Archive for March, 2009

State of the Science on the Health Risks of GMO Foods

From The Institute for Responsible Technology

We all know stories of tobacco, asbestos, and DDT. Originally declared safe, they caused widespread death and disease. Although their impact was vast, most of the population was spared. The same cannot be said for sweeping changes in the food supply. Everyone eats; everyone is affected. The increase in several diseases in North America may be due to the profound changes in our diet. The most radical change occurred a little over a decade ago when genetically modified (GM) crops were introduced. Their influence on health has been largely ignored, but recent studies show serious problems. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been linked to thousands of toxic or allergic‐type reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals,  Nearly every independent animal feeding safety study shows adverse or unexplained effects.

GM foods were made possible by a technology developed in the 1970s whereby genes from one species are forced into the DNA of other species. Genes produce proteins, which in turn can generate characteristics or traits. The promised traits associated with GMOs have been sky high—vegetables growing in the desert, vitamin fortified grains, and highly productive crops feeding the starving millions. None of these are available. In fact, the only two traits that are found in nearly all commericialized GM plants are herbicide tolerance and/or pesticide production.

Herbicide tolerant soy, corn, cotton, and canola plants are engineered with bacterial genes that allow them to survive otherwise deadly doses of herbicides. This gives farmers more flexibility in weeding and gives the GM seed company lots more profit. When farmers buy GM seeds, they sign a contract to buy only that seed producer’s brand of herbicide. Herbicide tolerant crops comprise about 80% of all GM plants. The other 20% are corn and cotton varieties that produce a pesticide in every cell. This is accomplished due to a gene from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt, which produces a natural insect‐killing poison called Bt‐toxin. In addition to these two traits, there are also disease resistant GM Hawaiian papaya, zucchini and crook neck squash, which comprise well under 1% of GMO acreage.


Rhetoric from the United States government since the early 1990s proclaims that GM foods are no different from their natural counterparts that have existed for centuries. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has labeled them “Generally Recognized as Safe,” or GRAS. This status allows a product to be commercialized without any additional testing. According to US law, to be considered GRAS the substance must be the subject of a substantial amount of peer‐reviewed published studies (or equivalent) and there must be overwhelming consensus among the scientific community that the product is safe. GM foods had neither. Nonetheless, in a precedent‐setting move in 1992 that some experts contend was illegal, the FDA declared that GM crops are GRAS as long as their producers say they are. Thus, the FDA does not require any safety evaluations or labeling of GMOs. A company can even introduce a GM food to the market without telling the agency.

Such a lenient approach was largely the result of the influence of large agricultural corporations According to Henry Miller, who had a leading role in biotechnology issues at the FDA from 1979 to 1994, “In this area, the US government agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked them to do and told them to do.” The Ag biotech company with the greatest influence was clearly Monsanto. According to the New York Times, “What Monsanto wished for from Washington, Monsanto and, by extension, the biotechnology industry got. . . . When the company abruptly decided that it needed to throw off the regulations and speed its foods to market, the White House quickly ushered through an unusually generous policy of self‐policing.”

This policy was heralded by Vice President Dan Quayle on May 26, 1992. He chaired the Council on Competitiveness, which had identified GM crops as an industry that could boost US exports. To take advantage, Quayle announced “reforms” to “speed up and simplify the process of bringing” GM products to market without “being hampered by unnecessary regulation.”2 Three days later, the FDA policy on non‐regulation was unveiled.

The person who oversaw its development was the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Michael Taylor, whose position had been created especially for him in 1991. Prior to that, Taylor was an outside attorney for both Monsanto and the Food Biotechnology Council. After working at the FDA, he became Monsanto’s vice-president.

*Note from Mom*  Michael Taylor is now being considered to head “Food Safety” by the Obama adminstration.   Write the White House and tell them, no thanks!


Taylor’s policy needed to create the impression that unintended effects from GM crops were not an issue. Otherwise their GRAS status would be undermined and they would need the extensive testing and labels that are normally required for food additives. But internal memos made public from a lawsuit showed that the overwhelming consensus among the agency scientists was that GM crops can have unpredictable, hard‐to‐detect side effects. Various departments and experts spelled these out in detail, listing allergies, toxins, nutritional effects, and new diseases as potential dangers. They urged superiors to require long‐term safety studies.3 In spite of the warnings, according to public interest attorney Steven Druker who studied the FDA’s internal files, “References to the unintended negative effects of bioengineering were progressively deleted from drafts of the policy statement (over the protests of agency scientists).”4

FDA microbiologist Louis Pribyl, PhD, wrote about the policy, “What has happened to the scientific elements of this document? Without a sound scientific base to rest on, this becomes a broad, general, ‘What do I have to do to avoid trouble’‐type document. . . . It will look like and probably be just a political document. . . . It reads very pro‐industry, especially in the area of unintended effects.

The scientists’ concerns were not only ignored, their very existence was denied. The official FDA policy stated, “The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way.”6 In sharp contrast, an internal FDA report stated, “The processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks.”7 The FDA’s deceptive notion of no difference was coined “substantial equivalence” and formed the basis of the US government position on GMOs.

Many scientists and organizations have criticized the US position. The National Academy of Sciences and even the pro‐GM Royal Society of London8 describe the US system as inadequate and flawed. The editor of the prestigious journal Lancet said, “It is astounding that the US Food and Drug Administration has not changed their stance on genetically modified food adopted in 1992. . . . The policy is that genetically modified crops will receive the same consideration for potential health risks as any other new crop plant. This stance is taken despite good reasons to believe that specific risks may exist. . . . Governments should never have allowed these products into the food chain without insisting on rigorous testing for effects on health.”9 The Royal Society of Canada described substantial equivalence as “scientifically unjustifiable and inconsistent with precautionary regulation of the technology.”


There are several reasons why GM plants present unique dangers. The first is that the process of genetic engineering itself creates unpredicted alterations, irrespective of which gene is transferred. The gene insertion process, for example, is accomplished by either shooting genes from a “gene gun” into a plate of cells, or using bacteria to infect the cell with foreign DNA. Both create mutations in and around the insertion site and elsewhere.11 The “transformed” cell is then cloned into a plant through a process called tissue culture, which results in additional hundreds or thousands of mutations throughout the plants’ genome. In the end, the GM plant’s DNA can be a staggering 2‐4% different from its natural parent.12 Native genes can be mutated, deleted, or permanently turned on or off. In addition, the insertion process causes holistic and not‐well‐understood changes among large numbers of native genes. One study revealed that up to 5% of the natural genes altered their levels of protein expression as a result of a single insertion.

The Royal Society of Canada acknowledged that “the default prediction” for GM crops would include “a range of collateral changes in expression of other genes, changes in the pattern of proteins produced and/or changes in metabolic activities.”13 Although the FDA scientists evaluating GMOs in 1992 were unaware of the extent to which GM DNA is damaged or changed, they too described the potential consequences. They reported, “The possibility of unexpected, accidental changes in genetically engineered plants” might produce “unexpected high concentrations of plant toxicants.”14 GM crops, they said, might have “increased levels of known naturally occurring toxins,” and the “appearance of new, not previously identified” toxins.15 The same mechanism can also produce allergens, carcinogens, or substances that inhibit assimilation of nutrients.

