Monthly Archives: February 2010

Video on Urban Food Growing in Cuba

Young people in Havanna Cuba are growing urban organic gardens within their city. It’s a good model to use for your own backyard ideas and community gardens.

Cuba Urban Gardens

Global GM Crop Slowdown

Feb 26, 2010,  Josette Dunn

The annual GM industry-funded survey of global GM crops, by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agro-biotech Applications (ISAAA), shows 7 of the 25 GM countries grew less genetically manipulated (GM) crops in 2009. No more countries adopted GM and just 2.7% of global agricultural land was used for GM soy, corn, canola and cotton.

Canola

This slowdown in GM crops appears to be largely due to the widespread public concern about the safety of consuming GM foods.  “Most GM product goes into animal feed, biofuels or cotton products, as shoppers avoid eating GM foods” says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps.

“GM is not a global industry. Just six countries dominate GM cropping, with the USA, Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada and China growing 95% of all GM crops. Though 20 other countries, including Australia, grow some GM they are just dabbling.

“The Cartagena Biosafety Protocol will be completed this year, giving countries more grounds for saying ‘no’ to GM crops. 156 countries are now members of the treaty but Australia is not among them.”

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international agreement on biosafety, as a supplement to the Convention on Biological Diversity.  The Biosafety Protocol aims to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.

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SmartStax corn is now in the ground

Monsanto’s 8 trait SmartStax corn is now being planted:

There’s been a lot of buzz about Smartstax, the eight-trait hybrid corn seed with reduced pest refuge developed by Dow Agrosciences and Monsanto, but reports from south Texas have it that some of the new seed is actually in the ground.

Farmer Robert Rieder of Sinton, Tx., planted some of the new seed late last week in an area where spring already has begun. Dow Agrosciences and Monsanto have begun selling Smartstax under Monsanto’s DeKalb, Kruger, Holden’s brand and Dow’s Mycogen seed lines.

SmartStax has been approved by federal regulators to reduce their pest refuge – the planted acres set aside for non pest-resistant corn – from 20 percent to 5 percent. The refuge is required to prevent the mutation of bugs resistant to insecticides and anti-pest genomics in seeds.

Pioneer Hi-Bred of Johnston is awaiting federal approval for its AcreMax seed lines which also will allow reduced acreage.

What this means for consumers: It’s a ‘watch and wait’ game to see if this corn has similar effects as StarLink. As a consumer, this is the last summer to eat anything with corn in it, unless you know exactly where it came from. Don’t be a guinea pig.

A seed compromise worth thinking about

I just came across this company, eMerge, who produces patented hybrid non-GMO seeds for corn and soybeans.

They state that these seeds will produce high yields and are healthier than GM. That’s good: that’s believable.

They ask that you buy their seeds each year instead of keeping them. While I still like the idea of keeping and saving seeds each year, could this be a reasonable compromise?

Why can’t Monsanto do this? Is it so hard to just drop the DNA altered foods and come to some agreement to at least provide farmers and consumers with a better alternative?

Keep moving ahead eMerge. You will likely be one of the last companies standing, along with the rest of us who save seeds each year. We have varieties Monsanto will never find or patent.

People are waking  up.

Farmers, Others Sue USDA Over Monsanto GMO Alfalfa

Date: 17-Feb-06
Country: USA
Author: Carey Gillam

Opening another front in the battle over genetically modified crops, the lawsuit contends that the US Department of Agriculture improperly is allowing Monsanto Co to sell an herbicide-resistant alfalfa seed while failing to analyse the public health, environmental, and economic consequences of that action.

“The USDA failed to do a full environmental review when they deregulated this genetically engineered alfalfa,” said Will Rastov, an attorney for Center for Food Safety, one of the plaintiffs. “They’re going to wreak untold dangers into the environment.”

Read More Here

Food Inc on the web!

Quick, before it’s taken down: Food Inc. is on the web at full format: Food Inc.

GMO Foods: kernels that may be of interest

By Kenda Swartz Pepper | Published: February 7, 2010

You may recall from previous posts the role Michael Taylor played in affecting your food.  As of January 2010, the new Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA is none other than Michael R. Taylor.  Good ole’ Mike. Mikey mike mike. The Mikester.  Mikemonger. The Mike-man makin’ messages.

One may feel a special closeness – a bond even – with this guy.  After all, if you recall, in November 1993 during the Clinton administration, while in the FDA, he helped put Bovine Growth Hormone into your milk.  Taylor was the leader (I use that word loosely) in banning the labeling of GM products.  Oh, and for more than ten years he worked for Monsanto. He was intimately involved in some bad food policy, which makes you, the consumer, intimately involved with the outcome of his decisions.

Here’s some scoop on Mike Taylor and other government associations with Monsanto

In 1994, the FDA, while in the sack with Monsanto put out a message to grocery stores and dairy farmers who weren’t using rBGH:

Do not label milk as free of the hormone.

Shortly thereafter (within a matter of weeks) Monsanto sued two milk processors that labeled milk as free of the hormone according to a New York Times article.

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GMO’s – Banning together: what to do about GM foods

Get Your Gen Mo Out of My Food Yo: Part VI – Banning together

By Kenda Swartz Pepper | Published: February 8, 2010

So how is it the general American population is allowing multinational chemical corporations to determine the quality (or lack thereof) level of our food whereas some countries are clearly taking a stand against Genetically Modified foods?  How is it that the general American population is allowing Agrochemical companies to wreak indescribable havoc on our earth, our bodies, our children’s bodies?  Some countries say they will first watch and see what happens to America’s children before they make a decision about whether they will or will not grow or import genetically modified crops/food.  They can clearly see that our children are part of a massive outcome study.  

