No Need to Label GMOs, FDA Says
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As if to illustrate just how completely the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is in the pocket of the biotech (GMO) industry, the FDA has patted the public on its pate, said “There there now,” and guaranteed that not only are GMOs safe to eat, but that they are so safe there’s not even a need to label them.
Genetically engineered plants that have been approved for sale don’t need labels and people can be assured they’re safe to eat, the Food and Drug Administration announced in mid-November.
“The agency is not aware of any valid scientific information showing that foods derived from genetically engineered plants, as a class of foods, differ from other foods in any meaningful way. GE (genetically engineered) foods don’t present greater safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding,” the FDA’s announcement said.
“However, if a food derived from a genetically engineered plant is materially different from its traditional counterpart, the labeling of that food must disclose such differences.” Otherwise, it’s up to the manufacturer to label or not to label any GMO food. This sets the U.S. apart from the European Union, Australia, and China, which require labels. Consumer and environmental groups have long pressed for the FDA to require labels on GMO foods, but the FDA says there’s no need.
It’s very difficult to avoid genetically engineered plants, the FDA pointed out. It failed to point out that food labeled organic by the USDA cannot contain genetically modified ingredients, and that therefore it’s pretty simple to avoid GMOs.
“In 2013, in the United States, bioengineered soybeans made up 93 percent of the acreage of planted soybeans, bioengineered cotton made up 90 percent of the acreage of planted cotton, and bioengineered corn varieties made up 90 percent of the acreage of planted corn,” it said. “In addition, bioengineered sugar beets accounted for 95 percent of the acreage of planted sugar beets in the 2009-2010 crop year.”
NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT GLYPHOSATE SOW CONFUSION
The news media often misconstrues the meaning of press releases. A case in point is documented by Katherine Paul of the Organic Consumers Association, writing about the European Union’s Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) recent conclusion that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is “unlikely to cause cancer.”
That headline seems to contradict findings published earlier this year by the World Health Organization (WHO). After extensive review of the evidence, all 17 of WHO’s leading cancer experts said glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.”
Sustainable Pulse, publisher of global news on GMOs and other food-related issues, quickly reported the glaring omission made by the majority of news sources that reported on the European Authority’s findings. According to Sustainable Pulse, what EFSA really concluded is that glyphosate by itself may not cause cancer, but products like Roundup, which contain glyphosate and other additives and chemicals that are essential to making the herbicide work, are another story.
According to the EFSA report, “It is likely, therefore, that the genotoxic effects observed in some glyphosate-based formulations are related to the other constituents or co-formulants.”
Take some glyphosate, writes Ms. Paul, mix it up with other chemicals, and you’ve got a cancer-causing concoction. (Genotoxic means “damaging to DNA and thereby capable of causing mutations or cancer). Remove those additives (or adjuvants as scientists refer to them), and you’ve got a weed killer that doesn’t work.
From Sustainable Pulse:
Independent scientists have long warned that pesticides are authorized for use based on medium- or long-term tests on laboratory animals carried out with a single chemical ingredient, which is known as the active ingredient because it is assumed to be responsible for giving the pesticide its pest- or weed-killing action.
However, the complete pesticide formulations as sold and used also contain additives (adjuvants), which increase the pest- or weed-killing activity of the pesticide. These complete formulations do not have to be tested in medium- and long-term tests—even though they are the substances to which farmers and citizens are exposed.
That would explain the difference between EFSA’s conclusion, based on its assessment of glyphosate alone, and the WHO findings, based on studies of glyphosate in combination with the other additives.
EFSA’s statement also issued a strong warning to EU member states that they might want to take a closer look at Roundup’s whole formula before they draw conclusions about glyphosate and Roundup. EFSA’s findings could, and should, change the way agencies like the EPA and EFSA study the toxic effects of herbicides.
Paul checked in with André Leu, author of the Myths of Safe Pesticides, for his take on the EFSA report.
“No surprise,” said Leu, who told us he’s devoting a whole chapter in his new book to how the pesticide industry has corrupted EFSA and the EPA. “I’ll reveal the background on how Monsanto’s ‘Glyphosate Task Force’ wrote the EFSA glyphosate reassessment report almost word for word to justify lifting the residue limits.”
According to Leu, both glyphosate alone, and formulations like Roundup, are genotoxic. He said research has shown that glyphosate “can cause genetic damage, developmental disruption, morbidity, and mortality even at what are currently considered normal levels of use.”
Leu cited a study published in 2004, which found that glyphosate-based herbicides caused cell-cycle dysregulation, which leads to cancers. Researchers involved in that study said: “Cell-cycle dysregulation is a hallmark of tumor cells and human cancers. Failure in the cell-cycle checkpoints leads to genomic instability and subsequent development of cancers from the initial affected cell.” The researchers behind the 20014 study tested several glyphosate-based pesticides and found that all of them caused cell-cycle dysregulation.
Leu also referred to the article Differential Effects of Glyphosate and Roundup on Human Placental Cells and Aromatase, published in 2005 in Environmental Health Perspectives. The article revealed evidence that glyphosate damaged human placental cells within 18 hours of exposure, even at concentrations lower than those found in commercially available pesticides and herbicides. According to the scientists who conducted the study “this effect increases with concentration and time or in the presence of Roundup adjuvants.”
And then there’s the study published in the journal Toxicology. Scientists studied four different commercial glyphosate formulations and observed breaks in 50 percent of the DNA strands in human liver cells at doses as low as five parts per million. This damage affects the way DNA sends messages to several physiological systems, including the endocrine system. According to the study’s authors, Leu said, this is significant because the liver is the first detoxification organ and is sensitive to dietary pollutants.
