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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Monsanto Nation: Taking Down Goliath

Monsanto Nation: Taking Down Goliath
July 28, 2011

(NaturalNews) "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it." - Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994

After two decades of biotech bullying and force-feeding unlabeled and hazardous genetically engineered (GE) foods to animals and humans -- aided and abetted by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations -- it's time to move beyond defensive measures and go on the offensive. With organic farming, climate stability, and public health under the gun of the gene engineers and their partners in crime, it's time to do more than complain. With over 1/3 of U.S. cropland already contaminated with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), with mounting scientific evidence that GMOs cause cancer, birth defects, and serious food allergies http://www.responsibletechnology.org/ and with new biotech mutants like alfalfa, lawn grass, ethanol-ready corn, 2,4 D-resistant crops, and genetically engineered trees and animals in the pipeline http://www.organicconsumers.org/mon...time is running out.

Living in Monsanto Nation there can be no such thing as "coexistence." It is impossible to coexist with a reckless industry that endangers public health, bribes public officials, corrupts scientists, manipulates the media, destroys biodiversity, kills the soil, pollutes the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically enslaves the world's 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers. It's time to take down the Biotech Behemoth, before the living web of biodiversity is terminated.

But, to bring down Goliath and build an organic future, we need to be strategic, as well as bold. We must take the time to carefully analyze our strengths and weaknesses and critique our previous efforts. Then we must prepare to concentrate our forces where our adversary is weak, like a chess master, moving the field of battle from Monsanto's currently impregnable territory into more favorable terrain. Given the near-dictatorial control of Monsanto, the Farm Bureau, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association over the Congress, the White House, regulatory agencies, and state legislators, we have no choice in the present moment but to revert to "asymmetrical" guerrilla tactics, to seek out the Achilles heel or fundamental weakness of the biotech industry.

Consumers Right to Know: Monsanto's Achilles Heel

The Achilles heel of Monsanto and the biotech industry is consumers' right to know. If GE-tainted foods are labeled in supermarkets and natural food stores, a massive rejection of chemical and GMO foods will take place, transforming the marketplace and supercharging the organic and local foods revolution. The biotech industry has been aware of their tremendous vulnerability in the United States ever since Monsanto forced their controversial recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone on the market in February 1994. In the wake of nationwide "Frankenfood" protests and milk dumps, industry made sure that no federal labeling or safety testing would be required. As the biotechnocrats understand full well, mandatory GE food labels will cripple the industry: consumers will not buy gene-altered foods, farmers will not plant them, restaurants and food processors will avoid them, and grocery stores will not sell them. How can we be certain about this? By looking at the experience of the European Union, the largest agricultural market in the world. In the EU there are almost no genetically engineered crops under cultivation or GE consumer food products on supermarket shelves. And why is this? Not because GE crops are automatically banned in Europe. But rather because under EU law, all foods containing genetically engineered ingredients must be labeled.

European consumers have the freedom to choose or not to choose GE foods; while farmers, food processors, and retailers have (at least legally) the right to lace foods with GMOs, as long as these gene-altered are safety-tested and labeled. Of course the EU food industry understands that consumers, for the most part, do not want to consume GE foods. European farmers and food companies, even junk food purveyors like McDonald's and Wal-Mart, understand quite well the concept expressed by the Monsanto executive quoted above: "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."

The biotech and food industry are acutely conscious of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of GMO foods. Even without a PhD, consumers understand you don't want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by out-of-control chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, or DuPont--the same people who brought you toxic pesticides and industrial chemicals, Agent Orange, carcinogenic food additives, PCBs, and now global warming. Industry leaders are definitely aware of the fact that every poll over the last 20 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on genetically engineered foods. Why do consumers want labels? So that we can avoid buying these mutant foods, gene-spliced with viruses, bacteria, antibiotic- resistant marker genes and foreign DNA. Gene-altered foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from ever getting a public discussion, much less coming to a vote, in Congress.

Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) perennially introduces a bill in Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GE foods, don't hold your breath for Congress to take a stand for truth-in-labeling. Especially since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the so-called "Citizens United" case gave big corporations, millionaires, and billionaires the right to spend unlimited amounts of money (and remain anonymous, as they do so) to buy media coverage and elections, our chances of passing federal GMO labeling laws against the wishes of Monsanto and Food Inc. are all but non-existent.

Perfectly dramatizing the "Revolving Door" between Monsanto and the Federal Government, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, formerly chief counsel for Monsanto, delivered one of the decisive votes in the Citizens United case, in effect giving Monsanto and other biotech bullies the right to buy the votes it needs in the U.S. Congress.

With biotech and industrial agriculture's big money controlling Congress, the White House, and the corporate mass media, we have little choice but to shift our focus and our campaigning to more favorable terrain: the state level and the marketplace.

Besides boycotting non-organic foods likely containing GMOs (even those marketed as "natural") and demanding that natural food stores adopt truth-in-labeling practices, we've got to push for mandatory GE food labeling laws in the legislatures of those few remaining states like Vermont where Monsanto and corporate agribusiness do not yet have total control. Of the 18 states where GE food labeling legislation has been introduced over the past two years, only in Vermont does our side seem to have the votes to push labeling through, as well as a Governor who will not cave in to Monsanto.

