To get real science about GMOs, you have to consult scientists who aren’t shills for the biotech industry, and several new studies have proven beyond a doubt that genetically modified foods are far different from their non-GMO counterparts. This is an important time for research like this to be presented to the public since thus far, biotech companies have been relying upon the ‘substantial equivalence rule’ to get approval for their poison crops through government regulatory agencies.
Substantial equivalence related to GMOs means that governments look at genetically modified organisms in comparison to their non-genetically manipulated brethren to determine if they should be given authorization for release. It was introduced in 1993 by the Organization for Economic Development (an international economic and trade organization, not a health organization with qualified individuals).
Substantial equivalence is not only used by our own U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but also the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization (WTO), and the OECD. Essentially it says that if a GMO seems about the same as a non-GMO food, then it is ‘safe’ for planting.
Additionally, substantial equivalence takes into account that some non GMO foods can contain toxic components just like GMO foods, and can still be consumed without harm to human health. For example, green-skinned potatoes contain solanine which will make the potato taste bitter, and, when consumed in large amounts, can be lethal.
The latest scientific findings; however, prove that GMOs are not equivalent at all to non-GMO, according to the Permaculture Research Institute. The Institute and others believe this is a faulty concept that allows biotech companies, like Dow and Monsanto, to ignore regulatory requirements that apply to many other food products – from processed chips and cookies to pharmaceuticals, food additives, and even pesticides. All of these things currently require a wide array of toxicological tests to determine if they are truly safe for human consumption (sometimes ignoring if they are good for the environment, though.)
It isn’t as if our regulatory bodies can be trusted to approve or deny certain foods or drugs anyhow, considering the FDA has given its stamp of approval to numerous painkillers and anti-depressants that cause suicide, while our federal government still bans Cannabis even though it can treat more than 30 diseases. But the rules, as they stand, are very loose, and subject to interpretation so that just about all GMOs can be approved with little due process.
In an Institute post, Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji wrote:
“In practice, the principle allows the comparison of a GM line to any existing variety within the same species, and even to an abstract entity made up of ingredients from a collection of species. This means that a GM variety can have all the worst traits of many different varieties and still be deemed substantially equivalent.”
Permaculture Research Institute reports on one study which shows how this process is inadequate and very misleading. An Egyptian publication led by Professor El-Sayed Shaltout at Alexandria University, proved that one of Monsanto’s strains of genetically modified corn was substantially non-equivalent and toxic when compared to non-GMO corn varieties.
Yet another study from the Norwegian Centre for Biosafety, led by Thomas Bøhn, tested GMO and non-GMO soybeans and found they were significantly different on multiple counts.
“Profiling technologies … allow the simultaneous measurement and comparison of thousands of plant components, in this case proteins, without prior knowledge of their identity. These methods are now being employed by independent scientists to provide a more thorough, unbiased and global profile of GM crop composition for risk assessment.”
With findings like these, there should be a substantial overhauling of our regulatory bodies – staring with ousting the ‘experts’ who told us GMO were safe.
China, Russia, Vermont REJECT GMOs
China’s rejections of a banned variety of genetically modified U.S. corn have cost the U.S. agriculture industry up to $2.9 billion, a grain group said on Wednesday in the first estimate on losses from the trade disruptions.
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) estimated in a report that rejections of shipments containing Syngenta AG’s Agrisure Viptera corn resulted in losses of at least $1 billion, based on an economic analysis that included data supplied by top global grain exporters.
China, the world’s third-biggest corn buyer, in November began rejecting corn containing Viptera, known as MIR 162, after previously accepting the grain. The variety, which has been cleared by the United States and other importers, has been awaiting approval by Beijing for four years.
“It obviously is a significant cost when you add up the producer losses and the cost to exporters and others in the value chain,” NGFA President Randy Gordon said about the rejections in a telephone interview.
The NGFA and North America Export Grain Association unsuccessfully lobbied Syngenta to halt sales of corn seed containing MIR 162 and another unapproved variety called Agrisure Duracade.
Syngenta did not immediately respond to questions about NGFA’s estimates.
Since mid-November, China has turned away 1.45 million metric tons of U.S. corn because of the presence of MIR 162, topping a Chinese government estimate of 908,800 tons, according to NGFA. The corn was diverted to other buyers, who “almost assuredly would have negotiated a discount,” the report said.