“The good news is that this may be the beginning of testing pesticide formulations for chronic and non-contagious diseases,” Leu said. “Currently pesticide formulations are tested for acute toxicity—the amount that will kill you in two weeks—but not for all the long-term diseases like cancer, endocrine, nervous, immune metabolic, birth defects, and on and on. Not one of the thousands of formulations that are used on our food are tested for these longer term diseases.”
MICHIGAN DEMOCRAT BOWS TO MONSANTO BLACKMAIL SCHEME
Monsanto has reportedly convinced Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to push for a rider to the end-of-year appropriations bill that would keep corporations from having to label GMOs.
Sources told PoliticoPro that Sen. Stabenow wants to preempt states from enacting their own GMO labeling laws, before Vermont’s law takes effect in July. Under her plan, according to PoliticoPro, Stabenow’s bill would “sunset” after an unspecified period of time, unless corporations come up with a voluntary, not mandatory, labeling scheme.
How will Sen. Stabenow convince her fellow Senators to pass a law that is opposed by 90 percent of Americans? By forcing Congress, and the President, to either support the legislation—or risk shutting down the government.
It’s blackmail, pure and simple. Brought to you by Monsanto, Big Food and the politicians who represent their interests, not yours, says the Organic Consumers Association.
EPA ALLOWS ‘HIGHLY NEUROTOXIC PESTICIDE’ RESIDUES ON FOOD
You would think that even the smallest bit of evidence suggesting a pesticide causes birth defects, brain damage and mental disorders in children would be enough for our government to ban the use of that toxin on our food.
And yet, it’s taken nearly a decade—and a court ordered mandate—to get the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose banning Dow’s child-poisoning chlorpyrifos from our food system. Chlorpyrifos, better known as Dursban and Lorsban, is a neurotoxic organophosphate.
Chlorpyrifos is highly neurotoxic. It is a cholinesterase inhibitor, which means that it can bind irreversibly to acetylcholine esterase (AchE), an essential enzyme for normal nerve impulse transmission, inactivating the enzyme. Studies have documented that exposure to even low levels of organophosphates like chlorpyrifos during pregnancy can impair learning, change brain function, and alter thyroid levels of offspring into adulthood. The evidence of the neurotoxic dangers associated with chlorpyrifos’ exposure is extensive and consistent. See the Pesticide-Induced Disease Database (PIDD) for more information.
The EPA currently allows low-level residues of chlorpyrifos on food, in spite of recent studies which suggest that low levels of chlorpyrifos and other endocrine disrupters may actually be more toxic than higher levels.
WHICH WAY TO THE PUSHME-PULLYOU?
Other than the few small luxuries afforded them, like private access to a large patch of grass, there was nothing to mark the two hornless dairy calves born last spring at a breeding facility in Sioux Center, Iowa, as early specimens in a new era of humanity’s dominion over nature, according to The New York Times.
But unlike a vast majority of their dairy brethren, these calves, both bulls, will never sprout horns. That means they will not need to undergo dehorning, routinely performed by farmers to prevent injuries and a procedure that the American Veterinary Medical Association says is “considered to be quite painful.”
Instead, when the calves were just single cells in a petri dish, scientists at a start-up company called Recombinetics used the headline-grabbing new tools of gene editing to swap out the smidgen of genetic code that makes dairy cattle have horns for the one that makes Angus beef cattle have none. And the tweak, copied into all of their cells through the normal machinery of DNA replication, will also be passed on to subsequent generations.
Not all biotechnicians are thrilled. Jennifer A. Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, an inventor of a new genome-editing technique, is the lead author of an article calling for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new method, to give scientists, ethicists, and the public time to fully understand the issues surrounding the breakthrough.
Meanwhile, gene-splicing roars on its unregulated, if not merry, way. Maybe Dr. Doudna is right and the world will not be a better place when it’s overrun with chimerical beasts.
U.S. SENATE TOLD ‘DARK ACT’ IS UNACCEPTABLE
On Tuesday, November 17, the Organic Consumers Association and Citizens for GMO Labeling, representing millions of consumers, brought this message to the U.S. Senate:
Consumers demand mandatory, on-package labeling of GMOs—and any compromise, including voluntary labeling, or a QR code scheme, is unacceptable.
OCA says it delivered the message at a briefing on Capitol Hill, attended by legislative aides representing dozens of U.S. Senators. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Connecticut State Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams, the lead sponsor of the first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law, and Tara Cook-Littman, also from Connecticut, who led the grassroots charge to pass Connecticut’s law, addressed the packed hearing.
Blumenthal had this to say:
“Part of my role as a Senator is to stop bad things from happening. The DARK Act (preventing positive GMO labeling) is one of the worst things that could happen.” Activists and/or lawmakers from Vermont, Massachusetts and New York also addressed Senate staffers.
GREENPEACE DEBUNKS GLOWING REPORTS OF GMO SUCCESSES
A new Greenpeace report exposes the dismal failure of GMO crops to live up to their promises. The report also debunks every one of those promises.
According to the report: 1) there are no GM crops designed to deliver high yields; 2) GM crops do not hold the key to climate resilience; 3) there is no scientific consensus that GM crops are safe for humans and the environment; 4) GM crops do not simplify crop protection—weeds and pests evolve to resist “crop protection” chemicals, creating worse problems; 5) GM crops are not economically viable for farmers; 6) GM crops cannot coexist with other agricultural systems without causing contamination of non-GM crops; 7) Genetic engineering is not the most promising pathway of innovation for food systems.
As we’ve known all along, Monsanto’s seeds are engineered for the sole purposes of cornering the market on the chief agricultural crops and selling dangerous pesticides.
