Farmers sign these agreements at the time of sale, which includes a prohibition on planting more than one crop. The seed packaging also states that simply opening the bag binds the user to the agreement.
“But Bowman thought that by purchasing soybean seed from a grain elevator he had found a legal way to plant seed from subsequent generations. He assumed the seed contained patented genetics but argued that the patent exhaustion doctrine allowed him to plant them anyway. Nevertheless, the Federal Circuit Court ruled, and the Supreme Court agreed, that Mr. Bowman must pay Monsanto more than $80,000.” …
“The Seralini GMO Study – Retraction and Response to Critics,” Steven Novella, December 4, 2013;
“Elsevier has announced that they are retracting the infamous Seralini study which claimed to show that GMO corn causes cancer in laboratory rats. The retraction comes one year after the paper was published, and seems to be a response to the avalanche of criticism the study has faced. This retraction is to the anti-GMO world what the retraction of the infamous Wakefield Lancet paper was to the anti-vaccine world.
“The Seralini paper was published in November 2012 in Food and Chemical Toxicology. It was immediately embraced by anti-GMO activists, and continues to be often cited as evidence that GMO foods are unhealthy. It was also immediately skewered by skeptics and more objective scientists as a fatally flawed study.
“The study looked at male and female rats of the Sprague-Dawley strain of rat – a strain with a known high baseline incidence of tumors. These rats were fed regular corn mixed with various percentages of GMO corn: zero (the control groups), 11, 22, and 33%. Another group was fed GMO corn plus glyphosate (Round-Up) in their water, and a third was given just glyphosate. The authors concluded:
“‘The results of the study presented here clearly demonstrate that lower levels of complete agricultural glyphosate herbicide formulations, at concentrations well below officially set safety limits, induce severe hormone-dependent mammary, hepatic and kidney disturbances. Similarly, disruption of biosynthetic pathways that may result from overexpression of the EPSPS transgene in the GM NK603 maize can give rise to comparable pathologies that may be linked to abnormal or unbalanced phenolic acids metabolites, or related compounds. Other mutagenic and metabolic effects of the edible GMO cannot be excluded.’” … (Note: The Seralini study intentionally used the same protocols Monsanto uses but extended the study from 90 days to the full two year lifespan of the rats. As the study notes, nothing was revealed in 90 days, but adverse impacts were beginning to be noted in the fourth month of the study.)
“GMO labeling would begin in July 2016, according to Senate version,” Hilary Niles, vtdigger.org, April 4, 2014;
“Vermont lawmakers are poised to ‘boldly go where no other state has gone before,’ Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, said Thursday before casting his vote for an unprecedented food-labeling law.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee gave H.112 unanimous approval Thursday. The bill would require the labeling of food made with genetically modified ingredients sold in Vermont.
“Vermont will not wait for more states to adopt similar laws before it moves ahead with GMO labeling.” …
“Toxic Combo of Roundup and Fertilizers Blamed for Tens of Thousands of Deaths,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, April 8, 2014;
“The public’s appreciation of the toxicity of glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto’s broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup—is still limited, despite highly damning research being published.
“The fact that Monsanto marketed Roundup as ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘biodegradable’ probably has a lot to do with this general lack of insight.
“More people are apt to remember the Roundup commercial than recall the fact that Monsanto was twice found guilty of false advertising of this herbicide. In 2009, a French court again upheld these earlier convictions.
“Mounting evidence shows that glyphosate is far more toxic than anyone previously suspected, both alone and in combination with other additives (as in the case of Roundup), or in combination with other agricultural chemicals and/or heavy metals.
“Dr. Donald Huber, one of the premier plant pathologists in the US, views it far more toxic than DDT. They are spraying nearly one billion pounds every year on our food crops. That is enough glyphosate to fill 4,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.
“Most recently, what’s being referred to as ‘an epidemic’ of chronic kidney disease—a mysterious form of toxic nephropathy—striking down farmers in Sri Lanka, India, and Central America’s Pacific coastline (El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica), has now been traced back to Roundup in combination with contaminated fertilizer.
“As reported by Lanka Business Online1: ‘Chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) first appeared in Sri Lanka’s rice growing areas in the north central province in the 1990s and has been spreading into other areas including the South, with over 20,000 estimated deaths so far.’ According to estimates by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some 20,000 American farm workers are also being poisoned on the job each year.” ...
“Corporate Clout Chips Away at Organic Standards,” Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association, News Analysis, April 8, 2014;
Photograph via Shutterstock
“The Organic Consumers Association has a long history of defending the integrity of organic standards.
“Last September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), under pressure from corporate interests represented by the Organic Trade Association, made our job harder.
“They also made it more important than ever for consumers to do their homework, even when buying USDA certified organic products.
“Without any input from the public, the USDA changed the way the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) decides which non-organic materials are allowed in certified organic. The change all but guarantees that when the NOSB meets every six months, the list of non-organic and synthetic materials allowed in organic will get longer and longer.
“The USDA’s new rule plays to the cabal of the self-appointed organic elite who want to degrade organic standards and undermine organic integrity. For consumers, farmers, co-ops and businesses committed to high organic standards, the USDA’s latest industry-friendly move is a clarion call to fight back against the corporate-led, government-sanctioned attack on organic standards.” ...
“Is Roundup Weedkiller A Brain-Damaging Neurotoxin?” Sayer Ji, March 21st 2014;
“A new study reveals a hitherto unknown mechanism behind how the world’s most popular GMO herbicide harms the brain.
“Remarkably, despite Roundup® herbicide’s widespread approval around the world, the most basic mechanisms through which it exerts toxicity towards non-target animal species (including humans) have yet to be adequately characterized.
“Concerned about Brazil’s status as the largest global consumer of pesticides since 2008, researchers sought to elucidate toxicologic effects of these agrochemicals in humans.
“Their new study, published in the journal Toxicology, provides a proposed mechanism for the adverse neurological effects of Roundup® (a glyphosate-based herbicide). It is has been observed that agrochemical exposure can lead to, or accelerate, neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. However, lacking a mechanism of action, such a link can more easily be written off as coincidental; which is largely the position of the medical establishment, agricultural industry, and its would-be regulators. The authors point out that, ‘neurodegenerative conditions are frequently associated with glutamatergic excitotoxicity and oxidative stress,’ which is why they decided to investigate the subject further.
“Titled, ‘Mechanisms underlying the neurotoxicity induced by glyphosate-based herbicide in immature rat hippocampus: Involvement of glutamate excitotoxicity,’ the paper tested the neurotoxicity of Roundup® in the hippocampus of immature rats following acute exposure (30 minutes) and chronic (pregnancy and lactation) exposure.
“The results found that acute exposure to Roundup® induces calcium influx into neurons (primarily, by activating NMDA receptors and voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels), leading to oxidative stress and neural cell death. They also found that the herbicide affected the enzymes ERK and CaMKII, the later of which is an enzyme whose dysregulation has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, acute exposure was observed to have the following three effects:
• Increase the amino acid glutamate into the junctions through which neurons communicate (synaptic cleft), which, when released in excess levels, can exert excitotoxic/neurotixc effects in neurons.
• Decrease the neuroprotective antioxidant glutathione.
• Increase ‘brain rancidity,’ i.e. lipoperoxidation, characterized by excitotoxicity (over-stimulation of the neurons) and oxidative damage.
“The summarization of their results, looking at the effects of both acute and chronic exposure, were reported as follows:
‘Taken together, these results demonstrated that Roundup® might lead to excessive extracellular glutamate levels and consequently to glutamate excitotoxicity and oxidative stress in rat hippocampus.’
“Roundup-induced glutamate excitotoxicity appears to share similar effects to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame-linked excitotoxicity, and indicating that anyone either prone to, or suffering from, a brain or neurological condition involving increased oxidative stress and/or neuronal excitotoxicity (pathological or excessive nerve cell stimulation) should be even more wary to reduce exposure to this unfortunately ubiquitous environmental and food contaminant.
“The authors also pointed out that their study found maternal exposure to Roundup® resulted in the offspring being exposed to the herbicide because it crosses the placental barrier during gestation and/or it is passed to them through the breast milk. They caution:
‘Exposure to environmental toxicants during pregnancy and suckling periods has the potential to affect embryo and fetal development.’
“This is not the first time that concerns have been raised about Roundup’s unique contraceptive and birth defect causing properties.” …
Toxicology Volume 320, 5 June 2015, Pages 34–45;
“Mechanisms underlying the neurotoxicity induced by glyphosate-based herbicide in immature rat hippocampus: Involvement of glutamate excitotoxicity,” Daiane Cattani, Vera Lúcia de Liz Oliveira Cavalli, Carla Elise Heinz Rieg, Juliana Tonietto Domingues, Tharine Dal-Cim, Carla Inês Tasca, Fátima Regina Mena Barreto Silva, Ariane Zamoner;
•Roundup® induces Ca2+ influx through L-VDCC and NMDA receptor activation.
•The mechanisms underlying Roundup® neurotoxicity involve glutamatergic excitotoxicity.
•Kinase pathways participate in Roundup®-induced neural toxicity.
•Roundup® alters glutamate uptake, release and metabolism in hippocampal cells.
Abstract: Previous studies demonstrate that glyphosate exposure is associated with oxidative damage and neurotoxicity. Therefore, the mechanism of glyphosate-induced neurotoxic effects needs to be determined. The aim of this study was to investigate whether Roundup® (a glyphosate-based herbicide) leads to neurotoxicity in hippocampus of immature rats following acute (30 min) and chronic (pregnancy and lactation) pesticide exposure. Maternal exposure to pesticide was undertaken by treating dams orally with 1% Roundup® (0.38% glyphosate) during pregnancy and lactation (till 15-day-old). Hippocampal slices from 15 day old rats were acutely exposed to Roundup® (0.00005–0.1%) during 30 min and experiments were carried out to determine whether glyphosate affects 45Ca2+ influx and cell viability. Moreover, we investigated the pesticide effects on oxidative stress parameters, 14C-α-methyl-amino-isobutyric acid (14C-MeAIB) accumulation, as well as glutamate uptake, release and metabolism. Results showed that acute exposure to Roundup® (30 min) increases 45Ca2+ influx by activating NMDA receptors and voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels, leading to oxidative stress and neural cell death. The mechanisms underlying Roundup®-induced neurotoxicity also involve the activation of CaMKII and ERK. Moreover, acute exposure to Roundup® increased 3H-glutamate released into the synaptic cleft, decreased GSH content and increased the lipoperoxidation, characterizing excitotoxicity and oxidative damage. We also observed that both acute and chronic exposure to Roundup® decreased 3H-glutamate uptake and metabolism, while induced 45Ca2+ uptake and 14C-MeAIB accumulation in immature rat hippocampus. Taken together, these results demonstrated that Roundup® might lead to excessive extracellular glutamate levels and consequently to glutamate excitotoxicity and oxidative stress in rat hippocampus.”
“Dutch Parliament Bans Glyphosate Herbicides for Non-Commercial Use,” Sustainable Pulse, April 4, 2014;
“From the end of 2015 onward the sale of Glyphosate -based herbicides to private persons, including the World’s number one herbicide ‘Roundup’, will be prohibited in the Netherlands over health fears.
“Glyphosate is an ingredient of Roundup, which is sold to private persons as a weed control product. The Dutch Lower House gave consent to a motion by Dutch Member of Parliament Esther Ouwehand, which prohibits the sale of glyphosate to private individuals.
“Glyphosate is increasingly associated with health problems such as infertility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system, Parkinson’s disease and several forms of cancer. In addition to health risks for humans, the usage of chemical pesticides can also lead to loss of biodiversity and difficulties with purifying drinking water.” …
“World’s Number 1 Herbicide Discovered in U.S. Mothers’ Breast Milk,” Sustainable Pulse, April 6, 2014;
“Pilot study shows build-up of glyphosate herbicide in Mothers’ bodies
“Urine testing shows glyphosate levels over 10 times higher than in Europe
“Initial testing shows Monsanto and Global regulatory bodies are wrong regarding bio-accumulation of glyphosate, leading to serious public health concerns
“Testing commissioners urge USDA and EPA to place temporary ban on all use of Glyphosate-based herbicides to protect public health, until further more comprehensive testing of glyphosate in breast milk is completed.
“In the first ever testing on glyphosate herbicide in the breast milk of American women, Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse have found ‘high’ levels in 3 out of the 10 samples tested. The shocking results point to glyphosate levels building up in women’s bodies over a period of time, which has until now been refuted by both global regulatory authorities and the biotech industry.
“The levels found in the breast milk testing of 76 ug/l to 166 ug/l are 760 to 1600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides. They are however less than the 700 ug/l maximum contaminant level (MCL) for glyphosate in the U.S., which was decided upon by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) based on the now seemingly false premise that glyphosate was not bio-accumulative.” …
“Brazil’s Federal Public Prosecutor Requests Total Ban of Glyphosate Herbicides,” Sustainable Pulse, March 26 2014;
“The Brazilian Federal Public Prosecutor in the Federal District has requested the Justice Department to suspend the use of glyphosate – the most widely used herbicide in Brazil. In addition, the prosecutor wants to challenge 2,4-D and the active ingredients methyl parathion, lactofem, phorate, carbofuran, abamectin, tiram and paraquat. Source: www.agrolink.com.br/noticias/minist–233-rio-p–250-blico-quer-proibir-uso-do-glifosato_193190.html
“Two actions have been filed. ‘The first measure seeks to compel the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) to reevaluate the toxicity of eight active ingredients suspected of causing damage to human health and the environment. On another front, the agency questions the registration of pesticides containing 2,4-D herbicide, applied to combat broadleaf weeds,’ explains the prosecutor on his website.
“The two actions request a preliminary injunction whereby the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) would suspend the registration of the products until a final conclusion about their toxicity is reached by ANVISA.
“In the civil lawsuit contesting the registration of the herbicide 2,4-D, the prosecutor asks that the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio) is prohibited from releasing the commercialization of transgenic seeds resistant to these herbicides pending a final position by ANVISA.
“This news comes as another huge blow to the biotech industry, following as it does last week’s ruling by Brazil’s Federal Appeals Court that unanimously decided to cancel the release for cultivation of Bayer’s Liberty Link GM Maize.” …
“Vladimir Putin: Russia Must Protect Its Citizens from GMOs,” Sustainable Pulse, March 28 2014;
“Russia must protect its citizens from the use of foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and this can be done in compliance with the country’s obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), Russian President Vladimir Putin stated Thursday.
“‘We need to properly construct our work so that it is not contrary to our obligations under the WTO. But even with this in mind, we nevertheless have legitimate methods and instruments to protect our own market, and above all citizens,’ said Putin at a meeting with members of the Board of the Russian Federation Council.
“He stressed that the market and citizens should be protected from substandard products. The consumption of these products continues until people see the consequences.” …
“China Destroys Illegal GM Crop Trials on Hainan Island,” Sustainable Pulse, April 1 2014;
“Hainan Island has destroyed genetically modified corn and cotton crops which were planted in illegal trials in 2013,” Hinews.cn reported on Monday.
“The Hainan provincial agricultural department confirmed on Monday that it checked the Hainan’s Sanya, Lingshui and Ledong cities and counties from December 23 to 27, 2013, and examined 107 crop samples, from which it identified and destroyed nine corn and cotton genetically modified crop trials. There are also six suspect samples waiting on further inspection and verification.
“The department stressed that any genetically modified crop trials without prior permission are banned and those who conduct such trials will be punished in accordance with the relevant law.
“China is currently getting tougher on GM Crops, with public opinion in the country being firmly against the biotech industry.
“In December 2013, police from Huaihua city in Central China’s Hunan province, busted a suspected GM corn seeds smuggling ring, the National Business Daily reported.
“The seeds of ”US golden corn“, allegedly smuggled since 2003 from Hong Kong and Thailand, caused 200 acres of corn to fail last year in the Tongdao county of Huaihua according to local officials.
“The smuggled corn seeds were reported to be from Monsanto and Syngenta varieties.” … (Note: As closely as Monsanto tracks the buyers of its seeds, it would be unlikely that the seeds could have gone to China without Monsanto being aware of the likelihood or the intention.)
“Monsanto Request Removal of Mexican Judge over GM Maize Ban,” Sustainable Pulse, April 9, 2014;
“Monsanto have (has) requested the removal of an Appeals Court Judge in Mexico, who ruled against them in the ongoing legal battle on the prohibition of GM Maize in the country.
“On February 28th, Monsanto made an official request for the removal of Judge Jaime Manuel Marroquin Zaleta from the court case that has already made 2 rulings to ban GM Maize cultivation in Mexico. …
“Monsanto have accused Judge Marroquin Zaleta of stating his opinion on the case before sentencing.
“In December, Judge Marroqun Zaleta threw out the appeals of Mexico’s SEMARNAT (Environment and Natural Resources Ministry), and Monsanto, who were attempting to overturn a September court ruling that banned the planting of GM maize in Mexico.
“Rene Sanchez Galindo, the attorney for the group Acción Colectiva, stated Wednesday that, ‘the accusation against a Federal Judge by a multinational company, which has been questioned for lying to the world’s population with misleading information about the damage their products cause , and whose employees occupy high positions in governments around the globe; is tantamount to granting a merit badge to the Judge.’” …
“Organic Pioneers Share Thoughts on How to Save Your Life and the Earth by Making the Right Choices,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, April 6, 2014;
“Will Allen, owner of Cedar Circle Farm in Vermont, has spent the last 14 years pioneering a process where a relatively small farming community feeds thousands of locals, and teaches them about organic urban agriculture. He is widely recognized as a pioneer in the organic agriculture movement.
“I visited Will’s farm in Vermont last year just prior to attending the BioChar conference. We did the interview at his farm. Their community-supported agriculture (CSA) program has 200 households in it during the summer, and another 100 households join their fall program.
“‘When we first started out, we decided that it’s going to be an educational farm because most of the farmers right now are not producing young farmers,” he says. “We’re trying to train the next generation of farmers and trying to change farming by training that generation to be organic and community-focused…
“‘We have several young people and middle-aged people who got trained here and who are now running their own farms. We put them through a program where they have to be here two or three years. But they get paid a regular salary; it’s not like an apprentice program,’ he says.
“His farm sells produce within a 50-mile radius, and his customers include local restaurants, co-ops, and farmer’s markets. Well over 1,000 children visit the farm each year, and the farm even runs a farm-to-school program with the local grammar school and high school. There’s also a backyard garden program, where budding gardeners can learn the tricks of the trade.” …
“The rise of GMO corn has cost grain companies $427M, report says,” April 11 2014;
“China’s rejection of genetically modified corn is becoming a big problem for exporters: In the first full tally of the impact, a U.S. grain industry group says the rejected shipments have totaled ~1.45M metric tons, far more than the 545K tons China has reported and the 900K tons that has circulated in news media.
“The rejected shipments have cost grain companies $427M from lost sales and reduced prices for China-bound shipments that must be resold elsewhere, and has affected the price of corn and soybeans, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for farmers.” …
“Gut-Wrenching New Studies Reveal the Insidious Effects of Glyphosate,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, April 15, 2014;
“Increasing exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, may be at least partially to blame for rising rates of numerous chronic diseases in Westernized societies, according to recent research.
“The finding, published in Entropy,1 has ramifications for virtually every man, woman and child in developed nations, as this pesticide is widely used on both conventional and, especially, genetically modified (GM) crops (to the tune of more than one billion pounds sprayed in the US alone).
“If you eat processed foods, most of which are made with GM corn and soy ingredients, you’re consuming glyphosate residues, probably in each and every bite. Knowing this, and the fact that tests show people in 18 countries across Europe already have glyphosate in their bodies, the following news should leave you very, very concerned… if not compelled to take action against this health-endangering chemical.” …
“Too Important for Clever Titles—Scientific Study Says We Are an Oligarchy (Update),” April 14, 2014
“We like to assert that Daily Kos is a reality-based community. At the very least we surely do not deny science. A new study appearing at Princeton’s website may test these assumptions for some of us here. For others, it will be grim vindication of what we already know: the United States of America is no longer a democracy, but rather an oligarchy.
“The anecdotes are plentiful, from modest gun control proposals that saw 90% public support, to unemployment compensation, to infrastructure spending, to women’s rights; where a plurality exists even across party lines, the median public interest seems to hold no sway in policy making. Now science has proven this to be correct:
“‘The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.’
“Distilled down into simple terms: The U.S.A. is now provably an oligarchy; we are a democracy in name only. DINO, as in dinosaur... As in extinct.... Has the acronym ever been more pathetically poignant?
“The authors of this study, which will appear in the Fall issue of of the academic journal Perspective on Politics, are Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University. The findings are shocking, but should surprise none. The progressive website Common Dreams (www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/14) today posted an article on the study and pulls this deeply disturbing nugget from the study.
“‘...the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.’” …
“Crop Contamination Takes its Toll on non-GM and Organic Farmers,” Shicana Allen, IRT News Team in Spilling the Beans Newsletter, April 13, 2014;
“Genetic drift, or the spread of genetically modified DNA into the environment, is now reaching near epidemic proportions. In addition, the advent of herbicide-resistant plants like Roundup Ready soy and corn has guaranteed that there are also multiple amounts of poisons to go around, as chemical drift from conventional GMO crops to neighboring organic fields is also spreading by leaps and bounds.
“From the start, contamination of organic and non-transgenic crops has been of utmost concern, hence the sentiment that the unpredictable offspring of biotechnology—once released—cannot be recalled into the laboratory. Now these fears are being realized. According to a new survey and subsequent report (conducted by Food & Water Watch and OFARM, the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing):
“One-third of organic farmers in the United States have been adversely impacted, experiencing problems in their fields due to the nearby use of genetically modified crops.
“Consequently, more than half of these growers have experienced loads of grain being rejected due to unwitting contamination.
“Of those who participated in the survey, 80% of farmers expressed concern over the situation, with 60% admitting they were ‘very concerned.’” …
“Russia Rejects GMOs, Will Grow Organic Food Instead,” admin in Spilling the Beans Newsletter, April 13, 2014;
“Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.
“Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday.
“‘If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,’ he said.
“The prime minister said he ordered widespread monitoring of the agricultural sector. He added that despite rather strict restrictions, a certain amount of GMO products and seeds have made it to the Russian market.” …
“Center for Food Safety Sues the Usda for Release of Missing Documents to Explain Suspicious GMO Alfalfa Approval,” Shicana Allen, IRT News Team in Spilling the Beans Newsletter, April 13, 2014;
“On March 13, 2014, the nonprofit Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit against the USDA, demanding the release of nearly 1200 federal documents from its Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The official pages would detail the agency’s decision-making process in a very puzzling change of heart on genetically engineered alfalfa. For several years, the Center has sought to uncover the true reasons for the USDA’s abrupt, unexplained abandonment of its negative position regarding this fourth most widely grown crop in the United States, third in terms of value, and key feedstock for the dairy industry. Alfalfa is also widely used in nutritional and herbal supplements and medicines for humans.
“Back in January 2011, APHIS suddenly granted biotech giant Monsanto a full unrestricted approval to sell Roundup Ready seeds. Although CFS originally filed a Freedom of Information Act request that same month for release of said documents, the government agency has for years now ignored and illegally withheld the printed pages from public view, without explanation. The recent filing acts as yet another attempt to compel APHIS to fulfill its court-ordered obligation.
“Although the USDA originally granted permission for Monsanto’s alfalfa in 2005, a vocal coalition of public interest groups and farmers challenged the agency’s approval in court, and won. The crop’s planting, sale and use was halted, and APHIS was ordered to prepare a robust analysis of its impact on farmers and the environment. The report acknowledged that transgenic alfalfa posed significant economic, agricultural, and ecological dangers, including genetic drift, and recommended the placement of severe restrictions to minimize this potential contamination. Just one month after this initial determination of extreme risk, the USDA turned on its heels and unexpectedly went in the complete opposite direction. Even members of the media questioned the puzzling reversal. The looming suspicion is that undue political or corporate pressure influenced the government agency’s decision to approve the crop.” …
“Legality of Costa Rica’s GMO-Free Cantons Questioned,” Jaime Lopez, April 16, 2014;
“The Republic of Costa Rica is divided into 81 cantons administered by municipal councils. Over the last few years, 74 of these municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting the cultivation of transgenic crops and other genetically modified organisms (GMOs). That 90 percent of Costa Rica’s territory is transgenic-free is a point of pride for anti-GMO activists; however, some legislators don’t think the municipalities should have jurisdiction to call the shots in this regard.
“In October of 2013, a proposal on the issue of GMO seeds was introduced in plenary session of the Legislative Assembly. This proposal also aims to prohibit transgenic crops; however, it presents two caveats:
It imposes a moratorium on the planting of GMO seeds until they can be proven to cause no harm to human health.
“It seeks to strip municipalities of their decision-making powers in relation to GMO seeds.
“With regard to number one, municipalities in Costa Rica feel that legislators are missing the point. Most GMO fruits, vegetables and grains are probably harmless to humans on the basis of Homo sapiens being a resilient species. The problem, cantonal leaders assert, is the danger to soil and ecosystems where GMO crops are grown. To this effect, The Costa Rica Star has previously reported on the disastrous results of transgenic seeds bioengineered by Monsanto (which still does not have an office in Costa Rica).
“With regard to number two, journalist Sharon Villalobos Gonzalez of news daily La Prensa Libre recently quoted a statement by Otto Guevara, former presidential candidate and leader of the Libertarian Movement, who actually supports the use of GMO seeds in Costa Rica:
“‘We are pro-transgenic and pro-GMO. This is not new biotechnology; we have lived with them for years and we now have effective medications thanks to genetic modifications.’” …
“Vermont steps closer to passing GMO food-labeling law,” Carey Gillam and Lisa Baertlein (Reuters), April 16, 2014;
“The Vermont Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would make it the first U.S. state to enact mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
“Unlike bills passed last year in Maine and Connecticut, which require other states to pass GMO labeling laws before they can be enacted, Vermont’s contains no such trigger clause.
“Vermont’s effort comes as the developers of genetically modified crops and the $360 billion U.S. packaged food industry push for passage of an opposing bill introduced in Congress last week that would nullify any law that would require labeling of foods made with genetically modified crops.
“GMO labeling is just one front in an increasingly high-stakes food fight raging in the United States, where consumers increasingly are demanding to know where their food comes from and how it was produced.” …
“Monsanto and Big Food Losing the GMO and ‘Natural’ Food Fight,” Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association, News Analysis, April 17, 2014;
“Cedar Circle Farm and the Vermont Right To Know Coalition march with hundreds of Vermonters at the March Against Monsanto, May 25, 2013. Photograph from Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Flickr
“After 20 years of battling Monsanto and corporate agribusiness, food and farm activists in Vermont, backed by a growing Movement across the country, are on the verge of a monumental victory—mandatory labels on genetically engineered foods and a ban on the routine industry practice of labeling GMO-tainted foods as ‘natural.’ “On April 16, 2014, the Vermont Senate passed H.112 by a vote of 28-2, following up on the passage of a similar bill in the Vermont House last year. The legislation, which requires all GMO foods sold in Vermont to be labeled by July 1, 2016, will now pass through a House/Senate conference committee before landing on Governor Peter Shumlin’s desk, for final approval. “Strictly speaking, Vermont’s H.112 applies only to Vermont. But it will have the same impact on the marketplace as a federal law. Because national food and beverage companies and supermarkets will not likely risk the ire of their customers by admitting that many of the foods and brands they are selling in Vermont are genetically engineered, and deceptively labeled as ‘natural’ or ‘all natural’; while simultaneously trying to conceal this fact in the other 49 states and North American markets. As a seed executive for Monsanto admitted 20 years ago, ‘If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.’ “Proof of this ‘skull and crossbones’ effect is evident in the European Union, where mandatory labeling, in effect since 1997, has all but driven genetically engineered foods and crops off the market. The only significant remaining GMOs in Europe today are imported grains (corn, soy, canola, cotton seed) primarily from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. These grains are used for animal feed, hidden from public view by the fact that meat, dairy and eggs derived from animals fed GMOs do not yet have to be labeled in the EU.” …
“The Major Problem with GMO Seeds Engineered to Solve 3rd World Vitamin Deficiencies—The malnourished people I met in my travels didn’t just lack vitamins — they simply lacked food,” Jill Richardson, April 9, 2014;
“A recent Scientific American blog post blamed environmentalists for costing poor, malnourished people an estimated 1,424,000 life years in India alone. Why? Because they presumably kept Golden Rice off the market for over a decade when it could have been helping the world’s poor during that time.
“Golden Rice contains beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Rice doesn’t normally contain beta-carotene. Golden rice was created by genetic engineering: Scientists inserted genes from another species into its DNA.
“According to that post by David Ropeik, Golden Rice was ready to go back in 2002, if it weren’t for those meddling tree-huggers. But, back then, you’d have to eat 20 pounds of the rice every day just to get a sufficient amount of vitamin A in your diet from it.” …
“How Organic Food Is Breaking Down All Class Boundaries—One of the most harmful myths about poor people is that they could care less about what they eat,” Tracie McMillan, April 14, 2014;
“A man who applies pesticides to Iowa fields for $14 hour might not seem a likely organic enthusiast. But when I met Jim Dreier last fall, and he mentioned the backyard patch he and his wife had planted with vegetables in the spring, he told me he didn’t use any pesticides. When I asked him why, Dreier surprised me: ‘I don’t want to eat that shit,’ he said. When I went grocery shopping with his wife, Christina, she surprised me, too, by picking out a bag of organic grapes even though she was paying with Snap — food stamps — for exactly the same reason.
“I thought about Jim and Christina last week, and my surprise at their organic habits, after Walmart announced it will be adding 100 new organic products to its shelves this month. For as long as I can remember, ‘organic’ has been synonymous with affluence and conscious consumption. Partly, that’s because organic foods are typically 30 percent more expensive than conventional items. But part of it is our assumption about who exactly buys organic and why. Typically, it hasn’t been families like the Dreiers, who are raising three kids on Jim’s $14 an hour and can’t really afford it. So we tend to think that people who buy organic food are part of a select group: urban, well-meaning, affluent, educated ‘foodies.’
“This is a pernicious myth. In reality, the poor actually consider organic food more important than the rich, according to top researchers — and organic isn’t a ‘select’ phenomenon at all. Three-quarters of American shoppers buy organic food at least occasionally and more than a third do so monthly, according to industry analysis by the Hartman Group. When researchers asked why shoppers didn’t buy organic more often, two-thirds said it was because of the higher price.
“And yet the myth that only the rich buy organic persists, driven by a kind of circular logic that conflates preference (valuing organic) with behavior (actually buying it). The cost of organic food keeps the poorest families from buying it often, and since only the wealthy can easily afford organic food, the only people we see buying it are wealthy. That, in turn, makes organic food into a norm for the rich, and a treat for the rest of us.” …
“‘Inconvenient Truth’ producer takes on food industry,” Helena Bottemiller Evich, January 21, 2014;
“One of the producers of Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ has homed in on another target: the food industry. And even Michelle Obama, perhaps the nation’s leading nutrition celebrity, isn’t spared in the takedown.
“The film, ‘Fed Up,’ which is produced by activist Laurie David and Yahoo’s Katie Couric, made its exclusive debut at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend and has already kicked up a PR battle with the food lobby, which is working to counter the movie’s message that the food industry, like Big Tobacco, bears great responsibility for the nation’s health woes.
“Though tackling childhood obesity is her signature issue, the first lady is not portrayed as a hero in the film.
“Michelle Obama declined to be interviewed for the project and “is portrayed as a patsy,” according to one review of the film. The creators contend the first lady’s Let’s Move! campaign has been co-opted by the food industry and crippled by lobbying despite her good intentions. The East Wing did not respond to a request for comment.
“David told Politico that reaction to the movie has been ‘wonderful,’ noting that all of the showings at Sundance sold out.
“‘People seem very emotional — and people have said to us that this movie has completely changed the way they look at what they’re eating,’ said David, formerly married to Seinfeld creator Larry David. ‘We really hope this movie is going to start a movement.’” …
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/al-gore-inconvenient-truth-producer-laurie-david-yahoo-katie-couric-sundance-film-festival-102444.html#ixzz2zM6V93C5
“Katie Couric Makes Documentary Debut at Sundance Film Festival,” Associated Press | January 20, 2014;
“Park City, Utah — Along with her soon-to-end daytime talk show, fall engagement and recent move from TV to the web as Yahoo’s global anchor, Katie Couric also made a documentary feature shown at Sundance.
“‘Fed Up’ premiered Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Couric linked up with ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ producer Laurie David to make a film that explores the epidemic of childhood obesity and its not-so-obvious causes. Couric produced and narrates the film.
