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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CBAN: Laura Rance explains GMO problems Canadian Politicians need to know

Our voice is being heard and understood – Please see below a
significant editorial by Laura Rance, long time agriculture journalist and editor of the Manitoba Cooperator.

Critics of GM crops vindicated over time:  Multinationals control seed supply

By: Laura Rance http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/critics-of-gm-crops-vindicated-over-time-91180074.html

Just over a decade has passed since the use of genetically modified
crops on Prairie farms became widespread.

Although farmers have wholeheartedly embraced them, some of the
downsides predicted by early critics — which were pooh-poohed by the
experts — have also turned out to be true.

It turns out, cross-contamination does occur between genetically
modified (GM) and non-GM crops, such as the spread of volunteer
herbicide-resistant canola genes into other farmers’ fields.

It can also take place in the lab — as illustrated by the seepage of
GM-variety CDC Triffid flax into the Prairie flax seed supply.

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CBAN: Could Canada-Europe trade deal eliminate seed saving?

Canada-Europe trade deal could virtually eliminate farmers’ rights to save seed: National Farmers Union

The third round of trade negotiations with Europe concludes this week
in Ottawa – National Farmers Union says leaked draft text reveals that
the Canada-Europe trade deal could virtually eliminate farmers’ rights
to save seed in Canada. GMOs exempt from the agreement as European
opposition continues. For more information see http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/Trade
National Farmers Union, Press Release, April 21, 2010

Secret text of Canada-EU Trade Deal Released: The agreement may be the largest single issue on farm-policy horizon.

OTTAWA, Ont. NFU President Terry Boehm was in Ottawa Monday to
participate in the release of a draft text of the Canada-EU
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).  The NFU is a
partner in the newly-formed Trade Justice Network, the group that
released the text.  Boehm also spoke at a well-attended evening
meeting in Ottawa dealing with the CETA.

“We now have in-hand a proposed agreement that would reshape Canadian
agriculture: reducing farm support program spending; radically
rewriting the laws that govern farmers’ seed saving and re-use; and
probably in the future, opening another front in the attacks against
the Canadian Wheat Board and supply management,” said NFU President
Boehm.

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Monsanto prepares to go before Supreme Court to challenge alfalfa ban

Monsanto Co. filed a final reply brief with the U.S. Supreme Court this week in preparation for oral arguments scheduled for Tuesday on the biotech company’s challenge to a three-year-old ban on planting its genetically modified alfalfa seeds.

“This case is about fairness and choice for farmers,” said David Snively, Monsanto’s general counsel. “Farmers should be able to count on USDA approvals of biotech crops and know that any challenges to those approvals will be reviewed based on scientific evidence.”

In January, the Supreme Court said it would consider overturning a 2007 court order that has blocked Monsanto from selling alfalfa seeds that are genetically modified to resist its Roundup weed killer.

Five friends-of-the-court briefs have been filed in support of Monsanto by a total of 18 groups: American Farm Bureau Federation, Biotechnology Industry Organization, American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cotton Council and National Potato Council, Sugarbeet Growers Association, U.S. Beet Sugar Association and National Corn Growers Association, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Home Builders, CropLife America, The Washington Legal Foundation, Allied Education Foundation and the Pacific Legal Foundation. Find all of Monsanto’s court briefs in the alfalfa case here.

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Secret Canadian-European Free Trade Agreement Makes Unreasonable Demands For Citizens

April 19, 2010

Trade Justice Network releases secret draft of Canada-European Union free trade agreement, makes demands of Canadian and European governments

Ottawa, April 19 – As the third round of Canada-European Union free trade negotiations commence the newly formed Trade Justice Network today publicly released the draft text of the proposed Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) – the most significant bilateral trade negotiation since the NAFTA.

The network is raising serious concerns about the agreement’s potential impact on public and environmental policy, and public services in both Canada and Europe, among other issues, and has outlined a set of demands that must be met before negotiations are allowed to continue.