“Over the past 20 years, GM technology has only been taken up by a handful of countries for a handful of crops, so no wonder two thirds of Europe have decided to ban it. Where GM crops are grown, they lead to increased pesticide use and the entrenchment of industrial farming systems that in turn exacerbate hunger, malnutrition, and climate change,” said Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU food policy director.
FOOD STAMPS ARE FOR REAL FOOD, NOT JUNK FOOD
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner, Mary Mayhew, has proposed banning the purchase of soda and candy with food stamps. Since her appointment, Mayhew has focused on welfare reform, and she claims that healthy eating will benefit both food stamp recipients as well as the state government. About one in three adults in Maine is obese, and this problem disproportionately affects the poor.
CLOSE THE REVOLVING DOOR BETWEEN BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT
Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Al Franken of Minnesota have introduced the Close the Revolving Door Act of 2015 that would ban former members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists, according to reporter Kathryn Schroeder.
Bennet explained the reasoning behind the bill on his website:
“Washington has become all too comfortable with the spin of the revolving door. Lobbyists working for special interests shouldn’t be allowed to hold more sway than the people back home in Colorado and around the country. We can put the power back into the hands of the people we came here to represent by banning members of Congress from lobbying when they leave Capitol Hill and closing the revolving door for Congressional staff.
“Although Washington has resisted these types of reforms, we will continue to fight for these commonsense fixes every year and in every Congress to ensure Washington is focused on the real issues that matter to the country.”
Bennet previously introduced the bill in 2010 and has committed himself to reintroducing it in every subsequent Congress until it becomes law.
According to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics, about 45 percent of former members of the 113th Congress who are currently employed work for lobbying firms. Around 12,000 registered federal lobbyists were active in Washington in 2014.
“The revolving door between Congress and the lobbying industry is a problem that needs fixing, because our democracy can’t function the way it’s supposed to when big interests have more power than the American people,” Franken said. “Our legislation would put in place much-needed reforms by not only banning members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, but also by making the industry become more accountable and transparent.”
There is a law in effect now that bans former members of Congress from lobbying their former colleagues for one to two years, in what is referred to as a “cooling-off period,” Vox reports.
Bennet and Franklin’s bill would make lobbying illegal for life with its proposed reforms that include:
Placing a lifetime ban on current members of Congress from becoming lobbyists.
Increasing the statutory staff restrictions on lobbying from one year to six years.
Banning lobbyists from joining Congressional staffs or committee staffs that they lobbied, for a period of six years.
Creating a more accessible website for public reporting of lobbying activities.
Requiring substantial lobbying entities to report on the non-lobbyist employees they have who are former members of Congress or former senior congressional staff, and describing those employees’ job responsibilities.
Increasing the maximum penalty for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana has joined Bennet and Franken in their fight, and even Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has backed the idea.
Bennet and Sharpen are not the only members of Congress fighting for lobbying reform.
Republican Rep. Rod Blum of Iowa introduced the No Golden Parachutes for Public Services Act in the House of Representatives this past week to ban former members of Congress from lobbying after they leave office.
You can assess the detrimental effects of the revolving door as it affects public health and agriculture by re-reading the items in this blog. But the situation is not hopeless, as the introduction of the Close the Revolving Door Act attests to. And now for some very positive news, read the next item.
EPA PULLS APPROVAL OF HERBICIDAL ‘AGENT ORANGE’ COCKTAIL
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), responding to litigation, has announced it is revoking the registration of “Enlist Duo.”
Approved by the agency just over a year ago, Enlist Duo is a toxic combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D that Dow AgroSciences created for use on the next generation of genetically engineered crops, designed to withstand being drenched with this potent herbicide cocktail. In its court filing, EPA stated it is taking this action after realizing that the combination of these chemicals is likely significantly more harmful than it had initially believed.
This action resolves a year-long legal challenge filed by a coalition of conservation groups seeking to rescind the approval of the dangerous herbicide blend. EPA had approved use of Enlist Duo in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and had intended to approve it in additional areas in the near future.
Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety, on behalf of Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Working Group, the National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America, had challenged EPA’s failure to consider the impacts of Enlist Duo on threatened and endangered plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. The Act requires that every federal agency consider the impacts of its actions on our nation’s most imperiled plants and animals and seek input from the expert wildlife agencies before plunging ahead, which EPA had refused to do.
“The decision by EPA to withdraw the illegally approved Enlist Duo crops is a huge victory for the environment and the future of our food,” said George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety’s senior attorney. “We will remain vigilant to ensure industry does not pressure the agency into making the same mistake in the future.”
“With this action, EPA confirms the toxic nature of this lethal cocktail of chemicals, and has stepped back from the brink,” said Earthjustice Managing Attorney Paul Achitoff. “Glyphosate is a probable carcinogen and is wiping out the monarch butterfly; 2,4-D also causes serious human health effects, and the combination also threatens endangered wildlife. This must not, and will not, be how we grow our food.”
Dow created Enlist crops as a quick fix for the problem created by “Roundup Ready” crops, the previous generation of genetically engineered crops designed to resist the effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Just as overuse of antibiotics has left resistant strains of bacteria to thrive, repeated use of Roundup on those crops allowed glyphosate-resistant “superweeds” to proliferate, and those weeds now infest tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland. Enlist crops allow farmers to spray both glyphosate and 2,4-D without killing their crops, which they hope will kill weeds resistant to glyphosate alone. But some weeds have already developed 2,4-D resistance, and the escalating cycle of more toxic pesticides in the environment will continue unless EPA stops approving these chemicals, and USDA stops rubber-stamping new genetically engineered crops.