“The 57-year-old TV anchor said she pitched David her idea over email, and it took her about 10 seconds to say, ‘I’m in.’”
“‘Three seconds,’ David said.
“Couric said documentaries ‘are replacing journalism in some cases’ because budget cuts and a taste for quick news bites means ‘nobody invests the time to really investigate some of the biggest social issues.’ A collection of headlines doesn’t illuminate can’t illuminate an issue the way a documentary can.” ...
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/katie-couric-sundance-documentary-102386.html#ixzz2zM9VUTuz
“Sundance: A Food Documentary That Hopes to Start a Movement,” Brooks Barnes, January 20, 2014;
“Park City, Utah — Stephanie Soechtig’s ‘Fed Up,’ as one might guess from the title, is not a cheery little documentary. While not quite delivering a Michael Moore-style vituperation, Ms. Soechtig and her executive producers — among them Katie Couric and Laurie David — make their exasperation extremely clear.
“‘Fed Up,’ which is narrated by Ms. Couric, argues that food companies and their lobbyists have systematically misled consumers for decades, resulting in the world’s obesity epidemic. And the government, right down to Michelle Obama, has aided and abetted the problem, the documentary says.” …
“Back to Eden—How Simple, Natural Methods Can Take the Work Out of Gardening, and Boost Your Harvest,”
Dr. Joseph Mercola, April 19, 2014;
“The featured documentary, ‘Back to Eden,’ reveals a simple organic gardening method that can not only transform your personal garden, but may even be part of the food solution needed on a global scale as well.
“Far from being life sustaining, our modern, large-scale, chemical-dependent farming methods strip soil of nutrients, destroy critical soil microbes, contribute to the creation of deserts where nothing will grow, and saturate farmlands with toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that then migrate into ground water, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
“I hope you will overlook the religious overtones of this film if that doesn’t appeal to you, because regardless of your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), the information shared still has tremendous value, and is sure to be of interest to anyone concerned with sustainable agriculture. As presented by Documentary Storm:
“‘Dana & Sarah Films, a nomadic grassroots film production company, travel to Washington where Paul Gautschi has developed a revolutionary gardening technique that is estimated to cut back on the need for irrigation by up 95 percent.
“‘Paul is known locally as a master arborist and is now inspiring people across the nation to experiment with his gardening methods by starting their own ‘Back to Eden’ gardens.’” ... This presentation will help people understand how wrong chemical agriculture has been. The tragedy is in the failure to understand that wrong starting many decades ago.
“Warren Book Offers Revealing Inside Tales—Wide Attention Likely For Senator’s Political And Personal Memoir,” Matt Viser, Globe Staff, April 16, 2014;
Photograph from Reuters File.
“In 2011, President Obama named Richard Cordray (right) head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Elizabeth Warren wrote about the formation of the agency in her book.
“Washington, DC — Elizabeth Warren came face to face with the harsh political realities of Washington in a pair of 2010 White House meetings with President Obama.
“The first, according to her new memoir, was in the Oval Office. Obama told her that he dared not appoint her to head the consumer agency she created, because she made Senate Republicans and Wall Street bankers ‘very nervous.’
“A few weeks later, meeting outside for a chat that became as uncomfortable as the hot weather, Obama asked Warren to do the setup work for the consumer protection agency that she would not lead. When she resisted, Obama got testy.
“‘You’re jamming me, Elizabeth,’ Obama said.
“‘He urged me not to overplay my hand,’ she writes. ‘Got it.’
“The White House scenes are some of the more revealing inside tales Warren relays in her new memoir, A Fighting Chance, in which Warren portrays herself as an idealistic outsider, persistently fighting the excesses and political power of Wall Street. Obtained by the Globe in advance of next week’s release date, the campaign-style book undoubtedly will stoke more calls for the Massachusetts Democrat, who won her US Senate seat in 2012, to mount a 2016 presidential campaign. Even though Warren has insisted she will not run for president in the next election, the book and her heavy promotional tour will keep her in the national spotlight.” ... Both the article and Warren’s book provide insight into the difference between Washington insiders and outsides, and that in turn, shows how Washington operates at the expense of the people and much the same as the court of an 18th-century king. Especially of interest is the exchange between Warren and Larry Summers which is quoted in the Globe article.
“Avoid Eating Genetically Engineered Foods,” Jeffrey Smith, April 19, 2014;
“This blog is part of a series that explores the themes and issues raised in Farmed and Dangerous, a 4-part satirical web series exploring issues related to the food system and industrial agriculture. If you’re interested in joining the conversation, please contact us at FoodForThought@huffingtonpost.com.
“Why are thousands of physicians advising patients to avoid eating GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and how did these high-risk foods get onto the market in the first place? The answers are disturbing, even shocking, but may help you get healthy and stay healthy.
“Foods with added bacterial or viral genes were quietly slipped into your diet two decades ago. Using the excuse that GMOs weren’t that much different, the FDA didn’t require labels or even a single safety study from GMO makers like Monsanto. But a lawsuit forced the agency to release their files and the truth finally came out.
“FDA scientists repeatedly warned that GMOs could create allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems, and that rigorous safety testing was needed. But the White House had instructed the FDA to promote biotechnology, and Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney, was put in charge of FDA policy. (Taylor later became Monsanto’s chief lobbyist, and has returned to FDA as US Food Czar.)” …
GM Watch Review 340, March 17, 2014; Many articles of interest in this edition.
GM Watch Review 341, April 10, 2014; Many more valuable articles.
“Muzzled by Monsanto over Cene-Silencing Technology,” April 5, 2014.
“A revealing article shows how Monsanto is trying to control and suppress scientific research and debate on the risks of GMOs incorporating RNA interference (RNAi) technology.
“The microRNA molecules that such GMOs are engineered to contain can silence genes or otherwise affect gene expression.
“The article describes how the GM/agrochemical industry lobby group ILSI apparently attempted to co-opt a scientist’s endorsement on a paper about RNAi risk assessment.
“It should be borne in mind that ILSI specialises in designing industry-friendly risk assessment methodologies for GMOs, food additives and pesticides, and inserting them into regulations worldwide. Often this takes place via conferences and scientific papers in which industry researchers ‘collaborate’ with regulatory agency and publicly-employed scientists to come up with and promote the required regulatory ‘tools’.
“In fact, ILSI designed the basis of Europe’s GMO risk assessment. While the European Food Safety Authority has tried to clean up its act and exclude people with ongoing ILSI links from its staff and experts, the ILSI legacy, in the form of GM industry-crafted risk assessment rules, lives on.
“We share the frustration of the scientist featured in the article below, who seems baffled as to why Monsanto puts so much energy into managing the perception of GMO risks and seemingly none into ensuring that their GMOs are safe in the first place.” ... This is the introduction provided by GM Watch to the Article in the Boulder Weekly about the work of Prof. Vicki Vance in South Carolina. That article is included in full, and it is also available here:
“Glyphosate Accumulates In Roundup Ready Gm Soybeans - New Study,” January 4, 2014;
“Glyphosate tolerant GM soybeans contain high residues of glyphosate and its toxic breakdown product AMPA, but conventional and organic soybeans contain none of these agrochemicals, an important new study shows.
“Organic soybeans also showed a healthier nutritional profile.
“The study shows that contrary to claims by the GMO industry and regulators, GM soy is not substantially equivalent to non-GM soy.”
The study is:
“Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans,”
T. Bøhn, M. Cuhra, T. Traavik, M. Sanden, J. Fagan, R. Primicerio
Food Chemistry, 18 Dec 2013; it is available here:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814613019201 (open access)
•Glyphosate tolerant GM soybeans contain high residues of glyphosate and AMPA.
•Soybeans from different agricultural practices differ in nutritional quality.
•Organic soybeans showed a more healthy nutritional profile than other soybeans.
•Organic soy contained more sugars, protein, and zinc, but less fibre and omega-6.
•This study rejects that GM soy is “substantially equivalent” to non-GM soybeans.
“This article describes the nutrient and elemental composition, including residues of herbicides and pesticides, of 31 soybean batches from Iowa, USA. The soy samples were grouped into three different categories: i) genetically modified, glyphosate-tolerant soy (GM-soy); ii) unmodified soy cultivated using a conventional ”chemical“ cultivation regime; and iii) unmodified soy cultivated using an organic cultivation regime. Organic soybeans showed the healthiest nutritional profile with more sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose, significantly more total protein, zinc and less fibre than both conventional and GM-soy. Organic soybeans also contained less total saturated fat and total omega-6 fatty acids than both conventional and GM-soy. GM-soy contained high residues of glyphosate and AMPA (mean 3.3 and 5.7 mg/kg, respectively). Conventional and organic soybean batches contained none of these agrochemicals. Using 35 different nutritional and elemental variables to characterize each soy sample, we were able to discriminate GM, conventional and organic soybeans without exception, demonstrating ‘substantial non-equivalence’ in compositional characteristics for ‘ready-to-market’ soybeans.”
“Take Action: Tell Congress NOT to Pass the ‘Deny Americans Right-to-Know Act’,” Max Goldberg, April 17, 2014;
“Very recently, a piece of dangerous legislation was introduced into Congress that would deny your right to know if food is genetically-engineered or not.
“Dubbed the ‘Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act’, this bill was co-sponsored by U.S. Representatives Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas, and G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from North Carolina.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing ‘Safe’ or ‘Accurate’ about this deceptive bill, and organic advocates are correctly calling it the ‘Deny Americans the Right-to-Know Act (DARK Act)’.
“This shameful piece of legislation would:
* Prevent states from adopting their own GE-labeling laws.
* Block any attempt by states to make it illegal for food companies to put a “natural” label on products that contain genetically-engineered ingredients.
* Prevent the Food and Drug Administration from requiring companies to label genetically-engineered ingredients and instead continue a failed “voluntary” labeling policy.
“Why are these politicians introducing this bill?
“There are several reasons.
“1) Because they are completely beholden to interests of Big Ag and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, both of whom view the labeling of GMOs as very problematic. Why are they against GMO-labeling?
“If people see the words ‘Made with Genetically Engineered Ingredients’ on a label, consumers will start asking serious questions and may not buy the product. As such, GMO-labeling poses a real financial threat to their business.
“2) Since states are tired of the federal government not doing anything about GMO-labeling, they have therefore taken matters into their own hands. 26 different states have GMO-labeling bills that are currently seeking approval, and Connecticut and Maine have already passed bills.
“To counter these measures, the DARK Act would override anything that the states do and render any state-level GMO-labeling laws as null and void.
“Making matters worse is that it would place all of the GMO-labeling power in the hands of the FDA, which is easily controlled by Big Food and lobbyists.
“3) Many major food companies, including Naked Juice, have faced class action lawsuits for using the word ‘natural’ on products that contain genetically-engineered ingredients.
“There is absolutely NOTHING ‘natural’ about GMOs. They are engineered in a laboratory and DO NOT exist in nature.
“Yet, these lawsuits are expensive and cause serious brand and financial damage to the food corporations. The DARK Act would prevent any state-level laws regarding the word ‘natural’ on products that contain GMOs.” …
“FDA Fails to Protect Against Antibiotic Resistance, Guarantees More Needless Death and Suffering,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, April 23, 2014;
“Antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect two million Americans every year, causing at least 23,000 deaths. Even more die from complications related to the infections, and the numbers are steadily growing.
“It’s now clear that we are facing the perfect storm to take us back to the pre-antibiotic age, when some of the most important advances in modern medicine – intensive care, organ transplants, care for premature babies, surgeries and even treatment for many common bacterial infections – will no longer be possible.
“Experts have been warning about the implications of antibiotic resistance for years, but it’s time to face the facts. Many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to even our strongest antibiotics and are causing deadly infections.
“The bacteria are capable of evolving much faster than we are. Secondly, drug companies have all but abandoned the development of new antibiotics because of their poor profit margins.“ ... Note: Monsanto’s Glyphosate herbicide is also patented as an antibiotic, and it is thus one of the antibiotics allowed in food.
“A Valuable Reputation—After Tyrone Hayes said that a chemical was harmful, its maker pursued him,”
Rachel Aviv, February 10, 2014
“Hayes has devoted the past fifteen years to studying atrazine, a widely used herbicide made by Syngenta. The company’s notes reveal that it struggled to make sense of him, and plotted ways to discredit him.
“In 2001, seven years after joining the biology faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, Tyrone Hayes stopped talking about his research with people he didn’t trust. He instructed the students in his lab, where he was raising three thousand frogs, to hang up the phone if they heard a click, a signal that a third party might be on the line. Other scientists seemed to remember events differently, he noticed, so he started carrying an audio recorder to meetings. ‘The secret to a happy, successful life of paranoia,’ he liked to say, ‘is to keep careful track of your persecutors.’
“Three years earlier, Syngenta, one of the largest agribusinesses in the world, had asked Hayes to conduct experiments on the herbicide atrazine, which is applied to more than half the corn in the United States. Hayes was thirty-one, and he had already published twenty papers on the endocrinology of amphibians. David Wake, a professor in Hayes’s department, said that Hayes ‘may have had the greatest potential of anyone in the field.’ But, when Hayes discovered that atrazine might impede the sexual development of frogs, his dealings with Syngenta became strained, and, in November, 2000, he ended his relationship with the company.
“Hayes continued studying atrazine on his own, and soon he became convinced that Syngenta representatives were following him to conferences around the world. He worried that the company was orchestrating a campaign to destroy his reputation. He complained that whenever he gave public talks there was a stranger in the back of the room, taking notes. On a trip to Washington, D.C., in 2003, he stayed at a different hotel each night. He was still in touch with a few Syngenta scientists and, after noticing that they knew many details about his work and his schedule, he suspected that they were reading his e-mails. To confuse them, he asked a student to write misleading e-mails from his office computer while he was travelling. He sent backup copies of his data and notes to his parents in sealed boxes. In an e-mail to one Syngenta scientist, he wrote that he had ‘risked my reputation, my name . . . some say even my life, for what I thought (and now know) is right.’ A few scientists had previously done experiments that anticipated Hayes’s work, but no one had observed such extreme effects. In another e-mail to Syngenta, he acknowledged that it might appear that he was suffering from a ‘Napoleon complex’ or ‘delusions of grandeur.’” ... A Story about Syngenta and Atrazine showing the use of methods reputation destruction Monsanto had pioneered and modeled for others to learn.
“Bracing For A Battle, Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Bill,” Eliza Barclay And Jeremy Bernfeld, April 24, 2014;
“A customer shops for produce at the Hunger Mountain Co-op in April 2013 in Montpelier, Vt. More than a dozen food cooperatives supported the bill that would require the labeling of genetically modified foods.
Photograph by Toby Talbot, Associated Press.
“The Green Mountain State is poised to become the first to require food companies to label products containing genetically modified ingredients.
“Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin tweeted he will sign a bill state lawmakers passed Wednesday mandating that foods with GMOs be labeled as having been produced with ‘genetic engineering.’ The bill would also make it illegal for foods with GMOs to be labeled ‘all natural’ or ‘natural.’
“While Maine and Connecticut have already passed GMO labeling bills, those bills contain clauses that keep them from going into effect until surrounding states pass similar rules. Vermont’s bill would go into effect on July 1, 2016.
“For the past few years, consumer advocates have been ratcheting up the pressure on states and the federal government to require labeling, arguing that information about GMOs is essential if we’re to make informed decisions about what food to buy.
“Meanwhile, the food industry has resisted the idea of labeling, arguing that GMOs are safe and that labeling costs would be passed onto consumers.” …
“Autism Nation: America’s Chemical Brain Drain,”Dr. Brian Moenchy, Truthout, News Analysis, April 24, 2014;
“MRIs of an autistic child’s brain before and after pivotal response treatment at Yale University in New Haven, Ct., April 3, 2014. (Photo: Christopher Capozziello/The New York Times)
“While autism rates in Europe have remained virtually flat for the last decade, in the US, they have risen from 1:10,000 in 1981 to 1:68 in 2014. Many studies point to the prevalence of toxins in our environment as the culprit.
“As flowers burst on the scene, blossoms unfold, and lawns awaken from winter’s sleep, nature’s spring rituals are joyful to watch.
“Unfortunately, many home owners, gardeners, landscapers, farmers and state agencies launch an anti-nature spring ritual - mounting an arsenal of poisons to kill insects and weeds. This ritual comes at a tremendous cost.
“Last month, leading scientists warned of a ‘silent pandemic,’ citing strong evidence that ‘children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements and damaging societies.’ These ‘brain’ toxins - heavy metals, fluoride, chemicals like PCBs, toluene, solvents, flame retardants, BPA, phalates and pesticides - are found in the furniture you sit on, the clothing you wear, the air you breathe, the food you eat and soil your kids play in.
“And this short list of chemicals and compounds is just the tip of a very large toxic iceberg.
“‘It’s time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California,’ said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an epidemiology professor at University of California, Davis.
“In 1981, the autism (ASD) rate in the United States was 1:10,000. In 2007, it was 1:150. In 2009, it was 1:100. In 2012, it was 1:88. In 2014, it is 1:68. At this rate of increase, by 2025 it will be 1:2, or 50 percent. For those of you tempted to think this is just greater awareness and expansion of the criteria for diagnosis, the CDC says that since the 2012 estimate of 1 in 88 children identified with ASD, the criteria used to diagnose, treat, and provide services have not changed, but the rate has increased another 30 percent.” ... This is an important article about how Autism starts during early development because of exposure to toxins imparted in utero from the mother. The most important of the discussed toxins is Glyphosate, which is a known endocrine disruptor. All endocrine disruptors can affect brain and nerve develop in a fetus even if it does not impact or reveal indications in the adults imparting the exposure.
“In a Bean, a Boon to Biotech,” Andrew Pollack, November 15, 2013;
“DuPont Pioneer’s oil compared with soybean oils with partly hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats.
“A new federal push to purge artery-clogging trans fats from foods could be just what the doctor ordered — not only for public health but for the unpopular biotechnology industry, specifically, two developers of genetically modified crops.
“The developers, Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer, have manipulated the genes of the soybean to radically alter the composition of its oil to make it longer-lasting, potentially healthier and free of trans fats.
“‘In essence we’ve rebuilt the profile,’ said Russ Sanders, director of food and industry markets at DuPont Pioneer. ‘It almost mirrors olive oil in terms of the composition of fatty acids.’
“It’s too soon to tell if food companies and restaurants will embrace the oils, which are now available only in limited quantities. But the policy proposed last week by the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate trans fats could make the marketing job easier.
“The new beans could help the image of the biotechnology industry because they are among the first genetically engineered crops with a trait that benefits consumers, as opposed to farmers. Despite industry promises to create better-tasting or more nutritional foods, virtually all the biotech crops introduced since 1996 have been aimed at helping farmers control weeds and insects. That has made it easier for various consumer interest groups to oppose the crops.
“‘We have been told if we have a product that is beneficial to consumers it will be much more acceptable,’ said John Becherer, chief executive of the United Soybean Board, which funds research using money collected from farmers.” …
“Activist Vandanda Shiva calls for ‘satyagraha’ against federal Bill C-18,” Karen Kleiss, Capital Notebook, April 12, 2014;
“Vandana Shiva speaks to Public Interest Alberta director Bill Moore-Kilgannon in Edmonton on April 11, 2014.
“Renowned environmental and agricultural activist Vandana Shiva on Friday called on Canadians to fight the federal government’s Bill C-18, which she says will rob farmers of the right to save and exchange seed, and further corporatize the country’s food system.
“‘We’re calling on people around the world to not cooperate with – and declare a satyagraha against – laws like C-18,’ Shiva said, referring to the strategy of non-violent civil disobedience pioneered by the late Indian activist Mohandas Gandhi.
“‘It’s part of a global movement to reclaim seed as a commons. To reclaim seed freedom, which for me is three things: the freedom of the seed itself, as a living being, in its diversity, integrity and evolutionary potential; the freedom of the farmer to save and exchange seed, and to have their contribution to breeding recognized; and the freedom of the eater to get good food, because without good seed, there is no good food. One of the curses of our time is bad food. So how can we reward the people who are ruining our food system with monopolies?’
“Shiva, a key figure in the international anti-globalization movement, spoke Friday in Edmonton in a keynote address to a conference hosted by Public Interest Alberta, a left-leaning Alberta advocacy group.
“Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, was introduced by federal agricultural minister Gerry Ritz in December. Ritz said at the time the bill will give seed companies additional control over the crops they develop and encourage them to invest in the production of new domestic grain varieties.
“‘Our proposed changes will encourage increased plant breeding investment here in Canada and encourage foreign breeders to sell their varieties to our farmers,’ Mr. Ritz said in Winnipeg. ‘Farmers will benefit from improved access to innovative new varieties.’” …
“Changes to Agricultural Growth Act Bill C-18 patently absurd,” Randall Affleck, April 11, 2014;
“The Agricultural Growth Act, Bill C-18, is currently before Parliament. It is an omnibus bill amending nine separate pieces of agricultural legislation. The changes vastly increase corporate control of seed and will result in higher seed costs for farmers in the future.
“The Plant Breeders’ Rights Act (PBRA), adopted in 1990, confers to a breeder of a new plant variety, a form of intellectual property rights similar to a patent. The Plant Breeders’ Rights Office receives between 300 to 400 applications per year with about 100 coming from Canada. This office has no role in enforcement of a breeders’ right once granted. It is up to the rights holder to pursue infringements through the court system.
“The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an international Convention of which Canada is a member state and signatory. The purpose of UPOV Convention is to standardize criteria, definitions, legislation and regulations as they apply to plant breeders’ rights among member states. Canada’s current PBRA is based on the 1978 UPOV version which implicitly recognizes that a farmer may use part of their harvest for seed.
“The 1991 UPOV version gives extensive and exclusive rights to plant breeders so that their authorization is required for farmers to use harvested material as seed. In order to ratify the UPOV ‘91 Convention, Canada has to amend the 1990 PBRA. This is exactly what Bill C-18 does.
“At present, a PBR holder only has the exclusive right to produce and sell seed. The proposed amendments grant PBR holders the exclusive right to produce and reproduce, condition, sell, export or import, and to stock propagating material for 20 years (to ‘condition’ means to clean and/or treat seed and to ‘stock’ means to bag or store seed). This is a significant expansion of intellectual property protection and expands the legal avenues for seed companies to pursue royalties.
“Further, the ability to collect end-point royalties on the whole crop following harvest if not previously collected on the seed would be permitted with these changes. These powers would only apply to varieties introduced after the new Act comes into force. Existing varieties would continue to be subject to the UPOV ‘78 rules and conditions.
“To save, reuse, select, exchange and sell seeds is a traditional practice and an inalienable right of farmers. Government is proposing a ‘farmers’ privilege’ section in this legislation. They claim that this provides an exception to PBR-holders’ exclusive rights to reproduce and condition seed. This government-given privilege allows farmers to save and condition seed, but notably absent is the ability to stock the seed. What’s more, the power to limit the farmers’ privilege provisions in the future through regulations is also included in Bill C-18. What is being proposed is truly a hollow privilege for farmers. The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.” …
“China returns U.S. transgenic corn,” Apr 29,2014;
“Beijing, (Xinhua) -- China has returned over one million tonnes of maize imported from the United States that contained an unapproved transgenic component, the country’s leading quality watchdog announced on Tuesday.
“As of April 21, 1.124 million tonnes of corn and maize-based products contaminated with MIR162, a transgenic component yet to be approved by Chinese authorities, had been returned to the U.S., said Chen Xitong, spokesman of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
“The administration has asked entry-exit inspectors nationwide to strengthen their monitoring efforts and have allowed them to return or destroy any agricultural products with unapproved transgenic components.
“Chinese authorities found 183 batches of substandard food imports from 27 countries and regions and six shipments of substandard cosmetics in March, and rejected them for the domestic market.” ...
“To Label Or Not To Label,” April 28, 2014;
“On Monday, April 28, CAST joined with the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (National C-FAR); the American Society of Plant Biologists; the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies; and the Modern Agricultural Caucus to host two research seminars on the impacts of mandatory labeling for genetically modified food (new CAST report) and crop breeding as the root of American agriculture. The combined seminar was presented from noon to 1:30 pm in 1300 Longworth House Office Building. The labeling seminar was also presented in 337 Russell Senate Office Building at 10:00 am.
“The presenter on the CAST labeling report was Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Department of Animal Science, UC-Davis. The presenters on the crop breeding presentation were Dr. Sally Mackenzie, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky, UC-Davis.
“‘Bottom line, we need better communication regarding the scientific issues and the possible legal and economic consequences of mandatory GMO food labels,’ says Dr. Van Eenennaam, Task Force Chair of the CAST report.
“The labeling issue was also front and center during a late-afternoon panel discussion co-hosted by CAST and FoodPolicy.US. Dr. Van Eenennaam was joined by Dr. Mark Walton (Chief Marketing Officer of Recombinetics), Thomas Redick (GEEC Law Practice), and Karil Kochenderfer (LINKAGES) on the panel. Dr. Charles Weiss (Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University) was the moderator.
“This press release contains the basic information covered by the new CAST Issue Paper:
“‘The Potential Impacts of Mandatory Labeling for Genetically Engineered Food in the United States’ New CAST Issue Paper Looks at the Controversy Surrounding the GE Food Labeling Debate,”
“Science Media Centre Spins Pro-GMO Line,” Rebekah Wilce, April 28, 2014;
“A new report commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron suggests that GMOs have now been shown to be safe and that the United Kingdom may need to grow them in order to rely less on imports.
“Since consumer campaigning got GMOs labeled and crop restricting implemented in the United Kingdom, Cameron will likely have a hard time convincing UK consumers that all is well. However, Cameron is getting help in that quest from a little known group called the Science Media Centre (SMC), which helped release the report to great fanfare. The Guardian and The Independent published prominent coverage of the report, and it was featured by the BBC. The Independent and BBC coverage were both entirely uncritical, quoting the scientists handpicked by the SMC for its reporters’ briefing. The Guardian report was less glowing, but still quoted the SMC scientists and buried the reactions of critics below the fold. None of them mentioned that the report briefing was held by the SMC.
“SMC calls itself an independent media briefing center for scientific issues. Critics, however, question its independence from the GMO industry -- despite the group’s statement that each individual corporation or other funder may only donate up to five percent of the group’s annual income -- and warn that the organization is headed across the pond to the United States to provide more GMO spin here.
“What Is the Science Media Centre?
“SMC was conceived in 2002, and enjoys close links with the British government. It is now based at the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest non-profit foundations ($22.5 billion in total assets as of late 2012), founded on the fortune of American-born pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome, whose drug company has since evolved to become GlaxoSmithKline. The Wellcome Trust gives the group more than the five percent of annual income at which other institutional funding is capped.
“SMC received 34 percent of its nearly £600,000 in funding from corporations and trade groups for the fiscal year that ended March 2013, according to its website. Its current funders include BASF, Bayer, and Syngenta -- three of the world’s biggest pesticide and GMO corporations -- as well as a number of agrichemical trade groups like CropLife International.” …
“Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change,” amanda, April 17, 2014;
“We are at the most critical moment in the history of our species, as man-made changes to the climate threaten humanity’s security on Earth. But there is a technology for massive planetary geo-engineering that is tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to local contexts the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization.
“The solution is farming.
“Simply put, we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term ‘regenerative organic agriculture.’” …
“How Vermont plans to defend the nation’s first GMO law,” Niraj Chokshi, April 29, 2014;
“Edge Fuentes, left, stands with his wife Katie Spring, right, and their 9-month-old son Waylon in their planting room surrounded by seedlings for vegetables and flowers at their Good Heart Farmstead in Worcester, Vt. Spring and Fuentes back the GMO labeling bill passed by the Vermont Legislature, arguing people need to be able to know what’s in their food.
Photograph by Wilson Ring, Associated Press.
“Expect two things to happen now that Vermont’s legislature has passed H.112.
“Any day now, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) is expected to make history by signing that bill into law as he has suggested, making his the first state to require genetically modified food to be labeled as such. Then, maybe not too long after that, expect the state to be sued over it.
“There’s no guarantee of legal action, but legislators, officials and advocates are preparing for it. Earlier this month, state Attorney General Bill Sorrell told Vermont Public Radio that he would be ‘very surprised’ if the state isn’t sued over the law. And officials were so sure of a challenge that the measure itself creates a $1.5 million legal defense fund, to be paid for with settlements won by the state. They think it’s coming, but they also say they’re ready.
“‘The threat of a lawsuit worked for a while, but now it doesn’t work anymore,’ says Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, whose organization has for years worked with activists and lawmakers in Vermont on the issue. ‘I think they may go ahead and sue and do it rather quickly in the hopes that it may gather momentum,’ he added, referring to biotech industry groups.
“Other states have pursued similar measures, but Vermont’s law will be the first of its kind. Connecticut and Maine passed labeling requirements, but with trigger clauses requiring multiple other states to pass labeling requirements before their own go into effect. At least 25 states have considered such legislation, according to a Monday report on labeling requirements from the nonprofit Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. And advocates are hopeful they will get a measure on the Oregon ballot this year.” ...
Review of “Farmland,” Godfrey Cheshire, May 1, 2014;
“Inarguably the chief virtue of America’s independent cinema, and perhaps its documentaries especially, has been everything that ‘independence’ implies. At a time of ever-accelerating media conglomeration, most Americans are surrounded wall-to-wall, 24-7, by images manufactured and controlled by large corporate interests. Against this, independent filmmakers offer a useful cacophony comparable to Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park: You may not like or agree with what you hear, but you can usually assume that it represents distinctively, even passionately, individual points of view.
“In this context, the purported documentary ‘Farmland’ is an odd duck indeed. A look at contemporary American agriculture that focuses on several farmers in their 20s and 30s and the challenges they face in trying to start or sustain family-run operations in the heartland, James Moll’s film has the expensive but bland look of generic TV non-fiction and a general tone of earnest uplift, which reaches an extreme in a bombastically syrupy orchestral score that could have been lifted from a Reagan ‘Morning in America’ TV commercial of the ‘80s.
“The film’s overall affect, then, might leave the viewer scratching his head, at least until the appearance of a title that comes near the end of its credit scroll: ‘This film was made possible by the generous support of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.’ If that name doesn’t ring a bell, feel free to do a little internet research. There, for example, in a 2011 article on CivilEats.com titled ‘Who Is Behind the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance and Why It Matters,’ writer Anna Lappé identifies the organization as ‘a new trade association made up of some of the biggest players in the food industry—including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Dupont, and Monsanto.’” ... For more critical evaluation of the film and the review of it, see the posted comments at the end.
“Agribusiness Funds ‘Farmland’ To Counter Hollywood Message,”Adam Ragusea, May 02, 2014;
“David Loberg’s family farm in Carroll, Neb., is featured in the film Farmland.
Photograph by Don Holtz/Ketchum.
“The movie Farmland opened in theaters Thursday. It’s the latest in a string of documentaries about agriculture, like Food Inc. and King Corn.
“But while the latter two films made damning accusations about the environmental and human costs of modern agribusiness, this documentary was funded by agribusiness. It tells a very different story.
“Farmland opens with sweeping visuals you’d expect — swaying wheat fields and weathered barns. The documentary follows the lives of six young farmers — including a soybean grower in Nebraska and a Texas cattleman — who all share a belief that their profession is misunderstood.
“‘Most people have some sort of idea, maybe from television or something, that there’s bulldozers and tractors, just clouds of smoke going and destroying ground and destroying habitat,’ says Sutton Morgan, a farmer who grows organic onions in California, in the film. ‘But they don’t understand that our environment, which is our ground, has to be in good condition, otherwise you can’t be a successful farmer.’
“Farmland was funded by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. This group was formed in response to recent movies and books like Fast Food Nation, which warned consumers off factory-farmed ground beef.
“The Loberg family raises corn and soybeans in Carroll, Nebraska.
Photograph by Don Holtz/Ketchum.
“The alliance includes state farm bureaus and agribusiness giants like Monsanto, whose genetically engineered seeds were targeted for criticism in the film Food Inc. Randy Krotz, with the Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, says they felt it was time to make their own movie.
“‘How do you get to millennials?’ says Krotz. ‘How do you get to ... a transparency generation? Let’s show them a little more about how their food is raised firsthand.’
“In the opening scene of Farmland, Kris Loberg and her son David are on their knees in the mud, looking for any sign that their seed has germinated.
“The documentary shows some of the grittier aspects of farming, so it doesn’t look like an industry public relations film. And, arguably, it’s not. The alliance hired a respected director for the project, Oscar-winning documentarian James Moll.” ... The watch the trailers for the movie:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_YpdXUm_iM (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3Nhs7of64c (Trailer #2)
The Web page for “Farmland, the film and to find out how and where to see it.
