tagged w/ consumer disclosure
The grassroots March Against Monsanto movement is spreading across the nation, and the initiative spells out an increasingly massive number of activists and concerned citizens who will ultimately be responsible for ending the GMO juggernaut through peaceful protest and the spread of information.
It really comes down to the basic understanding that what we want is real food — not chemical-laden junk that is riddled with genetically modified organisms. And of course Monsanto is responsible for the majority of such junk, holding a monopoly over the GM seed market with 90% of staple crop seeds under Monsanto control. Seeds that are sold to ignorant farmers who oftentimes end up killing themselves after they find that the seeds produce decreased yields and milk the farmers financially dry through the enforceable patents that come along with the seeds. Patents that Monsanto goons carefully enforce, preying upon small farmers through devious lawsuits and farm stakeouts.
Even organic and natural farmers are subject to such legal attacks, since it’s possible for the patented seeds (which India calls biopiracy) to blow over to such farms and begin to grow. This is also how widespread GMO contamination begins, to which the USDA simply responds ‘get insurance’. We can even go back decades to find that Monsanto was integral in the creation of the infamous Agent Orange, a Vietnam-era chemical warfare weapon which estimates say killed or maimed around 400,000 people and caused a startling 500,000 birth defects.
But the days where this information could hide as footnotes within the media are over.
More at the linkThe grassroots March Against Monsanto movement is spreading across the nation, and the... more
A decades-long push to require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients in the United States received a significant boost Wednesday, when bipartisan bills on the issue were simultaneously proposed in the House and Senate.
Advocates of such measures are reacting with excitement, noting that the new bills appear to be far better positioned than previous such attempts, in terms of both public and Congressional support. If the bills pass, the United States would join 64 other countries that have already put in place similar laws or regulations.
The legislative moves mark the first time that such a bill has been proposed in the U.S. Senate in more than a dozen years, a period during which the use of genetically modified crops has expanded exponentially.
Further, while that earlier iteration, from 2000, was the work of just a single Democratic senator and was unable to attract any additional co-sponsors, the new bill has already received official support from nine senators and 21 representatives, including two Republicans.
“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Senator Barbara Boxer, a key sponsor of the new bill and author of the 2000 proposal, said Wednesday.
“This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more – not less – information about the food they buy.”
Indeed, public opinion on the matter appears to be overwhelmingly on the side of the new proposal, which would direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the main government regulator on food-related issues, to require food producers to clearly label their products if they contain genetically engineered (GE) components.
According to multiple polls in recent years (including here and here), more than 90 percent of people in the United States favor the FDA requiring the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
Yet for years, the FDA has pushed back against such requests, despite having the legal authority to mandate such a change. Rather, today’s policy continues to be informed by 1992 guidance in which FDA administrators stated that GE foods were not “materially” different from conventional foods.
The rationale for this stance was simply that consumers were unable to physically sense the difference between conventional and genetically modified foods.
“Unfortunately, the FDA’s antiquated labeling policy has not kept pace with 21st century food technologies that allow for a wide array of genetic and molecular changes to food that can’t be detected by human senses,” according to a press release put out by the bill’s main sponsors, Senator Boxer and Representative Peter DeFazio.
Further, such a test appears inconsistent with regard to the 3,000 other substances for which the FDA does require labeling.
“The fact of the matter is that, for far too long, the FDA has been playing politics over science,” Colin O’Neil, the director of government affairs at the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group, told IPS.
“Corn that produces its own insecticide, or a fish that grows twice as fast as normal, or an apple that doesn’t turn brown for 30 days – we know these are material changes and that those are novel foods.”
I know, don't get your hopes up. But at least this is something that may actually have legs to it. Substantial equivalence is being challenged. It's about time...
It was over four years ago that I first started posting/reporting about genetically modified seeds/Monsanto here. To see this level of support for labeling now and to see the global resistance is very encouraging. Despite all of the money and favors Monsanto and the big ag lobby enjoys the resistance to this is staggering and I think we are reaching a tipping point. Unfortunately Current will not be here to have me and others report on this. I have enjoyed being able to bring news about GMOS and other related topics regarding sustainable agriculture here and I hope it has helped to pass this important news on to others. I will be continuing to do so on my GMO Report blog which is linked in this post. I hope those who have been following what is going on with our seeds and food on a global level check out the blog. We will take back our food. Also, anyone who did not see the Monsanto Round Up reports can find them in the tag while it lasts. Thanks.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LICQCxq1FqU&feature=player_embedded... more
From the site:
Right now the votes for Prop 37 to label genetically engineered foods are still being counted. On Tuesday morning, Dec 4th, Prop 37 hit 6,004,628 votes on the California Secretary of State’s website, but this tally was quickly reversed within an hour of being publicized by Food Democracy Now!
Since November 6th, the vote count in California has been updated daily until December 4th, when the vote count hit 6 million for the first time. When contacted, the Secretary of State's office stated there would be no further updates to the vote totals until Dec 14th when state law requires the election results to be certified. County elected officials only have until COB Dec 7th to submit final results so we need your help now!
At the same time, Food Democracy Now! has learned that a team of independent statisticians have detected “statistical anomalies” in the largest precincts of 9 counties, including Orange, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda and San Diego counties.
We find this news troubling and think it’s important that the Secretary of State’s office know that we are watching these developments closely and expect honest and fair election results.
