tagged w/ GMOs
On the Thursday, February 23 edition of the Alex Jones Show, Alex continues his from the road broadcast with guest Jeffrey M. Smith, a leading consumer advocate promoting healthier, non-GMO foods. Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. Smith is also featured in Scientists Under Attack: Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money, a 60 minute, award winning film by Bertram Verhaag. Smith's books and Verhaag's film are available at the Infowars Store.
http://www.prisonplanet.tv/On the Thursday, February 23 edition of the Alex Jones Show, Alex continues his from... more
EXTRACT: The State Council has released the draft proposal of a grain law that establishes legislation restricting research, field trials, production, sale, import and export of genetically engineered grain seeds. The draft stipulates that no organization or person can employ GE technology in any major food product in China.
China drafts legal proposal to completely shut down GE rice
Greenpeace, 22 February 2012
We're ecstatic to announce a new legal initiative in China that's set to keep GE away from the country's staple food.
"This is actually a world-first initiative that deals with GE food legislation at state law level," said Fang Lifeng, the Food and Agriculture campaigner of Greenpeace.
The State Council has released the draft proposal of a grain law that establishes legislation restricting research, field trials, production, sale, import and export of genetically engineered grain seeds. The draft stipulates that no organization or person can employ GE technology in any major food product in China.
"There are currently too many loopholes and weak control over GE food and technology in China. This law needs to clarify what 'relevant laws and regulations' can be applied to regulate GE crops. We urge legislators to accelerate the legislation of Genetically Engineered Organisms Bio-safety Law, and also to enhance the supervision of GE food and other products. Otherwise, this law will only be lip service," Fang said.
According to a Greenpeace investigation, over the last 20 years investment on GE technology has been 30 times that on ecological agriculture. "This is a big obstacle for the development of modern sustainable agriculture in China", Fang continued, "China's money must be spent on supporting food that is safe for human consumption and the production of which has taken into account environmental impacts. And GE technology has clearly failed to do either."
"No country should go down the path of GE crop commercialization. Instead every country should reduce the financial support on GE technology and put more investment on agricultural technology that has proved to be safe and effective. This includes ecological agriculture, green technology to control pests and disease, molecular marker-assisted selection, etc."
The announcement comes after a highly successful seven year slog from Greenpeace campaigners to keep GE rice out of the country's food market.
http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/specials/gpm01/EXTRACT: The State Council has released the draft proposal of a grain law that... more
EXTRACTS: ...reacting to the confirmed reports of Monsanto's illegal planting of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) maize in its GM maize trial, the Coalition for a GM-Free India demanded that Monsanto be blacklisted immediately.
Monsanto has also been caught violating several biosafety norms in its GM maize cultivation plot in Bijapur in early 2011... The Bijapur episode... had been brought to the notice of the regulators and [again] no investigation has been completed so far into this complaint. Egregious violations were also found during various other field trials from 2005 onwards.
"This clearly demonstrates that the regulators are unconcerned about biosafety violations or contamination and are protecting and supporting offenders like Monsanto." - Kavitha Kuruganti
BLACKLIST MONSANTO IMMEDIATELY: MNC CAUGHT VIOLATING BIOSAFETY NORMS YET AGAIN IN GM MAIZE TRIAL
New Delhi/Bengaluru, February 6th 2012: Ahead of a regulators' meeting on February 8th 2012, and reacting to the confirmed reports of Monsanto's illegal planting of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) maize in its GM maize trial, the Coalition for a GM-Free India demanded that Monsanto be blacklisted immediately. The violation was revealed in a response of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee to an RTI [Right To Information] application.
"This agri-business corporation has been caught violating the law and norms repeatedly. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has also been caught failing in its duties. GEAC, in spite of violations brought to its notice earlier, also has never taken up any deterrent and penal action against this MNC", said the Coalition in a press statement issued in Delhi and a Press Conference held in Bengaluru.
Monsanto's illegal planting was known to the regulators (as the information was obtained through an RTI response from GEAC), but they chose not to look into the matter pro-actively and the regulators were in effect protecting Monsanto, alleged the Coalition.
The approval for the biosafety research level II trial (BRL-II - the penultimate stage before consideration for commercial cultivation) for Monsanto's herbicide tolerant, insect resistant GM maize with stacked traits (two Bt genes and one herbicide tolerance gene) was granted during the GEAC meetings held on 15th November 2010 and 8th December 2010.
This is also the first GM product of Monsanto in India in its own name and not in the name of associate companies like Mahyco. Monsanto and the biotech industry have been claiming that the herbicide tolerant, insect resistant GM maize with stacked traits would be approved soon.
"Monsanto's GM maize trials have been going on for several seasons now in various locations around the country. It took a rare scientist in one monitoring team to point out the fact that planting of the herbicide-tolerant GM maize took place without permission from competent authorities! What is more damning is that there is no evidence of any discussion or action by the regulators on this finding. This clearly demonstrates that the regulators are unconcerned about biosafety violations or contamination and are protecting and supporting offenders like Monsanto", said Kavitha Kuruganti, Member, Coalition for a GM-Free India.
The RTI response revealed that a team led by Dr Pradyumn Kumar of the Directorate of Maize Research (DMR is supposed to be supervising all the GM maize BRL II field trials), noted the following in its visit report (5th May 2011): "Before planting NK603 event treatment in future, the permission from competent authority may be obtained". This clearly demonstrates that this field trial consisted of an unapproved, illegal GM herbicide tolerant maize while the trial is supposed to be for the hybrid of Bt genes' line (MON89034) and herbicide tolerant line (NK603) (HT/Bt maize). A point to be noted is that trial protocols were prescribed by DMR along with GEAC and it was a DMR scientist who recorded the illegal planting of the HT maize line.
"This appears to be a repetition of an earlier episode of herbicide tolerant cotton (Roundup Ready Flex – RRF cotton) planted by Monsanto's affiliate, Mahyco, without permission. The GEAC, in that instance, found the clarifications submitted by Mahyco highly unsatisfactory and warned that any non-compliance in future would attract punitive actions under EPA 1986, sought a resolution adopted by the Mahyco Board of Directors expressing regret and reaffirmation that such lapses would not be repeated, and that the data generated during the BRL II trials using the unapproved GMO shall not be considered for regulatory purpose. All of these were decisions recorded in the July 2011 meeting of the GEAC", reminded the Coalition.
What is ironic in the case of the GM maize trials of Monsanto is that further field trials have been approved after this visit of the monitoring team on 5th May 2011 recorded the illegal planting!
Monsanto has also been caught violating several biosafety norms in its GM maize cultivation plot in Bijapur in early 2011, around the same time as this Monitoring Team's finding of illegal planting inside the University in Dharwad. The Bijapur episode, documented by Greenpeace and a Kannada TV Channel had been brought to the notice of the regulators and no investigation has been completed so far into this complaint. Egregious violations were also found during various other field trials from 2005 onwards.
