GMOs in the News – Sept 2011 edition
Lots in the news about GMOs this month. Share this post with your friends and families. The more people that learn about GMOs, the better! Mom
Organic Versus Genetically Engineered Crops: Some Rays of Light
August 30, 2011
Recent court decisions may help. Plus, new research shows how dangerous Monsanto’s GMOs really are.
Natural organic crops need to be protected from potential contamination by synthetic, genetically engineered seeds—especially in the face of less government oversight of GMOs. Natural seeds face the same Catch-22 as supplements: they cannot be patented, whereas synthetic seeds (and drugs) can be—and are therefore huge profit centers for Big Agro and Big Pharma, not to mention the government agencies in bed with them. They also need protection from the increased use of pesticides used on GE crops, which are also carried by the winds.
Our colleagues at ANH International reported recently that two court cases in the US might be turning the tide in favor of organic farmers over GE crops:
- Last December, the California Court of Appeal found the Western Farm Service guilty of “negligence, trespass, and nuisance” against Jacobs Organic Farm and the Del Cabo Organic Cooperative. In 2006 Western Farm applied GE organophosphate (OP) pesticides to Brussels sprouts grown on land neighboring the organic farms. Winds carried these pesticides onto the organic produce and contaminated it—making it unsalable as organic. Even though Western Farm claimed to have taken precautions to avoid pesticide drift, it still happened—and fortunately the court found them guilty.
- Last month, after ten years of futile complaints to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found the Paynesville Farmers Union Cooperative Oil Company guilty of negligence, trespass, and nuisance on Oluf and Debra Johnson’s organic farm. Once again the pesticides sprayed on the oil company’s farms spread to the Johnsons’ land.
One of the big problems with GE crops is that they are responsible for the greatly increased use of pesticides which can easily contaminate organic crops. Now organic farms have legal precedents to sue conventional farms (and those using GMOs) for pesticide contamination.
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.anh-usa.org/organic-v-ge-crops-rays-of-light/
Rady Ananda, Contributing Writer
Nature herself may be the best opponent of genetically modified crops and pesticides. Not only plants, but insects are also developing resistance. The Western rootworm beetle – one of the most serious threats to corn – has developed resistance to Monsanto’s Bt-corn, and entire crops are being lost.
Farmers from several Midwest states began reporting root damage to corn that was specifically engineered with a toxin to kill the rootworm. Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann recently confirmed that the beetle, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, has developed resistance to the Bt protein, Cry3Bb1.
Bacillus thuringiensis – Bt – is a bacterium that kills insects. Different proteins are engineered into cotton as well as corn plants.
Two-thirds of all US corn is genetically modified per the USDA, and the bulk of that is Bt-corn. Monsanto has the biggest market share in the US, reporting about 35% in 2009.
In response to the July 2011 study, Monsanto said only the “YieldGard® VT Triple and Genuity® VT Triple PRO™ corn products” are affected.
“It appears he has demonstrated a difference in survival in the lab, but it is too early to tell whether there are implications for growers in the field.”
However, Kansas State researchers summarized the study, indicating that the specimens tested came from fields suffering severe rootworm damage and compared them to those from unaffected fields. In other words, it was a field study.
Resistance developed where the same Bt corn had been grown at least three years in a row. Gassmann found “a significant positive correlation between the number of years Cry3Bb1 maize had been grown in a field and the survival of rootworm populations on Cry3Bb1 maize in bioassays.”
Ag Professional’s Colleen Scherer explains that “the Cry3Bb1 toxin is the major one deployed against rootworms. There is no ‘putting the genie back in the bottle,’ and resistance in these areas is a problem that won’t go away.”
Read the rest here: http://www.activistpost.com/2011/08/monsanto-gm-corn-in-peril-beetle.html
EU bans GM-contaminated honey from general sale
Bavarian beekeepers forced to declare their honey as genetically modified because of contamination from nearby Monsanto crops
Honey bees on a honeycomb in Germany. A European court has ruled that honey which contains traces of pollen from genetically modified crops needs special authorisation before it can be sold. Photograph: Heribert Proepper/AP
The European Union’s highest court on Tuesday ruled that honey which contains trace amounts of pollen from genetically modified (GM) corn must be labelled as GM produce and undergo full safety authorisation before it can be sold as food.
In what green groups are calling a “groundbreaking” ruling, the decision could force the EU to strengthen its already near-zero tolerance policy on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Bavarian beekeepers, some 500m from a test field for a modified maize crop developed by Monsanto – one of only two GM crops authorised as safe to be cultivated in Europe – claimed their honey had been “contaminated” by pollen from the plant.
The European court of justice found in their favour, a ruling that should offer grounds for the beekeepers to claim compensation in a German court.
But the court’s finding also potentially threatens recent EU legislation, introduced in July this year, that permits traces of GMOs in animal feed without a safety review.
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said that the ruling “would confirm that existing laws allowing traces of unauthorised GM contamination are insufficient and would need revising.”
French Green MEP José Bové, an ex-farmer well-known for his destruction of a McDonald’s franchise in the south of France and the uprooting of GM crops in Brazil, said that the only protection farmers can have is for a complete ban on GMOs in Europe. “Beekeepers are powerless to prevent the contamination of their honey by GM pollen, as farmers are for their crops, and thus powerless to prevent the tainting of the foodstuffs they produce and the integrity of their product.
“The only sure way to prevent this is by precluding the cultivation of GMOs.”
Greenpeace, describing the traces of pollen in the honey as “genetic pollution” said that Monsanto and the Bavarian state should be held liable for the beekeepers’ losses as a result of their product having to be labelled as containing GMOs.
However, agricultural specialists criticised the ruling, saying that the decision has no grounding in science.
Guy Poppy, the director of the centre for biological sciences at the University of Southampton, told the Guardian: “There is no safety issue. This honey is as safe as any other.”
(Note from Mom – if you read the rest of the article the Biotech ’employee’ says “they’ve been judged safe” – actually they haven’t…)
Read the rest here:
And don’t forget:
It’s Our Right to Know
If you live in California (and forward this to those you know who do!)
There is a GMO Labeling 2012 Ballot Initiative in the works.
Go to the site, and sign up to help and/or give a donation.
Read more, great Monday Mania posts here: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/2011/09/monday-mania-9122011/
Read more, great Fat Tuesday posts here: http://realfoodforager.com/2011/09/fat-tuesday-september-13-2011/
Read more, great Real Food Wednesday posts here: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2011/09/real-food-wednesday-9142001.html
Read more, great Simple Lives Thursday posts here: http://gnowfglins.com/2011/09/14/simple-lives-thursday-61/
Read more, great Fight Back Friday posts here: http://www.foodrenegade.com/fight-back-friday-september-16th/