Join us in standing up for open and transparent elections, it’s important that all votes be counted and any possible malfeasance is properly investigated by California election officials. Count all the ballots, be open and transparent, because we have the Right to Know! If you live in California, please call the Secretary of State's Elections Division staff at (916) 657-2166 to tell them you expect Secretary Debra Bowen to continue to update the vote count until the election is certified on Dec 14th.
Click here to download proof that Prop 37 has earned 6 million votes, share on Facebook and with your friends to demand openness and transparency in elections.
more at the linkFrom the site:
Right now the votes for Prop 37 to label genetically engineered... more
Bill Maher talking about GMO Labelling. Thank you... at last! Oh and BTW, this guy Gillespie is ignorant beyond belief on this. Bill Maher, time to have Jeffrey Smith on your show to educate about this. Independent tests have shown kidney and liver failure in mammals. Third generation infertility. That these organisms are not breaking down in the gut bacteria of animals.
That in science the precautionary principle should be used in a case like this because there is absolutely no evidence to state that GMOs are safe down the line. Which was why the FDA's own scientists had a 400 page report on the effects that was ignored to push this out on us. Scientists have also found health effects from Round Up which is sprayed on the BT crops including brain damage and abnormalities in fish and even androgynous effects.
So hell yes, we need a label on this crap. But Monsanto and now DOW, Bayer, Dupont etc. all know that this so called myth of "substantial equivalency" would be null and void if the "food" was labelled which would negate their entire scam and their profit motive. All I can say is, please, if you live in California, come November make it a point to vote yes on the ballot to label GMOs.Bill Maher talking about GMO Labelling. Thank you... at last! Oh and BTW, this guy... more
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would let states require that any food or beverage containing genetically-engineered ingredients be clearly labeled.
The Vermont Legislature earlier this year considered a bill that would have required labels on foods that contain genetically-engineered ingredients. The House Agriculture Committee heard testimony from 111 citizens and hundreds more crowded the Statehouse to show their support. Despite passing by a lopsided 9-1 vote in committee, the bill languished after Monsanto threatened to sue the state.
Similar strong-arm tactics by one of the world's leading producers of genetically-engineered foods and herbicides have been employed elsewhere by Monsanto, the multi-national company that posted $1.6 billion in profits last year. "It's no mystery why Monsanto would fight people's right to know," Sanders said "Business is booming for the chemical company. Clearly, they have a lot to protect."
The Sanders Amendment, cosponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), acknowledges that states have the authority to require the labeling of foods produced through genetic engineering or derived from organisms that have been genetically engineered.
The measure also would require the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report to Congress within two years on the percentage of food and beverages in the United States that contain genetically-engineered ingredients.
"All over this country, people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids, and this is certainly true for genetically-engineered foods," Sanders said. "I believe that when a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her child."
In the United States, Sanders said, food labels already must list more than 3,000 ingredients ranging from gluten, aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup, trans-fats or MSG, but not genetically-altered ingredients. Around the world, by contrast, 49 countries require labels on foods that contain genetically-engineered ingredients.
In the 1990s, there was consensus among scientists and doctors at the FDA that genetically-altered foods could have new and different risks such as hidden allergens, increased plant-toxin levels and the potential to hasten the spread of antibiotic-resistant disease. Those concerns are mounting. In just three days, the American Medical Association will consider resolutions calling for new studies on the impact of genetically-altered foods. The American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association already passed similar resolutions.
Sanders stressed that labeling genetically-altered foods will not increase costs to shoppers. He also disputed claims that genetically-engineered crops are better for the environment. Instead, he said, the use of Monsanto Roundup-ready soybeans engineered to withstand exposure to the herbicide Roundup has caused the spread of Roundup-resistant weeds, which now infest 10 million acres in 22 states with predictions of 40 million acres or more by mid-decade. Resistant weeds increase the use of herbicides and the use of older and more toxic herbicides.
The Sanders Amendment is about allowing states to honor the wishes of their residents and allowing consumers' to know what they're eating. "Monsanto and other major corporations should not get to decide this, the people and their elected representatives should," Sanders said.Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would... more
WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?
This video and beautiful powerful song made by Makana was done as a result of a vote in Hawaii that refused to give people the right to know about GMO. Powerful lobbyists in Washington DC representing the purveyors of monoculture and environmental contamination for their own profit used that money to corrupt those who put the interests of the few above the many. But this is not the end. We have voices. We have passion. And we have the truth on our side.
Occupying our food system now in any way we can do so be it on a street, in a garden or on a modem is essential and crucial now. There is no more time left for petty distractions. Monsanto, DOW Chemical, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta, et al have drawn the battle lines. Their goal is clear: control your seeds in order to control your life. And make no mistake, this is a war they are waging against nature itself. So please watch this video and contact those mentioned who came down once again on the side of those who care nothing about your planet, your food, or your health. Let them know they will no longer get away with putting their own interests ahead of the biodiversity of this planet. WE ARE THE MANY, THEY ARE THE FEW.
Thank you, Hawaii. MahaloWHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?
This video and beautiful powerful song made by Makana was... more
The world’s most hated corporation is at it again, this time in Vermont.
Despite overwhelming public support and support from a clear majority of Vermont’s Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes.
The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members support passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote.
Instead, they’re calling for more public hearings on April 12, in the apparent hope that they can run out the clock until the legislative session ends in early May.
What happened to the formerly staunch legislative champions of Vermont’s “right to know” bill? They lost their nerve and abandoned their principles after Monsanto representative recently threatened a public official that the biotech giant would sue Vermont if they dared to pass the bill. Several legislators have rather unconvincingly argued that the Vermont public has a “low appetite” for any bills, even very popular bills like this one, that might end up in court. Others expressed concern about Vermont being the first state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill and then having to “go it alone” against Monsanto in court.