"In the face of such impunity from these seed corporations and irresponsible inaction by the regulators, it is ironic that when civil society groups try to prevent contamination from these untested GMOs by objecting to such trials like in the case of the Bayer GM rice trial in Patancheru or DuPont GM rice trial in Doddaballapur, they are being treated as criminals! The history of GM crop regulation in India is replete with violations and illegal plantings and repeated failure on the part of the regulators in checking these or even taking serious action post facto. Therefore citizens are forced to step in to uphold biosafety.
"The Coalition demands that the Minister for Environment & Forests fix accountability on Monsanto and its Indian associates for violating Indian law. It also demands that MoEF take action against the regulators who repeatedly fail to check the violations of the corporations, and call on state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to drop all charges against activists involved in biosafety protection", added the Coalition.EXTRACTS: ...reacting to the confirmed reports of Monsanto's illegal planting of... more
Caen/ Munich - Insecticidal Bt toxins such as those produced in genetically engineered plants can be detrimental to human cells. This is a result of recent research led by researchers at the University of Caen (France). Their experiments showed that toxins produced in, for example, the genetically engineered maize MON810, can significantly impact the viability of human cells. The effects were observed with relatively high concentrations of the toxins, nevertheless there is cause for concern.
For the first time, experiments have now shown that they can have an toxic effect to human cells. According to companies like Monsanto, which produces genetically engineered maize with these toxins, the toxins are supposed to be active only against particular insects and should have no effect on mammals and humans at all. The investigation of effects of Bt toxins on human cells is not a requirement for risk assessment in Europe or in any other region
Another finding of the researchers concerns a herbicide formulation sold under the brand name Roundup. Massive amounts of this herbicide are sprayed on genetically engineered soybean crops and its residues can be found in food and feed. According to the new publication, even extremely low dosages of Roundup (glyphosate formulations) can damage human cells. These findings are in accordance with several other investigations highlighting unexpected health risks associated with glyphosate preparations.
"We were very much surprised by our findings. Until now, it has been thought almost impossible for Bt proteins to be toxic to human cells. Now further investigations have to be conducted to find out how these toxins impact the cells and if combinatorial effects with other compounds in the food and feed chain have to be taken into account," says Gilles-Eric Séralini from the University of Caen, who supervised the experiments. "In conclusion, these experiments show that the risks of Bt toxins and of Roundup have been underestimated."
Bt toxins and tolerance to herbicides are broadly used in genetically engineered plants. Bt proteins only naturally occur in soil bacteria. By introducing the modified toxin gene into the plants, the structure of the toxins is modified and may thereby cause selectivity to be changed. The content of the proteins within the plants is highly variable. Many genetically engineered plants contain several Bt toxins at the same time. For example, SmartStax produces six different Bt toxins and therefore has a higher overall content of the proteins. In addition, it was made tolerant to herbicides. So far, there has been no investigation of the combinatorial effects of these toxins and residues from spraying, or their potential risks for human health, which was considered unlikely. The researchers have now shown that interactivity does occur. Under the specific conditions of their experiment, the Bt toxin lowered the toxicity of Roundup. Further investigations are necessary to examine other potential combinatorial effects under varying conditions.
"These results are pretty worrying. Risk assessment requirements for genetically engineered plants and pesticides need to be rigidly enforced. In the light of these findings, we think that the commercialisation of these plants is not in accordance with EU regulations", says Christoph Then at Testbiotech. Testbiotech is closely following risk assessment at the European Food Safety Authority EFSA and has repeatedly brought attention to gaps in risk assessment.
The research was supported by GEKKO foundation (Germany). CRIIGEN Association (France) and Testbiotech (Germany) were involved in planning the experiments and the discussion of results. Findings were published after peer review process.
Mesnage R., Clair E., Gress S., Then C., Székács A., Séralini G.-E., 2012, Cytotoxicity on human cells of Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac Bt insecticidal toxins alone or with a glyphosate-based herbicide, Journal of Applied Toxicology, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jat.2712/abstract
Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, France: Tel. +33 2 31 56 54 89, email@example.com
Christoph Then, Testbiotech, Germany: +49.15154638040, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.testbiotech.org
NOTE: The newly published paper in the Journal of Applied Toxicology can be found here:
Genetically engineered maize: New indication of health risks
Test Biotech & CRIIGEN, 17 February 2012
http://www.testbiotech.org/en/node/620Caen/ Munich - Insecticidal Bt toxins such as those produced in genetically engineered... more
The Heartland Institute has confirmed in a prepared statement that it mistakenly emailed its board materials to an anonymous third party - confirming the source of the documents released here on the DeSmogBlog yesterday.
Heartland then goes on allege that one of the documents (the Climate Strategy) is a fake.
The DeSmogBlog has reviewed that Strategy document and compared its content to other material we have in hand. It addresses five elements:
The Increased Climate Project Fundraising material is reproduced in and confirmed by Heartland's own budget.
The "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" is also a Heartland budget item and has been confirmed independently by the author, Dr. David Wojick.
The Funding for Parallel Organizations; Funding for Selected Individuals Outside Heartland are both reproduced and confirmed in the Heartland budget. And Anthony Watts has confirmed independently the payments in Expanded Climate Communications.
The DeSmogBlog has received no direct communications from the Heartland Institute identifying any misstatement of fact in the "Climate Strategy" document and is therefore leaving the material available to those who may judge their content and veracity based on these and other sources.
Heartland Insider Exposes Institute's Budget and Strategy
An anonymous donor calling him (or her)self "Heartland Insider" has released the Heartland Institute's budget, fundraising plan, its Climate Strategy for 2012 and sundry other documents (all attached) that prove all of the worst allegations that have been levelled against the organization.
It is clear from the documents that Heartland advocates against responsible climate mitigation and then uses that advocacy to raise money from oil companies and "other corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies." Heartland particularly celebrates the funding that it receives from the fossil fuel fortune being the Charles G. Koch Foundation.
Heartland also continues to collect money from Philip Morris parent company Altria as well as from the tobacco giant Reynolds American, while maintaining ongoing advocacy against policies related to smoking and health.
Heartland's policy positions, strategies and budget distinguish it clear as a lobby firm that is misrepresenting itself as a "think tank" - it budgets $4.1 million of its $6.4 million in projected expenditures for Editorial, Government Relations, Communications, Fundraising, and Publications, and the only activity it plans that could vaguely be considered policy development is the writing of a curriculum package for use in confusing high schoolers about climate change.
There will be more comment and analysis to follow on DeSmogBlog and elsewhere, but we wanted to make this information available so that others can also scrutinize the documents and bring their expertise to the task.