“Genetically-Modified Wheat Lawsuits Against Monsanto Transferred to Kansas Federal Court,” December 30, 2013;
“A total of 14 lawsuits against Monsanto arising from the discovery of genetically-modified wheat in an Oregon wheat field earlier this year have been transferred to the U.S. District Court for Kansas, and assigned to Magistrate Judge Karen M. Humphreys.
“In May 2013, a farmer in eastern Oregon discovered Roundup Ready wheat growing in one of his fields, even though it is not commercially available and the field was never used as a test field for the product. The discovery caused quite a sensation, and was covered extensively by the media, such as in these pieces in the New York Times and on NPR. Initially, Japan and South Korea cut off their purchases of wheat from the Pacific Northwest.
“Within a few months, both countries resumed their purchasing, after testing found no genetically-modified wheat in circulation. Nevertheless, several wheat farmers, as well as the Center for Food Safety, filed a number of class action lawsuits against Monsanto throughout the country. For ease of case management, those cases have now been transferred to a single courtroom in Kansas.” …
“Will use of Biosafety System mitigate GMO risks?” Daniel Semberya, May 5, 2014;
“In many developing countries, economic growth and sustainability depend on the strong performance of the agricultural sector. The tools of biotechnology, when combined with the science of breeding, have created improved varieties that deliver increased value globally. Today, smallholder farmers in more than 15 countries successfully grow crop varieties developed through biotechnology.
“Other countries, however, have not integrated biotechnology into their agricultural systems. Often, this hesitancy is due to a lack of a rational and predictable biosafety framework that facilitates access to products and varieties produced using biotechnology.
“Very recently the Patron of the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB)-Tanzania, Adam Malima, who is also the Deputy Minister for Finance, launched the Program for Biosafety System (PBS) office situated at the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) Building.” ... This is a pro-biotech article showing what is being done to promote the use of biotech crops by small farmers in developing nations.
“Monsanto’s Future Looks Promising,” Adnan Riaz, May. 7, 2014;
“Summary: Growing population will increase the demand for agricultural inputs.
“Expiration of patents could affect its immediate revenue forecasts.
“Long-term opportunities will come from Monsanto’s record R&D pipeline.
“Text: 2013 was a good year for Monsanto Company (MON). Shareholders of the company must be quite happy as its share price moved more than 24% last year, from $93 per share to more than $116 per share. The company has also shown decent growth in its top and bottom lines, and delivered a high return on equity.
“Due to growing population, global food demand is increasing. Increasing food demand will benefit Monsanto, as this will drive the demand for agricultural inputs such as pesticides, fertilizers, and genetically modified seeds. The world population is expected to increase from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 8.3 billion in 2030 and 9.1 billion in 2050. By 2030, food demand is predicted to increase by 50% (70% by 2050).“ ... This market analysis for investors; it is strongly upbeat about Monsanto’s future prospects.
“Debate On the Seed Law. Shipment of Transgenic Seeds Arrives in Venezuela,” Various Collectives, May 8, 2014;
“From within the collectives we are provoking a grassroots constituent debate for a new revolutionary seed law, built from the bottom by the legislating people, in defense of a free, criolla, indigenous, peasant, Afro-descendant and sovereign seed, which is under threat by the advances of transnational authorities who would like to control political stability in the country. We invoke the application of article xx and the law XX, as we suspect the existence of a shipment of maize seed, (March-April 2014 hundreds of tons), presumably transgenic, of the transnational agribusiness Monsanto, with intent for use within the 2014 National Maize-Planting Plan which is about to commence.
“It is broadly known that transgenics affect human and animal health, contaminate the environment and affect biodiversity within agriculture, which leads to the loss of our heritage seeds. Additionally, the seeds of Monsanto, Pioneer, Cargill, DuPont, Dow, and Bayer, whether they are transgenic, hybrids, or otherwise activated, are all patented and slave-inducing, as they condemn us to consume poison in all three meals, due to the indiscriminate use of toxic agrochemicals their production implies.
“Today, within the framework of the Economic War and the fierce sabotage threatening the Bolivarian Process, we should be aware of the pretension of these businesses to control our national food production. We should consider it a national duty, a debt with the Eternal Commander who maintained a firm position against transgenics and transnationals, to support free seed production for the nourishment of our people.
“Because of all this, we ask our Worker President Nicolas Maduro to insist that the corresponding ministers (land and agriculture, health, and environment ministers) conduct an analysis to detect transgenics among all the maize seed imported this year, as well as initiate a program for the detection of transgenic seeds in all areas. The state must strengthen its capacity to conduct this program, with the goal of guaranteeing that no transgenic seeds be imported into the country, and that the public is adequately informed.
“Additionally, we solicit the activation and follow-through of the National Seed Plan, which explains the motives for which, in spite of resources invested in increasing Venezuelan seed, planters still depend largely on imported seed. This dependency means contact with transnational agribusinesses that are allied with governments who openly oppose the Bolivarian Process.
“From all the collectives committed to food sovereignty and diversity of culture, gender, biology, and all of us who constitute the homeland, we sign:
Movimiento Campesino Socialista Jirajara; Colectivo Amplio para la Restauración e Investigación de la Agricultura; Campesina y Originaria (CARIACO); Frente Itinerante de Discusión Agroecológica (FRIDA); Colectivo Ecosocialista Autana Tepuy; Movimiento Popular Revolucionario Argimiro Gabaldon (MPRAG); Consejo Campesino Comandante Argimiro Gabaldon; Comuna El Maizal; Comuna Comandante Adrian Moncada; Comuna Juan Sabas Peralta; Comuna Socialista Ataroa; Colectivo Observatorio del Poder Popular; Colectivo Diversidad; Alianza sexo-genero-diversa Revolucionaria; Comuna Agua Sagrada de Terepaima; Comuna Quintino Alvarado
Comuna Bucaral Unidos para Vencer; EPSD El Konuco; Escuela Agroecológica Valle de Tucutunemo; Colectivo Abya Yala; Campaña Venezuela Libre de Transgénicos; Colectivo Agujero Negro; Colectivo Senderos”
“The people of the United States, of Latin America and the world, should follow the example of Venezuela and be free of transgenics.” Hugo Chavez, April 21st 2004.
(For more information) see also:
02/06/2013: Venezuelan Government Moves Forward with Seeds Law, Movements Demand Anti-GMO Measures: http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/9647
11/12/2013: Venezuela and the Battle against Transgenic Seeds: http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10236
Updated: Vermont Governor To Sign GMO Labeling Law Friday - Food Industry Announces Lawsuit, Leslie Salzillo, May 8, 2014;
“Vermont’s governor just announced some very important news that’s bound to make millions of concerned consumers around the country - very happy. The small New England state seems to be on a dynamic roll these days.
“Last week Vermont became the first state to pass a Joint Resolution (JRS 27) to overturn Citizens United.
“This week, Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) announced, when he signs the H.112 bill on Friday, Vermont will also be the first state to pass a law that requires GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling on all food products.
“‘I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food. The Legislature has spoken loud and clear through its passage of this bill,’ Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.) said in a statement after the bill passed. ‘I wholeheartedly agree with them and look forward to signing this bill into law.’
“Shumlin says he will sign the law and it will go into effect July 2016. GMO food labeling is already required in all EU countries.” …
“Preventable Factors Cause Majority of US Deaths,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, May 14, 2014;
“...The Top Three Dietary Ingredients That Promote Early Death
“Personally, I believe far more than one-third of these deaths are preventable, provided you factor in the most obvious root causes, which CNN fails to do in its report.
“For example, while smoking and lack of exercise are certainly health hazards, a far greater concern that affects far more people is diet-related factors that have become the norm.
“I also believe that smoking is a relatively minor factor when you compare it to the misinformation and reliance on a medical system that consistently fails to address the cause of disease but mainly relies on expensive drugs riddled with side effects—many times terminal—that in no way treat the cause.
“The root cause of most health problems lies in the food they chose to eat. Recognize that Americans spend about 95 percent of their food dollars on processed foods, most of which contain one or more of the three ingredients that promote the most chronic disease. These are:
• Corn, which is turned into highly processed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
• Soy, which is one of the main sources of trans fat-containing vegetable oils
• Sugar beets, which is turned into refined sugar
“These three dietary factors, all of which are heavily subsidized by the US government, promote obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. For example, one recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that consuming 17-21 percent of your daily calories from added sugar increases your risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 38 percent. Another equally recent study concluded that:
The new paradigm hypothesizes that sugar has adverse health effects above any purported role as ‘empty calories’ promoting obesity. Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick.
“Making matters worse, the vast majority of all three of these crops are genetically engineered (GE), which means they’re also primary sources of glyphosate contamination (the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup).
“Glyphosate, in turn appears to be a driving force for chronic disease in and of itself, both by enhancing the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins, and by disrupting normal body functions. It’s particularly harsh on the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which are critical for optimal immune function.
“Clearly, getting people to exercise more isn’t going to make a major dent in mortality statistics until or unless we as a society start addressing our disease-promoting food system.” ...
“Dr. Don Huber: GMOs and Glyphosate and Their Threat to Humanity,” Carol Grieve’, April 8, 2014;
“Dr. Don Huber is an award-winning, international scientist and professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University. Today he spoke with Food Integrity about the dangers of GMOs and Glyphosate (Roundup). Dr. Huber’s 50+ years of research and expertise in the area of plant pathology with a focus on epidemiology and control of soil-borne pathogens gives him much credibility in discussing the science behind GMOs and Glyphoshate. He spoke about Glyphosate, which is the most widely used herbicide in the world, being many times more toxic than DDT. He explained how Glyphosate, a mineral chelator, herbicide and patented antibiotic, affects our human body as well as the environment and the inherent dangers associated with this chronic toxin.
“Dr. Huber discussed the alarming information about the recent finding of Glyphosate in human breast milk. He talked about the need for immediate research in this area–as the levels were much higher than the levels found in urine. His concern for future generations on the under-researched and flawed science of genetic engineering is fact- based and comprehensive. He stated:
“We’ve pretty much sacrificed an entire generation of children. The longer we go, the more damage that is going to accumulate.” ... The article is an introduction to a 45-minute audio interview and discussion with Don Huber.
“7 Ways Organic Farms Outperform Conventional Farms—Sustainable, organic farming practices are the best way to feed the future,” Greg Seaman, October 24, 2011;
“Just a few generations ago, in the 1930’s, approximately 45% of Americans lived on farms. This demographic gradually but steadily declined as people migrated to urban centers, and over time, to suburbs. Today, only about 960,000 people claim farming as their principal occupation, which represents less than 1% of the US population.
“During the same period of time the US population has more than doubled, and demand for agricultural products has increased accordingly.
“It is a testament to human ingenuity that the mechanics of farming has managed to keep pace with an ever-expanding demand even as the number of farms has declined. Farm machinery has become larger, more efficient and more productive. New crop varieties have been developed which resist common pests and diseases while producing larger yields. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides have become increasingly effective, allowing farmers to produce larger crops without the need for additional human labor.
“Farmlands have become increasingly dependent on chemical fertilizers which have short-term benefits but contribute to soil depletion over time.
“But while today’s large scale food producers continue to profit and consumers see supermarket shelves overflowing with farm products, the unseen costs of our dependence on agribusiness exert a mounting toll. Farmlands have become increasingly dependent on chemical fertilizers which have short-term benefits but contribute to soil depletion over time. Water retention is diminished in non-organic farmland, resulting in erosion of topsoil with chemical residues entering watersheds. ”We consumers have quietly accepted these changes in farming practices as the cost of feeding a growing nation, and because there seem to be no practical alternatives.
“Recent experiments in small organic farming practices, and the release of a 30-year side-by-side farming study by the Rodale Institute, have shown this reasoning to be fundamentally flawed. Organic farming, both large and small scale, is more productive than ‘conventional’ chemical-dependent farming. Organic farming is not only the best way to feed the world – it is the only way to feed the world in a sustainable way.” ...
Note: this is not a recent article but it is still important.
“Scientists help corn withstand drought stress,” May 14, 2014;
“Des Moines, Iowa - DuPont Pioneer scientists have made a significant advancement in corn plants that successfully withstand drought stress, the company said. In a coming edition of the scientific publication, Plant Biotechnology Journal, Pioneer scientists reveal a new finding that higher yielding corn plants succeed under drought conditions when naturally occurring ethylene stress hormone levels in the plant are reduced through a transgene.
“The study, ‘Transgenic Alteration of Ethylene Biosynthesis Increases Grain Yield in Maize under Field Drought-Stress Conditions,’ by Jeff Habben and colleagues is the most in-depth research effort of its kind reported to date in peer-reviewed scientific literature.” ... Scientists in the biotech industry have needed to produce something to show some progress on drought tolerance, because now had been shown previously. Now, they at least have a claim to make---whether or not it is the best way to improve the ability of crops to withstand drought. Many organic farmers would say they have better ways.
“Did Scientists Just Solve the Bee Collapse Mystery?” Tom Philpott, May 20, 2014;
“It’s a hard-knock life, scouring the landscape for pollen to sustain a beehive. Alight upon the wrong field, and you might encounter fungicides, increasingly used on corn and soybean crops, and shown to harm honeybees at tiny levels. Get hauled in to pollinate California’s vast almond groves, as 60 percent of US honeybees do, and you’ll likely make contact with a group of chemicals called adjuvants—allegedly ‘inert’ pesticide additives that have emerged as a prime suspect for a large bee die-off during this year’s almond bloom.
“The hardest-to-avoid menace of all might be the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, widely used not only on big Midwestern crops like corn and soybeans but also on cotton, sorghum, sugar beets, apples, cherries, peaches, oranges, berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, and potatoes. They’re even common in yard and landscaping products. I’ve written before about the growing weight of science linking these lucrative pesticides, marketed by European agrichemical giants Bayer and Syngenta, to declining bee health, including the annual die-offs known as colony collapse disorder, which began in the winter of 2005-06.
“And now, a new Harvard study fingers neonics as the key driver of colony collapse disorder. The experiment couldn’t have been simpler. Working with nearby beekeepers, Harvard researcher Chensheng Lu and his team treated 12 colonies with tiny levels of neonics and kept six control hives free of the popular chemicals. All 18 hives made it through summer without any apparent trouble. Come winter, though, the bees in six of the treated hives vanished, leaving behind empty colonies—the classic behavior of colony collapse disorder. None of the six control hives experienced a CCD-style disappearing act, although one did succumb to a common-to-bees gut pathogen called nosema.” …
“Transgenics Prosper Amidst Pragmatism and Collateral Damage,” Inter Press Service, May 20, 2014;
“Buenos Aires, May 20 (IPS) - The advertising department of Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta was on a roll in early 2004 when it published a map that dubbed a large area of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay the United Republic of Soy.
“In this republic more than 46 million hectares of transgenic soy are sprayed with 600 million litres of the herbicide glyphosate and are largely responsible for the deforestation of 500,000 hectares a year in the past decade, according to estimates by the international non-profit organisation GRAIN.
“The expansion of agricultural biotechnology in South America has occurred under governments described as progressive, and has fueled a debate between those who see it as scientific and economic progress and those who stress the social, environmental and political damage caused.
“According to GRAIN, global biotech corporations stepped up their campaign to spread transgenic or genetically modified (GM) seeds in 2012, when most of the Southern Cone countries had governments that were critical of neoliberal policies and that were in favour of a state that played a strong role with respect to social, educational, health and economic questions.” ...
“Oregon’s Jackson County Votes Today on Whether to Ban Transgenic Crops,” Andrew Stelzer, May 20, 2014;
“Measure 15-119 is the opening salvo of Oregonians’ high-stakes campaign against Big Biotech
“Update, 11:30 p.m: Jackson County voters approved the measure by an overwhelming 2 to 1 margin
“Yellow signs dot the rural landscape of Oregon’s Jackson County, most of them urging local to vote ‘Yes’ to ‘Protect Family Farms.’ Meanwhile, in the population centers of Medford and Ashland, volunteers frantically work the phones trying to get out the vote before 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“Good Neighbor Farmers, the primary group campaigning against the measure, has raised almost $1 million to date. Over $644,000 of that money came from out-of state biotech companies like Monsanto and Syngenta.
“At stake is the sovereignty of hundreds of farmers in the fertile Rogue Valley. And a victory by GMO opponents could signify a new chapter in the debate over genetic engineering in the United States — a country far behind much of the world in regulating GMOs.
“Jackson county residents are voting today on whether to ban genetically modified crops, in an area peppered with GMO farms operated by the Swiss Agribusiness giant Syngenta. In contrast to much of the discussion to date in the US, the conversation in Jackson County has been less about the potential health impacts of GMO’s, and more about the right of farmers to determine the origin of the seeds they put in the ground.
“The roots of the Measure 15-119, or the Jackson County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, go back to 2012, when local farmers realized that Syngenta had dozens of plots of land scattered throughout the narrow Rogue River Valley — with many growing genetically engineered trial crops. Characterized by strong winds, the valley is home to many organic and seed farms as well as farms that grow beta vulgaris — chard, beets, and other crops which are easily cross-pollinated in those windy conditions.
“Oshala farms’ Elise Higley, who grows 66 different crops on her farm, says Syngenta grows GMO beets down the road from her. As a result, she has to purchase beet and chard seeds every year.
“‘If we saved our own seed like we want to, then we would be growing GMO beets and chard. It would be contaminated with that pollen,’ said Higley, who also serves as director of Our Family Farms Coalition, the primary group supporting measure 15-119. ‘It’s a real economic risk for farmers having those GMO crops so close by.’” …
“Two Oregon Counties Ban GMO Plants After Historic Grassroots Campaign—Agribusiness giants spent $450,000 to try to defeat the measure,” Steven Rosenfeld, May 21, 2014:
“Two Oregon counties have banned genetically engineered plants in local ballot measures passed Tuesday, after a coalition of family farmers and local food activists ran a grassroots campaign that beat some of the nation’s largest biotechnology and corporate farming companies.
“The measures passed in Jackson County and Josephine County in southwestern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, in votes where 55,000 voters said not to GMO. In Jackson County, where Ashland and Medford are located, the fight attracted more than $1.3 million in donations, including $455,000 from six biotech companies, including Monsanto and Syngenta.
“‘We fought the most powerful and influential chemical companies in the world and we won,’ Elise Higley, a Jackson County farmer with the anti-GMO group Our Family Farms Coalition, told The Oregonian on Tuesday night. Opponents, including the pro-agribusiness Farm Bureau, called the ban irrational, even though 66 percent of voters in Jackson County and 57 percent in Josephine County supported it.” …
“Are you Ready to March on Saturday?”
“The global March Against Monsanto will take place this coming Saturday, May 24th! If you haven’t RSVP’d to your local event yet, you can find a location near you on (the event is now past by stayed tuned for the next opportunity).
“If there isn’t a march in your area, you can still start one! Here’s how: http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/2014/02/directions-to-organize-march-against.html
“Whether you are physically marching or not, please join our social media hashtag storm that will be coinciding with the march on Saturday. The details and hashtags will be released through the event page and our Facebook page.
“Please invite your friends lists to your local events and to the social media storm. Here’s an easy plugin for Firefox users to automatically invite all of their Facebook friends: http://mzl.la/1eIy3Ct
Hope to see everyone out there! Here are our links to stay up to date and get involved:
Global event list: www.march-against-monsanto.com/p/blog-page_5.html
See more at: http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/#sthash.jNyZNDXL.dpuf
“The ‘Natural’ Label’s Impact on Organic Farmers,” May 22, 2014
“It’s only natural to get swept up by the allure of products marketed as ‘natural.’ We resonate with that term for a number of reasons: it implies pure, unadulterated goodness. It sounds comforting. There’s an ease—a lightness implied to it. And above all else, we associate it with being healthy for us.
“But when it comes to food, we know nothing is more ‘natural’ than something growing in our backyard vegetable garden, yet we take solace and comfort in foods that appeal to our desire for ‘natural.’ But nowadays we’re learning the consequences of that term all too well.
“For starters, if a food is marketed as ‘natural’ it probably isn’t. It’s more likely to have been processed—spending more time inside a factory than it ever did on a farm. Lawsuits have challenged the credibility of ‘natural’ claims, and while that has put pressure on manufacturers to use the term more accurately (or not at all), it says nothing of the pressure on organic farmers.
“Companies marketing ‘natural’ products merely pay lip service to sustainability and eco-friendliness, while undercutting the truly committed organic companies that walk their talk by buying from farms that are managed organically, without synthetics and pesticides, non- therapeutic antibiotics and hormones, and sewage sludge.” …
“A Response to The Wall Street Journal article: ‘Organic Farming Is Not Sustainable,’” Linley Dixon, Cornucopia Farm Policy Analyst, May 23, 2014;
“The Wall Street Journal opinion piece ‘Organic Farming Is Not Sustainable’ published May 15, 2014 by Dr. Henry Miller misrepresents the industry and is riddled with factual inaccuracies. Dr. Miller attempts to discredit organic agriculture’s environmental benefits on the basis of pesticide use, lower yields, groundwater contamination, and greenhouse gas emissions. The author displays a clear bias and incomplete knowledge of these subjects throughout the piece.
“Dr. Miller states that one problem with organic farming is the use of pesticides, including nicotine sulfate and rotenone. Although natural, nicotine sulfate is listed as a prohibited substance in organic production. Rotenone is not licensed by the EPA for use in the United States and the National Organic Standards Board voted to prohibit rotenone in international organic commerce.
“The more commonly used organic natural/botanically-based pesticides like pyrethroids, although safer to the environment, are considered ”restricted“ under organic regulations and only used as a last resort after cultural and biological preventative measures are exhausted.
“These materials are very expensive compared to synthetic pesticides giving growers tremendous economic disincentive to use them. Instead, disease and pest prevention practices are routine in organic production and eliminate the need for chemical inputs.
“Skeptics of organic agriculture frequently point to the use of natural pesticides, but fail to understand they are highly scrutinized to assure their safety for human health and the environment and are only last resort materials and thus used in very limited quantities. Conventional agriculture, on the other hand, sprays highly toxic and carcinogenic agrochemicals because they are cheaper than practicing disease prevention. The use of plant diversity, crop rotation, enhanced soil fertility, and a pest prevention program are all required under an Organic Systems Plan for farm certification.” …
“Mexico and Monsanto: Taking Precaution in the Face of Genetic Contamination,” Timothy A Wise, May 27, 2014;
“To listen to the current debates over the controversial requests by Monsanto and other biotech giants to grow genetically modified (GM) maize in Mexico, you’d think the danger to the country’s rich biodiversity in maize was hypothetical. It is anything but.
“Studies have found the presence of transgenes in native maize in nearly half of Mexico’s states. A study of maize diversity within the confines of Mexico’s sprawling capital city revealed transgenic maize in 70 percent of the samples from the area of Xochimilco and 49 percent of those from Tlalpan.
“Mexico is the ‘center of origin’ where maize was first domesticated from its wild ancestor, teocinte. The country is arguably the last place you’d want to risk the possibility that its wide array of native seeds might be undermined by what indigenous people have called ‘genetic pollution’ from GM maize.
“Last October, a judge issued an injunction putting a halt to all experimental and commercial planting until it can be proven that native maize varieties are not threatened by ‘gene flow’ from GM maize. The precautionary measure comes more than a decade too late.
“In 2001, US-based researchers discovered the presence of transgenic traits in native maize varieties in the southern state of Oaxaca. A formal citizen complaint brought an exhaustive study by the environmental commission set up by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The researchers acknowledged that ‘gene flow’ had occurred, warned, as other studies did, of more widespread contamination, and called for precautionary policies, including restrictions on imports from the United States.” …
“EU Safety Institutions Caught Plotting an Industry ”Escape Route“ Around Looming Pesticide Ban,” Jonathan Latham, Independent Science News, News Analysis, May 27, 2014;
“EU documents newly obtained by the nonprofit Pesticide Action Network of Europe reveal that the health commission of the European Union (DG SANCO), which is responsible for protecting public health, is attempting to develop a procedural ‘escape route’ to evade an upcoming EU-wide ban on endocrine disrupting pesticides. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are those that alter hormonal regulation at very low doses to cause effects on behavior, reproduction, and gender, as well as cancer and birth defects.
“In 2009, under the European Union’s then-new chemical REACH legislation, a continent-wide ban on endocrine disrupting pesticides was agreed. The European Commission (EC) was charged with taking various steps to protect public safety. These included officially defining what constitutes an endocrine disrupting effect and designating acceptable chemical detection methods. The deadline to present these criteria for ensuring protection against endocrine disrupting pesticides expired on December 14, 2013.
“Instead of providing the needed safety guidance, however, the EU’s Health Commission (DG SANCO) appears to be drafting a procedural ‘escape route’ around the endocrine disrupting ban. This legal maneuvering is being done behind closed doors and with the collaboration of some EU member states and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, an independent EU agency created to assess food risks for the Commission).
“As initially revealed by the Pesticides Action Network of Europe (PAN Europe), only Sweden is opposing this escape route, which they consider to be an abandonment of the original democratic mandate. According to a report by Agence France Presse (AFP) Sweden is now going to sue the EU due to mounting evidence that harmful impacts of endocrine disruption are already being felt. AFP quotes Swedish environment minister Lena Ek:
‘In some places in Sweden we see double sexed fish. We have scientific reports on how this affects fertility of young boys and girls, and other serious effects.’
“The documents obtained by PAN Europe show that the lobbying to undermine the ban is being led by EFSA. This is in direct conflict with the missions of both EFSA and DG SANCO which are to protect public health.” …
“Millions Worldwide March Against Monsanto,” Lauren McCauley, staff writer, May 24, 2014:
“Dr. Vandana Shiva: ‘We did not choose to target Monsanto. Monsanto chose to target our seed and food freedom, our scientific and democratic institutions, our very lives.’
“‘It’s time to take back our food!’ was the cry as people in 52 countries worldwide took to the streets in a global day of action on Saturday against chemical behemoth Monsanto.
“The third annual March Against Monsanto (MAM) is slated to be the biggest yet, according to movement founder Tami Canal, with millions of people in over 400 cities expected to take part.
“‘From Agent Orange to Monsanto’s pending patents directly affiliated with weather modification to the gross government corruption, MAM has evolved to expose all the insidious tentacles that Monsanto possesses,’ said Canal in an interview with Anti-Media.
“Across social media, protesters shared images from demonstrations around the world where people called for the permanent boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and other harmful agro-chemicals.” …
“GMO risks Australia’s organic exports,” May 30, 2014;
“Sydney - A landmark GMO contamination ruling in Australia could usher in lower organic farming standards, stripping the country of its premier status and threatening organic exports in an industry set to double in size by 2018.
“Australia currently does not allow any trace of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in its organic produce.
“But when an Australian court ruled on Wednesday against an organic farmer’s damages bid, after GMO canola seed heads blew onto his property, causing him to loose his organic licence, many believe the zero GMO standard will now be watered down.
“A move to a European Union model, which allows up to 0.9%, is being mooted to prevent farmers falling short of the required Australian organic standard and against a backdrop of increased GMO sowing in Australia.
“However, a watering down of the regulations could limit Australia’s organic exports to some key markets.
“Andrew Monk, chairperson of Australian Organic, the country’s largest certifier, said he did not believe the standard needed changing and warned of the dangers of doing so.
“‘We would be really shooting ourselves in the foot in terms of future supply into markets like Asia and Europe for what are high valued, premium products,’ said Monk.” ... The story reflects on the future of the organic market in Australia following the failure of the court to award damages to Steve Marsh following the loss of organic certification as a result of transgenic contamination blowing onto his farm from his neighbor, Michael Baxter.
“Does Australia need laws for ‘biotrespass’ to protect organic farms? A landmark case on genetically modified crops, handed down in Western Australia, will reignite the debate over whether current laws are powerless against developments in biotechnology,” Matthew Rimmer, May 29, 2014;
“The supreme court of Western Australia handed down a landmark decision yesterday, on genetically modified crop liability. The ruling in Marsh v Baxter is an enormous win for the agricultural biotechnology industry, and has disappointed organic farmers and their advocates.
“The dispute was between a family of organic farmers, Stephen and Susan Marsh, and their neighbour and former friend Michael Baxter. After Stephen found GM stalks and seeds on his property in 2010, he sought damages and a permanent judgment to stop Baxter swathing GM canola (slashing the crop so it ripens at a uniform rate). The Marshes were concerned about cross-contamination, and the loss of the organic certification of their nearby property, Eagle Rest.
“The case went back to the basics of tort law. Justice Kenneth Martin cited Lord Atkin’s classic 1932 dictum in Donoghue v Stevenson: 'The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour, and the lawyer’s question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply.’
“In an epic 150-page judgment, Martin grappled with the complex factual matrix of the case, while also showing a certain wariness at the novelty of the dispute, and the public controversy over GM crops.
“First, Martin concluded ‘that there was no unreasonable interference by Mr Baxter with the Marshes’ enjoyment of Eagle Rest merely by his growing RR canola on Sevenoaks during 2010’.
“Second, he held that Baxter’s swathing wasn’t ‘unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment by the Marshes of Eagle Rest’ – irrespective of their organic certification and the contracts that relied upon it.
“Third, the Marshes’ action in negligence also failed, in part because of the novelty of the case led to ‘the absence of a duty of care to avoid a foreseeable economic loss’.
“Finally, the judge rejected the claim for a permanent injunction to stop Baxter swathing in the future, because of ‘the absence of an empirical basis to support any buffer distance.’” …
“West Australian organic farmer loses court fight against GM neighbour,” Paige Taylor, May 28, 2014;
“AN organic farmer has lost a landmark case against the neighbour and former friend he accused of contaminating his crop with genetically-modified canola.
“The decision was delivered in the Supreme Court of Western Australia this afternoon after a closely-observed civil case.
“Changerup farmer Steve Marsh claimed he lost organic certification for more than half of his farm – Eagles Rest - after GM canola drifted onto his land from the property of Michael Baxter.
“Four years ago, Mr Marsh’s oats, rye and sheep farm, about 3.5 hours drive southeast of Perth, was certified organic by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia.
“He alleged he lost that certification when GM seeds blew 1.5km inside his property.
“Mr Marsh and his wife claimed damages from Mr Baxter and a permanent injunction against his future swathing of genetically modified canola on his land.
“Justice Kenneth Martin described the crops from the Baxter’s property as ‘entirely benign’. He found the decision to withdraw organic certification was made by the NASAA/NCO and it was that decision that cost the Marsh’s about $85,000 in reduced income.
“Justice Martin said there was ‘a very strong body of evidence in this trial to suggest that there was no legitimate contractual basis for NCO to decertify, for nearly three years, paddocks 7 to 13 of Eagle Rest, as regards a use for pasture or for crops’.” …
“Secret emails reveal how UK ministers plotted with GM lobbyists,” GM Watch summary of Daily Mail story, May 6, 2014;
“Collusion between the Government and the multinational firms behind genetically modified food is revealed in official documents.
“Secret emails reveal how ministers plotted with the GM lobbyists: Documents show how two worked together on campaign to win over sceptical consumers:
• Contacts were part of strategy to relax regulations on controversial crops
• They involved civil servants asking for “eye-catching” ways to plug GM
• Pro-GM lobbyists evens sent Government department a ‘blacklist’ of critics
• Behind-the-scenes deal revealed by pressure group GeneWatch
“Collusion between the Government and the multinational firms behind genetically modified food is revealed in official documents.
“Emails between civil servants and the GM industry show how the two worked together on a media strategy to win over consumers sceptical about so-called Frankenstein Food.
“One official even asked lobbyists for ‘eye-catching themes’ for ministers.
“The contacts were part of a wider strategy designed to relax European regulations on growing the controversial crops and spend millions of taxpayers’ money on GM research in British fields.” …
GM Watch Review #342, June 4, 2014; This is the premier summary of world-wide news events related to transgenic food and agriculture. Links are provided to all the primary references.
“Dr. Andres Carrasco, 67, neuroscientist fought Monsanto over Roundup,” Michael Warren, Associated Press, May 13, 2014 (updated on May 14, 2014);
“Buenos Aires, Argentina — Dr. Andres Carrasco, an Argentine neuroscientist who challenged pesticide regulators to re-examine one of the world’s most widely used weed killers, has died. He was 67.
“Argentina’s national science council announced Dr. Carrasco’s death on Saturday. He had been in declining health.