“This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for EPA taking this important action to protect people, rare plants, and animals from Enlist Duo,” said Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As we gather with our families for the holiday feast, we can all breathe a little bit easier knowing that EPA has protected our food from being drenched with this poisonous pesticide cocktail.”
Judy Hatcher, executive director of Pesticide Action Network, commented: “EPA is taking a step in the right direction, but Enlist Duo shouldn’t have been given the green light in the first place. Too often, GE seeds and the herbicides designed to accompany them are rushed to market without thorough evaluation of their real-world impacts on community health and farmer livelihoods.”
TPP and the New Global Corporate Government
Organic Lifestyle Comments Off on TPP and the New Global Corporate Government
Let me put this in context. Corporate agriculture has always been the enemy of organic farming (and even gardening). From its inception in America in the early 1940s by J.I. Rodale, organic farming and gardening has called out Big Ag for the unnatural, harmful, and sinister system of food production that it is. Big Ag in return has waged a campaign to discredit and destroy first of all J.I. Rodale’s credibility, and then the organic movement as a whole.
I know. I was there for a lot of it. I took my first job at Organic Gardening & Farming magazine, as it was then called, in 1963, and have been associated with organics ever since.
It’s easy to see why Big Ag tried to destroy the organic movement. Big Ag is all about selling agricultural chemicals (and now, GMO seeds). Organics is all about farming without chemicals or GMO seeds. The two systems are diametrically opposed.
Both the organic movement and Big Ag have grown over the years. They remain opposed. Only now, Big Ag is really big, with enormous resources. The FDA is stuffed with Monsanto executives. The global corporate Godzilla runs unchecked through the world, as the FDA’s approval of GMO salmon proves. Its latest scheme is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Who will challenge this terrible agreement, if not the organic community? Educate yourself, because this really is the Big One. Here is the situation:
“The TPP agreement just recently released is a document of 5,554 pages,” according to Jack Rasmus, writing in teleSUR. “There are 30 separate chapters, not counting special ‘annexes’ and schedules. Then there’s a ‘secret guidance’ document, not yet released, which apparently even members of the US Senate still haven’t seen, according to US Senator, Jeff Sessions.”
Of course, there are official executive summaries of the 5,554 pages, notably by the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, and statements by President Obama. But readers won’t find out what the TPP is really about in these documents, which are designed to market TPP to the public. In fact, these for public consumption puff pieces are replete with misrepresentations, spin, and outright lies.
However, one statement by Obama is correct. He calls TPP “a new type of trade agreement”. It’s a new type all right.
The TPP is not simply an economic document, about trade in goods, services, and investor money capital flows. TPP is first and foremost a political document. TPP is the latest salvo fired by global corporations against national and popular sovereignty, against Democracy itself. The key to understanding how TPP is about global corporations setting up their own global government is contained in its Chapters 27 and 28.
In chapter 27, TPP provides for a new executive-legislative body whose decisions will usurp national and state-local legislative functions and representative democracy—already under serious attack everywhere by corporate money and other initiatives. And in chapter 28, TPP provides for a new kind of global corporate court system, run by corporate-friendly lawyers and hirelings who will make decisions which cannot be reviewed, appealed, or challenged in existing court systems of any TPP member country. TPP courts will take precedence over US and other national court systems, already under heavy attack by corporate forces vigorously promoting arbitration as a means by which to bypass the formal judicial system in the US.
Chapter 27 establishes a TPP Commission, composed of ministers or officials who oversee the operation of TPP and its future evolution. For the TPP is being called a living agreement, meaning it will change as new members join. What is not explained, however, is whether once it is ratified by Congress, will representatives get to ratify each time it is changed? Or just once at the outset, thereafter allowing corporate lawyers, CEOs, and corporate-owned bureaucrats to change it any way they please later?
According to TPP, the Commission members function as a kind of corporate global Politburo, a legislative committee of the Multinational Corporations of the TPP members, with yet to be defined accompanying executive powers. No separation of powers here.
More important, TPP is totally silent on questions like how will the Commission be determined? What are the terms of office of its members? Who chooses them and how? Can they be relieved and, if so, by whom and according to what process? To whom are they accountable? Can they meet in secret? What are the rules for decision making under which they’ll operate? The TPP is silent on all these questions. How convenient. Perhaps something addressing these questions exists in the mysterious guidance document no one has seen yet. But don’t bet on it.
Most important, it appears the decisions by the Commission are not subject to review, let alone reversal, by Congress or any other existing government legislature. According to the US Congressional Record of November, 10, 2015, at least one US Senator has raised the warning that “we are empowering the TPP countries to create a new Congress of sorts” and a supra-national Commission that “will not be answerable to voters anywhere.”
But TPP proposes not only to negate existing government legislative and executive functions. It even more directly attacks existing judicial institutions and functions. Chapter 28 sets up an independent court system, or tribunals, which will make decisions that existing national judicial systems cannot review or overturn. These tribunals are officially called ISDS panels, for ‘Investor-State Dispute System,’ each of which is composed of three trade and expert representatives. But once again, as in the case of the Commission, Investor-Corporate representatives selected by whom? How? For what terms? Representing whose interests?
Let’s call them what they are: Korporate Kangaroo Kourts that will do most of their work in secret. TPP language allows them to conduct public hearings in public, but it also allows them the option to conduct hearings in total secrecy as well. Guess which they’ll prefer? TPP indicates KKKs may consider requests from the public to provide written views—but “may” does not mean must. It also says final reports will be available to the public—but that’s after their final decisions have been made. Furthermore, “the initial report will be confidential,” while the final report to the public is “subject to the protection of any confidential information in the report.” What’s finally released to the public will no doubt look like extensive black outs in a typical US Freedom of Information Act request.