(1-15-2012) 2012 Fundraising Plan.pdf 89.87 KB
(1-15-2012) 2012 Heartland Budget (2).pdf 124.62 KB
2 Agenda for January 17 Meeting.pdf 7.4 KB
2010_IRS_Form_990 (2).pdf 2.7 MB
2012 Climate Strategy (3).pdf 96.56 KB
Binder1 (2).pdf 55.36 KB
Board Directory 01-18-12.pdf 11.28 KB
Board Meeting Package January 17.pdf 6.84 KB
Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine
Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.
We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more. -Confirmation that Charles G. Koch Foundation is again funding Heartland Institute’s global warming disinformation campaign. Greenpeace’s Koch reports show the last time Heartland received Koch funding was in 1999.
The January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy states:
“We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.”
-Heartland Institute’s global warming denial machine is chiefly – and perhaps entirely – funded by one Anonymous donor:
“Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 - about 20% of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012…”
-Confirmation of exact amounts flowing to certain key climate contrarians.
“funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.”
-As Brad Johnson reported today at ThinkProgress, confirmation that Heartland is working with David Wojick, a U.S. Energy Department contract worker and coal industry consultant, to develop a ‘Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools.’
-Forbes and other business press are favored outlets for Heartland’s dissemination of climate denial messages, and the group is worried about maintaining that exclusive space. They note in particular the work of Dr. Peter Gleick:
“Efforts at places such as Forbes are especially important now that they have begun to allow high-profile climate scientists (such as Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own. This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out.” (emphasis added)
Note the irony here that Heartland Institute – one of the major mouthpieces behind the debunked ‘Climategate’ email theft who harped about the suppression of denier voices in peer-reviewed literature – now defending its turf in the unscientific business magazine realm.
-Interesting mentions of Andrew Revkin as a potential ally worth “cultivating,” along with Judith Curry.
“Efforts might also include cultivating more neutral voices with big audiences (such as Revkin at DotEarth/NYTimes, who has a well-known antipathy for some of the more extreme AGW communicators such as Romm, Trenberth, and Hansen) or Curry (who has become popular with our supporters).”
-Confirmation that skeptic blogger Anthony Watts is part of Heartland’s funded network of misinformation communicators.
“We have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in 2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data.”
Stay tuned for more details as DeSmogBlog and others dig through this trove of Heartland Institute documents. The Heartland Institute's legacy of evasion of this level of transparency and accountability has now been shattered.
Just for informational purposes, the Heartland poster used as the picture - all bs.The Heartland Institute has confirmed in a prepared statement that it mistakenly... more
Monsanto ready to sell GM crops and weed-killing chemicals in Vietnam; Many outraged
- Common Dreams staff
Multinational agricultural biotech corporation Monsanto, known as the creator of chemical weapon Agent Orange, is attempting to infiltrate Vietnam once again -- this time as GMO dealer.
Agent Orange, used for chemical warfare in the Vietnam War, is estimated to have killed 400,000, deformed 500,000 and sickened another 2 million.
"BA VI, VIETNAM: Handicapped orphans are fed by the medical staff at the Ba Vi orphanage. These young children represent the 3rd generation of Agent Orange victims more than 30 years after the war in Vietnam, where a battle is still being fought to help people suffering from the effects of the deadly chemical." - Global Post (Photo Paula Bronstein / AFP/Getty Images)
"Between 2.1 to 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals that have been linked to cancers, birth defects, and other chronic diseases during the war that ended in 1975, according to the Vietnam Red Cross," Thanh Nienn News writes.
30 years after the war, three generations have suffered from the effects of Agent Orange.
Now, as Monsanto seeks to reap profits in Vietnam once again, this time through agribusiness, many are speaking out against the corporation as well as the potential effects of the GM seeds and herbicides that Monsanto seeks to sell.
* * *
Thanh Nienn News in Ho Chi Minh City reports:
No biotech company has yet got the official green light for selling genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but it does not assuage the fears that Vietnam could end up with another tragic legacy from a company that once caused many deaths in the country, environmental activists say.
It would be ironic if Vietnam becomes a willing party to a “lethal” product made by the same US company that manufactured Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War.It would be ironic if Vietnam becomes a willing party to a “lethal” product made by the same US company that manufactured Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War, they pointed out. [...]
In 2006 the government approved a blueprint that envisaged covering between 30 percent and half of the country’s agriculture lands with the controversial gene-altered crops by 2020.
Only three companies – Monsanto, Syngenta, and Pioneer – have been licensed to carry out lab research and tests in Vietnam, the minister’s statement said.
Monsanto accounts for almost one-quarter (23 percent) of the global proprietary seed market.
[Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh, former deputy defense minister, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange] is also worried about the weedkiller Roundup Monsanto plugs for use along with its crops.
“By introducing [GMOs] paired with toxic weed killers, the tragic legacy of Agent Orange might repeat itself,” he warned. [...]
The U.S. Airforce spraying 'Agent Orange' defoliant over the countryside of Vietnam. Originally termed "Operation Hades," the spraying program was renamed "Operation Ranch Hand" to improve public relations. Jeffrey Smith, author of the bestseller Seeds of Deception and founder and executive director of the California, US-based NGO Institute for Responsible Technology, said: “It is not inconsequential that a new genetically modified corn up for review is designed to be tolerant to the herbicide 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange.
“This means that much higher amounts of toxic 2,4-D will drench the agricultural lands where this new crop is planted.
“It would be a harsh and ironic consequence if Vietnamese people suffer from birth defects from both of these Monsanto products, Roundup and Agent Orange.”
* * *
The Global Post reports:
Monsanto is, of course, highly aware of Agent Orange's reputation and has fought numerous lawsuits filed by chemical's victims both Vietnamese and American. The chemical, commissioned by the U.S. military, was dumped over jungles to kill vegetation and rout communist forces.
In Monsanto's own primer on the Agent Orange era, it casts the chemical as patriotic -- it was meant "to save the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers," Monsanto says -- and contends that the matter "should be resolved by the governments that were involved."
Keeping Monsanto out of Vietnam already appears to be an uphill fight.
A Vietnamese legislator and former deputy defense minister has, according to Thanh Nien, faced evasion when he tried to raise the issue with the [government].
More at the linkMonsanto ready to sell GM crops and weed-killing chemicals in Vietnam; Many outraged... more
The people of Hawaii are standing up against years of GMO poisoning and open field testing with lack of regulation and labelling. This is not just an issue of democracy but of culture and morality.