What it really comes down to this: Elected officials are abandoning the public interest and public will in the face of corporate intimidation.
Monsanto has used lawsuits or threats of lawsuits for 20 years to force unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the public, and to intimidate farmers into buying their genetically engineered seeds and hormones. When Vermont became the first state in the nation in 1994 to require mandatory labels on milk and dairy products derived from cows injected with the controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, Monsanto’s minions sued in Federal Court and won on a judge’s decision that dairy corporations have the first amendment “right” to remain silent on whether or not they are injecting their cows with rBGH - even though rBGH has been linked to severe health damage in cows and increased cancer risk for humans, and is banned in much of the industrialized world, including Europe and Canada.
Monsanto wields tremendous influence in Washington, DC and most state capitals. The company’s stranglehold over politicians and regulatory officials is what has prompted activists in California to bypass the legislature and collect 850,000 signatures to place a citizens’ Initiative on the ballot in November 2012. The 2012 California Right to Know Act will force mandatory labeling of GMOs and to ban the routine practice of labeling GMO-tainted food as “natural.”
All of Monsanto’s fear mongering and intimidation tactics were blatantly on display in the House Agriculture Committee hearings March 15-16. During the hearings the Vermont legislature was deluged with calls, letters, and e-mails urging passage of a GMO labeling bill - more than on any other bill since the fight over Civil Unions in 1999-2000. The legislature heard from pro-labeling witnesses such as Dr. Michael Hansen, an expert on genetic engineering from the Consumers Union, who shredded industry claims that GMO’s are safe and that consumers don’t need to know if their food is contaminated with them.
More at the linkThe world’s most hated corporation is at it again, this time in Vermont.... more
The Just Label It (JLI) Campaign announced today that a record-breaking one million Americans of all political persuasions have called on the FDA to label genetically engineered (GE) foods. Today, March 27, is the date that the FDA is required to respond to the petition. It took JLI and its more than 500 partner organizations less than 180 days to accumulate a record breaking number of public comments--a testament to the power of collective voices to demand our right to know what's in our food. (I've written about the campaign before here, here, and here.)
The campaign also announced today a new national survey revealing that more than nine out of 10 Americans across the political spectrum supports labeling food that has been genetically engineered. This new infographic is a compelling visual that shares the results of the survey.
New Survey Results: Motherhood, Apple Pie and GE Food Labeling
Voter support for GE-foods labeling in the U.S. is nearly unanimous, according to the political opinion survey on GE food labeling conducted by The Mellman Group on behalf of JLI. Explained pollster Mark Mellman, "Few topics other than motherhood and apple pie can muster over 90 percent support, but labeling GE-foods is one of those few views held almost unanimously." The survey found nearly all Democrats (93% favor, 2% oppose), Independents (90% favor, 5% oppose) and Republicans (89% favor, 5% oppose) in favor of labeling. The study also revealed that support for labeling is robust and arguments against it have little sway.
In the era of pink slime, BPA in our soup and deadly melons, we have a right more than ever to know about what's in our food. The FDA needs to restore confidence in our food and our right to know about the food we eat and feed our families. It's time for the FDA to give Americans the same rights held by citizens in over 40 nations, including all of our major trade partners, to know whether our foods have been genetically modified.
Stay tuned as the campaign now works to make sure that the FDA and Washington knows that one million Americans are watching to make sure they deliver.
More at the linkThe Just Label It (JLI) Campaign announced today that a record-breaking one million... more
Positive action for positive change...
As part of the Global Day of Action to Shut Down Monsanto on Saturday, this action was co-organized by AGRA Watch/Community Alliance for Global Justice, Washington Fair Trade Coalition, Washington Biotechnology Action Council, and GMO-Free Washington. The protest was directed at the Gates Foundation for their efforts to spread Monsanto’s dangerous GMOs throughout Africa.Positive action for positive change...
As part of the Global Day of Action to Shut... more
In Only 6 Months, Already 850,000+ Public Comments To FDA In Support Of Labeling
This morning a bicameral letter signed by 55 Members of Congress was sent to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg calling on the agency to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. The bicameral, bipartisan letter led by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) was written in support of a legal petition filed by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) on behalf of the Just Label It campaign and its nearly 400 partner organizations and businesses; many health, consumer, environmental, and farming organizations, as well as food companies, are also signatories. Since CFS filed the labeling petition in October 2011, the public has submitted over 850,000 comments in support of labeling.
“Consumers are being misled about the foods they are purchasing,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “FDA’s two-decade old decision is bad policy based on outdated science and must be revoked. The American consumer deserves the same fundamental freedoms and choices of other nations’ citizens.”
In the U.S. there is overwhelming public demand—consistently near 95%—for the labeling of GE foods. The U.S. policy of not requiring GE labeling makes it a stark outlier among developed and developing nations. Nearly 50 countries have mandatory labeling policies for GE foods including South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Australia, New Zealand, the entire European Union, and many others.
In its 1992 policy statement, FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling on the basis that they were not “materially” different from other foods. However, the agency severely limited what it considered “material” by targeting only changes in food that could be recognized by taste, smell, or other senses – applying 19th century science to the regulation of 21st century food technologies. The outdated standard has no legal basis in the statute and was adopted by FDA despite a lack of scientific studies or data to support the assumption that GE foods are not materially different from conventional foods.