Here’s another problem: The ISDS-KKK courts allow corporations and investors to sue national governments—i.e. legislatures or executive regulatory agencies—that may try to pass laws or establish rules to protect workers, the environment, or whatever investors and corporations consider to be interfering with their ability to make profits under the TPP. The TPP suits will claim the US government violated the TPP treaty, even though the corporation’s dispute may in fact be between the Investor-Corporation and a state or local government.
This means technically that a corporation-investor that owns farmland in California, for example, can sue the state for imposing water rationing in the drought. That rationing would of course interfere with their profit making under TPP. Or how about a foreign owned restaurant chain in Los Angeles, which just passed a city ordinance calling for a $15 minimum wage? Under TPP, moreover, neither the state of California nor Los Angeles will be able to appear as a direct party to the TPP suit to defend itself, since disputes under TPP are restricted to the Corporation-Investor vs. the national government. So much for local democracy as well under TPP.
All governments exercise legislative, judicial, and executive functions. The TPP establishes on behalf of global corporations all the above. But TPP establishes those functions at the direct expense of existing government institutions, popular sovereignty, and the very idea of democratic representation. TPP’s Commission establishes a corporate pan-global legislature by corporate committee with unknown executive powers as well. Its KKKs clearly violate Article III of the US Constitution establishing an independent judiciary.
The signing of the TPP agreement in Atlanta, Georgia, on Oct. 4, 2015, represents in a sense the founding “Constitutional Convention” of global corporate government. For the economic Corporate Form has clearly outrun the political Government Forms with which it has coexisted for the past two centuries.
All forms of revolution, they say, occur based on the emergence of dual power and new sets of institutions attempting to replace the old. Chapters 27 and 28 of the TPP represent the seed of that emerging corporate dual power. So maybe it’s time for some new popular forms of dual power to stop them as well.
FDA APPROVES GMO SALMON
The Food and Drug Administration has approved AquAdvantage salmon, a genetically engineered fish developed by AquaBounty Technologies to grow much faster than natural wild salmon. The FDA announced that it met the criteria for approval for safety and effectiveness. It will still be years before it hits markets, as the company needs to build farms to produce and raise the salmon.
Scientists, environmental and consumer groups, and fishermen have responded by lambasting the FDA. This is the first-ever genetically engineered animal, and it was approved for human consumption despite widespread public outcry, risks to wild salmon, and a faulty assessment based on incomplete company data.
Despite this approval, a large segment of the market has already rejected genetically engineered salmon. More than 60 grocery store chains representing more than 9,000 stores across the U.S. have made commitments to not sell the GMO salmon, including Safeway, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Aldi, and many others.
“Despite FDA’s flawed and irresponsible approval of the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption, it’s clear that there is no place in the U.S. market for genetically engineered salmon,” said Lisa Archer, Food and Technology program director at Friends of the Earth. “People don’t want to eat it and grocery stores are refusing to sell it.”
Seventy-five percent of respondents to a recent New York Times poll said they would not eat genetically engineered salmon, and 1.8 million people sent letters to the FDA opposing approval of the so-called “frankenfish.”
The FDA has said it will probably not require labeling of the fish; however, Alaska, a top wild salmon producer, requires labeling of genetically engineered salmon and momentum is growing for GMO labeling in a number of states across the U.S. and at the federal level.
AquaBounty Technologies’ AquAdvantage® salmon is genetically engineered with the DNA of an eel-like ocean pout to grow faster. At least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish, along with chickens, pigs, and cows, are currently under development, and the FDA’s decision on this genetically engineered salmon application sets a precedent for other genetically engineered fish and animals.
A growing body of science suggests that GMO salmon may pose serious environmental and public health risks, including potentially irreversible damage to wild salmon populations.
“There were over 250 million wild salmon harvested in Alaska and Puget Sound this year. Why should we put this sustainable resource at risk for the benefit of a few multinational corporations that will, sooner or later, introduce GE salmon into their floating feed lots? Americans will be eating synthetic salmon, thinking they are receiving the nutritional benefits of wild salmon,” said Dr. Pete Knutson, owner of Loki Fish Company and Commissioner on the Puget Sound Salmon Commission.
“There’s no place on our dinner plates for genetically engineered fish. We will continue to work to ensure the market, from grocery retailers to restaurants, continues to listen to majority of consumers that don’t want to eat this poorly studied, unlabeled, genetically engineered fish,” said Archer.
More information on health and environmental risks of genetically engineered salmon and a full list of stores that have made commitments to not sell genetically engineered seafood and salmon, letters sent to companies by Friends of the Earth and allies, and a list of coalition partners are available at www.gefreeseafood.org.
MONSANTO WILL LABEL GMO FOOD—IN AN UNINTELLIGIBLE BLOTCH
Monsanto and its special interest friends have unveiled a new, sneaky approach to hide information about GMOs. They’re offering a “compromise” on the DARK Act, which would require GMO labels on food products, but only if they’re hidden in difficult to read QR codes on the back of a product.
This would be a disaster for our right to know what’s in our food. Instead of clear labels, we would get a complicated black and white dot pattern that needs to be scanned with a smartphone in order to be read. These QR codes are not at all accessible to Americans shopping for food for their families.
That’s why we need everyone to make a phone call to the Senate.
Pick up your phone and dial 1-877-796-1949 to be connected with your Senators so you can let them know you oppose these new efforts by Monsanto to hide information about GMOs in complicated QR codes.
