Follow by Email

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs

Posted on 3:39 pm August 25, 2011

1. GMOs are unhealthy.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems. Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.

Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise. Although there is not sufficient research to confirm that GMOs are a contributing factor, doctors groups such as the AAEM tell us not to wait before we start protecting ourselves, and especially our children who are most at risk.

The American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association are among many medical groups that condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormone, because the milk from treated cows has more of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1)―which is linked to cancer.

2. GMOs contaminate―forever.
GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool. Self-propagating GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. The potential impact is huge, threatening the health of future generations. GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure.

3. GMOs increase herbicide use.
Most GM crops are engineered to be “herbicide tolerant”―they deadly weed killer. Monsanto, for example, sells Roundup Ready crops, designed to survive applications of their Roundup herbicide.

Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. Overuse of Roundup results in “superweeds,” resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year. Not only does this create environmental harm, GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides. Roundup, for example, is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.

4. Genetic engineering creates dangerous side effects.
By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.

5. Government oversight is dangerously lax.
Most of the health and environmental risks of GMOs are ignored by governments’ superficial regulations and safety assessments. The reason for this tragedy is largely political. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, doesn’t require a single safety study, does not mandate labeling of GMOs, and allows companies to put their GM foods onto the market without even notifying the agency. Their justification was the claim that they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different. But this was a lie. Secret agency memos made public by a lawsuit show that the overwhelming consensus even among the FDA’s own scientists was that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects. They urged long-term safety studies. But the White House had instructed the FDA to promote biotechnology, and the agency official in charge of policy was Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney, later their vice president. He’s now the US Food Safety Czar.

6. The biotech industry uses “tobacco science” to claim product safety.
Biotech companies like Monsanto told us that Agent Orange, PCBs, and DDT were safe. They are now using the same type of superficial, rigged research to try and convince us that GMOs are safe. Independent scientists, however, have caught the spin-masters red-handed, demonstrating without doubt how industry-funded research is designed to avoid finding problems, and how adverse findings are distorted or denied.

7. Independent research and reporting is attacked and suppressed.
Scientists who discover problems with GMOs have been attacked, gagged, fired, threatened, and denied funding. The journal Nature acknowledged that a “large block of scientists . . . denigrate research by other legitimate scientists in a knee-jerk, partisan, emotional way that is not helpful in advancing knowledge.” Attempts by media to expose problems are also often censored.

8. GMOs harm the environment.
GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. For example, GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds.

9. GMOs do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world.
Whereas sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher, GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2009 report Failure to Yield―the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield.

The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report, authored by more than 400 scientists and backed by 58 governments, stated that GM crop yields were “highly variable” and in some cases, “yields declined.” The report noted, “Assessment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable.” They determined that the current GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability.
On the contrary, GMOs divert money and resources that would otherwise be spent on more safe, reliable, and appropriate technologies.

10. By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the coming tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply.
Because GMOs give no consumer benefits, if even a small percentage of us start rejecting brands that contain them, GM ingredients will become a marketing liability. Food companies will kick them out. In Europe, for example, the tipping point was achieved in 1999, just after a high profile GMO safety scandal hit the papers and alerted citizens to the potential dangers. In the US, a consumer rebellion against GM bovine growth hormone has also reached a tipping point, kicked the cow drug out of dairy products by Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Dannon, Yoplait, and most of America’s dairies.

The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America is designed to achieve a tipping point against GMOs in the US. The number of non-GMO shoppers needed is probably just 5% of the population. The key is to educate consumers about the documented health dangers and provide a Non-GMO Shopping Guide to make avoiding GMOs much easier.

Please choose healthier non-GMO brands, tell others about GMOs so they can do the same, and join the Non-GMO Tipping Point Network (http://action.responsibletechnology.org/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=2925). Together we can quickly reclaim a non-GMO food supply.

Dow Takes on Monsanto With New Biotech Soybean

Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:12pm GMT
(Corrects spelling of Amazon's Kindle bookreader in paragraph 9)
By Carey Gillam

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Dow AgroSciences, a unit of chemical conglomerate Dow Chemical (DOW.N: Quote) is launching a genetically altered soybean seed aimed as a direct assault on the dominance of global seed leader Monsanto Co (MON.N: Quote).