University of Hawaii students assembled a stone platform with a wooden statue known as a "ki`i" on the grounds of the state Capitol to speak to politicians regarding the bills in legislature that are being held up by the Agriculture chairman.The people of Hawaii are standing up against years of GMO poisoning and open field... more
A newly released hidden video is available for unrestricted use by the members of media at a new website http://occupy-monsanto.com. Occupy Monsanto is calling for protests on September 17, 2012, at Monsanto facilities across the globe to demand GMO labeling and the elimination of cancer causing toxic chemicals in our food supply.
During a face-to-face encounter caught on hidden video, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant is challenged on how his company has an "artificial buffer" of acceptance in the consumer marketplace because "people don't know if what they are eating is GMO."
In the video GMO Labeling campaigner Adam Eidinger also speaks before the entire shareholder meeting, urging acceptance of GMO labeling. He decries the agrichemical giant's contribution to the rise of "Superweeds" and "Superpests" that develop resistance to ever more toxic chemicals sprayed on them. Despite the challenge of Monsanto to "reform," no shareholders challenged Eidinger on the facts except for Grant. Eidinger also asks Grant from the podium how much the company will spend fighting GMO labeling efforts in 2012.
When pressed by Eidinger a second time on the labeling issue Grant asserts that Monsanto complies with and supports US laws regarding labeling. He admits, "There is an increasing category of GMO-free as well, so we would support the overarching umbrella of labeling."
Eidinger responded that his question addressed efforts to change the laws to mandate labeling. "Is the Company going to oppose these labeling efforts wherever they take place?" he asks. Grant relents, "We would be absolutely open and willing to engage in a dialog with our broad industry peers," when it comes to the question of labeling GMOs.
Currently, Monsanto faces new lawsuits from organic farmers, while in California a GMO labeling ballot proposition is under review. More than 550,000 people have signed onto the JustLabelit.org citizens' petition to the Food and Drug Administration for GMO labeling and last fall for the first time about 100 people marched in a GMO Right2Know March from New York to the White House to demand President Obama keep his campaign promise to label GMO foods. (Video of the promise can be seen here. )
The Monsanto Annual Shareholders' Meeting concluded official activities of the Right2Know March for GMO labeling which was sponsored by the Non-GMO Project and many other organizations and businesses. Some coordinators of last year's march have set their focus on Monsanto. In March of 2012 a new "Occupy Monsanto" campaign will be formally launched to focus on changing Monsanto's business practices and support the principles of the Occupy movement.
More at the linkA newly released hidden video is available for unrestricted use by the members of... more
If you assume that Bill Gates is so well informed about all his philanthropic targets that you take his word at face value, you would be in good company, but you might be terribly wrong. Organizations well versed in the agricultural issues facing developing nations are saying his annual letter, released last week, is completely mistaken when it asserts that a lack of support for GMO crop development is responsible, in part, for allowing world hunger to endure. We interviewed Heather Pilatic, Ph.D., co-director of the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), to show us the other, important side of the story.
TakePart: In the introduction to his letter, Bill Gates cites the Green Revolution of the 1960s and '70s, saying scientists created new seed varieties for rice, wheat, and maize, and that this resulted in increased crop yield and a decrease in extreme poverty around the world. Do you agree that this is a model to use moving forward?
Heather Pilatic: The Green Revolution is a story that some people like to tell, but it has little basis in historical fact. Take the Green Revolution’s origins in 1940s Mexico, for instance. It was not really about feeding the world; Mexico was a food exporter at the time. Rather, the aims included stabilizing restive rural populations in our neighbor to the south, and making friends with a government that at the time was selling supplies to the World War II Axis powers and confiscating oil fields held by Standard Oil (a funding source for the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the key architects of the Green Revolution).
We can also learn from India, the Green Revolution’s next stop after Mexico. India embraced the Green Revolution model of chemical-intensive agriculture. Now it is the world’s second biggest rice grower with surplus grain in government warehouses. Yet India has more starving people than sub-Saharan Africa—at more than 200 million, that’s nearly a quarter of its population. History shows that a narrow focus on increasing crop yield through chemical-seed packages reduces neither hunger nor poverty.
So no, we do not agree that the Green Revolution offers a promising model for addressing poverty.
TakePart: Bill Gates is urging that more money be donated to agricultural innovation, including crop GMOs, because "one in seven people will continue living needlessly on the edge of starvation." Of course, this argument worries all of us. Will you explain PANNA's perspective?
Heather Pilatic: We could not agree with Gates more on the first point. Investment in agriculture in the developing world is enormously efficient and more impactful on the ground than investment in just about any other sector. It is also true that more people than ever before are going hungry, needlessly. We have enough food to go around now. We disagree with Gates on two points—one scientific and one political.
First, the science. Most of the rest of the world's experts agree that GMOs are not what the world's poor need to feed themselves. The science simply doesn't bear this claim out. Our staff scientist was a lead author in the most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture ever undertaken, the UN & World Bank's International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (the IAASTD). After four years and with the input of over 400 experts, and reams of evidence, the IAASTD concluded that the developing world's best bet for feeding itself in the 21st century was explicitly not the kind of chemically intensive farming that accompanies GMO seeds. Rather, these experts found that smaller scale, farmer-driven, knowledge-intensive, ecological agriculture is one of the most promising ways forward for the developing world in particular. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has reported that ecological farming can double food production within 10 years. This is the kind of agriculture we should be investing in.
Second, the political—and this cuts two ways. We must finally recognize that hunger is a problem of poverty and access to resources, especially land, not agricultural yield. The solution to world hunger is a political one: stop kicking farmers off their land and dumping product on the world market that puts them out of business; protect farmers’ rights to save and exchange seed; kick the bankers out of food-crop commodities speculation, they're playing roulette with our food system; write fair trade policies; listen to the world's poor, they know what they need...in short, democratize food and farming if you want to address hunger.
Finally, here in the U.S., kick the farm lobby out of Congress and the pesticide industry out of our federal regulatory agencies (EPA & USDA). Together, these two special interests have a chokehold on U.S. farm, aid and trade policy, and dominate our agricultural research agenda in ways that make it possible for a smart man like Bill Gates to believe and prosyletize on behalf of an approach to agriculture that A, the rest of the world knows is defunct; and B, has failed—after 14 years of commercialization and billions of dollars in public research funding—to deliver on a single one of its promises to the public.
More at the linkIf you assume that Bill Gates is so well informed about all his philanthropic targets... more
If you happened to be walking around Lower Manhattan this morning, you might have noticed the anti-Monsanto chants echoing from Foley Square. In a protesting trifecta, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Big Food, and Food Democracy Now joined forces to support family farmers as the first phase of their federal court case against food industry giant Monsanto. The crowd of around 200 people included farmers from as far away as Maine as well as local food activists and chefs.