State Ballot Initiatives: Monsanto and Biotech's Greatest Weakness
Although passing a mandatory GE foods labeling law in Vermont is a distinct possibility, and something we should all support, the most promising strategy for restoring consumers' right to know lies in utilizing one of the most important remaining tools of direct citizen democracy, state ballot initiatives. A state ballot initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed statute or constitutional amendment, in our case a law requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Ballot initiatives are also called, depending on the state, "popular initiatives," "voter initiatives," "citizen initiatives" or just "initiatives."

Twenty-four states, mainly west of the Mississippi, allow ballot initiatives. Each state has its own requirements for how many signatures are required, how many days can be spent collecting the signatures, and when petitions must be turned in. States also vary on the average amount of money spent by initiative committees to support or oppose ballot measures. http://www.organicconsumers.org/art...

The essential advantage of state ballot initiatives is that they enable the grassroots (in our case the 85-95% of consumers who want labels on GE-tainted foods) to bypass corrupt politicians, industry lobbyists, and special interest legislative practices. In addition, the very strategic point to keep in mind is that it will not be necessary to pass GMO labeling ballot initiatives in all 24 of these states. In fact passage in just one large state, for example California, where there is tremendous opposition to GE foods as well as a multi-billion dollar organic food industry, will likely have the same impact as a national labeling law.
If Vermont passes a state labeling law though its legislature in 2011, or California voters put a GMO labeling initiative on the ballot in 2012 and pass it, the biotech and food industry will face an intractable dilemma. Will they dare put labels on their branded food products in just one or two states, admitting these products contain genetically engineered ingredients, while still withholding label information in the other states? The answer is very likely no. Withholding important and controversial information in some states, while providing it to consumers in other states, would be a public relations disaster.

A clear precedent for this situation was established in California in 1986 when voters passed, over the strenuous opposition of industry, a ballot initiative called Proposition 65, which required consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredient to bear warning labels. Rather than label their products sold in California as likely carcinogenic, most companies reformulated their product ingredients so as to avoid warning labels altogether, and they did this on a national scale, not just in California.

This same scenario will likely unfold if California voters pass a ballot initiative in 2012 requiring labels on food containing genetically engineered ingredients. Can you imagine Kellogg's selling Corn Flakes breakfast cereal in California with a label that admits it contains genetically engineered corn? Or labeling their corn flakes as GE in California, but not divulging this same fact to consumers in the other 49 states or Canada? Of course not. How about Kraft Boca Burgers admitting that their soybean ingredients are genetically modified? How about the entire non-organic food industry (including many so-called "natural" brands) admitting that 75% of their products are GE-tainted? Once food manufacturers and supermarkets are forced to come clean and label genetically engineered products, they will likely remove all GE ingredients, to avoid the "skull and crossbones" effect, just like the food industry in the EU has done. In the wake of this development American farmers will convert millions of acres of GE crops to non-GMO or organic varieties.

The biotechnocrats and their allies have indeed used their vast resources to buy off Congress, the White House, and most state legislatures with campaign contributions. Monsanto, DuPont, and other corporate giants have used their enormous clout to send their lawyers and scientists through the revolving door into jobs as government regulators. Biotech's financial power has polluted state and federal governments, along with trade associations, universities, research institutions, philanthropic organizations, and media outlets.

But there are two things Monsanto's money can't buy: Our trust, and our votes.

Polls Show Consumers Overwhelmingly Support GE Food Labels

Poll after poll has shown that most consumers want to know whether their food includes engineered ingredients.

The results of a recent MSNBC poll that posed the question, "Do you believe genetically modified foods should be labeled?" indicate that nearly all Americans believe that foods made with genetically modified organisms should indeed be labeled.

Of the more than 45,000 people who participated in the poll, over 96% answered "Yes. It's an ethical issue -- consumers should be informed so they can make a choice."

It's not news that most Americans support labeling of GMO foods. Since genetically modified foods were first introduced in mid-1990s, scores of public opinion polls have shown that the vast majority of consumers want mandatory labeling of all genetically modified foods. These include recent polls by CBS News/New York Times, NPR/Thomson Reuters and the Consumers Union. Unfortunately Congress and the White House have ignored these polls, accepting instead the claims of lobbyists and indentured scientists that genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe, and that uninformed and scientifically illiterate Americans must not be given the choice to buy or not to not GMOs, because they will reject them.

Monsanto spent more than $1 million on the 2010 election cycle, splitting its contributions evenly between state and federal candidates. It spends much more on lobbying -- more than $8 million in each of the last three years. Monsanto's money has bought it influence and allowed it to move its lawyers and scientists through the revolving door into roles within the regulatory agencies. The USDA, FDA and State Department are full of appointees with connections to Monsanto. Monsanto's efforts have successfully stifled attempts in Congress and state legislatures to pass GMO labeling legislation.

