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Sunday, December 27, 2015

First GMO Corn, Then Frankenfish, and Now - Get Ready for Designer Babies

Published: December 26, 2015

SOURCE: NATURAL BLAZE


We knew it was coming to this. The GMO revolution wasn’t going to stop at our dinner table. But did we think it would happen so soon?

The first week in December, delegates from the top three gene-editing countries—China, the UK and the US—met in Washington, DC for a symposium on the future of gene-editing. For those not familiar with the parlance, gene editing refers to the ability to alter the DNA of an embryo in a manner which affects the germline. The germline is defined as follows; “In biology and genetics, the germline in a multicellular organism is that population of its bodily cells that are so differentiated or segregated that in the usual processes of reproduction they may pass on their genetic material to the progeny.”

In other words, what happens to the germline will affect the offspring and subsequent generations.

The possibilities inherent in such manipulation are staggering. Not only could genetic diseases be removed from the developing embryo, but new and better attributes could be factored in. Mankind could face the possibility that crippling genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs or Huntington’s Disease could be forever banished, while a brave new crop of humans, with enhanced intellectual abilities or enhanced musculature, for example, could be harvested.

The symposium was convened with some urgency after the disclosure that researchers in China had reported this past April that they had launched the first attempt to edit the DNA of human embryos. The Chinese project was undertaken to correct a rare and often fatal blood disorder, called beta thalassemia. China’s effort was followed by an application, made in September, by a British research group to edit human embryos for research purposes.

Behind all this gene editing lies a new technology, which works like the “find and replace” function on a word processor. The most popular in this new buffet of tools is the Crispr-Cas9, which was invented by Dr. Jennifer Doudna. Dr. Doudna is a Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley and has also been an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1997. The Crispr-Cas9 works in the following manner—first it locates the gene to be edited, then makes the desired alteration, either by deleting it or fixing it. Doudna has virtually revolutionized medicine with her invention, which is reportedly simple to use.

The symposium was expected to produce a call for a moratorium on this research, while the ethical implications could be sorted out. Surprisingly, that is not what eventuated. The final formal statement by the International Summit on Human Gene Editing Organizing Committee in fact left the door open.

The Committee, which is comprised of ten scientists and two bioethicists, called on the “Big Three” in gene editing to take charge:

We therefore call upon the national academies that co-hosted the summit – the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and U.S. National Academy of Medicine; the Royal Society; and the Chinese Academy of Sciences – to take the lead in creating an ongoing international forum to discuss potential clinical uses of gene editing; help inform decisions by national policymakers and others; formulate recommendations and guidelines; and promote coordination among nations.

In a non-binding recommendation, the Committee also called for the inhibition of gene editing on viable embryos, stating “if in the process of research, early human embryos or germline cells undergo gene editing, the modified cells should not be used to establish a pregnancy.”

The three-day conference, which was attended by science heavyweights (as well as by some family members with sick children), resulted in an airing of some of the issues surrounding this new science.

Harvard’s George Church made a presentation which propounded a viewpoint that mitigated concerns about the fall- out from gene editing.

Dr. Church, who is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, has written articles supporting germline editing and diminishing the possible repercussions. In a recent article in Nature, he wrote:

Human-germline editing is not special with respect to permanence or consent. Replacing deleterious versions of genes with common ones is unlikely to lead to unforeseen effects and is probably reversible. Even if the editing was difficult to reverse, this would not be especially unsafe compared with other commonly inherited risks.

In 2005, Church launched a project called the Personal Genome Project. In this effort, which is billed as “the world’s only open-access information on human genomic, environmental & trait data,” individuals are recruited to have their own genome analyzed and recorded. Church is also involved in doing gene editing in pigs, for the purpose of removing problematic retroviruses which might stand to cause problems in using pig organs as replacement for failing human organs.

Marcy Darnovsky of the Center for Genetics and Society disagrees with the notion that genetic editing is unlikely to result in unforeseen results. “The medical arguments are tenuous and the possible social consequences are grave,” said Darnovsky.

In a subsequent article in the Guardian, Darnovsky wrote:

The recognition that scientists alone can’t decide whether to deploy this society-altering technology is perhaps the summit’s most positive outcome. Already, more and more non-scientists are becoming aware of what’s at stake for all of us, and realizing that germline gene editing is a social and political matter, not just a scientific one.