The case against Monsanto (Organic Seed Growers Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto) aims to protect farmers against aggressive lawsuit and crop contamination from Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds. Organic and non-GMO crops can be severely damaged by the introduction of GMO seeds and farmers whose crops have been infiltrated are vulnerable to lawsuits from Monsanto who owns a vast majority of the genetics on commodity crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton.
Farmers’ fear of being sued by the multi-billion dollar company is not unfounded. According to Monsanto, since 1997, it has filed 145 lawsuits against farmers and settled 700 other disputes out of court.
Today in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Judge Naomi Buchwald will hear complaints from farmers and determine whether or not their case against Monsanto will move forward. Protestor and organic farmer Deb Taft of Mobius Fields in Westchester, New York said she was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of this morning's hearings.
Many protestors felt it was an accomplishment in itself that the case has made it to Federal District Court. An unnamed protestor and chef at a local private school said he came out to stand with farmers who finally got their day in court. He has been wary of Monsanto since the mid 1980s, when the issues of genetically modified organisms were mostly talk, rather than reality.
While all of the protestors united around their distrust of and frustration with Monsanto, their specific reasons for being there were varied. Some were concerned with the lack of seed choice now that Monsanto has put many local providers out of business while others were concerned with Monsanto’s global presence (Monsanto is currently being sued for biopiracy in India).
Protestors pointed to a long history of infractions on the part of Monsanto, which they demonstrated by creating a human timeline of the company’s history. Monsanto genetically modified its first plant in 1982, but the company’s story goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. John Francis Queeny, a pharmaceutical industry veteran, founded the company in 1901 and in 1902 Monsanto sold its first product to Coca-Cola — saccharin, the artificial sweetener that has been linked to cancer. Protestors this morning also referenced Monsanto's role as one of the companies that manufactured Agent Orange, an herbicide used by the U.S. Army in Vietnam that has been proven to caues severe health damage and birth defects.
But the protestors main focus today was the effect that that GMOs have on biodiversity and farmer livelihood. Andrew Faust, a permaculture teacher and founder of The Center for Bioregional Living in Ellenville, New York, urged consumers to use their buying power to boycott Monsanto products. Currently, advocacy groups working under the slogan “Right to Know” are lobbying for GMO labeling, which is already required in the European Union and China, and which Monsanto is fighting against.
According to a tweet from someone present in the courtroom, the judge will give her ruling on this morning’s hearings, which ended around 11:30 am, by March 31st. Those interested in supporting the farmers' cause can sign Food Democracy Now!’s pledge to support America’s farmers and donate to the Right to Know campaign.
More at the linkIf you happened to be walking around Lower Manhattan this morning, you might have... more
The giant bio-tech firm Monsanto yesterday announced a major withdrawal from the UK amid intense opposition to genetically modified foods.The company, the leading multinational behind the production of GM crops, is closing its wheat growing operation, based in Cambridge.
Officials said the move was partly due to the opposition to GM crops which has inspired the Daily Mail's campaign against so-called "Frankenstein Foods". Monsanto is also seeking to sell off crop-breeding centres in France, Germany and the Czech Republic.
The move was widely seen as an indication that the company has given up hopes of introducing GM crops to Europe. Pete Riley, of Friends of the Earth, said last night: "If they are pulling out, we should rejoice."
Monsanto's decision was made public on the eve of the Government's final announcement on the prospects for GM crop cultivation here. Earlier this week it was revealed that the Government's own research had found that GM farming would pollute the countryside for generations. Monsanto's Cambridge unit employed 125 people developing hybrid wheat varieties for the European market.
The company bought the former Government Plant Breeding Institute from Unilever in 1998, declaring that GM crops would be established within five years. But a Monsanto spokesman said last night the expected business had "never materialised". Last month, Bayer CropScience pulled the plug on UK field trials, leaving just one company, Syngenta, actively pursuing GM here. The results of the Government research had been wdely seen as dealing a bodyblow to supporters of GM crops.
Disturbing figures came from three separate studies conducted on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.They showed that pollen contamination would spread far further than previously thought and "feral" growth of weed killer -proof plants from just one crop would persist for years.
At the same time, the heavy use of chemicals associated with the crops could wipe out some bird species.The warnings followed the massive public suspicion of GM crops revealed by the Government's own national consultation.
In an initiative involving hundreds of public meetings and 37,000 questionnaires, 93 per cent of respondents said not enough was known about the long-term effects of GM foods on health, while 86 per cent said they would not eat it. Concern about pollution of organic and other farms was mentioned by 95 per cent, while 93 per cent said GM technology was driven more by profit than public interest.
There has also been concern over the close relationship between the Labour Government and Monsanto. David Hill, Tony Blair's new spin doctor, is a former adviser to Monsanto and Science Minister Lord Sainsbury holds a stake in a firm linked to Monsanto, which is handled by a blind trust. The GM row in Europe has escalated recently, with comments from EU environment commissioner Margaret Wallstrom that GM companies were lying and trying to force unsuitable crops on European farmland.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-199884/GM-giant-quits-Britain-amid-backlash.html#ixzz1l3z17I91
http://www.healingtalks.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/GMO-Free-Is-Fastest-Growing-Retail-Brand2.jpgThe giant bio-tech firm Monsanto yesterday announced a major withdrawal from the UK... more
Dow and its affiliate companies, knowingly and willfully, sold products of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in India routing it through untainted companies by re-labeling them to subvert the asset attachment orders of Indian courts. TOI has accessed internal documents - emails, correspondence and memos etc - of Dow showing how the chemical giant decided to label UCC products and sell them in its name to evade taint and prosecution.
The documents show Dow continued to set the prices for UCC products in India, though it now claims UCC is a separate entity and it has no responsibility for the firm's liabilities for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. Dow sold goods worth $24 million of UCC products in 1999 through one company alone. The correspondence indicates that there was a concerted and conscious attempt to create a firewall between Dow and UCC in public domain, and rebrand UCC as Dow's.
These documents were submitted as evidence by one such front company in litigation against Dow in a US Court, which remained buried in the records so far.
Dow has never claimed ownership over UCC's liabilities in India, and insisted that the latter is a separate legal entity. The Bhopal activists have demanded that the corporate veil between the two be breached by courts and the government to prosecute the chemical giant, which has also got embroiled in the controversy over sponsoring the London Olympics, 2012.
A mail from Dow Chemical Pacific Manager in April 2001 reads, "There was a big lawsuit with UCC in India in the past. UCC considered the case is closed but India's official and companies didn't think so. Presuming the product ships directly from USA to India, my suggestion is to selling the product under Dow legal entity with Dow label and document will be a good way to proceed."