Ban Lifters and Crashers

This is not an all-inclusive list.  I welcome any thoughts or additions in the comment section.

According to The Australian in late 2007 the states of New South Wales and Victoria lifted their bans while South Australia continues its ban (Well done South Australia). Tasmania has a ban in place until 2014 (Well done Tasmania!). The state of Queensland has had commercial GM crops since 1996 and has never had a GM ban.

From 2010 onward genetically modified canola can be grown in Western Australia according to the decision of Food Minister Terry Redman and against the wishes of many in WA.  Boooooooooooooooo. Mates.

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Your Cell Phone and SmartStax Corn

If you own a cell phone you really must watch this video. No, this post has nothing to do with GMO’s, but I also blog about other potentially harmful threats to your health, and this one was blatantly NOT funny:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/pop-corn

And then I thought: “wonder if SmartStax 8-trait corn will pop like that?”  The first seeds were put into the ground last week in Texas.

Abuses of Biotechnology posing Threats to Survival

Monday 22 February 2010, by Sailendra Nath Ghosh

The following is the lucidest possible exposition of transgenic genetic engineering. There has been no other exposition anywhere with comparable lucidity of this intricate subject. Since this kind of engineering poses a threat to life’s survival on earth, it has become a crucial political issue. This article was published in Mainstream Annual 2001 (dated December 22, 2001). It is being reproduced here, with minor alternations by the author, in view of the latest controversy surrounding Bt brinjal.

Despite this massive evidence that harmony with Nature gives plentitude and permanence, the practitioners of “nature-conquering science” are now embarking on an yet more dangerous course—namely, “transgenic genetic engineering”. Bioscience—whose purpose was to understand the interlinkages between and among plant and animal species and to find thereform the clues to least expensive agri- and other cultures and cures for diseases—has long been hijacked by commercial interests to enthrone biotechnology, in which the emphasis is on mass production rather than production by the masses. Hybridisation, tissue culture, even cloning to a limited extent of endangered species to repair the damage of near-extinction already done to bioresources, was permissible. But what is now being attempted in the wake of the failure of the “Green Revolution” is a hydra-headed disaster, a biological holocaust, more insidious than nuclear holocaust because it is silent and, in the initial stages, imperceptible.

The “bright” idea is to transfer genes to unrelated species that never interbreed in nature, such as inserting toad genes into potatoes or genes of some bacteria into crop plants. Scientists have taken the gene in a firefly that emits light and inserted it into the genetic code of tobacco plant. Anti-freeze gene from the “flounder fish” has been inserted into the genetic code of tomato plant to protect the plant from cold spells. Insecticide producing gene from bacteria and viruses are being inserted into plants. Attempts are being made to create novel life forms that have not existed before.

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Serious birth defects linked to the agricultural chemical atrazine

Monday, February 22, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer

(NaturalNews) Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which the intestines, and sometimes other organs, develop outside the fetal abdomen and poke out through an opening in the abdominal wall. Long considered a rare occurrence, gastroschisis has mysteriously been on the rise over the last three decades. In fact, the incidence of the defect has soared, increasing two to four times in the last 30 years. But why?

Researchers think they’ve found the answer. The culprit behind the suffering of babies born with this condition appears to be the agricultural chemical atrazine. That’s the conclusion of a study just presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) held in Chicago.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle were alerted to a higher than normal number of cases in of the birth defect in babies born in eastern Washington. So they began investigating to see if the increased incidence was due to some kind of environmental exposure in that area.
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Farmers that save seeds are soon sued

Get Your Gen Mo Out of My Food Yo: Part IV – Farmers who save seeds are soon sued

By Kenda Swartz Pepper | Published: February 6, 2010

Farmers and Furious Curious Twists of Injustice

Farmers have been front and center pawns in the GM Food chess game.  To their credit, farmers historically have a hard working life and little return for their investment of blood, sweat, tears and dollars.  They spend their morning, days and evenings working, day in and day out, week after week, year after year, and the prospect of being part of a growing corporation could offer great appeal along with the aspiration of one day retiring.  While yes, they are partly responsible for producing GM crops, they are also responding to the consumer’s demand and a corporation’s command.

Sadly, once again, Syndrome’s immoral wanton ways are masked by a facade of hope for the greater good.  Global Exchange lists the top 14 ‘Most Wanted’ Human Rights violators for 2007 (I didn’t see a ‘Most Wanted’ list for 2008 or 2009).  Monsanto is on that list for abuses of displacement, health violations, and child labor. According to Global Exchange, in India, an estimated 12, 400 children were working for Monsanto in cottonseed production as of 2007.  Global Exchange adds how a number of (unspecified) children have died from exposure to pesticides.

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Traditional seed supply found to have GM DNA

If you read nothing else read this – April

What is new about the Gone to Seed report?

Gone to Seed reports, for the first time, that the traditional seed supply for important food crops is contaminated with DNA from genetically engineered crops. UCS tested six traditional varieties each from three crops—corn, soybeans, and canola—and found that most of them carry pieces of DNA from genetically engineered varieties.

Why is contamination of the traditional seed supply important?