John Harris could not disagree more heartily. Harris, a Professor of Bioethics at the University of Manchester, believes that this technology provides the possibility for human enhancement on a grand scale and should be employed as soon as the “wrinkles” are ironed out. Harris has stated; “We all have an inescapable moral duty: to continue with scientific investigation to the point at which we can make a rational choice.”

The laws governing gene editing are in many locations inexplicit, to say the least. The UK permits licensed experiments on embryos up to 14 days, but not implantation in a woman. Some British scientists are agitating for a change in these laws. China’s laws are considered to be “ambiguous,” as are South Africa’s, Chile’s and Argentina’s.

The US government has made it clear it will not fund any gene editing research which involves viable embryos.However, by adopting this policy without passing legislation banning the practice, the US has inadvertently (or otherwise) opened the door for private labs to accommodate rich people who want to have designer babies.

One wouldn’t want to state this was the goal, after all. Would one? Designer babies for the wealthy, while the rest of us lump along with our genetic baggage? This begins to sound almost like the engineered societies that science fiction novels warned us about.

The (US) National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine have issued a press release announcing a “data gathering” meeting in February to study the ethical and social implications of gene editing.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

New multi-toxin GMOs that produce their own poison carry 'serious health and environmental risks' scientific review finds

Thursday, December 17, 2015 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) New strains of GM crops that produce pesticides in their own tissues are being approved without rigorous safety testing, even though they may carry "serious health and environmental risks," according to a research review conducted by scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, and published in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science on November 9.

The crops in question are engineered to carry pesticide-producing genes from the bacterial species Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). In recent years, companies have increasingly turned to crossbreeding different varieties of Bt crops, producing crops that now carry numerous different strains of Bt toxin at once. These "stacked-trait" crops are being approved for planting and sale, based on several false assertions made by the genetically modified (GM) crop industry, the study found.


Hiding toxic effectsOne such assertion is that each individual Bt toxin affects only a small number of insect pests, and has no effects on other species such as beneficial insect predators ("non-target" species). But the researchers found numerous studies showing the opposite to be true.

According to lead researcher Angelika Hilbeck, companies hide the truth by defining non-target effects in a highly narrow fashion: a "quick kill."

"This is an economic concept: you want a quick kill for economic reasons, to save the crop from pest-induced damage," Hilbeck said. "But Bt toxins are not fast-acting toxins. Even in target pests, Bt toxins don't kill quickly – it takes most susceptible insects a day or more to die. The Bt toxin in GM crops is expressed in the crop plant for months at a time. Residues linger in soil and aquatic systems.

"Regulatory tests need to look at long-term and sublethal effects, because that is what non-target organisms are likely to be exposed to. Currently these tests are not required. Yet we found a lot of evidence in the scientific literature that non-target organisms such as ladybirds, water fleas, lacewings and even slugs are adversely affected by Bt toxins."

The review also turned up evidence that Bt toxins may have long-term, toxic effects in mammals – including, potentially, in humans who eat GM crops.

The uncertainty around the safety of stacked-trait Bt crops is only worsened, the researchers noted, by the fact that scientists do not even understand how Bt toxins function. The formerly accepted model has been widely discredited due to new research, and the revelation of scientific misconduct and data tampering by the researchers who first proposed it.


More dangerous than single pesticidesAnother false industry claim is that use of Bt crops reduces pesticide use. But the review found that the total pesticide load in stacked-trait Bt crops often exceeded the typical amount of pesticide used in a non-GM field. For example, SmartStax GM corn contains six different Bt toxins and two herbicide tolerant traits. The total Bt toxin load in this crop is 19 times the average 2010 pesticide application rate!

Perhaps the most glaring regulatory failing uncovered by the review, is the acceptance of industry claims that stacked-trait crops should be approved on the basis of tests conducted on single-trait crops. Yet the review uncovered numerous studies showing that stacked-trait crops caused biological effects not produced by any of the individual toxins alone. The same thing occurred when Bt toxins were mixed with neonicotinoid insecticides, as commonly occurs in the field.

The review also found that industry dossiers seeking stacked-trait approval consistently failed to mention the studies that contradicted their false assumptions. Regulators did not require any further safety testing of stacked-trait crops, beyond a few short-term insect feeding trials.