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Monsanto Faces Rising Grassroots Opposition in South Africa

Posted April 15th, 2010 by Anonymous

By Nombulelo Siqwana-Ndulo (PhD)

Multinational seed and chemical companies looking to gain a new customer base in Africa are facing increasing resistance from both farmers and consumers. Nonetheless, they are making inroads by partnering with African institutions and governments that are eager to ‘modernize’ their agricultural sectors. South Africa is of particular importance in this regard. The country has gone against the grain of general distrust of GMOs in Africa to become a gateway for the distribution of GM food aid; the commercialization and export of GM seeds; and experimentation with GM crops not approved elsewhere.[i]

But here too, they face mounting opposition. In July 2009, for instance, the South African government rejected the commercial release application for GM potatoes after the Executive Council, a government licensing body, concluded that the toxicology studies were “inadequate, scientifically poorly designed and fundamentally flawed.” It was also reported that, in 2008/2009, 80% of Monsanto’s GM maize in South Africa failed to produce a crop, leading critics to call for urgent investigation and a ban on all GM foods.

In 2002, the South African government, in partnership with U.S.-based biotech firm Monsanto, launched the so-called Massive Food Production Program (MFPP) in the country’s Eastern Cape Province. The Eastern Cape is characterized by a dual economy in which the western half of the province (previously white South Africa under apartheid) is dominated by commercial agriculture while the eastern half consists of subsistence agriculture. After the advent of democracy in 1994, there was tremendous pressure to develop the rural economy here.

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Free Movie Showing and Guest Speaker Panel

You can RSVP at: aprilreeves@shaw.ca or show up at the door. All RSVP seats will be reserved.

Guest Panel includes: April Reeves, Director, GE Free BC: Arzeena Hamir, Steering Committee, GE Free BC, Richmond Food Security, Farmland Defense League and other organizations (plus she’s an agrologist): Larry Tolton, Richmond Food Security, multiple generation farmer.

Donations will be accepted. They go towards stamps, paper, toner, envelopes and other materials. All members are volunteers. Sponsor donations include food and coupons: every participant will go home with ‘goodies’.

Hope to see you all there!

Why salads cost more than a Big Mac

April: by the way, McDonald’s scrapped their composting initiative. Seems the food wasn’t breaking down into compost…..

Read more….

New food safety bill could crush local food movement

By Chris Hinyub Sat, Apr 17th 2010

Next week, the Senate will vote on a measure that could potentially extinguish California’s local food movement. Lobbied for by multinational agribusiness giants such as Cargill and Monsanto, as well as supported by the pharmaceutical industry, The Food Safety Modernization Act would impose financially crippling and practically useless regulations on family farms and small-scale food processors according to opponents.

The bill will require all food growers, regardless of size to keep accessible records, have more accountable monitoring and traceability protocols, and impose a blanket $500 registration fee. This means costly radio frequency identification (RFID chips) implanted in livestock as well as (according to the language of the bill) “science based” and “best practices” in agriculture will be mandated.

The FDA could impose standards which mandate, amongst other agribusiness mainstays, the use of highly toxic pesticides, hormones, GMOs and food irradiation practices on any and all growers.

These practices can be arbitrarily determined by the FDA deputy commissioner for foods, Michael Taylor. Interestingly enough, before Taylor found himself in a leading position at the Food and Drug Administration, he went from being Monsanto’s attorney, key in the deregulation of genetically modified organisms, to that company’s vice president.

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Investors Dump Monsanto Shares – Friday April 16

Monsanto was one of today’s worst performing stocks, down 0.6% to $65.21 on DJ.

Syngenta SYT Earnings fell short as well, a reported first quarter 2010 revenues of $3.5 billion, just slightly lower than estimates of $3.574 billion. That’s -3% at today’s exchange rate, but -8% at a constant exchange rate to the first quarter of 2009. sales of glyphospate herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup were lower than a year ago.

Like Monsanto Corp. (MON), sales of glyphospate herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup were lower than a year ago. In Sygenta’s case by almost $100 million dollars, a drop of 34% at constant exchange rates.

With the decreasing availability of arable land, water shortages, downstream rivers drying up, and even climate change, the longer-term outlook for Ag-chemical companies is bleak.