“Dr. Carrasco, a molecular biologist at the University of Buenos Aires and past-president of Argentina’s CONICET science council, was a widely published expert in embryonic development whose work focused on how neurotransmitters affect genetic expression in vertebrates. But none of his research generated as much controversy as his 2010 study on glyphosate, which became a major public relations challenge for the St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto Company.” ...
“Andrés Carrasco, scientist and activist, dies,” GM Watch, May 10, 2014;
“We are very sad to hear the news of the death of Professor Andres Carrasco, whose research showed that glyphosate and Roundup cause malformations in embryos.
”Andres Carrasco was a brilliant and honest scientist and a fearless campaigner for truth. He will be sadly missed.
“Andrés Carrasco, scientist and activist: thank you. Lavaca.org, 10 May 2014:
http://www.lavaca.org/notas/andres-carrasco-cientifico-y-militante-gracias/ [In Spanish; rough English translation of excerpts only by GMWatch]
”Andrés Carrasco, the scientist who confirmed the devastating effects of glyphosate, investigated sprayed people, and questioned science in the service of corporations, has died. We publish below the last interview he gave and also “Happiness can be a political issue?”, the interview [with Carrasco] that [radio station] Decí Mu broadcast.
“… The scientist Andrés Carrasco told how he decided to release his investigation into the lethal effects of glyphosate. He was in the south, fishing, just enjoying the beauty of the natural order. He knew his findings were crucial and felt that the perfect silence around him was a huge scream. ”I had to do something.“ To do it, he just needed to find ”a serious and decent journalist.“ On the spot, he called Dario Aranda…”
“A National Call to Link Arms for Democracy,” Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion Ptashnik, Truthout Op-Ed, May 31 2014;
Moral Monday in Asheville, NC, January, 2014.
Photograph by Will Thomas, Flickr.
“When I despair I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall, think of it - always!” - Mahatma Gandhi
“For Americans, these are dangerous and momentous times. We have only a small window of opportunity to break the grip of moneyed interests on our government, before an advancing oligarchy consolidates power and locks in tyranny.
“This article is an urgent call to organize a mass-based political movement in the coming months and through the 2016 elections. If we rise to the occasion and fight, we can reclaim democracy, regain control of our future, and preserve the dreams of our children, and for the coming generations.
Without a sweeping grassroots movement, loudly pushing and protesting for reforms, populist candidates, or coalitions in Congress will never have the power to defeat the forces of a corrupt ruling class. Robber barons have resurfaced with a vengeance in the past four decades, openly attacking our democratic system, while buying power to extend and protect their privilege in perpetuity.
“The immense tide of social progress that flourished in the 20th century, from antitrust reforms and the New Deal social safety net, to environmental regulation, civil rights and women's rights, are collectively in the bull's eye of a demolition ball. As manufactured austerity and deep cuts to essential social services continue, Wall Street banks and US multinational corporations remain the true welfare queens. In 2013, corporate tax breaks amounted to $176 billion. Incredibly, companies like General Electric, Boeing, Verizon, Bank of America, and Citigroup paid no income tax at all, and some even received a refund!” …
“Oregon's GMO Sellout,” Rebekah Wilce, The Progressive, May 21, 2014;
“Even though the state of Oregon enacted a law to override the ability of localities to regulate their own food systems, local ballot measures to ban GMO crops passed overwhelmingly in Jackson and Josephine Counties on May 20, according to news reports. ‘We fought the most powerful and influential chemical companies in the world and we won,’ Elise Higley, a local farmer with the anti-GMO group Our Family Farms Coalition, told The Oregonian. The Progressive magazine tells the backstory below and reveals that the preemption measure shares language with an ALEC model bill.
“When the headline said that Oregon’s Democratic governor, John Kitzhaber, had signed into law a corporate-backed bill overriding local counties’ ability to regulate their own food systems, Lisa Arkin was shocked.
“‘I can viscerally remember the day I looked at the headline,’ she says. ‘It was such a deep feeling of disgust and disbelief. I couldn’t believe that any amount of money from outside corporations could convince our elected leaders in Oregon to abandon the democratic process in that way.’
“Arkin is the executive director of a small nonprofit organization called Beyond Toxics that works to protect human health and the environment in Oregon by reducing the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides on farms, in forests, and along roadsides.
“Arkin’s group sees every day the effects of herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup® glyphosate. Most genetically modified crops (GMOs) in the United States are engineered to withstand especially heavy application of this herbicide.
“In a special session called for late September and early October 2013 to address Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System and education funding, legislators jammed through a bill that preempts Oregon counties from regulating their own agriculture and seeds.
“The law, which Arkin and other critics call the ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ is eerily similar to a piece of ‘model’ legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The new law and ALEC’s bill, entitled ‘Preemption of Local Agricultural Laws Act,’ both contain this crucial passage: ‘A local government may not enact or enforce a . . . measure, including but not limited to an ordinance, regulation, control area or quarantine, to inhibit or prevent the production or use of agricultural seed, flower seed . . . or vegetable seed or products of agricultural seed, flower seed . . . or vegetable seed.’
“The effort to block local democratic control of food issues in Oregon began after family farmers and sustainable food advocates in Jackson County gathered enough signatures in January 2013 to put a local GMO ban on the ballot in the spring of 2014.
“‘Our main goal is to protect family farmers and keep local family farmers sustainable in the Rogue Valley,’ says Elise Higley, a Jackson County farmer and director of Our Family Farms Coalition. ‘Having the counties decide on our own is imperative because in every county the layout of the land is so different.’” …
“Monsanto vs. the monarchs: The fight to save the world’s most stunning butterfly migration—North America is on the verge of losing one of its most spectacular phenomena, Chip Taylor tells Salon,” Lindsay Abrams, June 1, 2014;
“Monarch butterflies are pretty impressive insects: Aside from that whole metamorphosis thing, they’re famous for their annual winter migration, an up to 3,000-mile journey across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The breathtaking spectacle that results when they alight, by the millions, in central Mexico is the sort that inspires legends, not to mention sustains the country’s tourist industry.
“But if the monarchs can be said to have a fatal flaw, it’s that they’re are entirely dependent upon milkweed. And milkweed, once common in the American Midwest, has been all but eliminated from the cropland where it once thrived, the loss a side effect of our growing, and increasingly efficient, industrial agriculture system. While the monarch itself isn’t yet endangered, its stunning migration could soon become a thing of the past.
“There are actually a lot of places where we can place the blame for this. The push, by Congress, to use corn-based ethanol as biofuel didn’t help matters, and climate change certainly isn’t doing the butterflies any favors, either. The question now is what we’re going to do about it. Enter Chip Taylor, insect ecologist and founder of Monarch Watch. The group, which has been operating since 1992 out of the University of Kansas, is hard at work on an enticingly simple solution to all this: if the loss of milkweed is killing the butterflies, then maybe, just maybe, what we need to do is plant more milkweed.
“There’s a little more to it, of course. But, as Taylor told Salon, it’s a promising start. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Berkeley Food Institute agree: this May, they honored him with a Growing Green award for his work as a ‘pollinator protector.’ Taylor spoke with Salon about his 22-year campaign to protect the monarchs, and made a heck of a case for why they’re worth the effort. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.” …
“Opposing Local Hawaii Law, Big Agribusiness Confuses GMO Regulations With Same-Sex Marriage Discrimination,” Ron Fein, Truthout Op-Ed, June 6, 2014;
“What do same-sex marriage and genetically engineered soybeans have in common? The correct answer is nothing. But big agribusiness corporations are banking on a federal judge in Hawaii to make the connection.
“Hawaii is a beautiful setting for weddings and honeymoons, for both locals and visitors from all over the world. And as of December 2013, it celebrates same-sex marriages - 20 years after its State Supreme Court became the first in the nation to see a problem with denying marriage to same-sex couples.
“But Hawaii has also become a test bed for multinational agribusiness corporations eager to try out new pesticides and new genetically engineered organisms, such as new variants of soybeans and corn. Many people in Hawaii are concerned about the effects of all these pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Not everyone cares. But people are asking questions, and last year, the local government on the scenic island of Kaua'i passed a law requiring major commercial agricultural companies to tell the public what pesticides and genetically modified organisms they're using on the island.
“Now lawyers for these global agribusinesses are asking a federal judge in Hawaii to throw out the Kaua'i law. And - this is the crazy part - they're comparing it to laws against gays and lesbians.
“In 1996, in a case called Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court struck down a Colorado constitutional amendment that had prevented state and local agencies from providing anti-discrimination protections to gays and lesbians. In that decision, Justice Kennedy found that the Colorado law violated the Constitution's equal protection clause, which says that no state may ‘deny equal protection of the laws to any person.’ Justice Kennedy drew on past discrimination cases to explain that the Constitution doesn't allow laws that are motivated by ‘a bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group.’
“Justice Kennedy's decision in 1996 laid the groundwork for the recent wave of decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage. While not everyone supports same-sex marriage, a growing majority of Americans recognize that, however they personally might feel about it, the government shouldn't discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation.
“So what does this have to do with global seed corporations? The correct answer is ‘absolutely nothing.’ But these companies claim that the Kaua'i law requiring them to disclose what they're releasing into the environment violates their rights under the equal protection clause. And, amazingly, they're citing Romer v. Evans as precedent. But not just Romer - they're also citing cases involving discrimination against the mentally handicapped, and children of undocumented immigrants. (The companies cite these cases at page 40 of their summary judgment memorandum, which is not posted on the internet, but is available upon request.)” …
Comment: This is a new twist on the previously employed claim that requirements imposed on corporations violated their commercial speech rights. Claimed and awarded have been a right to avoid saying anything that would undermine a profitable corporate interest, and this right has trumped the right of the people to know what the need to know to protect their health and the health of the environment.
“9 Questions Billionaires Disparagingly Ask About the People They Exploit—How the 1% willfully misunderstands the 99%” Peter Van Buren, June 3, 2014;
“Last year eight Americans -- the four Waltons of Walmart fame, the two Koch brothers, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett -- made more money than 3.6 million American minimum-wage workers combined. The median pay for CEOs at America's large corporations rose to $10 million per year, while a typical chief executive now makes about 257 times the average worker's salary, up sharply from 181 times in 2009. Overall, 1% of Americans own more than a third of the country’s wealth.
“As the United States slips from its status as the globe’s number one economic power, small numbers of Americans continue to amass staggering amounts of wealth, while simultaneously inequality trends toward historic levels. At what appears to be a critical juncture in our history and the history of inequality in this country, here are nine questions we need to ask about who we are and what will become of us. Let's start with a French economist who has emerged as an important voice on what’s happening in America today.” …
Comment: Monsanto is part of the billionaire world exploiting the rest of the people and the Commons, so they can profit at the expense of farmers and everyone else.
“Dangerous Pesticides Showing Up More and More In Our Urine and Breast Milk—Farmers and consumers have been guinea pigs in a Big Ag experiment,” Margot Ford McMillen, June 1, 2014;
“In early April, the shocking news that breast milk carries many times the allowable amount of glyphosate, also called Roundup, came out on the web. Glyphosate is a poison that defoliates plants, but back in the late 1990s, farmers began planting soybeans that resisted the chemical, bouncing back from a dowse of Glyphosate like they had just enjoyed a spring rain, while the weeds around them died. The Frankenstein soybeans were followed by releases of genetically modified corn, cotton, canola and sugar beets. Now, many crops carry the gene.
“As a result, according to the release, scientists found glyphosate at ‘760 to 1600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides.’ These levels are less than allowable levels set by America’s Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has been led to believe that glyphosate exits the body and does not accumulate. How could they think that?
“The answer is that, in an atmosphere of austerity and trade secrets, the government listens to industry scientists. Senior Monsanto scientist Dan Goldstein recently stated ‘If ingested, glyphosate is excreted rapidly, does not accumulate in body fat or tissues, and does not undergo metabolism in humans.’
“The website Sustainable Pulse, directed by Henry Rowlands, broke the breast-milk news. Rowlands has been a longtime critic of the biotech industry. Immediately, big ag released criticisms of the study’s small sample numbers, but the assertion that America is drowning in Roundup should be investigated. And the story, co-released by Moms Across America, continued that urine from American consumers had also been tested and researchers found 10 times the glyphosate as urine in European consumers.” …
“How a Big Agribusiness Firm Infiltrated the EPA and Made a Mockery of Science—Smear campaigns and coverups allowed a dangerous chemical to remain in America's water supply,” Kamil Ahsan, June 5, 2014;
Photograph by Marcin Balcerzak, Shutterstock.com
“Earlier this year, in an exposé in The New Yorker, Rachel Aviv detailed the story of Syngenta, an agribusiness firm that was sued by the community water systems of six states in a class-action lawsuit over the firm’s herbicide atrazine.
“Atrazine is the second most commonly used herbicide in the US and is used on more than 50% of all corn crops. It is one of Syngenta’s most profitable chemicals with sales at over $3 million a year. Banned in the EU, atrazine remains on the market in the US despite scores of scientific publications demonstrating its role in abnormal sexual development. Almost insoluble in water, atrazine contaminates drinking water supplies at 30 times the concentration demonstrated to cause severe sexual abnormalities in animal models. It is estimated that 30 million Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of atrazine.
“Recently unsealed court documents from the lawsuit have disclosed how Syngenta launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to disrepute and suppress scientific research, and influence the US Environmental Protection Agency to prevent a ban on atrazine.” …
The Cultivator from Cornucopia Institute, edition of June 7, 2014 with two stories related to Monsanto, one about the transgenic contamination of native Mexican corn and the other and editorial focusing the issues of greatest concern related to transgenic crops;
“EU ministers back deal with option to ban or approve GM crops,” Barbara Lewis, Reuters, June 12, 2014;
“Luxembourg: A compromise deal to give European Union states the option of banning genetically modified crops won approval from EU environment ministers on Thursday, bringing the EU closer to ending years of deadlock over GM cultivation.
“Widely grown in the Americas and Asia, GM crops in Europe have divided opinion, with strong opposition in many countries, including France and Germany, while Britain favours them.
“Thursday's compromise deal drew criticism from both opponents and supporters of growing GM food in Europe.
“Monsanto, maker of the only GM crop grown in the EU, said if the law were enacted as drafted, the company would continue to focus its investment in other parts of the world. The European Green Party, meanwhile, described the deal as ‘a Trojan horse’ that would open the door to GM crops across Europe.
“At a meeting in Luxembourg, EU environment ministers from 26 of the 28 member states backed the new proposal, which still needs approval from the European Parliament. Only Belgium and Luxembourg abstained.
“France, whose constitutional court has already issued a ruling to uphold a domestic ban on GM maize, welcomed the proposal.
“’This new system is going to guarantee a choice for all states. Nothing will be imposed,’ French Environment Minister Segolene Royal told the Luxembourg meeting.
“Under the proposal, the European Commission, the EU executive, would retain the right to ban or approve any particular GM crop throughout the European Union on the basis of a scientific assessment.
“But in the cases where the Commission approves a crop, individual states could ask for a ban and would also have the right to ask the Commission to ask companies to exclude them from any new requests for approval for a GM crop.
“German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said the proposal opened the way for a formal ban in Germany and welcomed the idea the Commission would serve as the middle man.
“‘The Commission will serve as an intermediary and we're grateful for that. We think it would not be appropriate for sovereign states to negotiate with companies,’ Hendricks said.
“Britain, as a supporter of GM crops, also welcomed the compromise.
“‘If the European Parliament passes this law, farmers in all regions of the UK will have more power in deciding whether to grow GM crops that have passed a robust, independent safety assessment,’ British Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson said in a statement.” …
“Pesticide and GMO Companies Spend Big in Hawaii,” Rebekah Wilce, PRWatch, News Analysis, June 12, 2014;
“Over the last decade, Hawaii has become a hub for the development of genetically engineered corn and other crops, but activists opposed to biotech crops have joined with residents who say the corn farms expose them to dust and pesticides. A research scientist at Pioneer, which is owned by Dupont, walks through one of the company's corn fields on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Sept. 25, 2013. Photograph by Cory Lum, The New York Times
“Hawaii has become ‘ground zero’ in the controversy over genetically modified (GMO) crops and pesticides. With the seed crop industry (including conventional as well as GMO crops) reaping $146.3 million a year in sales resulting from its activities in Hawaii, the out-of-state pesticide and GMO firms Syngenta, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow Chemical, BASF, and Bayer CropScience have brought substantial sums of corporate cash into the state's relatively small political arena.
“Chemical Conglomerates Retaliate Against Local Democratic Control—
“These ‘Big 6’ pesticide and GMO firms are active on the islands in a big way, making use of the three to four annual growing seasons to develop new GMO seeds more quickly. The development of new GMOs by these pesticide and seed conglomerates goes hand-in-hand with heavy pesticide use in some of the islands' experimental crop fields, new data show.
“Kaua'i County -- consisting primarily of the island of Kaua'i, known as Hawaii's ‘Garden Isle’ and home to Waimea Canyon State Park -- passed a law in November 2013 that requires disclosure of pesticide use and GMO crops sewn by growers and created buffer zones around schools, parks, medical facilities, and private residences. The law is set to go into effect in August 2014.
“Hawaii County banned GMOs altogether in November 2013, and a Maui County initiative to ban GMOs recently obtained enough citizen signatures to be placed on the November 2014 ballot.
“Since experiencing these setbacks, the big agricultural firms have retaliated in a big way.
Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, Agrigenetics (doing business as Dow AgroSciences), and BASF have sued Kaua'i to block its law.
“Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, and several associated trade groups spent over $50,000 lobbying the state legislature from January through April 2014, as legislators considered bills to override the county laws, according to data from the Hawaii State Ethics Commission (as reported through June 6, 2014) analyzed by the Center for Media and Democracy/Progressive Inc. (CMD).” …
Comment: The article includes a complete list of the funding given to Hawaii’s politicians by the biotech companies.
“Vermont’s landmark GMO-labelling law target of lawsuit by food trade groups,” June 13, 2014;
“A group of four national trade organizations sued the state of Vermont over its new law requiring labels on foods with genetically modified ingredients, scheduled to go into effect in July 2016. They claim the requirement is unconstitutional.
“Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association (SFA), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) say that food made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are safe and do not need to be specially labeled. The Vermont legislature passed the bill in April, and Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.) signed it into law at the beginning of May.
“’I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food. The Legislature has spoken loud and clear through its passage of this bill,’ he said in a statement after the bill passed.
“Legislators knew that major food companies like Monsanto Co. and DuPont Co - the leading producers of GMO crops - were likely to challenge the law in courts. Attorney General William Sorrell said he advised lawmakers while they deliberated the bill that it would invite a lawsuit from affected companies, ‘and it would be a heck of a fight, but we would zealously defend the law,’ he noted Thursday, according to the Burlington Free Press.
“To defend the legislation, Vermont allocated a $1.5 million legal defense fund in the measure, to be paid for with settlements won by the state. However, even this amount might not be enough to cover the state’s legal bills.” ...
“How the EPA Faked the Entire Science of Sewage Sludge Safety: A Whistleblower's Story,” David Lewis, Independent Science News, Book Excerpt, June 15, 2014;
“Shovel excavator loading solid sewage sludge into the lorry distributing the sludge in the field.
Photograph by SuSanA Secretariat.
“US EPA’s 503 sludge rule (1993) allows treated sewage sludges, aka biosolids, to be land-applied to farms, forests, parks, school playgrounds, home gardens and other private and public lands. According to a recent EPA survey, biosolids contain a wide range of mutagenic and neurotoxic chemicals, which are present at a million-fold higher concentrations (ppm versus ppt) compared with their levels in polluted air and water. Biosolids contain all of the lipophilic (fat-soluble) chemical wastes that once polluted our rivers and lakes, but which now settle out at sewage treatment plants and become concentrated in sewage sludges. Most biosolids contain ppm concentrations of heavy metals, including chromium, lead, and mercury. They contain similarly high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and semi-volatiles, such as bis (2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate, Benzo(a)pyrene), and polybrominated diphenyl ether congeners (PBDE flame retardants). Most biosolids also contain pathogenic agents and ppm levels of many common drugs, including ciprofloxacin (Cipro), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro), and fluoxetine (Prozac).
“While working at EPA Dr David Lewis published evidence that teenager Shayne Conner (of New Hampshire) died and other neighbors were harmed from living near land applied with sewage sludge (Lewis et al 2002). He furthermore became involved after dairy herds of two Georgia farms (McElmurray and Boyce) were poisoned after grazing on sludged land. He testified in lawsuits following each incident, against his employer (EPA), which is where many of the following depositions were obtained. The following article is an excerpt from Chapter 4 (Sludge Magic) of his new book Science for Sale: How the US Government Uses Powerful Corporations and Leading Universities to Support Government Policies, Silence Top Scientists, Jeopardize Our Health, and Protect Corporate Profits. The lawsuits referred to are Lewis v. EPA 1999; Lewis v. EPA 2003; and USA, ex rel. Lewis, McElmurray and Boyce v. Walker et al. 2009. The depositions below piece together an unprecedented and coordinated multi-agency scientific scheme involving EPA, USDA, local and city municipalities, Synagro Technologies (a waste management company), various universities, and the National Academies of Science. The effort was intended to misleadingly present sewage sludge as scientifically safe, to hide the evidence that it was not, to deliberately misreport the contents of municipal sludges, and smear David Lewis with a scientific misconduct charge after he blew the whistle.” …
Comment: This article is included in the bibliography because the approach science apparent on the sludge rule is similar to the approach to science employed in relation to the approval of transgenic seeds and the use of the related chemicals, including the most recent change in the allowable level of glyphosate in food.
“Study: Glyphosate Doubles Risk Of Lymphoma,” Emily Cassidy, First published by Environmental Working Group; June 16, 2014;
“Scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer have found what appears to be a strong link between pesticide exposure and a blood cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“Analyzing 44 individual research projects published since 1980, the scientists, writing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, said that people exposed to the weed killer glyphosate, marked by Monsanto under the brand name Roundup, had double the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Those exposed to 2,4-D, another potent weed killer marketed by Dow Chemical, were 40 percent more likely to develop this disease.
“The authors, scientists who work in the IARC Section of Environment and Radiation in Lyon, France, theorized that these pesticides were causing genetic mutations in white blood cells, thereby weakening the body’s immune system and ability to fight off disease.
“Previous studies have observed that farmers with exposure to 2,4-D have experienced impaired immune systems.
“Last month, EWG reported that research by scientists at the Arctic University of Norway had detected “extreme levels” of glyphosate on genetically engineered soybeans.
“Crop scientists have genetically engineered soy to survive blasts of glyphosate so that farmers can use this chemical to get rid of weeds near crops. Over time these weeds have become resistant to glyphosate and grown hardier. In turn some farmers have resorted to spraying more of the pesticide to try to kill the tougher “super weeds.”
“Genetic engineering’s early promise to reduce pesticide use now seems empty. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that herbicide use doubled—from 62 million pounds in 1996 to 128 million pounds in 2012. Glyphosate now represents more than 83 percent of the chemical pesticides used in the U.S. annually.
“The IARC study was published April 23, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was considering approving GE seeds of corn and soybeans engineered to withstand 2,4-D, a suspected carcinogen. If the EPA approves the new GE seeds and if 2,4-D is used to kill weeds on some of the 170 million acres of corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. annually, the USDA estimates that 2,4-D use is likely to triple, dramatically increasing people’s exposure to a pesticide that may cause cancer.” …
“National Organic Standards Board Threatened by USDA Maneuvering,” Press Release from the Center for Food Safety, June 17, 2014;
“Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF) Today, 20 organic farm and consumer groups filed a petition with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to protect the authority and permanence of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The petitioners object to recent changes to the NOSB charter, renewed on May 8, 2014, that undermine the mandatory and continuing duties of the Board as established by Congress under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990.
“The NOSB, intended to safeguard the integrity of the organic food label, was created by Congress with independent authorities that operate outside the discretion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Petitioners maintain that in renewing the charter under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), USDA mistakenly re-categorized the NOSB as a time-limited Advisory Board subject to USDA’s discretion and a narrowing of responsibilities.
“‘These changes to the NOSB Charter are significant and directly controvert the specific mandates of OFPA and Congress that NOSB is a permanent, non-discretionary committee that must fulfill a long list of statutorily mandated duties integral to the organic program,’ said Aimee Simpson policy director and staff attorney for Beyond Pesticides.
“The NOSB Board, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, is comprised of a wide swath of organic interests, including farmers, consumers, environmentalists, processors, a retailer, and a certifier. It is charged with a number of specific duties, including establishing and renewing the list of synthetic and non-organic materials allowed to be used in organic production, known as the National List.
“‘Congress created the Board so that a balance of organic interests, from consumer to industry, would have an irrevocable seat at the table in defining, maintaining and enhancing organic standards. That independent voice is now seriously jeopardized,’ noted Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety.” …
“Why Boarding Schools Produce Bad Leaders—They are particularly deficient in non-rational skills and are not well-equipped to be leaders, says a psychotherapist,” Nick Duffell in The Guardian, June 16, 2014;
“In Britain, the link between private boarding education and leadership is gold-plated. If their parents can afford it, children are sent away from home to walk a well-trodden path that leads straight from boarding school through Oxbridge to high office in institutions such as the judiciary, the army, the City and, especially, government. Our prime minister was only seven when he was sent away to board at Heatherdown preparatory school in Berkshire. Like so many of the men who hold leadership roles in Britain, he learned to adapt his young character to survive both the loss of his family and the demands of boarding school culture. The psychological impact of these formative experiences on Cameron and other boys who grow up to occupy positions of great power and responsibility cannot be overstated. It leaves them ill-prepared for relationships in the adult world and the nation with a cadre of leaders who perpetuate a culture of elitism, bullying, and misogyny affecting the whole of society.
“Nevertheless, this golden path is as sure today as it was 100 years ago, when men from such backgrounds led us into a disastrous war; it is familiar, sometimes mocked, but taken for granted. But it is less well known that costly, elite boarding consistently turns out people who appear much more competent than they actually are. They are particularly deficient in non-rational skills, such as those needed to sustain relationships, and are not, in fact, well-equipped to be leaders in today’s world.” ...
Comment: This article is included in the bibliography because the same traits are a problem in the United States. They may not be as serious in some respects as they are in Great Britain, but they may be worse in others. Self-serving, self-defensive elites are created similarly in both cultures.
“Software patents take a hit, but they’re far from dead,”
Summary: In the Alice v. CLS decision the Supreme Court dented software patents, but they are far, far from dead.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for Between the Lines, June 19, 2014;
“The good news is that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has ruled against Alice in the Alice v CLS business process/software patent case (PDF Link). This is a step forward in ridding American patents of poor software, business process, and genetic patents. The bad news is that most experts think that this decision is far from striking a serious blow against such patents.” …
Comment: This article reflects the thinking of the Supreme Court in an area potentially including the patents on transgenic seeds.
“10 Things the New Census of Agriculture Tells Us About Family Farmers and Our Food System;”
“The very first Census of Agriculture was issued back in 1840, under President Martin Van Buren's administration. While American farming looks quite different than it did back then, the historic tradition of gathering information from farmers and farm families lives on. Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture completes a Census of Agriculture, and for food and farm geeks like those of us here in the Farm Aid office, its arrival is an exciting time when we get a more thorough snapshot of farming across the country.
“So what is the state of our agricultural nation? How are our family farmers faring? Here are the top 10 things we've learned from the newly released 2012 Census of Agriculture:
“1. We are still losing American family farms
“Despite a growth in the number of farms reported in the last ag census in 2007, the 2012 census showed a loss of about 95,500 farms, or 4%. With 2.1 million farms today, we have to ask: will this trend continue? That depends on several factors, but of central importance is whether farmers receive a fair price and make a fair living in our increasingly complex and corporate-controlled food system.
“2. Which farms did we lose? All but the biggest.
“The number of farms earning over $500,000 increased by 33%.
“Only the very largest farms (and we're talking very large) increased in number. While all other categories of farms (as measured in acres), saw losses between 2007 and 2012, farms with 2,000 acres or more grew in number.
“The story isn't much different if we measure farms by their annual sales. There was a slight increase in the number of small farms with gross sales between $50,000 and $99,999 (just 3%), but otherwise all categories saw a loss – except again for the very largest farms. Farms earning $500,000 or more in gross sales jumped by 33% between 2007 and 2012.
“3. Farmers enjoyed historically high farm sales...and expenses.
“In 2012, farm sales increased 32.7 percent. But farm expenses increased even more, by 36 percent!
“Census time usually ushers in headlines of boom times in farm country, but the experience of most farmers is usually more complicated, and often quite challenging. The 2012 Census showed another notable leap in the total value of farm products sold, indicating strong farm production and high prices received by farmers for the goods they produced. While the 2007 “Census broke historical records for farm sales, the 2012 Census left that number in the dust, boasting $395 billion in sales — a 33% jump!
“But there was a similarly giant leap in farm expenses, climbing 36% from $241 billion in 2007 to $329 billion in 2012. That means farmers are paying more than ever to keep their farms humming — particularly from hikes in feed costs, fertilizer purchases and fuel and pesticides expenses to a lesser extent. With profit margins remaining slim for the majority of farmers, it's no wonder we saw farm losses.” …
Comment: Among the other points made is the fact that organic farming continues to grow with over 16,000 organic farmers in 2012. Organic sales have grown 82% since 2007 to a total of $3.1 billion in 2012. Seven percent of all farms in 2012 are selling direct to consumers in some way. That is 144,530 farms. The bad news is that over half of U.S. cropland is growing mostly transgenic corn and soy, and the number of farms using chemical pesticides grew since 2007 by a total of 154,149 farms.
“Corporate Concentration in Agriculture—Limiting Choices and Forcing Family Farms Out of Business;”
“A handful of corporations control our food system from farm to fork. This concentration of power leaves eaters with fewer options to support good food from family farmers, while pushing droves of family farms out of business. Corporate concentration in the food system has caused serious damage to rural economies, public health and the environment.
“What does corporate concentration in agriculture mean?
“In a healthy economy, multiple firms can sell their goods to multiple buyers in an open, competitive market. But this isn’t the case in agriculture, where most farmers are forced to buy their inputs from just a handful of companies and have very few places to market their goods. The term corporate concentration describes the control that a small number of corporations have over food production, distribution, marketing and consumption through their share of the marketplace.
“How bad is it?
“The U.S. agricultural sector suffers from abnormally high levels of concentration. Most economic sectors have concentration ratios around 40%, meaning that the top four firms in the industry control 40% of the market. If the concentration ratio is above 40%, experts believe competition can be threatened and market abuses are more likely to occur: the higher the number, the bigger the threat.
“The concentration ratios in the agricultural sector are shocking.
• Four companies own 83.5% of the beef market.
• The top four firms own 66% of the hog industry.
• The top four firms control 58.5% of the broiler chicken industry.
• In the seed industry, four companies control 50% of the proprietary seed market and 43% of the commercial seed market worldwide.
• When it comes to genetically engineered (GE) crops, just one company, Monsanto, boasts control of over 85% of U.S. corn acreage and 91% of U.S. soybean acreage.” …
“New European rules on biotech crops please no one,” June 19, 2014
“On the same side at last. Backers and opponents of genetically modified crops in Europe both object to new rules governing their growth.
“The deal, agreed on 12 June, will let individual countries decide whether GM crops can be grown within their borders. It is meant to break a system that has allowed countries opposed to GM crops, such as France, to block them being grown elsewhere in Europe.
“Anti-GM states will no longer be able to block Europe-wide approval of new GM crops, so pro-GM governments will be able to grow them. And member states would be able to ban GM crops from their farms without evidence that they harm the environment or human health.
“Greenpeace, which opposes all GM crops, says the new system will allow biotech companies to legally challenge any bans that anti-GM countries impose.
“The biotech industry isn’t happy either. Trade association EuropaBio says the deal breaches a key principle: that crops should be allowed everywhere if the European Food Safety Authority decides they pose no risk.
“The new rules face one more reading in the European parliament before becoming law.” …
The Cultivator from the Cornucopia Institute, June 21, 2014;
This issue has five important stories.
“Election Rigging, Dark Money in Cantor's ‘Upset’ Loss to Koch Stealth Candidate,” Ben-Zion Ptashnik and Victoria Collier, Truthout, News Analysis, June 22, 2014;
“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, February 5, 2013. Cantor will resign as majority leader within weeks, according to leadership aides a day after he was defeated in the 2014 primary election by David Brat. Photograph by Christopher Gregory, The New York Times.