The Slingshot that Can Bring Down Goliath

The most important advantage or weapon in a ballot initiative (or in a grassroots legislative lobbying campaign) is to have the overwhelming support of the people, especially registered voters. As poll after poll has shown, 85-95% of Americans support mandatory GE food labels. No matter how much money Monsanto and their allies spend to defeat a ballot initiative, it is very difficult to turn back overwhelming public sentiment. Monsanto has become one of the most hated corporations on earth.

The second requirement for a successful ballot initiative is to have the active support of a massive grassroots movement, like the growing anti-GE food movement and OCA's Millions Against Monsanto campaign. This grassroots movement can gather petition signatures, mobilize public opinion, and get out the vote. No matter how much money Monsanto and their allies spend, it will be very difficult to defeat a volunteer grassroots army of organic consumers who enjoy the massive support of the public.

The third prerequisite for victory is to have the ability to raise significant sums of money. Not only do we have millions of organic consumers in the U.S. who are passionately opposed to GMOs, and willing to donate to a labeling campaign, but we also have a rapidly growing $30 billion organic food industry that depends upon keeping GMO contamination out of the organic sector. We probably won't be able to raise enough money to outspend Monsanto, the Farm Bureau, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, but we can raise enough money to defend our popular position and maintain majority support.

Just like everything in U.S. politics, ballot initiatives have a price tag.
According to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center:

* "The chances of victory are directly correlated with the amount of money raised and are almost always proportional to the amount of money the opposition spends."

* "People power is equally important to factor in. Particularly for Citizen-based ballot initiative efforts, it is imperative to have people on the ground across the state that are connected and invested in the initiative."

Biotechnology or BioDemocracy?

Restoring consumers' right to know and driving genetically engineered foods off supermarket shelves are not going to solve all of the life and death issues that are currently staring us in the face: the climate crisis, endless wars, economic depression, corporate control over government, and the health crisis. But cutting Monsanto and the biotechnocrats down to size and restoring consumer choice are a good first step to move us toward sustainability and a healthy food and farming system. Just as important, in political terms, by defeating the Biotech Bullies and indentured politicians we can begin to restore the tattered self-confidence of the American body politic. A resounding victory by the organic community and OCA's Millions Against Monsanto campaign will prove to ourselves and the currently demoralized public that we can indeed take back control over the institutions and public policies that determine our daily lives. Now is the time to move forward.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/033155_Monsanto_Goliath.html#ixzz1TRD4ZL00

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Consolidation of Seed Companies Leading to Corporate Domination of World Food Supply

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Throughout the history of agriculture across the globe, farming has always been a diversified sector of the economy. Small, self-sustaining, family farms were the order of the day in most cultures. Even as small farms grew larger and more specialized over time, many of them still saved seeds or purchased them from other farmers, which kept control of farming in the hands of the people.

But today everything has changed, as large chemical and agribusiness firms have acquired or merged with seed companies and other agricultural input companies. They have successfully gained a foothold on genetically-modified (GM) crops with transgenic traits.

These primary factors and several others have facilitated a crescendo towards the global domination of agriculture by corporations, and thus the world's food supply.

The dismal state in which we find ourselves today did not come overnight, of course, but it did pick up rapid speed after the introduction of GM crops in the mid-1990s. Since that time, multinational corporations like Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta have seized a significant amount of control over the global seed industry, which has greatly limited agricultural diversity and freedom.

The ability to patent both seeds and seed traits has also added injury to insult, as the ability to obtain natural or heirloom seeds is becoming increasingly difficult, and many farmers feel they have no choice but to go with the flow.

Professor Philip H. Howard from the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies at Michigan State University published a study in 2009 entitled Visualizing Consolidation in the Global Seed Industry: 1996 - 2008 that analyzes the trend in agriculture towards corporate dominance.

The report, which was featured in a special issue of the journal Renewable Agriculture, provides both an extensive data analysis of agriculture's dramatic transformation over the past several decades, as well as a highly-informative visual analysis of this truly shocking hostile takeover situation.

The 'Big Six" pharmaceutical and chemical companies have acquired, created joint ventures with hundreds of seed companies over the past 15 years.

In order to help assist his readers in understanding the state of the seed industry, Prof. Howard developed a very informative graphic that displays the reality of who really controls the seed industry.

Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, and BASF collectively own or partially-own hundreds of formerly-independent seed companies -- and Monsanto, of course, dominates them all.

As you will see, the blue circles in the diagram represent seed companies, while the red circles -- which happen to all be chemical or pharmaceutical companies -- control the vast majority of them. Solid gray arrows indicate complete ownership of a company, while gray lines indicate partial ownership.

One of the most obvious first impressions to be gathered from the diagram is Monsanto's excessive and widespread control over the seed industry.

According to Prof. Howard's analysis, Monsanto acquired more than 50 seed companies just during the time represented by his study period, which spans the years between 1996 and 2008.

Monsanto had little-to-no involvement in the seed industry prior to the mid-1980s, but since that time has been rapidly eating up seed companies and furthering its development and control over the food supply through GMOs.

Today, Monsanto is the world's largest seed company, and the transnational behemoth continues to acquire or otherwise create "partnerships" with various independent seed companies that are still in existence.