Costs to U.S. corn exporters like Cargill Inc and Archer Daniels Midland Co total an estimated $225 million, not the estimated $427 million reported last week by the Wall Street Journal, according to NGFA. [ID:nL6N0N32PA]
Cargill, the top exporter of U.S. grains, last week said rejections of U.S. corn shipments by China contributed to a 28 percent drop in earnings for the quarter ended February 28.
The rejections have depressed U.S. corn prices by an estimated 11 cents per bushel, accounting for projected losses of $1.14 billion for U.S. corn farmers for the last nine months of the marketing year that ends on August 31, according to NGFA. It is unknown whether China will approve the trait before the marketing year ends.
Karl Setzer, grain solutions team leader for MaxYield Cooperative in Iowa, said he had heard estimates that China’s rejections had reduced U.S. corn prices by 10 cents to 20 cents per bushel. He expects more shipments to be turned away because China has an ample supply of corn.
“How do you put a dollar figure on it?” he said. “I expect everything they have with us to be washed out.”
Potential losses from trade disruptions for the next marketing year, which begins on September 1, could range from $1.2 billion to $3.4 billion due to the introduction of Agrisure Duracade into the supply chain, according to NGFA. Duracade will be planted in the United States for the first time this spring.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that Russia will not import any more GMO food products or seeds.
The Russian government has taken a bold stand against genetically altered food ingredients, believing there is no need for them in their country. Medvedev also declared that Russia has “enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” and they will no longer be encouraging the production of GMOs.
He commented, “If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that.”
Russian Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fydorov agrees, saying that Russia should remain free of genetically modified products to prevent its citizens from being poisoned.
The importation ban, issued with the consent of the Russian parliament, was initiated in late February. As the orders trickle down, a widespread monitoring effort will be placed over the Russian agricultural sector. Imports will be heavily inspected to assure that GMOs aren’t entering the country. This new all-out ban strengthens very restrictive policies already put in place. Current Russian law requires producers to label any product containing GMOs in excess of 0.9 percent of the product.
GMOs to remain banned until a standard of control is established proving human health safety
Awareness of GMOs in the food supply is growing. In late 2013, Russia created a Unified State Register that documents various genetically modified plants. The realization that they are untested for their effects on human health and the environment is making many concerned around the globe.
Furthermore, labeling GMOs is always a shadowy issue; the biotech industry likes to keep people in the dark, as not to raise suspicion. Scientific studies like the Seralini study may show the dangers that GMOs pose to animals (inciting tumors) but these studies are often swept under the rug and discredited by the biotech industry and propagandists.
However, Russia’s State Duma’s Agriculture Committee has suggested that GMOs remain banned until scientists establish a working system of control to establish the effects of GMOs on human health and the environment. With no standards of safety to go by, GMOs are pushed into agriculture as experimental science. Breeding, growing and cross-pollinating these genetic alterations into the natural world changes animals, plants, and microorganisms in startling ways. There are no controls to observe the long-term effects. Russia, though, is putting their foot down as a nation, prohibiting GMOs until safety controls are established and proven.
Irina Ermakova, the Vice President of Russia’s National Association for Genetic Safety, stated that it’s necessary to ban GMOs, taking the advice of prominent Russian scientists who declared that a moratorium should be imposed on GMOs for at least ten years.
Ermakova stated, “While GMOs will be prohibited, we can plan experiments, tests, or maybe even new methods of research could be developed. It has been proven that not only in Russia, but also in many other countries in the world, GMOs are dangerous. Methods of obtaining the GMOs are not perfect, therefore, at this stage, all GMOs are dangerous. Consumption and use of GMOs obtained in such way can lead to tumors, cancers and obesity among animals. Bio-technologies certainly should be developed, but GMOs should be stopped. We should stop it from spreading.”
Vermont could become the first state in the US to enact a GMO labelling law.
Vermont Senate votes 26-2 for GMO labeling
Vermont one step closer to becoming first state to enact such a law
Burlington Free Press, Apr. 15, 2014
The Senate gave a decisive 26-2 vote Tuesday for a bill that would require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, a strong indication that Vermont could become the first state in the nation to enact such a law.
“We are saying people have a right to know what’s in their food,” said Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor.
Campbell and other supporters argued that they believe they have written a bill that is legally defensible. They nonetheless created a fund in the legislation to help pay the state’s legal bills, as many assume that food manufacturers will sue.