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Bt crop: Insect-resistant crop variety engineered to produce an insect toxin originally found in a soil bacterium. YieldGard, NaturGard, KnockOut, and StarLink are trade names of some Bt-corn varieties.

DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid, the linear macromolecule that makes up the genetic material of most organisms. DNA usually exists as a double-stranded helix.

Gene: Functional unit of hereditary material usually carried on chromosomes and passed from parent to offspring. A gene codes for proteins (the molecules that are responsible, alone or in combination, for traits exhibited by plants such as seed color and shape, height, and insect resistance).

Genetic engineering: Molecular-level techniques capable of combining genes and regulatory sequences and transferring them into an organism. These techniques, which may be used to transfer genes between unrelated organisms or to remove and rearrange genes within a species, are also called  transgenic, gene splicing, and genetic modification techniques.

Herbicide-resistant variety: Plant variety resistant to the otherwise toxic effects of herbicides.

Pollen: Dust-like material, produced by the male parts of flowers, which contains male sex cells.

Primer set: Short pieces of DNA added to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) mixtures to “find” the pieces of target DNA that will be copied. Primer sets are synthesized to match sequences at the beginning and end of the target DNA, thereby defining the exact segment to be subsequently duplicated by a DNA-copying enzyme.

Traditional seeds represent the portion of the seed supply that is presumed not to be genetically engineered. Such seeds are important to conventional farmers exporting crops to countries that reject  genetic engineering; to organic farmers who are barred from using genetically engineered seeds; and to society as a whole as an insurance policy against the possibility that something might go awry with genetic engineering.

How did the contamination occur?

UCS is not sure. We do know that there are two major routes by which the DNA we detected could move into seed supplies: physical mixing  of seeds or seed parts, and pollen, which is carried by wind or insects to the female parts of plants and gives rise to new seeds. But we do not know whether seed mixing or pollen flow or both account for the engineered genetic material we found in traditional varieties in our study.

What kinds of genetically engineered elements are contaminating traditional varieties of seeds?

Again, we do not know. We could only test for a few genes—those that are used in popular herbicide- resistant and Bt varieties of genetically engineered crops—and we did detect some of those genes. But there are many other genes that could potentially contaminate traditional seeds that we could not test for. Gone to Seed lists hundreds of genes and traits that have been moved into varieties of soybeans, corn, and canola, such as genes added to corn to produce drugs for people and animals and to alter the crop’s starch, oil, and protein makeup.

If corn, soybeans, and canola are safe to eat, why would anyone be concerned about the low levels of seed contamination that UCS found?

Well, first, we’re not sure what the levels of contamination across
the seed supply really are, although the limited data in our study suggest that it is low. One reason we advocate a large follow-up study is to obtain better estimates of the levels of contamination.

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Few really great GMO articles

By April Reeves

Genetic Modification (GMO) Not Only Effects Our Food Quality But Now Our Herbal Herb Medicine

It seems there is no where you can turn that you won’t find GMO’s in every food source now. But building Natural supplements with GM plants and herbs is a complete oxymoron. Of course it won’t be labeled. This article has some very good arguments and statistics. Please read on!

Will Future Generations Be Less Contaminated? Lawmakers are Deciding Now

This article may not be GM but it does beg the question: will our grandkids be less contaminated than we are? This illuminates the insidious nature of big corporations to control what we put in our mouths, in every aspect. The fight against GMO’s is not just about GM’s: it’s also about choice and control.

GM Pigs

Now our meat supplies are unknown. I will be launching a big campaign against this soon. Write, email, do all you can to let pork producers know you will stop eating anything pig if this goes through. Even if you don’t eat pig! They need to know we exist, and we need the masses to speak out! You can contact all local hog producers, write to the Western Producer newspaper, write all gov agencies, and protest around any hog producer’s buildings and/or events.

What you don’t know about GMO won’t hurt you

Get Your Gen Mo Out of My Food Yo: Part III – What you don’t know about your GMO won’t hurt you

By Kenda Swartz Pepper | Published: February 5, 2010

So, What’s the Problem with Genetically Modified Food?

For starters…the health of the planet, your food, your body and your children’s bodies are at risk.

Allergies

Do you know someone who is highly or even mildly allergic to soy?  More than 60 serious health risks have been discovered as a result of GM foods including serious allergies that are a direct consequence of new proteins found in these organisms.

Many years ago, I was diagnosed with a corn allergy.  It was unfathomable to me that I was allergic to corn!  I grew up in a region of Pennsylvania nestled within the Appalachian Mountains where corn grew in great abundance.  Corn remained a staple food for me long after leaving Pennsylvania.  After this new allergic discovery, I avoided corn for quite some time and eventually over the past few years reintroduced it back into my diet.  I need my corn!  The major difference now is that I only (to the best of my knowledge) eat organic or non-GMO corn and corn products.  So far so good.

Your health and the health of your loved ones

Doctor doctor give me the news, I got a bad case of the Monsanto blues.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has called for a moratorium on Genetically Modified foods.  They also want long-term independent studies, and labeling for GM foods.

The AAEM’s statement on Genetically Modified foods includes the following information:

Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system. There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects

The statement continues on to address some specific problems caused by GM foods as a result of animal studies.  These include significant immune problems (asthma, allergies) and cellular changes that could accelerate aging.

The feeding of GM corn to mice has been linked to infertility, a significant decrease in offspring and significant lower litter weightInsulin regulation, immune system functioning and cholesterol synthesis are also listed among the outcomes of GM food animal studies.