The Congressional letter to FDA states:
At issue is the fundamental right consumers have to make informed choices about the food they eat…The agency currently requires over 3,000 other ingredients, additives, and processes to be labeled; providing basic information doesn’t confuse the public, it empowers them to make choices. Absent labeling, Americans are unable to choose for themselves whether to purchase GE foods…. We urge you to fully review the facts, law, and science, and side with the American public by requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods as is done in nearly 50 countries throughout the world.
More at the linkIn Only 6 Months, Already 850,000+ Public Comments To FDA In Support Of Labeling... more
1. Urban farming is flourishing.
2. Young farmers make noise.
3. Local food isn't just delicious and eco-friendly.
4. Food Day makes a comeback.
5. We don't need industrial ag to feed the world.
Yes, the world's population is growing rapidly (see Grist's series "What to expect when you're expanding"), and the question of how to feed all 7 billion of us is an important one. Far too often, however, "feeding the world" has become code for farming with as many chemicals and GMO seeds as possible.
This year brought mounting evidence to the contrary, including a study published in Nature and another published in Science that say otherwise. The results of a long-term study by the Rodale Institute also proved that organic farming is just as productive as conventional, and better at building soil (this is key, since "yield" is at the heart of the "feed the world" discussion).
6. Despite the influence of the ultra-consolidated meat industry, the "ag-gag" bills went nowhere.
Early on in 2011, lawmakers in Florida, New York, Iowa, and Minnesota tried to pass so-called "ag-gag" bills that would have made it illegal to produce -- and in Minnesota to possess -- undercover videos of livestock factory farms. The bills were part of a coordinated effort by Big Ag, but the sustainable food movement organized to defeat them, and, in a rare win, succeeded.
7. Eaters are (a little) more aware of the people behind their food.
8. Food access got more attention.
Too many people around the U.S. still lack easy access to good, healthy food. Fortunately, activists and farmers made a lot of creative progress this year in helping to raise awareness and tackle the root problems.
A group of advocates from an Oakland-based organization called Live Real took to the road for the Food and Freedom Rides.
Tiny groceries made out of shipping containers: one way to increase food access.Fifty young people began working in schools, gardens, and advocacy organizations as part of the first class of Food Corps participants. We spoke with three of them.
Subsidizing farmers markets was shown to be an effective strategy for getting more healthy food into food deserts. And farmers themselves looked for creative ways to address food access, such as this give-a-dozen-buy-a-dozen program modeled after Toms Shoes.
Slow Food USA sought to show that supporting local farmers doesn't require going broke with its $5 Challenge. And a group of grad students tried out a model for small, portable grocery stores built out of shipping containers -- a potential solution for under-resourced areas without traditional grocery stores.
9. More information helps eaters make better choices.
10. The Occupy movement adds fuel to the fire.
Advocates and farmers jointed the Zuccotti Park gathering this fall, and we heard from a variety of folks who were occupying various aspects of the food system -- like one farmer who occupied the pasture.
Just as important as any march or rally, however, the activism taking place over last few months has gotten more eaters to think critically about where their food dollars are going, and to consider investing in local and sustainable food enterprises rather than Wall Street.
More at the link1. Urban farming is flourishing.
2. Young farmers make noise.
3. Local food... more
Martek Biosciences claims that its Life'sDHA and Life'sARA are non-GMO, but their patents reveal that their DHA and ARA are produced through the use of genetic engineering.
Hundreds of grocery items, including many certified "USDA Organic" infant formulas, baby foods and dairy products, contain Life'sDHA and Life'sARA.
Tell the National Organic Standards Board to Reject Martek's Petition for Life'sDHA and Life'sARA!
Take Action Now!
In 2009, a front page Washington Post article, "Integrity of Federal 'Organic' Label Questioned." explained how Martek Biosciences' synthetic DHA and ARA ended up in organic infant formula. In 2006, National Organic Program staff told Martek that its synthetic DHA and ARA couldn't be used in organic because they were synthetic and not on the National List. But, Martek's lawyer, J. Friedman, was able to get their decision reversed by NOP director Barbara Robinson, with just a call and an email. He told the Washington Post, "I called Robinson up, I wrote an e-mail. It was a simple matter."
This might be how the 1% get things done in Washington, but it sure isn't legal!
The National Organic Program is trying to remedy this situation by requiring Martek to formally ask permission to use its DHA and AHA in organic.
But Martek's products should never have even been considered for use in organic in the first place. According to patents uncovered by the Cornucopia Institute, all of Martek's DHA and ARA products are produced through genetic engineering and processed with solvents like hexane, two things that are expressly banned from USDA Organic.
The Cornucopia Institute also found documents submitted by Martek to the FDA, in which the company claimed their DHA was just like Monsanto's. A Martek representative clarified that its DHA was not developed by Monsanto, but that Monsanto did briefly own the technology before it reverted back to Martek.
Martek's patents for Life'sDHA states: "includes mutant organisms" and "recombinant organisms", (a.k.a. GMOs!) The patents explain that the oil is "extracted readily with an effective amount of solvent … a preferred solvent is hexane."
The patent for Life'sARA states: "genetically-engineering microorganisms to produce increased amounts of arachidonic acid" and "extraction with solvents such as ... hexane."
Martek has many other patents for DHA and ARA. All of them include GMOs. GMOs and volatile synthetic solvents like hexane aren't allowed in USDA Organic products and ingredients. Tragically, Martek's Life'sDHA is already in hundreds of products, many of them certified USDA Organic.