Most of these problems would pass unnoticed through safety assessments on GM foods, which are largely designed on the false premise that genes are like Legos that cleanly snap into place. But even if we disregard unexpected changes in the DNA for the moment, a proper functioning inserted gene still carries significant risk. Its newly created GM protein, such as the Bt‐toxin, may be dangerous for human health (see below). Moreover, even if that protein is safe in its natural organism, once it is transferred into a new species it may be processed differently. A harmless protein may be transformed into a dangerous or deadly version. This happened with at least one GM food crop under development, GM peas, which were destroyed before being commercialized.

FDA scientists were also quite concerned about the possibility of inserted genes spontaneously transferring into the DNA of bacteria inside our digestive tract. They were particularly alarmed at the possibility of antibiotic resistant marker (ARM) genes transferring. ARM genes are employed during gene insertion to help scientists identify which cells successfully integrated the foreign gene. These ARM genes, however, remain in the cell and are cloned into the DNA of all the GM plants produced from that cell. One FDA report wrote in all capital letters that ARM genes would be “A SERIOUS HEALTH HAZARD,” due to the possibility of that they might transfer to bacteria and create super diseases, untreatable with antibiotics.

Although the biotech industry confidently asserted that gene transfer from GM foods was not possible, the only human feeding study on GM foods later proved that it does take place. The genetic material in soybeans that make them herbicide tolerant transferred into the DNA of human gut bacteria and continued to function. That means that long after we stop eating a GM crop, its foreign GM proteins may be produced inside our intestines. It is also possible that the foreign genes might end up inside our own DNA, within the cells of our own organs and tissues.

Another worry expressed by FDA scientists was that GM plants might gather “toxic substances from the environment” such as “pesticides or heavy metals,”16 or that toxic substances in GM animal feed might bioaccumulate into milk and meat products. While no studies have looked at the bioaccumulation issue, herbicide tolerant crops certainly have higher levels of herbicide residues. In fact, many countries had to increase their legally allowable levels—by up to 50 times—in order to accommodate the introduction of GM crops.

The overuse of the herbicides due to GM crops has resulted in the development of herbicide resistant weeds. USDA statistics show that herbicide use is rapidly accelerating. Its use was up by 138 million pounds in the first nine years of GM crops.17 But over the next two years, it jumped by another 120 million pounds (estimated). Between 2005 and 2006, the use of Roundup herbicide—used on GM Roundup Ready crops—was up by 38%. And because Roundup is becoming less effective on weeds, farmers are now using more toxic herbicides, such as 2‐4D, which has increased by 237% from 2004 to2006.18

All of the above risks associated with GM foods are magnified for high‐risk groups, such as pregnant women, children, the sick, and the elderly. The following section highlights some of the problems that have been identified.


The very first crop submitted to the FDA’s voluntary consultation process, the FlavrSavr tomato, showed evidence of toxins. Out of 20 female rats fed the GM tomato, 7 developed stomach lesions.19 The director of FDA’s Office of Special Research Skills wrote that the tomatoes did not demonstrate a “reasonable certainty of no harm,”20 which is their normal standard of safety. The Additives Evaluation Branch agreed that “unresolved questions still remain.”21 The political appointees, however, did not require that the tomato be withdrawn.1

According to Arpad Pusztai, PhD, one of the world’s leading experts in GM food safety assessments, the type of stomach lesions linked to the tomatoes “could lead to life‐endangering hemorrhage, particularly in the elderly who use aspirin to prevent [blood clots].”22 Dr. Pusztai believes that the digestive tract, which is the first and largest point of contact with foods, can reveal various reactions to toxins and should be the first target of GM food risk assessment. He was alarmed, however, to discover that studies on the FlavrSavr never looked passed the stomach to the intestines. Other studies that did look found problems.

Mice fed potatoes engineered to produce the Bt‐toxin developed abnormal and damaged cells, as well as proliferative cell growth in the lower part of their small intestines (ileum).23 Rats fed potatoes engineered to produce a different type of insecticide (GNA lectin from the snowdrop plant) also showed proliferative cell growth in both the stomach and intestinal walls (see photos).24 Although the guts of rats fed GM peas were not examined for cell growth, the intestines were mysteriously heavier; possibly as a result of such growth.25 Cell proliferation can be a precursor to cancer and is of special concern.

Rats fed GM potatoes showed proliferative cell growth in the stomach and intestines.

1 Calgene had submitted data on two lines of GM tomatoes, both using the same inserted gene. They voluntarily elected to market only the variety that was not associated with the lesions. This was not required by the FDA, which did not block approvals on the lesion‐associated variety. The FlavrSavr tomato has since been taken off the market. After the FlavrSavr, no other biotech company has submitted such detailed data to the FDA.


The state of the liver—a main detoxifier for the body—is another indicator of toxins.

Rats fed the GNA lectin potatoes described above had smaller and partially atrophied livers.26

Rats fed Monsanto’s Mon 863 corn, engineered to produce Bt‐toxin, had liver lesions and other indications of toxicity.27

Rabbits fed GM soy showed altered enzyme production in their livers as well as higher metabolic activity.28

The livers of rats fed Roundup Ready canola were 12%–16% heavier, possibly due to liver disease or inflammation.29

Microscopic analysis of the livers of mice fed Roundup Ready soybeans revealed altered gene expression and structural and functional changes (see photos).30 Many of these changes reversed after the mice diet was switched to non‐GM soy, indicating that GM soy was the culprit. The findings, according to molecular geneticist Michael Antoniou, PhD, “are not random and must reflect some ‘insult’ on the liver by the GM soy.” Antoniou, who does human gene therapy research in King’s College London, said that although the long‐term consequences of the GM soy diet are not known, it “could lead to liver damage and consequently general toxemia.”31 Rats fed Roundup Ready soybeans also showed structural changes in their livers. 32


In the FlavrSavr tomato study, a note in the appendix indicated that 7 of 40 rats died within two weeks and were replaced.33 In another study, chickens fed the herbicide tolerant “Liberty Link” corn died at twice the rate of those fed natural corn.34 But in these two industry‐funded studies, the deaths were dismissed without adequate explanation or follow‐up.

In addition, the cells in the pancreas of mice fed Roundup Ready soy had profound changes and produced significantly less digestive enzymes;35 in rats fed a GM potato, the pancreas was enlarged.36 In various analyses of kidneys, GM‐fed animals showed lesions, toxicity, altered enzyme production or inflammation.37,38 Enzyme production in the hearts of mice was altered by GM soy.39 And GM potatoes caused slower growth in the brains of rats.