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Get GM out of your food

Get Your Gen Mo Out of My Food Yo: Part I – The spoof’s in the genetically modified pudding

By Kenda Swartz Pepper | Published: February 3, 2010
It plays like a really really bad B movie, but that’s redundant.  Sadly this modern day version of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is painfully realistic.  The evil tomatoes while not as big as cars and while not overtly stalking the people of San Diego as they attempt to escape their certain pureed demise, are much more insidious – even invisible – to the consumer’s eye.  And despite the fact the general American public is being spoofed, there is nothing funny about Genetically Modified Foods.

What is a GMO?

A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic makeup has been altered to serve another purpose.  One may also see the terms GE (Genetically Engineered) and Transgenic.  Take the gene of one species and put it into the gene of another.  The idea of genetic modification has been around for quite a long time. For thousands and thousands of years farmers have experimented to improve the quality of their crops through a process of selection and cross-breeding.  Even with nature, plants and animals selectively breed.  It’s nature’s way of assuring a strong gene pool.  It’s that whole survival of the fittest thing.  Today, the most prolific GMOs are crop plants developed in a laboratory not on a farm.  Whereas traditional breeding is between reproduction of likeorganisms, today’s bioengineers isolate genes from unlike organisms (including bacteria, viruses and animals) creating an unnatural sequence and a synthetic outcome that requires artificial assistance to reach its full potential.

Genetically Modified (GM) Foods have had their DNA changed through genetic engineering.  According to Jeffrey Smith, author of the #1 GMO bestseller Seeds of Deception, and Genetic Roulette, the four major GM crops are soy, corn, cotton and canola.  Smith states there are two major traits of GM foods:

about 80% are genetically engineered to not die when sprayed with herbicide and about 20% are genetically engineered to create their own pesticide.  A very small percentage of crops such as zucchini, crookneck squash and Hawaiian papaya are GE to resist disease.

According to WHO, all GM crops available on the international market today have been designed using one of three basic traits:

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More on the risks of using pesticides

You may ask why I am posting issues on pesticides. You may ask what they have to do with GMO’s?

Everything.

GMO crops use pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides) and because there is a resistance being created in weeds to these chemicals, all forms of pesticides are being manufactured in stronger batches. It’s a cycle that will be very difficult to break now. We are in it. This is the tipping point. It is up to every individual to come to some understanding of what the real issue is here. It’s not about the chemicals. It’s about control. Read on:

By DR. IAN SIMPSON
The Western Star

My letter last week about cosmetic use of pesticides has promoted some discussion both in The Western Star printed edition and its web edition.

I would like to reply to Tuesday’s letter from Lorne Hepworth of CropLife Canada.
He states “we can rest assured that before any pesticide is sold in Canada it undergoes comprehensive scientific review and risk assessment by Health Canada.”

Health Canada has created PMRA — the Pesticide Management and Regulatory Agency — which is the responsible body for reviewing all the studies submitted. But there are problems:

  • Underfunding — in 2002, $8 million of the funding was from the pesticide industry.
  • PMRA does not conduct its own in-house laboratory work. It reviews the research provided — most of it from industry sources and most of it not published in peer reviewed literature.
  • The industry requests PMRA to treat the material as “proprietary.” So this science remains hidden.
  • PMRA relies mainly on U.S.A. studies (80 per cent of the studies reviewed in the early part of the decade.)
  • Health Canada has a track record of approving pesticides, only to later phase them out due to health and environmental concerns. Examples: DDT, Eldrin, Diazinon, Dursan, Mecoprop.
  • PMRA  does not evaluate other chemicals in the formulation, so- called “inerts,” or the breakdown products.

Mr. Hepworth goes on to say “As for benefits … well maintained public and private spaces make for happier  healthier communities.” Happier I will not debate, but healthier? This I will argue is nonsense. In the comments on the web page, DB from NL worries at the use of the word “linked” when commenting on the link between pesticide exposure and different diseases. DB would like hard numbers and quantification.

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Genetic Engineer speaks out against GMO’s

14/09/2009 (but still important)

Michael Antoniou teaches Molecular Genetics at King’s College, London. In his spare time, he likes to help non-profits with information on the science of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Savvy Soumya Misra met him at a workshop in Delhi recently where he was vocal against GMOs. Edited excerpts.

Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for environment and forests, recently said GM crop (Bt cotton) is acceptable but GM food (Bt brinjal) is not.

This is the first time I have heard somebody make this distinction. People who draw this distinction see cotton as a non-food product but they forget cotton seeds are used for oil, animals eat the stub after harvest and farmers are always in contact with cotton. There is evidence that these farmers have suffered allergic reactions; this needs an official follow-up though. Both environmental and health implications have to be taken into account.

Hazards of GMO’s

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Bloomberg India Rejects First GM Vegetable, Hampering Monsanto Expansion

February 09, 2010, 09:04 AM EST

By Jay Shankar and Thomas Kutty Abraham

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) — India’s government rejected the nation’s first genetically modified food after protests by farmers, hampering the expansion of seed makers including Monsanto Co. in the world’s second-most populous nation.

“There is no overriding food security argument for Bt brinjal,” or genetically modified eggplant, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said at a press conference in the capital, New Delhi. “Our objective is to restore public confidence and trust in Bt brinjal.” A moratorium will be imposed until safety studies are carried out “to the satisfaction of the scientific community,” he said.

