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Saturday, February 27, 2016

California city sets organic precedent


By Natalie Paffrath, RN and Zen Honeycutt, Feb. 26, 2016

On Feb. 23, 2016 Irvine, California city council set a precedent for cities across the country by passing a new policy to switch to organic pesticides and herbicides in all public spaces. The group called Non Toxic Irvine, a grassroots organization of parents including Ayn Craciun, Kim Konte, Bob Johnson, Laurie Thompson and Kathleen Hallal, a Moms Across America supporter, spearheaded the initiative. The group presented at the meeting along with two University of California, Irvine professors who shared scientific research on the human health effects of pesticides -- Dean Baker, MD, MPH, professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of UCI's Center for Occupational and Environmental Health and chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; and Bruce Blumberg, professor of Developmental and Cell Biology in UCI’s School of Biological Sciences and professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering.

Thirty residents also spoke at the meeting, including several parents of pediatric cancer victims, one young pediatric cancer survivor, and other mothers, children and residents. They described how they believe they and their loved ones have been harmed by exposure to toxic pesticides. The residents asked the city council to, as one mother said, “Truly make Irvine the safest city in America” by using organic alternatives.

Irvine’s City Council voted unanimously to stop the spraying of toxic pesticides in all public areas including parks, fields, playgrounds, and streets. Irvine, home of the Healthy City, Healthy Planet Initiative, made itself a much healthier destination and can now be the prototype for cities everywhere who want toxic chemicals discontinued from use in their communities.

The Irvine City Council voted unanimously to pass the new policy.

A city staffer said, “If pesticides are needed, organic options will be used.” The policy also states that if these options do not work synthetic chemicals may be used. However, residents were encouraged by the city’s decision to discontinue the use of Roundup/glyphosate and 2,4-D in December after they were petitioned by hundreds of Irvine residents.

The text from the policy:
“With this prioritized approach, organic pesticides would be used first and as long as they are effective managing pests to meet Irvine's standards…. Synthetic pesticides would be used only if other treatment options fail to control pests posing a risk to public health and economic impact.”

These organic methods advocated by the group include soil testing, compost top-dressing, use of compost teas, appropriate turf height management, natural pest and disease control and more.

When asked which brands of alternative herbicides they suggest, Ayn Craciun of Non Toxic Irvine said, “We are not promoting a particular brand, we are instead asking for an approach to landscaping that strengthens the desired plants and supports the biodiversity of the soil so that undesired plants are less able to succeed.”

Why the switch?

Overuse: 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year. 54 percent of Roundup/glyphosate based herbicides used around the world are sprayed on public areas such as parks, roadsides, sidewalks and schools.

Health Risks: 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women are expected to have cancer in their lifetime. Leukemia, non Hodgkins Lymphoma and brain cancers are on the rise, both of which have been linked to pesticide exposure.

Growing litigation: Over 700 lawsuits are pending connecting Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup/glyphosate and non Hodgkin’s disease.

Widespread harm: Hundreds of studies now scientifically link glyphosate and other toxic herbicides and pesticides commonly sprayed in our public areas to asthma, autism, learning disabilities, birth defects and reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s diseases.

Family after family got up to speak about their experiences with pediatric cancer or other diseases and Councilmember Christina Shea shared her own cancer history. One could not help but feel the cumulative devastation of toxins in our environment. The video of the city council meeting can be seen here. The portion on pesticides is 43 minutes in.

The speakers were passionate. One mom said regarding Roundup "Just because it is legal doesn't mean we have to use it, we expect better. And we expect Irvine to meet our expectations." Another said, "With toxic pesticides we know we are harming children, with education we can stop it." And finally a mother who lost her son to cancer said, "46 children are diagnosed with cancer every day and 7 children die everyday in America from cancer. If it were your child that was diagnosed or died today, would you know that you did everything you could?"

From Moms Across America Mission Viejo leader Natalie Paffrath, “Thank you to Irvine and all of the amazing empowered people that made tonight happen! Because of you we have posted a petition to stop the spraying of toxic pesticides in Mission Viejo, California.”

Measures such as this one do not apply to homeowner associations, apartment communities, public school, or other private properties, therefore Non Toxic Irvine encourages concerned citizens to share the news of this progress with their neighbors as an example to effect more comprehensive change.

Moms Across America is delighted to share Non Toxic Irvine’s petition. More information at nontoxicirvine.org. Contact: info@nontoxicirvine.org

Paffrath is a MAA Team member and Honeycutt is the founder of Moms Across America.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Senate should reject anti-consumer DARK Act

by Scott Faber, Feb. 24, 2016

This week, the Senate Agriculture Committee will consider a new version of legislation that would deny consumers the right to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown. It should be rejected.

