Monthly Archives: April 2010

Urgent Action Alert ? Support GM Food Labeling – Take action before May 5, 2010

Tell the Minister of Health that Canada must support the right of
countries to label genetically modified (GM) foods. Send a letter
instantly from
http://www.cban.ca/labelingaction

Canada could work to shut down negotiations on GM labeling at the UN Codex meeting next week in Quebec City.

May 3-7, governments will negotiate food labeling standards at the UN Codex meeting, including recommendations on GM labeling. The US is trying to stop the negotiations from continuing, and Canada may also try to end the negotiations.

Developing countries want support from Codex for their right to label
GM foods. The US and Canada want to make sure this doesn’t happen
because Codex recommendations on GM labeling could protect developing
countries from challenges brought through the World Trade Organization.

Canada and the US also argue that GM foods are not any different from
foods created through conventional methods. This is not supported by
science, including Codex’s own food safety guidelines!

Despite polls that show over 80% of Canadians want mandatory labeling of GM foods, the Canadian government continues to bow to intense pressure from the biotech industry and refuses to label GM foods.

Help protect the rights of developing countries to label GM foods!
Take action before May 5, 2010 at http://www.cban.ca/labelingaction

For more updates and for information on labeling and Codex see http://www.cban.ca/labeling

This action alert was issued by the Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network, April 29, 2010 www.cban.ca
Donate to support the campaign today http://www.cban.ca/donate

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)

Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
431 Gilmour Street, Second Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0R5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext.6
Fax: 613 241 2506
coordinator@cban.ca
www.cban.ca

Your actions worked! MPs voted for Bill C-474! (it will now be studied by the Agriculture Committee.)
For more updates and action http://www.cban.ca/474
Donate today http://www.cban.ca/donate

Organic practices can feed the world

Be not troubled by Robert Paarlberg’s scaremongering. Organic practices can feed the world — better, in fact, than wasteful industrial farming.

In May 2004, Catherine Badgley, an evolutionary biology professor at the University of Michigan, took her students on a research trip to an organic farm near their campus. Standing on the acre-and-a-half farm, Badgley asked the farmer, Rob MacKercher, how much food he produces annually. “Twenty-seven tons,” he said. Badgley did the quick math: That’s enough to provide 150 families one pound of produce every single day of the year.

“If he can grow that quantity on this tiny parcel,” Badgley wondered, “why can’t organic agriculture feed the world?” That question was the genesis of a multi-year, multidisciplinary study to explore whether we could, indeed, feed the world with organic, sustainable methods of farming. The results? A resounding yes.

Unfortunately, you don’t hear about this study, or others with similar findings, in “Attention Whole Foods Shoppers,” Robert Paarlberg’s defense of industrial agriculture in the new issue of Foreign Policy. Instead, organic agriculture, according to Paarlberg, is an “elite preoccupation,” a “trendy cause” for “purist circles.” Sure, sidling up to a Whole Foods in your Lexus SUV and spending $24.99 on artisan fromage may be the trappings of a privileged foodie, but there’s an SUV-sized difference between obsessing about the texture of your goat cheese and arguing for a more sustainable food system. Despite Paarlberg’s pronouncements, Badgley’s research, along with much more evidence, helps us see that what’s best for the planet and for people — especially small-scale farmers who are the hungriest among us — is a food system based on agroecological practices. What’s more, Paarlberg’s impressive-sounding statistics veil the true human and ecological cost we are paying with industrial agriculture.

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Conservative Party makes huge blunder in GMO email

Written by April Reeves, Director, GE Free BC

I was forwarded this email today from a colleague. It’s a response from Conservative MP Alice Wong regarding their stance on Bill C-474. This response clearly states how little the Conservative party thinks about our rights, freedom, and intelligence. Read on:

Dear Alice Wong, MP, Richmond, Conservative Party,

On April 28, 2010, you sent a response to a fellow named ‘Bruno Vernier’ regarding Bill C-474. I would like to remind you of this email, and I have a few comments about your response you should hear. Your email:

Dear Bruno,

You are absolutely correct that we are to represent the citizens of Richmond,

and that most of the e-mails we received asked us to vote for C-474. However,

our Parliamentary system isn’t totally based on referendum or constituency

majority wishes.  An MP isn’t just elected to a “puppet” of the electorate.

They are elected for their ability to lead as well as for their willingness to

follow consensus.  Yes, a good MP works hard at listening to his or her

consitutents and representing them well.  But by electing an MP, constituents

are also placing on them a mantle of authority, a “trust quotient” if you

will, to go to Ottawa and vote as they see best on issues of national

importance.  This may not always be the “popular” position and ultimately each

MP faces accountability for that at the election booth.  But they will also

run for reelection on their expertise and skill, not just on being a “puppet”

of constituents’ wishes. Parliamentary democracy has a lot of nuances to it

and there are some grey areas in how it plays itself out on the daily

political arena. The main objective of both sides was to support Canadian

farmers, and we listened to the large number of farmers who asked the

government to defeat this bill.

Voting against the C-474 was not an attempt to stifle debate over the issue.

Back in October 27, 2009, the Agriculture Committee passed a motion to study

genetically modified organisms, and the first hearing on the subject was held

on December 3. We agree that we should have a debate on the issue of GMOs in

committee; approving the substance of the bill in principle was not necessary

to facilitate that debate.

Although we have two differing opinions on the issue, I wish to thank you for

your civility and sharp grasp of the issues you advocate. We receive many

generic e-mails asking for support for different issues, but only a few take

the time to share their personal views and articulate them so well. Thank you

for dialoguing with us.

All the best,

Micah Au, Constituency Office of Alice Wong, MP for Richmond

- – -

Lets start at the beginning.