The bill would require food sold in Vermont stores that contain genetically modified ingredients to be labeled starting July 2016. The legislation is up for another vote in the Senate Wednesday before it goes back to the House, which passed a slightly different version last year. Gov. Peter Shumlin has indicated he’s likely to sign the bill.
Two other states — Connecticut and Maine — have passed labeling laws, but both delayed implementation until neighboring states join them, a strategy designed to insulate them from being sued. Voters in Washington and California defeated labeling measures there.
Supporters said they hoped Vermont would lead the way on the issue. “Vermont’s always first,” said Will Allen, an organic farmer from Fairlee, citing the state’s ban on slavery, passage of civil unions and same-sex marriage as other firsts.
Many foods, including an estimated 88 percent of the corn crop in the United States, contain ingredients that have plants or animals that were genetically modified, typically to increase disease resistance or extend shelf life. Opponents argue that the process may be harmful to humans. Supporters contend there is no evidence of that. Sixty countries, including the European Union, require labeling.
Sen. David Zuckerman, P/D-Chittenden, noted as he introduced the bill on the Senate floor Tuesday that questions remain about the safety of the genetically modified foods because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relies on testing done by the food producers rather than independent sources.
Sens. Peg Flory, R-Rutland, and Norm McAllister, R-Franklin, were the only votes of dissent Tuesday.
Flory, a lawyer, noted that Attorney General Bill Sorrell has said the state is likely to be sued. Senate Judiciary Committe Chairman Richard Sears, D-Bennington, conceded under questioning from Flory that if Vermont loses the case, as it did with a similar law that sought to require labeling of milk containing bovine growth hormones, the legal bills are estimated to be as high as $8 million.
McAllister, a farmer, argued that labeling will do nothing but mislead consumers into believing there must be something bad about GMOs, which he believes is untrue. “This labeling bill will not tell them anything other than ‘GMO something’,” McAllister said. “This does not educate them about what they’re eating. The nutritional value is exactly the same.”
Some senators who had been skeptical of GMO labeling said they were persuaded that their constituents want the information clarified on the food they buy. Senators said they were flooded with emails and calls from people urging them to pass the bill.
Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, said he came to view labeling of GMOs as akin to the label that tells him how many carbohydrates are in a bottle of tea. That label gives him information without declaring that carbohydrates are evil, he said. “I know what carbohydrates can do to my body,” he said. “Some people in this room that’s exactly how they feel about GMOs.”
Under the bill, Benning said, the wording declaring that a product contains GMOs could be as small as the carbohydrate listing typically found on food packages.
Sen. Bobby Starr, D-Essex/Orleans, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he, too, had been unenthusiastic about GMO labeling, but at every public meeting he heard from Vermonters who wanted a labeling law. “Lo and behold, GMOs would float to the top of the debate within those meetings,” he said.
After 20 years of battling Monsanto and corporate agribusiness, food and farm activists in Vermont, backed by a growing Movement across the country, are on the verge of a monumental victory – mandatory labels on genetically engineered foods and a ban on the routine industry practice of labeling GMO-tainted foods as “natural.”
The legislation, which requires all GMO foods sold in Vermont to be labeled by July 1, 2016, will now pass through a House/Senate conference committee before landing on Governor Peter Shumlin’s desk, for final approval.
Strictly speaking, Vermont’s H.112 applies only to Vermont. But it will have the same impact on the marketplace as a federal law. Because national food and beverage companies and supermarkets will not likely risk the ire of their customers by admitting that many of the foods and brands they are selling in Vermont are genetically engineered, and deceptively labeled as “natural” or “all natural”; while simultaneously trying to conceal this fact in the other 49 states and North American markets. As a seed executive for Monsanto admitted 20 years ago, “If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”
Proof of this “skull and crossbones” effect is evident in the European Union, where mandatory labeling, in effect since 1997, has all but driven genetically engineered foods and crops off the market. The only significant remaining GMOs in Europe today are imported grains (corn, soy, canola, cotton seed) primarily from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. These grains are used for animal feed, hidden from public view by the fact that meat, dairy and eggs derived from animals fed GMOs do not yet have to be labeled in the EU.