Ramesh, 55, had to balance the technology’s promise to help feed a nation growing by 18 million people a year, more than the population of the Netherlands, and concern that food safety and threats to biodiversity have not been investigated. Monsanto, the world’s largest seed maker, supplied the gene for the vegetable and introduced genetically modified cotton in India eight years ago.

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Journal article says suppressed study found GM corn killed ladybugs

A recent article in Nature Biotechnology on how biotechnology companies restrict independent research described a study showing that a genetically modified corn killed ladybugs and that the study was suppressed by the corn’s developer.

In 2001, Pioneer Hi-Bred developed a GM corn variety that contained two Bt toxins, Cry34Ab1 and Cry35Ab1, to kill corn rootworms.

The company asked university laboratories to test for unintended consequences on ladybugs. Scientists fed the corn to ladybugs and found that nearly 100% died after the eighth day in the life cycle.

Pioneer forbade the scientists from publicizing the data. A scientist with the group who wants to remain anonymous said “The company came back and said ‘you are under no circumstances able to publicize this data in any way.’”

Pioneer submitted data to the EPA showing no harm to ladybugs and received government approval to commercialize the corn in 2003.

A Pioneer scientist says the commercialized variety contains a different genetic construct than the corn that killed the ladybugs.

The EPA was told about the independently produced data, but did nothing, according to the anonymous scientist. The same scientist also says Pioneer’s data is flawed.
(Source: Nature Biotechnology)

USDA extends GM Alfalfa Deadline!

Dear Alfalfa-Lovers! The USDA has extended it’s deadline (for comments) of Feb 16 to March 3!

URL Troubles to USDA Site: Please see that the full URL in the alfalfa
action alert leads to the right USDA page but the full address was not
hyperlinked in yesterday’s action alert – so please cut and paste the
full URL address into your web-URL bar to find the site <http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment?R=0900006480a6b7a1
>

Good News: The USDA has extended the Comment Period to March 3!

Some of you have also found the USDA form is restricting the length of
your letter but others have been able to cut and paste their full
letter without troubles.

Please find below a revised Action Alert with the new date and
hopefully protection against partial hyperlinking!

Thank you for your action!

Best regards,

Lucy Sharratt

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

Ideas for Non-GMO campaigns and taking action!

The following is a list of ideas you can implement in your own ‘sphere of influence’. Find one that works for you, and go for it!

Every child should learn to cook 10 meals before leaving grade 12. Jamie Oliver

Have every farmer in your area of 50 miles sign a pledge to not grow GMO’s. David Andrew Waymire, Facebook friend

Hold local movie showings for free: Monsanto, Pesticides, and other issues.  Arzeena Hamir

Create ready-made letters for people to sign at movie showings and anywhere people group. Make it easy for people to write letters: have them sign it with full contact info. You stamp and mail it for them. Put these letters on a site somewhere. April Reeves

Go join every Non-GM facebook page. Make your voice heard. Get people moving. Trade ideas.  April Reeves PS: every word here is a link to a Facebook page on food and Non-GMO’s.

Look into ways to make laws and bylaws work in your favor. Can GE’s be considered a ‘nuisance’? Can you lobby for a ‘nuisance abatement ordinance’? Does your country have stiff regulations and laws against product safety? Can you use that law to go after Monsanto? (Canada’s Bill C-6 and C-51) AR

Join NPO’s. Your money goes toward their campaigns. Many NPO’s are all volunteers, so your dollar goes right into campaign work, not pockets.

Stop GE Alfalfa! Take Action before February 16!

Protect Organic Food! Support Organic Farmers!

The U.S. will approve Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa
unless we stop them. Organic food and farming in the U.S. and Canada
is under immediate threat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its draft
Environmental Impact Statement on GE alfalfa and is accepting comments
until end of day Feb 16, 2010.

They say:
–   Contamination of organic food from GE alfalfa will happen but
it doesn’t really matter.

–   Consumers don’t care if organic food is contaminated with GE
alfalfa.

–   GE alfalfa will result in fewer small farmers and fewer
organic farmers but that’s okay.

Tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) you DO care about
organic food and organic farmers!

Organic farming bans the use of genetically engineered organisms. Stop
Monsanto from destroying organic farming in the U.S. and Canada!

1. A sample letter – for Canadian organic consumers to send – is
below. You can submit your letter at (copy and paste the whole URL) :www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment
?R=0900006480a6b7a1

2. We also invite all organizations, producer associations, companies
and community groups to endorse the No to GE Alfalfa campaign by
signing on the statement opposing GE alfalfa in Canada. Go here to
sign on http://www.cban.ca/content/view/full/631

For more information, action and background: http://www.cban.ca/alfalfa

Sample Letter:
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10 reasons why GM won’t feed the world

From the Urban Sprout

1. Failure to deliver
Genetic modification, despite PR hype, consistently fails to live up to industry claims. Only two GM traits have ever made it to market: herbicide resistance and BT toxin expression. Other promises of genetic modification, such as the much vaunted “golden rice”, have failed to materialise. In 2004, the Kenyan government admitted that Monsanto’s GM sweet potatoes were no more resistant to feathery mottle virus than ordinary strains, and in fact produced lower yields. In January 2008, news that scientists had modified a carrot to cure osteoporosis by providing calcium had to be offset against the fact that you would need to eat 1.6 kilograms of these vegetables each day to meet your recommended calcium intake.