The committee will consider legislation that has rightly been dubbed the “DARK” Act – for Denying Americans the Right to Know – because the proposal would block state GMO labeling laws without creating a national, mandatory GMO labeling system. Few issues have been as exhaustively debated as GMO labeling. But polls continue to show that nine out of ten consumers want the right to know what’s in their food – regardless of age, income or even party affiliation. It turns out that American shoppers simply want the same rights as consumers in Russia, China and more than 60 other nations.

The opponents of mandatory labeling have instead proposed “voluntary” GMO labeling as an alternative. But, food companies have been able to make voluntary GMO and non-GMO claims since 2001 and consumers are more confused than ever. What’s more, Chairman Pat Roberts’ (R-Kan.) version of the DARK Act would actually make it harder for industry leaders like Campbell’s Soup to voluntarily disclose the presence of GMOs.

Labeling opponents have also proposed high-tech alternatives that would require consumers to use their smart phones to scan electronic codes on the food packages. But, nine out of ten consumers not only want mandatory GMO labels – they tell pollsters that they want GMO labels on the package, not high-tech gimmicks. There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about digital alternatives to on-package disclosures – starting with the fact that many low income and elderly consumers don’t have smart phones.

Of course, food companies have fought mandatory disclosures as long as there have been food labels. Determined legislators and consumer advocates have always had to fight for labels designed to cure consumer confusion, including everything from “orange juice from concentrate” to “imitation crab.” The same goes for state-mandated food label disclosures, which are clearly permitted under the National Labeling and Education Act. In this case, state GMO labeling laws are all virtually identical, so claims of a “patchwork” quilt are a (industry-engineered) red herring.

What’s clear is that mandatory GMO labeling will not increase food prices. Food companies change their labels all the time and studies show that a fact-based GMO disclosure will not act as a warning. Even Campbell’s Soup agrees that GMO labeling will not increase food prices. Industry-funded studies that suggest otherwise wrongly presume that a disclosure on the back of the package will cause sudden changes in consumer choices – and so bogus that the Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave one such study “three Pinocchios.” Sadly, labeling opponents are making the same tired arguments that were made to fight the Nutrition Facts Panel nearly three decades ago.

It’s not just consumer groups who support GMO labeling. Because one-third of harvested acres not genetically engineered but are threatened by drifting GMO pollen and pesticides, many farm groups, including the National Farmers Union, support GMO labeling. So do more than 100 food industry CEOs and more than 400 of the nation’s leading chefs.

At a time when consumers are paying closer attention to their food choices than ever before, only Congress would seriously consider legislation to deny people the right to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown. The Senate Agriculture Committee should reject Roberts’ version of the DARK Act, and instead listen to the overwhelming chorus of American consumers – and voters – who want to know if their foods contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Faber is senior vice president for Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and executive director of Just Label It.

Senate GMO Labeling Bill Would Keep Consumers in the Dark

Like a House version, the bill would preempt state laws

By Consumer Reports

February 23, 2016

The July deadline requiring GMO labeling on packaged foods sold in Vermont is fast approaching. But some members of Congress and players in the food industry are still trying to stop this new law from taking effect.

Last week, Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced a draft bill that's essentially the Senate's version of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 (H.R. 1599)—which has also been called the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act by consumer groups, including Consumer Reports. That bill was passed by the House of Representatives this past summer.

Like the DARK Act, Roberts’ version would preempt any state GMO labeling laws, such as Vermont’s new law, and calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set voluntary GMO labeling standards. But it also directs the USDA to promote GMOs. The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to review the bill this week and it could soon come to the full Senate for a vote. 

One of the food industry’s arguments against mandatory GMO labeling is that it would raise food prices. Most recently, a study released by the Corn Refiners Association (corn grown in the U.S. is largely genetically modified) concluded that consumers would spend an extra $1,000 per year at the supermarket.

But a previous analysis by Consumer Reports, conducted by an independent economic research firm, found that GMO labeling would add just $2.30 per year to the average consumers’ grocery bill—or less than a penny per day. See the full report (PDF).

Why such a large difference in the numbers?

“Like previous industry-funded studies, the Corn Refiners Association study lumps the cost of changing food labels to list GMO ingredients together with the cost of producing products using non-GMO ingredients,” says Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “Our findings are much more realistic because we looked at the labeling costs only, which is all the Vermont law requires.”

