Tag Archives: GMO

GMO crops may cause major environmental risks, USDA admits

GMO crops may cause major environmental risks USDA admits GMO crops may cause major environmental risks, USDA admits

A new report published by the United States Department of Agriculture demonstrates that the vast majority of corn and soybean crops grown in America are genetically-engineered variants made to withstand certain conditions and chemicals.
Continue reading «GMO crops may cause major environmental risks, USDA admits»

But while GMO seeds have been sowed on US soil for 15 years now, the latest USDA report reveals that Americans still have concerns about consuming custom-made, laboratory-created products, albeit nowhere near as much as in Europe.

The report was released by the USDA’s Economic Research Service and published on their website Feb. 20. And though the paper takes into consideration the trends that have shaped how scientists and agriculturists have approached genetically-modified organisms since they were first introduced in the US a decade-and-a-half ago, the consensus seems to be that no one is certain just yet about what toll the surge in GMOs will truly have.

Between 1984 and 2002, the study’s authors wrote, the number of GMO varieties approved by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, grew exponentially. Today GMO crops are found in most of America’s biggest farms, they continued, and scientists have in the last several years discovered groundbreaking new ways to make situation-specific seeds that have traits more desirable than traditional crops.

“As of September 2013, about 7,800 releases were approved for GE corn, more than 2,200 for GE soybeans, more than 1,100 for GE cotton and about 900 for GE potatoes,” the USDA affirmed.

Just last year, the agency added, GMO crops were planted on about 169 million acres of land in the US — or about half of all farmland from coast-to-coast.

Around 93 percent of all soybean crops planted in the US last year involved GMO, herbicide-tolerant (HT) variants, the USDA acknowledged, and HT corn and HT cotton constituted about 85 and 82 percent of total acreage, respectively.

“HT crops are able to tolerate certain highly effective herbicides, such as glyphosate, allowing adopters of these varieties to control pervasive weeds more effectively,” reads an excerpt from the USDA report.

As those weed-killers are dumped into more and more fields containing HT crops, however, USDA experts say it could have a major, as-yet-uncertain impact on the environment.

“Because glyphosate is significantly less toxic and less persistent than traditional herbicides,” a portion of the report reads, “…the net impact of HT crop adoption is an improvement in environmental quality and a reduction in the health risks associated with herbicide use (even if there are slight increases in the total pounds of herbicide applied). However, glyphosate resistance among weed populations in recent years may have induced farmers to raise application rates .Thus, weed resistance may be offsetting some of the economic and environmental advantages of HT crop adoption regarding herbicide use. Moreover, herbicide toxicity may soon be negatively affected (compared to glyphosate) by the introduction (estimated for 2014) of crops tolerant to the herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D.”

That chemical, as RT has reported on in the past, is a component in Agent Orange and has been linked to health risks. Should the USDA give the go-ahead for GMO companies to manufacture 2,4-D-resistant crops, then that agent could appear in alarming numbers across America’s farmland. But while anti-GMO advocates consider that just one of the reasons they oppose the influx of man-made crops being grown in exponentially large numbers across the county, the USDA said activism along those lines has been comparatively small in the US.

“Some consumers, including those in the European Union, have indicated a reluctance to consume GE products. In other countries, including the United States, expression of consumer concern is less widespread,” the report reads.

“Despite the rapid increase in adoption rates for GE corn, soybean, and cotton varieties by US farmers, some continue to raise questions regarding the potential benefits and risks of GE crops.”

But even if the jury is still out with regards to the risks of GE crops, the USDA said they are being grown in record numbers, the likes of which has prompted herbicide manufactures to experience a surge as well. Whether that’s’ good or bad, however, has yet to be determined.

“We are not characterizing them (GMO crops) as bad or good. We are just providing information,” Michael Livingston, a government agricultural economist and one of the authors of the report, told Reuters.

According to the report, herbicide use on GMO corn increased from around 1.5 pounds per planted acre in 2001 to more than 2.0 pounds per planted acre in 2010.