Allergic reactions occur when the immune system interprets something as foreign, different, and offensive, and reacts accordingly. All GM foods, by definition, have something foreign and different. And several studies show that they provoke reactions. Rats fed Monsanto’s GM corn, for example, had a significant increase in blood cells related to the immune system.50 GM potatoes caused the immune system of rats to respond more slowly.51 And GM peas provoked an inflammatory response in mice, suggesting that it might cause deadly allergic reactions in people.52

It might be difficult to identify whether GM foods were triggering allergic responses in the population, since very few countries conduct regular studies or keep careful records. One country that does have an annual evaluation is the UK. Soon after GM soy was introduced into the British diet, researchers at the York Laboratory reported that allergies to soy had skyrocketed by 50% in a single year.53 Although no follow‐up studies were conducted to see if GM soy was the cause, there is evidence showing several ways in which it might have contributed to the rising incidence of allergies:

• The only significant variety of GM soy is Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” variety, planted in 89% of US soy acres. A foreign gene from bacteria (with parts of virus and petunia DNA) is inserted, which allows the plant to withstand Roundup herbicide. The protein produced by the bacterial gene has never been part of the human food supply. Because people aren’t usually allergic to a food until they have eaten it several times, it would be difficult to know in advance if the protein was an allergen. Without a surefire method to identify allergenic GM crops, the World Health Organization (WHO) and others recommend examining the properties of the protein to see if they share characteristics with known allergens. One method is to compare the amino acid sequence of the novel protein with a database of allergens. If there is a match, according to the WHO, the GM crop should either not be commercialized or additional testing should be done. Sections of the protein produced in GM soy are identical to shrimp and dust mite allergens,54 but the soybean was introduced before WHO criteria were established and the recommended additional tests were not conducted. If the protein does trigger reactions, the danger is compounded by the finding that the Roundup Ready gene transfers into the DNA of human gut bacteria and may continuously produce the protein from within our intestines.55

• In addition to the herbicide tolerant protein, GM soybeans contain a unique, unexpected protein, which likely came about from the changes incurred during the genetic engineering process. Scientists found that this new protein was able to bind with IgE antibodies, suggesting that it may provoke dangerous allergic reactions. The same study revealed that one human subject showed a skin prick immune response only to GM soy, but not to natural soy.56 Another study showed that the levels of one known soy allergen, called trypsin inhibitor, were as much as seven times higher in cooked GM soy compared to a non‐GM control.57

• GM soy also produces an unpredicted side effect in the pancreas of mice—the amount of digestive enzymes produced is dramatically reduced.58 If a shortage of enzymes caused food proteins to breakdown more slowly, then they have more time to trigger allergic reactions. Thus, digestive problems from GM soy might promote allergies to a wide range of proteins, not just soy.

• The higher amount of Roundup herbicide residues on GM soy might create reactions in consumers. In fact, many of the symptoms identified in the UK soy allergy study are among those related to glyphosate exposure. [The allergy study identified irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems, chronic fatigue, headaches, lethargy, and skin complaints, including acne and eczema, all related to soy consumption. Symptoms of glyphosate exposure include nausea, headaches, lethargy, skin rashes, and burning or itchy skin. It is also possible that glyphosate’s breakdown product AMPA, which accumulates in GM soybeans after each spray, might contribute to allergies.]

It is interesting to note that in the five years immediately after GM soy was introduced, US peanut allergies doubled. It is known that a protein in natural soybeans cross‐reacts with peanut allergies, i.e. soy may trigger reactions in some people who are allergic to peanuts.59 Given the startling increase in peanut allergies, scientists should investigate whether this cross‐reactivity has been amplified in GM soy.


For years, organic farmers and others have sprayed crops with solutions containing natural Bt bacteria as a method of insect control. The toxin creates holes in their stomach and kills them. Genetic engineers take the gene that produces the toxin in bacteria and insert it into the DNA of crops so that the plant does the work, not the farmer. The fact that we consume that toxic pesticide in every bite of Bt corn is hardly appetizing.

Biotech companies claim that Bt‐toxin has a history of safe use, is quickly destroyed in our stomach, and wouldn’t react with humans or mammals in any event. Studies verify, however, that natural Bt‐toxin is not fully destroyed during digestion and does react with mammals. Mice fed Bt‐toxin, for example, showed an immune response as potent as cholera toxin, 60, became immune sensitive to formerly harmless compounds,61 and had damaged and altered cells in their small intestines.62 Moreover, when natural Bt was sprayed over areas around Vancouver and Washington State to fight gypsy moths, about 500 people reported reactions—mostly allergy or flu‐like symptoms.63,64 Farm workers and others also report serious reactions6566676869 and authorities have long acknowledged that “people with compromised immune systems or preexisting allergies may be particularly susceptible to the effects ofI The Bt‐toxin produced in GM crops is “vastly different from the bacterial [Bt‐toxins] used in organic and traditional farming and forestry.”71 The plant produced version is designed to be more toxic than natural varieties,72 and is about 3,000‐5,000 times more concentrated than the spray form. And just like the GM soy protein, the Bt protein in GM corn varieties has a section of its amino acid sequence identical to a known allergen (egg yolk). The Bt protein also fails other allergen criteria recommended by the WHO, i.e. the protein is too resistant to break down during digestion and heat.

If Bt‐toxin causes allergies, then gene transfer carries serious ramifications. If Bt genes relocate to human gut bacteria, our intestinal flora may be converted into living pesticide factories, possibly producing Bt‐toxin inside of us year after year. The UK Joint Food Safety and Standards Group also described gene transfer from a different route. They warned that genes from inhaled pollen might transfer into the DNA of bacteria in the respiratory system.73 Although no study has looked into that possibility, pollen from a Bt cornfield appears to have been responsible for allergic‐type reactions.

In 2003, during the time when an adjacent Bt cornfield was pollinating, virtually an entire Filipino village of about 100 people was stricken by mysterious skin, respiratory, and intestinal reactions.74 The symptoms started with those living closest to the field and spread to those further away. Blood samples from 39 individuals showed antibodies in response to Bt‐toxin, supporting—but not proving—a link. When the same corn was planted in four other villages the following year, however, the symptoms returned in all four areas—only during the time of pollination.75

Bt‐toxin might also trigger reactions by skin contact. In 2005, a medical team reported that hundreds of agricultural workers in India are developing allergic symptoms when exposed to Bt cotton, but not when

axposed to natural varieties.76 They say reactions come from picking the cotton, cleaning it in factories, loading it onto trucks, or even leaning against it. Their symptoms are virtually identical to those described by the 500 people in Vancouver and Washington who were sprayed with Bt (see table on next page).

Bt Spray


runny nose,

exacerbations of asthma

Watery, red

Itching, burning,





some in hospital

Bt Cotton

Sneezing, runny nose


Itching, burning, eruptions, red, swelling


some in hospital

Download the complete 28 page report with Pictures and documentation at:

Ten Reasons Why GE Foods Will Not Feed the World

prepared by The CornerHouse, UK

It is often claimed that genetically engineered crops are the only way to

feed a growing world population. Yet close analysis suggests that there are

at least 10 good reasons why the widespread adoption of genetic engineering

in agriculture will lead to more hungry people – not fewer.