Behind Monsanto, the other five of the "Big Six" that Prof. Howard illustrates -- DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, and BASF -- collectively own or control a great portion of the remaining major seed companies not owned or controlled by Monsanto. And one of the biggest factors that has contributed to this dismal setup is GMOs and transgenic, patentable seed traits that are shared among the industry players.

The "Big Six" each have agreements with one or more of the others; their overall success has largely hinged on GMOs and increased control of agricultural inputs.

The only thing worse than Monsanto and the dominance of the seed market are the cozy relationships with one another. Prof. Howard's analysis reveals that every company in the "Big Six" has at least one mutual relationship with one another, and they together share corporate control of the seed industry.

Monsanto has established cross-licensing agreements for its transgenic patents with every single other company in the mix, while Dow has agreements with all except for Bayer. And Syngenta has agreements with Dow, Monsanto, and DuPont, while BASF has agreements with Dow and Monsanto.

What does this all mean? It means that the already-disturbing oligarchy that controls the seed industry is shaping up to become a total monopoly with Monsanto at the helm, of course. And as transgenic technology continues to develop, which forces farmers to either go with the flow or leave the business, there may soon be no other choices in farming besides whatever Monsanto has to offer.

One would think that farmers would be more aware of this takeover and resist it. But the "Big Six" effectively fly under the radar, in most cases, by selling their seeds and chemicals through various vendors and under different names. According to Prof. Howard, this is how they effectively maintain an illusion of competition and choice in the midst of their takeover.

How things got this bad and how the situation can be fixed.

Real competition in the seed industry has been systematically deconstructed over the years for numerous reasons. Besides blatant industry consolidation and takeover by drug and chemical companies, many farmers have simply been willing to accept the latest seed technologies, even when it has meant having to give up their seed saving freedom, and being forced to rely on the intensive use of chemicals and other synthetic interventions in order to farm.

Prof. Howard explains that a concept known as the "agricultural treadmill" has been a major contributing factor in the demise of the seed industry.

Because demand for food is largely inelastic, any increase in production will cause crop prices to fall.

So as new farming technologies emerge, farmers that adopt them first inadvertently force all the other farmers to adopt them as well, just to maintain the same level of revenue. If they do not adopt them, or fail to
keep up with other farmers on the treadmill, they will eventually fall off, or be forced out of the farming business altogether.

Other factors include changes in policy that have decreased the barriers to accumulation that have prevented agricultural takeover in the past. By developing patented, transgenic traits, seed companies have been able to overcome a barrier to accumulation in agriculture.

When farmers cannot save their GM seeds, the corporate owners can effectively maintain a continual, yearly cash flow just from selling seeds and their corresponding pesticides and herbicides, which in turn makes agriculture a vastly more profitable enterprise for preying corporations like Monsanto than it used to be.

So what is the solution? Prof. Howard suggests improving antitrust enforcement, which will prevent the continual shift of seed company ownership and gradual accumulation of the food chain by a few large companies. Another idea is to create policies that fight against the agricultural treadmill phenomenon, and that instead promote independent, self-sustaining agricultural systems that maintain control of food with the people rather than the corporations.

Perhaps the most effective suggestion -- and one that we here at NaturalNews strongly advocate for as well -- is to end the practice of granting patents on living organisms.

By re-establishing this most-effective obstacle to accumulation, there will be no more incentive for multinational biotechnology companies like Monsanto to focus on dominating agriculture because there will be no more opportunity for the massive accumulation of wealth and capital through patented seeds.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/033148_seed_companies_Monsanto.html#ixzz1TKGPhOe0

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Monsanto GM corn harvest fails massively in South Africa

Adriana Stuijt, Digital Journal, MAR 29, 2009

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/270101

South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside. Monsanto has offered compensation.

Monsanto blames the failure of the three varieties of corn planted on these farms, in three South African provinces, on alleged ‘underfertilisation processes in the laboratory”. Some 280 of the 1,000 farmers who planted the three varieties of Monsanto corn this year, have reported extensive seedless corn problems.

Urgent investigation demanded

However environmental activitist Marian Mayet, director of the Africa-centre for biosecurity in Johannesburg, demands an urgent government investigation and an immediate ban on all GM-foods, blaming the crop failure on Monsanto’s genetically-manipulated technology.

Willem Pelser, journalist of the Afrikaans Sunday paper Rapport, writes from Nelspruit that Monsanto has immediately offered the farmers compensation in three provinces – North West, Free State and Mpumalanga. The damage-estimates are being undertaken right now by the local farmers’ cooperative, Grain-SA. Monsanto claims that ‘less than 25%’ of three different corn varieties were ‘insufficiently fertilised in the laboratory’.

80% crop failure

However Mayet says Monsanto was grossly understating the problem. According to her own information, some farms have suffered up to 80% crop failures. The centre is strongly opposed to GM-food and biologically-manipulated technology in general.

“Monsanto says they just made a mistake in the laboratory, however we say that biotechnology is a failure.You cannot make a ‘mistake’ with three different varieties of corn.’