Please demand that the National Organic Standards Board reject Martek's petition, and that the USDA National Organic Program inform the company that the illegal 2006 approval is rescinded and that their GMO, hexane-extracted Life'sDHA and Life'sARA are no longer allowed in organic products.
More at the linkMartek Biosciences claims that its Life'sDHA and Life'sARA are non-GMO, but... more
If Oregon allows GM sugar beets to be deregulated, we may not stand a chance against full federal deregulation of all GM crops.
(SALEM, Ore.) - A public hearing is being held in Corvallis, Oregon this Thursday, November 17th to determine if Genetically Modified sugar beets will be deregulated in Oregon.
Meanwhile, the public comment period maybe just a local distraction giving way to full federal deregulation without any representation of organic and conventional crop farmers.
Let us not forget that the U.S House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture held a formal hearing on Genetically Modified (GM) Alfalfa on Jan 20, 2011.
The hearing corresponded with an open 30-day comment period, designed to provide relevant testimony with regard to deregulation of Genetically Modified Alfalfa.
The democratic process neglected to include a single organic or conventional farming representative. Throughout the two hour hearing various legislators publicly humiliated the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsak for even suggesting any compromise through talks with the organic and conventional communities. They all but ordered him to stand down his conversations with anyone but pro-GM enthusiasts (1:43:16).
Representatives left no seed unturned in honor of their allegiance to biotech crops and complete penetration into all foreign and domestic markets. In fact, Minnesota's Representative Collin Peterson referred to organic producers and consumers as "our opponents"(12:29).
Vilsak, even with his ties to Monsanto, was attempting negotiation with "so called Option 3" containing a minimal stop gap as an alternative to absolute contamination of organic and conventional alfalfa. In essence, planting barriers would have been implemented to maintain protective measures for the integrity of all seed varieties. Legislators blatantly mocked him and even pulled rank, saying that the Secretary of Agriculture does not have the authority to do anything but fully deregulate the crop without further ado. (35:38, 1:25:50, 1:29:15, 2:18:47)
It can be noted that Vilsak testified no less than three times that we were in the midst of the 30 day comment period, and in his opinion, the talks among all sides were providing necessary elements worthy of analysis for all agricultural markets concerned. (29:00, 1:44:00, 1:51:54)
The theme of the hearing centered around the economic burden of GM farmers if full deregulation didn’t go forth immediately (1:44:00). It was insisted by every representative that their loyalties were to the biotech community and that full deregulation was unquestionable without consideration for any form of barrier to protect other crops from cross contamination.
In regard to preservation of non GM crops, Texas Representative Michael Conaway begs the question, "how much of this is a definitional issue"? He questions organic standards and even insists that he "suspects that Genetically Engineered seeds will become the new organic". He blatantly suggests that legislative steps be considered to modify the language and thus re-define organic standards so that Genetically Modified crops can freely contaminate without restriction. He insists that it is merely a marketing issue and not an issue of health and safety. Conaway asks if we are just "hung up on the phrase organic, meaning something we grew ourselves in the backyard with whatever?"(2:33:00).
Concern was expressed by a number of speakers that GM crops are being promoted throughout the world as being no different than conventional crops, and if word got out that we established restrictive planting barriers, then it might be assumed that the GM crops were somehow different. That could put a damper on GM producers and their marketing potential. (30:45, 1:58:17, 2:18:47)
It was apparent, by the end of one sided discussion, that full deregulation and contamination remains unquestionable from the perspective of our democratic leaders. In other words, it is most notably a flagrant case of Contamination without Representation.
If Oregon allows GM sugar beets to be deregulated, we may not stand a chance against full federal deregulation of all GM crops. Public comments are being heard on Thursday from 4 PM – 9 PM at LaSells Stewart Center Construction and Engineering Hall 875 Southwest 26th St., Corvallis, Oregon.
Please see the full length video of the U.S House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture forum on GM Alfalfa, Jan 20 2011.
http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetails.aspx?NewsID=1269If Oregon allows GM sugar beets to be deregulated, we may not stand a chance against... more
Phillip Geertson has spent the last 30 years farming and raising many diversified crops, and has been a partner in alfalfa breeding programs for 25 years. Alfalfa is a perennial plant, which makes it extremely vulnerable to contamination.
When Roundup Ready (hereafter "RR") alfalfa was first suggested I did not think that it would be developed and introduced because most alfalfa fields are never sprayed for weed control. And, if a chemical weed control was needed, there is a long list of off-patent low-cost herbicides that are effective if used properly.
Alfalfa hay is usually cut on a schedule of 24 to 30 days for each crop harvest. The entire plant above ground is removed along with any weeds. This frequent cutting and removal suppresses weed growth and will control, and sometimes even eliminate, persistent perennials and noxious weeds that Roundup will not control.
When alfalfa is properly fertilized and growing in appropriate soil conditions (correct Ph, well drained, etc.), alfalfa will outgrow and choke out most weeds. When alfalfa stands become weedy, non-thrifty, and otherwise poor performing it is usually because of poor fertility, insects, water logging, or winter damage. Weeds in an alfalfa forage field are a symptom of problems and simply spraying with Roundup to kill the weeds will not correct the underlying problem that is causing poor performance. A weedy alfalfa field should be plowed out, the soil conditions corrected, and then rotated to another crop that is not a host for alfalfa diseases, insects, or nematodes so that they die away. Afterwards, a new stand of alfalfa can be replanted.
