January 14, 2013
The EU’s food safety agency challenged its doubters on Monday, making available all the scientific information used to clear a genetically modified corn which a French researcher had linked to cancer.
The European Food Safety Authority said that “given the level of public interest … (it would) make all data on genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 publicly available on its website.”
While EFSA had previously provided such information on request, “any member of the public or scientific community will now be able to examine and utilize the full data sets used in this risk assessment,” it said in a statement.
Sunday, January 13, 2013 by: Ronnie Cummins
(NaturalNews) High-level executives from some of the U.S.’s largest food corporations are meeting with the FDA behind closed doors this week to lobby for a mandatory federal GMO labeling law. Could it be that bad press and consumer backlash have dulled the enthusiasm of these former biotech cheerleaders? Or is Big Food just cozying up to the FDA so they can derail the growing organic and anti-GMO movement, and finagle a federal labeling law so toothless it won’t be worth the ink it takes to sign it?
According to informed sources in Washington, DC, representatives of Wal-Mart, General Mills, Pepsi-Frito Lay, Mars, Coca-Cola and others are meeting with the FDA this week. Wal-Mart came under fire recently https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/08/04-0 for selling unlabeled and likely hazardous GMO sweet corn in its stores. General Mills, Pepsi, Mars and Coca Cola have been the targets of numerous consumer boycotts, including a social media-powered boycott http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_26620.cfm of “Traitor Brands: “natural” and organic brands whose parent companies contributed millions of dollars to defeat Prop 37, the Nov. 6 California Ballot Initiative to label GMO foods and ban the routine industry practice of marketing GMO foods as “natural” or “all natural.”
The “Traitor Brands” boycott, initiated by the Organic Consumers Association, has been gaining steam as other groups pick up the flag. The boycott hasn’t gone unnoticed by company executives, either. Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman sent the OCA a letter defending his brand’s position, a position not unlike the one taken recently by Ben & Jerry’s. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_26858.cfm Both companies absolve their brands of any responsibility for their parent companies’ donations to the NO on 37 campaign, claiming that they have no say in corporate-level decisions.
But a look at the Facebook pages http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_26863.cfm of some of the “Traitor Brands” reveals consumers’ anger and sense of betrayal. Brands like Honest Tea, Kashi, Muir Glen, Naked Juice, Cascadian Farms, Horizon, Silk, and Ben & Jerry’s, once sought out by quality-conscious, loyal consumers willing to pay a little extra for organic, sustainably produced products, have been tarnished by their association with the hardline anti-right-to-know policies of Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Pepsi, Dean Foods, and Unilever.
Add to that the growing controversy surrounding the pending commercialization of genetically engineered (GE) salmon; the prospect of upcoming high-profile GMO labeling legislative battles in Vermont and Connecticut; and I-522, a major ballot initiative working its way toward a November 2012 vote in Washington State, and it makes sense that the Big Food elite may be preparing for a tactical retreat from the largest food fight in U.S. history.
Is it possible that the threat posed by the growing grassroots GMO labeling movement has prompted a number of Fortune 500 corporations to abandon Monsanto and the biotech industry, and rethink the PR and bottom-line costs of clinging to their anti-right-to-know positions? After all, it’s not as if these companies are incapable of making GMO-free products. Though many Americans don’t know it, Wal-Mart, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Unilever, Kellogg’s, Starbucks – even McDonald’s – are GMO-free in Europe, thanks to strict GMO labeling laws.
Maybe Big Food, faced with the inevitability of states passing mandatory GMO labeling laws, is ready to throw in the towel? As Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Food Marketing Institute, explained in November, big food corporations are happy they headed off mandatory GMO labeling by defeating Prop 37 in California but, “. . . we hope we don’t have too many of them, because you can’t keep doing that over and over again . . .”. http://supermarketnews.com
Or is this just a case of Big Food and indentured FDA bureaucrats conspiring to confuse consumers and slow the momentum of the nation’s fast-growing right-to-know and anti-GMO movement? Is this a “bait and switch” deal to get us to shut up, a tactic to derail the grassroots Movement that appears on track to pass strict GMO labeling laws in Washington, Vermont and Connecticut this year?
