GMO News Summary and More: May 24, 2016

A brief summary of some recent GMO related news and links to other GMO related sources

 

GMO News Summary and More - May 24, 2016 (Quote from Erwin Chargaff)

 

 

Bayer’s Takeover of Monsanto Would Create the World’s Largest Agricultural Supplier,” by John Dyer, VICE News; May 20, 2016

“The corporate power, the sheer force that Monsanto-Bayer would be able to exert in capitals across the United States and Europe — that power to advance its regulatory aims and efforts to defeat transparency and defeat a path for agriculture that is less chemical, less poison-dependent, is bad for consumers,” said Gary Ruskin, co-founder of US Right to Know, an advocacy group that supports labelling on genetically modified food. “It’s bad for farmers in the long run, and it’s bad for the environment.”

 

Environmentalists press charges against Monsanto and EU regulatory authorities (Press Release),” by PAN Europe; April 21, 2016

 

Case against the authorization of Monsanto genetically engineered Intacta soybeans to be heard at the EU Court of Justice,” by Testbiotech; May 10, 2016

A full report on the Intacta soybean from 2014:

Sustainability Assessment of Genetically Modified Herbicide Tolerant Crops: The Case of Intacta RR 2 Pro Soybean Farming in Brazil in light of the Norwegian Gene Technology Act,” by Georgina Catacora-Vargas, GenØk, Centre for Biosafety; November 2014 (117 pages)

“The long-term and multiple pathways of exposure to several agrochemicals; the lack of official monitoring and data collection on pesticide applications, residues and metabolites; and the weak implementation of pesticide and biosafety regulations pose significant challenges to public health related to agrochemical use in industrial agriculture, including GM crops. The trend of cultivating GM crops with tolerance to multiple herbicides may aggravate community health problems given the increased exposure to more toxic herbicides (e.g. glufosinate, dicamba and 2,4-D)” (page 70).

“Given the limited research on stacked GM HT crops such as Intacta RR2 Pro, the biosafety regulatory framework faces the challenge of having to make decisions under conditions of incomplete knowledge. The findings in this report clearly reveal that more empirical research is still needed on the multiple dimensions of sustainability of GM HT plants, including independent research regarding possible adverse effects at ecological, socioeconomic and human health, particularly of multiple-trait GM varieties” (page 85).

Report – ‘Sustainability Assessment of Genetically Modified Herbicide Tolerant Crops’ GenØk, 2014

 

Organic Farmers Are Not Anti-Science but Genetic Engineers Often Are,” by Elizabeth Henderson, Independent Science News; May 24, 2016

Excerpt: “A question that I have heard from proponents of biotechnology is ‘why do you organic farmers oppose science, like the climate deniers?’ The first time I heard this, I was startled and felt defensive … nowhere could I find any statement opposing science.”

“It is extremely unscientific and poor public policy for the patent office, a federal agency, to grant billions of dollars of utility patent rights for GE technology based on a demonstration of material difference, and for FDA, another federal agency, to be simultaneously denying consumers basic information about the use of that technology in their food, based on that agency’s finding of a lack of material difference.”

Internal FDA documents obtained by the Alliance for Bio-Integrity during a 1998 lawsuit against the agency reveal that the FDA’s Biotechnology Coordinator, James Maryanski, knew full well the potential risks but chose to override them. A November 1, 1991 memo to Maryanski titled “Points to Consider for Safety Evaluation of Genetically Modified Foods. Supplemental Information”, detailed the potential problems with new genetically engineered crops:

increased levels of known naturally occurring toxicants, appearance of new, not previously identified toxicants, increased capability of concentrating toxic substances from the environment (e.g. pesticides or heavy metals) and undesirable alterations in the levels of nutrients.

“Despite this, the FDA claimed, and continues to assert that genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe and has classified them as “generally regarded as safe” or GRAS under current FDA guidelines.”