If this “compromise” is accepted, Monsanto can claim that we’ve won and gotten the labeling we’ve demanded. We can’t let that happen. With Big Food using every resource at their disposal to put pressure on the Senate, this deal could go through at any minute.
Our grassroots efforts are our best defense against Monsanto’s big money and corporate lobbying effort.
Please, join the thousands of activists making calls across the country. Dial 1-877-796-1949 and talk to your Senators today.
Thank you for taking action. Paige Richardson, Director, Oregon GMO Right to Know
NEW FDA CHIEF IS A BIG PHARMA MEGA-LOBBYIST
President Obama’s recent nominee to chair the Food and Drug Administration has drawn harsh criticism for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry, writes Carey Wedler in AntiMedia.
The disapproval grew more justified last week as it was revealed that until this year, nominee Dr. Robert Califf was a board member and consultant for a company whose sole purpose is to help pharmaceutical companies evade and manipulate FDA regulations. He currently serves as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco.
Faculty Connection, LLC, where Califf served from 2006 to 2015, claims the company “brings together physicians and researchers from leading academic institutions with pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device clients.”
Faculty Connection, LLC “boasts that its team of ‘practicing university-based physicians and researchers’ provides ‘regulatory consulting,’ including expertise in FDA briefing reviews and other regulatory submissions to the agency.”
Further, an official corporate video notes the company has “served over 175 different pharma, biotech, and medical device firms,” claiming to help faculty — researchers, doctors, and academics — work side-by-side with the pharmaceutical industry.
Califf previously came under fire for helping to establish the Duke Clinical Research Institute, which is funded primarily by pharmaceutical companies. According to a 2014 “Conflict of Interest Disclosure,” Cahill admitted his close connection to the industry. His income is “contractually underwritten in part by several large pharmaceutical companies, including Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, and Novartis. He also receives as much as $100,000 a year in consulting fees from some of those companies, and from others.” The FDA insists Cahill donates his private income to nonprofits.
Even so, Califf’s appointment is hardly surprising. Michael Taylor, the current Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA—also appointed by Barack Obama—used to be Monsanto’s vice president for public policy.
Collusion between corporations and the FDA is widely documented. This influence has presumably contributed to many questionable decisions, such as the FDA’s approval of oxycontin for children or the ongoing approval of countless dangerous drugs that are later recalled.
Bernie Sanders, the Senator from Vermont who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said last month that he would oppose Dr. Califf’s candidacy because he did not think Dr. Califf would be tough on the issue of rising drug prices.
Thomas Marciniak, a former cardiovascular drug reviewer for the F.D.A., said that he had reviewed several trials conducted by the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the group that Dr. Califf ran, and that he believed the control arm had been compromised to make the drug look better.
Marciniak said he believed drug companies had too much discretion over what data they submit, a power that gives them what he believes is inappropriate sway over the drug approval process.
“The clinical trial system run by drug companies in this world is really broken,” said Marciniak, who left the agency last year. “I think Rob Califf is one of the architects of that. I think he should be held accountable, not appointed to run the F.D.A.”
FORD FUNDS CLIMATE DENIER GROUP ALEC
The Ford Motor Company, despite its much-hyped commitment to the environment, has been quietly funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group widely criticized for its promotion of climate change denial and for its opposition to the development of renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, according to EcoWatch.
A Ford spokesperson, Christin Baker, confirmed the ALEC grant to the Center for Media and Democracy/PRWatch, but said that the funding was not intended to be used by ALEC to block action on climate change.
“Ford participates in a broad range of organizations that support our business needs, but no organization speaks for Ford on every issue. We do not engage with ALEC on climate change,” said Baker.
Center for Media and Democracy is breaking the story of Ford funding of ALEC as other major international corporations have continued to withdraw financial support from the organization. Since Center for Media and Democracy first launched the ALEC Exposed investigation in 2011, revealing the extensive agenda of the corporate lobbying group, more than 100 corporations have left ALEC, including BP, Occidental, Yahoo, Visa, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Walmart and McDonalds.
In September 2014, Google announced that it would end its ALEC funding. “I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake, and so we’re trying to not do that in the future,” Chairman Eric Schmidt told National Public Radio.
Schmidt then slammed ALEC for the deceptive claims it has showcased on climate change, even though “the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people—they’re just, they’re just literally lying.”
Most recently, Shell Oil announced it would withdraw support for ALEC, telling the Washington Post: “ALEC advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own.”
Ford has attempted to present itself as a leader in addressing climate change, in part through its participation in the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The compact requires corporate members to address 10 principles concerning human rights, labor standards, anti-corruption, and the environment.
As part of its UNGC commitment, Ford boasts that it “is committed to doing our share to prevent or reduce the potential for environmental, economic and social harm due to climate change.”
Ford’s funding of ALEC is inconsistent with that aim.
At a session held during the 2014 ALEC Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas, ALEC legislators were repeatedly told: “There is no scientific consensus on the human role in climate change.” At another session during the same conference, legislators heard that: “The idea that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ [on climate change] does not hold up.” ALEC counts more than 2,000 legislators as members and it has touted its reach in Congress with former House Speaker John Boehner plus several GOP members of the Senate and House who have publicly denied climate change.
Despite ALEC’s efforts to promote climate change denial among U.S. politicians, there is in fact wide consensus that the earth is warming because of human activity. Respected scientific bodies including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, along with 97 percent of climate scientists, agree on this point.
Earlier this year, CMD/PRwatch co-launched a new website that documents the teaching of climate change denial to legislators at ALEC conferences: ALECClimateChangeDenial.org.