Alfalfa is often planted with a companion crop of oats or other grasses in a spring seeding. The cover crop suppresses weeds and gives some protection to young alfalfa plants. An early summer cutting of the oats and new alfalfa plants produces valuable forage for horses, feeder cattle, and young dairy cattle. This practice, however, cannot be used with the RR technology because the Roundup will kill the oats or grass cover crop.
Forage fields of alfalfa are often planted with a companion perennial grass to produce forage that is an alfalfa-grass mix that is a superior feed for all classes of livestock. The grass component in the forage helps to balance the digestive process and gives a better balance of nutrients, so fewer supplements are required in high performance livestock. A grass mix forage is the best feed for horses and the grass in a dairy cow ration is very helpful in reducing laminitis in dairy cattle. Spraying an RR alfalfa field with Roundup will kill any companion grass.
The need for RR alfalfa is very limited; it only adds one more chemical to a long list of herbicides available.
From the standpoint of a conventional (non RR) alfalfa seed grower, the main problem with the introduction of RR alfalfa is the contamination of all alfalfa with the RR gene.
Alfalfa, a long-lived perennial, is cross pollinated by bees and other insects that fly long distances. Honey bees are known to fly ten miles, and wind gusts can pick up insects that have been pollinating alfalfa blossoms and gathering pollen and move them long distances.
Alfalfa sets and produces seed best if it is cross pollinated from another plant. If the pollen from an RR alfalfa plant fertilizes the flowers on a non-RR alfalfa plant, the seed on that non RR plant will contain the RR gene, and plants that grow from that seed will be roundup resistant. The RR gene will spread throughout the entire alfalfa population and would eventually make it impossible to raise conventional seed without some RR contamination and make it nearly impossible to breed and develop new varieties of alfalfa. This is not a good thing.
Conventional alfalfa contaminated with the RR gene will become a weed in the RR soybean, cotton, and sugar beet fields that cannot be removed.
Farmers that feel the RR technology is a valuable tool should and will avoid the introduction of any plant that is RR resistant . . . including alfalfa. The demand or acceptance of any conventional seed that has even a trace of RR contamination would be compromised, because a farmer who is growing other RR crops would not want his field contaminated with RR alfalfa.
Alfalfa is a native plant of Eurasia and grows as a feral plant throughout Europe. I have pictures of it growing along the Danube River in Austria, the Alps in Switzerland, and even in the median strip in front of the Nazi rally center in Nuremburg. It was introduced into North and South America, New Zealand, and Australia and other areas of the world where it now grows as a wild feral plant.
In a natural environment, the RR gene in alfalfa doesn't give it any survival advantage. In fact, early yield trials show that alfalfas with the RR gene are poor performers. In the environment created by human activity, however, we have given RR alfalfa a survival advantage. The worldwide use of glysosphate (the active ingredient in Roundup and other generic herbicides) will give alfalfa plants with the RR gene a survival advantage over conventional alfalfa. There is no wonder that the rest of the world does not want RR alfalfa seed and have prohibited the import of any alfalfa seed contaminated with even a trace of the RR gene.
The U.S. Alfalfa seed industry was the world's major producer of alfalfa seed. Historically, the U.S. alfalfa seed industry exported more than half of the alfalfa seed produced in the United States, but 2007 was the last time the USDA reported the size of the U.S. alfalfa seed exports. Why? Export data would be very useful in determining the amount of damage that was done to the U.S. alfalfa seed industry by the release of RR alfalfa into U.S. agriculture.
Alfalfa is the first important perennial plant to be genetically engineered and introduced into the environment that is cross pollinated by insects and that grows as a wild feral plant throughout the world. Putting a foreign gene that cannot be recalled into such an important crop without thoroughly analyzing its potential negative effects is, in my opinion, criminal. If Monsanto and/or other genetic engineering companies can get away with this introduction, then you can be sure that others will follow. Hundreds of other important plants will be subject to genetic mutation and if released into the environment could change the species forever. How does the Endangered Species Act come into play here?
Why was Monsanto given the right to introduce a gene into alfalfa plants without any published studies that prove beyond any doubt that it is safe, useful, and would not cause harm?
more at the linkPhillip Geertson has spent the last 30 years farming and raising many diversified... more
Four years ago Obama stated that GMOs need to be labelled because people have the right to know what they are eating. Since then as president however, nothing has happened and this has not even been mentioned.To the contrary, nothing but Monsanto insiders have been appointed by him with Monsanto and other bio.ag companies getting preferential treatment with no regulation of their products and no consumer disclosure. With more information coming out about the health dangers of GMOS and the reality of environmental/economic effects, it is imperative that Obama speak out on this as president when it matters most.
At the link you can tell Obama that GMOs need to be labelled now. It is time to stand up to the companies that use loopholes and vague references such as "substantial equivalence" to gain profit from these unnecessary untested organisms that threaten our health and environment.
I personally want to see them banned but until we can get momentum on that, labelling is the essential first step.Four years ago Obama stated that GMOs need to be labelled because people have the... more
Consumer rights victory as US ends opposition to GM labeling guidelines
*Twenty year struggle within global food safety body ends with 'consumer rights milestone'
*Move clears way for greater monitoring of the effects of GM organisms
Consumers International (CI)i and its member organisations celebrated victory today as regulators from more than 100 countries agreed on long overdue guidance on the labelling of genetically modified (GM) food.
The Codex Alimentarius Commissionii, made up of the world's food safety regulatory agencies, has been labouring for two decades to come up with consensus guidance on this topic.
In a striking reversal of their previous position, on Tuesday, during the annual Codex summit in Geneva, the US delegation dropped its opposition to the GM labelling guidance document, allowing it to move forward and become an official Codex text.