Dow submitted a regulatory package on Friday seeking government approval for a glyphosate-tolerant soybean that the company says would be the "first-ever, three-gene," herbicide-tolerant soybean.

The new soybean will be tolerant of a new Dow AgroSciences herbicide that combines glyphosate, glufosinate and 2,4-D so farmers can spray the weedkiller on fields without harming the crop.

"This is our most important project ever," said Dow AgroSciences CEO Antonio Galindez said in an interview with Reuters. "It is big."

Dow is dubbing the system "Enlist" and sees it as a replacement for Monsanto's wildly popular Roundup Ready system that accounts for over 90 percent of U.S. soybean acreage and also has a foothold over the vast majority of corn planted in the United States.

After Monsanto introduced its first Roundup Ready soybean in 1996, farmers embraced the system because it made killing weeds easier. But since then, glyphosate use over Roundup Ready soybeans, corn, cotton and other crops has grown so heavy that several species of crop-choking weeds have become resistant to glyphosate-based Roundup and those weeds are spreading rapidly through North and South America.

Dow's Enlist system combines glyphosate and two other herbicides in a way that Dow's research has shown kills the weeds that no longer respond to glyphosate, while still knocking out those that do.

Farmers would need to buy not only the new herbicide but also the Dow seeds to gain the benefit.

"We call Enlist our Amazon Kindle," said Galindez, referring to the electronic book reader released in 2007 that has helped spur a decline in sales of traditional books from bookstores.

"It is bringing the next level of technology to the market," said Galindez.

Pending regulatory approval the soybean trait package is expected to be available by 2015.

Dow AgroSciences has been quietly inviting farmers and seed companies to a "show farm" outside its headquarters in Indianapolis to demonstrate the results of comparative testing of Enlist versus Roundup.

Experts estimate glyphosate-resistant weeds have infested close to 11 million acres. It is common for weeds to develop resistance to herbicides. At least 130 types of weeds have developed levels of herbicide resistance in more than 40 U.S. states, more than found in any other country, according to weed scientists.

Enlist follows Dow AgroSciences launch in 2010 of SmartStax, an insect protection-trait and herbicide-resistance technology for corn developed under a cross-licensing agreement between Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto.

Galindez said Enlist will build on SmartStax and hopefully help Dow AgroSciences gain significant market share.

The release is part of an ongoing alliance between Dow AgroSciences and M.S. Technologies, a trait and technology provider. (carey.gillam@thomsonreuters.com; + 1 913-663-2658; Editing by Alden Bentley)

Monsanto Launching its First Biotech Sweet Corn

Thu Aug 4, 2011 5:55pm GMT
By Carey Gillam

ST. LOUIS, Mo., Aug 4 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co. is preparing to launch a genetically altered sweet corn, marking the global seed company's first commercial combination of its biotechnology with a consumer-oriented vegetable product.

The sweet corn seed, which will be available to farmers this fall, has been genetically altered to tolerate treatment of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, and to fight off insects that might attack the plants, said Consuelo Madere, Monsanto vice president of the company's global vegetable business.

The "triple-stack" sweet corn is aimed at the fresh market, a relatively small market sector with total U.S. plantings of about 250,000 acres, said Madere. She declined to say how large of a launch the company was making, only to say it would be "very, very small."

Though this is Monsanto's first biotech vegetable launch, Madere said other companies have already brought genetically altered vegetables to market and she did not anticipate significant consumer backlash.

"This is our first launch. We think it is a good product and we'll work to make sure we educate folks to the benefits," she said.

Monsanto's vegetable unit is anchored by Seminis, which it acquired in 2005, and is distinct from Monsanto's mammoth seed business for field crops like corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. For the most recent quarter, vegetable seed sales totaled $216 million out of more than $2.6 billion in total seed and genomic sales.

Since buying Seminis, Monsanto has been expanding its holdings in the vegetable seed arena. Still, while Monsanto is known for its expertise in plant biotechnology, the vegetable unit has only a few genetically altered products in its pipeline because non-biotech breeding techniques are more cost-effective than biotech for vegetable seeds, said Madere. (Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Alden Bentley)

Expert: GMOs to Blame for Problems in Plants, Animals

Thursday, August 11,2011
By Jefferson Dodge

One of the experts set to testify at Wednesday’s long-awaited meeting about the county’s policy for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on open space says scientists are seeing new, alarming patterns in plants and animals due to increased use of the herbicide Roundup.

