Organic farmers condemn U.S. report, claim it favors GMO
(Reuters) - Organic growers and food safety advocates on Tuesday condemned an advisory report to the Agriculture Department claiming its recommendations would be costly for farmers who want to protect their conventional crops from being contaminated by genetically modified (GMO), also known as genetically engineered (GE), varieties.
The groups were responding to a report submitted Monday afternoon to the U.S. Department of Agriculture by a committee assigned by USDA with studying how best biotech agriculture could "co-exist" with organic and conventional agriculture.
"Of particular concern in the report is the recommendation that organic and non-GE conventional farmers pay to self-insure themselves against unwanted GE contamination," said a statement by the National Organic Coalition.
"This proposal allows USDA and the agricultural biotechnology industry to abdicate responsibility for preventing GE contamination while making the victims of GE pollution pay for damages resulting from transgenic contamination," it said.
Since their introduction in 1996, genetically engineered crops have become popular with U.S. farmers and now make up the majority of corn and soybeans produced in the United States.
But there are a range of environmental and health concerns tied to biotech crops, and many farmers prefer not to grow them and many markets, both domestic and international, pay a premium for non-GMO crops and other products.
In its report, the advisory committee, known as the AC21, said all American farmers have the right to make the best choices for their own farms, including the choice to grow genetically engineered crops, or to grow organic or conventional crops.
"It is important that every American farmer is encouraged to show respect for their neighbor's ability to make different choices," the report said.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA would review the report and consider the recommendations. He said USDA supports "all segments of agriculture."
"The report is the culmination of a great deal of hard work and complex discussion and review," said Vilsack in a statement. "I understand that required compromises to find common ground."
COMPENSATION ISSUE UNRESOLVED
USDA had asked the advisory committee to analyze what types of compensation mechanisms, if any, would be appropriate to address economic losses by farmers due to contamination by GE crops. And while there was some dissent, a majority of AC21 members did not agree on any type of compensation mechanism.
The committee said its members could not agree about the extent to which a systemic problem exists and whether there is enough data to warrant a compensation mechanism to address it. While the committee acknowledged there are unintended GE materials found in commercial products, they differed in their assessment of the significance of the unintended presence.
The committee recommended that the USDA evaluate data to better understand actual economic losses by farmers tied to GE contamination. If a compensation program is needed, the committee said it should be modeled on existing crop insurance. Co-existence agreements between neighboring farmers should be developed, the committee said.
"This issue will only increase as new biotech products come to market so it is essential that the federal government step up now and establish strong policies that ensure coexistence measures are carried out by farmers, seed companies, and others who move food from the farm to the consumer's table," said Greg Jaffe, a committee member and director of the Biotechnology Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based non-profit.
Jaffe said he supported the report's recommendations.
The committee was comprised of 23 individuals from 16 states and the District of Columbia, representing academia, the American Farm Bureau, corn, wheat and soybean industry organizations, the organic industry, grain companies and others.
The committee also recommended that USDA should set up and fund a comprehensive education and outreach initiative to "strengthen understanding of coexistence between diverse agricultural production systems."
And the committee said the USDA should fund and research improved techniques for mitigating contamination and gather data from seed companies on contamination. It also recommended that USDA evaluate on an ongoing basis the pool of commercially available non-GMO seed and ensure that the seed supply remains diverse.
In criticizing the report, the organic growers said the committee "failed to make a single recommendation holding the patent holders of genetic engineering technologies responsible and liable for damages" caused by biotech seed use.
"We urgently need meaningful regulatory change that institutionalizes mandatory GE contamination prevention practices," the National Organic Coalition said. "USDA needs to stop dragging its heels, get serious and focus on making this happen."
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Congress Is Back. And So Is Monsanto’s Sneak Attack.