Another email from Graham Fox, Dow Chemical regional GM for Middle East &Indian subcontinent, to Ravi Muthukrishnan, country manager, Dow Chemical International Pvt. Ltd. (Mumbai) in January, 2001, states, "As you will be aware, UCC have not sold directly to India since Bhopal and have used Mega Visa to handle many of their sales of specialty chemicals, some bulk chemicals and wire & cable products. They work across our Dow businesses and have some several million $ sales revenue as I understand it."
A third letter indicates that this was part of a well-thought out strategy to create a firewall between Dow and UCC after their merger. A Catherine Maxey, Public Affairs director at Dow, wrote in March, 2001, "Union Carbide Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. UCC will not be issuing any more press releases, product announcements, price increases, etc. All business activities are done under the umbrella of a Dow business. We face the market as Dow. Reporters will be tempted to keep talking about Union Carbide. But we should discourage reporters from using the words Union Carbide, unless it's reference to a historical activity. There should be no need for a trade press reporter to refer to Union Carbide, as we face the market as Dow They should not call a product a "Union Carbide product." All products are sold as Dow products now. Any current or future activity of a business is done as Dow."
Another email reveals that Dow officials were making crucial decisions like price of UCC products.
An email from Arpana Mody, Dow India manager in June, 2001, reads, "We agreed on the following procedural steps for handling Mega Visa orders through Singapore: Mega Visa-Mumbai, after obtaining enquiry will refer to respective Business Managers in Dow-India for pricing. This will be for products where pricing is not standard and subject to change. After getting order from Mega Visa-Mumbai, Mega Visa-Singapore will place order on UCC-Singapore, under copy to respective Business Managers and Mr Ashish Mitra at Dow India for price approval."
Yet another email from a Dow manager says, "Since Megavisa Singapore is a dummy company who negotiates nothing and owns nothing, Dow India now would like to do the business with MegaVisa India direct." But the idea was shot down by higher ups in the legal department of the company, stating, "Country management and I are against this idea at the present time due to the threat of litigation and the protest incident of a couple of months ago."
The series of correspondence reveals the linkage between various Dow companies internationally, the use of `corporate veil' and their continued trading of UCC products in India after the courts here named it as a proclaimed offender and ordered its movable and immovable properties attached.
The Indian government in its curative petition has not asked the Supreme Court to breach the corporate veil between Dow and UCC.Dow and its affiliate companies, knowingly and willfully, sold products of Union... more
Bill Gates is one very confused billionaire philanthropist.
He understands global warming is a big problem — indeed, his 2012 Foundation Letter even frets about the grave threat it poses to food security. But he just doesn’t want to do very much now to stop it from happening (see Pro-geoengineering Bill Gates disses efficiency, “cute” solar, deployment — still doesn’t know how he got rich).
He love technofixes like geoengineering and, as we’ll see, genetically modified food. Rather than investing in cost-effective emissions reduction strategies today or in renewable energy technologies that are rapidly moving down the cost curve, he explains that the reason invests so much in nuclear R&D is “The good news about nuclear is that there has hardly been any innovation.” Seriously!
His Letter includes the ominous chart at the top, and he warns of the dire consequences of climate change:
Meanwhile, the threat of climate change is becoming clearer. Preliminary studies show that the rise in global temperature alone could reduce the productivity of the main crops by over 25 percent. Climate change will also increase the number of droughts and floods that can wipe out an entire season of crops. More and more people are raising familiar alarms about whether the world will be able to support itself in the future, as the population heads toward a projected 9.3 billion by 2050.
And yet, as the AP reported this week, the wealthiest of all Americans gets very prickly if you don’t wholeheartedly endorse his techno-fix adaptation-centric approach to dealing with this oncoming disaster:
Bill Gates has a terse response to criticism that the high-tech solutions he advocates for world hunger are too expensive or bad for the environment: Countries can embrace modern seed technology and genetic modification or their citizens will starve….
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent about $2 billion in the past five years to fight poverty and hunger in Africa and Asia, and much of that money has gone toward improving agricultural productivity.Gates doesn’t apologize for his endorsement of modern agriculture or sidestep criticism of genetic modification. He told The Associated Press that he finds it ironic that most people who oppose genetic engineering in plant breeding live in rich nations that he believes are responsible for global climate change that will lead to more starvation and malnutrition for the poor.
Resistance to new technology is “again hurting the people who had nothing to do with climate change happening,” Gates said.
The real irony is that most people who diss efficiency and renewables and aggressive greenhouse gas mitigation, like Gates, live in rich nations that are responsible for global climate change that will lead to more starvation and malnutrition for the poor.
Where is the story that says, “countries to embrace existing technology to reduce emissions or their citizens will starve” or resistance to aggressive low carbon technology deployment is “again hurting the people who had nothing to do with climate change happening”?
This is not a blog on genetic modification, so I’ll just quote the AP story:
Bill Freese, a science policy analyst for the Washington-based Center for Food Safety, said everyone wants to see things get better for hungry people, but genetically modified plants are more likely to make their developers rich than feed the poor. The seed is too expensive and has a high failure rate, he said. Better ways to increase yields would be increasing the fertility of soil by adding organic matter or combining plants growing in the same field to combat pests, he said.
The biggest problem with those alternatives, Freese said, is the same one that Gates cited in high-tech research: A lack of money for development.
But the fact is, as Oxfam and others have made clear, global warming is poised to make food vastly more expensive, which will be devastating to the world’s poor know matter how much money Gates dumps into GM crops — see Oxfam Predicts Climate Change will Help Double Food Prices by 2030: “We Are Turning Abundance into Scarcity”:
More at the linkBill Gates is one very confused billionaire philanthropist.
He understands global... more
Chinese researchers at Nanjing University have found small segments of rice ribonucleic acid (called microRNA or miRNA for its tiny size) in the blood and organs of people who eat conventional rice. The study does not address how the assimilation of plant RNA into human bodies could affect the debate over the next generation of genetically modified food crops, but the revelation that miRNA can likely survive digestion and take up residence in human cells certainly will provide ammunition for the anti-GMO camp, the most liberal of whom have been calling for toxicological and safety testing of patented plants since the inception of the biotech industry over a decade ago.
In the Chinese study, rice genetic material influenced the uptake of cholesterol from the blood by binding itself to receptor cells in the human liver. If confirmed, this would be the first time scientists have witnessed ingested plant miRNA that actually alters human physiology by regulating cell functions in this way, says AlterNet contributer Ari LeVaux in a recent piece. What’s more, it calls into question the doctrine of “substantial equivalence” – a dogma the biotech industry has clung to since 1991.
Under substantial equivalence, companies such as Monsanto Co. have built a body of case law that shields GMOs from the same rigorous safety testing that patented drugs must undergo. The reason: GMOs are assumed to be essentially the same as their whole-food counterparts. This reasoning works well enough where products such as Bt-corn are concerned. This is because GM corn and alfalfa are spliced with specific herbicide resistant genes from bacteria that are themselves assumed to be safe and natural in their isolated form.