Source: RT

Kraft removes sorbic acid preservative from some ‘Singles’ products, replaces it with GMOs and an unnamed, proprietary stabilizer

Kraft removes sorbic acid preservative fromsome Singles products replaces it with GMOs and an unnamed proprietary stabilizer Kraft removes sorbic acid preservative from some Singles products, replaces it with GMOs and an unnamed, proprietary stabilizer

In the wake of announcements made by both General Mills and Post about the removal of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from some of their products, at least one major processed food manufacturer has oddly decided to take the opposite approach.
Continue reading «Kraft removes sorbic acid preservative from some ‘Singles’ products, replaces it with GMOs and an unnamed, proprietary stabilizer»

Kraft Foods recently announced that it will phase out the use of the chemical preservative sorbic acid in some of its “Singles” products, only to replace it with a GMO-derived anti-fungal agent in combination with an unnamed, proprietary stabilizing compound.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Kraft plans to phase out sorbic acid just from its “American” and “White American” varieties of Kraft Singles, a highly processed, cheese-like food product that does not mold, in an apparent attempt to appeal to changing consumer tastes. Instead of sorbic acid, these two products will soon contain a blend of natamycin, a chemical preservative derived from GM bacteria, and some other mystery compound that the company disturbingly refuses to disclose.

Somehow, replacing one chemical preservative with another — and a GMO at that! — is considered an improvement at Kraft, the second-largest food and beverage company in the world. Kraft also apparently believes that consumers want to know less about what they are eating, hence its decision to include an additional secret ingredient.

“We know families today want convenient foods that have no artificial preservatives and a simpler, more recognizable ingredient list,” declared Brian Gelb, a senior associate brand manager for Kraft Foods, in a recent statement intended to be taken seriously. “Kraft is working to deliver more of these options for some of our most beloved brands.”

Kraft Singles not even cheese; sorbic acid probably safer than replacements

This marketing sleight of hand might be funny if it did not illustrate how utterly degenerate these major food companies are when it comes to deceiving their customers. The executive leadership at Kraft must have come completely unhinged to think it was a good idea to swap a mostly benign preservative with a questionable GM one alongside a mystery ingredient, and call it “natural.”

The major irony in all this is that Kraft Singles are not even real cheese, and yet Kraft is busy fussing about a preservative that it thinks might be a turn-off to the kinds of people that purchase Kraft Singles in the first place. If we had to make an educated guess, it is probably safe to say that most Kraft Singles customers are probably unaware of what they are actually eating, let alone concerned about the type of chemical used to preserve it.

It should also be noted here that natamycin is technically a drug. Not only is it used in eye drops and other medical applications as an antibiotic, but it is also used to treat cuts and other abrasions in the skin. In other words, Kraft Singles will now contain genetically engineered antibiotic drugs in addition to unlabeled additives – bon appetit!

“So, we are replacing a man made mold inhibitor, with a man made antibiotic that will cause more problems for people”? questioned one rhetorical Houston Chronicle commenter regarding the announcement.

Another commenter over at the Chicago Tribune, also concerned about the addition of antibiotics in cheese, explains that “sorbic acid is about as benign as you can get.” In his view, the switch will “backfire on Kraft.”

So as not to generate too much ruckus, Kraft is planning to keep using sorbic acid in its 2% and non-fat Singles varieties until further notice.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.chicagotribune.com

http://www.gmo-compass.org

http://www.chron.com

http://www.kraftrecipes.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

EPA claims ‘no harm will result’ from any levels of BT residue on GM soybeans

gmo soy EPA claims no harm will result from any levels of BT residue on GM soybeans

According to the Cornucopia Institute, “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final rule on February 12 creating an exemption for residue tolerance levels in soy foods and feed for the biological pesticide BT used in GMO crops. Similar exemptions have already been approved for corn and cotton food and products.”
Continue reading «EPA claims ‘no harm will result’ from any levels of BT residue on GM soybeans»

Bacillus Thuringiensis, the bacterium commonly called Bt, naturally produces a toxin that kills certain insects. Because of this trait, scientists have spliced Bt genes from the bacterium into GMO crops to make them more resistant to pests.

“EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the U.S. population, including infants and children, from aggregate exposure to residues of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1F protein,” the agency wrote.

There have been a multitude of studies showing that GM foods can cause harm. “Authors of a recent study using the Bt toxins concluded that these proteins can cause harm to humans and livestock, and the risk increases with long-term exposure and with higher levels of toxins in our food,” reported Cornucopia.

You can view and comment on the EPA’s final rule at FederalRegister.gov. Objections to the final rule and requests for a hearing must be filed by April 14.

