Tag Archives: Food Secure

Reason triumphs over Bt brinjal!

February 23, 2010

By embargoing Bt brinjal, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh may have done a greater service to democracy than he intended, says Praful Bidwai.

April: Why can’t our governments take a page from India? Although North America is fairly entrenched in GM crops, this story does offer hope to those of us that actively march against GMO. India is fighting for their right to choose what to grow, and won’t allow the government to cease their voices. Bt Cotton’s failure was good timing….

India has done something unusual in defying the long-established trend of capitulating to corporate power.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh must be complimented for imposing a moratorium on the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) brinjal (or baigan, also called aubergine and eggplant) developed by Mahyco-Monsanto in collaboration with two Indian agricultural universities.

He deserves encomiums for consulting stakeholders in major brinjal-producing states like West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. This public consultation approach sets a good precedent. It deserves to become a model for governmental decision-making on all issues that concern people’s livelihoods.

To appreciate the moratorium rationally, one need not go as far as former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology P M Bhargava did in euphorically describing it as “the single most important decision taken by any minister since Independence”.

Yet, it couldn’t have been easy to take in the face of feverish lobbying by Monsanto, one of the world’s most powerful multinationals.

Monsanto, which controls 84 per cent of the global GM seeds market and has a long reach in the United States and Indian governments, lobbied for Bt brinjal in league with other biotechnology companies and groups of plant breeders with a stake in developing GM foods.

They were backed by major sections of the corporate media which fervently campaigned for Bt brinjal and celebrated all GM technology as safe and unproblematic and as the key to India’s food security.

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Monsanto acknowledges Bt Cotton has failed

The ongoing debate on biotechnology crops in India took a new turn on Friday when American seed firm Monsanto disclosed that cotton pest–pink bollworm–has developed resistance to its much-touted Bt cotton variety in Gujarat.

The company has reported to the regulator, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), that pink bollworm has developed resistance to its genetically modified (GM) cotton variety, Bollgard I, in Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagarh and Rajkot districts in Gujarat.

This was detected by the company during field monitoring in the 2009 cotton season.

The Bt cotton variety in question was developed using a gene–Cry1AC–derived from soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. It was supposed to be resistant to pest attacks. But, of late, the pest has developed resistance to the gene.

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Act Now! Support Bill C-474

Hey everyone, this is REALLY important! If this bill does not get passed, it could mean the end of organic foods in North America. Please take action on this. We don’t want a Canada that’s pure GMO. This is the tipping point for us!

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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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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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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