“There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans,” declares Monsanto’s website. “DNA (and resulting RNA) is present in almost all foods. DNA is non-toxic and the presence of DNA, in and of itself, presents no hazard.” Interestingly, this reasoning seems to undermine the legitimacy of plant patenting if nothing “novel” is being created, but that’s a whole other can of worms.
However, substantial equivalence might not sit so well with consumers faced with a new generation of GMOs that use miRNA sequences to shut down or turn down a targeted gene in an insect predator. The difference now, and this miRNA study supplies the evidence, is that our genetically-altered food could very well be genetically altering us.
The argument for the safety testing of GMOs can now go something like this: because humans and insects share some very similar proteins that process miRNAs (source), the small RNAs from GMO plants could adversely regulate genes in humans.
Proponents of little to no regulation of biotechnology agree that safety testing would only encumber the shared utopian dream of producing as much food as cheaply as possible for a booming world population. If that’s the case, anti-GMOers are going about this “crusade” all wrong. Maybe a more effective tactic would be to scrutinize more closely the real world performance of GM crops.
Monsanto is now the largest seed company in the world. Pointing out that their business model is antithetical to time-tested agricultural practices developed over thousands of years of human history, namely the ability of farmers to save seeds and breed new heirloom varieties to keep genetic diversity at optimal levels, might also bolster the naturalist case. Indeed, there is research to suggest that a path to bounty for the food-insecure populations of the world won’t come through new agricultural products or methods, but a revival of pre-industrial farming practices.
That’s not to say there isn’t a happy medium where scientists can be scientists without having to alienate large groups of agriculturalists and consumers. Critics argue this can’t occur until geneticists attach a higher ethical value to the business of natural plant breeding than setting the stage for a fully-patented biosphere.Chinese researchers at Nanjing University have found small segments of rice... more
Monsanto shareholders rejected a concerned shareholder’s proposal and upheld management viewpoint, as expected–after all, they did own shares in Monsanto–at the 2012 annual shareholders meeting held today at Monsanto Headquarters in St. Louis, MO. A shareholder representing Harrington Investments had submitted a proposal to create a study of “‘material financial risks or operational impacts’ associated with its chemical products and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).” Monsanto management issued a statement recommending that its shareholders vote against the proposal, which they did, of course.
Although Monsanto’s statement claimed to support the freedom of farmers to choose whatever farming system they wanted, John Harrington, CEO of Harrington Investments, said he doubted that Monsanto was truly supportive of farmers’ freedom because “genetic drift from GMO crops is contaminating their conventional and organic crops.” The GMO contamination takes away the farmers ability to market crops to Europe, China, and Japan where GMO crops are not accepted.
Although the meeting was only open to shareholders, there were protesters demonstrating outside the meeting. The protest was organized by Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), and Harrington Investments. Shareholders should be concerned that eventually Monsanto will be held responsible for the “human health and environmental damages” from its toxic pesticides, herbicides (Roundup-glyphosate), and genetically engineered seeds, which would cause Monsanto stocks to drop in value.
More at the linkMonsanto shareholders rejected a concerned shareholder’s proposal and upheld... more
A week of Occupy Wall Street Maui events kick off today with the establishment of an encampment near the Monsanto offices in Kihei.
A series of marches, rallies and vigils are planned throughout the week as the group expresses their concerns over herbicide use, production of GMO products, and arguments of impacts on small farmers.
An event flyer makes claims of food supply control, government manipulation and environmental poisons.
Monsanto Hawaii Community Affairs Director, Paul Koehler responded to the planned demonstrations saying that while the company respects everyone's right to voice their opinion, he said, "It's unfortunate that a number of misleading and factually incorrect statements about Monsanto and genetically engineered crops continue to circulate."
Koehler said Monsanto Hawaii is working with the Police Department to ensure safety of all during the planned Occupy events. "Our number one concern," he said, "is for the safety of everyone involved, including that of drivers passing by on the highway, pedestrians, our employees and the demonstrators."
More at the linkA week of Occupy Wall Street Maui events kick off today with the establishment of an... more
Protests Outside Monsanto 2012 Annual Meeting Planned
Shareholder's Resolution Would Require Chemical Giant to Study Risks of its Genetically Engineered Crops
ST. LOUIS, Jan. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Tuesday, January 24 at 1:30 PM, Monsanto officers and shareholders will vote on a shareholder proposal to create a study of "material financial risks or operational impacts" associated with its chemical products and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The proposal represents one of the strongest signals to date that the biotech food conglomerate is facing growing consumer, legal, and regulatory uncertainties. As of today, however Monsanto has told John Harrington that they will not recognize his proxy who would speak on behalf of the resolution for only three minutes under normal circumstances.
The meeting itself is only open to shareholders but concerned citizens will be demonstrating outside the northeast entrance to Monsanto's Lindberg campus beginning at 12:00 noon. Monsanto Headquarters is located at 800 North Lindberg Boulevard in St. Louis, MO.
Adam Eidinger, an organic food activist who recently led a walk from NY to Washington DC on behalf of honest food labeling, will present the shareholder resolution on behalf of Napa, California based Harrington Investments (HII) with help from the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA).
Eidinger will be available for interview before and after the shareholder meeting, which he will drive a "Label GMO" art car to attend. Representatives from HII and PANNA will be also available for interview before and after the shareholder meeting. Eidinger's written testimony is available by request.
In its statement recommending shareholders to vote against the HII resolution, Monsanto management stated that, "Farmers should have the freedom to choose which production method is best suited for their needs, whether organic, non-GM conventional or biotechnology traits. All of these systems can and do work effectively side by side…"
John Harrington, CEO of Harrington Investments questions the veracity of Monsanto's statement: "While I am heartened by Monsanto's sudden concern for the freedom of farmers, the unfortunate reality facing American farmers right now, is that genetic drift from GMO crops is contaminating their conventional and organic crops. This can be disastrous because many GMO crops cannot be sold to important markets, such as Europe, China and Japan. The potential legal implications for Monsanto are staggering."
More at the linkProtests Outside Monsanto 2012 Annual Meeting Planned
Shareholder's Resolution... more
According to an article in German in the Ithaca journal, a German university study has found significant concentrations of glyphosate in the urine samples of city dwellers. The analysis of the urine samples apparently found that all had concentrations of glyphosate at 5 to 20-fold the limit for drinking water. As well as being used increasingly widely in food production, glyphosate-based weedkillers often also get sprayed onto railway lines, urban pavements and roadsides.
Disturbingly, the Ithaca journal reports (in our translation), "The address of the university labs, which did the research, the data and the evaluation of the research method is known to the editors. Because of significant pressure by agrochemical representatives and the fear that the work of the lab could be influenced, the complete analytical data will only be published in the course of this year."