Source: http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/02/epa-approves-exemption-bt-residues-soy-foods-gmo-crops/

Untested GM purple tomato: Scientists ditch ethics as they seek sick patients for human trials

GM purple tomato Untested GM purple tomato: Scientists ditch ethics as they seek sick patients for human trials
Genetically modified (GM) purple tomatoes are back, and British “Frankenscientists” want you and your family to consume them as a way to avoid developing cancer – seriously.
Continue reading «Untested GM purple tomato: Scientists ditch ethics as they seek sick patients for human trials»

Researchers from the U.K.’s John Innes Centre (JIC) are boldly claiming, based on laughably flimsy evidence, that GM purple tomatoes are some kind of miracle “superfruit” for cancer, even though their potential dangers are completely unknown and non-GM fruit and vegetable alternatives with the same or more nutrients already exist.

GMWatch.org reports that Professor Cathie Martin and her research team from JIC are hoping to very soon begin human trials of the mostly untested GM fruit on heart patients in the U.K. This is after a single small-scale laboratory trial revealed that mice given an extract of the transgenic travesty lived about 40 days longer on average than other mice.

Spliced with genes from the antioxidant-rich snapdragon plant, GM purple tomatoes have been around since 2008, when we previously reported that they were a budding candidate for cancer treatment. At that time, researchers made the inference that humans might be able to avoid developing cancer, or perhaps just live longer if they already have the disease, by consuming patented, corporation-owned GM purple tomatoes straight from the lab.

The idea did not exactly fly the first time around, so now the team that created GM purple tomatoes is trying again, this time with the help of the mainstream media. According to GMWatch.org, outrageous headlines branding GM purple tomatoes as some type of miracle cancer cure are proliferative, despite the fact that nothing has actually been proven with regard to the efficacy of the novel crop.

“These claims are not actually based on benefits seen in humans, but rather from a small-scale study of mice that were given an extract of genetically modified tomatoes,” admits NHS Choices, the official website of the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS). “[T]he small sample sizes used mean the results may have occurred by chance. Also until the tomato is tested in humans we cannot be sure that it will offer the same benefits, or that there will not be any unexpected harms.”

Non-GM tomatoes with high levels of anthocyanins already exist

One of the major claims being made with regard to the alleged benefits of GM purple tomatoes has to do with their exceptionally (unnaturally) high antioxidant levels, which researchers say makes them the “ultimate healthy superfood.” Rich in anthocyanins, which are what gives them their purple color, GM purple tomatoes are purported to help bridge a nutritional gap that can lead to cancer.

But many other fruits and vegetables that occur naturally, including foods like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage and eggplant, to name just a few, already contain high levels of anthocyanins and much more. These foods have not been genetically modified, and yet they are admittedly superior in terms of their overall nutrient content and their proven safety.

And if tomatoes are the issue, researchers in both Brazil and Oregon have already developed non-GM tomato varieties with virtually the exact same antioxidant and nutrient profiles as GM purple tomatoes. In other words, GM purple tomatoes are a completely unnecessary addition to the food supply, and only threaten to further adulterate the food supply with irreversible genetic pollution.

“This is extraordinarily irresponsible and breaches medical ethics,” adds GMWatch.org, noting that the next step for GM purple tomatoes is for their juice extract to be administered to heart patients in the U.K. “If Martin and the JIC really are planning to rush ahead with human trials on sick people before doing basic animal toxicology testing, then they are putting patients at risk. Sadly this would be typical of the arrogant behaviour we have come to expect of pushers of this technology.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.gmwatch.org

http://www.gmwatch.org

http://www.gmwatch.org

http://www.nhs.uk

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

Food, biotech groups banding together to influence GMO labeling efforts

GMO Labeling Food, biotech groups banding together to influence GMO labeling efforts

Powerful farming and biotechnology interest groups announced Thursday they are banding together to push a federal voluntary labeling standard for genetically engineered food in an effort to stem the tide of state legislation seeking to mandate labeling.
Continue reading «Food, biotech groups banding together to influence GMO labeling efforts»

The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food consists of 29 formidable trade groups that say they plan to lobby on Capitol Hill for a national standard that would allow manufacturers to voluntarily label food and beverage products made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In recent years, voters in states such as California and Washington have narrowly defeated ballot initiatives proposing mandatory GMO labeling, though not without dragging members of the new Coalition into expensive campaigns to defeat the measures.

The group says it will seek to empower the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “to establish federal standards for companies that want to voluntarily label their product for the absence-of or presence-of GMO food ingredients.” In addition, the Coalition proposes the FDA mandate labels for GMO food or ingredients that the agency deems a “health, safety or nutrition issue,” though no consumables currently fall in such a category.

