GMOs in the News

GMO’s in the news

Here’s some recent GMO news. Lots going on and we are making progress!



GMO Inside Blog

Big News from Dannon on Sustainability, GMOs and Transparency

By Michael • April 27, 2016 • BlogLeave a comment

Dannon made waves in the food industry by announcing several big steps forward on sustainability, including a broad non-GMO commitment that encompasses non-GMO feed for the dairy cows that supply its milk, and voluntary labeling of GMOs no matter what legislation Congress passes on labeling this year. The yogurt giant also stated it will move away from synthetic additives.

Green America congratulates Dannon on its food industry leadership towards greater social and environmental sustainability. By transitioning towards sustainable agricultural practices, and moving away from synthetic additives, Dannon is setting a high bar for the conventional dairy products industry.

Dannon’s adoption of sustainable agricultural practices will help encourage soil health, carbon sequestration and water quality, while ensuring good environmental livestock production practices. Working with family farms, these practices will help increase animal welfare and reduce the environmental impact of dairy production.

Additionally, Dannon is making a commitment to clean and natural products. By transitioning away from the use of synthetic hormones and routine non-therapeutic antibiotics, Dannon is making great strides toward healthy products sourced from ethically treated animals.

In line with committing to clean and natural products Dannon has committed to transitioning away from all genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) including animal feed. This is an unprecedented step that will reduce the negative impacts of GMOs, and encourage more farmers and producers to transition away from GMOs. Since the majority of all crops in the U.S. are grown for animal feed, improving the sustainability of feed crops is essential for a healthier food system.

Prior to transitioning away from all GMOs, Dannon will disclose any GMO ingredients on package by December 2017, breaking from the Grocery Manufacturers Association that has been fighting against clear GMO labeling. This agreement will provide consumers with the transparency they demand from the food system.

Overwhelmingly, Americans want to know what they are eating.  In fact, 90% of Americans want foods made with GMOs to be labeled. Thanks to the actions of hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country over the past few years, companies like Dannon are now listening to consumers, labeling and transitioning away from GMOs.

This is what leadership looks like. We encourage consumers to give a shout out to Dannon on the Dannon Facebook page and share this big news on social media.

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Understanding Glyphosate Toxicity: An Interview with Genetic Engineer Thierry Vrain

As genetically modified organisms (GMOs) continue to enter the food chain, it’s important for consumers to learn about Roundup Ready crops — and how the glyphosate sprayed on them may be toxic to our health.

Interview by Hannah Kincaid
June/July 2016

A high-clearance sprayer applies Roundup herbicide on glyphosate-resistant marestail in a Mississippi no-till cotton field. The application failed and the weeds survived.

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops are engineered to be herbicide tolerant, specifically when sprayed with Roundup. Now that the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm has designated Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” consumers need to fully understand how the chemical works on plants and, in turn, impacts human health. For in-depth answers about glyphosate’s toxicity and more, we turned to molecular biologist and retired genetic engineer Thierry Vrain.

MOTHER: When and why did you start researching glyphosate?

Thierry Vrain: I went to graduate school in North Carolina in the 1970s, where I was trained as a soil biologist — a nematologist, to be precise. Nematodes are microscopic worms in the soil that feed on the roots of plants and cause considerable yield loss for many types of crops. In school, I learned about agriculture and the damage caused by all sorts of pests and pathogens, such as nematodes, insects, and fungal diseases. I learned to deal with those pests by sterilizing soil or spraying pesticides. Halfway through my career, it became obvious that perhaps we could intervene at the molecular level to make crops naturally resistant to pests, so I learned molecular biology and became a genetic engineer. When I became head of a molecular biology department, I took it as my responsibility to educate people and try to assuage their fears about genetic engineering.

I retired 12 years ago and started gardening as a serious hobby. After gaining that hands-on experience, I realized how much damage pesticides cause to the living environment of the soil. I learned all sorts of things that I wasn’t taught in graduate school. For example, I learned that not only pesticides, but also regular fertilizers damage communities of microorganisms in soil. I became “organic,” so to speak.

At this point, I started reading scientific research showing a problem with genetic engineering. Rats and mice fed genetically engineered, Roundup Ready grain were getting sick. At first I couldn’t figure it out. My knowledge of the engineering technology made it clear to me that this should be safe. As I explain in my TEDx talk, “The Gene Revolution, the Future of Agriculture,” I couldn’t understand why adding a gene from one species to another could be toxic because this DNA technology is used every day in many research labs around the world to create a variety of transgenic animals and plants, to study their biology, and to advance various fields of knowledge. Only two years ago did I realize that the problem lies not with genetic engineering technology itself, but with the herbicide that’s sprayed on all Roundup Ready crops. Again, I took it as my responsibility to educate people.


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How the National Academy of Sciences misled the public over GMO food safety

Published: 26 May 2016


The NAS report on GM crops and foods ‘disappears’ findings of harm and potential toxicity in animal feeding studies with GM crops and elevates flawed reviews claiming safety, writes Claire Robinson

“GM food safe to eat, say world’s leading scientists”, ran the headline in The Times in the wake of the publication of the US National Academy of Sciences report on GM crops. In almost all the mainstream media the story was the same, from Nature World News trumpeting, “Scientists declare GM food safe”, to The Guardian’s “GM food generally safe for humans”.

In reality, the part of the report that deals with animal feeding studies on GM crops is a subtly treacherous mix. Scattered among some sound statements and useful recommendations are a plethora of strategic omissions, gobsmackingly unscientific assertions, wishful thinking, pulled punches, and outright lies. Below I consider just a few.

The NAS ‘disappears’ ill effects on GM-fed animals

The report’s most outrageous deception is the obliteration of the many findings of harm or risk in animal feeding studies on GM crops.

The report says, “The research that has been conducted in studies with animals and on chemical composition of GE food reveals no differences that would implicate a higher risk to human health from eating GE foods than from eating their non-GE counterparts.” That message was translated by the NAS’s press release as “no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops”.

That’s where the media got the message that GM crops are safe. It wasn’t (just) dumb or lazy reporting. It came straight from the NAS itself.

But both statements are at best misleading and at worst lies, as anyone knows who has seen any of the long list of animal feeding studies showing risks and harms from GM crops. Ill effects in GM-fed animals include liver and kidney damage, changes in blood biochemistry, and immune responses.

Some might argue that animal studies are not necessarily applicable to humans and thus the NAS’s careful wording of risks to “human health” is defensible. But experiments on animals, especially rodents and pigs, are mandated by regulators worldwide to test and assess the potential human health impacts of pesticides and other chemicals, as well as (in some countries) GM crops. As a society, we’ve agreed on this system, and so we must take seriously the findings of animal studies.

The GMO industry and its allies are well aware of this and fight hard to try to persuade regulators not to require animal feeding studies with GM foods and their associated pesticides – and shoot down those that are carried out and that find problems.

And for whatever reason, the NAS also seems to have felt it necessary to ‘neutralize’ the animal feeding studies that have shown problems with GMOs.

How do the NAS do that? By avoiding directly addressing the findings of harm or signs of possible toxicity in the relevant studies. As far as the NAS is concerned, these studies may as well not exist. Instead they elevate to a position of authority two misleading reviews, written by conflicted-out authors, which claim to find no evidence of harm in GM-fed animals.

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