“Political races this November will feature an all-out battle for control of the US Senate. The ‘upset’ Virginia primary defeat of Eric Cantor raised two critical election integrity issues that few in the mainstream media have covered, but which should set up serious red flags for those concerned about manipulations of the 2014 and 2016 elections.” …
Comment: This article is included in the bibliography because the issues discussed could relate to the possibility of vote rigging of the general election in California in 2012. If this did happen, it could have affected the outcome on Proposition 37 about the labeling of transgenic food. A recount of the ballots in key counties in California was counted, but it was thwarted by the Republican Election Commissioner in Fresno County. More details can be found here in the article: “Reviewing the Proposition 37 Initiative Campaign and Especially the Vote Counting as An Example of the Continuing Transgenic Trespass” under the Home menu of this Web site.
“GMO-Bananas are Going Into Human Trials – Why This Won’t End Well,” Max Goldberg, June 22, 2014;
“I am not sure why it is but so many people, myself included, have an incredibly strong emotional attachment to bananas.
“This love for bananas extends to all parts of the world, and I saw this first-hand when I visited a banana plantation in Costa Rica. In fact, people who dedicate their life’s work to bananas are affectionately called bananeros.
“So, when I heard the news that the world’s richest man and noted GMO-advocate, Bill Gates, is funding a human trial of genetically-modified bananas, I got absolutely sick to my stomach.
“James Dale, Director of the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had donated close to $10M to finance this project and that human trials would take place over a six-week period in the U.S.
“The results are expected to be revealed by the end of 2014, and the bananas used for the trials have been grown in Australia and are now being shipped to America. The bananas have already been tested on Mongolian gerbils.
“While these FrankenBananas may look like ordinary bananas on the outside, on the inside it is a completely different story. The flesh has a strong orange color to it, instead of a pale one.
“The ultimate goal is to have these bananas growing in Uganda and other African countries sometime within the next decade. It has been reported the approval for full-scale commercialization of genetically-modified crops in Uganda is expected by 2020.
“Biofortification is a Horrible Idea—
“While saving kids from malnutrition in Africa makes for great headlines and is a very noble cause, the attempt to alleviate this problem through increased nutrition via the genetic-modification of one food, also known as biofortification, is just a horrible idea.
•As we have seen, there are SERIOUS health risks associated with all genetically-modified foods.
•If adopted, these GM-bananas will be grown as one large monoculture, which will kill all biodiversity.
•This is just one more way for Dale and other holders of the patents of these GM-bananas to control the food supply in and extract royalties from very poor countries in Africa.
•The GM-bananas could cross-contaminate other native plant species in Uganda and other African countries. A perfect example of this is what has happened with GM-maize in Mexico.
“Bob Phelps, Director and Founder of Gene Ethics, believes that biofortification is an obstacle to food justice and is not the solution.” …
Comment: The first problem with this project is that six weeks is not close to enough time to learn the genetic impact of a transgenic food. Prior studies show adverse impacts do not start to show up until the fourth month. Presumably, that is the reason why all of Monsanto’s studies have been limited to 90 days or less. The studies need to extend over three generations and the full lives of the test animals. Less than that is a whitewash.
“Dis-Honest Tea CEO in Hot Water? Why Organic Brands Must Dissociate Themselves from Junk Food Industry,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, June 24, 2014;
“Two years ago, Seth Goldman sold a significant portion of Honest Tea—the organic beverage brand he co-founded—to Coca-Cola.
“As you probably know, Coca-Cola has donated millions of dollars to anti-GMO labeling campaigns to make sure genetically engineered ingredients remain hidden. Meanwhile, Goldman, a self-proclaimed activist who is still CEO of Honest Tea, claims his company is for transparency in labeling.
“The conflicting interests between Honest Tea and Coca-Cola appear to have resulted in false statements that are anything but transparent. Could these public statements by Goldman constitute an SEC violation, considering these statements may have reassured concerned customers to continue purchasing organic products whose profits were used to fight the consumer's right to know?
“Is Coca-Cola and/or Honest Tea Guilty of SEC Violation?
“In a September 3, 2013 article in the Washington Post, Goldberg states that ‘after internal discussions, Coca-Cola will not be directly lobbying against a similar effort in the state of Washington, although it is a funder of trade associations arguing against the labeling.’
“Fast-forward a couple of months, to when the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America (GMA) was caught red-handed in a money-laundering scheme aimed at protecting the identity of its anti-GMO labeling donors during the Washington campaign.
“Once the GMA was forced to reveal where the money for its anti-labeling campaign came from, Coca-Cola Company was is shown right there on Washington's official political disclosures, front and center, as the fifth largest contributor, having thrown $1.5 million into the pot!
“So, did Coca-Cola lie to Goldman, leading him to make a false statement? Or did he lie, knowing that Coca-Cola was really planning on laundering its donations to the Washington anti-labeling campaign? This way, no one would know that Goldman lied, and that Coca-Cola paid big bucks to squash GMO labeling yet again.
“If you’re wondering why these are newsworthy questions, it's because executives making false or misleading statements about their company, including false or misleading financial statements that benefit a publicly traded company, is an SEC violation—it’s pretty serious stuff.” …
“Republication of the Séralini study: Science speaks for itself,” Press release, GMOSeralini.org, June 24, 2014;
“GMOSeralini.org welcomes the republication of the chronic toxicity study on the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup and a commercialized GM maize, Monsanto’s NK603, led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini.
“GMOSeralini.org welcomes the news of the republication of the chronic toxicity study on the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup and a commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize, Monsanto’s NK603, led by Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini. The republication restores the study to the peer-reviewed literature so that it can be consulted and built upon by other scientists.
“The study found severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats fed the GM maize and low levels of Roundup that are below those permitted in drinking water in the EU. Toxic effects were found from the GM maize tested alone, as well as from Roundup tested alone and together with the maize. Additional unexpected findings were higher rates of large tumours and mortality in most treatment groups.
“The study was first published in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) in September 2012 but was retracted by the editor-in-chief in November 2013 after a sustained campaign of criticism and defamation by pro-GMO scientists.
“Now the study has been republished by Environmental Sciences Europe. The republished version contains extra material addressing criticisms of the original publication. The raw data underlying the study’s findings are also published – unlike the raw data for the industry studies that underlie regulatory approvals of Roundup, which are kept secret. However, the new paper presents the same results as before and the conclusions are unchanged.
“The republished study is accompanied by a separate commentary by Prof Séralini’s team describing the lobbying efforts of GMO crop supporters to force the editor of FCT to retract the original publication.” …
“Transgenic Honeybees To Help Research—Putting foreign genetic material into bees may reveal insights into honeybee behavior,” Katharine Gammon, June 27, 2014;
“(Inside Science) -- Bees are known to dance, wiggle and use sophisticated techniques to communicate information to their fellow pollinators. Now, researchers may be able to improve their understanding of the genetic underpinnings of bee behavior by inserting foreign genetic material into bees.
“Christina Schulte and her colleagues at Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf in Germany developed a protocol to create transgenic bees for the first time. Genetic manipulations in the name of science have existed for decades for the science-friendly fruit fly and even mice, but bees have resisted such intrusions.
“To insert the material, researchers must pull bee embryos out of their hive and inject new genetic material into them. The nurse bees tend to sniff out babies that have been altered – with dire consequences.
“‘The nurse bees that take care of the eggs need to be able to recognize the eggs as being okay, or they won’t take care of them,’ said David O’Brochta, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, in College Park who was not associated with the current work. The eggs contain queens who then hatch and mate to produce transgenic drones – male bees whose only job is to impregnate a queen.
“Schulte was able to overcome this challenge and create genetically-modified queens who made transgenic clones, by injecting them with foreign DNA that made some cells glow. The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In two experiments on 25 queens that hatched from the injected eggs, six produced progeny with the genes that marked them as transgenic.
“She stressed that these bees will be used for research, and the study did not create a colony of transgenic bees. The bees were kept in an outdoor tent and tended to day and night. But she doesn’t worry about the transgenic drones escaping – they live in a special area with doors that allow the worker bees to come and go, but prevent the larger drones from exiting. The team did run into a particular bee problem, though: on an unusually cold day in the summer, the worker bees killed the queen.” …
“The Surprising Leading Contributor to Pollution: Agriculture ,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, July 01, 2014;
“Did you know that the modern agricultural system is responsible for putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the actual burning of fossil fuels? Understanding this reveals an obvious answer to pressing global problems.
“There are only three places for carbon to go: land, air, and water. Our agricultural practices have removed massive amounts of valuable carbon from land, transferring it into air and water. Carbon management is critically important regardless of one's views of climate change.
“By paying greater attention to carbon management, we have the opportunity to make a dramatic difference in this area, which is having major negative consequences to our agriculture, our air, and our oceans, lakes, streams and rivers.
“One important factor that some experts believe is KEY for reversing environmental devastation like desertification, which is when land turns to desert, is to return much of our land to grasslands and build a network of herbivore economics.
“There is no better way to improve the conditions for animals, solve the carbon problem, bring more revenue to farmers, and improve our health by purchasing nutritious foods from properly pastured animals - vs the horrible CAFO model based on the monocultures of corn and soy fed to the animals in questionable conditions in which they are proactively fed antibiotics to make them fat and keep them alive in such atrocious conditions.
“Returning to more sustainable organic farming methods is also necessary in order to support the regeneration of soils which, ultimately, dictates how nutritious the food grown in it will be.
“The featured video of Vandana Shiva, recorded at a Food Otherwise conference in the Netherlands earlier this year, does a magnificent job of putting modern agriculture into proper perspective.” …
“GM maize splits Mexico—Legal challenge to transgenic crops has created a rift in the country’s scientific community,” Laura Vargas-Parada, July 1, 2014;
“The Mexican scientific community has been torn apart by a legal battle over transgenic maize (corn). Almost a year after activists challenged scientists’ right to plant experimental genetically modified (GM) varieties of the crop that is a staple and symbol of Mexico, maize research is still being stymied by a legal stalemate.
“On 5 July 2013, a coalition of activist groups filed a class-action lawsuit to stop the Mexican government granting permits to plant GM maize. That September, a judge ordered a halt to experimental and commercial planting until a final verdict is reached — a resolution that could take months or years.
“The lawsuit and ruling have thwarted the plans of multinational companies such as Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and Dow AgroSciences, which have lobbied for more than a decade to sell their GM maize varieties to Mexican farmers. But they have also stalled public-sector biotechnology researchers who say they are close to producing GM maize strains tolerant to drought and frost, and other varieties with a reduced need for herbicides and fertilizers. These researchers complain that the lawsuit threatens to derail work that could boost maize yields, reduce imports and help to protect against threats such as climate change.
“‘We are very frustrated, and there is a general sense of despair,’ says Beatriz Xoconostle, a plant biotechnologist at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) in Mexico City who leads a project to develop drought-tolerant GM maize. ‘We have been unable to accomplish our objectives.’
“Mexico has neither embraced GM technology nor run from it. In 2010, the agriculture and environment ministries authorized commercial planting of GM cotton, and approval for transgenic soya beans followed two years later. By 2013, the country was growing 100,000 hectares of engineered crops — more than any European nation except Spain, although much less than Brazil and Argentina.” …
“‘Scientists agree transgenic crops are safe’—Mark Lynas is visiting Argentina to give a lecture at the Maizar congress in the Four Seasons Hotel.” Fermín Koop, Herald Staff, July 2, 2014;
“Activist who flip-flopped on genetically modified farming to speak in BA today
“Environmentalists frequently criticize transgenic crops. Until recently, Mark Lynas was no exception. A British journalist, researcher and activist, Lynas helped found the movement against genetically modified (GM) foods in the mid 1990s. But as time went on, he started questioning his own views, leading him to publicly denounce his previous positions during a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference in 2013 that rocked the environmental world.
“‘I apologize for having spent several years ripping up GM crops,’ he said back then. ‘I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement ... and that I thereby assisted in demonizing an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.’
“As he gets ready to speak at the Maizar 2014 congress in Buenos Aires this afternoon, Lynas talked to the Herald and explained his change of heart. He claims organic agriculture “would be a disaster” for the environment and said it will take decades to fully implement renewable energy around the world.
“You seem to have undergone a personal and professional transformation. You now support what you once vociforously opposed — GM crops and nuclear energy among others. How do you explain that?
“‘I haven’t changed my mind on being an environmentalist. What changed is my own understanding of scientific issues, in particular of transgenic crops. I was one of the first campaigners on the issue, and I’ve even destroyed crops — that’s how personally I felt. But my information wasn’t coming from scientists, it was coming from Greenpeace. Then I went to write books on climate change, and I always told people who denied climate change that you’ve got to listen to the science. There’s the same kind of scientific consensus on the safety of GM crops as there is on the reality of climate change.’” …
Comment: The final statement here is industry propaganda that is not sustained by fact. Over 300 scientists world-wide have spoken up to say there is no consensus on the safety of transgenic food. No similar group of independent scientists has stood up to credibly and collectively deny climate change.
“Study: GMO aversion driving organic sales,” Aarian Marshall, June 30, 2014;
“Parents’ desires to avoid genetically modified organisms (GMO) are partially driving the increased sales of organic products, according to a study conducted by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and released last week.
“The study, a survey of over 1,200 households across the U.S. with at least one child under 18, found that nearly 25 percent of parents already buying organic said that avoiding GMOs is a top reason they choose organic. Only 16 percent of parents said the same in 2013, OTA says.
“The study was released as the debate - in several states and on Capitol Hill - over the need for the labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients continues to grow. Some argue that there is no need for a label because consumers can purchase organic products if they desire to avoid food products containing GMOs.
“U.S. sales of organic products hit $35.1 billion in 2013, 12 percent higher than in 2012. It's a new record for the industry, according to OTA.
“‘Each year we see an increase in parents' self-described knowledge of organic topics,’ said Laura Batcha, OTA CEO and executive director. ‘Parents have become more informed about the benefits of organic, and they have also become more aware of the questions surrounding GMOs. That heightened awareness is being reflected in their buying decisions.’” …
“Study links pesticide exposure in pregnancy to autism,” Kathryn Doyle, June 23, 2014;
“(Reuters Health) - In a new study from California, children with an autism spectrum disorder were more likely to have mothers who lived close to fields treated with certain pesticides during pregnancy.
“Proximity to agricultural pesticides in pregnancy was also linked to other types of developmental delay among children.
“‘Ours is the third study to specifically link autism spectrum disorders to pesticide exposure, whereas more papers have demonstrated links with developmental delay,’ said lead author Janie F. Shelton, from the University of California, Davis.
“There needs to be more research before scientists can say that pesticides cause autism, she told Reuters Health in an email. But pesticides all affect signaling between cells in the nervous system, she added, so a direct link is plausible.
“California is one of only a few states in the U.S. where agricultural pesticide use is rigorously reported and mapped. For the new study, the researchers used those maps to track exposures during pregnancy for the mothers of 970 children.
“The children included 486 with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 168 with a developmental delay and 316 with typical development.
“Developmental delay, in which children take extra time to reach communication, social or motor skills milestones, affects about four percent of U.S. kids, the authors write. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 68 children has an ASD, also marked by deficits in social interaction and language.
“In the new study, about a third of mothers had lived within a mile of fields treated with pesticides, most commonly organophosphates.
“Children of mothers exposed to organophosphates were 60 percent more likely to have an ASD than children of non-exposed mothers, the authors report in Environmental Health Perspectives.” …
“Monsanto Hatches New 5-Year Plan - Will It Reap What It Sows?” G. C. Mays, July 8, 2014;
“Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
“Is it truly the decade of the soybean?.
“Is the goal of doubling EPS and raising gross profits by $4 billion too high?.
“What should investors be willing to pay for that five years of growth today?.
“Monsanto (MON) unveiled a five-year plan along-side the company's fiscal 2014 third quarter earnings. Management has a good record of accomplishment over the years. However, is it truly the decade of the soybean or are the current record planted acreage increases temporary? Additionally, are the lofty goals of doubling earnings per share by 2019 and raising gross profits by $4 billion over the next 5 years too high? Finally, what should investors consider paying for that growth today?” …
“Dear Organic Consumer, “If Hillary Clinton runs for president of the U.S. in 2016, Monsanto will be right by her side. Unless we change her mind.
“Please sign our petition asking Hillary Clinton to support consumers, public health and sustainability, not Monsanto.
“On June 25, Clinton spoke for more than an hour at the BIO International Convention in San Diego, Calif. The presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, and future grandmother, reaffirmed her support for Monsanto and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and urged the audience to put a more positive spin on GMOs.
“‘Genetically modified’ sounds Frankensteinish. ‘Drought resistance’ sounds really – something you want. So how do you create a different vocabulary to talk about what it is you’re trying to help people do?’
“We don’t need a ‘different vocabulary.’ What we need are politicians who, unlike Clinton, aren’t in bed with the biotech industry, and who support the will of the 93 percent of Americans who want mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs.” …
Sent by the Organic Consumers Association
“Salvadoran Farmers Successfully Oppose the Use of Monsanto Seeds,” Dahr Jamail, Truthout Report, July 8, 2014;
Photograph by Edgardo Ayala
“Farmers across El Salvador united to block a stipulation in a US aid package to their country that would have indirectly required the purchase of Monsanto genetically modified (GM) seeds.
“Thousands of farmers, like 45-year-old farmer Juan Joaquin Luna Vides, prefer to source their seeds locally, and not to use Monsanto's GM seeds.
“‘Transnational companies have been known to provide expired seeds that they weren’t able to distribute elsewhere,’ said Vides, who heads the Diversified Production program at the Mangrove Association, a community development organization that works in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador.
“‘We would like the US embassy and the misinformed media outlets [that are pressuring the Salvadoran government to change their procurement procedure] to know more about the reality of national producers and recognize the food sovereignty of the country,’ he added.
“During the last two months, the US government has been attempting to pressure the government of El Salvador to sign the second Millennium Challenge Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US foreign aid agency created during the presidency of George W. Bush.
“While the US government has not specifically requested the government of El Salvador or local farming coops there to purchase Monsanto products, it has tacitly looked the other way while Monsanto affiliates have raked in huge profits with highly priced, and less effective or less desired products.
“The signing agreement was allegedly based upon the condition that El Salvador purchases GM seeds from Monsanto in conjunction with the Millennium Challenge Compact.” …
“Vermont organic farmer and GMO expert: Labels ‘like skull and crossbones’—Will Allen is not just an organic farmer — he’s an expert,” Bruce Parker, July 7, 2014;
“As the head of Cedar Circle Farm, Allen brings a lifetime of sustainable farming experience to the 40 acres of vegetables and berries that line the Connecticut River in East Thetford, Vt., on land conserved by the Vermont Land Trust.
“A professor and activist, Allan’s bio features many credentials, from founder of the Sustainable Cotton Project and the California Certified Organic Farmers Organization to policy adviser to the Organic Consumer Association. If all goes according to plan, Allen may soon add a new credential to the list: litigant in Vermont’s multimillion-dollar GMO lawsuit with the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association.
“So when Allen speaks on the impact of GMO labeling on food manufacturers, people listen.
“‘They’re worried about skull and crossbones on food labels, because that’s what they think is going to happen as soon as you put a genetic engineering label on it — it’s like a skull and crossbones,’ Allen told Vermont Watchdog.
“According to the Thetford farmer, GMO labeling laws could end the use of GMOs in the United States.
“‘(Here’s) what will happen if the labeling bill passes a court challenge. That law will go into effect in 2016, and at that point, I’ll guarantee you, that as it happened in 64 countries that have labeling already, the genetic engineering industry will switch products, because they know a GMO label is driving people away from buying that food.’” …
“Alito's Slap at Federal Circuit Provokes Patent Bar,” Marcia Coyle, Supreme Court Brief, July 9, 2014;
Diego M. Radzinschi, National Law Journal
“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit gets little respect from the U.S. Supreme Court. Witness its 1-5 win-loss ratio in the term just ended.
“But Justice Samuel Alito Jr.'s recent slap-down of those judges has some patent lawyers fuming. Alito, not the appellate court, made a basic mistake, these lawyers say.
“It wasn’t the outcome in Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies that spurred the subsequent rush of patent blog posts about Alito's decision for a unanimous court; it was his tone and mistaken reading of a key point in what the Federal Circuit actually said about the case.
“Akamai had accused Limelight of patent infringement after Limelight performed some of the steps of a patented method of delivering electronic data and allegedly encouraged its customers to take the remaining steps. The Federal Circuit, in more than 100 pages detailing differing views, held that Limelight could be held liable for inducing infringement.
“The Supreme Court, in an 11-page ruling, reversed, holding that there must be direct infringement with all of the steps performed by one party.
“In his opinion, Alito wrote of the lower court, which was specially created to bring uniformity to patent law, ‘The Federal Circuit's analysis fundamentally misunderstands what it means to infringe a method patent.’ He offered a hypothetical to demonstrate the circuit court's misunderstanding (our italics):
“‘What if a defendant pays another to perform just one step of a 12-step process, and no one performs the other steps, but that one step can be viewed as the most important step in the process? In that case, the defendant has not encouraged infringement, but no principled reason prevents him from being held liable for inducement under the Federal Circuit's reasoning, which permits inducement liability when fewer than all of a method's steps have been performed within the meaning of the patent.’
“But the en banc Federal Circuit majority said no such thing. It wrote: ‘To be clear, we hold that all the steps of a claimed method must be performed in order to find induced infringement, but that it is not necessary to prove that all the steps were committed by a single entity.’ Reaction to Alito's analysis was swift.” …
Comment: This article is posted to highlight the difference in perspective between the two courts, even though the Supreme Court declined to review the OSGATA decision. By any common sense, public interest standard, that decision should have been reviewed, and if it had been, it would have added to the controversy.
“Societal Benefits Of Agricultural Biotechnology Global Status and Outlook,” Calestous Juma, PhD, Professor of the Practice of International Development Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, July 9, 2014;
Submission to the Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture Committee on Agriculture, U.S. House of Representatives—Executive Summary:
“The rise of the US biotechnology industry is largely a result of reforms in intellectual property rights that allowed for the patenting of living forms. However, global regulatory hurdles have made it difficult for society to fully reap the benefits of biotechnology. Society’s innovative and entrepreneurial potentialities will be hobbled if the regulatory process for new biotechnology products takes as long as the duration of patent protection, which is at most 20 years. It has taken as long for the United States to complete the approval process for transgenic salmon. Worldwide, even more onerous and discriminatory hurdles stand in the way of societal benefits of biotechnology. Biotechnology product pipelines are being choked by discriminatory regulations, labeling threats, and a rising tide of product disparagement and misinformation.
“This submission argues that although many transgenic crops are still in their early states of adoption and even more are still being tested and developed, emerging trends show significant societal benefits through positive economic impact (especially by raising farm incomes), fostering food security, and promoting environment sustainability. The crops show the potential to increase agricultural production on existing arable land; reduce losses related to pests, disease, and drought; increase access to food through higher farm incomes; raise nutrition levels; and promote sustainable agriculture. The pipeline of crops with potential benefits include a wide range of applications such as enhanced photosynthesis, stress tolerance, aluminum tolerance, salinity tolerance, pest and disease resistance, nitrogen use efficiency, phosphate use efficiency, and nitrogen fixation. However, restrictive regulations are undermining the ability of society to reap these benefits.” …
Comment: This submission shows how the system works and how its biases are promoted.
“Monsanto's Herbicide Linked to Fatal Kidney Disease Epidemic: Could It Topple the Company?” Jeff Ritterman, M.D., Truthout, News Analysis, July 10, 2014;
“Monsanto's herbicide Roundup has been linked to a mysterious fatal kidney disease epidemic that has appeared in Central America, Sri Lanka and India.
“For years, scientists have been trying to unravel the mystery of a chronic kidney disease epidemic that has hit Central America, India and Sri Lanka. The disease occurs in poor peasant farmers who do hard physical work in hot climes. In each instance, the farmers have been exposed to herbicides and to heavy metals. The disease is known as CKDu, for Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown etiology. The "u" differentiates this illness from other chronic kidney diseases where the cause is known. Very few Western medical practitioners are even aware of CKDu, despite the terrible toll it has taken on poor farmers from El Salvador to South Asia.
“Dr. Catharina Wesseling, the regional director for the Program on Work and Health (SALTRA) in Central America, which pioneered the initial studies of the region's unsolved outbreak, put it this way, "Nephrologists and public health professionals from wealthy countries are mostly either unfamiliar with the problem or skeptical whether it even exists."
“Dr. Wesseling was being diplomatic. At a 2011 health summit in Mexico City, the United States beat back a proposal by Central American nations that would have listed CKDu as a top priority for the Americas.
“David McQueen, a US delegate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who has since retired from the agency, explained the US position.
“‘The idea was to keep the focus on the key big risk factors that we could control and the major causes of death: heart disease, cancer and diabetes. And we felt, the position we were taking, that CKD was included.’
“The United States was wrong. The delegates from Central America were correct. CKDu is a new form of illness. This kidney ailment does not stem from diabetes, hypertension or other diet-related risk factors. Unlike the kidney disease found in diabetes or hypertension, the kidney tubules are a major site of injury in CKDu, suggesting a toxic etiology.
“CKDu is now the second leading cause of mortality among men in El Salvador. This small, densely populated Central American country now has the highest overall mortality rate from kidney disease in the world. Neighboring Honduras and Nicaragua also have extremely high rates of kidney disease mortality. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, more men are dying from CKDu than from HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and leukemia combined. In one patch of rural Nicaragua, so many men have died that the community is called ‘The Island of the Widows.’
“In addition to Central America, India and Sri Lanka have been hit hard by the epidemic. In Sri Lanka, over 20,000 people have died from CKDu in the past two decades. In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, more than 1,500 have been treated for the ailment since 2007. Given the rarity of dialysis and kidney transplantation in these regions, most who suffer from CKDu will die from their kidney disease.” …
Bioartefactos. Between transgenic crops and ancestral biodiversity, Regine, July 9, 2014;
“The Oaxaca Valley in Mexico is regarded as the heartland of corn diversity. Not only can cultivation of the plant in the region be traced back to over 6000 years ago, it also presents the highest genetic diversity of corn in the country.
“Yet, this rich and ancestral biodiversity is threatened by the introduction of genetically modified seeds in the region. In November, 2001, David Quist and Ignacio Chapela from the University of California, Berkeley published an article in the journal Nature in which they reported that some of Oaxaca native corn had been contaminated by pollen from genetically modified corn. Unsurprisingly, the essay was heavily criticized by academics who had suspicious ties with the biotechnology industry.
“An exhibition at the MACO, Oaxaca Contemporary Art Museum, reflects local attempts to preserve Oaxaca's rich genetic heritage. The 'corn issue' cannot be reduced to a fight against the transgenic industry, it is also a battle to preserve a whole culture, an identity and a certain vision of the world.
“Bioartefactos. Desgranar lentamente un maíz (Bioartefacts. Slowly treshing corn) presents 9 installations which highlight the 'artefact' nature of corn. The plant is a biological artefact because it is the result of a human domestication that took place thousands of years ago and it has in turn shaped the whole country over as many years.
“The works exhibited include a robot that 3d prints then plants seeds made of a biopolymer created from corn (PLA), an installation that monitors and visualizes the breathing of corn as well as a series of corn plants connected with electrodes to record the interaction between plants and humans.” …
GMWatch Review 343, July 11, 2014;
“Alarm at new dengue emergency where GM mosquito trials conducted
“Civil society groups have expressed alarm at an increase in dengue incidence, leading to an emergency decree, in a town in Brazil where releases of GM mosquitoes are taking place. This development is the opposite to what was promised – to create GM mosquitoes that would end dengue.
“Guardian newspaper report confirms failure of GM Bt brinjal
“In the wake of attempts by British pro-GMO campaigner Mark Lynas to deny local reports that Bt brinjal (eggplant/aubergine) failed in Bangladesh, the Guardian newspaper has published an article confirming the widespread failure of the crop. The Guardian visited or spoke to all but one of the 20 farmers growing the Bt brinjal crop and established that of the 19 farmers, nine had had problems with the crop, with a failure rate of four out of five farms in Gazipur, the region closest to Dhaka.
“India’s spying bureau serving interests of foreign corporations
“The IB (Intelligence Bureau), India's top intelligence agency for internal security, has spent time and public money authoring a report that accuses citizens' groups, NGOs, and individuals of threatening the national economic security of India. Their crime, according to the IB, is to oppose socially and environmentally destructive ‘development projects,’ including the introduction of GMOs. Dr. Pushpa Bhargava, the father of modern biotechnology in India, joined Indian citizens and civil society organisations in condemning the report.
“GM soy loses its appeal for Latin American farmers
“GM soybeans are losing their appeal for farmers in Latin America because of the intractable spread of herbicide-tolerant superweeds, according to former Dupont agronomist Alberto Bianchi.
“Monarch butterfly decline linked to spread of GM crops
“A new study confirms that the spread of GM herbicide-tolerant crops in the US is indirectly killing the monarch butterfly by destroying its food plant - milkweeds. This past winter, the number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico fell to its lowest since 1993, when records first started being kept.” …
Comment: Many more articles on important aspects of the transgenic danger are in this edition.
“Study: Organic has More Antioxidants, Much Fewer Pesticides, and Less Cadmium than Conventionally-Grown,” Max Goldberg, July 13, 2014;
“The evidence as to why people should choose organic over conventional just keeps rolling in.
“In a brand new study just published by researchers at Newcastle University in England, it was found that organic fruits, vegetables, and grains contained higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of pesticides compared to the same conventionally-grown food.
“Some details of the study include:
— The concentration of a range of antioxidants was significantly greater in organic than conventionally-grown:
* Phenolic acids: 19% more
* Flavanones: 69% more
* Stilbenes: 28% more
* Flavonols: 26% more
* Flavonols: 50% more
* Anthocyanins: 51% more
“Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and certain cancers.
—The frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops.
—Organically-grown foods, most notably grains, contained lower levels of cadmium, a toxic metal.
“This study did not do its own testing of fruits and vegetables but was a meta-analysis based on 343 previous peer-reviewed publications.” …
“Autism Explained: Synergistic Poisoning from Aluminum and Glyphosate - Stephanie Seneff,” Posted by Mike Healy on May 28, 2014;
“The number of children diagnosed with autism in America has risen alarmingly over the past fifteen years, in exact step with the rise in the use of glyphosate (Roundup) on corn and soy crops. Coincidence? I think not. In parallel, children in the United States have been burdened with an increased aluminum load from the world's most comprehensive vaccination schedule. Glyphosate has a number of known biological effects that align with the known pathologies associated with autism. Glyphosate also likely promotes aluminum uptake into the tissues. Aluminum, a well-documented neurotoxin, is the established cause of dialysis dementia. I propose that aluminum accumulation in the brain, synergistically promoted by glyphosate, is the principal cause of autism in the US.” This is a detailed two hour video presentation.
“Truthout Interviews Dr. Jeff Ritterman on Roundup and Chronic Kidney Disease,” Ted Asregadoo, Truthout Video Interview, July 13, 2014;
“One of the most popular herbicides used worldwide is Roundup, which is made by Monsanto. Monsanto manufactures and markets both Roundup and genetically modified seeds that are resistant to its herbicidal qualities. Farmers and even gardeners around the globe use Roundup to kill off weeds to increase their crop yield, and they also buy seeds from Monsanto that are resistant to the deleterious effects of the herbicide on plant life.
“The key ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, a compound that was originally used to remove limestone scales from water heaters, boilers and other containers where hot water is stored.
“According to Dr. Jeff Ritterman in this ‘Truthout Interviews,’ new research (that’s still in the theoretical phase) suggests that glyphosate is responsible for the epidemic of chronic kidney disease in a number of countries. In Dr. Ritterman’s piece on Truthout, ‘Monsanto's Herbicide Linked to Fatal Kidney Disease Epidemic: Could It Topple the Company?’ he examines the rise in fatal kidney disease among farmers in Central America, India and Sri Lanka and the political pressure the US government is putting on countries to keep using Roundup as part of trade agreements.”
Comment: This video interview follows up on Ritterman’s article posted by Truthout and listed above. The interview is 11 minutes.
“Mexican Farmers Oppose Expansion of Transgenic Crops,” Inter Press Service, July 15, 2014;
“Bean grower Manuel Alvarado is part of the majority of producers in Mexico who consider it unnecessary to introduce genetically modified varieties of beans, as the government is promoting.
“‘There is no study showing superior yields compared with hybrid or regional seeds. People are still unaware of what transgenic products are, nor the effects they have, but some of the things that are known about them are not good,’ said Alvarado, the head of Enlaces al Campo, a bulk beans sales company in the city of Fresnillo, in the northern state of Zacatecas.