Demands urgent government investigation:

“We have been warning against GM-technology for years, we have been warning Monsanto that there will be problems,’ said Mayet. She calls for an urgent government investigation and an immediate ban on all GM-foods in South Africa.

Of the 1,000 South African farmers who planted Monsanto’s GM-maize this year, 280 suffered extensive crop failure, writes Rapport.

Monsanto’s local spokeswoman Magda du Toit said the ‘company is engaged in establishing the exact extent of the damage on the farms’. She did not want to speculate on the extent of the financial losses suffered right now.

Managing director of Monsanto in Africa, Kobus Lindeque, said however that ‘less than 25% of the Monsanto-seeded farms are involved in the loss’. He says there will be ‘a review of the seed-production methods of the three varieties involved in the failure, and we will made the necessary adjustments.’

He denied that the problem was caused in any way by ‘bio-technology’. Instead, there had been ‘insufficient fertilisation during the seed-production process’.

And Grain-SA’s Nico Hawkins says they ‘are still support GM-technology; ‘We will support any technology which will improve production.’ see

He also they were ‘satisfied with Monsanto’s handling of the case,’ and said Grain-SA was ‘closely involved in the claims-adjustment methodology’ between the farmers and Monsanto.

Farmers told Rapport that Monsanto was ‘bending over backwards to try and accommodate them in solving the problem.

“It’s a very good gesture to immediately offer to compensate the farmers for losses they suffered,’ said Kobus van Coller, one of the Free State farmers who discovered that his maize cobs were practically seedless this week.

“One can’t see from the outside whether a plant is unseeded. One must open up the cob leaves to establish the problem,’ he said. The seedless cobs show no sign of disease or any kind of fungus. They just have very few seeds, often none at all.

The South African supermarket-chain Woolworths already banned GM-foods from its shelves in 2000. However South African farmers have been producing GM-corn for years: they were among the first countries other than the United States to start using the Monsanto products.

The South African government does not require any labelling of GM-foods. Corn is the main staple food for South Africa’s 48-million people.

The three maize varieties which failed to produce seeds were designed with a built-in resistance to weed-killers, and manipulated to increase yields per hectare, Rapport writes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Welcome to the World of Monsanto

(NaturalNews) Monsanto is close to single-handedly controlling seeds around the world, and hence, global food sources. A good mix of lobbying, influential members in the administration and successful spin doctoring appear to be the key to world take over. But don't worry; they say it is for our best and it will even save the planet!

Over the past decades, food has been replaced with rocket fuel, without objection by the FDA and with limited consumer awareness. One of the most unwanted intruders on the list of foods is genetically modified food.

According to Monsanto, however, its genetically modified crops not only represent the cure for world hunger, but also help diminish the problem of climate change. Because GM crops do not need to be tilled or require plowing, Monsanto claims it can lock carbon dioxide in the soil and therefore should get carbon credits! Listening to Monsanto, one could be mistaken to believe GMs are what the world has been waiting for.

But how did Monsanto get this far?

The official eight million US dollars spent on lobbying in 2010 are part of the success story, but their more effective strategy is being the fox in the chicken coop. The Obama administration is littered with Monsanto missionaries. Former Monsanto vice president Michael Taylor is a senior consultant to the US Food and Drug Administration. Islam Siddiqui, vice president of CropLife (Monsanto-funded lobbying group), is a negotiator for the US Trade Representative on agriculture. Roger Beachy, a former director of a Monsanto-funded plant science center, is the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. These and many more GM lovers switch jobs back and forth between the government and Monsanto.

The dangers of meddling with nature, altering the planet, using enormous amounts of herbicides for crops, and causing negative health effects on humans and animals are simply not discussed. Instead, the powerful food elite have zero concerns about playing god. In the world of GMs, they get to be just that - blending daisies with pigs, fish with horses, oak trees with sheep or what not. This process is called biolistics (injecting cells with genetic information). What will happen if this gene gun (biolistic) technology will keep spreading until the planet suffocates? We are not far off. Monsanto has infiltrated North and South America, Asia directly, and numerous countries indirectly (cross-pollination).

The mad theory to have Monsanto run our entire food supply is almost reality.

There are millions of ethical and health questions that remain unanswered as Monsanto is continuing to gun species and plants. Humanity and science alike simply have no concept on what type of fire-spitting dragon they have at their hands. The lunatic takeover of nature will equal a death of the world we know today - all in the name of corporate profit. And not only may we see a tomato with a fish head, no, but the disappearance of the naturally occurring species will also most likely continue at record speeds, such as the vanishing of bees that may be related to GMs. Also, the ground may be incapable of growing natural products, as soil contamination may occur with more than 1600 microorganisms potentially wiped out by GM proliferation.

Monsanto may have the code to transform the planet in the coming decades, if we let them. There is a massive outrage against GMOs in the world today, but is it enough to stop the powers in charge?

