GMOs in the News
Haven’t done a news update in awhile. Isn’t it amazing, when we started Moms for Safe Food in 2009, barely anyone had heard of GMOs. But thanks to Pamm Larry and CA Prop 37, and Jeffrey Smith from the Institute of Responsible Technology and many others we are finally joining together to get GMOs labeled and out of our food supply.
Monsanto and their biotech cronies keep telling the same lies (feed the world, safe, blah, blah blah) and their starting to use what used to be the liberal press to pass along their lies – I no longer trust Mother Jones or NPR – seems like they’ve both been bought out by Biotech.
Keep it up – we are gaining momentum and WILL win this fight!
Argentina stalls Monsanto corn project on environmental concerns
on 12 February 2014.
Following an historic court victory in which Argentine protestors won a court injunction halting construction of a Monsanto GMO seed plant, local authorities have rejected the company’s environmental impact assessment.
More about the protestors’ court win:
Argentina stalls Monsanto corn project on environmental concerns – update
Wall St Journal, 11 Feb 2014
Monsanto Co. hit another roadblock in its plans to build a 1.5 billion peso ($192 million) corn-seed production plant in Argentina’s Cordoba province after local authorities rejected Monsanto’s environmental impact assessment.
The project has been on hold since September after clashes with protesters led the St. Louis biotech company to halt construction after completing about 30% of the work.
Monsanto’s environmental assessment didn’t “identify the relevant impacts and resulting mitigation measures,” the office of Cordoba Governor José Manuel de la Sota said in a statement late Monday.
The company said Tuesday it accepted the findings and would move to bring the project in line with the new requirements.
Monsanto “is starting from scratch with the whole process, and preparing a new environmental assessment with new standards,” Pablo Vaquero, Monsanto’s director of sustainability and corporate affairs for Latin America South, said in an interview.
It will take a month or two to analyze the air, soil, and water at the site and prepare a new assessment, Mr. Vaquero said.
A small group of environmental activists have camped out in front of the Cordoba construction site since September, blocking the road and preventing vehicles from coming in or out.
“The reality is that the environmental groups are opposed to Argentina’s farming model,” Mr. Vaquero said.
Those protesters celebrated the rejection of the environmental-impact assessment.
“We’re overjoyed,” Matías Marizza, a member of the Malvinas Fight for Life Assembly told Cordoba radio station FM Las Higueras on Tuesday. “There’s no turning back. Monsanto has to go,” he said.
Read more here:
California State Senator Introduces New GMO Labeling Bill
by Maureen Nandini Mitra – February 25, 2014
SB 1381 is a cleaner version of Prop 37, say bill proponents
California’s gearing up for round two of the GMO labeling debate. This time though the battle will be duked out in the state legislature rather than in the public arena.
Photo courtesy Senator Evans’ OfficeLast Friday, state Senator Noreen Evans, a Democrat from Santa Rosa, introduced a new bill
to label GM foods sold in California.
On Friday, state Senator Noreen Evans, a Democrat from Santa Rosa, introduced a new bill to label GM foods sold in California. SB 1381 would require food sold in state grocery stores to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. The bill’s proponents say it is basically a cleaner, more streamlined version of Prop 37, the 2012 ballot initiative to label GMOs that was defeated at the polls.
Sponsored by a coalition of 17 environmental, consumer, food groups, and small businesses called Californians for GE Food Labeling, SB 1381 provides more protections for farmers and retailers, and places limits on potential litigation. The bill will most likely be assigned to the California senate health committee by mid-March.
“This legislation provides more clarity on who’s responsible for labeling or mislabeling,” says Rebecca Spector, West Coast director of the Center for Food Safety, the group that was lead author of the legislation. “The retailer is only responsible for labeling fresh produce at point of purchase. The bill also makes it clear that farmers are not liable unless they have intentionally misled retailers.” The Center, incidentally, had also co-authored Prop 37.
California voters rejected the ballot initiative in 2012 by a less than 3 percent margin. Spector says post-election polling showed that 21 percent of all California voters who voted against Prop. 37 reported they support labeling of GE foods but were confused about certain provisions of the initiative. Also certain provisions in Prop 37, such as banning any processed food from being labeled as natural, had alienated groups like the Natural Products Association, which should typically have been allies.
The new bill, Spector says, doesn’t include this provision. It also minimizes the risk of farmers, food manufacturers, and retailers being sued. “If a company is notified of a violation it will have a 60-day period to correct their labeling prior to a lawsuit moving forward, and there’s no fixed penalty,” Spector says.
The bill has strong support from the district Senator Evans represents, SD2, which spans over one-third of the Northern California coast from Santa Rosa to Eureka and has a huge sustainable farming community. “Those folks are very engaged,” says Teala Schaff, spokesperson for Senator Evans. Schaff says “a lot people from across the nation” too, have been calling since Friday to express support for SB 1381 which she described as “a strong consumer protection bill.”
“People want to know if their food is organic, they want to know how much salt or fat is there… this is no different. It’s not precluding these products from being available in the market,” Schaff says.
Indeed, polls have shown that 93 percent of US citizens want GM foods labeled and the push for labeling has gathering momentum lately. Last year most than half of US states introduced GMO labeling bills, though only two such bills passed in Connecticut and Maine. This year, a GMO labeling bill was just passed by Vermont’s agricultural committee. In March, Albany, NY, and Annapolis, MD, will be holding public hearing on GMO labeling bills, and voters in Oregon will likely vote on a similar initiative this fall.
Read more here:
Nine Dirty Little Secrets About GMOs
This blog is part of a series that explores the themes and issues raised in Farmed and Dangerous, a 4-part satirical web series exploring issues related to the food system and industrial agriculture. If you’re interested in joining the conversation, please contact us at [email protected]
Transparency is sexy. Misleading people, not so much.