Excerpt, Comment - Points to Consider for Safety Evaluation of Genetically Modified Foods-Supplemental Information, Nov.1, 1991 (Druker)

 

My comment: Although this author makes some good points, I have to point out that I didn’t see any mention of cross-contamination; there is no mention of cross-contamination, gene flow, genetic pollution or transgene escape. To that end, I think that “working together” is a myth. ‘Conventional’ agriculture is not specifically defined, but in the context of the subject of the article (genetic engineering), it more likely than not means industrial agriculture, which is largely GMO-based agriculture. There is no such thing as co-existence and “working together” between GMO-based agriculture and non-GMO. Science and economics dictate that GMO-based agriculture is inherently hazardous to non-GMO crops.

“Our company used to carry up to two dozen varieties of heirloom corn, until we began testing for GMO contamination in 2006. Now, we are barely able to offer half that number, since the remainder have tested positive. That’s half of these fine old historic varieties – gone, until or unless we can find clean seed for them! This translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue for our company and the numerous small farmers that supply the seed we ship to our customers. That’s revenue we and they will never recover.” (See: “How GMOs Have Invaded Our Lives,” from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Catalogue, 2014)

“In the Spanish state of Aragón, farm and environmental organizations have been complaining since 2005 that over 40% of organic grain has traces of GE content and can no longer be sold as organic or GMO-free.” (See: “GMOs: Fooling – er, ‘feeding’ – the world for 20 years,” by GRAIN; May 15, 2013)

“Co-existence isn’t protection, it is forced GE contamination,” said Center for Food Safety’s organic policy coordinator Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D.  “The only reasonable protection for organic and non-GE farmers is for USDA to mandate a moratorium on the planting of new GE crops until it can demonstrate that contamination can be prevented.” Please see: “USDA-Appointed Committee’s Recommendations Fail to Prevent GE Contamination,” by Center for Food Safety; August 23rd, 2012

“[T]he scientific data [shows] quite clearly that no coexistence is possible. The toxic agrochemicals used in conventional agriculture end up polluting everything, and GM organisms reproduce and spread like all organisms are supposed to.” See: “Coexistence is impossible,” by Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero, Seeds of Freedom; July 7, 20140

Also please see: “The Myth of Coexistence: Why Transgenic Crops Are Not Compatible With Agroecologically Based Systems of Production,” by Miguel A. Altieri, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, Vol. 25, No. 4, August 2005

This aspect of GMOs transcends the labeling of GMO foods by leaps and bounds. Our entire food supply is potentially at risk of contamination; elimination of organic crops is in the realm of possibilities if things continue as they have been.

What is genetic pollution?” by the Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering; August 10, 2010

 

Elsewhere in the news:

California farmworkers face high rates of food insecurity, obesity,” by FERN’s Ag Insider; April 15, 2016

 

Children in Farm Communities Pay a Steep Price for the Food We Eat,” by Elizabeth Grossman, Civil Eats; May 10, 2016

Referenced in the previous article is this new report from Pesticide Action Network North America: “Kids on the Frontline reflects a rigorous assessment of dozens of independent studies documenting links between pesticide exposure and children’s health harms. It builds on our extensive 2012 report, A Generation in Jeopardy. The science linking agricultural pesticides to childhood health harms – particularly leukemia, brain tumors and developmental disorders – has grown increasingly strong. While children across the country are exposed in various ways, those living in rural, agricultural communities are on the frontlines of both pesticide exposure and the associated health risks.”