ALEC’s next meeting is in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the same time as the UNFCC’s COP21 meeting on climate change will be taking place in Paris, France.
MEXICAN COURTS HAND MONSANTO A DEFEAT ON GMOS
Lorraine Chow at EcoWatch reports that opponents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have claimed victory after Mexico’s Supreme Court blocked a move that would allow the cultivation of GMO soy in the Mexican states of Campeche and Yucatan.
In a separate appeals court decision, a federal judge upheld a 2013 ruling that barred companies such as Monsanto and DuPont/Pioneer from planting or selling their GMO corn within the country’s borders.
The court decisions were heralded as a “double whammy” against agribusiness giant Monsanto, according to a celebratory Facebook post from sustainable food advocacy organization GMO Free USA.
According to a report from Mexico News Daily, the ruling favored an injunction filed by Maya beekeepers on the Yucatán peninsula, where honey production and collection is its main industry.
“The decision suspends a permit granted to the agrichemical firm Monsanto to farm genetically modified soybeans on over 250,000 hectares in the region and instructs a federal agency it must first consult with indigenous communities before granting any future permits for transgenic soy farming,” the report said.
Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Indignación and Litiga OLE reportedly said that farming GMO soybeans in the region would put honey production and approximately 15,000 Maya farm families at risk due to the use of the herbicide glyphosate (which has been linked to cancer). It was also claimed that soy production would lead to deforestation in Campeche.
Monsanto has since given a response to the decision, denying that its GMO soy has impacted bees, causes deforestation, or damages the honey industry in the two states, Reuters reported.
“We do not accept accusations that put us as responsible for deforestation and illegal logging in the municipality of Hopelchén, Campeche, or any place of the Republic, because our work is rigidly attached to the guidelines provided by law,” the company said in a statement.
As for GMO corn, Sustainable Pulse reported that federal judge Benjamin Soto Sánchez, head of the second Unitarian Court in Civil and Administrative Matters of the First Circuit, “upheld a provisional suspension prohibiting pertinent federal agencies from processing and granting the privilege of sowing or releasing into the environment of transgenic maize in the country.”
This decision came despite 100 challenges by transnational agribusiness interests and the federal government, according to Sustainable Pulse.
According to Al Jazeera, “Fewer than 30 percent of Mexican farmers even use conventional hybrid maize—high-yielding, single-use seeds, which need to be purchased every year,” and prefer “to stick with seeds they can save year to year, often varieties of the native ‘landraces’ of maize the injunction is intended to protect.” Still, Monsanto “has the Mexican market for yellow maize seeds; 90 percent of U.S. maize is in GM seeds, and that is the source for Mexico’s imports of yellow maize.”
Mexico’s initial ban of GMO corn in September, 2013, was overturned in August, 2015, which opened the door for more business opportunities for Monsanto pending favorable later court decisions, as Telesurtv noted. Monsanto has announced that it was seeking to double its sales in the country over the next five years.
However, this latest ruling from the appellate court could drive Monsanto’s ambitions to the ground.
A staunch anti-GMO movement has swelled in the country in order to preserve the country’s unique biodiversity of its staple crop. Lawyer Bernardo Bátiz, advisor to the lead plaintiffs’ organization, Demanda Colectiva, spoke about the significance of the two separate cases.
He said that Mexico is “a country of great biological, cultural, agricultural diversity and [therefore the courts should consider the impact of] planting GMO corn, soybeans or other crops.”
He added, “in a country like ours, among other negative effects that would result, is that Mexican honey would be difficult to keep organic.”
AGRIBIZ ATTEMPTS TO HIJACK CLIMATE TALKS
Vandana Shiva, writing for EcoWatch, reports that “in 2008, before the climate summit in Copenhagen, I wrote the book Soil Not Oil. It was a time when the intimate connections between climate and agriculture, air and soil were not being recognized in any forum, neither in the negotiations on climate change nor in the climate movement. As we head into the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, agri-corporations are attempting to hijack climate talks once again.
“Today we are faced with two crises on a planetary scale—climate change and species extinction. Our current modes of production and consumption are contributing to what climate change scientists term anthropogenic emissions—originating from human activity. If no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gases, we could experience a catastrophic 4 C increase in temperature by the end of the century.
“In addition to global warming, climate change is leading to the intensification of droughts, floods, cyclones and other extreme weather events that are costing lives. What can we do to mitigate this? Like the problem, the solution must be anthropogenic.
“Three years after Rio (1992), the United Nations Leipzig Conference on Plant Genetic Resources assessed that 75 percent of the world’s biodiversity had disappeared in agriculture because of the Green Revolution and industrial farming. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that 70-90 percent of global deforestation is due to industrial agriculture pushing its monocultures further and further into forests to grow commodities for export—not for food.
“As I wrote in Soil Not Oil, chemical agriculture and a globalized food system are responsible for 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. A grain.org report concluded that ‘the current global food system, propelled by an increasingly powerful transnational food industry, is responsible for about half of all human produced greenhouse gas emissions: anywhere between a low of 44 percent to a high of 57 percent.’
This is also where the Gates Foundation, along with the other biotech evangelists of our times, has it completely wrong. Climate-smart agriculture and “One Agriculture,” packaged in a PR bubble, will starve the world and worsen the refugee crisis. The Gates Foundation, pretending to feed the world, is propagating the very source of half the climate problem.
Heartland Institute, the right-wing think tank, is sending a big delegation to the talks to refute global warming science.
Biotech Firms Now Patenting Non-GMOs
Organic Lifestyle Comments Off on Biotech Firms Now Patenting Non-GMOs
Biotech companies such as Syngenta and Monsanto have more on their agendas than simply peddling GMOs to us; they want to own and control the entire food supply, whether genetically modified or otherwise, according to Natural News.