With the elections over, Congress has returned for a lame duck session to clear its plate of post-Thanksgiving legislative leftovers. Not surprisingly, Monsanto is back, too, pushing a rider to the FY 2013 Agricultural Appropriations Bill that if passed, would grant the biotech engineering giant immunity from Federal law.
The so-called “Monsanto Rider” would require the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for planting or cultivating a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed.
Why does Monsanto want to cut off our access to the courts? Because the courts have ruled that farmers have a right to grow non-GMO crops and consumers have a right to eat non-GMO food. Judges recognize that GMO contamination takes away those rights. So Monsanto is trying to bypass the courts.
Right now, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are drafting an omnibus appropriations bill behind closed doors, in the hope of passing it before January. The public won’t know what’s in the bill until it’s ready for a vote. And when the bill does hit the floor, amendments won’t be allowed.
Power-hungry Monsanto is counting on a sleepy public, distracted by the holidays, to let them slip this latest outrageous power grab through Congress.
Don’t let them do it! Contact your member of Congress and urge them to stop Monsanto's rider.
Punish the 'Natural' and Organic Traitor Brands: Download Your Boycott Guide
The parent companies of some of our favorite organic and natural brands contributed nearly half of the $46 million spent on the deceitful advertising that sunk Prop 37, the California Right to Know GMO labeling initiative. How do we prevent Pepsi, Kellogg’s and other multinational Junk Food Kings from pouring money into anti-GMO campaigns in Washington, Vermont, and other states?
Millions of consumers need to send these Traitor Brands a clear message: If they continue to side with Monsanto and the rest of the chemical companies, instead of with the consumers who have made them wildly profitable, we won’t buy their organic brands.
Why not just boycott the parent company brands? Those of us who support organics rarely buy products like Diet Pepsi or Kellogg’s Genetically-Modified-Sugar-Coated Frosted Flakes. The only way to pressure Big Food is to boycott the brands we actually buy. Brands like Kashi, Naked Juice, Horizon, Silk, Honest Tea and yes, even Ben & Jerry’s.
Let’s be clear. These Big Food companies are gobbling up organic brands to make money and to greenwash the fact that industrial agriculture, factory farms, and their so-called "conventional" brands are undermining public health and destroying the environment and climate stability. They recognize the huge profit potential in the fast-growing organic and natural markets. They want our business. If we stop buying their organic and so-called "natural" brands, they know there’s a good chance we’ll find alternative brands. We might never look back.
America's Traitor Brands can redeem themselves. All they have to do is publicly – and financially – support the consumer’s right to know about GMOs, beginning with I-522 Label It WA, a Washington State labeling initiative planned for November 2013. And while they’re at it, they should tell their parent companies to stop opposing our right to know.
Download your wallet-sized boycott guide
Download a poster-sized boycott guide
Join the nearly 15,000 people who have already signed the boycott pledge
Farmer to Farmer: The Truth About GM Crops
GM Crops Farmer to Farmer:
"Michael Hart, a conventional livestock family farmer, has been farming in Cornwall for nearly thirty years and has actively campaigned on behalf of family farmers for over fifteen years, travelling extensively in Europe, India, Canada and the USA.
In this short documentary he investigates the reality of farming genetically modified crops in the USA ten years after their introduction.
He travels across the US interviewing farmers and other specialists about their experiences of growing GM.
During the making of the film he heard problems of the ever increasing costs of seeds and chemicals to weeds becoming resistant to herbicides.
US farmers told him that a single pass (one herbicide application) is a fallacy and concurred that three or more passes are the norm for GM crops.
As weeds have become more resistant to glyphosate there has been a sharp increase in the use of herbicide tank mixes (most of them patented and owned by the biotech companies).
Astonishingly some farmers were now having to resort to hand labour to remove weeds.
Farmers have seen the costs spiral, for example, the price of seed has gone from $40 to over $100 per acre over the last few years.
Farmers referred to co-existence (the ability to grow GM crops next to non-GM and organic crops) as “unsolvable” and say that it does not work.