We should be wary of any compromise deal at the federal level, one that would preempt the passage of meaningful state GMO labeling laws that have real teeth. We don’t want to end up with a law like the one Japan passed in 2001. That law exempted all GMO foods except corn and soy from being labeled, allowed up to 5% GMO content in individual ingredients, and exempted cooking oils and other foods where transgenic DNA is difficult to detect. Similarly, a GMO law passed by Brazil under pressure from consumers and farmers contained no real requirements for enforcement, until a recent court decision against Nestle.
And let’s not forget what happened in late-2010 in another closed-door meeting, when members of the “Organic Elite,” including Whole Foods, tried to engineer a compromise with Monsanto and the USDA over “co-existence” between GMO alfalfa and organic crops.http://www.organicconsumers.can bring about major changes in corporate behavior and even in public policy. When major food corporations, under pressure from consumers, break ranks with Monsanto and the biotech industry, GMO public policy and marketplace dynamics change dramatically.
The consumer-led rejection since 1994 of Monsanto’s recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) by family-scale dairy farmers and major dairy brands has kept rBGH marginalized. Currently less than 10% of U.S. dairy cows are injected with Monsanto’s (now Elanco’s) rBGH, a hormone linked to increased risk of cancer in humans, as well as major animal health damage. Thanks to consumer pressure, many leading dairy brands in the U.S. are labeled as “rBGH (or rBST) free;” while rBGH is banned outright in Canada, Europe, Japan, and most industrialized nations.
In 2000, McDonald’s, Burger King, Pringles and McCain opposed Monsanto’s genetically engineered “New Leaf” potatoes. Their opposition kept these Bt-spliced “Frankenspuds” off the market. http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/gepotatoban.cfm
Similarly, opposition to Monsanto’s GE wheat in 2003, not only by U.S. wheat farmers, but also by General Mills and Frito-Lay, killed the commercialization of this multi-billion dollar crop. And it was consumer pressure that forced Starbucks and other coffee brands to keep GE coffee off the market.
If it’s true that Wal-Mart and a number of big food corporations are ready to compromise and allow labels on genetically engineered foods, don’t hold your breath for the Obama Administration’s FDA to quickly change course. For 20 years FDA bureaucrats, led by Michael “Monsanto” Taylor, the Obama-appointed FDA Food Safety Czar, have blocked all attempts to require mandatory federal GMO labeling. Our best chance to regain our right to know what’s in our food and begin to drive GMOs off the market is to stay on the offensive. We need to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws in the current frontline states of Washington, Vermont and Connecticut, and we need to step up the pressure on Food Inc. with our boycott of their “Traitor” brands.
And even after we win mandatory GMO labeling on produce and processed foods, which will realistically take at least several years, we will still need to fight for labels on GMO-fed, factory-farmed meat, dairy, and eggs, a more comprehensive labeling law that even the EU does not yet have in place. At least 80% of GMO crops grown in the U.S. are destined for animal feed in factory farms. If we’re going to stop these environmentally disastrous farming practices, we’ll have to demand labeling of factory-farmed food. And that will require an unprecedented campaign of public education, direct action, and grassroots mobilization, similar to the campaign we are already waging for GMO labeling.
Hats off to the thousands of activists and millions of consumers and voters who have made GMOs and GMO labeling burning issues in the U.S. Wal-Mart and the Big Food lobby would not be sitting down behind closed doors this week asking the FDA to take action if it were not for the growing online/marketplace/political activism of our nationwide organic anti-GMO Movement. But, as more and more of us understand, this monumental food fight is not just about labeling GMOs. We are fighting, as well, for a healthy and sustainable food and farming system, a green and equitable economy, a stable climate, and a real democracy where citizens, not corporations and their indentured politicians, rule.
Alex Pietrowski, Contributor
Earlier this week we reported a victory for anti-GMO activists when it was announced that Poland banned GM crops under new legislation.