Many people don’t know that these agricultural tech giants are involved in the business of patenting non-GMO plants and seeds. In the United States, what was once a diverse and essentially free exchange of seeds among farmers and home gardeners has become a giant industry.
The Center for Food Safety reports:
The history of seed development, distribution, and ownership reflects today’s dominant economic paradigm of the last several decades, which converts basic elements of life – such as seeds and genetic resources – into private, commercial assets.
Until the last few decades, seed development and distribution in the U.S. was largely under the purview of the public sector and augmented by hundreds of small, often family-run, seed breeder businesses, which acted mainly as distributors of publicly developed seed varieties. This contrasts sharply with the situation today in which the top ten companies control 65 percent of proprietary, or intellectual property (IP)-protected, seed.
In Europe, the patenting of non-genetically altered plants is prohibited by law, yet patents are now being routinely issued for conventionally cultivated varieties of seeds, setting precedents in favor of Big Agriculture.
The trend is towards the privatization of the things we need to survive, namely water and food. Whoever controls these elements has great power. The populace needs to become aware that companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta are looking forward to a world in which they hold the keys to our survival.
One recent example of how this works is the case of Syngenta’s patenting of a pepper strain obtained through conventional breeding methods.
The European Patent Office (EPO) granted the patent for use “as fresh produce, as fresh cut produce, or for processing such as, for example, canning.”
The patent also covers the plants, their cultivation, harvesting and seeds. The plants have been developed to produce pepper without seeds and are derived from conventional breeding using existing biodiversity. There was no genetic engineering involved in the process.
This type of patenting of conventionally bred plants and seeds is on the increase, although some of Big Ag’s patent attempts have been successfully challenged.
For example, Monsanto was originally successful when it tried to patent a tomato it claimed to have developed, but patent #EP1812575 was revoked when it was proven that Monsanto did not create the plant’s natural resistance to the fungal disease known as botrytis.
Monsanto’s clever lawyers created wording in their patent application to give the impression that the seed was genetically engineered to produce this quality. They made the tomato look like their “invention.”
Through the efforts of the international coalition called No Patents on Seeds! and other concerned activists, the efforts of Big Ag are meeting some effective resistance.
The recent move towards GMO bans in Europe are an indication that the industry giants can be successfully challenged. Now it’s time to put an end to their efforts to monopolize our natural seed resources.
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/051868_food_supply_control_seed_patents_Syngenta.html#ixzz3qjpa3qpf
GMOS IN BABY FOOD
If you feed your baby one of the following three infant formulas, you are perhaps, unknowingly, feeding them GMO corn, sugar beets, and soy, since they are often used in these companies’ products:
One of the most widely used brands and often given out for ‘free’ at hospitals, this baby formula is made by Abbott Laboratories.
Another baby formula often given out as ‘free’ samples to new mothers is made by Mead Johnson Nutrition. The following Mead Johnson formulas are known to have GMO toxins:
◦Enfamil with Iron
◦Enfamil with low Iron
◦Enfamil Lacto Free
◦Enfamil Next Step (both soy and milk varieties)
3. Gerber Good Start
The GMO formula made by Nestle USA is perhaps the most questionable since the company has knowingly tried to ‘patent’ water and make it a commodity. Nestle USA and Mead Johnson Nutrition have dismissed calls to remove GMOs from their infant formulas in the US, citing the approved use of GMOs by several national and global regulatory bodies.
You can boycott these companies and start making your own home-made, natural baby foods from organic ingredients. However, the assistant director of the FDA, Nick Duy, warns us against making our own baby formulas, as they might make babies sick. Glad to see the FDA is looking out for someone’s interests. Too bad it’s not the public’s.
CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS EXACERBATE GLOBAL WARMING
Fertilizer companies are among the world’s top climate villains, according to a new report by GRAIN, an international non-profit organization that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. The products could be responsible for up to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
According to GRAIN’s report, recent studies show that the overall contribution of chemical fertilizers to climate change has been drastically underestimated. Calculations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of nitrous oxide emissions from the use of chemical fertilizers are three to five times less than what these studies suggest. The outdated IPCC figures also do not account for global increases in fertilizer production, the increasing reliance on shale gas as a raw material or the destructive impacts of chemical fertilisers on organic matter, the world’s most important carbon sink.
“We now can say that the use of chemical fertilizers this year will generate more GHG emissions than the total GHG emissions from all of the cars and trucks driven in the US,” says Devlin Kuyek, a researcher with GRAIN. “The good news is that there is a quick fix for this problem: a worldwide switch to agroecological practices that can achieve the same yields without chemicals.”
EPA MOVES TO BAN DANGEROUS PESTICIDE
A common pesticide used on citrus fruits, almonds, and other crops would be banned under a proposal recently announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Associated Press.
The proposal would prohibit use of chlorpyrifos, a widely used insecticide that is sprayed on a variety of crops including oranges, apples, cherries, grapes, broccoli and asparagus.
The pesticide, in use since 1965, has sickened dozens of farmworkers in recent years. Traces have been found in waterways, threatening fish, and regulators say overuse could make targeted insects immune to the pesticide.
U.S. farms use more than six million pounds of the chemical each year — about 25 percent of it in California.
Predictably, CropLife America, a trade group that represents pesticide producers, called the proposed ban a “drastic and unnecessary step that is caused by wasteful, agenda-driven litigation” filed by environmental groups.
“We are confident that due legal and scientific process will make this proposed action unnecessary,” said Jay Vroom, the group’s president.