- A huge “weed” problem.
- The myth of co-existence.
- Farmers trapped into the genetically modified biotech system.
- Huge price increases for seeds and sprays- well beyond the price increases farmers have received for their crops.
In short, the film shows US farmers urging great caution to be exercised by UK and European farmers in adopting this technology."
Every moment I wake up I realize I know nothing, and then I smile...
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Russia Warns Obama: Global War Over “Bee Apocalypse” Coming Soon
The shocking minutes relating to President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war.
According to these minutes, released in the Kremlin today by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation (MNRE), Putin was so incensed over the Obama regimes refusal to discuss this grave matter that he refused for three hours to even meet with Kerry, who had traveled to Moscow on a scheduled diplomatic mission, but then relented so as to not cause an even greater rift between these two nations.
At the center of this dispute between Russia and the US, this MNRE report says, is the “undisputed evidence” that a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, are destroying our planets bee population, and which if left unchecked could destroy our world’s ability to grow enough food to feed its population.
So grave has this situation become, the MNRE reports, the full European Commission (EC) this past week instituted a two-year precautionary ban (set to begin on 1 December 2013) on these “bee killing” pesticides following the lead of Switzerland, France, Italy, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine, all of whom had previously banned these most dangerous of genetically altered organisms from being used on the continent.
Two of the most feared neonicotinoids being banned are Actara and Cruiser made by the Swiss global bio-tech seed and pesticide giant Syngenta AG which employs over 26,000 people in over 90 countries and ranks third in total global sales in the commercial agricultural seeds market.
Important to note, this report says, is that Syngenta, along with bio-tech giants Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and DuPont, now control nearly 100% of the global market for genetically modified pesticides, plants and seeds.
Also to note about Syngenta, this report continues, is that in 2012 it was criminally charged in Germany for concealing the fact that its genetically modified corn killed cattle, and settled a class-action lawsuit in the US for $105 million after it was discovered they had contaminated the drinking supply of some 52 million Americans in more than 2,000 water districts with its “gender-bending” herbicide Atrazine.
To how staggeringly frightful this situation is, the MNRE says, can be seen in the report issued this past March by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) wherein they warned our whole planet is in danger, and as we can, in part, read:
“As part of a study on impacts from the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, nicotine-like chemicals called neonicotinoids, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has called for a ban on their use as seed treatments and for the suspension of all applications pending an independent review of the products’ effects on birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife.
“It is clear that these chemicals have the potential to affect entire food chains. The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise significant environmental concerns,” said Cynthia Palmer, co-author of the report and Pesticides Program Manager for ABC, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation organizations.
ABC commissioned world renowned environmental toxicologist Dr. Pierre Mineau to conduct the research. The 100-page report, “The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds,” reviews 200 studies on neonicotinoids including industry research obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act. The report evaluates the toxicological risk to birds and aquatic systems and includes extensive comparisons with the older pesticides that the neonicotinoids have replaced. The assessment concludes that the neonicotinoids are lethal to birds and to the aquatic systems on which they depend.
“A single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a songbird,” Palmer said. “Even a tiny grain of wheat or canola treated with the oldest neonicotinoid — called imidacloprid — can fatally poison a bird. And as little as 1/10th of a neonicotinoid-coated corn seed per day during egg-laying season is all that is needed to affect reproduction.”
The new report concludes that neonicotinoid contamination levels in both surface- and ground water in the United States and around the world are already beyond the threshold found to kill many aquatic invertebrates.”
Quickly following this damning report, the MRNE says, a large group of group of American beekeepers and environmentalists sued the Obama regime over the continued use of these neonicotinoids stating: “We are taking the EPA to court for its failure to protect bees from pesticides. Despite our best efforts to warn the agency about the problems posed by neonicotinoids, the EPA continued to ignore the clear warning signs of an agricultural system in trouble.”