“Genetically modified organisms (GMO) may cause a number of problems, among them the possibility that ‘transgenics will contaminate native and hybrid seeds, which have higher germination rates than transgenics,’ Alvarado told IPS.” …
“Inside Monsanto, America's Third-Most-Hated Company,” Drake Bennett, July 03, 2014;
“The 4,400 acres Dustin Spears farms with his father-in-law stretch for 50 miles across northern Illinois in an archipelago of disconnected, mostly rented plots. Even in the best of circumstances, it’s a race to get the corn in the ground in time to take advantage of the full growing season. When spring is unusually cold and rainy, as it was this year, the window narrows even more.
“Which is why Spears is in his tractor at two in the morning the first Monday in May, moving at 8 miles per hour through a halogen-lit haze of stirred-up topsoil. On the 60-foot planter behind him, a $47,000 sensor array helps deposit each corn kernel at a depth of 2 inches, no matter how hard or soft the soil. A computer in the cab calculates the fertility of different parts of the field and adjusts the planter accordingly. The seeds themselves are a new hybrid with a candy-green coating containing insecticides and fungicides. DNA inserted into the seeds produces a protein that kills pests such as corn borers, earworms, and rootworms. Other spliced-in genes confer immunity to the weed killers Spears uses, greatly simplifying his spraying schedule.
Photo Illustration by 731; Corn, People: Getty Images;
Background: iStock/Getty Images
“The 32-year-old farmer sits in the bouncing tractor cab, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a baseball cap, jeans, a Bluetooth headset, and a look of fatigue. The steering wheel is folded up out of the way. When the tractor nears the end of a row, its autopilot beeps cheerfully, and he taps a square on one of the touchscreens to his right. The tractor executes a turn, and he goes back to surfing the Web, watching streaming videos, or checking the latest corn prices. ‘You see how boring this gets?’ Spears asks. ‘I’ll be listening to music for 12 hours. I’ll refresh my Twitter timeline, like, a hundred thousand times during the day.’
“Spears is an early adopter who upgrades his equipment every 12 months (next year’s tractor will have a fridge in the cab, he says) and who just bought a drone to monitor his fields. He can afford to: Corn prices are high, and farmers like him can take home hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Still, he thinks such technologies—the smart planter software and sensor array, the iPad app offering planting and growing advice—are only going to get more common. So does the company that makes many of those tools, as well as the high-tech seeds Spears is planting: Monsanto (MON), one of the most hated corporations in America.
“In a Harris Poll this year measuring the “reputation quotient” of major companies, Monsanto ranked third-lowest, above BP (BP) and Bank of America (BAC) and just behind Halliburton (HAL). For much of its history it was a chemical company, producing compounds used in electrical equipment, adhesives, plastics, and paint. Some of those chemicals—DDT, Agent Orange, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—have had long and controversial afterlifes. The company is best known, however, as the face of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.” …
Comment: This is a shallow, pollyanna article, maybe the kind a journalism school undergrad might write when no time is available to do any serious research. In addition, it misstates the result of the OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto lawsuit, claiming the case went to trial and that Monsanto won. It was only heard on merit of Monsanto’s dismissal motion, so the contentions asserted by the plaintiffs never came to trial. At issue was the question about standing to file the lawsuit and the immediacy of the injury to the plaintiffs. The statement made entirely misrepresents the outcome of the case. The Appeals Court did not agree with Monsanto; the judges found Monsanto’s attorney had given the plaintiffs a binding covenant through the statements made in court. They permitted the case to be dismissed because they viewed this covenant to meet the need the plaintiffs requested, but the limitations imposed on the binding covenant were nonsensical and unsustained by the statements Monsanto’s attorneys stated in court. The covenant was construed to cover only 1% of the contamination, but Monsanto’s attorney, Seth Waxman, said nothing to justify that limitation or any other. Based on what was said in court, the limit should have been 100%.
“European corn borer still a threat?” July 15, 2014;
“Urbana, Ill. — The European corn borer, once regarded as a major and consistent insect pest, now is only rarely observed in most commercial cornfields across the Corn Belt, said a University of Illinois entomologist.
“Mike Gray said, European corn borers were first reported in Illinois in 1939, and the pest could be found in all counties within the state by 1942.
“‘William ‘Bill’ Luckmann, a longtime retired and well-known entomologist, once mentioned that he had only observed two cornfields totally destroyed by insects — once by chinch bugs and once by European corn borers,’ Gray said.
“Since the introduction of Bt hybrids in 1996, the use of transgenic corn has risen sharply. Gray said that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service , Bt hybrids were planted on 76 percent of the U.S. corn acres in 2013.
“In 2013, transgenic corn hybrids —including Bt hybrids, stacked Bt and herbicide-tolerant hybrids and herbicide-tolerant only — were used on 90 percent of corn acres.
“The widespread use of highly effective Bt hybrids on lepidopterous insect pests such as the European corn borer has had a significant areawide population suppression effect on this once prominent species.” …
Comment: This is a pro-biotech survey article about the use of Bt corn and asking whether it is still needed if corn borers have been eliminated from the environment.
“Major Study: Monsanto GMO Corn Can Cause Damage to Liver and Kidneys, and Severe Hormonal Disruption—
Key study has passed through three peer reviews,” Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist, July 9, 2014;
“A scientific study that identified serious health impacts on rats fed on 'Roundup ready' GMO maize has been republished following its controversial retraction under strong commercial pressure. Now regulators must respond and review GMO and agro-chemical licenses, and licensing procedures.
“A highly controversial paper by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini and colleagues has been republished after a stringent peer review process.
“The chronic toxicity study examines the health impacts on rats of eating a commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize, Monsanto's NK603 glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup.
“The original study, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) in September 2012, found severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats fed the GM maize and low levels of Roundup that are below those permitted in drinking water in the EU.
“However it was retracted by the editor-in-chief of the Journal in November 2013 after a sustained campaign of criticism and defamation by pro-GMO scientists.
“Toxic effects were found from the GM maize tested alone, as well as from Roundup tested alone and together with the maize. Additional unexpected findings were higher rates of large tumours and mortality in most treatment groups.
“Criticisms addressed in the new version
“Now the study has been republished by Environmental Sciences Europe. The republished version contains extra material addressing criticisms of the original publication.
“The raw data underlying the study's findings are also published - unlike the raw data for the industry studies that underlie regulatory approvals of Roundup, which are kept secret. However, the new paper presents the same results as before and the conclusions are unchanged.
“The republication restores the study to the peer-reviewed literature so that it can be consulted and built upon by other scientists.
“The republished study is accompanied by a separate commentary by Prof Séralini's team (also published by The Ecologist) describing the lobbying efforts of GMO crop supporters to force the editor of FCT to retract the original publication.” …
“Wall Street's Top Cop's Harsh Words for Federal Judge that Ended His Win Streak,” Charlie Gasparino, July 18, 2014;
“How much does Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara despise the judge who presided over his only loss prosecuting insider trading?
“So much so that Bharara recently called Naomi Reice Buchwald the ‘worst federal judge’ he’s ever come across.
“Bharara’s unusually harsh remarks were made Monday night during a private party for an assistant U.S. attorney who is leaving the office to join a law firm. It came just a few days after the acquittal of Rengan Rajaratnam--Bharara's first defeat during his five-year crackdown on insider trading.
“Nearly 150 current and former members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District attended the event, held at a Manhattan restaurant Lugo Cafe. Several federal judges were also in attendance, according to people who were there.
“‘I was in shock,’ said one attendee. ‘I know Preet’s office butted heads with the judge during the trial, but you usually don’t hear this kind of stuff from a U.S. attorney against a sitting federal judge.’
“A spokesman for Bharara declined to comment, but would not deny the remarks were made. A clerk for Buchwald also declined comment.” …
“10 Problems Genetically Modified Foods Are Already Causing,” Joe Martino, .July 16, 2014;
“Genetically modified foods (GMOs) have been getting a bad rep for years now as studies continue to come out revealing the dangerous nature of GMOs. Whether it be the harm they cause to people eating them, or the environment, many believe GMOs have no place in our world. On the flip side, many state there are no real concerns we have to worry about yet when it comes to human consumption, and in many ways GMOs help to feed the world. The ‘feed the world’ claim has always been refuted by pointing to the amount of food waste that exists as well as the current farming methods available that could feed the world without GMOs.
“Nonetheless, people are not sold on GMOs and they have good reason. Here are 10 problems genetically modified foods are already causing in our world. No need to keep waiting for the science, it’s already in.” ...
Video: President Hillary Clinton Would be a Nightmare for Organic, Max Goldberg, July 18, 2014;
“Let me first state that I have neither a Democratic agenda nor a Republican agenda. I have an organic agenda.
“So, whomever is in the White House matters a great deal because of the support, or lack of support, that our president will give to the organic industry.
“Despite his campaign promise in 2007 to label GMOs, President Obama has failed to live up to this pledge and has betrayed organic advocates from the very beginning.
“Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of The Center for Food Safety, has even said that “Obama is worse than Bush” when it comes to organic.
“Among other things, Obama has essentially rubber-stamped every GMO that has been applied for, deregulated genetically-engineered alfalfa (which means that GE-alfalfa can be grown without restriction and will contaminate organic alfalfa, essential for the organic meat and dairy industries), and his USDA is in the process of destroying the National Organic Standards Board.
“So, as all of us wait to see who will be the next president, and remain hopeful that he or she will protect organic food, one thing that should frighten us all are the following three words: President Hillary Clinton.
“Take a look at the video below where she recently spoke at the Biotechnology Industry Organization conference (see minutes 28 to 32) and enthusiastically endorsed GMOs.
“When speaking about GMOs, she says that “there is a gap between what the facts are and what perceptions are.”
“Why is her support of GMOs so troubling?
“Because GMOs contaminate organic farms, and the two CANNOT co-exist.” …
“Sex and death in the cornfields: What is a refuge?” Steph, 22 July 2014;
“A lot of people have sent me news articles about the spread of Bt-resistant corn rootworm because they know I am interested in transgenic Bt. These articles have alarming titles like Voracious worm evolves to eat biotech corn engineered to kill it and Evolution one-ups genetic modification. Yes, unfortunately, corn rootworm that are resistant to transgenic Bt corn are real (Cullen 2013, EPA 2014a). But the story is more complex than you’d think from these headlines. To explain, I’d like to talk about IRM (insect resistance management), specifically, the IRM for Bt corn targeting pest caterpillars (Lepidoptera). Please note that corn rootworms are not Lepidopterans, but Lepidopterans are a good model for understanding how IRM works.
“Insect resistance is a problem with every possible pest management system. So when you hear doomsaying articles about how transgenic crops cause insect resistance, well, they’re not necessarily wrong, but they’re really missing the point. All pesticides can result in insect resistance. Yes, even organic pesticides (Feng and Isman 1995). Insects can even develop resistance to crop rotation!” …
Comment: This article explains how refuges work to prevent insects from becoming resistant to Bt crops.
“GM golden rice paper to be retracted amid ethics scandal,” July 18, 2014;
“Children were fed GM rice without the informed consent of parents—
“At long last, the serious breaches of medical and scientific ethics of the GM golden rice trials on Chinese children appear to have been recognized – in this case, by the journal that published the research paper reporting the experiments. “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is reportedly retracting the paper. The main concerns appear to be lack of informed consent on the part of the human subjects – neither the children nor their parents were told the rice was GM, nor were they informed of the possible risks. Ethical breaches are among the valid reasons for retracting a study, according to COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics). “While the blame for the fiasco is being placed on the lead researcher, Guangwen Tang of Tufts University, a large part of the responsibility should lie with the Tufts University ethics board that was supposed to be supervising the trial. “International scientists denounced the GM golden rice trials for breaching medical ethics back in 2009. No toxicity tests had been carried out in animals prior to the human trials, or at least none had been published. The scientists said the trials contravened the Nuremberg Code, set up after World War II to prevent a repeat of unethical and inhumane Nazi experiments on humans. “The IRRI, the body responsible for the rollout of GM golden rice, has admitted that no efficacy trials have been carried out to see if GM golden rice actually works in helping solve vitamin A deficiency. “GM golden rice doesn't even perform well in the field. In May 2013 the IRRI reported it had failed in field trials. “Meantime, the Philippines, where GM golden rice was field trialled, has all but solved its vitamin A deficiency problems by applying time-tested, commonsense non-GM solutions.” …
“GMO Contamination of the Food Chain. Devastating Health Impacts. EU Food Safety Regulators Turn ‘A Blind Eye’—Regulator’s approach to GMO contamination: ‘Don’t look, don’t find,’” Colin Todhunter, Global Research, July 26, 2014;
“Corporations as the dominant institution shaped by capitalist patriarchy thrive on eco-apartheid. They thrive on the Cartesian legacy of dualism which puts nature against humans. It defines nature as female and passively subjugated. Corporatocentrism is thus also androcentric – a patriarchal construction. The false universalism of man as conqueror and owner of the Earth has led to the technological hubris of geo-engineering, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy. It has led to the ethical outrage of owning life forms through patents, water through privatization, the air through carbon trading. It is leading to appropriation of the biodiversity that serves the poor.” —Vandana Shiva
“The protection of biodiversity involves maintaining the ability of organisms to develop under their evolved dispositions and naturally established restrictions and to participate in further evolutionary processes.
“We seek to protect organisms and ecosystems from persistent chemical substances. We should also protect them from the uncontrolled spread of synthetic and genetically engineered organisms because these organisms have a capacity to self-replicate, evolve and interact with other organisms in unpredictable ways and thereby represent a threat to ecological systems and their resilience.
“GMO maize, rice, cotton and oilseed rape have uncontrollably spread in regions and countries such as the US and Canada, Central America, Japan, China, Australia and Europe. In many cases, GMOs have escaped far beyond the fields into the environment and have even moved into populations of wild relatives.
“Commercial cultivation and experimental field trials are responsible for much of this contamination. However, losses from the import and transport of grains for food and feed production are also an important source of uncontrolled dispersal.
“German-based independent watchdog/research body Testbiotech is accusing the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) of deliberately downplaying the risks of an uncontrolled spread of genetically modified oilseed rape. The accusation stems from Monsanto having filed an application for the import into the EU of viable transgenic oilseed rape MON88302 kernels, which are to be processed to oil and feed in Europe. Similar rape plants have already spread far beyond the fields in various regions of the world, for example along transport routes.” …
“Battle lines sharpen over GM,” Meena Menon, August 1, 2014;
“Ever since Bt cotton was granted approval in 2002, the issue of transgenic crops has created sharp divisions. File photo shows farmers in Bhopal staging a protest in 2012 to mark the 10th anniversary of Bt cotton’s introduction and to pay tribute to those who committed suicide in those 10 years.”
File photograph by A.M. Faruqui
“The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, by granting approval to GM trials even before the Supreme Court ruled in the matter, has shown an undue haste.
“Union Minister of Environment , Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, was petitioned by farmers and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch to halt trials of transgenic crops approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) on July 18 and there is some confusion if the government has actually taken such a decision. However, from what the Minister said subsequently, no such call has been taken to freeze field trials of five crops.
“The GEAC decision has come even before the Supreme Court decides on a writ petition filed by Aruna Rodrigues in 2005, demanding a moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops. A court hearing on July 15 did not take place but three days later, the GEAC cleared field trials for some GM crops.
“The Centre had filed a response to the report of the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) in April 2014; the apex court is yet to adjudicate on it. The GEAC was quick to point out that the Supreme Court had not imposed a ban on confined field trials. But the comprehensive Parliamentary Standing Committee report on agriculture in 2012 had taken a clear stand against field trials.” …
“Tiahrt, Pompeo in Shootout over GMO Labeling,” Jenny Hopkinson, July 28, 2014;
“Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo's opponent in his upcoming GOP primary is using the incumbent's national GMO-labeling bill as a campaign hammer, and it just might register enough with the public to tighten the race.
“Todd Tiahrt says he's not necessarily in favor of allowing states to mandate the labeling of foods and beverages that contain genetically modified organisms, but he thinks it's none of the federal government's business.
“The former eight-term representative from Kansas's 4th Congressional District has stepped up his attacks on Pompeo's support for the measure in the waning days before the Aug. 5 primary in an attempt to win back his seat.
“’Mr. Pompeo's legislation is essentially a pay-off to the corporations funding his campaign, his special interest contributors and their lobbyists,’ Tiahrt charges in a press release distributed last week. ‘In his efforts to thank his many special-interest contributors, his legislation would increase the size of government (which he claims to oppose) and mandate new regulations (which he also claims to oppose) to punish the competitors of his financial backers.’
“The race for Kansas' 4th District seat has long been considered an easy win for Pompeo, but at least one poll indicates the gap between the candidates has narrowed in the last month. A July 23 SurveyUSA poll found that of 671 likely 4th District Republican voters surveyed, 46 percent backed Pompeo and 39 percent favored Tiahrt, with a margin of error of about 4 percentage points.
“That's a narrower split than seen in the group's June 19 poll, which put Pompeo ahead 51 percent to Tiahrt's 36 percent.
“The winner of the primary will face Democrat Perry Schuckman, who is running unopposed in his party's primary, in November.” …
Comment: Tiahrt lost the Primary.
“The Anti-Label Lobby—Industry lobbying boils over in bid to block labeling of genetically engineered food,” Libby Foley, Policy Analyst, July 29, 2014;
“Companies and organizations opposed to labeling foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients disclosed $9 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GE labeling in the first quarter of 2014 – nearly as much as they spent in all of 2013.
“The burst of lobbying by food and biotechnology companies was partly designed to muster Congressional support for legislation that would block states from requiring GE labeling on food packages. That bill, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by advocates of GE labeling, was introduced on April 9 by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas).
“In May, Vermont became the first state to enact legislation to require GE labeling, although industry has filed suit in an effort to block it. Connecticut and Maine have passed GE labeling laws that would go into effect if other northeastern states pass similar legislation.
“Oregon and Colorado voters will consider GE labeling ballot initiatives this fall, and labeling bills have been introduced in 30 other states in 2013 and 2014.
“Food and biotechnology companies and organizations disclosed $9.3 million in lobbying expenditures in 2013 that made reference to GE labeling and $9 million in the first quarter of 2014 alone. The forms cite lobbying on GE labeling as well as other policy issues.
“In particular, the Grocery Manufacturers Association disclosed $1.2 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GE labeling in the first quarter of 2014. The Association’s member organizations separately disclosed another $4.3 million in lobbying expenditures that made reference to GE labeling in the first quarter, including $3.9 million by beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi.” …
“August Right To Know Champion—David Bronner,” Just Label It, August 4, 2014;
“David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, is an organic industry pioneer and outspoken genetically engineered food labeling activist. David and his brother Michael established Dr. Bronner’s as a trendsetter in the organic body care industry by becoming one of the first brands to certify its soaps, lotions and balms under the USDA National Organic Program in 2003 — marking the beginning of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps’ issue-oriented activism in the natural products marketplace.
“We had the pleasure of interviewing him about the incredible work he’s done on the GE labeling front, check it out.” …
See more at: http://justlabelit.org/august-right-to-know-champion-david-bronner/#sthash.OoeUmC6h.dpuf
“Government figures on GM crops run counter to RSS logic,” Vishwa Mohan, TNN, August 6, 2014;
“New Delhi: In what could be a disappointment to RSS-linked groups opposed to genetically modified crops, the government on Tuesday told Parliament that ‘there is no credible scientific evidence proving that GM crops have adverse impact on environment, human health and livestock.’
“Besides, the government also shared details of the Bt Cotton success story in India and the fact that 27 countries have been cultivating different varieties of transgenic crops including Soybean, Maize, Papaya, Canola and Tomato for long.
“Government’s remarks came in response to Parliament Questions in Lok Sabha. It came barely a week after the RSS-linked Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) met environment minister Prakash Javadekar and sought a freeze on all field trials of GM crops. “ …
“What Happened to the Essential Nutrients in Our Food?—Everyone needs vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and others to stay strong and healthy. Find out why these essential nutrients have decreased in our food and how we can get them back,” Courtney White, July 2014;
“What carbon sequestration efforts in a Kansas corn field can teach us about getting essential nutrients back into our food. Photograph by Ben Collins, Wikimedia Commons.
“Scientists maintain that a mere two-percent increase in the carbon content of the planet’s soils could offset a large amount of greenhouse-gas emissions going into the atmosphere. In his book, Grass, Soil, Hope (Chelsea Green, 2014), author Courtney White walks readers through a series of low-tech carbon sequestration efforts already in use to help limit these emissions. In the following excerpt, learn about one such effort—no-till farming. This practice can increase the amount of carbon in the soil and therefore stimulate the production of essential nutrients in our food we need to thrive.
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/essential-nutrients-ze0z1407zcgp.aspx#ixzz39jEtmP4R
“‘Superweeds’ emerge to challenge farmers,” Tom Meersman, Star Tribune, August 2, 2014;
“Crops are put at risk by plants that have become resistant to common herbicides.
“On a research plot near the Rochester airport, Jared Goplen has watched weeds for the past three summers. His specialty is giant ragweed, one of more than a dozen species of ‘superweeds’ that resist the most widely used herbicides. Superweeds can take over cropland, reduce yields and wipe out farmers’ profits. Even consumers can face a secondary effect in the form of higher food prices.
“‘It’s a serious problem and one that will continue to grow,’ said Paul Meints, research program manager for Minnesota Soybean.
‘Weeds that won’t succumb to mainstream herbicides are a rising concern nationally, especially in cotton, corn and soybean country, and the largest agribusinesses are racing to propose solutions. In Minnesota alone, growers plant nearly 16 million acres of corn and soybeans each year.
“Goplen, a University of Minnesota graduate student, is testing whether crop rotation and other non-herbicide methods can make a difference in keeping weeds under control. He records the number of giant ragweeds as they come up, collects and counts seeds that fall from mature plants, and even sifts seeds in the soil to map hot spots in the seedbank where seeds are waiting to sprout next year.
“In states such as Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia, the primary menace is a different weed.
“Thousands of acres of soybeans and cotton had to be mowed down in recent years because the herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth had overrun the fields.
“Meints said the Palmer weed has reached southern Iowa but is not yet in Minnesota, where farmers grow more than 7 million acres of soybeans and about 8.5 million acres of corn. No Minnesota farmers have lost entire crops to herbicide-resistant weeds, he said, but some have experienced yield losses.
“University researchers and grower associations have pushed hard the past couple of years to let farmers know that using the same herbicide year after year is a bad idea, Meints said, and that herbicides and crops need to be rotated more frequently to lessen the chances of runaway superweeds on their fields.
“Weeds that can tolerate herbicides are nothing new, said Jeff Gunsolus, University of Minnesota Extension agronomy professor and weed specialist. Weeds are able to adapt to different environments, he said, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they can also adapt to certain herbicides.” …
“One Little Piggy Had Birth Defects: Is Monsanto's Roundup to Blame?” Jeff Ritterman, M.D., Truthout Op-Ed, August 8, 2014;
“A pig farm in Denmark. A renewed charge against Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide is being led by a Danish pig farmer who realized the chemical’s effects on his livestock. Photograph by Jan Ingemansen, Flickr
“One little piglet was born with only one large eye. A second piglet was missing an ear. A third piglet had a large hole in its skull. A fourth piglet had a monstrously huge ‘elephant tongue.’ A female piglet was born with testes. Still others had malformed limbs, spines, skulls and gastrointestinal tracts.
“The pigs in question belonged to a Danish pig farmer. For three years he had fed his pigs ordinary, non-genetically modified soy. When he ran out, he bought the cheaper genetically modified (GM) soy pig feed. His herdsman, unaware of the feed switch, immediately noticed that the pigs lost their appetite and that the piglets developed diarrhea. Even worse was the sudden and shocking increase in birth defects. The farmer, eager to understand the cause, had 38 of the deformed pigs euthanized and tested for glyphosate, the herbicide used on the GM soy. The results were published in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Environmental and Analytic Toxicology. The samples of lung, liver, kidney, brain, gut wall, heart and muscle all tested positive.
“Glyphosate is the world's most frequently used herbicide. First marketed by Monsanto in the 1970s under the trade-name ‘Roundup,’ it is used extensively wherever GM crops are grown. Monsanto has touted Roundup’s safety, claiming that, since it attacks an enzyme system not present in animals, it is harmless to people and to pets. We are beginning to find out that this is simply not true. As scientists start to investigate the effects of glyphosate residues in humans and animals, a horrifying story is beginning to emerge. It begins with what we have learned about glyphosate’s propensity to cause birth defects.” …
“Pushpa Bhargava questions DBT guidelines on transgenic crops,” Meena Menon, August 10, 2014;
“Even as the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) decided to constitute a sub-committee to review the toxicology data generated by two applicants for genetically modified brinjal, biologist and Padma Bhushan award winner Dr. Pushpa M. Bhargava has questioned the guidelines of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) on transgenic crops.
“Dr. Bhargava and others had asked for the raw data on toxicity studies on rats using transgenic brinjal which were carried out by Dr. Sesikeran, former Director of National Institute of Nutrition at Hyderabad. He found statistically quite significant differences between rats fed on Bt Brinjal and those fed on a normal meal in respect of several important parameters, said Dr. Bhargava.
“However, Dr. Sesikeran had said that as all the values (both of the control and of the experimental animals) fell within the normal range of variation, the differences were not significant, and that there was no need to repeat the experiment.
“‘Our point was that if on repetition the same differences are found again, they are bound to be significant,’ Dr. Bhargava pointed out. Further, he used only 20 animals (10 female and 10 male) in both experimental and the control groups which is the minimum number for such tests. Dr. Sesikeran must explain why only a minimum number was used, he said.” …
“No proof that GM poses any risk to health: govt,” Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, August 12, 2014;
“The government has told Parliament that there is no “credible scientific” proof yet to show that genetically modified (GM) crops pose any “risk” to human health, an official testimony to the safety of transgenic crops that could prove to be controversial.
“The government’s stand came in a response to a routine question by a member, who sought to know if scientific research has shown any adverse effects of GM crops. In his written reply, junior agriculture minister Sanjeev Kumar Balyan said: ‘There is no credible scientific evidence proving that GM crops have adverse impact on the environment, human health and livestock.’
“Globally, GM crops and foods containing genetically modified organisms have been the subject of a fierce debate. Advocates argue GM foods pose no more harm or risk than ordinary foods — frequently citing the case of American consumers who have been eating GM food for decades.
“Anti-GM activists however have argued such technologies carry potential long-term hazards, citing their own body of research. ‘It’s a blatant lie to say there are no adverse impact,’ Kavitha Kuruganti, an anti-GM activist associated with the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).” …
“Special Report: How Organic Farmers are Forced to Bear the Costs (and the Risks) of GMO
Contamination,” Nick Meyer, August 12, 2014;
“One lesser-known aspect of the growing movement for food integrity is the ongoing, time-sensitive threat posed to organic and natural farmers — and the plant world in general — by cross-contamination from genetically modified crops.
“The mainstream media rarely if ever mentions it, but the fact remains that genetically modified organisms are capable of altering the very nature of nature itself, and our food, over time.
“Co-existence between organic and GM crops is virtually impossible unless they’re widely separated, but so far organic farmers have been offered little if any protection from contamination risks by U.S. government organizations, severely limiting their freedom of choice.
“Cross-contamination of natural plants by genetically modified crops has been found as many as 13 miles away from the source (and 60 miles through multiple pollinations in Mexico) and while the ‘safe distance’ varies by crop, one thing’s for sure: organic and non-GM farmers must take the cross-contamination threat very seriously.
“Those who don’t risk having their crops rejected by both domestic and overseas markets (and their livelihoods taken away from them).
“They could also find themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit for “patent infringement” over the “theft of intellectual property” that may be alleged against farmers who unintentionally end up with GMO (genetically modified organism) “technology” on their own farms, GM material that they never wanted in the first place.
“Every farm is different, but most organic and non-GM farmers have no choice but to foot the bill for several different expensive precautionary measures that must be taken in order to maintain and verify the purity and non-GM status of their crops and seeds.
“To force these restrictions upon organic and non-GM farmers flies in the face of hundreds of years of common English law (particularly the well known phrase “A Man’s Home is his Castle”), according to Jim Gerritsen, the president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, who used the following analogy.
“‘If I decided to spray my house purple and I sprayed on a day that was windy, and my purple paint drifted onto your house and contaminated your siding and shingles, there isn’t a court in the nation that wouldn’t in two minutes find me guilty of irresponsibly damaging your property,’ he said.
“‘But when it comes to agriculture (since the advent of GMOs), all of a sudden the tables are turned.’
“The following is a list of the precautions these farmers often make in their best effort to avoid being contaminated by their neighbors growing GMOs, as found in OSGATA’s ‘Protecting Seed Integrity’ handbook, with comments and insight from my interview with Gerritsen included.” …
See more at: http://althealthworks.com/3510/how-organic-farmers-are-forced-to-bear-the-costs-and-the-risks-of-gmo-contamination/#sthash.Ge3FsJAE.dpuf
“The farce of GMO industry safety studies,” July 11, 2014;
“Control animals fed GMOs and pesticides makes industry GM canola safety study worthless—
“Who would have expected that toxicology would become a rich reservoir of farce and irony? Yet that is exactly what has happened in the area of GMO toxicity testing, thanks to double standards that mean studies finding harm are judged very differently to those finding safety.
“The latest episode in the farce is a GMO industry safety study designed to test the effects in rats fed a GMO canola compared with rats fed non-GM canola. Unfortunately, the test animals were fed GMOs and pesticides and control animals were also fed – er – GMOs and pesticides. Unsurprisingly, the study found no effect from feeding the GM food under test and concluded that it was safe. In spite of its poor design, the study could be used to gain regulatory approval for the GM Roundup-tolerant canola under test.
“The study (Delaney and colleagues, 2014) was published in April this year by employees of the biotech and agrochemical giant DuPont in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT). Readers will recall that in November 2013 the editor of this same journal, A. Wallace Hayes, forcibly retracted the long-term rat feeding study by the team of Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini. Séralini's study found toxic effects in rats fed doses of NK603 GM maize and Roundup deemed safe by regulators. Hayes claimed he retracted the paper on the grounds of the "inconclusive" nature of the tumour and mortality findings in treated groups of rats. He blamed the alleged inconclusiveness on the relatively low number of rats used and the strain of rat, the Sprague-Dawley, which he claimed was unusually prone to tumours.
“Hayes's rationale for retracting the paper – inconclusiveness – was widely derided by scientists. Prof Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand pointed out that if this standard were applied consistently, this would result in a huge number of important studies being retracted, including two pioneering papers by James Watson and Francis Crick describing the structure of DNA and how it might replicate, which at the time of publication were inconclusive.
“Now Séralini's team has hit back at the FCT editor's accusations in an analysis of the DuPont study. The analysis, published in FCT as a letter to the editor, exposes as worthless the DuPont authors' claims of safety for the GM canola variety tested.” …
“Brazil farmers say GMO corn no longer resistant to pests,” Caroline Stauffer, July 28, 2014;
“Sao Paulo (Reuters) - Genetically modified corn seeds are no longer protecting Brazilian farmers from voracious tropical bugs, increasing costs as producers turn to pesticides, a farm group said on Monday.
“Producers want four major manufacturers of so-called BT corn seeds to reimburse them for the cost of spraying up to three coats of pesticides this year, said Ricardo Tomczyk, president of Aprosoja farm lobby in Mato Grosso state.
“‘The caterpillars should die if they eat the corn, but since they didn't die this year producers had to spend on average 120 reais ($54) per hectare ... at a time that corn prices are terrible,’ he said.
“Large-scale farming in the bug-ridden tropics has always been a challenge, and now Brazil's government is concerned that planting the same crops repeatedly with the same seed technologies has left the agricultural superpower vulnerable to pest outbreaks and dependent on toxic chemicals.
“Experts in the United States have also warned about corn production prospects because of a growing bug resistance to genetically modified corn. Researchers in Iowa found significant damage from rootworms in corn fields last year.” …
“Food Fascists: GMO and Pesticide Manufacturers Down and Dirty,” Dr. Garry Null and Richard Gale, Global Research, August 14, 2014;
“After decades of rearing hogs, Danish farmer IbBorup Pedersen was alarmed at the growing incidence of malformations and biological defects among his newborn piglets. Deformities included gaps in piglets’ skulls, deformed bones, missing limbs and even a female piglet with testicles. Never having witnessed such large numbers of deformed pigs before, Pedersen realized that it was after switching three years earlier to Monsanto’s GMO feed– which had been grown with glyphosate–that these birth defects began to appear. Pedersen had the piglets’ bodies sent to a Danish laboratory for analysis. The results were clear; there were high concentrations of Monsanto’s glyphosate pesticide, commonly known as Roundup, in the piglets’ organs. The analyses’ findings were subsequently published in a recent Journal of Environmental and Analytical Toxicology,
“Pedersen’s experience is another blow against Monsanto’s public relations campaign to convince governments, farmers and consumers that Roundup is one of the world’s safest pesticides and poses no risk to animal and human health. For many years Monsanto has stood by this myth with fanatical religious fervor against all existing independent evidence to the contrary.