The Coalition is also advocating the FDA define “natural” foods to include those consisting of GMOs.

Supporters of labeling said the Coalition has seen the growing demand for GMO labeling across the country and is now admittedly trying to preempt state attempts to inform consumers of scientifically-dubious genetically engineered food.

“These companies spent nearly $70 million in California and Washington State to defeat GE labeling initiatives. They know that the food movement’s power is growing and that labeling is not a matter of if but when,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “These companies have failed to win over consumers who overwhelmingly support the mandatory labeling of GMOs and now they’re trying to steal away consumer choice in Congress.”

States like Connecticut and Maine have recently passed legislation on labeling. Alaska’s legislature has passed a measure requiring the labeling of GMO fish and fish products. In Connecticut, critics say its new labeling law was gutted by lobbying pressure which requires four other northeastern states to pass their own GMO-labeling laws before the state’s takes effect. Those four states must collectively represent a population of 20 million people or more.

The Center for Food Safety says over 30 states are expected to introduce GMO labeling laws during the 2014 legislative session. In Oregon, a labeling ballot initiative is already being planned.

On the federal level, legislation requiring mandatory labeling of all GMO foods has been introduced in the Senate and House, though it is not supported by the Coalition.

A top member of the Coalition - the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a major food industry lobbying group – raised and spent the bulk of the overall $22 million that opponents of labeling sank into defeating Washington State’s ballot initiative on GMO labeling last year. That total number was three times the amount that proponents of labeling spent in the state. GMA was joined in its effort by allies such as biotech giants Monsanto, Bayer, and DuPont.

“The legislation we’re proposing would preclude state legislation that conflicts with the federal standards,”GMA president Pamela Bailey said of the Coalition’s aim with the new proposals, The Hill reported.

Food industry trade groups, alarmed by the growing animosity against GMOs, began circulating plans for the voluntary labeling push in November – just days after Washington’s measure was defeated.

Federal standards like the ones the Coalition has now called for are necessary to “guard against a costly, unnecessary and inefficient state-by-state system,” a November memo among the GMA-led industry groups said. The Coalition wants an FDA-controlled system to maintain cheaper operations and avoid “the creation of a complicated patchwork of state-based labeling rules that would increase, rather than reduce, consumer confusion,” said Kraig R. Naasz, president of the American Frozen Food Institute, according to The Hill.

Critics of the Coalition’s approach point out that a “voluntary” law means nothing, as labeling GMOs is already legal and only done by choice.

“Voluntary labeling of GE foods is already permitted under the law, but no company has ever chosen to do so because GE foods offer consumers no benefits and only potential risk,” said the Center for Food Safety’s Kimbrell. “Instead of working together to meet consumer demand, GMA is using its deep pockets to ensure that congress and consumers are misled about their food supply.”

Supporters of GMOs say adverse effects of food that come from the manipulation of an organism’s genetic material are unproven at this point.

“If there was any indication GM ingredients weren’t safe, we wouldn’t be using them,” said Martin Barbre, president of the National Corn Growers Association.

The US Department of Agriculture says over 80 percent of corn and over 90 percent of soy in the US are GMOs.

Yet science is also inconclusive on whether genetically engineered products can cause long-term harm to human health. At least, that is the consensus held by the several dozen countries which have banned or severely restricted their use worldwide.

“While risk assessments are conducted as part of GE product approval, the data are generally supplied by the company seeking approval, and GE companies use their patent rights to exercise tight control over research on their products,” the Union of Concerned Scientists said of GMOs. “In short, there is a lot we don’t know about the risks of GE – which is no reason for panic, but a good reason for caution.”

The organization – a broad coalition of scientists and citizens dedicated to “rigorous, independent science” without “political calculations or corporate hype” - says there are concerns about GMOs beyond the basic health problems that have been linked to their consumption.

“Rather than supporting a more sustainable agriculture and food system with broad societal benefits, the technology has been employed in ways that reinforce problematic industrial approaches to agriculture,”the Union stated. “Policy decisions about the use of GE have too often been driven by biotech industry PR campaigns, rather than by what science tells us about the most cost-effective ways to produce abundant food and preserve the health of our farmland.”