The North-Eastern European country, Poland, has become the latest EU nation to ban the production of genetically modified (GM) crops, although, the European Food Safety Authority has approved GM crops as being safe for cultivation. Poland’s Ministry of Agriculture has opted to take advantage of a special ‘safeguard clause’ which allowed them to reject these GM crops, allowing Poland to protect their agricultural base from contamination. (Waking Times)
Unfortunately, however, in what appears to be a classic political deception, this recent news is, sadly, just not true.
The recent news seemed like cause for celebration, but it actually legalizes the trading of GM plants and seeds. (Sir) Julian Rose, President of the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC), a grassroots organization to liberate the Polish agriculture from GMO farming has alerted us that:
The New Year dawned with Prime Minister Tusk announcing to the World that Poland is to ban the planting of GM seeds as of 28 January 2013. But he is not banning ‘trading’ of GM plants and seeds.
If trading is allowed what sort of control will be in place to stop planting? Answer: none.
Farmers will soon become aware that they will become responsible for any infringements should their land become contaminated by GM plantings. So all responsibilities and costs will land-up with farmers should their crops become cross contaminated.
And the reality for Polish farmers and citizens may actually be much more grim than even this, as it appears that the Polish government is colluding with multi-national corporations, like Monsanto, to ‘secure’ farmland for “‘designated GMO areas’ to conform with European Union ‘free trade’ regulations,” states Rose.
The reality is very different. They are covertly supporting the multinational agribusiness interest in acquiring Polish land for the large scale production of genetically modified food…
Our reaction is to unite the GM opposition groups so as to form a united front able and willing to take-on the government and the corporations and to force a total ban of GM trading and planting…
…we are living in a world in which governments do not act in good faith. They dance to the tune of corporate demands. In Poland’s case, only due to sustained pressure and significant regional support for the maintenance of GMO Free status, has government been forced to act. The way in which it has acted is true to form: give ‘the people’ their sop but also the corporations their slice of the cake.
This action contradicts the demands of a majority of the public and Polish farming community, states Rose:
Seventy five percent of Poles have said they want Real Food and not ‘genetically modified food’.
All across the World people have rejected GM food – there is no market for it if nobody wants to eat it. The GM corporations cannot accept this rejection. Instead they are consistently lying to farmers and telling them that GM crops out perform conventional crops. Tens of thousands of farmers in the USA have found exactly the opposite and are now going to the courts to file law suits against Monsanto corporation and others. The crops have failed them and now ‘super weeds’ are taking over their farmland.
Up until now, GMO crops have been forbidden in Poland, as Poland has been under the Seeds Act of 2003, meaning that this recent law is really a step towards conforming Poland’s standars with those of the EU where GM crops have been approved:
The Seed Act of 2003, which is currently in force in Poland, forbids the trading and registration of GMO seeds. This regulation runs counter to the EU rules on GMO and, following the European Court of Justice’s decision in case C-165/08, Poland is obliged to align its legislation with that of the EU. (CliffordChance.com)
Once again, the public has been duped by tricky political rhetoric into believing that the public’s demands are being heeded, when in actuality this is just another deceptive act which opens the door for the introduction and takeover of genetically modified seed, supplied by the world’s most damnable chemical corporations. And if organizations such as Greenpeace, who are supposedly champion environmental issues, is lauding this as a victory, then grassroots action is certainly the last hope for the future of agriculture.
Please spread the word and support the effort for justice in this matter by visiting the ICPPC.
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com, and an avid student of Yoga and life.
Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov and his team fed three generations of hamsters varying diets (one without soy, one with non-GM soy, one with GMO soy, and the final with higher amounts of GMO soy). By the third generation, the pups from the fourth group suffered a high mortality rate and most of the adults were infertile or sterile.
Earlier in 2010, Surov co-authored a paper in Doklady Biological Sciences, recording the incidence of hair growing in recessed pouches in the mouths of hamsters, most prominently in those of third-generation hamsters fed GM soy. “This pathology may be exacerbated by elements of the food that are absent in natural food, such as genetically modified (GM) ingredients (GM soybean or maize meal) or contaminants (pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, etc.).”