The new Codex agreement means that any country wishing to adopt GM food labelling will no longer face the threat of a legal challenge from the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is because national measures based on Codex guidance or standards cannot be challenged as a barrier to trade.
This will have immediate implications for consumers. Edita Vilcapoma of the Peruvian consumer group ASPEC, representing Consumers International at the Codex meeting in Geneva, said:
"Peru's recent introduction of GM food labelling faced the threat of a legal challenge from the WTO. This new Codex agreement now means that this threat has gone and the consumer right to be informed has been secured. This is major victory for the global consumer movement."
The agreement also recognises the enormous health monitoring benefits of giving consumers transparent information about the presence of GM foods. Consumers International's lead delegate at Codex, and a senior scientist at Consumers Union of the United States, Dr Michael Hansen, stated:
"We are particularly pleased that the new guidance recognises that GM labelling is justified as a tool for post market monitoring. This is one of the key reasons we want all GM foods to be required to be labelled - so that if consumers eat modified foods, they will be able to know and report to regulators if they have an allergic or other adverse reaction."
The labelling milestone is particularly welcomed by CI member organisations in Africa, who have been fighting on behalf of their consumers for the right to be informed about GM food. Samuel Ochieng, President Emeritus of Consumers International and CEO of the Kenyan Consumer Information Network said:
"While the agreement falls short of the consumer movement's long-held demand for endorsement of mandatory GM food labelling, this is still a significant milestone for consumer rights. We congratulate Codex on agreeing on this guidance, which has been sought by consumers and regulators in African countries for nearly twenty years. This guidance is extremely good news for the worlds’ consumers who want to know what is in the foods on their plates".
Note to Editors
i Consumers International (CI) is the only independent global campaigning voice for consumers. With over 220 member organisations in 115 countries, we are building a powerful international consumer movement to help protect and empower consumers everywhere. For more information, visit www.consumersinternational.org
ii The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme: http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/index_en.jsp
http://foodfreedom.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/gmo-tell-us1.jpg?w=274&h=180Consumer rights victory as US ends opposition to GM labeling guidelines
At this site you will find action items and ways you can get involved with getting GMO labelling on the ballot in California in 2012. This will hopefully be the beginning of a nationwide effort to do what Europe did years ago due to citizen action. Labelling GMOs in our food will give us a choice in what we purchase and what we consume. Of course, Monsanto and the biotech lobby have their money, big guns and political connections, but we the consumer have the power of the purse and the voices to drown them out and it is time we used them.
More at the link.At this site you will find action items and ways you can get involved with getting GMO... more
Dissatisfied with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) current review of the first-ever proposed commercialization of genetically engineered (GE) salmon, late yesterday the California Assembly Health Committee approved a bill which would require that all GE fish sold in California contain clear and prominent labeling. The bill, AB 88, was introduced by Assemblymember Jared Huffman. The Center for Food Safety (CFS), a co-sponsor of the bill, applauds the Health Committee for protecting the public’s right to know how their food is produced.
“The FDA has indicated that it will not require these GE fish to be labeled once they are approved,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director of the Center for Food Safety. “As such, it is incumbent on the California State legislature, starting with the Health Committee, to let the people of California make informed choices about the food they eat by requiring the labeling of GE fish sold in California.”
Public opinion clearly and consistently calls for food labeling. Recent polls indicate that 95% of the public want labeling of genetically-modified foods, and that nearly 50% of the public would not eat seafood that has been genetically engineered. Consumers sent nearly 400,000 public comments to FDA demanding the agency reject this application and require mandatory labeling of this transgenic salmon should it decide to approve it.
The Center for Food Safety recently called on the FDA to recognize the immense public outcry for mandatory labeling of untested, unapproved transgenic salmon. CFS led a broad coalition of consumer, environmental, religious and animal welfare groups, along with commercial and recreational fisheries associations and food retailers, grocers and chefs in demanding the FDA deny approval of the long-shelved AquaBounty transgenic salmon and require mandatory labeling of the fish is approved despite intense opposition. If approved the transgenic salmon would be the first genetically engineered animal intended for human consumption.
“Until FDA completes an adequate environmental and human health review of genetically engineered salmon, it is up to individual states to protect consumers and their families,” said Spector. “California has always been a leader in environmental and food safety laws, and AB 88 continues this tradition by protecting the public from a potentially harmful food technology. More importantly, it gives consumers the right to know what they are eating and gives them a choice in the marketplace.”
Read CFS’s testimony presented at the Health Committee hearing at the link.Dissatisfied with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) current review... more
Substantial equivalence. When looking at these two words many come away with the impression that they signify fairness, safety and adequate disclosure to consumers regarding the products those words are attached to. However, regarding the marketing of transgenic foods specifically genetically modified organisms in our food that is anything but the case. I think it is crucial that consumers are aware of what is in their food and how it may affect them and their children in order for them to be able to make informed decisions about what goes into their bodies. This knowledge is essential as a preventative measure to maintaining health and also regarding informing consumers about any other effects what they buy may have on the enviroment. Therefore, in discussing substantial equivalence in regards to GMOs and the underlayer of collusion involved in pushing them into the world I think it important to begin at the beginning.
This is the standard definition of "substantial equivalence":
"Substantial equivalence is a concept developed by OECD in 1991 that maintains that a novel food should be considered the same as a conventional food if it demonstrates the same characteristics and composition as the conventional food."