Source: RT

France Launches Law to Ban Cultivation of All GM Maize

France ban GMO France Launches Law to Ban Cultivation of All GM Maize

France has launched a move to restore a ban on genetically modified (GMO) maize annulled by its top court to prevent sowings this spring that could raise public outcry in a country strongly opposed to GMO crops.
Continue reading «France Launches Law to Ban Cultivation of All GM Maize»

A Senator of the ruling Socialist party submitted a draft law on Tuesday calling for the cultivation of any variety of genetically modified maize to be prohibited in the country.

Source: Reuters

France’s previous bans on GMO maize, which only applied to Monsanto’s MON 810, the sole GMO crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union, had all been overturned by the country’s highest administrative court as lacking sufficient scientific grounds.

The new measure would also apply to any strain adopted in the future, including the insect-resistant maize known as Pioneer 1507 developed jointly by DuPont and Dow Chemical , which could be approved by the EU later this year.

A German government spokesman said on Wednesday Berlin would abstain in an upcoming vote to approve cultivation of the 1507 maize.

The proposed French law could be voted by the Senate as soon as Feb. 17 before being passed to the lower house, a French farm ministry official said on Wednesday.

The implementation of the ban would be monitored by inspectors and GMO crops destroyed, the draft legislation says.

France, the EU’s largest grain producer, has argued the technology poses environmental risks, referring to studies by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).

Monsanto says its GMO maize is safe.

Monsanto protesters arrested outside shareholder meeting

monsanto protesters arrested Monsanto protesters arrested outside shareholder meeting
 
At least 11 protesters were arrested outside of Monsanto’s headquarters on Tuesday as they rallied in favor of shareholder resolutions that would require the company to alter its approach to genetically-modified organisms.
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More than two-dozen protesters, one of which was a Monsanto shareholder himself, endured cold temperatures in Creve Coeur, Missouri as they pushed the biotech company to work with the federal government towards efforts to label food featuring genetically-modified organisms (GMO). Another resolution, meanwhile, would have required Monsanto to provide a contamination report on non-GMO crops.

Both measures failed with less than 10 percent support after Monsanto’s board recommended shooting down the proposals.

When the results came in, the atmosphere surrounding the rally became much more aggressive, with protesters using five cars to block the entrance to Monsanto’s building. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, some locked and chained themselves to cars, while police spent about an hour clearing the area and making arrests.

protest monsanto meeting Monsanto protesters arrested outside shareholder meeting
 
At least 10 individuals were arrested on misdemeanor charges. Local police chief Glenn Eidmann told the Post-Dispatch that no injuries were reported, nor was any property damaged.

Adam Eidinger, the shareholder who introduced the labeling resolution, told St. Louis Public Radio that despite his proposal’s defeat, he expects the opposition to Monsanto’s policies only to grow over the coming year.

“We’ve thrown the gauntlet down and we’re expecting a year from now that more than 10,000 people will be here if they don’t label GMO foods,” Eidinger said. According to him, the protest ended with 11 arrests in all.

protester arrested monsanto Monsanto protesters arrested outside shareholder meeting
 
Those against the propagation of GMOs believe they are unsafe for human consumption and that the altered seeds contribute to the rise of pesticide-resistant weeds. Supporters, meanwhile, argue that GMOs are not only safe, but also essential to building crops that can survive in the face of disease.

At the shareholders meeting, company chairman and CEO Hugh Grant said Monsanto needs to improve its communication with the public over GMOs, but added that its advocacy for voluntary labeling was still the right approach.

“This voluntary labeling approach empowers people who may choose to avoid GM ingredients a choice that some people prefer, but without imposing new costs on people who don’t choose organic or non-GM products,” Grant said, according to St. Louis Public Radio.

The second resolution, meanwhile, concerned organic farmers whose crops could potentially be contaminated by the drift of pesticides used on neighboring GMO farms. Critics argue that farmers battling contamination issues should be compensated, but Monsanto claims the Securities and Exchange Commission already mandates the kind of risk assessment proposed in the resolution.

While opinion concerning the impact of GMOs on health is divided, multiple polls have found that vast majorities of Americans believe food containing genetically altered ingredients should be labeled.

Efforts to turn that support into action have fizzled, however, as labeling initiatives in California and Washington failed amid a flood of corporate money that many claim turned public opinion against the measures. As RT reported last year, even successful ballot initiatives in Connecticut and Maine may not go into effect since their implementation is tied to the passage of similar laws in other Northeastern states.

Source: RT