And to how bad the world’s agricultural system has really become due to these genetically modified plants, pesticides and seeds, this report continues, can be seen by the EC’s proposal this past week, following their ban on neonicotinoids, in which they plan to criminalize nearly all seeds and plants not registered with the European Union, and as we can, in part, read:
“Europe is rushing towards the good ol days circa 1939, 40… A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to “grow, reproduce or trade” any vegetable seeds that have not been “tested, approved and accepted” by a new EU bureaucracy named the “EU Plant Variety Agency.”
It’s called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.”
This MRNE report points out that even though this EC action may appear draconian, it is nevertheless necessary in order to purge the continent from continued contamination of these genetically bred “seed monstrosities.”
Most perplexing in all of this, the MRNE says, and which led to Putin’s anger at the US, has been the Obama regimes efforts to protect pesticide-producer profits over the catastrophic damaging being done to the environment, and as the Guardian News Service detailed in their 2 May article titled “US rejects EU claim of insecticide as prime reason for bee colony collapse” and which, in part, says:
“The European Union voted this week for a two-year ban on a class of pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, that has been associated with the bees’ collapse. The US government report, in contrast, found multiple causes for the collapse of the honeybees.”
To the “truer” reason for the Obama regimes protection of these bio-tech giants destroying our world, the MRNE says, can be viewed in the report titled “How did Barack Obama become Monsanto’s man in Washington?” and which, in part, says:
“After his victory in the 2008 election, Obama filled key posts with Monsanto people, in federal agencies that wield tremendous force in food issues, the USDA and the FDA: At the USDA, as the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto Danforth Center. As deputy commissioner of the FDA, the new food-safety-issues czar, the infamous Michael Taylor, former vice-president for public policy for Monsanto. Taylor had been instrumental in getting approval for Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.”
Even worse, after Russia suspended the import and use of an Monsanto genetically modified corn following a study suggesting a link to breast cancer and organ damage this past September, the Russia Today News Service reported on the Obama regimes response:
“The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week – including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.
The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.
The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.”
On 26 March, Obama quietly signed this “Monsanto Protection Act” into law thus ensuring the American people have no recourse against this bio-tech giant as they fall ill by the tens of millions, and many millions will surely end up dying in what this MRNE report calls the greatest agricultural apocalypse in human history as over 90% of feral (wild) bee population in the US has already died out, and up to 80% of domestic bees have died out too.
Residents of 18 European states have been tested positively to traces of glyphosate, a globally used weed killer, the study says. It remains unclear how the chemical used on Monsanto GMO crops got in people’s bodies.
It turns out that 44 per cent of volunteers had it in their urine, but it is yet unclear how the herbicide got into their systems.
“These results suggest we are being exposed to glyphosate in our everyday lives,” Adrian Bebb, spokesperson of environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE) said in a statement.
The study, carried out between March and May 2013, showed that proportions of positive samples varies between countries, with Malta (90 per cent) , Germany (70 per cent), UK (70 per cent) and Poland being “the most positive samples” and Macedonia and Switzerland – “the lowest”.
"Our testing highlights a serious lack of action by public authorities across Europe and indicates that this weed killer is being widely overused,” the group said.
Glyphosate is essentially used on plants including grasses, sedges, broad-leaved weeds and woody plants as well as great variety of genetically modified crops. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, which is sprayed in large amounts on genetically engineered, so-called "Roundup Ready," crops.
“It is crucial for growing genetically modified (GM) crops, many of which are modified to withstand glyphosate,” FoE said.
All volunteers, who provided their urine samples, are people from European cities; they had no contact with glyphosate or used products containing it in the run-up to the tests.
However, after testing volunteers’ samples the group still cannot say “where it is coming from, how widespread it is in the environment, or what it is doing to our health.”
This study is the first of its kind because despite being widely used in farming and gardening, there is little monitoring of glyphosate in food, water or the wider environment. Commonly tests with glyphosate are conducted with rats, dogs, mice, and rabbits in studies lasting from 21 days to two years.