This concept was pushed in regards to GMOs by the FAO and the WHO in the early 1990s. Its intent was the stripping away of years of testing of so called "novel" foods which can be prohibitively expensive and time consuming and therefore would have affected the profits of companies like Monsanto that have a virtual stranglehold on the FDA, USDA, and other regulatory agencies and governments that have afforded them special treatment in allowing them to use this planet and its species as one huge science experiment. The residual effects of applying these two words to GMOs and in allowing them to be foisted upon the world with little to no adequate testing already negates the validity of applying the substantial equivalence label to them.
This is from a paper written in 1997:
John Fagan, Ph.D., Professor of Molecular Biology, Maharishi University of Management
"The concept of substantial equivalence has been used in Europe, North America, and elsewhere around the world as the basis of regulations designed to facilitate the rapid commercialization of genetically engineered foods. For instance, European Commission (EC) regulations concerning novel foods and food ingredients apply the concept of substantial equivalence to both the safety testing and to the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Genetically engineered foods classified as substantially equivalent are spared from extensive safety testing on the assumption that they are no more dangerous than the corresponding non-genetically engineered food (1). Using similar arguments, genetically engineered foods classified as substantially equivalent are not required to be labeled as genetically engineered (2). The effect of these regulations has been to allow genetically engineered foods to enter the market place without sufficient testing to assure safety and without sufficient labeling to allow consumers to de cide for themselves whether or not to purchase and eat these novel foods. The health of the population of Europe is thus being placed at risk.
The fundamental inadequacies of this approach have been discussed previously. For instance, one article presented in the Proceedings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Workshop on Food Safety Evaluation (3), came to the following conclusions: (1) Because the concept of substantial equivalence has no dimensions, it cannot be used as a predictor of which novel foods will require substantial safety testing in animals. (2) Depending on the nature of the novel food, the usefulness of the concept of substantial equivalence in determining the necessity for extensive safety testing ranges from useful to negligible. (3) The number and range of safety tests required is best determined, not by the concept of substantial equivalence, but by the nature of the product under consideration.
At first glance the term substantially equivalent implies that two foods are equivalent in all characteristics that are of importance to the consumer-safety, nutrition, flavor, and texture. However, in actual practice the investigator compares only selected characteristics of the genetically engineered food to those of its non-genetically engineered counterpart. If that relatively restricted set of characteristics is not found to be significantly different in these two, the genetically engineered food is classified as substantially equivalent to the corresponding non-genetically engineered food and is required to be neither tested further nor labeled as genetically engineered.
The argument supporting this practice is that since most of the characteristics of a particular genetically engineered food are similar to those of its non-genetically engineered counterpart, it must be the case that the genetically engineered food is substantially equivalent to its non-genetically engineered counterpart with respect to all characteristics relevant to the consumer. This is obviously a fallacious argument, and should not be used as the basis for avoiding more extensive testing and for avoiding the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Most critically, if characteristics important to food safety are not evaluated directly, the safety of consumers will be in jeopardy."
end of excerpt.
continued at the link.
Thank you for supporting this blog and for helping me get out this important information.Substantial equivalence. When looking at these two words many come away with the... more
I have read some outrageous lame excuses, but this takes the cake. Labelling GMOs to tell consumers what they have the right to know to protect their health would violate the free speech "rights" of the corporations putting these organisms in our food without our consent. Corporations are not people!
BTW, Forbes is the same magazine that named Monsanto their company of the year a couple years ago.
Excerpt from article:
"Put aside the outrageousness of granting corporations individual rights. The Supreme Court has sadly supported that principle time and time again. What really stood out was the precedent Lammi cited: IDFA v. Amestoy -- a 1996 case which struck down a Vermont law requiring mandatory labeling of milk treated with artificial growth hormones, aka rBST.
Talk about picking a losing argument! rBST is just as controversial (even more so in the public's eyes) as GMOs. Further, rBST milk has utterly failed with consumers -- despite the best efforts of industrial producers and Monsanto, the original marketer of rBST -- 60 percent of milk is produced without it (and much of the milk that is, is processed into cheese and ice cream). Even a recent last ditch multi-state attempt by Monsanto to force Americans to drink treated milk by banning rBST labels failed. And in the course of that failure, a federal appeals court effectively undercut the very precedent Lammi cites. In doing so, the court may have offered a legal roadmap for GMO labels.
As I covered in detail at the time, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last October that rBST milk is indeed substantially different -- in fact, unhealthier -- than untreated milk, despite FDA assertions that there is no "compositional difference" between treated and untreated milk. It follows then that there is no free speech issue since consumers have a right to know about compositional differences between products.
While this does not speak directly to corporate free speech rights, it does show that the courts will step in when it perceives corporations or the government to be ignoring scientific evidence indicating risk. The current circle of love between biotech and the federal government is predicated on both of them rejecting any science that contradicts their vision of a genetically engineered (or hormonally treated) future. Thankfully, the courts refuse to drink that particular Kool-Aid -- as we already know from the recent court battles over GMO alfalfa and sugar beets where the courts recognized scientific research that the FDA does not.
In reality, the labeling of genetically engineered food is a no-brainer. 87 percent of Americans want it. Europe has it -- and the world has not ended. The fact that the best the pro-GMO set can muster are warmed over half-truths and outdated court cases should be a powerful indicator that these guys, though with all the power on their side, are simply on the wrong side of history. And perhaps, with writers like Mark Bittman introducing these issues to millions of people, we'll start to see even that power shift."I have read some outrageous lame excuses, but this takes the cake. Labelling GMOs to... more