Given the imminent passage of the Vermont legislation and the growing strength of America’s anti-GMO and pro-organic Movement, the Gene Giants – Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, BASF, and Syngenta – and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), representing Big Food, find themselves in a difficult position. Early polls indicate that Oregon voters will likely pass a ballot initiative on Nov. 4, 2014, to require mandatory labeling of GMOs in Oregon. Meanwhile, momentum for labeling continues to gather speed in other states as well.
Connecticut and Maine have already passed GMO labeling laws, but these laws contain “trigger” clauses, which prevent them from going into effect until other states mandate labeling as well. Vermont’s law does not contain a “trigger” clause. As soon as the governor signs it, it will have the force of law.
Divisions Between Big Food and the Gene Giants
Given what appears to be the inevitable victory of the consumer Right-to-know Movement, some of the U.S.’s largest food companies have quietly begun distancing themselves from Monsanto and the genetic engineering lobby. General Mills, Post Foods, Chipotle, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and others have begun to make changes in their supply chains in order to eliminate GMOs in some or all of their products. Several hundred companies have enrolled in the Non-GMO Project so they can credibly market their products as GMO-free.
At least 30 members (10 percent of the total membership) of the GMA who contributed money to defeat Proposition 37 in California in November 2012, have held back on making further contributions to stop labeling initiatives in other states. Among the apparent defectors in the GMA ranks are: Mars, Unilever, Smithfield, Heinz, Sara Lee, Dole, Wrigley, and Mead Johnson. Under pressure from the Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Anthony Weil’s natural health and supplements company, Weil Lifestyle, pulled out of the GMA.
Meanwhile a number of the Gene Giants themselves, including Monsanto, appear to be slowly decreasing www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_29203.cfm their investments in gene-spliced GMOs, while increasing their investments in more traditional, and less controversial, cross-breeding and hybrid seed sales. Still, don’t expect the Gene Giants to give up on the GMO seeds and crops already in production, especially Roundup Ready and Bt-spliced crops, nor those in the pipeline such as 2,4-D “Agent Orange” and Dicamba-resistant corn and soybeans, GE rice, and “RNA interference” crops such as non-browning apples, and fast-growing genetically engineered trees.
America’s giant food companies and their chemical industry allies understand the threat posed by truthful labeling of GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, growth promoters and toxic chemicals. They understand full well that the GMO monocrops and factory farms that dominate U.S. agriculture not only pose serious health and environmental hazards, but represent a significant public relations liability as well.
This is why the food and GE giants are threatening to sue Vermont and any other state that dares to pass a GMO labeling bill, even though industry lawyers have no doubt informed http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_29137.cfm them that they are unlikely to win in federal court.
This is also why corporate agribusiness is supporting “Ag Gag” state laws making it a crime to photograph or film on factory farms. Why they’re lobbying for state laws that take away the rights of counties and local communities to regulate agricultural practices. And why they’re supporting secret international trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that will, among other provisions, enable multinational corporations to sue and eliminate state and local laws on matters such as GMOs, food safety, and country of origin labeling.
The bottom line is this: Corporate America’s current “business-as-usual” strategies are incompatible with consumers’ right to know, and communities’ and states’ rights to legislate.
Coca-Cola, Pepsi, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Campbell’s, Safeway, Del Monte, Nestle, Unilever, ConAgra, Wal-Mart, and every food manufacturer with GMO-tainted brands, understand they’re not going to be able to label their products as “produced with genetic engineering,” or drop the use of the term “natural” on GMO-tainted products, only in Vermont, while refusing to do so in other states and international markets. This is why their powerful front group, the GMA, is frantically working http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/gmo-labeling-bill-101853.html in Washington, D.C. to lobby the FDA and the Congress to take away the right of states to require genetically engineered foods and food ingredients to be labeled, and to allow them to continue to label and advertise genetically engineered and chemically-laced foods as “natural” or “all natural.”
Industry’s Last Chance: Indentured Politicians
Conspiring with the GMA, Monsanto’s minions from both the Republican and Democratic parties in Congress, led by the notorious Koch brothers mouthpiece, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), introduced http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_29652.cfm in early April in the House a GMA-scripted bill to outlaw mandatory state GMO labels and allow the continued use of “natural” or “all natural” product labels on a wide range of Frankenfoods and beverages.