The Monsanto marketing spin on GM use is remarkable, so are the profits. Imagine, no farmer allowed to plant natural seeds, but rather bioengineered Monsanto seeds? Welcome to the world according to Monsanto.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/032990_Monsanto_seeds.html#ixzz1S7yzcyaM

Sunday, July 10, 2011

GMOs Linked to Organ Disruption in 19 Studies

by Jeffery Smith, Author of "Seeds of Deception"

A new paper shows that consuming genetically modified (GM) corn or soybeans leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, particularly in livers and kidneys. By reviewing data from 19 animal studies, Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and others reveal that 9% of the measured parameters, including blood and urine biochemistry, organ weights, and microscopic analyses (histopathology), were significantly disrupted in the GM-fed animals. The kidneys of males fared the worst, with 43.5% of all the changes. The liver of females followed, with 30.8%. The report, published in Environmental Sciences Europe on March 1, 2011, confirms that “several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects.” The authors point out that livers and kidneys “are the major reactive organs” in cases of chronic food toxicity.

“Other organs may be affected too, such as the heart and spleen, or blood cells,” stated the paper. In fact some of the animals fed genetically modified organisms had altered body weights in at least one gender, which is “a very good predictor of side effects in various organs.”

The GM soybean and corn varieties used in the feeding trials “constitute 83% of the commercialized GMOs” that are currently consumed by billions of people. While the findings may have serious ramifications for the human population, the authors demonstrate how a multitude of GMO-related health problems could easily pass undetected through the superficial and largely incompetent safety assessments that are used around the world.

Feed’em longer!

One of the most glaring faults in the current regulatory regime is the short duration of animals feeding studies. The industry limits trials to 90 days at most, with some less than a month. Only two studies reviewed in this new publication were over 90 days—both were non-industry research.

Short studies could easily miss many serious effects of GMOs. It is well established that some pesticides and drugs, for example, can create effects that are passed on through generations, only showing up decades later. IN the case of the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol), “induced female genital cancers among other problems in the second generation.” The authors urge regulators to require long-term multi-generational studies, to “provide evidence of carcinogenic, developmental, hormonal, neural, and reproductive potential dysfunctions, as it does for pesticides or drugs.”

“Pesticide Plants”

Nearly all GM crops are described as “pesticide plants.” They either tolerate doses of weed killer, such as Roundup, or produce an insecticide called Bt-toxin. In both cases, the added toxin—weedkiller or bug killer—is found inside the corn or soybeans we consume.

When regulators evaluate the toxic effects of pesticides, they typically require studies using three types of animals, with at least one feeding trial lasting 2 years or more. One third or more of the side effects produced by these toxins will show up only in the longer study—not the shorter ones. But for no good reason, regulators ignore the lessons learned from pesticides and waive the GM crops-containing-pesticides onto the market with a single species tested for just 90 days. The authors affirm that “it is impossible, within only 13 weeks, to conclude about the kind of pathology that could be induced by pesticide GMOs and whether it is a major pathology or a minor one. It is therefore necessary to prolong the tests.”

GMO approvals also ignore the new understanding that toxins don’t always follow a linear dose-response. Sometimes a smaller amount of toxins have greater impact than larger doses. Approvals also overlook the fact that mixtures can be far more dangerous than single chemicals acting alone. Roundup residues, for example, have been “shown to be toxic for human placental, embryonic, and umbilical cord cells,” whereas Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate does not on its own provoke the same degree of damage. One reason for this is that the chemicals in Roundup “stabilize glyphosate and allow its penetration into cells.”

Furthermore, toxins may generate new substances (metabolites) “either in the GM plant or in the animals fed with it.” Current assessments completely ignore the potential danger from these new components in our diets, such as the “new metabolites” in GMOs engineered to withstand Roundup. The authors warn, “We consider this as a major oversight in the present regulations.”

It’s not the same stuff that farmers spray

Regulators claim that the Bt-toxin produced inside GM corn is safe. They say that the Bt gene comes from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which has been safely applied as a spray-on insecticide by farmers in the past. But the authors insist that “the argument about ‘safe use history’ of the wild Bt protein . . . cannot, on a sound scientific basis, be used for direct authorizations of . . . GM corns,” without conducting proper long-term animal feeding studies.

In order to justify their claim that the wild Bt-toxin is safe, the authors state that it must first be separately tested on animals and humans and then authorized individually for food or feed, which it has not. And even if the wild variety had been confirmed as safe, the GM versions are so different, they must require their own independent studies. The paper states:

“The Bt toxins in GMOs are new and modified, truncated, or chimerical in order to change their activities/solubility in comparison to wild Bt. For instance, there is at least a 40% difference between the toxin in Bt176 [corn] and its wild counterpart.”

Even though the isolated Bt-toxin from GM corn has not been tested on animals, rodent studies on corn containing the toxin do show problems. Male rats fed Monsanto’s MON863 corn, for example, had smaller kidneys with more focal inflammation and other “disrupted biochemical markers typical of kidney filtration or function problems.”

Stop with the dumb excuses

If statistically significant problems show up in their studies, biotech company researchers often attempt to explain away the adverse findings. But the authors of this review paper describe their excuses as unscientific, obsolete, or unjustified.