The only question is how long does an investor want to or have to wait to realize returns. Monsanto is trying to cut its dependence on Roundup and put more attention on selling seeds. That’s a gamble, and could keep the stock price down. Syngenta seems to be taking the ‘wait-and-see’ approach, banking on higher revenues as the planting season in the northern hemisphere gets into high gear.

Which Veggie Burgers Were Made With a Neurotoxin?

By Kiera Butler Mon Apr. 12, 2010 2:30 AM PDT

UPDATE: Veggie burger rumors are flying! Some readers and other news organizations have alleged that the study I wrote about on Monday was funded by the pro-meat, anti-soy group the Weston A. Price Foundation. But this morning, I spoke with Cornucopia Institute director Mark Kastel, who said that the Weston A. Price Foundation did not contribute any funding to the “Behind the Bean” (pdf) study. More here.

UPDATE: Readers’ questions about veggie burgers and hexane answered here.

This is about the time of year when I start keeping packages of veggie burgers in the freezer, just in case of an impromptu barbecue. In the past, I haven’t had much fake meat brand loyalty: I’ve found that once I smother my hunk of textured vegetable protein in barbeque sauce, all soy patties are pretty much created equal. But after reading a recent investigation by the Cornucopia Institute, I’m going to be a lot more picky: The food and agriculture nonprofit found that most non-organic veggie burgers currently on the market are made with the chemical hexane, an EPA-registered air pollutant and neurotoxin.

In order to meet the demands of health-conscious consumers, manufacturers of soy-based fake meat like to make their products have as little fat as possible. The cheapest way to do this is by submerging soybeans in a bath of hexane to separate the oil from the protein. Says Cornucopia Institute senior researcher Charlotte Vallaeys, “If a non-organic product contains a soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, or texturized vegetable protein, you can be pretty sure it was made using soy beans that were made with hexane.”

If you’ve heard about hexane before, it was likely in the context of gasoline—the air pollutant is also a byproduct of gas refining. But in 2007, grain processors were responsible for two-thirds of our national hexane emissions. Hexane is hazardous in the factory, too: Workers who have been exposed to it have developed both skin and nervous system disorders. Troubling, then, that the FDA does not monitor or regulate hexane residue in foods. More worrisome still: According to the report,

“Nearly every major ingredient in conventional soy-based infant formula is hexane extracted.”

The Cornucopia Institute found that a number of popular veggie burgers were made with hexane. The list (pdf, page 37, and below) is longer than you might think:

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Monsanto: A Kinder, Gentler Monolith?

The Street, USA  Scott Eden   07.04.2010

ST. LOUIS (TheStreet) — Monsanto’s moment of self-reckoning has
arrived — at least when it comes to its financial growth forecasts.

In a conference call with analysts and investors Wednesday morning
following another disappointing quarterly earnings report, Monsanto
management effectively said that they’d got it all wrong. They were
turning over a new leaf — or a new cornstalk, as the case may be.

“This management has eaten a lot of crow,” said Charlie Rentschler,
an equities analyst at Morgan Joseph who participated in the call and
described it as “very sober.”

“They’re admitting their mistakes and they’re trying to modify their
ways. Assuming they can do this, it’s a step-change in how this
company has been operated. As far as I’m concerned they’ve been a
pretty arrogant bunch,” Rentschler said of the company, especially in
its relationships with distributors and end-users on the farm.

“They’ve had a lot of swagger — a do-it-my-way-or-hit-the-highway-
type attitude. They say now that’s going to stop.”

April: we’ll see if this is just another propaganda shot at working their shares back up. Farmers are bowing out of their technologies this year, too many people are now anti-GMO, and a host of other reasons are likely why this article has appeared. Can’t imagine Hugh Grant bowing to anything, but I do think we will see all versions of softer press releases from them. Not sure it will reflect the inner workings of the corporation though: you can say anything on paper: it’s harder to actually DO it. Remember: don’t let those shareholders down: must profit at all costs!
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Canada: Seeds Regulations Act

FYI: As of April 14, Bill C-474 was passed to the next ’round’. There is a God!

