Tag Archives | Genetically Modified Food

No, GMOs Won’t Harm Your Health

Soybean fields at Applethorpe FarmBefore y’all freak out, no disinformation is not endorsing GM crops. We do think it’s worth reading about what the proponents of genetically modifying crops are saying, however. In this article at Medium by Indre Viskontas of the Inquiring Minds podcast, Dr. Steven Novella argues that many of the fears surrounding genetically modified crops are unsupported:

With historic drought battering California’s produce and climate change expected to jeopardize the global food supply, there are few questions more important than what our agriculture system should look like in the future. And few agricultural issues are more politically charged than the debate over genetically modified organisms. Even as companies like Monsanto are genetically engineering plants to use less water and resist crop-destroying pests, activists are challenging the safety and sustainability of GM foods.

For this week’s episode of Inquiring Minds, I spoke with Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale University. Novella is a prominent voice in the skeptical movement, a scientific movement that, as he describes it, focuses heavily on explaining the truth behind “common myths—things that people believe that aren’t true.” So I asked him to help sort out fact from fiction when it comes to industrial agriculture in general—and GMOs in particular.

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Blueberry Trees: GMO or Hybrid?

Single BlueberrySome interesting ideas on just what genetically modified means are discussed by Michael Byrne in the context of hybrid blueberry trees, at Motherboard:

Blueberries grow on bushes. Whatever. I don’t care if they grow on bushes or on trees or underground or are skimmed from the surface of fetid water, but bushes are what most of us would consider natural or “as intended” by the naturalness of evolution, which is the mostnatural thing. That’s the ideological pole of the post-science green movement, an appeal to naturalness uber alles or naturalness as crippled “other” to technology’s absolute disruption of a greater Way Things Should Be. And so we have blueberry bushes because … evolution made them that way. So: natural.

Lost on most of the ideological green movement (the one that loathes/fears radiation and biotechnology more than mountaintop removal or forest clear-cutting) is the basic property of evolution as being based on failure and slight success.

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In Defense of Human Dignity: GMO Versus Permaculture

steve-cranIn response to Saul of Heart’s recent article in which I quote:

By all means, let’s March Against Monsanto. But then let’s put genetic engineering into the hands of forward-thinking, progressive scientists so we can start a real agricultural revolution.

I ask the question: Can some genetically modified foods such as so called “golden rice” be completely divorced by the Monopolistic Agenda of Monsanto?

Not so easily, I’m afraid. Not When the biggest supporter of the golden rice project, named in the article is The Gates Foundation, which recently bought 23 million dollars of shares in Monsanto and appoints former Cargil and Monsanto executives to head its development programs:

The Gates Foundation has admittedly given at least $264.5 million in grant commitments to AGRA, and also reportedly hired Dr. Robert Horsch, a former Monsanto executive for 25 years who developed Roundup, to head up AGRA back in 2006. According to a report published in La Via Campesina back in 2010, 70 percent of AGRA’s grantees in Kenya work directly with Monsanto, and nearly 80 percent of the Gates Foundation funding is devoted to biotechnology.

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UK Gov. Plans to Win Hearts & Minds for GMO Farming

Get ready, UK residents: Your government wants you to take a fresh look at GMO farming:

via New Scientist GM-Tomato, GMO, Farming

Shifting opinions on genetically modified crops in Europe will require more than government-led conversation, says policy communication researcher Matthew Nisbet

In a carefully crafted speech, UK environment minister Owen Paterson announced that the government would be leading “a more informed discussion” on genetically modified (GM) crops and that he was “conscious of the views of those who have concerns and who need reassurance on this matter”.

His remarks signal that the UK wants to build support for GM crops despite there being an effective moratorium on their use in Europe. But no matter how well framed the messages might be from political leaders, other engagement strategies and voices are needed if it is to succeed.

A recent British Science Association survey suggests that when prompted to consider the benefits to human health and the environment, a strong majority of the British public are supportive of GM crops.