If you had no idea that ingredients, labeled by the EPA as pesticides, are hiding in your food, you’re not alone.
Here are nine dirty little secrets about GMOs that impact everyone from farmers to families to the financials of our economy:
1. Shh, don’t mention the food waste: “We need this technology to feed to world,” is the marketing cry of the big chemical companies. In truth, they do need this technology to feed the expectations of shareholders, but it turns out that more than one-third of the food produced in the world goes to waste. That amounts to 1.3 billion tons every year, costing us economically. In this country alone, we throw away 96 billion pounds of food every year, or 27 percent of the total amount of available food. That’s 3,000 pounds of food a second. With the United Nations on record saying that we need more than just genetically engineered food tools in the toolbox, it appears what we also need is a smarter distribution model to address this waste.
2. Forget Big Tobacco, it’s Big Razor’s playbook: Gillette will practically give away the razor to get people hooked on buying the razor blade. It’s a smart strategy for chemical companies, too. They offer the genetically engineered seed at a discount, then get farmers on the hook for buying the chemicals and suite of chemical products required to make their seeds grow. Pesticide application is up 527 million pounds since the introduction of these genetically engineered crops.
3. EPA now regulates this genetically engineered corn as a pesticide. Seriously, if you had the choice on your kitchen table or at a BBQ between a corn regulated by the EPA as a pesticide and one that wasn’t, which would you choose? No brainer. We should know which one is the pesticide and which foods it is going into.
4. Pre-treated seeds doused in chemicals: It’s called an accelerating agent, and seeds are pretreated before they are ever even put in the ground. Is it any wonder that farmers using these seeds are increasingly worried about what it is doing to the quality of their soil?
5. Pouring on the Pesticides: The latest analysis shows that genetically engineered crops have driven up overall pesticide use across the country, contributing to a 527 million pound increase in herbicide use between 1996 and 2011. And last year alone, genetically engineered crops used 20 percent more pesticides on average than non-GE crops. Who pays for that? Farmers and the people that eat them. Who benefits? The chemical companies selling the seeds engineered to withstand these increasing doses. It goes straight to the bottom line and into the bank.
6. Patent the Chemicals as a Drug: The increasingly controversial weed killer, glyphosate, has been patented an antibiotic: Who knew that the patent had been filed? Apparently the US Patent and Trademark Office. As a growing number of farmers express concern over what this chemical is doing to their soil as headlines around the world express concern over what it is doing to humans, you have to ask yourself: given the 21st century technology we have today, is it time to make this 20th century, chemically intensive operating system, obsolete?
7. Patents protect intellectual property: “The development of genetic engineering of plants in the 1980s was accompanied by a sequence of increasingly specific confirmations of the patentability of various types of life forms, provided that they met the standard patent criteria of novelty, utility and nonobviousness.” Nonobviousness is pretty discreet. So let’s say a pediatric cancer or autism group wanted to study if these crops and chemicals are contributing to the rates of cancer or autism. They’d have to go to Monsanto or the other big chemical companies for permission. It’s worth considering that just as Big Tobacco did before it, these chemical companies just might possibly be relying upon concealment of its documents from the public under intellectual property law to avoid liabilities and to evade regulation.
8. Technology Stewardship Agreements lock farmers into contracts for genetically engineered seeds. Want to break the contract? They’ll sue you. A farmer in Iowa is living testament to this happening. Once he realized that the details of that contract locked him into purchasing Monsanto’s suite of products for the life of the farm, it felt like a noose. When he wanted out, they made a point of showing the farming world that it wasn’t an option and sued.
9. Labels mean liability: Right now the companies using these genetically engineered foods want a ban on state labeling and are trying to stop a growing call for mandatory national labeling. Why? Because without labels, this “GMO Buyers Club” can claim that there is no evidence that these crops have ever caused any harm. And guess what? Without labels, they are right, there is no evidence. Labels would bring accountability, traceability and liability. It’s no wonder that the food industry is so allergic to labeling these genetically engineered ingredients in the United States. An allergic reaction to food sends someone to the ER once every three minutes.
We label the inside parts of our cars, our cell phones and our computers, so why is the chemical industry so cloaked about what goes into our food?
Can you imagine if Intel operated this way? There would be no Intel Inside and no way of knowing which parts of the operating system were functioning as promised and which parts might be detrimental to the system.
We’ve got GMO Inside our food, but no label to tell us.
The chemical industry argues that labeling would drive up food costs, and they would have to pass these added expenses on to consumers. But it doesn’t ring true, especially when you look at how American food companies label these ingredients in the products that they sell overseas and at the number of label changes for pink ribbons, Easter Bunnies or holiday packaging.
Without labels on genetically engineered ingredients, the industry can claim “no evidence of harm.” And they are right. Without labels, there is no traceability, accountability and liability. No way for these companies to be held accountable for the costs that they are externalizing onto society, our farmers, their farms and our economy.
But if the tobacco industry is any indication, it is only a matter of time before these externalized costs come back onto the financial statements of the chemical companies. Farmers and families are being impacted, and there is an antecedent here: it is Medicaid Third Party Liability (TPL) recovery obtained from “Big Tobacco,” totaling $240 billion.
As the number of food companies opting out of these ingredients grows, so too, does the number of attorneys who have children that are impacted by food allergies and other conditions.
The food awakening is on, and the companies that are opting out of genetically engineered ingredients and willing to be transparent with the consumers are capturing market share.
That is sexy to shareholders.
Hiding your ingredients and making food dirty with GMOs and lots of chemicals? Not so much.
Farmed and Dangerous was produced by Chipotle and production company Piro. Chipotle is the sponsor for the Food For Thought initiative.