The FoE members are concerned that the problem many increase as “14 new GM crops designed to be cultivated with glyphosate are currently waiting for approval to be grown in Europe.”
“Approval of these crops would inevitably lead to a further increase of glyphosate spraying in the EU,” the group concluded.
Despite considered relatively non-toxic, there are groups of scientists concerned that glyphosate may disrupt the human hormone system, be an 'endocrine disruptor', cause DNA damage and even cancer. One of the recent reviews, conducted by MIT, also highlighted dangerous health effects of glyphosate, including increased cancer risk, neurotoxicity, and birth defects, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, but still said that more independent research is needed to prove their findings.
We “have hit upon something very important that needs to be taken seriously and further investigated,” Stephanie Seneff, PhD, lead author and research scientist at MIT, told Reuters in May, shortly after the review was made.
At the same time, the UK scientists who reviewed most recent FoE’s study said its findings were "unreliable", according to Farmers Weekly magazine.
"As it stands, this press release is completely insubstantial, it is not scientific, and cannot be taken seriously by anyone," the magazine quoted Alison Haughton, head of the pollination ecology group at Rothamsted Research, as saying.
US biotech giant Monsanto, which insists it “does not pose any unacceptable risk to human health or the environment".
"It is not surprising to find glyphosate in urine should a person ingest food with low residues of glyphosate. Glyphosate is not metabolized by the human body but excreted into the urine and faeces. This is a well-known aspect of glyphosate that contributes to its comprehensive safety assessment," Monsanto’s spokesperson told the magazine.
“We always take any allegation seriously and would like to know more,” he added.
The incidence of autism is increasing exponentially over time with a current doubling rate of about 4 years. Extrpolation of this trend gives an incidence of 50% of all male births in about 20 years. This is actually caused by more people eating organic foods.
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“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” Prof. Albert Bartlett
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Errrm, NO. Did you actually read the report or just miss the sarcasm smiley?
"Contrary to the current widely-held misconception that glyphosate is relatively harmless to humans,
the available evidence shows that glyphosate may rather be the most important factor in the
development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized
It's an irrelevant argument for either side to claim. We now know that Bayes was right and Fischer was wrong -75% of all scientific experiments result in false positives. Humanity is slowly waking up to the limitations of science even among scientists, watch for the changes in the next ten years to be profound and the lab scandals to come pouring out.
Last edited by ratfink; June 17th, 2013 at 06:50 AM.
Thanks for your interesting input of "Glyphosate" in any form used in the world.
To overlook the judgement made in the study I would like to throw in 3 important points: **
1) The study:
..only took 10 - 12 samples out of every European country - which is from a statistical view a nonsense
2) The product "Glyphosate"
.. which is sold under various brands - is passing the organism of humans and animals in a very short time.
It is getting out via urine which is the fastest route. If it is doing harm or not - I will not discuss here.
..Glyphosate was invented by Henry Martin of CILAG 1950* in Switzerland. The longest experience with that product is in
Switzerland too. The newly big producers in the world are of course US Monsanto and second swiss Syngenta.
* source (german): http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyphosat
SO - if the problems of any kind arise(s/d) for humans - the Swiss should be the most influenced as they
used the product most intensely over the last 63 years (me included).
Looking over all these facts I can not see the hype here. This is not really touching the GM foods theme here -
even given the constellation that Monsanto especially produces GM food that "needs" to be treated with Glyphosate.
As Switzerland is a GM free country - we do still apply 300 tons Glyphosate per year in agriculture right now.
** To be very clear - I am for every biological treatment of food and environment (in Switzerland we are much much
more aware about as any US citizen) - so getting out of any treatment with "killing" elements is primordial.
I do not have any connections with Monsanto, Syngenta etc. - not even as investor
Last edited by GFIs1; June 17th, 2013 at 07:06 AM.
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