Just five years earlier, Irina Ermakova (also with the Russian National Academy of Sciences) noted in her study that within three weeks, over half of the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died—over five times the mortality rate in the non-GMO soy control group. The pups from the GM group were also smaller. Later, Ermakova fed all the rats in her laboratory a GM soy diet. Two months later, the infant mortality rate reached 55 percent. The testicles of male rats fed a GM diet, where once pink, turned blue.
GMO studies with troubling results are cropping up worldwide. The Austrian government released a study in 2008 that found that mice fed GM corn produced fewer and smaller babies than those fed a non-GM diet. Everyday farmers—like Jerry Rosman—are even beginning to notice that US pigs and cows fed GM diets are becoming sterile. Even corncob bedding could be partly to blame for strange reproductive habits (or rather, the lack of such habits) in rats, as discovered by Baylor College of Medicine researchers. They also found that the GM corn material contained compounds that curtailed male sexual behavior, stopped the sexual cycle in females, and contributed to breast and prostate cancer call growth in cultures.
Like the other studies listed here, Surov’s met a storm of criticism—sometimes even rightfully so.
In reference to another GM study, Mark Tester, a research professor at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the University of Adelaide asks, “If the effects are as big as purported, and if the work really is relevant to humans, why aren’t the North Americans dropping like flies? GM has been in the food chain for over a decade over there—and longevity continues to increase inexorably.”
Sadly, North Americans are dropping like flies. Well, sort of. Genetically modified foods and related technology, like Monsanto’s Roundup, are quite often linked to significant organ disruption, sterility, impotence, and even obesity, one of the American public’s weightiest topics. While the contributors to those conditions, even in animal studies, can hardly be attributed to GMOs alone, they should not so eagerly be cast out of consideration.
In fact, Surov himself warns against jumping to conclusions. “It is quite possible that the GMO does not cause these effects by itself,” but may also be influenced by the herbicide Roundup (found in greater levels in Roundup Ready GM crops).
To be fair, many critics of these studies have reasonable points. There are factors in Surov’s and others’ studies worth scrutinizing, such as the breed and strain of animal used. King’s College London’s head of nutritional sciences research division, Tom Sanders, notes that Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen—in a French study that found rats fed Roundup-doused GMOs or given water contaminated with Roundup died earlier than those on other diets—didn’t provide data on how much the rats were fed. “This strain of rat is very prone to mammary tumors particularly when food intake is not restricted.” Moreover, David Spiegelalter of the University of Cambridge criticized Seralini’s control arm of the study, in which most subjects also developed tumors.
But even with the criticism, it doesn’t change the fact that GMOs are simply not proven safe by any means, and are being approved for human consumption prematurely.
Statistics can be turned and science performed badly, but this sword has two edges. The very scholars, researchers, and scientists accusing Seralini, Surov, and Ermakova of bad science are often guilty of advocating the widespread cultivation and consumption of genetically modified material after nodding at or performing themselves 90-day trials, assuming that the absence of side effects in what isn’t even a generation for a rat is evidence of safety in lifetime consumption by humans. Many, no doubt, are patted on the back for speaking against anti-GM movements by Big Agriculture and even the US government, repeated found deep in bed with industry.
It’s not like Big Ag and the government are making it easy to believe them when they say GMOs are safe to eat. Here are just a few examples of their sketchy past.
In Ermakova’s case, mysterious hands burned paper on her desk and stole samples from her laboratory; her boss, under pressure from his superior, told her to stop researching GMOs. Patents on GMOs and contracts forced upon farmers make it even more difficult to perform studies unless paid for by Big Ag itself.
“We have no right to use GMOs until we understand the possible adverse effects, not only to ourselves but to future generations as well,” says Surov. “We definitely need fully detailed studies to clarify this. Any type of contamination has to be tested before we consume it, and GMO is just one of them.”
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