The GMA’s federal offensive to prop up the dangerous and evermore unpopular technology of transgenic foods comes on the heels of two high-profile ballot initiative battles in California (2012), and Washington State (2013), where GMA members were forced to spend almost $70 million to narrowly defeat GMO labeling forces. The 15 largest contributors to stop GMO labeling in California and Washington include the following GMA members:
(1) Monsanto: $13,487,350
(2) Dupont: $9,280,159
(3) Pepsico: $4,837,966
(4) Coca-Cola: $3,210,851
(5) Nestle: $2,989,806
(6) Bayer CropScience: $2,591,654
(7) Dow Agrosciences: $2,591,654
(8) BASF Plant Science: $2,500,000
(9) Kraft Foods (now in part Mondolez International) $2,391,835
(10) General Mills: $2,099,570
(11) ConAgra Foods: $2,004,951
(12) Syngenta: $2,000,000
(13) Kellogg’s: $1,112,749
(14) Campbell Soup: $982,888
(15) Smucker Company: $904,977
The Fire Next Time
These “dirty tricks,” “dirty money” ballot initiative victories in California and Washington now ring hollow. If Congress or the FDA, prompted by these same companies, dare to stomp on states’ rights to require GMO labels on GMO food, if they dare to repress the rights of millions of consumers to know whether or not their food is genetically engineered, they run the very real risk of detonating an even larger and more vociferous grassroots rebellion, including massive boycotts and a concerted effort to throw “Monsanto’s Minions” out of Congress. The widespread furor last year over the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” surreptitiously appended to the Appropriations Bill, and then, after massive uproar, subsequently removed, is but a partial foreshadowing of the turmoil yet to come.
Likewise Congress or the FDA should think twice before legally sanctioning the patently outrageous practice of allowing companies to continue to label or advertise GMO or chemically tainted food as “natural” or “all natural.”
Given the fact that 80-90 percent of American consumers want genetically engineered foods to be labeled, as indicated by numerous polls over the last 10 years, and given the fact that it is obviously unethical and fraudulent to label or advertise GMO or heavily chemically processed foods as “natural,” even the FDA has so far declined to come to the rescue of Monsanto and Big Food. In the face of 65 so far largely successful national class-action lawsuits against food companies accused of fraudulently labeling their GMO or chemically-laced brands as “natural, “Big Food’s lawyers have asked the FDA to come to their aid. But so far, the FDA has declined to throw gasoline on the fire.
It’s clear why “profit at any cost” big business wants to keep consumers in the dark. They want to maximize their profits. The consumer, the environment, the climate be damned. But let’s review, for the record, why truthful food labeling is so important to us, the overwhelming majority of the people, and to future generations.
Here are three major, indeed life-or-death, issues that drive America’s new anti-GMO and pro-organic food Movement:
(1) There is mounting, and indeed alarming, scientific evidence http://earthopensource.org/index.php/executive-summary that genetically engineered foods and crops, and the toxic pesticides, chemicals, and genetic constructs that accompany them, are hazardous. GMOs pose a mortal threat, not only to human and animal health, but also to the environment, biodiversity, the survival of small-scale family farms, and climate stability.
(2) Genetically engineered crops are the technological cornerstone and ideological rationale for our dominant, out-of-control system of industrial agriculture, factory farms, and highly processed junk food. America’s industrial food and farming system is literally destroying public health, the environment, soil fertility and climate stability. As we educate, boycott and mobilize, as we label and drive GMOs off the market, we simultaneously rip the mask off Big Food and chemical corporations, which will ultimately undermine industrial agriculture and speed up the “Great Transition” to a food and farming system that is organic, sustainable and climate stabilizing.
(3) Fraudulent “natural” labels confuse consumers and hold back the growth of true organic alternatives. Consumers are confused about the difference between conventional products marketed as “natural,” or “all natural”and those nutritionally and environmentally superior products that are “certified organic.” Recent polls indicate that many health and green-minded consumers remain confused about the qualitative difference between products labeled or advertised as “natural,” versus those labeled as organic. Many believe that “natural” means “almost organic,” or that a natural product is even better than organic. Thanks to growing consumer awareness, and four decades of hard work, the organic community has built up a $35-billion “certified organic” food and products sector that prohibits the use of genetic engineering, irradiation, toxic pesticides, sewage sludge and chemical fertilizers. As impressive as this $35-billion Organic Alternative is, it remains overshadowed by the $80 billion in annual spending by consumers on products marketed as “natural.” Get rid of fraudulent “natural” labels on GMO and chemically tainted products, and organic sales will skyrocket.