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS

Note from April: lots of valuable information here…

SEEDS REGULATIONS ACT
The House resumed from March 17 consideration of the motion
that Bill C-474, An Act respecting the Seeds Regulations (analysis of
potential harm), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate
the opportunity to speak to Bill C-474. The intent of Bill C-474, an
act to amend seeds regulations, is to “require that an analysis of
potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any
new genetically engineered seed is permitted”. The intent of this bill
is to require that the federal government amend the seeds regulations
in order to require that that analysis be undertaken.

I will admit that I have mixed opinions on this bill, but I will say
off the top of this debate that I am willing to allow the bill to go to
committee. What in part prompted this legislation was the discovery,
beginning in Europe in July 2009, that Canadian flax exports were
contaminated with the genetically modified flax, Triffid. The
presence of the GM flax was found first in Germany in cereal and
bakery products.

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Study shows GMO crops ‘can cause liver and kidney damage’

Fresh fears were raised over GM crops yesterday after a study showed they can cause liver and kidney damage.

According to the research, animals fed on three strains of genetically modified maize created by the U.S. biotech firm Monsanto suffered signs of organ damage after just three months.

The findings only came to light after Monsanto was forced to publish its raw data on safety tests by anti-GM campaigners.

They add to the evidence that GM crops may damage health as well as be harmful to the environment.

The figures released by Monsanto were examined by French researcher Dr Gilles-Eric Seralini, from the University of Caen.

Yesterday he called for more studies to check for long-term organ damage.

‘What we’ve shown is clearly not proof of toxicity, but signs of toxicity,’ he told New Scientist magazine. ‘I’m sure there’s no acute toxicity but who’s to say there are no chronic effects?’

The experiments were carried out by Monsanto researchers on three strains of GM maize. Two of the varieties contained genes for the Bt protein which protects the plant against the corn borer pest, while a third was genetically modified to be resistant to the weedkiller glyphosate. All three strains are widely grown in , while one is the only GM crop grown in , mostly in .

Monsanto only released the raw data after a legal challenge from , the Swedish Board of Agriculture and French anti- GM campaigners.

Dr Seralini concluded that rats which ate the GM maize had ‘ statistically significant’ signs of liver and kidney damage. Each strain was linked to unusual concentrations of hormones in the blood and urine of rats fed the maize for three months, compared to rats given a non-GM diet.

The higher hormone levels suggest that animals’ livers and kidneys are not working properly.

Female rats fed one of the strains also had higher blood sugar levels and raised levels of fatty substances caused triglycerides, Dr Seralini reported in the International Journal of Microbiology.

The analysis concluded: ‘These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown.’

Monsanto claimed the analysis of its data was ‘based on faulty analytical methods and reasoning, and does not call into question the safety findings for these products’.

Special Report: Are regulators dropping the ball on biocrops?

Carey Gillam COLUMBIA, Missouri    Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:45pm EDT
Robert Kremer, a U.S. government microbiologist who studies Midwestern farm soil, has spent two decades analyzing the rich dirt that yields billions of bushels of food each year and helps the United States retain its title as breadbasket of the world.
Kremer’s lab is housed at the University of Missouri and is literally in the shadow of Monsanto Auditorium, named after the $11.8 billion-a-year agricultural giant Monsanto Co.. Based in Creve Coeur, Missouri, the company has accumulated vast wealth and power creating chemicals and genetically altered seeds for farmers worldwide.

But recent findings by Kremer and other agricultural scientists are raising fresh concerns about Monsanto’s products and the Washington agencies that oversee them. The same seeds and chemicals spread across millions of acres of U.S. farmland could be creating unforeseen problems in the plants and soil, this body of research shows.

Kremer, who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), is among a group of scientists who are turning up potential problems with glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and the most widely used weed-killer in the world.

“This could be something quite big. We might be setting up a huge problem,” said Kremer, who expressed alarm that regulators were not paying enough attention to the potential risks from biotechnology on the farm, including his own research.