When male and female animals have different results, for example, biotech advocates claim that this couldn’t possibly be related to the feed. Since both genders eat the same amount, they argue, both would have to show the same reaction in all of their organs, etc. And if the group of animals fed with less of the GMO feed exhibit more severe reactions than the group fed the larger amount, advocates claim that this discrepancy also means that the GMOs could not be the cause, since there must always be a linear dose relationship.

The authors of this paper, however, point out that effects found in a GMO animal feeding study “cannot be disregarded on the rationale that it is not linear to the dose (or dose-related) or not comparable in genders. This would not be scientifically acceptable.” In fact, most “pathological and endocrine effects in environmental health are not directly proportional to the dose, and they have a differential threshold of sensitivity in both sexes. This is, for instance, the case with carcinogenesis and endocrine disruption.”

What’s the culprit, pesticide or plant?

The shortcomings of the feeding studies make it impossible to determine whether a particular problem is due to the added pesticide, such as Roundup residues or Bt-toxin, or due to the genetic changes in the modified plants’ DNA.

Mice fed Roundup Ready soybeans, for example, showed numerous changes indicating increased metabolic rates in the liver (i.e. irregular hepatocyte nuclei, more nuclear pores, numerous small fibrillar centers, and abundant dense fibrillar components). Since studies on Roundup herbicide also show changes in the liver cells of mice and humans, the Roundup residues within the soybeans may be a significant contributing factor to the metabolic changes.

Similarly, rats fed Roundup Ready corn showed indications that their kidneys leaked. Such an effect “is well correlated with the effects of glyphosate-based herbicides (like Roundup) observed on embryonic kidney cells.” Thus, the rats’ kidney problems may also be caused by the Roundup that is accumulated within Roundup Ready corn kernels.

In addition to the herbicide, the Bt-toxin insecticide produced inside GM corn might also cause disorders. The authors state, “The insecticide produced by MON810 [corn] could also induce liver reactions, like many other pesticides.” Studies do confirm significant liver changes in rats fed Bt corn.

On the other hand, “unintended effects of the genetic modification itself cannot be excluded” as the possible cause of these very same health problems. The process of gene insertion followed by cloning plant cells (tissue culture) can cause massive collateral damage in the plant’s DNA with potentially harmful side-effects. In MON810 corn, for example, the insertion “caused a complex recombination event, leading to the synthesis of new RNA products encoding unknown proteins.” The authors warn that “genetic modifications can induce global changes” in the DNA, RNA, proteins, and the numerous natural products (metabolites), but the faulty safety assessments are not designed to adequately identify these changes or their health impacts.

Population at risk

In addition to the shortcomings mentioned above, the paper shows how GMO feeding trials are “based on ancient paradigms” with “serious conceptual and methodological flaws,” employ statistical methods that obscure the findings, add irrelevant control groups that confuse and confound the analysis, and rely on numerous assumptions that either remain untested or have already proved false.

Unlike drug approvals, biotech companies do not conduct human studies. They would therefore fail to identify both general human health reactions, and the potentially more serious ones endured by sub-populations. “If some consumers suffer from stomach problems or ulcers,” for example, the paper states, “the new toxins will possibly act differently; the digestion in children could be affected too.” The paper recommends the implementation of post market monitoring, which, among other things, “should be linked with the possibility of detecting allergenicity reactions to GMOs in routine medicine.”

But even if authorities wanted to conduct epidemiological studies on GMOs, the authors acknowledge that they “are not feasible in America, since there is no organized traceability of GMOs anywhere on the continent.” Not only is labeling of GMOs urgently needed to allow such studies to proceed, the study says:

“The traceability of products from animals fed on GMOs is also crucial. The reason for this is because they can develop chronic diseases which are not utterly known today…. Labeling animals fed on GMOs is therefore necessary because some pesticide residues linked to GMOs could pass into the food chain.”

They also point out that “even if pesticides residues or DNA fragments are not toxic nor transmitted by themselves” nevertheless, “nobody would want to eat disabled or physiologically modified animals after long-term GMOs ingestion.”

“New experiments,” they concluded, “should be systematically performed to protect the health of billions of people that could consume directly or indirectly these transformed products.”

In the meantime, for those not willing to wait for the new studies, we recommend consulting the Non-GMO Shopping Guide at www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Genetically Modified Animals

Kate Tero

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just moved a step closer to allowing companies to create genetically engineered animals. The FDA is proposing to allow the creation of animals that will be used to produce medicine, organs for transplant, meat or genetically engineered pets; and experiment subjects.

Canadian author Margaret Atwood wrote about many of these same possibilities in her best-selling and starkly apocalyptic book – Oryx and Crake. It seems that in 2003, Atwood’s book made more waves and garnered more headlines than the recent FDA’s public forum requesting input on their proposed Draft Guidance for Industry: Regulation of genetically engineered animals containing heritable rDNA constructs.

Atwood wrote about pigoons (creatures engineered for organ harvest), rakunks (animals bred to be good pets), and snats (an experimental hybrid of a snake and rat). She also wrote about a genetically engineered blob-like chicken that produced only breast meat. This creature is the source for the popular take out food outlet ChickieNob Nubbins in Oryx and Crake. One of the scientists in Atwood’s book remarks that, “…create-an-animal was so much fun; it made you feel like God”.