1. Feed, Not Food

2. Engineering for Convenience

3. Substituting Tropical Cash Crops

4. Increasing Farm Debt

5. Promoting Inefficient Farming

6. Increasing Destitution

7. Unsustainable Agriculture

8. Lower Yields

9. Increased Corporate Control

10. Misreading the Problem

1. Feed, Not Food

The two main GE crops grown commercially in the United States – soybeans

and maize (corn) – are used to feed livestock, not people.

This may be good for GE companies and their partners in the grain trade,

but it will do little to relieve world hunger. Indeed, livestock production

in many Southern countries has often been at the direct expense of poorer

people’s diets.

Egypt, for instance, encouraged by USAID, invested heavily in livestock

from the 1970s onwards. The country now grows more food for animals than

for humans. Human supplies of grain have been made up through US imports

which contributes to Egypt’s external debt. The consistent beneficiaries

have been large US grain merchants which have exported US grains at hugely

subsidised prices to Egypt.

2. Engineering for Convenience

Much genetic engineering research in food has been directed at meeting the

commercial needs of food processors rather than the nutritional needs of

poorer consumers.

A report by the US Biotechnology Industry Organization suggests that more

biotech effort will be devoted to genetic techniques for delaying ripening

or rotting of fruits and vegetables and for improving their appearance so

that they can be transported over ever longer distances and kept on

supermarket shelves for longer.

Maintaining a system whereby food has to travel such long distances may be

good news for oil companies, airlines and motor manufacturers, but it is an

energy- and resource-intensive system which contributes little to the

nutritional health of hungry people in either South or North – and does

much to undermine it.

3. Substituting Tropical Cash Crops

Using genetic engineering to create substitutes for tropical cash crops

will destroy the livelihoods of the rural poor in many Third World

countries – aggravating poverty and hunger.

Several applications of biotechnology are aimed at growing tropical cash

crops in the North, or at producing in laboratories the substances

currently derived from such crops.

Canola, for example, has been genetically-engineered to produce oils which

would replace coconut and palm oils. Coconut oil provides seven per cent of

the total export income of the Philippines, the world’s largest exporter of

coconut oil, and direct or indirect employment for 21 million people, about

30 per cent of the country’s population. Other tropical crops at risk

include vanilla and cocoa.

Although some of these cash crop producers will be able to switch to

growing other crops, many will not. With their income from export earnings

slashed, few Southern countries will be in a position to compensate such

workers and farmers. They will be left to fend for themselves: many are

likely to become malnourished for lack of cash to buy food.

4. Increasing Farm Debt

Unlike many of the seeds currently grown by Third World farmers, GE crops

do not come free. Attempts through legislation and genetic engineering

techniques to sterilize seeds, and to deny farmers’ their ancient right to

save and exchange seeds from previous harvests will force them to buy their

seeds every year. In addition, farmers will also need to buy chemical

herbicides and fertilizers; without theses the GE seeds will fail to

achieve viable yields.

Many small farmers, who are already hard pressed by competition from

heavily-subsidised food imports from the US and by the removal of subsidies

on water and energy under structural adjustment programmes, will slide into


The result is likely to be yet another wave of farm bankruptcies, leading

to landlessness for poorer farmers and an increased concentration of land

as wealthier farmers and speculators buy up bankrupted farms.

By threatening the farm livelihoods of the very poor, GE crops can only

undermine the food security of small producers – hardly a policy for

“feeding the world”.

5. Promoting Inefficient Farming

Proponents of genetic engineering in agriculture argue that farm

bankruptcies are a regrettable but necessary price of greater efficiency in


In terms of output per unit of labour, small farms are less “efficient”

than large modernised ones. But in terms of gross output per unit of land,

smaller farms often outdo larger ones. In Thailand, holdings under one

hectare have been found to be almost twice as productive as holdings over

40 hectares.

Arguments for replacing “inefficient” small producers with “efficient”

large producers also fail to take account of the key role that small farms

(particularly household gardens invariably tended by women) play in

efficiently supplying informal household networks with food.

To displace such networks would almost certainly result in a dramatic fall

in the amount of unmarketed food available to poorer people.

6. Increasing Destitution

Many vulnerable smallholder producers displaced as a result of growing

genetically-engineered crops are likely to find themselves in a saturated

labour market. If they could get jobs, they would probably be low-paid,

insecure ones in the cities or on larger farms where workers are generally

paid piece rates.

In today’s global supermarket, food goes to those who have the money to buy

it. Only those who have the income to translate their biological needs into

“effective demand” get to eat. Those whose incomes are too low – who cannot

grow food for themselves – inevitably wind up malnourished.

The overall result of displacing “inefficient” small farmers is thus likely

to be increased famine and malnutrition – not a reduction in hunger as the

proponents of genetic engineering promise.

7. Unsustainable Agriculture

Genetic engineering in agriculture is likely to have adverse environmental

impacts which are in turn likely to undermine the ecological basis of food


Genetically-engineered crops will stimulate the evolution of “superweeds”

and “superbugs” which will necessitate higher doses of chemicals and make

food supplies more vulnerable to pest damage.

The outcrossing of engineered traits to other plants also poses a major

threat to food production.

In addition, the adoption of genetically-engineered crops is likely to

reduce genetic diversity, resulting in fewer and fewer types of food crops;

the narrowing of the genetic base of food adds to the likelihood of pest

and disease epidemics.

Many of these problems stem from the fact that genetically-engineered crops

will be grown in industrial monocultures. Other forms of agriculture offer

far safer, proven andecologically-benign means of protecting crops against

pest damage.

8. Lower Yields

The genetically-engineered crops now being cultivated do not have

significantly increased yields. In some cases, yields are lower than those

for conventional varieties of the same crop.

In the first large-scale field trials in Puerto Rico in 1992 of Roundup

Ready plants, Monsanto scientists found statistically significant reduced

yields, averaging some 11.5 per cent, in three of seven trials.

Many of the first growers of Roundup Ready cotton in the Mississippi Delta

of the US complained in 1997 of low yields and poor quality, noting that

bolls dropped prematurely and were deformed. Over 50 growers filed

complaints with the newly-formed US Seed Arbitration Council; Monsanto has

since paid out substantial compensation.

Several analysts conclude that any further increases in crop yields in

modern food crops will almost certainly come from building on traditional

breeding methods – not from transgenics.

9. Increased Corporate Control

Mergers, takeovers, joint ventures and licensing agreements between plant

breeding companies, seed distributors, grain traders, chemical companies

and genetic engineering interests have resulted in some genetic engineering

companies gaining near-monopoly control over the growing and marketing of

some agricultural commodities.

Just ten multinationals (including Monsanto) have now cornered nearly 40%

of the world seed market. Monsanto itself estimates that half the US grain

industry is now using its genetically-engineered seed; it expects that by

the year 2000, all soybeans planted in the United States will be of its

Roundup Ready variety.

Seed companies may well take conventional varieties off the market or use

existing seed and patent legislation to restrict farmers growing such

varieties. The result could be a drastic reduction in farm biodiversity –

with a consequent increase in the vulnerability of crops to disease. Again,

hardly a way to ensure food supplies for the future.