With the passage of the Vermont GMO labeling law, after 20 years of struggle, it’s time to celebrate our common victory. But as we all know, the battle for a new food and farming system, and a sustainable future has just begun.
In 2008 the Brazilian food safety agency began re-assessing the herbicide glyphosate for safety. It still hasn’t finished. Now the Federal Public Prosecutor (MPF), impatient with the delay, has filed a lawsuit to make the agency speed up its work.
In 2008, ANVISA acknowledged that there was evidence that glyphosate, which has been sold in the country since the late 1970s, is potentially harmful to health and the environment. ANVISA said glyphosate would need to pass new safety tests in order to remain on the market. Otherwise, its sale could be banned or restricted in Brazil.
The re-evaluation process involves not only ANVISA, but also the Ministry of Agriculture and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA).
The Public Prosecutor has now requested that a deadline be set for the evaluation of glyphosate and eight other pesticide active ingredients that have come under ANVISA’s suspicion. In addition, the Prosecutor seeks the suspension of sales of these products by the end of this process.
Unlike Europe’s food safety agency EFSA, which appeared content to delay implementing rules to protect people from pesticide mixtures for eight years amid accusations of industry influence (http://www.pan-europe.info/News/PR/140204.html), it seems ANVISA is genuinely trying to do the right thing by the public. It was, after all, ANVISA that first blew the whistle on glyphosate’s dangers. But the agency is being foiled at every turn by industry interference.
Pesticide manufacturers and industry associations have filed lawsuits to try to block the re-evaluation process. Monsanto owns half the world market share for glyphosate, the main active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. It was first released in 1974 in Malaysia and the UK. In 1978, the product was allowed to be sold in Brazil and since 1984, it has been manufactured in the country. Other companies such as Syngenta, BASF, Bayer and Dow also sell glyphosate herbicides.
Another factor that is holding things up is reportedly that ANVISA is overstretched and under-resourced.
Commenting on the above story, a Brazilian source told GMWatch:
“It’s well-known in Brazil that agrochemical companies use the courts to delay or block any move by ANVISA to investigate an agrochemical. In the past employees of that agency have stated that there’s enormous pressure from the Ministry of Agriculture and Casa Civil [the President’s office] to allow lethal agrochemicals to continue to be sold in Brazil.
“In fact, there’s one particular agrochemical (emamectin benzoate) which the Ministry of Agriculture authorized last year for import, in spite of ANVISA’s objection that it causes neurological problems. It was an agrochemical to be used on GM cotton crops in several states where Bt is not working any more. The Ministry of Agriculture in some situations can even override an ANVISA decision.”
The [Brazilian] Federal Public Prosecutor has requested the Justice Dept to suspend the use of glyphosate – the most widely used herbicide in Brazil. In addition, the prosecutor wants to challenge 2,4-D and the active ingredients methyl parathion, lactofem, phorate, carbofuran, abamectin, tiram and paraquat.
Two actions have been filed. “The first measure seeks to compel the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) to reevaluate the toxicity of eight active ingredients suspected of causing damage to human health and the environment. On another front, the agency questions the registration of pesticides containing 2,4-D herbicide, applied to combat broadleaf weeds,” explains the prosecutor on his website.
The two actions request a preliminary injunction whereby the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) would suspend the registration of the products until a final conclusion about their toxicity is reached by ANVISA.
In the civil lawsuit contesting the registration of the herbicide 2,4-D, the prosecutor asks that the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio) is prohibited from releasing the commercialization of transgenic seeds resistant to these herbicides pending a final position by ANVISA.
* Ministers are trying to cover up secret briefings with GM companies
* Owen Paterson has refused FOI request to supply details about talks
* Has encouraged public to accept GM crops being sold in supermarkets
* Has also been lobbying EU to let Britain grow crops banned elsewhere
* He is working in partnership with Agricultural Biotechnology Council
Ministers are trying to cover up secret briefings with GM companies hoping to push “Frankenfood” on to dinner tables.
Owen Paterson has refused a Freedom of Information Act request to supply details about talks with the GM industry trade body.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary has led the charge to encourage a sceptical public to accept genetically modified crops being grown on UK farms and sold in supermarkets.
He has also been lobbying the EU to let Britain grow crops such as GM maize even if they are banned in other countries.