“While there are an increasing number of studies in the scientific literature identifying the health risks associated with GMO consumption and glyphosate independently, no research has yet been conducted to assess the combined synergistic adverse effects of GMOs and pesticides in animal models and humans. The original foundation of agricultural biotechnology was to advance sales of pesticides by engineering crops to become immune to toxic spraying. While weeds and insect pests would be eradicated, targeted crop would be spared, thereby allowing farmers to spray massive amounts of chemicals on soy, corn, cotton, sugar beets and other agricultural foods without injury. This was the assumption that led to the agro-genetic revolution. Only during the past decade with more and more GM products in our diets, and more and more farm acreage being sprayed with glyphosate and other toxic pesticides and herbicides, are the long term health risks to animals, humans and the environment being more fully recognized within the scientific community.” …
GMWatch News Review 344, August 12, 2014;
“A Dangerous Mixture in ‘Poison Valley’: Neoliberalism, Pesticides and the Kaua’i Anti-GMO Movement,” David Mitchell, Truthout News Analysis, August 16, 2014;
(The following is the End of the Article not the Beginning)
“Conclusion: What’s In A Label?
“So where do we stand in relation to GMO development and the citizen-scientist chronicling of its harmful effects? According to journalist Ronnie Cummins who has pioneered some significant exposés of the agribusiness industry, there are three basic principles with which we need to struggle. First, we must begin to reckon with the mounting scientific evidence that GMO food and crops as well as the pesticides used to develop them are hazardous to people and animals. Second, GMOs remain an ideological foundation stone to the cultivation of an increasingly poisoned food chain that now predominates in many agricultural and industrialized geopolitical zones of the world where agribusiness works its magic. Third, fraudulent labeling practices such as ‘natural,’ ‘all natural,’ and even ‘almost organic’ allow manufacturers to mislead the public into thinking it is buying nutritious alternatives that are often at the forefront of environmental toxicity. Beyond these important facts about GMO production, it is also important to understand that in Europe where GMO labeling is mandatory, GMO-based agribusiness has been almost completely run off the grocery store shelves. To place a GMO label on the package of any food is equivalent to placing a ‘skull and crossbones’ there - as one industry executive for Monsanto explained nearly 20 years ago.
“This significant consumer market impact is exactly the reason why Bill 960 in Honolulu and the Kaua’i Rising Charter amendment petition to limit GMO-based food production until agribusiness produces evidence of the safety of their products are being fought so vigorously by corporate lawyers and lobbyists at the federal, state and local levels. These grassroots activist measures threaten state and private industry efforts to preserve profit at the expense of people and
other organisms with which we share the environment.
“People’s protest against the GMO’s industry’s ‘poisoning of paradise’ posted on a fence in Kilauea."
Photograph by Sharon Snyder
“During our most recent visit to Kaua’i, two citizen-activist groups, the Center for Food Safety and Hawaii Seed, co-hosted presentations by doctors from the Philippines who have been working on the effects of GMOs and pesticides in human beings. One of the speakers, Romeo Quinjano, identified pragmatic steps for combatting the effects of the GMO industry: 1) make agribusiness prove that what it's doing is safe, the precautionary principle; 2) expand monitoring of GMO spread and the accompanying toxins at the local, state and federal levels; 3) fund independent scientific studies that are not financed by the financial interests of agribusiness; 4) continue to recognize people power as the frontline fortification against unmitigated agribusiness expansion (Kaua’i Rising). Somewhat sobering, these recommendations almost exactly mirrored the recommendations identified in the Charter amendment that the Kaua'i County Council recently blocked upon presentation of the requisite 8,000-plus signatures to move the petition forward to the ballot in November as Charter Amendment Article 33.
“Without these efforts to combat agribusiness' intentions to make docile citizens complicit in their poisoning campaigns ‘from above,’ there is little hope of refuting misinformation ‘from below.’ Corporations often disparage citizen knowledge of their bodies and the relations they posit to environmental contaminants as ill-conceived. The case of Kaua’i citizens against the GMO industry is indeed ‘ill conceived’ in the sense that people's bodies are going awry in the onslaught of chemicals being introduced into their environments. This ‘felt knowledge’ of harm ‘from below,’ as Nikolas Rose puts it, ‘pluralizes biological and biomedical truth by introducing doubt and controversy, and relocate[s] science in the fields of experience, politics, and capitalism.’ This pluralization of truth is the dynamic, organic, ever-mutating present that Kaua’i embodies for those trying to preserve a sustainable future for the island.” ...
“Sign posted by residents in the town of Kilauea calling attention to the Kaua'i cocktail's deadly mix.”
Photograph by Sharon Snyder
“Gallup Poll: 45% of Americans Seek Out Organic Food, Other Fascinating Data,” Max Goldberg. August 16, 2014;
“Having been entrenched in the industry for several years now, I am quite aware of how popular organic food is in this country.
“Yet, the results of a new poll recently released by Gallup even surprised me.
“With organic comprising 4% of all U.S. food sales – nearly $35 billion – I was shocked to learn that 45% of Americans are seeking out organic food.
“But this isn’t just people of real means. 42% of Americans with a household income of under $30,000 are also seeking out organic food.
“The data from Gallup is absolutely fascinating and it was broken down by:
Organic Food Preferences by Location
and Organic Food Preferences by Age, Political Party, and Income
“Forty-Five Percent of Americans Seek Out Organic Foods—More people in cities or in the West actively include organic foods,” Rebecca Riffkin, August 7, 2014;
“Washington, D.C. -- A little less than half of Americans, 45%, actively try to include organic foods in their diets, while 15% actively avoid them. More than a third, 38%, say they ‘don’t think either way’ about organic foods.”
“Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson Tries to Bully Us Into Thinking GMOs are Safe to Eat, My Response,” Max Goldberg, August 12, 2014;
“I have been contacted by numerous people over the past week about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s rant on genetically-modified food, asking me what I thought of it.
“Because this famed scientist raises his voice and appears completely annoyed by the question – most likely because he is asked it all of the time – don’t be fooled or intimidated into thinking that GMOs are safe to eat. They’re not.
“What Neil deGrasse Tyson says is that is that the food we eat does not have the same genetic structure that it did 10,000 years ago. True.
“He also says that it has been modified to meet our needs. True.
“The distinction that he doesn’t make is the method in which the food has been modified, or engineered, to meet our needs. And this is (the) absolute most critical part of the argument.
“Neil deGrasse Tyson is essentially telling us that that there is no difference between genetically-engineered food and hybridized food. Therefore, our fears about GMOs are completely unfounded.” …
“Monsanto Corporation: Strong Dividend Set To Continue,” Aug. 20, 2014;
“Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
•Monsanto announced a gigantic increase in its dividends.
•Monsanto is in a strong position to sustain dividends.
•Monsanto is a good stock to buy.
“Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) recently announced yet another increase in its quarterly dividend. The company has now increased its quarterly dividend by 14% to $49 cents/share, which takes its annual dividend to $1.96/share. Since 2010, Monsanto has increased its dividends five times; this represents an increase of 85%. Furthermore, I believe Monsanto has strong potential to sustain its dividend growth in the coming days. Its capital allocation strategy prefers returning the majority portion of cash to investors in the form of dividends and buybacks. Monsanto is also very aggressively working on buybacks. Recently, the company announced a massive buyback program of $10 billion, which will be completed in only two years, including a $6 billion of short-term accelerated buyback program.” …
“Connecting the Dots Between Pollution, Global Hunger, and Water Scarcity,” Dr. Joseph Mercola,
August 24, 2014;
“Global hunger, pollution, and water scarcity – how are these interrelated? Courtney White, a former archaeologist and a Sierra Club activist, connects the dots for us in his book Grass,Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country.
“Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, he first became concerned about some of the environmental issues going on in the 1990s, at which time he joined the Sierra Club.
“‘I met a rancher at a Sierra Club meeting in 1996. His name was Jim Winder... This was back in the mid-‘90s when ranchers and environmentalists were going after each other in court, in public opinions, in newspapers, and all kinds of things.
“Jim said, ‘Let's find some common ground between ranchers and environmentalists.’ He said, ‘I ranch differently. I move my cows around the ranch in a certain way trying to mimic natural grazing behavior of wild animals – bison, for example.’
“I said, ‘That’s interesting.’ I went to his ranch and saw what he was doing. He’s growing grass. He had water, wildlife, and all these things.
“The Quivira Coalition—
“In 1997, the activist and the rancher formed a non-profit organization called The Quivira Coalition, along with conservationist Barbara Johnson. Together, they advocated land management practices that help restore land back to health.” …
“Hawaii's GMO Battle: Federal Judge Strikes Down Kauai's Pesticide Regulations,” Mike Ludwig, Truthout Report, August 29, 2014;
“Farmers outside a County Council chamber listen to a discussion about pesticide regulations and the planting of GMO crops on the island of Hawaii, November 5, 2013. Photograph by Jim Wilson, The New York Times.
“A federal judge in Hawaii has struck down a local ordinance that would have regulated pesticide use at farms on the island of Kauai, where four of the world's largest agrichemical companies take advantage of long growing seasons to develop genetically engineered crops seeds, also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
“On August 23, US Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled in favor of Syngenta, BASF, DuPont Pioneer and Agrigenetics, an affiliate of Dow Chemical in their challenge of Kauai County's Ordinance 960, arguing that the local ordinance illegally pre-empted state laws regulating pesticides.
“‘This decision in no way diminishes the health and environmental concerns of the people of Kauai,’ Kurren wrote in the order overturning the ordinance. ‘The court’s ruling simply recognizes that the state of Hawaii has established a comprehensive framework for addressing the application of restricted-use pesticides and the planting of GMO crops, which presently precludes local regulation by the county.’
“The Kauai County Council passed Ordinance 960 in November 2013 after months of protests and divisive public debate that put the tight-knit island at the center of the global controversy over pesticides and GMOs.
“The ordinance is one of the first grassroots attempts to regulate some of the world's largest GMO seed producers at the local level.
“Residents of Waimea, a working-class community nestled between facilities operated by the four companies, are worried that pesticide drift from the GMO seed plots is poisoning local waterways and exposing their children to toxic chemicals linked to cognitive disorders and birth defects. Other activists on Kauai fought to pass Ordinance 960 because they oppose GMO agriculture in general.
“The ordinance established buffer zones between GMO seed farms where pesticides are sprayed and sensitive areas like schools and hospitals. It also required the companies to notify nearby residents about pesticide applications while researchers study the impacts of the chemicals on the environment.
“Although the ordinance was originally scheduled to take effect earlier this month, the court pushed that date back to October. Now it is unlikely that the ordinance will take effect in October, unless the defense quickly wins an appeal.
“The four agri-chemical companies on Kauai have reported using a combined 18 tons of "restricted-use" pesticides annually. Under federal law, only technicians with special training can apply restricted-use pesticides because they may pose threats to the environment or human health.
“A recent investigation by the Cascadia Times found that, on average, the GMO seed companies on Kauai annually apply more restricted-use pesticides - such as chlorpyrifos - per acre than farms in most states in the mainland. The amount of restricted-use pesticides applied on Kauai is 10 times greater than the national average.” …
“Hillary Clinton is Just Plain Wrong on GMOs,” Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association, August 28, 2014;
“In her June 25 keynote address to the Biotechnology Industry Organization International Convention in San Diego, Calif., Hillary Clinton voiced strong support for genetic engineering and genetically engineered crops. She earned a standing ovation that day by stating that the biotech industry suffers from a public perception problem and that it just needs ‘a better vocabulary’ in order to persuade GMO skeptics who don’t understand ‘the facts’ about genetic engineering.
“And then Hillary proceeded to get the facts wrong.
“Why does it matter what Hillary, who holds no public office and has not (yet) declared her candidacy for president, says or believes about genetic engineering and genetically modified crops and foods?
“It doesn’t—unless she throws her hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination. And then it matters not just what her position is on GMOs, not just how deep her financial ties to the biotech industry run, not just how much she distorts the facts about the ‘promise’ of biotech crops.
“It matters, deeply, to more than 90 percent of Americans, what her position is on laws requiring mandatory labeling of GMOs in food and food products.
“If elected, will Hillary support consumers’ right to know? Or will she support the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, a bill introduced in Congress earlier this year, which if passed, will preempt state GMO labeling laws?
“Hillary has been coy about announcing her candidacy. But when it comes to clarifying her position on GMO labeling laws, she’s been dead silent.
“As she soon heads to Iowa—the testing ground for presidential candidates—Hillary’s presidential aspirations will no doubt become more clear. If she runs, as the pundits predict, it will be up to the GMO labeling movement to demand that she take a stand on GMO labeling laws.
“Meanwhile, here’s why Hillary’s speech to the BIO convention was just plain wrong.
“Wrong on the science of genetic engineering
“Hillary brought the BIO convention-goers to their feet with her call for “a better vocabulary” to win over consumers.” …
The Non-GMO Blog: “The Biotech Industry’s Assault on Balanced Journalism,” Ken Roseboro , June 24, 2014;
“GMO proponents pressuring Reuters to remove journalist who presents both sides of GMO debate—
“Good journalism is founded on balance and fairness. This means presenting several sides of a story or points of view to help readers gain a more comprehensive perspective on a topic. Without balance, news can be skewed to a particular point of view.
“Reuters’ journalist Carey Gillam has covered issues surrounding genetically modified foods for the past 16 years, no easy task with the growing GMO controversy and its polarized pro- and anti-GMO perspectives. But Gillam’s reporting has been balanced and objective, giving both sides equal treatment. Civil Eats, an award-winning daily news source focusing on food issues, recently cited Gillam in an article, ‘24 Women Food and Agriculture Reporters You Should Know About.’
“In an April 9th Reuters article, ‘Bill seeks to block mandatory GMO food labeling by states,’ Gillam wrote: ‘Advocates of labeling say consumers deserve to know if the food they eat contains GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.’ A paragraph later she wrote: ‘Makers of biotech crops and many large food manufacturers have fought mandatory labeling, arguing that genetically modified crops are not materially different and pose no safety risk.’
“That is balanced journalism, presenting both sides to the story.
“Attacks by GMO proponents—
“Unfortunately, GMO proponents object to Gillam’s balanced reporting and have pressured her editors at Reuters to remove her from covering GMO topics and to even fire her.” …
“Critic of Organic Agriculture Lacks Credibility,” Mark A. Kastel, August 25, 2014;
“Recently, Mr. Mischa Popoff wrote an op-ed for Food Safety News critical of the organic movement. Popoff is a former Canadian organic certification inspection contractor, the author of a self-published book critical of organics, and a commentator affiliated with ultra-conservative think tanks in the U.S. that are funded by agrochemical interests.
“The article below, entitled, ‘Who is Mischa Popoff?,’ was penned by researchers at The Cornucopia Institute in 2011. It remains accurate and relevant today.
“When The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group, officially launched in April 2004, one of its primary issue areas was what it referred to as ‘The Corporate Attack on Organic Agriculture.’ At the time, Cornucopia’s focus was on the father-and-son team of Dennis and Alex Avery at the ultra-conservative Hudson Institute’s campaign to discredit organics. Now, in 2011, after seven years of successfully exposing the genesis of Hudson’s ire, and greatly diminishing its effectiveness, a new generation of ‘Trojan horse’ naysayers has emerged.
“The latest attacks come from Mischa Popoff, a Canadian who purports to be an advocate for organics and is publicizing his self-published book entitled, “Is It Organic? The author misses few opportunities to impugn the integrity of the organic label, or USDA oversight, while simultaneously defending biotechnology and the industrial agriculture system that organics seeks to replace.
“‘Addressing the potential damage from attacks by the Hudson Institute, and other right-wing think tanks such as the Hoover Institution, the Heartland Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, was relatively easy,’ said Mark A. Kastel, codirector at the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute. ‘Every rebuttal that we published, or preemptive media advisory we issued, was put into context by including the corporate agribusiness funding base for the work of these entities.’
“Like the Averys, Popoff is a conservative ideologue, a global warming denier, an ardent critic of hybrid automobiles, and has suggested that the American mortgage crisis that precipitated the financial meltdown was caused by ‘overregulation.’ His book sold on his website is subtitled: ‘The Inside Story of Who Destroyed the Organic Industry, Turned It into a Socialist Movement and Made Million$ in the Process, and a Comprehensive History of Farming, Warfare and Western Civilization from 1645 to the Present.’”
“Certain Gut Bacteria Protect Against Food Allergies,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, September 10, 2014;
“Your body’s microbiome—colonies of various microbes that reside in your gut and elsewhere in and on your body—is as unique to you as your fingerprint.
“It varies from person to person based on factors such as diet, lifestyle, health history, geographic location, and even ancestry. Your microbiome is in fact one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet.
“In terms of ratios, your bacteria outnumber your body’s cells by 10 to 1, and viruses outnumber bacteria 10 to 1! So not only is your body the home of 100 trillion bacteria, you also house about one quadrillion viruses (bacteriophages).
“All of these organisms perform a multitude of functions in key biological systems, and need to be properly balanced and cared for in order to maintain good health.
“For example, your gut bacteria influence your immune responses, nervous system functioning, and play a role in the development of any number of diseases, including food allergies, as demonstrated by recent research.
“Allergies are on the Rise Across the Western World—
“Food allergies affect some 15 million Americans, including one in 13 children. Disturbing statistics also point out that potentially deadly food allergies are on the rise. For example, between 1997 and 2011 alone, food allergies in children rose by 50 percent!
“Inner-city kids are at greatest risk. In one study,1 10 percent of children raised in large cities developed a food allergy before the age of five. Twenty-nine percent developed food sensitivity. The most common food allergy was peanuts (6 percent), followed by eggs (4.3 percent), and pasteurized milk (2.7 percent).
“City dwellers also have a heightened risk of asthma and other environmental allergies. Similarly, in Great Britain one in three people is allergic to something, be it pollen, dust mites, or food.
“Previous research has drawn parallels between the rise in allergies and increased antibiotic and antimicrobial use. According to British researchers, exposure to antibiotics early in life may increase your child’s risk of developing eczema by 40 percent.
“Other scientists have clearly shown how genetically engineered foods and the use of the agricultural herbicide glyphosate destroys gut bacteria and promotes allergies. One recent study adds further credence to the disturbed microbiome hypothesis.” …
“Commensal Bacteria Protect Against Food Allergen Sensitization,” Andrew T. Stefkaa,, Taylor Feehleya,, Prabhanshu Tripathia, Ju Qiub, Kathy McCoyc, Sarkis K. Mazmaniand, Melissa Y. Tjotae, Goo-Young Seoa, Severine Caoa, Betty R. Theriaultf, Dionysios A. Antonopoulose,g, Liang Zhoub, Eugene B. Change, Yang-Xin Fua, and Cathryn R. Naglera,e,
Edited by Dan R. Littman, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY, and approved August 5, 2014 (received for review June 25, 2014)
“The prevalence of food allergy is rising at an alarming rate; the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented an 18% increase among children in the United States between 1997 and 2007. Twenty-first century environmental interventions are implicated by this dramatic generational increase. In this report we examine how alterations in the trillions of commensal bacteria that normally populate the gastrointestinal tract influence allergic responses to food. We identify a bacterial community that protects against sensitization and describe the mechanism by which these bacteria regulate epithelial permeability to food allergens. Our data support the development of novel adjunctive probiotic therapies to potentiate the induction of tolerance to dietary allergens.
“Environmentally induced alterations in the commensal microbiota have been implicated in the increasing prevalence of food allergy. We show here that sensitization to a food allergen is increased in mice that have been treated with antibiotics or are devoid of a commensal microbiota. By selectively colonizing gnotobiotic mice, we demonstrate that the allergy-protective capacity is conferred by a Clostridia-containing microbiota. Microarray analysis of intestinal epithelial cells from gnotobiotic mice revealed a previously unidentified mechanism by which Clostridia regulate innate lymphoid cell function and intestinal epithelial permeability to protect against allergen sensitization. Our findings will inform the development of novel approaches to prevent or treat food allergy based on modulating the composition of the intestinal microbiota.” …
“Canadian beekeepers sue Bayer and Syngenta over neonicotinoid pesticides—Class action lawsuit seeks $400 million in damages,” CBC News, September 3, 2014;
“Studies have shown that bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides have smaller colonies, fail to return to their hives, and may have trouble navigating. Photograph by Emily Chung, CBC.
“Canadian beekeepers are suing the makers of popular crop pesticides for more than $400 million in damages, alleging that their use is causing the deaths of bee colonies.
“The proposed class action lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Ontario Superior Court on behalf of all Canadian beekeepers by Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey, two of Ontario's largest honey producers, the Ontario Beekeepers Association announced Wednesday.
“‘The goal is to stop the use of the neonicotinoids to stop the harm to the bees and the beekeepers,’ said Paula Lombardi, a lawyer with London, Ont.-based law firm Siskinds LLP, which is handling the case.
“As of Thursday morning, more than 30 beekeepers had signed on to participate in the class action.
“The lawsuit alleges that Bayer Cropscience Inc. and Syngenta Canada Inc. and their parent companies were negligent in their design, manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicotinoid pesticides, specifically those containing imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiomethoxam.
“The pesticides, which are a neurotoxin to insects, are widely coated on corn, soybean and canola seeds in Canada to protect the plants from pests such as aphids. Studies have shown that bees exposed to the pesticides have smaller colonies, fail to return to their hives, and may have trouble navigating. The pesticides were also found in 70 per cent of dead bees tested by Health Canada in 2013.” ...
Comment: The story relates to Monsanto because it is the major purveyor of the pesticides. It uses them to coat its seeds and protect them during the early stages of plant growth when the the plants are most vulnerable to attack.
“China’s Roundup Registration Leaves Many Unanswered Questions,” September 10, 2014;
“Chinese GMO-free advocates are currently facing a struggle in Beijing to force the Chinese Agriculture Ministry to release the studies that led to the registration of the World’s number one pesticide, Monsanto’s Roundup.
“The Chinese Agriculture Ministry has so far followed the lead of regulators in Europe (EFSA) and the U.S. (EPA) by stating that the study/studies that led to them making a decision regarding the safety of Roundup, will not be released because they contain Monsanto’s commercial secrets and because divulging them would threaten personal privacy information. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also refused a request from the Global GMO Free Coalition to release the studies used by the Chinese authorities.
“China is currently the world's largest producer and largest exporter of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), and is a major importer of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, with Roundup accounting for 80% of the herbicide market in China. China is also the world's largest importer of Roundup Ready soybeans, corn and canola products.
“The only toxicology study that the Chinese Agriculture Ministry has referenced to justify its 1988 registration of Roundup is an unpublished ‘acute toxicology’ study conducted by Younger Laboratories for Monsanto. However, it has not released the full study.
“Questions Surrounding the Younger Laboratories Study/Studies—
“Following a Global GMO Free Coalition (GGFC) investigation we were unable to find a Younger Laboratories Roundup / glyphosate study dated December 23 1985, as referenced by the Chinese Agriculture Ministry. In fact , Younger Laboratories was no longer doing toxicology testing at this time, according to private sources connected to the lab.
“However, we did find 2 Younger Laboratories studies that were conducted in 1970 on glyphosate –not the full Roundup formulation.” …
“Global GMO Free Coalition Coordinator Henry Rowlands stated Tuesday: “The idea that the full Younger Laboratories studies, which are ‘unpublished’, can be hidden from the general public is a public health outrage and one that is set to be challenged in court in China.”
“Diana Reeves of GMO Free USA concluded: ‘There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that Roundup and it’s so-called active ingredient, glyphosate, cause harm to human & animal health, non-target organisms and our environment. The refusal by the EPA to release the studies which they have based their safety assessments on leads us to believe that they have something to hide. These studies must be made public for the scientific community to evaluate.’
“According to Executive Director of the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), Mariam Mayet, ‘In late 2012 the ACB formally requested access to the toxicological, residue and chemistry data required for commercial approval of glyphosate in South Africa. To our utter amazement our regulators replied that all records had been returned to Monsanto upon the completion of the registration process on the grounds that it is commercially sensitive! To compound this breath-taking dereliction of public duty, in the same communication, they suggested we apply directly to Monsanto for the information.’” …
“German Supermarket Giants Demand Return to GMO-Free Fed Poultry,” September 2, 2014;
“Germany’s top supermarkets, the powerhouses of Europe when it comes to retail, have delivered a blow to the biotech industry by forcing the German poultry industry to return to the use of non-GMO feed.
“It was announced last Thursday that the German supermarkets, with a broad consensus, recently demanded from the German Poultry Association (ZDG) to stop using GMO feed for both egg and poultry meat production, starting from January 1st 2015. That is the date when the retailers want to receive GMO-free fed products again, meaning poultry suppliers will have to rush to get their feed supply chains free from GMO feed once more.
“In February this year, the ZDG unilaterally declared that it was stopping using GM-free animal feed, following similar moves by other associations in England and Denmark. The reasons provided for the step after over a decade of GMO-free feeding were an alleged shortage of GMO-free soya, the risk of contamination, and the associated legal uncertainty.
“However, following close consultation with Brazilian authorities, the German supermarkets have realized that the reasons given by ZDG do not stand up: There is clearly enough Brazilian GMO-free feed in the system to supply Europe’s needs.
“Global GMO Free Coalition Coordinator, Henry Rowlands, stated: ‘The wool has been pulled over the eyes of retailers across Europe by the GMO industry over the past year. We welcome the news that they have started to fight back in the interest of their customers, who do not want to buy GM-fed eggs and meat.’
“Claire Robinson of Earth Open Source, a Global GMO Free Coalition partner organisation, said, ‘Retailers must ensure that their GMO-free feed requirements are communicated all the way along the supply chain to the Brazilian soymeal exporters.’
“Vandana Shiva of Navdanya (India), added: ‘This is an important step towards food democracy, the right to choose what you eat, and the right to know how it was produced.’” …
“Ruin Is Forever: When The Precautionary Principle Is Justified,”August 31, 2014;
“If you are dead, you cannot mount a comeback. If all life on Earth were destroyed by, say, a large comet impact, there would be no revival. Ruin is forever.
“The destruction of all life on Earth is not 10 times worse than the destruction of one-tenth of all life on Earth. It is infinitely worse. A fall of 1 foot is not one-tenth as damaging to the human body as a fall of 10 feet, nor is it one-hundredth as damaging as a fall of 100 feet (which is very likely to be lethal). Walking down a stairway with one-foot-high steps, we are typically immune to any damage at all. Thus, we can say in both instances above that the harm rises dramatically (nonlinearly) as we move toward any 100 percent lethal limit.
“It is just these properties--scope and severity--that most humans seem blind to when introducing innovations into society and the environment according to a recent paper entitled ‘The Precautionary Principle: Fragility and Black Swans from Policy Actions.”’The paper comes from the Extreme Risk Initiative at the New York University School of Engineering and one of its authors, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is well-known to my readers.
“The concepts in the paper are applicable to systemic problems such as climate change. But the paper addresses only two specific issues, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and nuclear power, to illustrate its main points.
“The precautionary principle refers to a policy that demands proof that an innovation in not broadly harmful to humans or the environment before it is deployed. We are referring here to public policy issues, not decisions by individuals. The question the paper tries to answer is: When should this principle be invoked in public policy?
“The answer the authors give is surprisingly simple: when the risk of ruin is systemic. That doesn’t mean that they suggest no steps to mitigate risk when ruin might only be local, say, the explosion of a fireworks factory. But, they feel that such an event falls within the realm of risk management. An explosion at one fireworks factory cannot set off a chain reaction around the world. Individuals in and around the plant might be ruined. But all of humanity would not ruined.
“In the two examples covered in the paper, GMOs and nuclear power, the authors come to the surprising conclusion that nuclear power on a small scale does not warrant invoking the precautionary principle. Small-scale nuclear power does warrant careful risk management and cost/benefit analysis. Whether the damaged reactors at Fukushima would fall into the category of small-scale nuclear power isn't clear. Their effects were worldwide, even if small in most places.
“GMOs, however, offer a classic case of unforeseeable systemic ruin. We will know we are ruined by this untried technology after the ruin happens (perhaps in the form of famine or widespread human health and/or environmental effects). The authors categorically reject the notion that modern genetic engineering of plants is no more dangerous than traditional selective breeding.” …
“The Precautionary Principle: Fragility and Black Swans from Policy Actions,”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (School of Engineering, New York University), Rupert Read (School of Philosophy, University of East Anglia), Raphael Douady (Institute of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, C.N.R.S., Paris), Joseph Norman (New England Complex Systems Institute) , Yaneer Bar-Yam (New England Complex Systems Institute).
“Abstract—The precautionary principle (PP) states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing severe harm to the public domain (affecting general health or the environment globally), the action should not be taken in the absence of scientific near-certainty about its safety. Under these conditions, the burden of proof about absence of harm falls on those proposing an action, not those opposing it. PP is intended to deal with uncertainty and risk in cases where the absence of evidence and the incompleteness of scientific knowledge carries profound implications and in the presence of risks of ‘black swans,’ unforeseen and unforeseeable events of extreme consequence.
“This non-naive version of the PP allows us to avoid paranoia and paralysis by confining precaution to specific domains and problems.
“Here we formalize PP, placing it within the statistical and probabilistic structure of “ruin” problems, in which a system is at risk of total failure, and in place of risk we use a formal "fragility" based approach. In these problems, what appear to be small and reasonable risks accumulate inevitably to certain irreversible harm. Traditional cost-benefit analyses, which seek to quantitatively weigh outcomes to determine the best policy option, do not apply, as outcomes may have infinite costs. Even high-benefit, high-probability outcomes do not outweigh the existence of low probability, infinite cost options—i.e. ruin. Uncertainties result in sensitivity analyses that are not mathematically well behaved. The PP is increasingly relevant due to man-made dependencies that propagate impacts of policies across the globe. In contrast, absent humanity the biosphere engages in natural experiments due to random variations with only local impacts.
“Our analysis makes clear that the PP is essential for a limited set of contexts and can be used to justify only a limited set of actions.
“We discuss the implications for nuclear energy and GMOs. GMOs represent a public risk of global harm, while harm from nuclear energy is comparatively limited and better characterized. PP should be used to prescribe severe limits on GMOs.” …
“Five Myths of ‘Safe’ Pesticides,” Andre Leu, Special to Organic Consumers Association, September 10, 2014;
“Editor’s note: IFOAM President André Leu has used a wealth of respected scientific journals to present peer-reviewed evidence refuting the claims of chemical companies and pesticide regulators. In his book, The Myths of Safe Pesticides, Leu outlines the many serious deficiencies in the regulation of toxic chemicals used in our food supply. Much of the criteria used to support the current regulations, says Leu, are based on out-of-date, data-free assumptions rather than on the latest published science. These assumptions, says Leu, are a series of mythologies.
“1. The ‘Rigorously Tested’ Myth.
“Most pesticide formulations sold on the market are deemed safe on the basis of testing only one of the active ingredients, rather than the whole formulation. Yet limited scientific testing of formulated pesticide products shows that they can be hundreds of times more toxic to humans than the pure single active ingredient.
“The human fetus, the newborn and the growing child are at special risk due to their smaller body mass and rapid physical development, both of which increase their vulnerability to known or suspected carcinogens, according to a report by the United States President’s Cancer Panel (USPCP). Yet currently the pesticide testing used in the regulatory approval processes do not specifically test for the risks particular to these age groups.
“2. The ‘Very Small Amount’ Myth.
“Chemical regulations are based on the assumption that the higher the does, the greater the harm. But hundreds of studies now show that this isn’t true for chemicals that are associated with endocrine disruption. In fact, endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be more toxic in lower doses. Yet when regulators set their Average Daily Intake (ADI) allowances, they calculate the allowance by extrapolating it from testing done at higher, not lower, doses.
“The only way to ensure that the allowed ADI is safe, and that a chemical won’t act as an endocrine disrupter at lower doses, is to test the actual residue levels that are set for the ADI.
“3. The ‘Breakdown’ Myth.
“One of the biggest myths about pesticides is the assumption that once a chemical degrades it disappears and becomes harmless. Most agricultural poisons leave residues of metabolites (products of the chemical’s breakdown). Limited testing shows that some of these metabolites left by agricultural pesticides cause reproductive problems in humans, and many are more toxic than the pesticide itself. Yet testing of metabolites remains inadequate.