News of this study comes not long after the publication of a study confirming glyphosate was contaminating groundwater. Last year also saw the publication of two US Geological Survey studies which consistently found glyphosate in streams, rain and even air in agricultural areas of the US.
Other recent studies - see the abstracts of the 4 below - indicate that people may not only be absorbing glyphosate from multiple sources but that it can circulate in the blood and can even cross the placental barrier and so reach the developing fetus.
Aris, A. and S. Leblanc (2011). "Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in EasternTownships of Quebec, Canada."
Pesticides associated to genetically modified foods (PAGMF), are engineered to tolerate herbicides such as glyphosate (GLYP) and gluphosinate (GLUF) or insecticides such as the bacterial toxin bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between maternal and fetal exposure, and to determine exposure levels of GLYPandits metabolite aminomethylphosphoricacid (AMPA), GLUF and its metabolite 3-methylphosphinicopropionicacid (3-MPPA) and Cry1Ab protein (a Bt toxin) in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Blood of thirty pregnant women (PW) and thirty-nine nonpregnant women (NPW)were studied. Serum GLYPand GLUF were detected in NPW and not detected in PW. Serum 3-MPPA and CryAb1toxin were detected in PW,their fetuses and NPW. This is the first study to reveal the presence of circulating PAGMF in women with and without pregnancy, paving the way for a new field in reproductive toxicology including nutrition and utero-placental toxicities.
Chang, F. C., M. F. Simcik, et al. (2011). "Occurrence and fate of the herbicide glyphosate and its degradate aminomethylphosphonic acid in the atmosphere."
Environ Toxicol Chem 30(3): 548–555.
This is the first report on the ambient levels of glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the United States, and its major degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), in air and rain. Concurrent, weekly integrated air particle and rain samples were collected during two growing seasons in agricultural areas in Mississippi and Iowa. Rain was also collected in Indiana in a preliminary phase of the study. The frequency of glyphosate detection ranged from 60 to 100% in both air and rain. The concentrations of glyphosate ranged from antipyrine>benzoic acid>glyphosate in terms of both the apparent permeability coefficient and the initial slope, defined as the linear rate of substance transferred to the fetal compartment as percent per time, a parameter used to compare the two experimental models. The results from the in vitro studies were in excellent agreement with the ex vivo results (caffeine approximately antipyrine>benzoic acid>glyphosate). However the transfer rate was much slower in the BeWo cells compared to the perfusion system. The advantages and limitations of each model are discussed in order to assist in the preparation, prediction, and performance of future studies of maternal-fetal transfer.According to an article in German in the Ithaca journal, a German university study has... more
Robert Kenner (Food Inc.) has done this video for GMO labelling. Freedom on the Internet is important as we all know, but so is freedom to make informed choices about the foods we purchase and consume. This needs to be the year we see that happen.Robert Kenner (Food Inc.) has done this video for GMO labelling. Freedom on the... more
Ignacio Chapela will be familiar to readers of Stuffed and Starved. He’s a soil biologist at Berkeley and an outspoken critic of genetically modified crops, a position which has focussed the wrath of the biotechnology industry upon him. Here is a short analysis he penned earlier today on news from Europe that chemical company BASF will be pulling its GMO operations from Europe, where they are unwelcome (because ineffective and dangerous), and moving them to North Carolina.
Will the English-speaking media lose its nerve and write about it? Based on past experience, my wager goes to the habitual policy of silence, and I expect that the news will continue all but unrecorded in English. Most of us will not celebrate as we should.
Other languages do comment and give a little more detail, albeit still briefly. In German, the word is printed clearly: “BASF admits defeat”, while in French: “The number one chemical concern in the world, the German BASF has announced on 16 January 2012 that it gives up the development and marketing of new transgenic products intended for the European Union.”
Clearly put: one of the largest among the few who banked on the GMO route to do agriculture is giving up in its own home turf, defeated by public opposition to its products which evidently do not live up to expectations.
You will find some records in the business websites, mostly deploring the European hostility towards GMOs, the loss of jobs (about 150-170 in Europe, although many are relocated to North Carolina, for an overall loss of about 10 jobs altogether) and repeating again the idea that rejecting GMOs in the environment is tantamount to committing economic suicide and “rejecting the future” as if this was possible.
I say that the future holds very little promise for GMOs altogether, and BASF is only the first to have the capacity to recognize the thirty years of bad investments. They can afford this move, which is not unannounced and forms part of a year-long reconfiguration of the company to navigate tighter economic straits ahead, because they are diversified and have strengths in other fields. Monsanto and Syngenta, for comparative example, have stood in complete dependency of GMOs since their mothership companies shed them off to swim or sink on transgenic markets twelve years ago; Bayer and Dow stand somewhere in between. Where Monsanto’s stock would have floundered if they announced they were closing GMO R & D in St Louis, Missouri, BASF’s stock hardly budged on the equivalent news (it actually ticked upwards in the Frankfurt exchange) – the timing of the news release may well have been a token of deference to BASF’s partner Monsanto, protecting the latter’s stock from the shock on a day when the US stock markets are closed.
The reasons for the failure of BASF’s products in Europe are many and very diverse, but the fundamental truth stands that over the decades no real benefit has offset the proven harm caused by GMOs. It is fine to blame “the European public”, but we know that this public is no better or worse than our own in the US or anywhere else – had there been a GMO equivalent of the iPad, masses would have thronged the streets of Europe clamoring for their use. But it may be just as true that BASF would continue to push GMOs into Europe were it not for the tireless and creative work of many hundreds of thousands, the kinds of numbers needed these days to make a self-evident point which counters accepted official policy. So I say to our European friends: embrace the credit that is hurled at you and loudly celebrate what will not be announced as your victory in the newspapers.
We are left in desolate America, though, land of government by Monsanto, where BASF is relocating its GMO headquarters (some specialty technical BASF outfits remain in Ghent and Berlin). In the North it is impossible to know where the nearest non-GMO plant may be, while in the South and in Mexico the tragedy of GMO soy- and corn-agriculture continues apace, driven by corrupt or willfully ignorant governments and against public opinion much stronger and much more vocal than what we have seen in Europe. Far from recognizing the failure of GMOs altogether, something that should have happened at least a decade ago, BASF identifies the opportunities offered by the brutal realities of the Third World, opportunities which are better capitalized with the centralization, mechanization and property-rights enforcement possible only through GMOs. As we celebrate the lifting of perhaps one third of the pressure upon Europe to give in to GMOs, let’s not forget those places where they will continue to be used as the effective spear-head of corporate biological mining of other lands.Ignacio Chapela will be familiar to readers of Stuffed and Starved. He’s a soil... more