Concerns range from worries about how nontraditional genetic traits in crops could affect human and animal health to the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds.

Biotech crop supporters say there is a wealth of evidence that the crops on the market are safe, but critics argue that after only 14 years of commercialized GMOs, it is still unclear whether or not the technology has long-term adverse effects.

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Farmers reject high price of Monsanto seeds

From: Lucy Sharratt – CBAN Coordinator: coordinator@cban.ca

Monsanto earnings down, scraps profit target – farmers reject high priced GE seeds

Monsanto’s earnings disappoint – abandon target to double profits in 5 years – Farmers don’t buy Monsanto’s high prices.

Monsanto’s second quarter earnings did not match their projections, though the company is still robust (some were expecting worse results). Here are summary points from the below news:

- 19% drop in fiscal second quarter earnings, scrapped its target to double profit in 5 years.
– Monsanto shares have fallen about 15% this year.
– Equities analyst refers to Monsanto’s arrogance, its ambitious growth projections were unrealistic.
– Farmers refusing to pay new high price for Monsanto’s eight trait GE corn “SmartStax”  $75/bag http://www.cban.ca/corn
– Farmers also refusing to pay high prices for Roundup Ready2 technology.
– Monsanto’s claims to higher yield not substantiated with third-party data.
– Monsanto now reducing prices, heavily discounting SmartStax = “penetration pricing” to gain market share.

For more info on Monsanto: http://www.cban.ca/monsanto

You can write a letter from CBAN’s website to the Minister of Health asking her to withdraw approval for Monsanto’s “SmartStax” corn: http://www.cban.ca/corn

Update on Bill C-474

CBAN (Lucy Sharratt) sent this: we all need to move on this today!

Bill C-474 was voted down but not out!!

Your letters have a strong influence!  We are making great headway with this approach; the biotech firms are lobbying heavily to counter us. We must protect our farmers or lose our export markets and our ability to grow our own food.

Bill C-474 would support Canadian farmers by requiring that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”

April 1 Update: Loud “nays’ from Conservative MPs registered the provisional but not official defeat of Bill C-474 on April 1 in the oral vote – however your letters convinced the Liberal Agriculture Critic to recommend the Bill to Committee rather defeat it. On April 14 there will be an official, registered vote of all MPs present in the House at that time – the Liberal Party needs to make sure that all Liberal MPs vote for Bill C-474 on April 14!

You can write to the Liberals directly: CBAN has set up a page to make it easy for you: Letter to Michael Ignatieff.

Write your local MP here: Letter to my MP

Thank you to everyone who has done this, and an extra huge thanks for those that have forwarded this! It’s in our hands – we have the power!!

April Reeves, Director, GE Free BC

Who Owns The Rights To The Food You Eat?

The story of GMOs by Dave Rochlin, Founder and CEO of ClimatePath

Monsanto’s genetically engineered “Roundup Ready” seed line now accounts for 93 percent of the soybeans and 82 percent of the corn produced in the U.S., according to a recent Bloomberg article.

Should you be concerned? As Michael Pollan has pointed out, corn is the “keystone species of the industrial food system, along with its sidekick, soybean”:

Take a typical fast food meal. Corn is the sweetener in the soda. It’s in the corn-fed beef Big Mac patty, and in the high-fructose syrup in the bun, and in the secret sauce….The “four different fuels” in a Lunchables meal, are all essentially corn-based. The chicken nugget—including feed for the chicken, fillers, binders, coating, and dipping sauce—is all corn….even the salads at McDonald’s are full of high-fructose corn syrup and thickeners made from corn.”

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A Pfizer Whistle-Blower Is Awarded $1.4 Million

By ANDREW POLLACK and DUFF WILSON Published: April 2, 2010

A federal jury has awarded $1.37 million in damages to a former Pfizer scientist who claimed she was sickened by a genetically engineered virus at a company laboratory and then fired for raising safety concerns (you can find her original article here).

The case, which was decided Thursday, has raised questions about the safety of workers in the biotechnology industry and about regulations to protect them. The new head of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration said on Friday that the agency was moving to improve regulation of biological materials.

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