2. Costing the Earth
GM crops are costing farmers and governments more money than they are making. In a 2003 report by the Soil Association the cost to the US economy of GM crops was estimated at around $12 billion since 1999, on account of inflated farm subsidies, loss of export orders and various seed recalls. A study in Iowa found that GM soyabeans required all the same costs as conventional farming but, because they produced lower yields, the farmers ended up making no profit at all. In India, an independent study found that BT cotton crops were costing farmers 10 per cent more than non-BT variants and bringing in 40 per cent lower profits. Between 2001 and 2005, more than 32,000 Indian farmers committed suicide, most as a result of mounting debts caused by inadequate crops.

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Food For Thought

By April Reeves

In the US the CDC states that food borne pathogens kill 5200 US citizens a year. Bill HR 875 is being pushed through to combat this problem. It will increase inspections and fines. Some say it could destroy the organic industry, although I can’t really find any evidence of this, other than a whole lot of vague poppycock in the fine print.

Why doesn’t the CDC investigate the illness and deaths caused by herbicides, insecticides (pesticides), chemicals they call ‘food’ (artificial sweeteners, coffee creamers, GMO foods, cloned meats, preservatives)? All these wonderful inventions that make our food ‘safe’???

Monsanto ‘faked’ data for approvals claims its ex-chief

The debate on genetically modified (GM) brinjal variety continues to generate heat. Former managing director of Monsanto India, Tiruvadi Jagadisan, is the latest to join the critics of Bt brinjal, perhaps the first industry insider to do so.

Jagadisan, who worked with Monsanto for nearly two decades, including eight years as the managing director of India operations, spoke against the new variety during the public consultation held in Bangalore on Saturday.

On Monday, he elaborated by saying the company “used to fake scientific data” submitted to government regulatory agencies to get commercial approvals for its products in India.

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Monsanto moves into branding vegetables

Look out all you Non-GMO eaters! Monsanto has taken over your vegetable and produce sections. No longer content with controlling the majority of the big crop productions (canola, corn, soy, cotton) Monsanto is unleashing more DNA altered ‘vegetables’ into mainstream markets, without any labels or warning. other than their brand names (so keep all your original seeds, because they will be worth more than diamonds one day).

Monsanto rolls out branded onions
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
02/05/2010

CREVE COEUR — For anyone who loves sweet onions, their disappearance from grocery store shelves in the fall is a sad occasion.

But recently, a new sweet onion — one grown domestically in the off-season — has hit the St. Louis market. Distinguished by a little green label bearing the name EverMild, the onions offer new hope for shoppers with a year-round appetite for the mellower tastes of summer.

The EverMild onion, appearing locally in Schnucks stores, represents Monsanto Co.’s first U.S.-focused foray into the branded vegetable market. Researchers with the Creve Coeur-based company, better known for its weed killer and genetically modified row crops, have been working on the onion for a decade, and will launch the product formally on Monday.

“This is the first time we’ve worked to develop a brand,” said Danielle Stuart, a spokesman for Monsanto’s vegetable seed business.

“All of our vegetables are sold in the supermarket, but this is one of the first we’ve trademarked with a name.”
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Great video: Biodynamic Farming

Frog Hill Farm in Port Townsend, Washington: The farm’s diverse acres include woodlands, an herb and flower garden, wetlands, pastures for goats, ducks and chickens as well as neat rows of vegetables. Sebastian Aguilar, who runs the farm with his family, has taken his organic certification to the next level by employing biodynamic farming practices.

An often misunderstood technique due to its roots in Rudolph Steiner’s esoteric spiritual philosophy, biodynamic agriculture treats farms as unified organisms and emphasizes the relationship of soil, plants and animals. Biodynamic farms try to eliminate inputs (such as fertilizers) and instead create a closed-loop system of soil maintenance using cover crops, manure and herbal composts.

Video of Frog Hill’s Biodynamic Farming

Anderson Cooper: Mother Earth actually has the capacity to feed her people

By April Reeves

Anderson Cooper reports on a series by David Gewirtz, author of “How To Save Jobs“. David suggests the following:

From AC360: Next up was a look at grain consumption. Grain has always been an indicator of even the most basic of civilization, so a look at how the middle-classing of developing countries would affect the food supply based on grain usage seemed appropriate.

This time, I used data from the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture Production. Worldwide, humans consume about 1.9 billion metric tons of grain each year.

Today, the United States consumes about 287 million metric tons of grain, or about 14.8 percent of the world’s total supply.

China consumes slightly more than we do, at about 406 million metric tons of grain, or about 21 percent of the world’s supply.

India has a lot of starving people, and that shows in its grain use. India consumes only about 196 million metric tons of grain, about 10 percent of the world’s total. You can see India’s ups and downs written in the numbers. Some years, like 1993, their grain consumption went up 5.6 percent. But other years, like 2001, their grain consumption dropped by 4.3 percent. Neither of these are big fluctuations, but it does show some years Indian citizens ate a little more and other years, they ate a little less.

What if they consume grain at the same rate as we do here?

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Bayer pays $1.5 million damages to farmers

Missouri court asks Bayer to pay $1.5 million damages to farmers

February 08 2010

A federal court jury of St Louis has asked German multinational Bayer CropScience AG to pay about $1.5 million to the farmers in Arkansas and Mississippi for losses sustained when the company conducted an experimental variety of rice in the region.

The company’s experiments infiltrated the farmers’ crops, jury said on Friday.