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How California Could Force the Rest of the U.S. to Label GMO Foods

Reports Tom Philpott on Mother Jones:

In November, California voters will decide on a ballot initiative that would require labeling of all foods containing ingredients from genetically modified crops. The initiative made it to the ballot after almost 1 million Californians signed a petition in favor of it—nearly double the 504,760 signatures needed under the state’s proposition rules. The campaign that organized the push to get the measure on the ballot focused on possible health effects of GMO foods.

This news will not likely be applauded by my friends over at Croplife America, the main trade group of the GM seed/agrichemical industry. The big GMO crops—corn, soy, sugar beets, and cotton—are processed into sweeteners, fats, and additives used widely by the food industry. Everything from high fructose corn syrup-sweetened Coke to soybean oil-containing Hellman’s mayo would have to bear a label reading something like “Contains GMO ingredients.”…

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Eating This Could Turn Your Gut into a Living Pesticide Factory

Corn_borerDr. Mercola sounds the alarm on the latest unintended consequence of permitting genetically-modified organisms into the food supply:

A new generation of insect larvae is eating the roots of genetically engineered corn intended to be resistant to such pests. The failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.

And the economic impact could be huge. Billions of dollars are at stake, as Bt corn accounts for 65 percent of all corn grown in the US.

The strain of corn, engineered to kill the larvae of beetles, such as the corn rootworm, contains a gene copied from an insect-killing bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.

But even though a scientific advisory panel warned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the threat of insects developing resistance was high, Monsanto argued that the steps necessary to prevent such an occurrence — which would have entailed less of the corn being planted — were an unnecessary precaution, and the EPA naively agreed.

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Guerrilla Labeling Of GMO Foods

NoGMOWhen your government is so beholden to agribusiness that it won’t listen to overwhelming consumer demand for foods to be labeled if they contain genetically modified organisms, what do you do? Create your own labels and hit the supermarket! Amy Harmon and Andrew Pollack report for the New York Times:

Great Barrington, Mass. — On a recent sunny morning at the Big Y grocery here, Cynthia LaPier parked her cart in the cereal aisle. With a glance over her shoulder and a quick check of the ingredients, she plastered several boxes with hand-designed stickers from a roll in her purse. “Warning,” they read. “May Contain GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).”

For more than a decade, almost all processed foods in the United States — cereals, snack foods, salad dressings — have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators and many scientists say these pose no danger.

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Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Corn Fields

No pun intended. Via True Activist:

Hungary has taken a bold stand against biotech giant Monsanto and genetic modification by destroying 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, according to Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar. Unlike many European Union countries, Hungary is a nation where genetically modified (GM) seeds are banned. In a similar stance against GM ingredients, Peru has also passed a 10 year ban on GM foods. Planetsave reports:

Almost 1000 acres of maize found to have been ground with genetically modified seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary, deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said. The GMO maize has been ploughed under, said Lajos Bognar, but pollen has not spread from the maize, he added.

Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. The checks will continue despite the fact that seek traders are obliged to make sure that their products are GMO free, Bognar said.

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France Defeats Monsanto

Gordon Davidson writes in the Scottish Farmer:

France has held firm in its opposition to Monsanto’s genetically modified MON 810 maize [trade name: YieldGard] – and the agri-chemical multinational has admitted defeat.

Monsanto had been putting legal pressure on the French government to lift its 2008 cultivation ban on MON 810, firstly with a successful appeal to the European Court of Justice, then with a follow-up case heard in France’s own highest court, the Council of State.But despite both these institutions ruling that the ban was “insufficiently justified in law”, the French Government, backed by President Sarkozy, has insisted that it will still not allow cultivation of the biotech maize.

yieldgard

Now Monsanto has announced that it would not be selling seeds for MON810 in France this year.

France’s stand – and Monsanto’s capitulation – has been warmly welcomed by anti-GM lobbyists GM Freeze, whose campaign director Pete Riley said: “The decision by Monsanto not to market MON810 seeds in France in 2012 is yet another sign that Monsanto has failed to convince the public or policy makers that there is any benefit to growing to growing GM crops…

[continues in the Scottish Farmer]… Read the rest

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