Instead, the researchers said, regulators should require long-term mammal feeding trials, as a minimum.

Furthermore, Hilbeck said, "We have to extend the definition of 'effect' from the economic to the ecological."

Sources for this article include:

GMWatch.org

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Breaking: Monsanto's Dark Act is dead in Congress

Dec. 16, 2015

Breaking: Major Victory in Congress – Monsanto’s Dark Act riders stopped DEAD in Congress! Hats off to everyone who called and sent letters!

Dear Cathy,

This is huge! With your help and hundreds of thousands of people just like you, we managed to shut down Monsanto in Congress by stopping the Dark Act policy riders that would have killed GMO labeling in America for good.

We've cleared a major hurdle. Many of us feared that the GMA would be successful in inserting a rider to the spending bill, creating the ultimate Monsanto Protection Act, to short-circuit our collective hard work for the past 4 years by taking away states' rights to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws. We're happy to report that Monsanto was defeated - this time!

This means they'll come back stronger than ever after the holidays in January to pass the compromise that Monsanto and the GMA is desperate to achieve, so we won't know if the foods we eat are eating genetically-engineered. We need you today!

Chip in $5, $25, $45 or more so we can continue our work to defeat Monsanto and win GMO labeling once and for all! If you donate today, your tax deductible donation will be matched 2 to 1!Breaking: Monsanto's Dark Act is dead in Congress

Please, Cathy – don't miss this chance to have your gift matched by pitching in whatever you can. Every dollar counts!
Double your impact before time runs out – we need your help today!

https://fdn.actionkit.com/donate/breaking_you_just_Stopped_Monsanto_in_Congress_Major_Victory/?t=7&akid=1753.1013065.jCW1TG

We only have a few weeks to refill our tanks before Congress comes back in session next month - when the GMA and Monsanto will bedesperate to end your right to mandatory labeling once and for all.

Incredibly, a provision regarding GMO salmon was allowed in the Omnibus spending bill that won’t allow genetically engineered salmon to be introduced for sale until the FDA determines proper labeling requirements – and while this is not all of what we want regarding GMO labelin

The Vermont law is scheduled to go into effect in July of next year - 2016. When that happens, Monsanto and the junk food companies know it's game over for them!

Please help us continue our work and stop them cold - once and for all!
Yes, I want to chip in to defeat Monsanto and their cronies at the GMA! Every dollar counts!

We're so close! Please stick with us for the final push to defend our democratic rights and protect our food supply and give Monsanto a huge blow.

In the past 4 years, you’ve help build a movement that’s driven the national conversation on GMOs from California in 2012 to DC today.

Be a part of this Grassroots Surge to defeat Monsanto’s lie machine!

Contribute today to take the fight to Monsanto and keep GMOs off your plate. With your help we will win! Click here to donate $10 or more. Every bit counts.

https://fdn.actionkit.com/donate/breaking_you_just_Stopped_Monsanto_in_Congress_Major_Victory/?t=11&akid=1753.1013065.jCW1TG

This is what happens when we stand up – Together we are unstoppable!

Thank you for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

27 Examples of Journalists Failing to Disclose Sources as Funded by Monsanto

90% of American Moms Want Labels on GMO Food

Mark Ruffalo: ‘Monsanto Chief is Horrible’

Erin Brockovich: The Biotech Industry is Jeopardizing Our Health

Environmental Whistleblower Erin Brockovich, Time.com, Dec. 5, 2015

The new movie Consumed tackles the controversial world of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in unprecedented fashion, offering insight into their risks. Its message could not be more timely in the wake of the recent news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. The fish, like all genetically engineered ingredients in this country, will not be labeled, leaving American consumers in the dark. Like many food and environmental safety activists around the world, I’m outraged.



American legal clerk and environmental activist, Erin Brockovich poses during a photo shoot at the Stamford Hotel in Brisbane, Australia, on Feb. 17, 2015. Photo credit: Jamie Hanson—Newspix / Getty Images

The biotech industry and the FDA have hijacked not only our basic rights as consumers, but also our fundamental human rights in the face of corporate monopolization of our food supply. They are jeopardizing our health and the environment more than ever before. When will the government agencies put in place to protect us stop servicing the bottom line of corporations?

The Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, has announced that it is going to sue the FDA over this unethical decision, citing opposition from more than 40 members of Congress, more than 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations, salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs and restaurants and about 2 million people who filed public comments, the most the FDA has ever received on a decision.

In detailed comments submitted to the FDA, Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, argues the FDA review process was based on “sloppy science” and the genetically engineered salmon could pose many risks. “Because FDA’s assessment is inadequate, we are particularly concerned that this salmon may pose an increased risk of severe, even life-threatening allergic reactions to sensitive individuals,” he writes.

Hansen also notes that “this analysis does not conform to FDA standard for assessment of a New Animal Drug.” That’s right, the genetically engineered salmon is being regulated as an “animal drug”—not a food, an “animal drug.” Here lies the inherent hypocrisy plaguing our regulatory agencies. The FDA does not label genetically engineered foods, including the newly approved salmon, because they have deemed them “substantially equivalent” to their non-genetically engineered counterparts. In essence, they are not different enough to be labeled. Yet they are so different that they are the first organisms in history to be patented. The logic is confounding.

The FDA, whose mission is “protecting and promoting your health,” has failed consumers by approving the commercialization of genetically engineered salmon. Not only has it usedinadequate science, but it has also turned its backs on the majority of Americans who believe they have a fundamental right to know what is in their food. A 2013 New York Times poll found that 93 percent of Americans want GMOs to be labeled. More than 60 countries labelGMOs and in some cases even ban them, but the U.S. still does not.

To my dismay, genetically modified seeds have not undergone any long-term safety testing by the FDA on animals or humans and the scientific community remains divided on their safety.I’m shocked by those who think that to question GMOs is “anti-science.” This gross mischaracterization must be put into question if we are to ensure food democracy.

Some of the most respected scientific bodies in the world including Codex Alimentarius (jointly run by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural organization of the U.N.), The American Medical Association, The British Medical Association and the American Public Health Association, have stated that, through pre-market safety assessments, more research needs to be done on GMOs before we can truthfully determine their safety.

In addition, since genetically modified crops are married to the chemicals sprayed on them, their consumption poses an overwhelming array of potential risks. According to a 2012 study published in Environmental Sciences Europe, GMO herbicide-tolerant crops have led to a 527 million pound increase in herbicide use in the U.S. between 1996 and 2011. The World Health Organization recently concluded that glyphosate, the main ingredient in the most-used herbicide on GMOs, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” One study found glyphosate in 60 percent to 100 percent of the rain water in some agricultural areas. More than 3,200 elementary schools are within 1,000 feet of genetically modified corn or soybean fields—what will be the effects of these toxic chemicals on children?

With the FDA’s approval of the first genetically engineered animal now a reality, we have set a dangerous precedent for what is to come. As citizens, we must demand our voices to be heard at this crucial moment in our nation’s history. Tell your congressional representatives to stand up for your rights, spread the message on social media and help spark a larger conversation about the food we are eating in this country.


Movie Trailer:
https://vimeo.com/143568165

Monsanto Put on Mock Trial for Crimes against Humanity in The Hague

Posted on Dec 3 2015 - 6:25pm by Sustainable Pulse

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, joined by dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups announced today that they will put Monsanto MON (NYSE), a US-based transnational corporation, on mock trial for crimes against nature and humanity, and ecocide, in The Hague, Netherlands, next year on World Food Day, October 16, 2016.



Since the beginning of the twentieth century according to the groups, Monsanto has developed a steady stream of highly toxic products which have permanently damaged the environment and caused illness or death for thousands of people. These products include:

• PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), one of the 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) that affect human and animal fertility;

• 2,4,5 T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant, Agent Orange, which was used by the US Army during the Vietnam War and continues to cause birth defects and cancer;

• Lasso, an herbicide that is now banned in Europe;

• and RoundUp, the most widely used herbicide in the world, and the source of the greatest health and environmental scandal in modern history. This toxic herbicide, designated a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization, is used in combination with genetically modified (GM) RoundUp Ready seeds in large-scale monocultures, primarily to produce soybeans, maize and rapeseed for animal feed and biofuels.

Relying on the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” adopted by the UN in 2011, an international court of lawyers and judges will assess the potential criminal liability of Monsanto for damages inflicted on human health and the environment. The court will also rely on the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002, and it will consider whether to reform international criminal law to include crimes against the environment, or ecocide, as a prosecutable criminal offense. The International Criminal Court, established in 2002 in The Hague, has determined that prosecuting ecocide as a criminal offense is the only way to guarantee the rights of humans to a healthy environment and the right of nature to be protected.