The verdict was the second against Bayer CropScience. In December2009, a jury had awarded about $ 1.95 million in compensatory damages to Ken Bell of Bell City, and $53,336 to a rice farmer John Hunter of Essex.

The lawsuit is similar to hundreds of cases filed by farmers in Arkansas and few other states claiming that since 2006 their crops were contaminated by a genetically modified strain of rice produced by Bayer Cropscience.

In August 2006, the US Department of Agriculture had admitted that trace amounts of the genetically modified Liberty Link rice were found in US long-grain rice stocks, according to Don Downing, lead attorney for the farmers.

Bayer and Louisiana State University had been testing genetically modified rice, bred to resist a Bayer brand of herbicide, at a school-run facility in Crowley, Louisiana.

– – – –

April Reeves: This sets a precedent for future suits, with the exception of the fact that the rice was still in testing stages and without patents. Farmers should have received more compensation: the GE strain will transfer to existing plants.

Really great GMO statistics

Who grows Genetically Engineered Foods? Part 2: Kenda Swartz Pepper

By Kenda Swartz Pepper | Published: February 5, 2010

The U.S. accounts for about two-thirds of all the GM crops planted throughout the universe, which as far as I know is just the earth but may include other planets given the surreptitiousness of this industry.  Since the mid 1990’s the U.S. has increasingly planted more GM crops than any other planet or country.  As of 2008 the US was growing about 62.5 million hectares or approximately 154 million acres of GM crops. Keeping in mind that one hectare equals 2.471 acres.

According to the ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications), as of 2008 there were 25 countries planting ‘biotech’ crops.  Since the onset of GM crops, the total accumulated acreage as of 2008 was 2 billion.  What may be of great interest is that the 1st billion accumulated acreage occurred during the first ten years of commercial GM crops whereas the second billion occurred in only the last three years.  That is some rapid growth.

The identified 25 countries growing GM crops in 2008 are listed on a table as shown in a briefing by ISAAA entitled Highlights of the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops.  I encourage you to check it out.

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GM wheat could slam U.S. wheat prices

CBAN is coordinating new global action against GM wheat – Please
consider donating to support our campaign www.cban.ca/donate Thank you.

You can see the full report about market impacts in the US at http://www.worc.org/GM-Wheat
Biotech wheat could slam U.S. wheat prices -report

Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:50pm EST
* European Union and Japan opposed to biotech wheat

* Lost exports could send U.S. spring wheat down 40 pct

By Carey Gillam

CHICAGO, Jan 27 (Reuters) U.S. wheat prices could fall by 40 percent
or more
if industry efforts to develop a biotech wheat succeed,
according to an industry report issued on Wednesday.

The report, issued by the Western Organization of Resource Councils, a
farmer and rancher group, cited persistent opposition to genetically
modified wheat in Europe, Japan, and other Asian countries. It said
buyers in those countries probably would shift purchases away from the
United States, if a biotech wheat was commercialized here.

The price of U.S. hard red spring wheat would fall 40 percent, the
report predicted, and the price of durum wheat would drop 57 percent.

“Introduction of genetically modified wheat in the United States is a
risky proposition,” said the report’s author, industry consultant Neal
Blue, a former research economist at Ohio State University.

Any biotech wheat is still years from commercialization as companies
like Monsanto Co, Dow AgroSciences, and others research various
improvements to the crop through genetic modifications and other means.

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Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit

From Jeffrey Smith: Responsible Technology.org

When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.

Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the first in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started…

Part 1 of 10

At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100% of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.

This was a bold new direction for Monsanto, which needed a big change to distance them from a controversial past. As a chemical company, they had polluted the landscape with some of the most poisonous substances ever produced, contaminated virtually every human and animal on earth, and got fined and convicted of deception and wrongdoing. According to a former Monsanto vice president, “We were despised by our customers.”

So they redefined themselves as a “life sciences” company, and then proceeded to pollute the landscape with toxic herbicide, contaminate the gene pool for all future generations with genetically modified plants, and get fined and convicted of deception and wrongdoing. Monsanto’s chief European spokesman admitted in 1999, “Everybody over here hates us.” Now the rest of the world is catching on.

“Saving the World” and Other Lies
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Greenpeace puts out list of Non-GMO food companies

If you are looking for a list of Non-GMO/GE food companies, and a list of those companies that do use GM, Greenpeace has compiled a list you can print out and take to the grocery store. Thanks Greenpeace.

I have some additions to the good companies that don’t use GM. You can find them under the “Foods” page on this blog. I will be adding to them as I find them. I source them out by calling and speaking with their researchers and owners. I only post companies that are 100% Non-GE.

Greenpeace: Shopper’s Guide to Avoid Genetically Engineered Foods

You have a right to know.