Indeed, in January when Campbell Soup Co. announced that it would label its products as containing GMOs, the company made it clear that there would be no increase in the price of its products. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It Is Time To Call Your Senators - GMO Labeling Hearing This Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, 10:00 a.m.

IT IS TIME TO CALL YOUR SENATORS!!!

Senate Hearing on GMO Labeling…

Business Meeting to consider the Chairman’s Mark on Biotechnology Labeling Solutions


Senate Hearing Will Be Held This Thursday, 10:00 a.m.
Location: 328A Russell Senate Office Building

The Senate will be holding a hearing this Thursday so you still have time to call your Senators.

As a Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert and after educating the community for 8 years on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and launching a series of health articles, health books and a health blog -- http://nongmohealthmovement.blogspot.com/-- it’s very disheartening to see that many people are still dying from “preventable” and “curable” illnesses and diseases.

How Are Geneticially Modified Foods Created?

GMO seeds are made in a lab. Biotech scientists took the DNA of plants and the DNA of animals and mixed it with pesticides and herbicides -- then they mixed in bacteria and fungus -- to try to create some type of “superbreed” – a plant or animal that grows faster, bigger, and stronger.

Even though we are building momentum in the movement to educate the world about Genetically Modified foods, many people are still left in the dark.



It’s time to wake up from your mass media induced coma and face the fact that if you want to protect yourself and your children and their children from the deadly effects of GMOs, you’re going to have to do it yourself -- because the government and regulators have been either “paid off” or “silenced” -- so that bioech companies can earn huge profits. This is all about money!!!

We are at the mercy of biotech companies that stand to make billions of dollars from selling GMO foods, and could lose billions if they are ever found to be dangerous. This is a very big conflict of interest! The biotech companies are essentially “self-regulating” -- just like the banking industry has been. That should be cause for great alarm! We all know what happened to the banking industry in the U.S. in 2007-2008.

If you sleep on this one, by the time the truth becomes known, it will be too late because the effects of these genetically modified foods will already be in the genes of your children and grandchildren. Just because people aren’t dropping dead in large numbers “yet” -- doesn’t mean that it won’t happen in the near future.



Yo! from Occupy-Monsanto.com
Monsanto's money will be on display this week because the Senate is holding a hearing this Thursday on their version of the DARK ACT.



Please call your Senators RIGHT NOW, TOMORROW, THURSDAY, AND FRIDAY!!!



1. Americans have a right to know – Nine out of ten Americans want the right to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown – regardless of age, income or even party affiliation.

2. 64 nations have GMO labeling – Two-thirds of the world’s consumers – including citizens of Russia and China – have the right to know whether their food contains GMOs.

3. Voluntary labeling won’t work – Food companies have been able to make voluntary GMO and non-GMO claims since 2001, and consumers are more confused than ever. The Senate DARK Act would actually make it harder for companies like Campbell’s Soup to voluntarily disclose the presence of GMOs.

4. Consumers want clear labels, not codes – Nine out of 10 consumers want GMO labels on the package, not high-tech gimmicks.

5. Food labels help correct confusion — Federal rules already require many disclosures to alleviate consumer confusion, ranging from “orange juice from concentrate” to “imitation crab.”

6. No patchwork quilt – State GMO labeling laws are virtually identical, so there will be no “patchwork” quilt of different state laws. Besides, states already require state-specific food labels for everything from “cottage foods” to butter and cheese grading.

7. GMO labels will not increase food prices – Food companies change their labels all the time. Studies show that GMO labels will not act as a warning. Even Campbell’s Soupagrees that GMO labeling will not increase food prices.

8. GMO crops increase weed killer use – The widespread adoption of GMO corn and soy has led to an explosion in the use of the weed killer glyphosate, which is linked to cancer. Thousands of schools and churches are in the zone of crops routinely sprayed with glyphosate.

9. Farmers support gmo labeling – One-third of harvested acres are not genetically engineered but are threatened by drifting pollen from GMO crops and pesticides. No wonder the National Farmers Union and other farm groups support GMO labeling.

10. We don’t need GMOs to feed the world – Studies show that simple changes – such as reducing food waste and using fertilizer and water more efficiently – would do much more to feed the world than GMOs. What’s more, conventional crop yields are keeping pace with GMO crop yields.