10. Misreading the Problem

Underlying the biotech industry’s claim that GE foods are needed to feed

the world lies a fundamentally flawed analysis of the causes of world


More food will undoubtedly have to be grown in future if the increasing

numbers of people in the world are to be adequately fed.

But the claim that GE crops have a positive contribution to make is only

plausible if one mistakenly assumes that the hungry must be hungry because

there is not enough food. In fact, more than enough food is already being

produced to provide the world with a nutritious and adequate diet –

according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme, one-and-a-half times

the amount required.

If one in seven people currently go to bed hungry, it is not because of an

absolute shortage of food, but because inequalities in political and

economic power deny food to people. As long as access to food depends upon

money, and as long as poorer people are excluded from food markets or from

land, significant numbers of people will be malnourished, hungry and

starving – whatever happens to the global food supply, and whatever happens

to the number of people in the world

Far from addressing these underlying structural causes of hunger, genetic

engineering will do much to exacerbate them. Ensuring food security

worldwide requires an approach to agriculturethat is, in almost every

respect, the reverse of that being promoted bybiotech companies and their

allies in government and regulatory authorities.


“Ten Reasons” is extracted from “Food? Health? Hope? Genetic Engineering

and World Hunger”, a 28-page briefing prepared by The Corner House, PO Box

3137, Station Road, Sturminster Newton, Dorset DT10 1YJ, UK. Email

<[email protected]> Email versions available free.


Sarah Sexton/Larry Lohmann/Nicholas Hildyard/Tracey Clunies Ross


PO Box 3137,

Station Road,

Sturminster Newton,

Dorset DT10 1YJ


Tel: +44 (0)1258 473795

Fax: +44 (0)1258 473748

Email: <[email protected]>


Defining “food safety” and thanking cowboys

By Linn Cohen-Cole

The slew of fake “food safety” bill in congress threaten us all and our democracy.

Some don’t believe that, but they would probably be happy to make sure that certain things are FOR SURE not in those bills.

So, it’s a simple thing to start with what CANNOT be in those bills before adding anything to them, for adding to what is there would dangerously legitimize them and that must not, under any circumstances or in any way, happen.

You will see list below.  If you can think of more items that are important, that would be great because the point is to make the bills safe and have them actually make our food safe, and this is something that should have included us, but didn’t.

To begin:

First off, in legal and solid language, any bills must make clear only industrial facilities are included.

Then, the bills (all of them, and there are a slew) MUST EXPLICITLY exempt from these bills and all government control:

all private holding of seeds – individual, farmer, seed exchanges, seed banks, etc.

all small farms including all soil, all water, all crops and all animals on them,

all gardens,

all homes,

all farmers markets,

all CSAs,

all roadside stands,

all small producers of food,

all farm to consumer sales,

all consumer choice over food,

all farm equipment (harvesting, transporting, seed cleaning),

all natural things on farms (manure, agricultural water, wild animals, birds, earthworms),

all natural methods of farming.


full and inviolate property rights of farmers,

protection from the government bankrupting farmers, ever, through penalties,

the erasure of all data on farmers put on the data bank,

and full due process in all aspects in all our laws, etc.

And the bills must begin the decentralization of our food supply as well as reintroduce local food processing.

The bills must prioritize every and all possible protection of small farming.


Must outlaw all raids on farmers.

Must specifically strip Homeland Security of surge capacity for search, seizure and destruction of crops, animals and equipment, and all war on terror regulations threatening small non-corporate farming, including the government taking over farms for any purpose, at any time, for any use.

Must outlaw stacking of penalties against farmers.

Must encourage (rather than restrict) farmers’ putting on their websites (or in other ways) any truthful information and independent studies about their food (the same being true for supplement companies using that same truthful information and independent studies) that is of relevance to consumers.

Must insert strong and multi-layered due process protections between farmers (and their crops, products and animals) and our government which must not be allowed to ever use “disease outbreak” and “contamination” as its means to destroy wipe out their animals or crops so as to insert genetically engineered animals and crops, as a means of even more strangling monopoly over food and reduction of farmers to mere leasers of animals and seeds.

Must provide labeling of all genetically engineered food.

Must provide, on food derived from industrial feedlots, CAFOs, and processing plants, clear labeling of pesticide levels, of antibiotic residue levels, of hormone residue levels, of drug residue levels, of heavy metal levels.

Must provide country of origin labeling that is explicit to each country, with no mixing of products.

Must provide strict prohibitions and large penalties against corporate employees holding any jobs within the USDA and FDA,

a serious conflict of interest.

Must outlaw any legislator who receives PAC money from agribusiness from ever introducing bills pertaining to agriculture, and ever being on any committees or subcommittees in relation to agriculture, or voting on any bills relating to agriculture – all a serious conflict of interest.

Must reject in advance any and all bills that in any way reduce our country’s control over its own health standards and instead increase international control over food here, vesting power in the WTO and reducing our standards and our own control.

This is an incomplete list.

These bills must begin the decentralization of our food supply for the safe of true food safety and also food security and the bills must increase the independence of our food supply by including strict rules and penalties in the bills pertaining to no governmental interference at any point in direct farm to consumer sales.

And the fundamental survival needs for everyone – based on the rights of our farmers to farm, the rights of our gardeners to garden, the rights of all citizens to choose whatever food they wish without government interference, and especially the rights of all of us to own seeds and have water sources – must be GUARANTEED in these bills as basic human rights, as basic to our democracy, and as basic to life, itself.

This list takes the “I didn’t see that there” confusion out of an astoundingly vague and broad bill and begins to make it highly specific, and today, not a year from now, so the public can know what is involved and how it will affect them.

This list begins to lay out what “food safety” actually consists of.  Once that is done, then it will be easy to see which legislators are truly interested in “food safety.”

Take action — click below to contact your local newspaper or congress people:

Withdraw HR 875 immediately as well as SR425, HR 814, and related bills. They will destroy our small farmers, take control of seed, and trap us into GMOs and an industrial system just as we are turning a corner toward local, organic, sustainable sanity..

Now, here are people you can thank for fighting these bills.  Here is a link to an R-CALF video which is well worth your time.

Editor’s Note: The second video below is what the author has recommended. It is a 5-min. segment from an entire film on the subject.  The first video is the introductory segment of that video (also 5 mins.), which OEN readers may find useful and informative. Click here for more videos by R-Calf.

These are people the left needs to meet – conservative, independent (non-corporate) cattlemen who believe in “fair trade” and real competition, and fought and miraculously stopped the JBS Swift merger (threatening control of 90% of beef in the world, vertically integrated).  And for a long time, single-handedly, they have held off NAIS (the dangerous core to the power in these bills and the beginning of chipping all animals and eventually, through Smart Grid, tracking everyone).

They are American heroes.  In an economy that has been shipped overseas, they have fought for local and American industry here.

They need us to all show up now.