“4. The ‘Reliable Regulatory Authority’ Myth.
“Regulatory authorities are ignoring a large body of peer-reviewed science showing the harm caused by pesticides and they are making decisions on data-free assumptions. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found a cocktail of many toxic chemicals in the blood and urine of most Americans. A 2007 study by the Environmental Working Group found up to 232 chemicals in the placental cord of newborns in the U.S. Many of these chemicals, such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, are known to harm brain development and the nervous system. These studies show the inaccuracies of the regulatory authorities’ assumption that because each of the chemicals is present at a low level in commercial products, they will cause no health issue. This assumption clearly has no basis in science. The scientific credibility of pesticide regulatory authorities has to be seriously questioned when they are approving the use of pesticides on the basis of data-free assumptions.
“5. The ‘Pesticides Are Essential to Farming’ Myth.
“Organic farming can feed the world without the use of toxic synthetic pesticides. There are many examples (some included in The Myths of Pesticides) of organic systems producing yields that are equal to, or higher than, yields achieved by conventional farming. The bulk of agricultural research should be based on further improving and scaling up these high-yielding organic systems rather than on toxic chemicals and GMOs.
“André Leu is a longtime Australian farmer and president of International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), the world umbrella body for the organic sector. His book, The Myths of Pesticides, is available through Net Galley and for pre-order through Amazon.
“Is Healthy Soil the Low-Tech Solution to Climate Change?” August. 15, 2014;
Crops planted in rich soil. Photograph from Shutterstock
“In her book The Soil Will Save Us, writer Kristin Ohlson interviews farmers, soil scientists, and agronomists and concludes that the low-cost, low-tech solution to climate change may be directly underfoot—in healthy soil. Crops have an enormous capability to sequester carbon, she writes, but only if the soil is made to thrive with a mix of no-till farming, cover crops, and livestock grazing. Gabe Brown, a farmer and rancher in North Dakota, has been practicing this sort of agriculture for decades—and says it can be successful just about anywhere. (Produced by Christopher Intagliata, Senior Producer; Guests: Kristin Ohlson, Author, The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet, Rodale, 2014, freelance writer, Portland, Oregon; Gabe Brown, farmer and rancher, Bismarck, North Dakota)
“Monsanto: Let's Assume The Worst,” Investing Doc, September 11, 2014;
Disclosure: The author is long MON.
• Shares of Monsanto took a hit today after an analyst report suggested slowing Intacta RR2 sales. This was immediately disputed by Monsanto.
• More concerning, agricultural stocks in general are under pressure, as bumper crops combined with slowing Chinese economic activity continue to weigh on crop prices.
• Even with these headwinds and even if Monsanto significantly stumbles, the market has ‘priced in’ much of this bad news, and I continue to see the stock as attractive.
“Monsanto (NYSE:MON) shareholders have been on a bit of a wild ride of late, with the latest turn coming in Thursday. Shares fell as much as 3% in intra-day trading, which was attributed in a large part to a report authored by OTR Global LLC downgrading the shares, based on what OTR sees as slowing sales of Monsanto's flagship soybean seed, Intacta RR2:
“Seed dealers and producers in Brazil and Argentina report weaker-than-expected sales of Intacta, genetically engineered to control insects for the Latin America market, Purchase, New York-based OTR said today in a report. OTR, which provides proprietary research, cut its rating on the St. Louis-based company to ‘negative’ from ‘mixed.’
“Monsanto Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant plans to boost Intacta sales to 12 million acres this year, from 3 million, as he builds toward a long-term goal of 100 million acres. OTR said 10 of 14 sources report ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ demand for Intacta because of high seed prices. All 14 sources expected ‘good’ demand in March.
“Shares rebounded around mid-day as the company released its own statement that, in their view, sales have been as robust as predicted, and that the company remains on track to hit its goal of 10-12 million acres planted by the end of the year. But as we all know, management is paid to lie, so we should try and take the company's response with a grain of salt. Moreover, there might be some trepidation there, as the company's negotiations with soy traders in ABIOVE (a Brazilian association of industries specializing in vegetable oils) regarding the 2015 planting season appear to have broken down for the moment. As I write this, shares are trading right around $113, having recouped a majority (though not an entirety) of today's losses-- Monsanto's response appears to have assuaged traders and investors a bit—but shareholders are still down for the day, and my own tiny position in Monsanto (having bought in just above $115) is officially in the red, to unmistakable delight of some posters.” …
“GMO labeling not about money for organics, says Vermont organic farmer-senator,” Bruce Parker, September 16, 2014;
Photograph from Associated Press
“Not About Money?: State Sen. David Zuckerman, P-Chittenden, is an organics farmer who claims GMO labeling is not about boosting market share for the organics industry.
“Mandatory GMO labeling laws are a break-even bet at best for supporters of the policy, typically organic activists, a Vermont senator and organic farmer says.
“‘Right now organic is benefiting from there not being labeling,’ state Sen. David Zuckerman, P-Chittenden, told Vermont Watchdog.
“If the organic industry loses or merely breaks even from GMO labeling, it would present a rarity in politics: interest groups spending massive money but expecting no financial benefit in return.
“Zuckerman, the sponsor behind Vermont’s GMO labeling law and a farmer who owns the Full Moon ‘certified organic’ farm in Hinesburg, Vt., argues that the state’s mandatory labeling of genetically engineered ingredients might actually harm the sale of organics.
“‘The only way consumers can reliably avoid GMOs is to buy organic food,’ Zuckerman said. ‘But if all products are labeled, the products that are not organic and not GMO will become more apparent to the consumer. So for consumers who are buying organic specifically to avoid GMOs, they will have a wider range of options, not a narrower one.’
“Once GMO-averse consumers are able to buy non-organic products marked GMO-free, they will, and the organics industry will lose sales, Zuckerman said.
“‘I’m not saying it will be negative to organic, but it certainly should dispel the notion that it will be helpful to organic,’ he said.” …
“Fall hearing could determine fate of Vt. GMO labeling law,” Kyle Midura, September 15, 2014;
File Photographs from WCAX
“Montpelier, Vermont - “Late last week lawyers for the Grocery Manufacturers Association asked a federal judge to shelve the state's GMO labeling law.
“It's the latest turn in the challenge to Vermont's first-in-the-nation law, and responds to the Attorney General's call for the case to be thrown out.
“’Our hope is that the court will schedule a hearing for oral arguments sometime in October or November,’ said Attorney General Bill Sorrell, D-Vermont.” …
“Why Liberal Americans Are Turning Against GMO Labeling,” Jon Entine, August 25, 2014;
“Europeans and many other countries that consider themselves ‘liberal minded’ scratch their heads over why there is such a big controversy in the United States over the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Sixty-four nations around the world have enacted mandatory labeling laws.
“‘GM foods are not proven safe. Why not just label them and let the consumer decide?’ is a common thread on food blogs. ‘They must be kowtowing to the GMO lobby.’
“That’s what has been characterized as the liberal position: the consumer’s right to know. Many activist groups lobbying for labeling cite a New York Times poll that 93 percent of Americans support it.
“So why do the leading independent science organizations in the U.S. and the country’s top liberal news publications oppose mandatory labeling?
“The federal government has resisted calls to label GM foods on the grounds that there is no substantial difference between them and conventional or organic food. That’s the correct scientific position. Genetic modification is a process. There is no detectable difference between, say, sugar made from GM or organic sugar beets.” …
Comment: This article is truth obfuscating pro-Monsanto propaganda, and should be read to understand how that project operates. Needed is information about the way Entine’s Genetic Literacy Project is funded.
“Pro-GMO Industries Increase Spending and Launch Attack to Discredit World-Famous Environmentalist in an Effort to Thwart GMO Labeling in the US,” Dr. Joseph Mercola, September 16, 2014;
“Between 2012 and mid-2014, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million.
“These funds were received from the 300+ members of the GMA, which include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, and processed food industries.
“Together, these industries are working in a symbiotic fashion to grow, subsidize, and manufacture foods that have been clearly linked to growing obesity and chronic disease epidemics.
“According to the most recent analysis, opponents of GMO labeling spent more than $27 million on lobbying in the first six months of this year alone. This is about three times more than they spent during all of 2013, when they shelled out $9.3 million.
“‘The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and major food makers such as Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc and top biotech seed makers Monsanto Co and DuPont were among heavy spenders on GMO labeling-related lobbying, among other food issues, according to a report issued by the Environmental Working Group,’ Reuters reports.
“Chemical Technology Industry Running Scared—
“Such a dramatic rise in expenditure to keep genetically engineered (GE) foods and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) hidden is probably understandable in light of the fact that one state—Vermont—successfully signed into law a mandatory labeling bill in May.
“The law will require food manufacturers to label genetically engineered (GE) foods sold in Vermont, and prohibits them from labeling foods with GE ingredients as ‘natural’ or ‘all natural.’
“In response, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) along with the Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers, sued Vermont in federal court the following month (June).
“The GMA also sued the state of Washington last year after getting caught in a money laundering scheme during the state's GMO labeling campaign. Caught red handed, the GMA was forced to reveal the donors to their aggressive anti-labeling campaign.
“But rather than admitting its wrongdoing, the GMA sued Washington State, arguing the association should be allowed to hide their donors—which is a direct violation of state campaign disclosure laws—in order to ‘speak with one voice’ for the interests of the food industry.
“As noted by Reuters, more than 20 other states are presently considering GMO labeling laws. Both Colorado and Oregon have GMO labeling on their November ballots. Two counties in Oregon have already voted to ban the growing of GE crops.
“This escalating trend undoubtedly has the industry running scared that their jig might soon be up…” …
“Film Review: ‘Farmland’,” Bill Edelstein, May 5, 2014;
“A good-looking piece of propaganda that's heavy on sugar-coating and light on nutritional value.
“When it comes to making movies about industries, documentary filmmakers — and their audiences — really dig dirt. But the only mud you’ll find in ‘Farmland,’ which ostensibly focuses on the lives and labors of six twenty something family farmers, is the earth in which the seeds grow. Funded by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, which includes Monsanto and Dupont, the pic was made as a rejoinder to health-based forensics like ‘Food, Inc.,’ and ‘King Corn.’ Though the perspective of farmers is well worth examining, this good-looking 77 minutes of propaganda is heavy on sugar-coating and light on nutritional value. Planted in theaters a week ahead of ‘Fed Up,’ it’s hard to see it taking root anywhere other than perhaps the grain belt, where the movie is sure to be USDA-approved.” …
“Young Hands Steering the Family Tractor—
‘Farmland’ Focuses on a New Generation of Farmers,” Jeannette Catsoulis, May 8, 2014;
“‘Bad behavior is pretty rare in our industry,’ one of the six young farmers profiled in ‘Farmland’ tells us. Though he doesn’t elaborate, his comment’s lack of detail and depth is typical of a film that plays more like a feature-length advertisement than like a documentary. You keep expecting the camera to zoom in on a packet of bacon or a box of cereal.
“A glance at the publicity notes, however, will tell you that this one-sided puff piece was ‘made with the generous support of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance,’ a trade association formed in response to films like ‘Food, Inc.’ Smooth and folksy, it traffics in broad, unchallenged claims that serve a single purpose: to persuade us that the only thing wrong with today’s farming methods is our misinformed perception of them.” …
Review of “Farmland,” Godfrey Cheshire, May 1, 2014;
“Inarguably the chief virtue of America’s independent cinema, and perhaps its documentaries especially, has been everything that ‘independence’ implies. At a time of ever-accelerating media conglomeration, most Americans are surrounded wall-to-wall, 24-7, by images manufactured and controlled by large corporate interests. Against this, independent filmmakers offer a useful cacophony comparable to Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park: You may not like or agree with what you hear, but you can usually assume that it represents distinctively, even passionately, individual points of view.
“In this context, the purported documentary ‘Farmland’ is an odd duck indeed. A look at contemporary American agriculture that focuses on several farmers in their 20s and 30s and the challenges they face in trying to start or sustain family-run operations in the heartland, James Moll’s film has the expensive but bland look of generic TV non-fiction and a general tone of earnest uplift, which reaches an extreme in a bombastically syrupy orchestral score that could have been lifted from a Reagan ‘Morning in America’ TV commercial of the ‘80s.
“The film’s overall affect, then, might leave the viewer scratching his head, at least until the appearance of a title that comes near the end of its credit scroll: ‘This film was made possible by the generous support of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.’
“If that name doesn’t ring a bell, feel free to do a little internet research. There, for example, in a 2011 article on CivilEats.com titled ‘Who Is Behind the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance and Why It Matters,’ writer Anna Lappé identifies the organization as ‘a new trade association made up of some of the biggest players in the food industry—including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Dupont, and Monsanto.’
“When Lappe asked a PR rep for the Alliance ‘what motivated these groups to come together,’ without skipping a beat, he answered: ‘Food, Inc. and movies like it.’
“In other words, ‘Farmland’ is essentially just masquerading as an actual documentary. In reality, it’s a glossy corporate infomercial for American agribusiness. Rather than digging into a subject probing for truths, it’s out to construct a benign image that contradicts or obscures the troubling realities and questions examined in Robert Kenner’s Oscar-nominated ‘Food, Inc.’ (2008), Ian Cheney and Curtis Ellis’ ‘King Corn’ (2007), Jeremy Seifert’s ‘GMO OMG’ (2013) and similar films.” …
“Following court ruling, anti-GMO activists ask for map of transgenic farms,” Lindsay Fendt, September 16, 2014;
“A recent court ruling puts a Monsanto GMO corn project at risk." Photograph by Alberto Font, The Tico Times
“Since genetically modified crops first came to Costa Rica in 1991, the locations of the farms have been kept under wraps. But a new ruling from Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) will now require that type of information to be made public.
“‘For us this is a great triumph,’ Fabián Pacheco, the leader of Bloque Verde, told The Tico Times. ‘What we want now is to know exactly where each GMO crop is planted.’
“Last Thursday, the Sala IV declared the country’s approval process for GMO projects unconstitutional because it violates the right of Costa Ricans to access information that could affect their health and well-being. The case was brought to the court by the Ombudsman’s Office on behalf of several anti-GMO groups including Bloque Verde. The ruling does not ban GMOs in the country, but will require the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry to design a more transparent GMO approval process, and release information that has been kept from the public in the past. The Ombudsman’s Office also argued that because the GMO approval process does not require an environmental impact assessment, it violates the constitutional right to a safe and healthy environment, but the court disagreed.” …
“The Nutritional Benefits of Organic Fruits and Vegetables,” Jessica Shade, September 11, 2014;
“Dr. Jessica Shade is the Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center, a non-profit research and education organization focused on evidence-based science about the environmental and health benefits of organic food and farming.
“Do you think eating organic is better for you? Recent studies are backing up what many thought: organic foods do indeed have a healthier nutritional profile than their conventional counterparts. And they’re also lower in pesticide residues.
This series shares some of the science behind the nutritional benefits of organic foods. First up: fruits and vegetables. Part two covers organic dairy and part three goes into pesticide residues.
“Did you know?
•Eating organic fruits and vegetables could increase your antioxidant intake by 20-40%.
•Organic strawberries have more nutrients and antioxidants than their conventional counterparts.
•Organic tomatoes are 50% higher in vitamin C content than conventional tomatoes.” …
“Fifth Graders Teach Oakland School District to Buy Local Food,” Mark Karlin, Editor of Buzzflash at Truthout, September 17, 2014;
Photograph from thebittenword.com
“The PBS News Hour reports that at least one school district is attempting to implement ‘locavore’ policies, resulting in fresher, healthier and more planet friendly food for students:
“In Oakland, school officials are undertaking an ambitious plan to transform the school lunch menu. They’re working to source food from local farms, instead of big companies, and provide California food for California kids.
“Strikingly, the change was precipitated by research done by the schoolchildren themselves, according to Jennifer LeBarre, director of nutrition for the Oakland schools and a local food advocate:
“One of the things that inspired us to do the farm-to-school movement is a class project that Cleveland Elementary School fifth graders did.
“On Earth Day, they did the food miles for their particular lunch, and they found out that the asparagus that they served, that we served to them, had traveled 17,000 miles before they ate it. And so this was a real shocker for me, because asparagus is grown 50 miles from here, maybe 100 at the most.
“But what they found out is that the asparagus they ate on Earth Day was grown in South America, flown to China for processing, and then flown back to the Bay Area for us to eventually get it and serve it. So, that just blew my mind.
“LeBarre has a broader vision than just localizing and making the food served to Oakland students healthier. She is spearheading a new centralized kitchen in West Oakland that will also be a nutrition and fresh food educational center. A 1.5-acre farm will be built adjacent to the kitchen. It will be cared for by students and used as an educational tool in building sustainable food infrastructures in Oakland.
“The Oakland district has also teamed up with the Ecoliteracy Center to ensure ongoing education in schools and communities about healthy eating and food source development. Appropriately, among the many educational guides offered by the Ecoliteracy Center (based in Berkeley, California) is a Rethinking School Lunch plan of action.” …
“Ur-ganic: An Alpine Township Considers Banning Pesticides,” Philip Ackerman-Leist, Truthout News Analysis, September 17, 2014;
“View into the Vinschgau from Plawenn (elevation 1730 meters), a small village historically associated with high-elevation livestock farming and heritage grains. Photograph by Philip Ackerman-Leist.
“‘Ur’ is the new green. So it seems, at least, in the Vinschgau Valley of the South Tirol in Italy, a region of the Alps steeped in several millennia of documented agricultural traditions. A landscape undoubtedly known to Ötzi - the much-acclaimed 5,300-year-old Iceman whose remains were discovered in a melting glacier just above the valley in 1993 - the Vinschgau Valley is now the site of yet another historical question that has emerged in an increasingly heated climate. In this case, the question comes in the form of a surprising referendum currently before the 5,088 residents of the township of Mals: Should agricultural pesticides be banned to protect the health of the residents, the surrounding ecosystem and the integrity of the township's historical agricultural practices?
“According to an astounding 75 percent of the township's voters, with a 65 percent participation rate among registered voters, the answer as of September 5 is a resounding ‘Ja’ (German being the mother tongue of the majority of the population in this autonomous province of Italy). The echoes of such a precedent have barely begun to emanate, but they promise to travel far, even across the Atlantic.” …
“Herbicide and Insecticide Use on GMO Crops Skyrocketing While Pro-GMO Media Run Interference,” David Bronner, President, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, September 15, 2014;
“Former EPA Senior Scientist's New Article Sets Record Straight—
“Michael Specter's recent articles bashing Vandana Shiva and the labeling of genetically engineered foods (‘Seeds of Doubt’ and ‘The Problem with G.M.O. Labels,’ 8/25/14) in the New Yorker are the latest high-profile pro-GMO articles that fail to engage with the fundamental critique of genetically engineered food crops in US soil today: rather than reduce pesticide inputs GMOs are causing them to skyrocket in amount and toxicity.
“Setting the record straight, Dr. Ramon J. Seidler, Ph.D., former Senior Scientist, Environmental Protection Agency, has recently published a well-researched article documenting the devastating facts, ‘Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered Crops,’ in Environmental Working Group's online AgMag. Dr. Seidler's article cites and links recent scientific literature and media reports, and should be required reading for all journalists covering GMOs, as well as for citizens generally to understand why their right to know if food is genetically engineered is so important. The short discussion below summarizes the major points of his five-page article.” …
“Seeds of Doubt—An activist’s controversial crusade against genetically modified crops,” Michael Specter, August 25, 2014;
“Vandana Shiva accuses multinational corporations such as Monsanto of attempting to impose ‘food totalitarianism’ on the world. Credit Illustration: Jason Seiler/Reference: Amanda Edwards/Wireimage.
“Early this spring, the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva led an unusual pilgrimage across southern Europe. Beginning in Greece, with the international Pan-Hellenic Exchange of Local Seed Varieties Festival, which celebrated the virtues of traditional agriculture, Shiva and an entourage of followers crossed the Adriatic and travelled by bus up the boot of Italy, to Florence, where she spoke at the Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival. After a short planning meeting in Genoa, the caravan rolled on to the South of France, ending in Le Mas d’Azil, just in time to celebrate International Days of the Seed.
“Shiva’s fiery opposition to globalization and to the use of genetically modified crops has made her a hero to anti-G.M.O. activists everywhere. The purpose of the trip through Europe, she had told me a few weeks earlier, was to focus attention there on ‘the voices of those who want their agriculture to be free of poison and G.M.O.s.’ At each stop, Shiva delivered a message that she has honed for nearly three decades: by engineering, patenting, and transforming seeds into costly packets of intellectual property, multinational corporations such as Monsanto, with considerable assistance from the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the United States government, and even philanthropies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are attempting to impose ‘food totalitarianism’ on the world. She describes the fight against agricultural biotechnology as a global war against a few giant seed companies on behalf of the billions of farmers who depend on what they themselves grow to survive. Shiva contends that nothing less than the future of humanity rides on the outcome.
“‘There are two trends,’ she told the crowd that had gathered in Piazza Santissima Annunziata, in Florence, for the seed fair. ‘One: a trend of diversity, democracy, freedom, joy, culture—people celebrating their lives.’ She paused to let silence fill the square. ‘And the other: monocultures, deadness. Everyone depressed. Everyone on Prozac. More and more young people unemployed. We don’t want that world of death.’ The audience, a mixture of people attending the festival and tourists on their way to the Duomo, stood transfixed. Shiva, dressed in a burgundy sari and a shawl the color of rust, was a formidable sight. ‘We would have no hunger in the world if the seed was in the hands of the farmers and gardeners and the land was in the hands of the farmers,’ she said. ‘They want to take that away.’
“Shiva, along with a growing army of supporters, argues that the prevailing model of industrial agriculture, heavily reliant on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fossil fuels, and a seemingly limitless supply of cheap water, places an unacceptable burden on the Earth’s resources. She promotes, as most knowledgeable farmers do, more diversity in crops, greater care for the soil, and more support for people who work the land every day. Shiva has particular contempt for farmers who plant monocultures—vast fields of a single crop. ‘They are ruining the planet,’ she told me. ‘They are destroying this beautiful world.’” …
Comment: This article is not reporting; it is an anti-Shiva, pro-biotech editorial by a writer with a long history of pro-Monsanto, pro-biotech bias. As a result, all of the “usual suspects” are employed to counter what Shiva has contended. It is a shameful piece of work despite the legitimate need to examine any and all of Shiva’s contentions to find out if they have merit. Specter is not the fair-minded investigator to undertake the work. He is propagandist posing as a journalist, and the New Yorker should be condemned for giving him a platform.
“The Problem with G.M.O. Labels,” Michael Specter, August 20, 2014;
Photograph By Robyn Beck, AFP/Getty.
“A few weeks ago, I stood behind a woman at a farmers’ market in the Hudson Valley. There was a wide selection of apples, a bit unusual so early in the year, and the woman asked the farmer if any were ‘G.M.O. apples.’ He looked surprised and said no. She was not assuaged.
“‘How do you know?’ she said sharply. ‘How can you be sure?’
“‘He knows because genetically modified apples don’t exist,’ I said. ‘There are none in the orchards and none in the stores.’ She turned to me, squinted, and said, ‘Then don’t you think they should have a label saying so? That way we could at least eat them without worrying.’
“Americans are spending a lot of time worrying about what is in their food. This is understandable, given that so much of it is laden with sugar, highly processed flour, and saturated fat. In polls, an overwhelming majority of respondents say they want foods with genetically engineered ingredients to be labelled, and most people add that they would use those labels to avoid eating such foods. Dozens of bills have been put before the legislatures of more than half the states. Vermont and Connecticut have already enacted labelling laws, and many more are likely to follow.” …
Comment: This is another Spector editorial masquerading as reporting. He uses the New Yorker as a platform to blast out pro-Monsanto and pro-biotech messages. There is only enough reportage to hide the agenda from those poorly informed enough to misunderstand it.
“Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered Crops,” Ramon J. Seidler, Ph.D., Former Senior Scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Western Ecology Division in Corvallis Oregon, September 2014;
“Much has been written by scientific and mainstream media about the advantages of using genetically engineered (GE) crops because, according to popular belief, these crops require significantly less pesticide to control weed and insect pests. Or in slightly more sophisticated but equally misleading coverage, cursory
acknowledgement is given to increasing herbicide use, but such increase is qualified in terms of the lower toxicity profile of glyphosate relative to more toxic
herbicides that are also increasingly used. (See e.g. ‘Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea’, Scientific American, 8/20/13: “Because conventional crops often require more water and pesticides than GMOs do, the former are usually more expensive.”; see also Seeds of Doubt, The New Yorker, 8/25/14; ‘The Promise of GMOs’, Biology Fortified, 2/14/14 and ‘Environmental Benefits of Genetically Modified Crops’, Fig. 7 CropLife, 11/02.) These accounts are inaccurate and rely on annual pesticide application rates and volumes reported prior to 2010, when widespread resistance began to emerge in ‘superweeds’ and ‘superinsects.’ (See ‘What Happens When Weed Killers Stop Killing?’ Science, 9/20/13 and ‘Field-evolved resistance by western corn rootworm to multiple Bacillus thuringiensis toxins in transgenic maize’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 9/12/13.)
"These reports also ignore the now widespread practice of coating seeds in systemic pesticides, which has emerged in the past 10 years. This lack of journalistic and scientific integrity distorts the facts on the ground.” …
“Our Children Are Being Poisoned: It’s Time for A New Resistance,” Carol Grieve’, September 18, 2014;
“What if you were unknowingly poisoning your child? What if that poison was coming through your own body? When you found out, would you be outraged and angry? Glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp), has been found in breast milk! It is not only been found in breast milk, it is in our water, our soil, our food, our urine and in our blood. How has this happened?
“Food Integrity Now spoke today with Ed Brown, a filmmaker, a husband and father of three small children about his upcoming film, A New Resistance, a film about Glyphosate. This film, which Ed says ‘has to be made’ is a film about the most widely used herbicide in the world, Glyphosate. Ed states: ‘It’s a film about poison! Let’s not just call it something else to make us feel good.’” …
GM Watch Review 345, 21 September 2014;
With the following articles and many more:
• “Bangladesh Bt Brinjal Farmers Demand Compensation”
“Farmers in Bangladesh who were given Bt brinjal plants to plant have demanded compensation for huge losses they incurred cultivating the GM crop. British pro-GMO campaigner Mark Lynas had presented the Bt brinjal as a success, claiming that reports about its failure were false ‘scare stories’ put about by anti-GMO activists. The director of the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI), which oversaw the failed GMO experiment, reportedly became ‘furious’ when asked whether BARI had conducted any research to find out whether Bt brinjal would harm human health. He admitted that no independent health tests were done on Bt brinjal and called the country's GMO labeling requirement ‘ridiculous’. …
• “Guatemala strikes down ‘Monsanto Law’”
“In an important victory, Guatemalan lawmakers voted in favour of repealing the ‘Monsanto Law’, which would have authorized stricter property rights and risked monopolizing agricultural processes in the country by placing copyrights on agriculture for the next 25 years. In the picture above, Lolita Chávez from the Mayan People’s Council, which fought to overturn the Monsanto Law, is shown outside the Constitutional Court, Guatemala City.
• “Philippines: Farmers call to stop GMO golden rice trials”
“Farmers in the Philippines have renewed their fight against field trials of GM golden rice and want to halt moves towards its commercialization – but with the recent failure of the crop in field trials, the prospect of a commercial release is receding.
• “USDA deregulates new 2,4-D-tolerant corn and soy”
“The USDA has deregulated Dow’s 2,4-D-tolerant corn and soybeans. The agency ignored 240,000 signatures and thousands of individual submissions opposing approval, including some from scientists. 50 members of Congress wrote to EPA Administrator and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing “grave concerns” about 2,4-D-tolerant GM crops. Center for Food Safety announced it will pursue all available legal options to stop commercialization.” …
Comment: Many more articles are in this edition of GM Watch.
“Q&A with Sheldon Krimsky,” Karen Weintraub, Globe Correspondent, August 18, 2014;
“For 30 years as head of the Council for Responsible Genetics, Sheldon Krimsky has been following the debate over genetically modified foods. Krimsky, a longtime Tufts University professor, has written or edited 13 books about science and society. In his newest book of essays, The GMO Deception, coedited with Jeremy Gruber, Krimsky criticizes the agriculture and food industries for changing the genetic makeup of the food we eat. He says he’s not in favor or against genetically modified organisms, but believes that science demands caution.” …
“Everything You Need To Know About GMOs,” Sarah Jacoby, September 23 2014;
Photograph by Ruby Yeh.
“When we posted our last piece about genetically modified foods, we were floored by the response. So, we asked for your questions on Twitter, and they have now been answered: Kevin Folta, PhD (a government-funded horticulture scientist at the University of Florida who specializes in GMO research), gives us his perspective on the genetically modified food issue.
“How influential are Monsanto and other for-profit companies in scientific research on GMOs?
“‘There are six major companies generating transgenic agriculture crops like corn, soy and cotton. Many smaller companies are trying to play in that space, but the regulatory burdens, the massive required testing, and the incredible costs severely limit competition. The big companies do almost 100% of the research internally, as dictated by requirements from the EPA, FDA and USDA/APHIS. ‘“ …
Comment: Suspicion should be aroused whenever anyone suggests they are offering “everything” you need to know; that immediately suggests they are a propagandist not wanting you to be informed by any other competing information. A better title for this article would be “Everything Monsanto Wants You to Know….” The scientist providing the answers is likely to be dependent on funding from the biotech industry as many working in research at agricultural universities are. Read the article to know the point of the author and others in a similar position, but do not accept it as everything you need to know. Weigh it against all the other available information, and assess it in context. Keep in mind that articles like this may be placed by Monsanto’s public relations consultants, and they may pay for the space they are given. Above all, do not automatically take the point of view as objective journalism.
“New Generation of GM Crops Puts Agriculture in a ‘Crisis Situation,’” Brandon Keim, September.25. 2014;
Photograph by Carl Wycoff, Flickr
“With the first of a new generation of genetically engineered crops ready to hit the market, the battle lines are being drawn.
“Food safety activists have promised to fight the crops—corn and soybeans designed to tolerate multiple herbicides—in court. They and many scientists argue that these crops will harm environmental and possibly human health. The companies that make them say they’re providing a much-needed tool to fight the growing scourge of herbicide-resistant weeds.
“Lawsuits aside, these crops and others like them may force a showdown between conflicting approaches to farming: one that depends on chemicals to fight weeds, and another that embraces ecology’s lessons.
“‘We are on the brink of a crisis situation,’ said Neil Harker, a weed ecologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the US Department of Agriculture. ‘I do consider right now to be a watershed, direction-defining moment for agriculture.’
“On September 17, the USDA officially approved Dow’s new corn and soy varieties. These can withstand both glyphosate, the world’s most widely-used herbicide, and a popular but comparatively lesser-used herbicide called 2,4-D. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to approve Dow’s proprietary formulation shortly, allowing the system to enter commercial use next year.
“Regulatory review of Dow’s crops, marketed as the Enlist Weed Control System, took several years. Critics have argued that dramatically increased 2,4-D use poses a threat to people using the herbicides, and also to the environment. Moreover, the problem the crops are solving—so-called superweeds that tolerate glyphosate, better known by its trade name Roundup—was created by glyphosate’s indiscriminate use.
“Most corn, soy and other field crops grown in the United States are genetically engineered to tolerate Roundup, a trait developed by agrotech giant Monsanto in the early 1990s. Glyphosate use exploded: rather than spraying herbicides on a weed-by-weed basis or pulling them by hand, farmers could use the herbicide on entire fields.
“‘This was an economically rational decision. It just wasn’t a biologically rational decision,’ said herbicide resistance specialist Stephen Powles at a recent Weed Science Society of America meeting. It favored the evolution of superweeds, which now pose an enormous agricultural threat.
“Superweeds now infest an estimated 70 million acres of U.S. farmland, causing roughly $1 billion in damage. The problem is growing fast, and farmers have scrambled for solutions. Dow and other large agrotech companies, including Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta, have responded by engineering plants to withstand combinations of herbicides rather than glyphosate alone.” …
Comment: The article suggests the need to consider alternatives to herbicide use, but it does not dig deeply enough into the available alternatives, so that people can fully understand how they will work and at what cost/benefits/savings. Maybe the space allocation did not allow more of the story to be developed. Finally, most of the reader comments at the end of the article are not very helpful because they are by people with insufficient knowledge. They have not yet figured out everything they would need to know before they can make a useful contribution. Thus, they are the blind leading the blind, and many fora on the topic of transgenics and herbicide use are similarly handicapped.