Kids on the Frontline,” Emily C. Marquez, PhD et al, PAN North America; 2016 (48 pages)

Kids on the Frontline, Emily C. Marquez, PhD et al, PAN North America; 2016

 

No One Knows Exactly How Much Herbicide Is in Your Breakfast,” by Kristin Wartman Lawless, VICE; May 11, 2016

 

How the Monsanto-Bayer mega-deal would be a nightmare for America,” by Leah Douglas, CNN; May 23, 2016

 

In science, follow the money – if you can,” by Paul D. Thacker and Curt Furberg, LA Times; May 12, 2016

 

NAS Report on GMOs Gives Spin New Life and Pulls Too Many Punches,” by Chuck Benbrook, Medium; May 18, 2016

“The lack of even a cursory policy-change reality check is a major shortcoming in the report, given that major changes in the policy arena have been called for before, but never come to fruition. Despite trying for nearly a year and overwhelming public support, the Congress cannot even agree on a way to label food containing GE ingredients. Today’s GE technology, and the business model it has given rise to, remain highly profitable for the six major players in the global GE seed-pesticide industry. Their response to the spread of weeds resistant to glyphosate, the main herbicide used in conjunction with GE crops, is to engineer crops resistant to additional herbicides, in the hope farmers can spray their way off of a herbicide treadmill created in the first place by excessive reliance on herbicides … The report consistently downplays the severity of the issues and the costs of dealing with the collateral damage left in the wake of market disruptions and public controversy over GE technology. I think the Committee owes the public a more sober appraisal.”

 

National Academy of Sciences Finds Genetically Engineered Crops Not the Solution to World Hunger,” by Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety; May 23rd, 2016

 

Dirty Dancing,” by Ena Valikov, Veterinary GMO Science Blog; May 20, 2016

“A long-awaited– hundreds of pages long GMO study– was published this week by the National Academy of Sciences.   People overly impressed with titles or grandiose institutions are easily intimidated, in the same way as walking into the Vatican– makes you feel too small to challenge the grand institution and blinded, losing principles and basic foundations of objective empirical reality.”

“But in science–unlike religion and politics, titles and institutional gravitas aren’t scientific arguments. Tone trolling, Ad hominem – ‘talking about the man’ isn’t a scientific argument, and neither is a long list of other logical fallacies. Anytime you hear them, know someone is distracting you because they lack a substantive argument … In science, as in logic–one has to support claims with factual evidence. A legitimate argument for scientists and critical thinkers is evidence, data. If you can’t discuss the data, if you deny evidence- you are a denialist … As hyperbolic as it sounds, it feels as though I am in the unenviable position of trying to save National Academy of Sciences from itself–becoming The National Academy of Alchemy–living in infamy for trying to turn chicken shit into diamonds.” [Citations omitted]

 

Seed Sovereignty Documents – Deep Seeds and First Foods,” by Devon G. Peña, PhD, Environmental and Food Justice; May 23, 2016

 

 

Two Reports about Biopiracy:

 

Patent Claims on Genetic Resources of Secret Origin,” by Edward Hammond, TWN; 2014 (30 pages)

Edward Hammond, ‘Patent Claims on Genetic Resources of Secret Origin,’ TWN 2014

 

More Patent Claims on Genetic Resources of Secret Origin – An Update on Disclosure of Origin in Patent Applications under the Budapest Treaty,” by Edward Hammond, TWN; 2016 (26 pages)

Edward Hammond, ‘More Patent Claims on Genetic Resources of Secret Origin’ TWN 2016

 

This video is also available on YouTube:

What are the unasked questions and suppressed science around GMO safety? Jonathan Latham Part 3 – YouTube (10:04) published by Bioscience Resource Project on December 23, 2015

 

 

From the Archives! – Did you know?

 

Séralini study retraction intended to shut down possibility of long-term GMO tests forever,” by Admin, GMO Séralini January 21st, 2014

Monsanto and the Campaign to Undermine Organics,” by SourceWatch

 

 

सत्यमेव जयते – Satyameva Jayate

(Truth Ultimately Triumphs)

 

Re-posting is encouraged, provided the URL of the original is posted with attribution to the original author and all links are preserved to the referenced articles, reports, etc. on their respective websites.

 

Copyright © Jeff Kirkpatrick 2016 Ban GMOs Now All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “GMO News Summary and More: May 24, 2016

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