And isn’t it way past time we realize these are not right or left issues we’re fighting but the destruction of our constitution since the Patriot Act went into effect?

Were it not for R-CALF, an organization most people have never heard of, NAIS would have sailed through by now and along with it, many other controls over food, land and seed.

Here is a link to let Congress and your local paper know how you feel about all this.

And for those of you who feel the inclination to be part of this fight, reach R-CALF and feel what it’s like to stand with American cowboys against Simon Legree who’s back in with a pack of lawyers, twirling big slick mustaches, with a gleam in their eye to steal our ranches, our farms and everything else.  Offer to help out.  Offer to use lists you have access to.  Offer to post their video every place you can with a message from you about why this matters to us all.

Make this is the moment when right and left become friends and take on the bad guys together.

Author’s Bio: Met libertarian and conservative farmers and learned an incredible amount about farming and nature and science, as well as about government violations against them and against us all. The other side of the fence is nothing like what we’ve been taught to assume but great people with immense decency.

Outlook upbeat for food activists

This was good news to read, and it’s a start. Now lets get labeling on our food too!

White House backs healthier eating

By Andrew Martin


2:00 a.m. March 22, 2009

ANAHEIM – As tens of thousands of people recently strolled among booths of the nation’s largest organic and natural foods show here, munching on fair-trade chocolate and sipping organic wine, a few dozen pioneers of the industry sneaked off to an out-of-the-way conference room.

Although unit sales of organic food have leveled off and even declined lately, versus a year earlier, the mood among those crowded into the conference room was upbeat as they awaited a private screening of a documentary called “Food Inc.” – a withering critique of agribusiness and industrially produced food.

They also gathered to relish their changing political fortunes, courtesy of the Obama administration.

“This has never been just about business,” said Gary Hirshberg, chief executive of Stonyfield Farm, the maker of organic yogurt. “We are here to change the world. We dreamt for decades of having this moment.”

After being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House, which has vowed to encourage a more nutritious and sustainable food supply.

The most vocal booster so far has been the first lady, Michelle Obama, who has emphasized the need for fresh, unprocessed, locally grown food and, last week, started work on a White House vegetable garden. More surprising, perhaps, are the pronouncements out of the Department of Agriculture, an agency with long and close ties to agribusiness.

In mid-February, Tom Vilsack, the new secretary of agriculture, took a jackhammer to a patch of pavement outside his headquarters to create his own organic “people’s garden.” Two weeks later, the Obama administration named Kathleen Merrigan, an assistant professor at Tufts University and a longtime champion of sustainable agriculture and healthy food, as Vilsack’s top deputy.

Hirshberg and other sustainable-food activists are hoping that such actions are precursors to major changes in the way the federal government oversees the nation’s food supply and farms, changes that could significantly bolster demand for fresh, local and organic products. Already, they have offered plenty of ambitious ideas.

For instance, celebrity chef Alice Waters recommends that the federal government triple its budget for school lunches to provide youngsters with healthier food. Author Michael Pollan has called on President Barack Obama to pursue a “reform of the entire food system” by focusing on a Pollan priority: diversified, regional food networks.

Still, some activists worry that their dreams of a less-processed American diet may soon collide with the realities of Washington and the financial gloom over much of the country. Even the Bush administration, reviled by many food activists, came to Washington intent on reforming farm subsidies, only to be slapped down by Congress.

Even so, many activists say they are packing their bags and heading to Washington. They are bringing along a copy of “Food Inc.,” which includes attacks on the corn lobby and Monsanto, and intend to provide a private screening for Vilsack and Merrigan.

At the heart of the sustainable-food movement is a belief that America has become efficient at producing cheap, abundant food that profits corporations and agribusiness, but is unhealthy and bad for the environment.

The federal government is culpable, the activists say, because it pays farmers billions in subsidies each year for growing grains and soybeans. A result is an abundance of corn and soybeans that provide cheap feed for livestock and inexpensive food ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup.

But advocates of conventional agriculture argue that organic farming can’t provide enough food because the yields tend to be lower than those for crops grown with chemical fertilizer.

“We think there’s a place for organic, but don’t think we can feed ourselves and the world with organic,” says Rick Tolman, chief executive of the National Corn Growers Association. “It’s not as productive, more labor-intensive and tends to be more expensive.”

The ideas are hardly new. Farmland philosopher and author Wendell Berry has been making many of the same points for decades. What is new is that the sustainable-food movement has gained both commercial heft, with the success of organic and natural foods in the past decade, and celebrity cachet, with a growing cast of chefs, authors and celebrities who champion the cause.

It has also been aided by more awareness of the obesity epidemic, particularly among children, and by concerns about food safety amid seemingly continual outbreaks of tainted supplies.

While their arguments haven’t gained much traction in Washington, sustainable-food activists and entrepreneurs have persuaded more Americans to watch what they eat.

They have encouraged the growth of farmers markets and created such a demand for organic, natural and local products that they are now sold at many major grocers, including Wal-Mart.

“Increasingly, companies are looking to reduce the amount of additives,” says Ted Smyth, who retired this year as senior vice president at H.J. Heinz, the food giant. “Consumers are looking for more authentic foods. This trend absolutely has percolated through into mainstream foods.”

The sustainable-food movement also owes much of its current success to pioneers in the organic and natural foods industry. Many started their businesses for idealistic reasons and have since turned their startups into major corporations.

Manufacturers improved their organic and natural products so they could compete with conventional foods on packaging and taste. Whole Foods Market also lured more mainstream customers by creating lush displays of produce and fish that have influenced more traditional grocers.

Nancy Childs, a professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University, said sustainable food activists forced the public to focus on the quality and sourcing of food. She says that “continual attention in the news” also gave the movement legs.

But Childs worries that some of the activists’ recommendations for buying fresh, local or organic food cannot be adopted by many Americans because those foods may be too expensive. “By singling out certain lifestyles and foods, it’s diminishing very good quality nutrition sources,” she says. “Frozen goods, canned goods, they are not bad things. What’s important is that people eat well, within their means.”

“We’d all love to live on a farm in Vermont, right?” she adds.

Find this article at:

© Copyright 2009 Union-Tribune Publishing Co. • A Copley Newspaper Site

The Corporation – movie review

We saw the corporation last weekend, for the second time, and it’s such an amazing movie and a must see movie!  You can buy it from  or Netflix carries it and there are clips on YouTube.

I really knew much less then I thought I did about corporations, how they came into being and why they’re not ideal –  to say the least! –  for social responsibility.  It’s a long movie and the first 15 minutes is a bit chaotic – make sure you watch past it – because once the intro is over it gets into the issue in a very understandable and entertaining way.  The film has many wonderful cameos including Howard Zinn, Michael Moore and Vandana Shiva, who we wrote about a few blog posts ago. It’s highly recommended and even our teenager watched this one with us.

There’s also a very informative section about Monsanto and gmo food.

