Tag Archives | GMOs
Is the big, bad monster of biotech going to back off its aggressive litigation to force farmers to join their evil empire of GMO seeds? Maybe… Report via NPR:
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For years, the biotech giant Monsanto has provoked outrage among its critics for suing farmers who save and replant seeds from the company’s patented Roundup Ready crops, such as soybeans and canola.
Some of that outrage is based on a decade-old case in Canada, in which a court ruled that a farmer, Percy Schmeiser, violated Monsanto’s patents by planting canola that he “knew or ought to have known” contained Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene. Schmeiser argued that he didn’t want the gene in his fields, and that it had become incorporated into his canola via wind-blown pollen.
Monsanto won that case, but the company might have been better off losing because the victory has been a public relations disaster. Around the world, many people now believe, mistakenly, that Monsanto is suing farmers for growing patented seeds that wandered into their fields without the farmers’ knowledge and against their will.
California’s Proposition 37, which would have required GMO foods sold in stores to be labeled as such, fell short two weeks ago following an advertising blitz against the measure from Monsanto and other players in the agribusiness sector. Label It Yourself suggests an alternative:
The Label It Yourself (#LIY) is a decentralized, autonomous grassroots campaign born out of our broken food system. We have been asking corporations and our government to label food products so we can make educated decisions about what we eat. Our requests have been ignored and so we are taking matters into our own hands.
Using LIY’s resources, we encourage people to: autonomously label GMOs and empower others to do so, rescue words like “All Natural” and “Natural Flavors” from being hijacked, expose unfair labor practices. We have a right to know what is in our food and where it is coming from.
Comics artist Colleen Doran writes a quick and breezy intro to the world of farm shares and farm credit programs. Establishing trustworthy ways to get fresh, healthy, non-GMO food is going to become increasingly important. Doran gives an overview of what’s available and links to get started.
via A Distant Soil:
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In almost every major metropolitan area, and most rural areas, you will find farm shares or CSA’s, “Community Sponsored Agriculture”.
A CSA is, basically, a food subscription service.
Depending on the program (and they vary widely between suppliers,) the CSA will supply weekly, biweekly, or monthly food subscriptions for a flat annual fee which will cover the farming season, usually around half the year. If you live in California where the season is long, you can get a year-round subscription.
The farm will provide you with a prescribed amount of food per drop based on whatever is in season.
Monsanto demands that anyone who plants a seed containing the its patented herbicide-resisting genes pay steep “technology fees.” The problem is that Monsanto’s plants amount to self-replicating patent machines, as the Monsanto-created genes spread through the ecosystem. NPR reports:
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This farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, has been a loyal customer for Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soybeans. Sometimes he bought ordinary soybeans from the local grain elevator or another farmer.
But here’s the problem: Monsanto’s soybeans account for 94 percent of all the soybeans grown in Indiana. So almost all the soybeans that Bowman could get his hands on contained the patented “Roundup Ready” gene. Monsanto found out and took Bowman to court [where he was ordered] to pay $84,000. An appeals court affirmed that decision.
The arguments and counter-arguments that both sides have submitted to the Supreme Court mostly focus on the reach of Monsanto’s patents — specifically, whether Monsanto really can demand a royalty for the planting of any soybean containing its patented genes.
Yes you read that right, no longer satisfied with creating unsafe plants for us to eat, genetic engineers are now unleashing frankentrees, per T. V. Padma’s report for SciDev.Net:
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Genetically modified (GM) trees have been engaging both last week’s COP-MOP 6 on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and COP-11 on the Convention on Biological Diversity. And Isis Alvarez, from the Global Forest Coalition, advises some caution in a paper that reviews GM tree research in Latin America and was circulated at a side event in the Hyderabad.
The first thought that occurred to me was: does Latin America need GM forest trees any more than India needs GM brinjal (eggplant)? But leaving that aside, countries see potential for biotechnology in the forestry sector, just as in agriculture.
According to Alvarez, most known experiments in Latin America include Eucalyptus species, but several firms are also working on poplars, pines, acacias and fruit trees.
CBS News ponders whether America is being poisoned by food we “improved” via technology:
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Modern wheat is a “perfect, chronic poison,” according to Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist who has published a book all about the world’s most popular grain.
Davis said that the wheat we eat these days isn’t the wheat your grandma had: “It’s an 18-inch tall plant created by genetic research in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said on “CBS This Morning.” “This thing has many new features nobody told you about, such as there’s a new protein in this thing called gliadin. It’s not gluten. I’m not addressing people with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. I’m talking about everybody else because everybody else is susceptible to the gliadin protein that is an opiate. This thing binds into the opiate receptors in your brain and in most people stimulates appetite, such that we consume 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year.”
To avoid these wheat-oriented products, Davis suggests eating “real food,” such as avocados, olives, olive oil, meats, and vegetables.
It might be grandstanding by the Russians, but the issue of Roundup being carcinogenic is nonetheless alarming. From The Register:
Monsanto’s GM corn, the centre of a storm inspired by the now-notorious French “rat tumours” study, has been banned from Russia following a decision by consumer rights regulator Rospotrebnadzor.
The ban is more symbolic than anything else: Russia doesn’t allow its farmers to plant GM corn, and is a net exporter of grains.
According to TV-Novosti site RT, Rospotrebnadzor has asked Russia’s Institute of Nutrition to review the French study, which claimed that rats developed large tumours either when exposed to the “Roundup-resistant” crop or to concentrations of Roundup in their water as low as .1 parts per billion.
According to Bloomberg, Russia had already asked the European Commission to comment on the study.
The European Food Safety Authority expects to have a preliminary review of the study completed by next week…
[continues at The Register]
At prices this low, how could you expect the food not to be laced with insecticide? Russia Today reports:
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America’s largest bio-agriculture company and the biggest retailer in the country are joining forces. Walmart will soon be stocking their shelves with GMO corn made by Monsanto.
The retail giant says they won’t advertise which of their products are made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which could become a big problem very soon. Zack Kaldveer explains in an editorial published by the California Progress Report this month that Walmart will soon sell a special factory-made corn manufactured by Monsanto, which while it will allow most of Americans more easy access to affordable food, will also fill them with unknown insecticides: the very GMO crop Walmart will be selling has been genetically engineered to include chemicals right inside the corn.
Voters in California will decide later this year if retailers on the West Coast will be legally bound to correctly label all foodstuffs sold in shopping centers that are made from genetically modified foods.
The Monsanto-funded StopCostlyFoodLabeling.com (featuring articles such as “How California’s GMO Labeling Law Could Limit Your Food Choices and Hurt the Poor”) provides a sample of what will be rolled out as Californians mull a referendum requiring the labeling of GMO foods. Via BlackListed News:
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In February, Vermont contemplated the Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. The proposed bill prohibits GMO food producers from using keywords like “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown,” and “all natural” to describe GMO ingredients and products. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that nearly 20 states were considering similar programs. Public surveys show a whopping 90 percent of the U.S. in favor of such practices.
In theory, this should make California’s GMO labeling initiative, which would require all foods within the state made with GM ingredients to carry a label stating so, a shoo-in. But let’s not get so hasty.
Leaders in the disinformation campaign launched against the labeling initiative cry out that it would be—like the infamous Proposition 65, “The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986”—a way for bounty-hunting trial lawyers to file suits against even natural food companies for supposedly selling products containing undisclosed GMOs.