FDA Proposed New Labels
On February 27, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a media blitz to tout the FDA’s proposed new rules for nutrition labels on packaged foods. Both the FDA and Mrs. Obama trumpeted the changes, the first in 20 years and 10 years in the making, as being designed to help consumers “make healthy food choices for their kids.”
The label that consumers in nearly 60 other countries have but Americans don’t; label that tells us whether or not our food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Under the proposed new rules, food manufacturers will be required to list more realistic (as in larger) serving sizes, and display the calorie count in large, bold type. The new labels will also provide a more detailed breakdown of the types of sugar contained in products. And instead of listing vitamins A and C, new labels will list vitamin D and potassium, because, the FDA said, it has evidence that “people are not consuming enough of these nutrients to protect against chronic diseases.”
What consumers really want to know is whether or not their food has been genetically engineered. And anyone who’s paying attention knows that this issue-labeling of GMOs has for the past two-and-a-half years dominated the public discourse around food policy and labeling.
No one disputes the fact that in order to grow GMO crops, farmers are required to use a stunning array of increasingly toxic pesticides and herbicides. And they must use them in increasing amounts, as weeds and pests build up tolerances.Scientists have sounded the alarm that these chemicals pose a serious threat to our kids. In addition to counting calories, shouldn’t we be counting the chemicals our kids are ingesting? Or at the least, shouldn’t food companies be required to tell us if the foods we’re eating were produced from GMO crops drenched in pesticides and herbicides?
Polls reveal that 80-93 percent of Americans want GMOs labeled. Congress, the FDA and the Obama Administration refuse to respond. Meanwhile industry spends millions to deprive consumers of this basic information.
Sale Of GMO Corn Seed Halted In Canada
What happens when more people hear about the damaging effects of GMO? You run out of a viable market for your goods. That’s what is happening to Agro-giant, Syngenta, who halted its commercial salesof a new GMO corn strain due to lack of approval for their genetically modified goods.
The company has already been accused of wire tapping a prominent scientist who let the world know just how bad one of their widely-used chemicals, atrazine, was for the endocrine system. Apparently even stalking an honest researcher isn’t enough to prevent a black-listing of their own genetically modified corn containing the Agrisure Duracade trait, which supposedly protects crops from rootworms.
This corn was to be ready for planting the first time this year, but now without overseas importer’s OK – including Japan, Mexico and South Korea – Syngenta is left holding their proprietary seeds themselves. Syngenta’s corn has also not been approved for two larger markets it was hoping to woo, China or the European Union.
“While the vast majority of the Canadian corn crop is typically directed to domestic markets in North America. . . we want to ensure the acceptance of any trait technology grown in Canada meets end-market destination requirements,” says Syngenta in a statement.
“The commercialization of Duracade could ‘further contaminate, slow down, gum up’ shipments of U.S. corn to China”, Rich Feltes, vice president of research for commodity brokerage R.J. O’Brien, said in a recent interview.
Corn containing the Duracade trait meant for Canada will be returned to sender, and exporters as well as farmers are relieved since they feared an unapproved trait could disrupt Canada’s grain supply trade. One of Canada’s biggest grain company Vice Presidents, Peter Entz, at Richardson International Ltd is elated to hear that Syngenta won’t sell Duracade corn in his country. He ships large volumes of corn to other countries, including the EU, where many GMO bans are being implemented, and Duracade corn is currently not authorized.
U.S. farmers are still at risk, however, since China or Europe could refuse shipments of corn that have traces of the Duracade corn, especially since different varieties of corn are harvested, transported, and stored together.
Sadly, farmers in Canada who were desirous of planting Syngenta’s new corn will instead plant other Sygenta seeds instead of opting for non-GMO alternatives. You would think that this one trade issue would speak to the farmers’ bottom line and encourage them to abandon GMO farming, but instead they just look to other genetically modified suicide seed.
Chinese authorities have already rejected more than 887,000 tonnes of U.S. corn and corn products containing another unauthorized genetically modified Syngenta corn trait, Agrisure Viptera – MIR 162, which is still unapproved in the country.
In 2007, on the campaign trail in Iowa, then-Senator Barack Obama told supporters, “We’ll let folks know if their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they’re buying.”
He has not honored that campaign promise.
On Saturday, France’s agriculture ministry temporarily banned the sale, use and cultivation of Monsanto’s MON 810 genetically engineered (GE) corn—the only variety that had been authorized in the European Union (EU).
The French government, which argues GE crops present environmental risks, kept pushing to institute the new ban even after the country’s highest court struck down similar measures in the past, according to Reuters.
“France’s reinstatement of its previous ban of Monsanto’s controversial genetically engineered crop … is another encouraging sign that the biotech industry’s iron grip on foreign government’s is slipping and that resistance to these flawed products is continuing to take hold,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!.
The decision was strategically timed to block the seasonal planting of Monsanto’s corn by French farmers before a draft law is debated on April 10, which is aimed at banning the cultivation of foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
“The sale, use and cultivation of varieties of [Monsanto’s corn seed] … is banned in the country until the adoption, on the one hand, of a final decision, and secondly, of European Union community action,” a French decree stated.
The annual planting of corn in France typically gets under way in the second half of March.
The current Socialist government, like its conservative predecessor, has repeatedly opposed the growing of GMO crops in light of public suspicion and widespread protests from environmental groups.
Ongoing differences between EU countries resurfaced in February when they failed to agree on whether to approve another type of GE corn (developed by DuPont and Dow Chemical), leaving the possibility open for the EU Commission to approve its cultivation.
France is trying to gain support to overhaul the EU rules.
“As more nations reject Monsanto’s dangerous technology, the U.S. government is finding itself increasingly alone in failing to protect cropland and farmers here,” said Michele Simon, JD, MPH, president of Eat Drink Politics. ”The U.S. should follow France’s lead in placing people over profits.”
“The risks and effects of GMO contamination have unfairly burdened organic and non-GMO farmers with extra work, longer hours and financial insecurity,” according to research done by watchdog group Food & Water Watch in conjunction with the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM)
As quoted in a summary of the survey of 1,500 farmers across 17 primarily Midwestern states, the findings include:
- Nearly half of respondents are skeptical that GMO and non-GMO crop production can coexist.
- Over two-thirds do not think good stewardship alone is enough to protect organic and non-GMO farmers from contamination.
- Five out of six responding farmers are concerned about GMO contamination impacting their farm, with 60 percent saying they are extremely concerned.
- One out of three responding farmers have dealt with GMO contamination on their farm. Of those contaminated farmers, over half have been rejected by their buyers for that reason. They reported a median cost of a rejected semi load (approximately 1,000 bushels) of $4,500.
As one farmer wrote in response: “Monsanto and allies are spending millions buying votes to vote against GMO labeling in the stores! They should pay for insurance for GMO contamination on organic land. All the big boys care about is their bottom line. They have to be held accountable if their [GMO seed] contaminates my crop!”
Contamination can occur through one of two ways: Gene flow is a result of cross-pollination, which is driven by wind or pollinators’ dispersal of GMO seeds; and the co-mingling of GMO seeds can occur through handling, transport, storage or processing.
Sources: http://naturalsociety.com/syngenta-halts-gmo-corn-seed-sales-canada-due-importer-resistance/ , http://rinf.com/alt-news/latest-news/evil-monsanto-gmo-corn-banned-temporarily/ , http://rinf.com/alt-news/latest-news/new-fda-rules-ignore-gmo-elephant-room/ ,