Here’s the info from their site:

WINNER OF 26 INTERNATIONAL AWARDS! 10 Audience Choice Awards including the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

Provoking, witty, stylish and sweepingly informative, THE CORPORATION explores the nature and spectacular rise of the dominant institution of our time. Part film and part movement, The Corporation is transforming audiences and dazzling critics with its insightful and compelling analysis. Taking its status as a legal “person” to the logical conclusion, the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist’s couch to ask “What kind of person is it?” The Corporation includes interviews with 40 corporate insiders and critics – including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Milton Friedman, Howard Zinn, Vandana Shiva and Michael Moore – plus true confessions, case studies and strategies for change.

“AN OVERWHELMING AMOUNT OF OUTSTANDING EXTRAS, there is basically another 6-hour (!) documentary included.” MovieFreak

Along with the groundbreaking 145-minute theatrical version of the film, the two-disc DVD has eight hours of never-before-seen footage. In addition to two commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and Q’s-and-A’s, 165 new clips and updates are sorted “by person” and “by topic.” Get the details you want to know on the issues you care about. Then, check out the web links for follow-up research and action.

THE CORPORATION is Canada’s most successful documentary… EVER!

The film is based on the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan.

Here’s their site:

Austrian Government Study Confirms Genetically Modified (GM) Crops Threaten Human Fertility and Health Safety

Advocates Call for Immediate Ban of All GM Foods and GM Crops

(Los Angeles, CA.) – A long-term feeding study commissioned by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, managed by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth, and carried out by Veterinary University Vienna, confirms genetically modified (GM) corn seriously affects reproductive health in mice. Non-GMO advocates, who have warned about this infertility link along with other health risks, now seek an immediate ban of all GM foods and GM crops to protect the health of humankind and the fertility of women around the world.

Feeding mice with genetically modified corn developed by the US-based Monsanto Corporation led to lower fertility and body weight, according to the study conducted by the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. Lead author of the study Professor Zentek said, there was a direct link between the decrease in fertility and the GM diet, and that mice fed with non-GE corn reproduced more efficiently.

In the study, Austrian scientists performed several long-term feeding trials over 20 weeks with laboratory mice fed a diet containing 33% of a GM variety (NK 603 x MON 810), or a closely related non-GE variety used in many countries. Statistically significant litter size and pup weight decreases were found in the third and fourth litters in the GM-fed mice, compared to the control group.

The corn is genetically modified with genes that produce a pesticidal toxin, as well as genes that allow it to survive applications of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup.

A book by author Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette, distributed to members of congress last year, documents 65 serious health risks of GM products, including similar fertility problems with GM soy and GM corn: Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce. Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells. The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning. Several US farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties. Additionally, over the last two months, investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products.

The principle GM crops are soy, corn, cottonseed and canola. GM sugar from sugar beets will also be introduced before year’s end.

Mr. Smith, who is also the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology says, “GM foods are likely responsible for several negative health trends in the US. The government must impose an immediate ban on these dangerous crops.” He says, “Consumers don’t need to wait for governmental action. They can download a free Non-GMO Shopping Guide at”

Monsanto press offices in the UK and USA were unable to provide a comment on the findings for journalists yesterday.

The Institute for Responsible Technology’s Campaign for Healthier Eating in America mobilizes citizens, organizations, businesses, and the media, to achieve the tipping point of consumer rejection of genetically modified foods.

The Institute educates people about the documented health risks of GMOs and provides them with healthier non-GMO product choices.

The Institute also informs policy makers and the public around the world about the impacts of GMOs on health, environment, the economy, and agriculture, and the problems associated with current research, regulation, corporate practices, and reporting.


Institute For Responsible Technology

Media Contact: NJ Jaeger

Expert Contact: Jeffrey M. Smith

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +1-310-377-0915

Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety

Corporate Communication: Univ.-Doz. Ingrid Kiefer

Tel: +43 50 555-25000; E-Mail: [email protected]


Austrian Study:

Institute for Responsible Technology:

Non-GMO Shopping Guide:

Genetic Roulette:

Genetically Engineered Foods Pose Higher Risk for Children

Children face the greatest risk from the potential dangers of GM foods:

* Young, fast-developing bodies are influenced most

* Children are more susceptible to allergies

* Children are more susceptible to problems with milk

* Children are more susceptible to nutritional problems

* Children are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases

Young, fast-developing bodies are influenced most

Children’s bodies develop at a fast pace and are more likely to be influenced and show the effects of genetically modified (GM) foods. That is why independent scientists used young adolescent rats in their GM feeding studies. The rats showed significant health damage after only 10 days, including damaged immune systems and digestive function, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy of the liver, and potentially pre-cancerous cell growth in the intestines.

Children are more susceptible to allergies

Children are three to four times more prone to allergies than adults. Infants below two years old are at greatest risk-they have the highest incidence of reactions, especially to new allergens encountered in the diet. Even tiny amounts of allergens can sometimes cause reactions in children. Breast fed infants can be exposed via the mother’s diet, and fetuses may possibly be exposed in the womb. Michael Meacher, the former minister of the environment for the UK, said, “Any baby food containing GM products could lead to a dramatic rise in allergies.” GM corn is particularly problematic for children, as they generally eat a higher percentage of corn in their diet. Further, allergic children often rely on corn protein. Mothers using cornstarch as a talc substitute on their children’s skin might also inadvertently expose them via inhalation.

Children are more susceptible to problems with milk

Milk and dairy products from cows treated with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH) contain an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer. The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association called for more studies to determine if ingesting “higher than normal concentrations of [IGF-1] is safe for children, adolescents, and adults.” Sam Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and author of eight books, wrote, “rbGH and its digested products could be absorbed from milk into blood, particularly in infants, and produce hormonal and allergic effects.” He described how “cell-stimulating growth factors . . . could induce premature growth and breast stimulation in infants, and possibly promote breast cancer in adults.” Dr. Epstein pointed out that the hormones in cows could promote the production of “steroids and adrenaline-type stressor chemicals . . . likely to contaminate milk and may be harmful, particularly to infants and young children.”

Children are more susceptible to nutritional problems

A 2002 report by the UK’s Royal Society, said that genetic modification “could lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of foods.” They therefore recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, those suffering from chronic disease, and babies. Likewise, according to former minister Meacher, unexpected changes in estrogen levels in GM soy used in infant formula “might affect sexual development in children,” and that “even small nutritional changes could cause bowel obstruction.”

Children are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases

Children prone to ear and other infections are at risk of facing antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, due to the use of antibiotic resistant genes in GM food. The British Medical Association cited this as one reason why they called for a moratorium of GM foods.

Reprinted with permission from the Institue for Responsible Technology,

See more wonderful Fight Back Friday ideas at the Food Renegade Blog,

An Inspiration for us all – Dr. Vandana Shiva

“Over the past three decades I have tried to be change I want to see.”

I was privileged to hear Dr. Shiva speak this weekend in Anaheim, CA.  The topic of her talk was Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis.

Vandana Shiva was a Physicist in India and left the world of science, she says, “When I found that dominant science and technology served the interests of powerful, I left academics to found the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, a participatory, public interest research organization.