The announcement was made at a press conference held in conjunction with the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, November 30 – December 11, in Paris.

Speaking at the press conference, Ronnie Cummins, international director of the OCA (US) and Via Organica (Mexico), and member of the RI Steering Committee, said: “The time is long overdue for a global citizens’ tribunal to put Monsanto on trial for crimes against humanity and the environment. We are in Paris this month to address the most serious threat that humans have ever faced in our 100-200,000 year evolution—global warming and climate disruption. Why is there so much carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere and not enough carbon organic matter in the soil? Corporate agribusiness, industrial forestry, the garbage and sewage industry and agricultural biotechnology have literally killed the climate-stabilizing, carbon-sink capacity of the Earth’s living soil.”

Andre Leu, president of IFOAM and a member of the RI Steering Committee, said: “Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products, and maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment: by lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by resorting to lying and corruption, by financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, and by manipulating the press and media. Monsanto’s history reads like a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet.”

Marie-Monique Robin, journalist and author of the best-selling documentary (and book by the same name), “The World According Monsanto,” said: “This International Citizens’ Tribunal is necessary because the defense of the safety of the planet and the conditions of life on Earth is everyone’s concern. Only through a collective resurgence of all living forces will we stop the engine of destruction. That’s why today I am calling on all citizens of the world to participate in this exemplary tribunal.”

Also speaking at the conference were Valerie Cabanes, lawyer and spokesperson for End Ecocide on Earth; Hans Rudolf Herren, president and CEO of the Millennium Institute, president and founder of Biovision, and member of the RI Steering Committee; Arnaud Apoteker, creator of the anti-GMO campaign in France, which became one of the priority campaigns of Greenpeace France, and author of “Fish in Our Strawberries: Our Manipulated Food;” and Olivier De Schutter, co-chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPESFood) and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

Full list of founding organizations (so far) here.

Full list of Monsanto Tribunal Foundation organizing members here.

More information will be available at www.monsanto-tribunal.org/, after 2:30 p.m. EU time on December 3, 2015.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Poll: Most voters want genetically modified food labels

Tracy Loew, (Salem, Ore.) Statesman Journal, Dec. 2, 2015

SALEM, Ore. — A majority of voters across the USA support mandatory labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients, a new national poll commissioned by labeling supporters shows.


Of 800 voters surveyed last month, 89% said they support mandatory labeling; 6% said they oppose such a requirement. The remainder said they do not have an opinion.


The poll comes as some congressional lawmakers are pushing to add a provision to the omnibus spending bill that would block states from putting their own genetically modified organism labeling requirements in place. It also comes less than two weeks after the federal Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of unlabeled genetically engineered salmon.


Environmental Working Group, Consumers Union, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth and Center for Food Safety commissioned the poll.





Q&A: What you need to know about genetically engineered foods


“This is yet another poll that shows broad and deep support for clear GMO labeling at a time when the issue is more important than ever,” said Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It. “Food manufacturers and lawmakers should work together to give Americans a more transparent food system by crafting a nonjudgmental, mandatory GMO labeling system that is easily found on the packaging.”


The poll also asked voters whether they would choose GMO labels printed on a package or bar codes or QR codes that could be scanned with a smartphone, as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack suggested.


Consumer and environmental groups say scannable codes discriminate against those who can’t afford smartphones or live in areas without reliable cellphone service.




Mandatory GMO food labeling by states would be banned under proposed bill

“They are a completely unacceptable substitute for clear, concisely worded on-package labeling,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “The right to know is a right for all, not just those who can afford it.”


Printed labels were the choice of 88% of poll respondents; 8% preferred scannable bar codes.


The groups also raised a concern that food manufacturers could gather information about customers, such as their location and product choices, when they scan food packages.




Yes, we have no GMO bananas. For now.


Such data collection should be prohibited, according to 82% of poll respondents.


The Mellman Group, a polling organization based in the District of Columbia, conducted telephone interviews Nov. 16 to 19. The poll has a 95% confidence level at an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


Follow Tracy Loew on Twitter: @Tracy_Loew

States’ Rights to Label GMOs Could Be Stolen in Congressional Omnibus Fight

December 04, 2015, 04:00 pm
By State Rep. Kate Webb (D-Vt.)