Source: Environmental Working Group

Stay active,


Gene


GCU@Occupy-Monsanto.com
www.Occupy-Monsanto.com
Twitter.com/GMO917
Facebook.com/GeneticCrimesUnit

GMOs have been 'catastrophic' for US agricultural exports, says Canadian alfalfa exporter


Feb. 23, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 by: Daniel Barker

(NaturalNews) Pandora's box is a disturbingly apt metaphor for the GMO industry. In the Greek myth, Pandora was tempted into opening a forbidden box which contained all the evils in the world. Once the box was opened and Pandora realized what she had done, she tried to close it, but it was too late -- all the evil contained in it had escaped and spread around the planet.

When scientists first realized that they had the ability to genetically modify living organisms, they -- of course -- were tempted into doing so, despite the warnings and protests from those who foresaw the potentially destructive consequences. Biotech corporations, particularly Monsanto, pushed for the introduction of GM crops, promising benefits to farmers and consumers, but the scheme has backfired on many levels.

People are beginning to realize how greedy and shortsighted -- if not downright evil -- Monsanto and other GMO companies truly are, but it's too late. GM crops are being planted and harvested, and even in areas where they have been banned, cross-pollination contamination by GMO-tainted seed has become a serious issue.

Many countries have had the courage to outlaw GM crops and imports -- China is one of them. And China's zero-tolerance policy toward GM imports is causing big problems for U.S. alfalfa farmers.

In a recent article published by The Western Producer, a Canadian agricultural publication, hay exporter Ed Shaw was quoted as warning Canadian farmers about the "catastrophic" consequences of the blacklisting of U.S. alfalfa exporters by China after Monsanto's Roundup Ready GM alfalfa was detected among shipments from U.S. suppliers.

Shaw is concerned that the same thing could happen to Canadian alfalfa farmers, since there are currently Roundup Ready alfalfa test plots being planted in Ontario and Quebec, along with plans to expand testing in other areas of the country.

At a recent Canadian forage conference, Shaw said:

In the export market, it has become a really hot topic item with the Chinese market. The Chinese have zero tolerance for GMO. It's catastrophic.

Shaw is also concerned about GM canola seed, which is already widely planted in Canada, ending up being detected in alfalfa shipments, and said that he is worried that "if we start testing our alfalfa for zero tolerance, I bet we would fail."

China recently blacklisted three American alfalfa exporters and quarantined their shipments -- hundreds of container loads -- after finding Roundup Ready alfalfa in them. It is feared that American alfalfa shipments to China may be banned entirely, since the country forbids the importation of GM hay.

The Hay & Forage Grower website has also published an article on the subject, in which an unnamed USDA representative was quoted as saying:

We understand that China has recently increased the frequency of its GE (genetically engineered) testing and has a zero tolerance for unapproved biotech traits.

China is considering setting even stricter limitations on imports by lowering GMO acceptance thresholds from the current 5% limit to 0.2%. American exporters will likely have a difficult task in meeting these standards.

Monsanto and other biotech companies have indeed unleashed an evil which has already begun to spread throughout the world. It's time to institute a permanent global ban on all GM crops before we poison our entire food supply and endanger future generations.

Plenty of damage has already been done, some of it irreversible perhaps, but that's no reason to continue down a path of scientific madness. GM agriculture has proven itself to be a complete disaster, ecologically and economically -- let's stop the insanity now.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.producer.com

http://hayandforage.com

Friday, February 5, 2016

Should Oregon’s local governments get to ban GMO crops?

Feb. 5, 2016
Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal

The battle over genetically engineered crops has returned to the Legislature.

A House committee on Thursday heard testimony on the first of two bills that would repeal parts of 2013’s Senate Bill 863, which prohibits local governments from regulating crops or seeds. That bill was quickly passed during a special legislative session after Jackson County qualified a local GMO ban for the ballot. Jackson County was exempt and that ban has gone into effect.

Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, told the committee the law was written so broadly that it prohibits any local regulation of plants, including city ordinances regulating overgrown yards, city tree policies, and lawmakers’ own desire to let counties regulate marijuana.

“It’s added a level of confusion. We’re going to see more and more legal conflicts,” he said.

Buckley’s HB 4041 would remove “products of seeds” from the statute. He told the committee it wouldn’t reverse the local preemption created by the 2013 law.

But some committee members disagreed.

“This would gut the grand bargain then. It would gut that,” Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Dallas, said.

Several area farmers testified about the difficulties a “patchwork of local regulations” would present to those who farm in multiple counties.

Ivan Maluski, policy director for Friends of Family Farmers, countered that there’s been no action on a statewide solution to the conflict between GMO and non-GMO farmers, something that then Gov. Kitzhaber committed to in writing to win legislative support for the legislation in 2013.