Fast-forward to 2008 and the FDA is moving ahead with their intention to allow the creation, use and sale of genetically modified animals. The surprising, or maybe not so surprising, thing is that there has been very little media coverage or protest. Although there were a few headlines in major publications on genetically modified steak or franken-animals, all in all there was little mainstream media coverage and little outcry about the FDA’s proposed legislation.

I wonder about our apathy.

Is it because Americans are some of the largest consumers of meat per capita in the world? Or, as one of the largest consumers of meat, Americans also happen to practice some of the cruellest factory farming methods in the world? Or maybe it is just that Americans also consume one of the unhealthiest diets of any wealthy nation on the planet.

Michael Pollan, best-selling author of In Defense of Food and An Omnivore’s Dilemma, writes that we are now facing an unfamiliar situation in America, where we are the human beings who manage to be both overfed and undernourished.

Aside for being world-renowned for their poor diet, America is also infamous for their quick and clandestine approval of genetically modified crops. Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating, paints a damning picture of how bribes, harassment, threats, manipulation, junk science and indifference resulted in the wide-scale use of genetically engineered soy, cotton and corn in North America. Filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin explains in her film, The World According to Monsanto, that 70% of the food in American stores contains bio-engineered elements.

Genetically engineered food sources are not labelled in North America even though consumers continue to agitate for clear labelling. Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a poll in October 2008 of more than 1000 people on various food labelling issues and found that 95% of consumers polled agreed that, “food products made from genetically engineered animals should be labelled as such”.

If consumers so clearly want genetically engineered foods labelled, why the apathy on genetically engineered animals?

Maybe it is just a coincidence that this incredibly important and life-changing legislation has been slipped by the public while much of America (and the world) was preoccupied with the recent American election drama. Add in the economic recession and there wasn’t much space left on news’ networks, or in newspapers, for any other headlines. The FDA’s Draft Guidance for Industry: Regulation of genetically engineered animals containing heritable rDNA constructs document was available for review from September 18th to November 18th – right at the exact same time as the frenzy of the American election.

Coincidence? I think not.

I am a little surprised that there wasn’t a more concerted effort by the animal rights’ groups to stop the legislation. When I think of the collective advertising budgets of PETA, HSUS, Compassion in World Farming and WWF, I believe if they had put their media expertise and dollars together they could have done more to raise awareness and perhaps even stop this legislation.

PETA, infamous for being press-sluts (PETA founder, Ingrid Newkirk’s words not mine), does not seem to be tackling this issue aggressively enough. They seem more preoccupied with stalking fur-wearing celebrities of late. I dug around on their website and couldn’t find anything on genetically modified animals, so I contacted them and asked for their official statement on the FDA’s proposal.

Here is a portion of their official statement:

…Genetic engineering is unethical, always disastrous for animals, and often dangerous for humans. PETA urges regulators and consumers to reject genetic engineering and to demand better and more ethical scientific practices. At least 90 percent of genetically engineered animals are simply discarded as “failures” at early stages of the process. The remaining animals are sentenced to lives burdened with painful diseases and distressing conditions….

I can’t help but wonder why PETA didn’t use their considerable resources and run a public campaign encouraging people to speak up about the FDA’s proposal? Where were the billboards, the commercials, the naked celebrities? They do it for the carriage horses, the fur animals, the KFC chickens – why not the genetically engineered animals-to-be?

And the Humane Society of the United States? They have a report on their website – An HSUS Report: Welfare Issues with Genetic Engineering and Cloning of Farm Animals. The report is very helpful for people who want more information, but why was so much effort put into Proposition 2 and yet little effort was put into making people aware of the possibility of genetically engineered animals?

Proposition 2 is an excellent effort towards reducing factory farm animal suffering and, like most caring people, I am grateful it passed, but what about the genetically engineered animals-to-be? Are we going to wait until they are suffering in laboratories and petri dishes before we work to get legislation to alleviate their suffering?

Both Farm Sanctuary and the Animal Liberation Front disapprove of the use of genetically modified animals. The Institute of Responsible Technology also does not support the use of genetically engineered crops or animals.

It seems like now, right now, before the FDA has finalized approval for the use of genetically engineered animals, is the time to stop this legislation.

I can’t help but wonder if the FDA’s proposal deliberately and purposefully caught everyone off-guard and preoccupied with the American election and the effort to pass Proposition 2 in California. It seems like much more animal suffering and cruelty will be evidenced through the approval of genetically engineered animals than anything the world has previously seen. Much of the animal rights’ world has remained strangely silent or perhaps just preoccupied with other campaigns.

If, as in the past, the treatment of animals in factory farms was compared to a holocaust, it is safe to say that these 'new' animals, if the FDA proposal passes, will experience an apocalypse of suffering as genetically engineered suppliers of organs, meat and medicine.

I tell myself that in the future, when we are working to create legislation to help these genetically engineered animals, I hope we will remember to look back at 2008 when we had a chance to speak up, and wonder why we chose to remain silent.

Valerie Williams is a writer living on Salt Spring Island, Canada.