In 2012, the Vermont legislature began working in earnest on a law to allow Vermonters the right to know if the food they purchased was produced using genetic engineering. Over the next three years, the legislature received testimony from hundreds of people including scientists, lawyers, academics, producers, manufacturers, retailers, advocates and consumers on all sides of the issue. 

The final bill received overwhelming non-partisan support passing the House on a vote of 114-30 and 28-2 in the Senate. Similar, but distinct from bills passed in Maine and Connecticut, Vermont’s law goes into effect on July 1, 2016 without any triggering clause. Five weeks after being signed into law, four trade groups brought suit against the state seeking to declare the new law invalid.

In April, the U.S. District Court upheld Vermont’s genetic engineering (GE) law on every count. The plaintiffs appealed and it is now in the Second Circuit with ruling expected soon. Nonetheless, Vermont continues to push forward toward the effective date. Rules are in place and producers from around the country are stepping up and working with the state to learn how to be ready with accurate labels. 

Local affiliates of trade associations, even those suing the state, are helping their members understand and prepare their products for sale in Vermont. While some are reformulating products so as not to have to label, this is producer choice and not a requirement or the purpose of the law. 

Current action in Congress, however, puts Vermont’s law, as well as Connecticut’s, Maine’s and all future state GE labeling laws in jeopardy. The House recently passed a bill prohibiting any current or future state from labeling products produce using GE. 

While movement in the Senate remains unclear, efforts are underway to slide an omnibus rider prohibiting state labeling into the appropriations bill. While most of the country will be focused on the far bigger issue of government shutdown tied to this bill, this barely noticeable rider prohibiting this disclosure for all states, just might clog things up or sneak through undetected until it is too late. 

Although the federal government has jurisdiction over the labeling of foods, there has always been room for states to address emerging areas of interest. Whether it is olive oil production in California, catfish in Arkansas or early examples of state bottled water label requirements, states have often lead the way in labeling.

At this time, congressional leaders are focused on defending GE technology, which obscures the real issue. The real issue is transparency and the ability to make an informed decision about how and where we spend our food dollars based on our values. 

Some are concerned about the lack of longitudinal and peer-reviewed studies and unintended health effects, but it is important not to stop there. It is also about concern for the environmental: the effects of uncontrolled seed (and now fish) trespass on native and organic species, monoculture cultivation practices and an increasing number of seeds owned by corporations rather than “the people.” It is about respect for religious dietary laws in which undisclosed consumption of GE products may violate various ethical-theological requirements.

In the absence of federal labeling requirements, states such as ours have stepped in to fill that void. Vermont is moving forward. Producers are working on labels. We ask Congress to be thoughtful here, stay focused on the big issues of the federal budget and respect our state’s right to continue in our efforts to provide this disclosure to consumers. It is a right shared by 64 countries and consistent with our American value of transparency and consumer choice.

Webb has been in office since 2009. She was the lead sponsor of Act 120: An act relating to the labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Huge Victory! The EPA rejects “Agent Orange Corn”


Max Goldberg,  November 25, 2015

Crop Dusting

In phenomenal news, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just announced that it is revoking the registration of the controversial chemical Enlist Duo, effectively ending for good all prospects for Agent Orange Corn.

Enlist Duo is the super-toxic herbicide (a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D) to be sprayed on Dow Chemical’s genetically-engineered corn (and soy), widely referred to in the organic industry as Agent Orange Corn.

2,4-D was the primary ingredient in Agent Orange, the herbicidal warfare program in Vietnam that resulted in 400,000 people being killed or maimed, and 500,000 children being born with birth defects. Despite the carnage that this chemical caused, the EPA had previously said that Enlist Duo, which contains 2,4-D, was perfectly safe.

By changing course and revoking the approval of Enlist Duo, the herbicide to be sprayed on Agent Orange Corn, the EPA has effectively killed these genetically-engineered corn and soy crops as well. Why?

Because these crops have been specifically designed to be resistant to Enlist Duo. So, if Enlist Duo is no longer available, there is no point in farmers buying these new GE-crops.