When I found global corporations wanted to patent seeds, crops or life forms, I started Navdanya to protect biodiversity, defend farmers’ rights and promote organic farming.

Navdanya/RFSTE’s journey over the past two decades has taken us into creating markets for farmers and promoting tasty, healthy, high quality food for consumers. We have connected the seed to the kitchen, biodiversity to gastronomy. And now we have joined hands with Slow Food to celebrate the quality and cultural diversity of our food.”

She spoke about ‘a century of error’ in food technology.  When the Indian farmers were encouraged to grow Bt cotton (a genetically modified cotton) their seed price went from 7 rupees to 7,000 rupees for them to buy seed. And the GE seed is made to be infertile so the farmers couldn’t save their seed to grow the next year.  They got so in debt that 84% of the cotton farmers that were using the GE seed, committed suicide.  Dr. Shiva calls this Bio-Piracy; The stealing by a large multi-national corporation [{Monsanto] of our food and seed supply.

It’s time for all of us to stand up and say, no, we won’t stand for this.

Instead of changing and then patenting (and owning!) our seeds, we need to get back to basics; organic and sustainable farming. Which can feed the world and will help climate change as well. In research that was done, biodiverse organic farms had the greatest food yield of any kind of farming.  It can feed the world and is good for the environment as well.  The number two issue of climate change is the factory farms of the world. Our government has been exacerbating this issue with subsidies (with our tax dollars!) to GE and factory farmers.  We need to focus on many small, organic farmers so people can eat local and healthy food.

She said, “A healthy environment and a just world go hand-in-hand. In a time of changing climates and increasing food scarcity, sustainable and biologically diverse farms are the champions for food production that is resistant to disease, drought, and flood. By promoting the productivity of small independent farms we can increase the potential for social justice and biodiversity”

And she ended her wonderful and inspirational talk, with a reminder to also cultivate peace, happiness and joy.

You can visit her website here:

Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental leader and thinker. Director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology, she is the author of many books, including Water Wars: Pollution, Profits, and Privatization (South End Press, 2001), Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge (South End Press, 1997), Monocultures of the Mind (Zed, 1993), The Violence of the Green Revolution (Zed, 1992)

Ms. Shiva is a leader in the International Forum on Globalization and founder of Navdanya (“nine seeds”), a movement promoting diversity and use of native seeds. In 1993, Shiva won the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize (the Right Livelihood Award). Before becoming an activist, Shiva was one of India ’s leading physicists. She holds a master’s degree in the philosophy of science and a Ph.D. in particle physics.

Why NAIS will hurt small farmers – NO on H.R. 875

H.R. 875 – Tell your Representatives to vote NO

The real deal that changes the face of the American Farmer is

H.R. 875. I spent all day finding the fax numbers of each and every congressman and woman, including Nancy Pelosi that were on the Committees hearing this bill. It is titled, “[111th] Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (Introduced in House)”. If you go to Sec 210 – Traceback Requirements, paragraph d, sub-paragraph 2, sub-paragraph D, you will find DIRECT reference to implementation of NAIS! Shoot, I’m just gonna copy and  paste it for you here:


(a) In General- The Administrator, in order to protect the public health, shall establish a national traceability system that enables the Administrator to retrieve the history, use, and location of an article of food through all stages of its production, processing, and distribution.

(b) Applicability- Traceability requirements under this section shall apply to food from food production facilities, food establishments, and foreign food establishments.

(c) Requirements-

(1) STANDARDS- The Administrator shall establish standards for the type of information, format, and timeframe for food production facilities and food establishments to submit records to aid the Administrator in effectively retrieving the history, use, and location of an item of food.

(2) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring the Administrator to prescribe a specific technology for the maintenance of records or labeling of food to carry out the requirements of this section.

(3) AVAILABILITY OF RECORDS FOR INSPECTION- Any records that are required by the Administrator under this section shall be available for inspection by the Administrator upon oral or written request.

(4) DEMONSTRATION OF ABILITY- The Administrator, during any inspection, may require a food establishment to demonstrate its ability to trace an item of food and submit the information in the format and timeframe required under paragraph (1).

(d) Relationship to Other Requirements-

(1) CONSISTENCY WITH EXISTING STATUTES AND REGULATIONS- To the extent possible, the Administrator should establish the national traceability system under this section to be consistent with existing statutes and regulations that require record-keeping or labeling for identifying the origin or history of food or food animals.

(2) EXISTING LAWS- For purposes of this subsection, the Administrator should review the following:

(A) Country of origin labeling requirements of subtitle D of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1638 et seq.).

(B) The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930 (7 U.S.C. 499a-t).

(C) Country of origin labeling requirements of section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1340).

(D) The National Animal Identification System as authorized by the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 8301 et seq.).

(3) CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS- Nothing contained in this sectn prevents or interferes with implementation of the country of origin labeling requirements of subtitle D of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1638 et seq.).

Here is the letter that I copied from earlier post with my changes:

(This is the letter I have sent to the Committees on Energy & Commerce and Agriculture as well as each individual on each of these committees and subcommittees. Please read and be aware of this bill or its incarnations as this will affect every small holding in your district and the country as a whole. This is a very scary proposition and if you have ever watched the movie “Soylent Green” realize that small farmers have watched it too.

“He who controls the food supply, controls the world”. ~Carol Peters

H.R. 875 is about making a mandatory

National Animal Identification System(NAIS) (see Sec210(d)(2)(D).

Wiping out America’s healthy food growers at a time when the nation is already about to buckle under economic distress, will only put the final nails in our coffins and this country will look like a 3rd world country in no time at all. I have a small family farm. We grow our own crops and raise our own livestock on 5 acres.

We sell our surplus to offset the costs of living off the land. Our goal is to retire on up to 200 acres of farmland.

Regulation in a Mandatory NAIS Program will destroy our way of life and our dreams of peaceful retirement farming!

Provisions need to be addressed for the small holding farmer!

NAIS is designed to eliminate private animal ownership and industrialize the global food supply. It states it is going to stop disease, but it doesn’t. Its only function is to eliminate the private animal owners from the food supply, thus industrializing agriculture and the entire global food supply. This happens as a direct result of all the required NAIS expenses, required paperwork, loss of property rights and privacy, and outrageous non-compliance fines.

All I can ask…beg of you, is to work diligently against NAIS and H.R.

875 Sec 210(d)(2)(D), as it will completely wipe out the American farmers. All that will be left is the big disgusting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that feed tons of antibiotics, hormones, and chemicals just to keep the million+animals alive in those “cess-pool farms”. That is the face of Industrialize

Agriculture-CAFOs. NAIS will lead to nothing but CAFOs for our food supply.

NAIS is worse than any disease it hypes about preventing. NAIS is what  farmers have to worry about in destroying all their animals, not any diseases.

NAIS itself will be the most deadly thing in America’s farms, if it gets passed.

Please vote against H.R. 875 today!


Could one of the congressmen or women please give a copy of this letter to the Chairman of Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Congressman Markey, because his is the only D.C. office that refuses to give out his fax.

Thank you.