Michael McNeill is an agronomist who owns Ag Advisory Ltd. in Algona, Iowa. He received his Ph.D. in quantitative genetics and plant pathology from Iowa State University in 1969 and has been a crop consultant since 1983. He was among three experts invited by county officials to testify at the Aug. 10 meeting of the Cropland Policy Advisory Group (CPAG).

CPAG, which has been meeting since February, serves as a sounding board for the county’s parks and open space staff as they develop a new cropland policy on matters like what may be grown on county land. The group has only touched briefly on the hot-button GMO issue in its past meetings; the Aug. 10 meeting was devoted entirely to the subject.

McNeill told Boulder Weekly before the meeting that he and his colleagues in the industry are seeing serious, negative effects produced by the use of glyphosate, which is the primary ingredient in Roundup weed killer. (Monsanto, the company that makes Roundup, has generated controversy by genetically altering crops to make them resistant to the herbicide.)

McNeill says that in the Midwest and other areas of the country, such as Louisiana and Mississippi, weeds like water hemp, giant ragweed, lamb’s quarter and velvet weed have become Roundup resistant through natural selection, due to a particular genetic mutation that survived the poison and therefore reproduced successfully and wildly.

The problem is, farmers’ natural reaction has been to simply apply more Roundup to their crops, which is having deleterious impacts, McNeill says.

“Used judiciously, it can be a useful product, but as with anything, if you abuse it, it can have negative effects,” he says.

McNeill explains that glyphosate is a chelating agent, which means it clamps onto molecules that are valuable to a plant, like iron, calcium, manganese and zinc.

“When you spray glyphosate on a plant, it’s like giving it AIDS,” he says.

The farmers’ increased use of Roundup is actually harming their crops, according to McNeill, because it is killing micronutrients in the soil that they need, a development that has been documented in several scientific papers by the nation’s leading experts in the field. For example, he says, harmful fungi and parasites like fusarium, phytopthora and pythium are on the rise as a result of the poison, while beneficial fungi and other organisms that help plants reduce minerals to a usable state are on the decline.

He explains that the overuse of glyphosate means that oxidizing agents are on the rise, creating oxides that plants can’t use, leading to lower yields and higher susceptibility to disease.

McNeill acknowledges that Monsanto could simply find a new chemical that kills the newly resistant weeds, but the weeds will simply find a way around it again.

“It’s mother nature’s plant breeding program,” he says. “It’s very widespread, and it’s a serious problem.”

McNeill says the situation is causing “sudden death syndrome” in soybeans, which means they are dying at increased rates when they go into their reproductive phase. He adds that corn is showing a higher incidence of Goss’s wilt, which has been a problem in Colorado since the early 1970s, and

studies show that glyphosate causes a rise in both diseases.

And the problems are not limited to plants, it’s extending to the animals that eat them, according to McNeill.

He says he and his colleagues are seeing a higher incidence of infertility and early-term abortion in cattle and hogs that are fed on GMO crops. He adds that poultry fed on the suspect crops have been exhibiting reduced fertility rates.

McNeill, who works with universities, the federal government and private companies, says his advice to his farmer clients is to rotate chemicals — or don’t use them at all. While it is more labor-intensive, organic farmers usually cut their weeds as an alternative to herbicides. He says he consults for about 160,000 acres of conventional farmland and 5,000 to 6,000 acres of organically farmed land.

“My clients are my farmers, and I want what’s best for them,” he says. “And my clients are the consumers who consume the farmers products, and I want what’s best for them.”

McNeill compares the Roundup situation to the way science eventually caught up to another poison: Just as DDT was initially hailed as a miracle pesticide and later banned, researchers are beginning to discover serious problems with glyphosate.

“Some issues are starting to arise with technologies that probably needed more research before we started using them,” he says. “It’s a moving target.”

The other two experts invited to the CPAG meeting, Kent Davis of Crop Quest and Phillip Westra of Colorado State University, did not return calls by press time.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com