The reason that the EPA decided to pull the plug on Enlist Duo is that it said that it discovered new information that the combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D is likely to be significantly more harmful than it had initially believed.

Before the EPA decided to take this action, there had been a lawsuit against the EPA from the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, on behalf of many other groups, for improperly approving this chemical. One can assume that that lawsuit will now be dismissed.

WHAT NOW?

As an organic advocate, I am thrilled about the EPA’s decision but worry about whether this is just a temporary measure and if Agent Orange Corn could eventually resurface.

So, this morning I spoke with Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, to get his take on the matter. After all, the EPA revoking Enlist Duo is an absolute disaster for Dow Chemical and the company may not give up so easily.

“Dow would have to re-register crops, and we don’t know if it would do that. Similarly, Dow may try to sue the EPA for illegally rescinding Enlist Duo, but I doubt that the company would take that road either. It could take years. In layman’s terms, the EPA’s decision is the end of Agent Orange Crops,” he said.

As I talked about on a recent Persicope, organic consumers are lucky to have so many amazing non-profit groups fighting on our behalf. The work that the Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and many others did on this case meant that a super-toxic herbicide and two risky genetically-engineered crops will not be harming humans or the environment any time soon, if at all.

This is a victory that we should be very thankful for.



Want to stay up-to-date on the most important news in the organic food world?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tiny amounts of Monsanto's Roundup in food cause kidney and liver damage, cancerous tumors

Tuesday, December 01, 2015 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Long-term consumption of tiny levels of Roundup herbicide that are lower than those permitted in U.S. water supplies can lead to liver and kidney damage caused in part by changes in gene expression. 

This is according to a study conducted by an international group of researchers from France, Italy and the United Kingdom that was published in the journal Environmental Health on August 25.

Roundup, also known by the name of its active ingredient glyphosate, is the top-selling herbicide in the world. It is produced by Monsanto.

"There were more than 4,000 genes in the liver and kidneys [of the rats that were fed Roundup] whose levels of expression had changed," said lead researcher Michael Antoniou of King's College London.

"Given even very low levels of exposure, Roundup can potentially result in organ damage when it comes to liver and kidney function. The severity we don't know, but our data say there will be harm given enough time."

Tumors, bleeding and organ damageThe study extends the findings of a paper previously published in 2012. For the experiment, rats had Roundup added to their drinking water at doses lower than those permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 


The researchers found that some of the rats underwent "25 percent body weight loss, presence of tumors over 25 percent bodyweight, hemorrhagic bleeding, or prostration."

They also found that rats given Roundup experienced changes in the expression of more than 4,000 genes in their livers and kidneys.

The use of Roundup has exploded worldwide in recent decades. According to an article from the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 250 times as much glyphosate is currently used in the United States as was used 40 years ago. This widespread usage means that glyphosate contamination of water is ubiquitous.

The dose used in the study is "environmentally relevant in terms of human, domesticated animals and wildlife levels of exposure," the researchers warned. They noted that the findings suggest that widespread Roundup use likely has significant health implications for both humans and animals.

In addition to drinking water, consumers might also be exposed to Roundup via residue on food crops.

Because the dose used was so small, "this study should have some kind of public health influence," according to Nichelle Harriott, science and regulatory director for Beyond Pesticides.

"They can't say which caused what, but what you have is an association – the group treated with a little Roundup had a lot of organ damage and the gene expression findings supported that," said Bruce Blumberg of the University of California, who was not involved in the study.

Roundup poisons the whole bodyThe study is only the latest in an accumulating body of research suggesting that Roundup, which is still marketed as a "safe" herbicide, is in fact highly toxic. A 2014 study in theInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health connected Roundup to an epidemic of chronic kidney disease in Sri Lanka, while another study has connected the herbicide to genetic and cellular diseases in Brazilian farmworkers.

Roundup seems to have widespread, systemic effects. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified glyphosate as a possible carcinogen, and a recent study by researchers from Fliders University in Australia found that even at levels likely to be found in U.S. and Australian drinking water, Roundup caused damaged to the human endocrine (hormonal) system, in part by killing off progesterone-producing cells in women. The researchers also found that Roundup was even more toxic than its active ingredient (glyphosate) alone.


Many regulatory bodies, including the EPA, only regulate levels of glyphosate, presuming that the "inactive" ingredients in the herbicide have no biological effect.