It has emerged that these efforts are being carried out in partnership with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, which is financed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bayer CropScience.
The revelations come weeks after it was revealed that a group of scientists behind an official government study backing GM all had links to the industry.
Now there is evidence of meetings and briefings involving ministers and the ABC and its industry backers. There have been no such meetings with groups worried about the impact of GM on human health and the countryside.
The campaign group GeneWatch UK made a Freedom of Information request to find out what was said at the briefings, but Mr Paterson’s department has refused to give details.
The group has lodged a formal complaint with the Information Commissioner in the hope that ministers will be forced to admit how GM companies are driving government policy.
GeneWatch director Dr Helen Wallace said: “The evidence strongly suggests the Government is colluding with the GM industry to manipulate the media, undermine access to GM-free-fed meat and dairy products and plot the return of GM crops to Britain.
“The public have a right to know what is going on behind closed doors.”
Dr Wallace added: “Ministers who should be protecting our environment have put Monsanto and Syngenta in the driving seat of policy on GM crops and foods, despite growing evidence that the GM crops… will harm British wildlife such as butterflies.”
Defra has refused to provide details of a telephone conference between the department and the ABC on June 10 last year.
Ten days later, Mr Paterson made a speech calling for opposition to be dropped and claiming GM crops and food were “probably safer” than the conventional equivalent.
The ministry has also refused to release a “message on media suggestions” sent by the ABC to Defra last April, or details of discussions between Monsanto and Defra two months before.
Tesco, Marks & Spencer, the Co-op, and Sainsbury’s later decided to end bans on using GM feed for chickens.
Defra has also refused to provide details of a meeting and emails between former environment minister David Heath and the ABC in January last year.
Defra said: “We provided as much information as possible in response to GeneWatch’s request. Any information withheld was within the legislation.”
ABC deputy chairman Dr Tom Lyall said: “We have regular dialogue with a range of stakeholders, including policy makers.”
Genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton produced by Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), a collaborator with international biotech kingpin Monsanto, has officially been banned from the Indian state of Karnataka, a major cotton-producing region of India, after the heavily hyped transgenic crop failed to deliver on both pest resistance and yields.
Hailed by Mahyco as the answer to higher yields and improved pest resistance, the crop turned out to be a complete dud, leading to about 54,000 hectares’, or around 133,000 acres’, worth of failed cotton crops. For the farmers who planted all this fake cotton, this translates into a financial loss of 230 crore rupees, or the U.S. equivalent of nearly $38.1 million.
According to the Bangalore Mirror, the Karnataka government made a bold move on behalf of the farmers involved by quickly moving to ban and blacklist the company from the region after learning of the crop failures. Rather than slap the company on the wrist with a simple fine, which is what Mahyco requested, authorities decided to defend its farmers.
From this point on, Mahyco is barred “from participating in any form in any agricultural process involving supply of Bt seeds in the state,” reads the ban, noting that crop losses were widespread, stretching across seven state districts.
Karnataka government puts people over corporations
A stark contrast to what very likely would have taken place here in the U.S. under similar circumstances, Karnataka officials rejected an initial plea by Mahyco to simply compensate the injured farmers as well as the government in exchange for continuing to do business as usual. The government of Karnataka decided instead that this would be a major injustice.
“Usually private companies offer compensation and the government lets them off the hook, but the state government has decided to act tough on Mahyco,” stated a source familiar with the situation to the Bangalore Mirror. “Farmers have suffered massive losses as the crops have failed despite the company making tall advertisements about the superiority of its genetically-modified seeds.”
You can be sure that if the same thing happened here in the U.S., the federal government would hardly stand up against Big Biotech. In fact, multinational ag companies now call the shots here in the fascist states of America, where the little guy is just a source of labor for the corporations that control the government for their own interests.
“Accepting their (Mahyco’s) compensation proposal would have tied the state government hands,” added the same unnamed source. “The government has decided to compensate farmers for the loss they have incurred and will pay Rs 6,000 [$100] per hectare. This will mean a burden of Rs 35 crore [$5.8 million].”
India far less corrupt than US when it comes to agriculture
Mind you, the Karnataka government’s decision in this matter came at a loss to itself. Not only did government officials reject what can only be described as a cash bribe from Mahyco to ignore the injustice, but it also voluntarily agreed to compensate farmers throughout the area at a financial loss.