First off, you DO in fact work for the people who voted you in. It’s called Democracy, a term the Conservatives have forgotten about.

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US Supreme Court case one of history’s most important for GMO’s

April: while this case may appear to be about GE alfalfa contaminating organic crops, it has a secondary, and in my opinion, worse outcome.

Monsanto is petitioning for an injunction to stop any future law suit against them for anything. This is the worst part, as no one could ever take them to court again for anything: this is very broad: crop damage, human diseases, environmental failures and chemical contamination.

What does this mean? Now we can only sit back and watch, as Monsanto can now do whatever they want, to whomever they please. And we can’t do a thing about it, legally.

Here is a lengthy post filled with information about the beginnings of this historic case. Remember fellow Canadians, this could be us. Bees don’t need passports. We wait on the edge of our seats to hear the outcome….

Supreme Court to take first look at Genetically Modified Crops in Case
with NEPA Implications

The New York Times, USA by Gabriel Nelson    22.04.2010

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Tuesday
involving a federal judge?s temporary ban on a breed of pesticide-
resistant alfalfa, setting the stage for the court’s first-ever ruling
on genetically modified crops.

Legal experts do not expect a blockbuster decision on the merits of
regulating modified plants such as Monsanto Co.’s Roundup Ready
alfalfa, but the case, Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, has drawn
widespread interest because the justices could issue a ruling that
would raise or lower the threshold for challenges under the National
Environmental Policy Act.

Environmental groups, which frequently use the statute to bring
lawsuits against government agencies and industry groups, ‘don’t
expect anything good’ to come from the Supreme Court’s eventual
decision, said David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel at the Sierra
Club. It seems that some of the justices are ‘on a kick to gut NEPA
remedies,’ he said earlier this year during a panel discussion on
environmental law at Georgetown University.

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New Administration at USDA Steps Up to End Organic Corruption

Industry Watchdog / Washington Post Investigation Brings Down Old Leadership


Washington
, DC: In a strong departure from Bush-era policy, the USDA’s National Organic Program released a memo today banning synthetic “accessory nutrients” — ending a scandal that brought down its former organic leadership.

At issue were some of the nation’s leading manufacturers of infant formula that had been illegally adding synthetic forms of omega-3 and omega-6 oils to their organic products after a sweetheart deal between a powerful industry lobbyist and Dr. Barbara Robinson, the former head of the USDA’s organic program—exposed by a 2009 investigative report in the Washington Post.

Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), by The Cornucopia Institute and shared with the Washington Post, indicated that Robinson, after meeting with Jay Friedman, a lawyer and lobbyist with the powerful Washington law firm of Covington Burling, rescinded a ruling made by USDA career civil servants who found the inclusion of synthetic oils in organic infant formula to be illegal.

“Justice prevailed in this matter but it took a change in the administration in Washington to make this happen,” said Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute.

Problems and improprieties at the National Organic Program, during the Bush administration, were also profiled in a recently released audit from the USDA’s Inspector General’s office.

Cornucopia, an organic industry watchdog, first investigated the use of these “novel” nutritional oils, derived from soil fungus and algae, in infant formula, because they are extracted using a neurotoxic chemical, hexane, which is explicitly banned in organic production.  “We couldn’t understand why the USDA was allowing this to happen,” Kastel said.

Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act, as part of the 1990 farm bill, charging the USDA with defending the interests of ethical industry participants and protecting organic consumers against fraud.

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Scientists Fear ‘Uncertainty’ Of Genetically Altered Animals

by Elizabeth Weise, USA Today, August, 21 2002

Genetically engineered fish, shellfish and insects escaping into the wild and taking the place of their natural cousins is scientists’ biggest concern associated with advances in animal biotechnology, says a report released today by the National Academy of Sciences.

A panel of 12 scientists was asked to review current research on the issue of genetically modifying animals to produce improved food or biomedical products. This year’s report of goats that had been modified to produce spider silk in their milk is an example.

”There’s uncertainty about what happens when transgenic animals with attributes that give them advantages over wild animals get out into the environment,” says Michael Taylor, a member of the committee that wrote the report.

Other concerns include the possibility that transgenic-animal products might trigger allergies in people who eat them and the adverse effects of bioengineering on the animals themselves.

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Engineering Our Own Extinction? GE Corn Linked To Increasing Infertility

By: Christy Hardin Smith Friday November 21, 2008 4:30 pm

This is truly the stuff of nightmares.  As someone who lived through years of infertility and miscarriage misery, I can’t imagine being in the shoes of a desperate-to-be-mother who found out that an ingredient in our foodunmarked because of government bowing to the lobbying interests of farming giants like Monsanto who don’t want you knowing that there is frankenfood in your meal — was the cause?

Via Gourmet:

…Yet none of our regulatory agencies required long-term animal feeding studies before allowing all that test-tube corn to enter our food supply, according to the Center for Food Safety, and much of the short-term research that has been done was sponsored by the biotech companies that stood to profit from GE crops.

Which is why it was particularly chilling late last week to read the results of an experiment that was both long term and not conducted under the auspices of a big chemical company.

Dr. Jurgen Zentek, a professor at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, reported that he fed one group of laboratory mice traditional corn and another group GE corn made by the Monsanto Company. The GE crop is bred to survive being sprayed by herbicide and to produce its own insecticide. The mice maintained their diets for 20 weeks, long enough to produce four litters of offspring.

Zentek found that the mice who dined on modified corn had fewer litters, fewer offspring, and more instances of complete infertility than those receiving a conventional diet. Not only that, but the infertility of the GM-corn-fed rodents became more pronounced with each passing litter.

Zentek said that further studies to corroborate his results were “urgently needed.”

Suddenly that “not nice to fool Mother Nature” commercial from my childhood has sprung to life.  (Oh, the irony.)

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