Crimes of Monsanto

From Mercola.com

Unfortunately, there are still those who are unaware of the many improprieties and outright crimes committed by Monsanto, such as:

After 30 years of GMO experimentation, we have the data to show:

  • No increase in yields; on the contrary GM soya has decreased yields by up to 20 percent compared with non-GM soya. Up to 100 percent failures of Bt cotton have been recorded in India. And recent studies by scientists from the USDA and the University of Georgia found that growing GM cotton in the U.S. can result in a drop in income by up to 40 percent.
  • No reduction in pesticides use; on the contrary, USDA data shows that GM crops has increased pesticide use by 50 million pounds from 1996 to 2003 in the U.S., and the use of glyphosate went up more than 15-fold between 1994 and 2005, along with increases in other herbicides to cope with rising glyphosate resistant superweeds.
  • Roundup herbicide is lethal to frogs and toxic to human placental and embryonic cells. Roundup is used in more than 80 percent of all GM crops planted in the world.
  • GM crops harm wildlife, as revealed by UK and U.S. studies.
  • Bt resistant pests and Roundup tolerant superweeds render the two major GM crop traits useless. The evolution of Bt resistant bollworms worldwide have now been confirmed and documented.
  • Vast areas of forests, pampas and cerrados lost to GM soya in Latin America.
  • Epidemic of suicides in the cotton belt of India. 100,000 farmers between 1993-2003, and an estimated 16,000 farmers a year since, have committed suicide since Bt cotton was introduced.
  • Transgene contamination is completely unavoidable, as science has recently revealed that the genome (whether plant, animal or human) is NOT constant and static, which is the scientific base for genetic engineering of plants and animals. Instead, geneticists have discovered that the genome is remarkably dynamic and changeable, and constantly ‘conversing’ and adapting to the environment. This interaction determines which genes are turned on, when, where, by what and how much, and for how long. They’ve also found that the genetic material itself has the ability to be changed according to experience, passing it on to subsequent generations.
  • GM food and feed linked to deaths and sicknesses both in the fields in India and in lab tests around the world. For example, in April 2006, more than 70 Indian shepherds reported that 25 percent of their herds died within 5-7 days of continuous grazing on Bt cotton plants.

Lawn Companies sue 23 Canadian activists and Government Ministers over Pesticide ban

Lawn companies seek charges against Minister, activists

Thu Jan. 28 2010   The Canadian Press

TORONTO — A group representing dozens of lawn care companies trying to bring charges against Ontario’s environment minister and senior bureaucrats over the province’s controversial pesticide ban is now calling for charges against 23 activists.

Group spokesman Jeffrey Lowes of MREP Communications said Wednesday that information has been laid for criminal charges against 23 individuals.

The additional proceedings – 115 charges under Section 504 of the Criminal Code – were filed with a Kingston, Ont.-area court on Tuesday, Lowes said in a release.

A so-called “private information” against Environment Minister John Gerretsen and senior ministry staff was filed Jan. 20, said Lowes.

The activists worked with the Ontario government to ban pesticides using alleged false and misleading information to undermine the industry, Lowes said.

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GM Crops Facing Meltdown in the USA 

ISIS Press Release 01/02/10

Major crops genetically modified for just two traits – herbicide tolerance and insect resistance – are ravaged by super weeds and secondary pests in the heartland of GMOs as farmers fight a losing battle with more of the same; a fundamental shift to organic farming practices may be the only salvation – Dr. Mae-Wan Ho.

Please circulate widely, keeping all links unchanged, and submit to your government representatives demanding an end to GM crops and support for non-GM organic agriculture.

Two traits account for practically all the genetically modified (GM) crops grown in the world today: herbicide-tolerance (HT) due to glyphosate-insensitive form of the gene coding for the enzyme targeted by the herbicide, 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS), derived from soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and insect-resistance due to one or more toxin genes derived from the soil bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). Commercial planting began around 1997 in the United States, the heartland of GM crops, and increased rapidly over the years.

By now, GM crops have taken over 85-91 percent of the area planted with the three major crops, soybean, corn and cotton in the US [1]] (see Table 1), which occupy nearly 171 million acres.

The ecological time-bomb that came with the GM crops has been ticking away, and is about to explode.

HT crops encouraged the use of herbicides, resulting in herbicide-resistant weeds that demand yet more herbicides. But the increasing use of deadly herbicide and herbicide mixtures has failed to stall the advance of the palmer super weed in HT crops. At the same time, secondary pests such as the tarnished plant bug, against which Bt toxin is powerless, became the single most damaging insect for US cotton.

Monster plants that can’t be killed
It is the Day of the Triffids – not the genetically modified plants themselves as alluded to in John Wyndham’s novel -but “super weeds that can’t be killed” [2], created by the planting of genetically modified HT crops, as seen on ABC TV news.

The scene is set at harvest time in Arkansas October 2009. Grim-faced farmers and scientists speak from fields infested with giant pigweed plants that can withstand as much glyphosate herbicide as you can afford to douse on them. One farmer spent US$0.5 million in three months trying to clear the monster weeds in vain; they stop combine harvesters and break hand tools. Already, an estimated one million acres of soybean and cotton crops in Arkansas have become infested.

The palmer amaranth or palmer pigweed is the most dreaded weed. It can grow 7-8 feet tall, withstand withering heat and prolonged droughts, produce thousands of seeds and has a root system that drains nutrients away from crops. If left unchecked, it would take over a field in a year.

Meanwhile in North Carolina Perquimans County, farmer and extension worker Paul Smith has just found the offending weed in his field [3], and he too, will have to hire a migrant crew to remove the weed by hand. The resistant weed is expected to move into neighbouring counties. It has already developed resistance to at least three other types of herbicides.

Herbicide-resistance in weeds is nothing new. Ten weed species in North Carolina and 189 weed species nationally have developed resistance to some herbicide. A new herbicide is unlikely to come out, said Alan York, retired professor of agriculture from North Carolina State University and national weed expert….

Read the rest of this article here:
http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GMCropsFacingMeltdown.php

“There is nothing more dangerous than a shallow thinking compassionate person”   Garrett Hardin