This type of thing would never happen in the U.S., of course, where our own representatives actually fight against us on simple, common-sense measures in the public interest like increasing transparency through GMO labeling. The Indian government, it seems, is actually more people-minded than our own government when it comes to agricultural policies in the public interest.
“Other than health concerns, this incident raises fingers against those groups who have been advocating higher output of GM crops,” wrote one commenter over at Business Standard about the situation. “[It’s] high time to kick-start ongoing discussions taking further in particular economic aspects associated with the GM crops and their use, analyzing the incident meticulously.”
Two steps back comes to mind as Sri Lanka announces that despite several studies linking the use of herbicides like Monsanto’s RoundUp to kidney disease in farmers, it will postpone the ban on toxic glyphosate that was instated just months ago. Why? Because Monsanto complained and pushed back.
Just as in the case of the Mexican Judge Monsanto is trying to remove from his seat due to his repeated decisions to ban GMO corn in their country, the Big Ag Giant and chemical seller is throwing its weight around in Sri Lanka. Monsanto believes it will get it’s way no matter what, but not if everyone supports Sri Lankan citizens who fight back on this abhorrent reversal of a previously upstanding decision.
Previously the Sri Lankan minister of agriculture told reporters that glyphosate should be removed from the entire country’s marketplace because it was causing a kidney disease epidemic. Recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, and echoed in reports from the Center for Public Integrity, it was reported that fatal chronic kidney disease of unknown origin, or CKDu, had killed more people in El Salvador and Nicaragua than AIDS, diabetes, and leukemia combined over the past five years.
This wave of CKDu affecting numerous poor farming countries around the world simply didn’t exist prior to 1990 when glyphosate started to be used heavily. Sri Lanka was similarly affected. Furthermore, political changes which occurred in Sri Lanka in the 1970s allowed ghastly amounts of pesticides and herbicides to be sprayed all over the country. Scientists pinpointed a correlation between herbicide use and kidney disease deaths.
Now, in a perverse twist of events and influence from Monsanto, Sri Lanka is lifting the ban.
Thomas Helscher, director of corporate affairs at Monsanto, told the Center for Public Integrity:
“There is no evidence that glyphosate complexes effectively with arsenic, cadmium, or other nephrotoxic metals. Glyphosate is actually a relatively poor chelator for heavy metals when compared to pharmacological chelation agents.”
Once again, Monsanto’s bulging pockets have unduly influenced politicians making decisions about an entire country’s health. Why not keep the ban in place until it can be proven by independent scientists that glyphosate is truly harmless? Oh, yea. We all know that would never happen.
Sources: http://naturalsociety.com/incontrovertible-evidence-gmo-foods-different-non-gmo-foods/ , http://www.gmwatch.eu/index.php/news/archive/2014/15399-china-s-ban-on-gmo-corn-costs-us-up-to-2-9-billion , http://www.gmwatch.eu/index.php/news/archive/2014/15398-vermont-senate-votes-26-2-for-gmo-labeling , http://www.gmwatch.eu/index.php/news/archive/2014/15397-brazil-s-public-prosecutor-files-lawsuit-against-food-safety-agency-over-glyphosate , http://noticias.terra.com.br/ciencia/pedido-para-reavaliar-herbicida-a-base-de-glifosato-esta-parado-ha-6-anos,5281f68d15d35410VgnCLD2000000ec6eb0aRCRD.html , http://www.agrolink.com.br/noticias/minist–233-rio-p–250-blico-quer-proibir-uso-do-glifosato_193190.html#.UzKEXG3nWC0.email , http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2014/15365 , http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2605570/Ministers-covering-secret-meetings-GM-food-lobby-Owen-Paterson-refused-Freedom-Information-request-talks-Frankenfood.html , http://www.gmwatch.eu/index.php/news/archive/2014/15395-ministers-covering-up-secret-meetings-with-gm-food-lobby , http://www.naturalnews.com/044756_GMO_cotton_India_Mahyco.html , http://www.naturalnews.com/044777_GMOs_Russia_organic_food.html , http://www.naturalnews.com/044769_Monsanto_natural_foods_GMOs.html , http://naturalsociety.com/sri-lanka-reverses-herbicide-ban-despite-kidney-disease-link/ , http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/311/ge-foods/shoppers-guide-to-avoiding-ge-food/1845/about-the-guide#