U.S. State Department: GMO Pusher to the World
by Adriana Velez December 30, 2010 11:00 AM (PT)
The diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks haven't revealed much in general that we didn't already suspect, especially the extent to which our government strong-arms its way around the world. But what has surprised me is the frequency with which genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are mentioned. First we learned that the State Department has been trying to get intelligence on "government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified foods" in Africa. Another cable has a State Department official advising Pakistan that GMOs could solve the country's drought-burdened agricultural problems.
And in another cable from 2007, then-ambassador to France Craig Stapleton frets over France's ban on GMO seeds and worries that fear of GMOs could spread throughout Europe and, ahem, contaminate the market for Monsanto. He goes as far as suggesting retaliation against France:
Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory.
Isn't it nice to hear the State Department talking about sustainability? Another cable from 2009 reveals the U.S. ambassador to Spain asking for help supporting pro-GMO leaders there. For a little context, the European Union has approved both GMO foods and the GMO seed MON 810; however, individual European countries have banned GMO seeds and the public have rejected genetically modified (GM) foods.
According to a Democracy Now interview with Seeds of Deception author and Institute for Responsible Technology executive director Jeffrey Smith, Europe has the leverage to fight back, but developing nations are especially vulnerable to pro-GMO arm twisting.
A lot of the focus of the State Department has been on developing countries. They try and push GMOs into Africa. They deployed the Secretary of State’s chief advisory—scientific adviser, Nina Fedoroff, to Australia and to India. They tried to engage the Indian government with a contract or a treaty that would allow their scientists to be trained in the U.S. So they’ve been working around the world to try and influence policy on every single continent. And in some cases, they’re doing—they’re actually winning, where they’re overtaking the regulatory authorities and making it quite weak, like it is in the U.S. And in some cases in Europe now, there’s more resistance than ever, now that it’s "not in my backyard" politics, "no planting in my country" type of politics.
Things have been no better with the Obama administration. Our food safety czar Michael Taylor has a history of pushing GMOs even in the face of mounting evidence of its dangers.
Meanwhile, the environmental impact study for GM alfalfa, ordered by the Supreme Court before the ban on GM alfalfa can be lifted, has just been released. The USDA will consider public comment for 30 days before making a decision. You can post your own comment about the dangers of GM alfalfa to the Animal Plant and Plant Health Inspection Service. You can also sign the Organic Consumers Association's petition against GMO alfalfa. Let's show more resistance to GMOs domestically so we can weaken the State Department's GMO-pushing abroad.http://foo
Adriana Velez works for the Brooklyn Food Coalition.
Photo credit: Herbolario Allium via Flickr
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Jeffrey Smith The world’s leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices Posted on 11:04 am December 31, 2010
New Years Inspirational Message
THINK HUGE. Thinking “Big” is so last century
This is the need of the time. HUGE thinking. Life is not content anymore with mere bigness. The demand today is far greater.
Every quarter of our precious world is calling to us. So many threats to our planet, to our food, to our life. Countless species teetering. Future generations line up outside our door to see if we will answer.
We have no instruction manual, no role model or reference point in our long history to tell us what to do.
Nevertheless we say Yes! We cast aside small cramped thinking and leap into that greater role that has been waiting to serve us.
Then comes magic.
As we outstretch our arms to hold the HUGENESS of the world, we at once become held by it. As we seek to lead, we are mysteriously guided. As we draw out the depths of our energy and courage, we become lifted by a greater power, imbued with wisdom and patience.
What seemed insurmountable becomes inevitable.
What seemed oppressive becomes our honor and privilege to unwind.
And our lives, which appeared to us as mere waves, become the ocean.
It’s time to THINK HUGE. Grace will follow.
Friday, December 31, 2010
15 Foods To Banish From Your Kitchen
posted by Delia Quigley Dec 29, 2010 3:01 pm
Vowing to lose weight, eat better, and start an exercise program come the first of January? Good for you. This is a great time of year to shift away from processed, sugar and fat heavy foods, and raise the quality of your meals. I have found the best way to begin is to clear the temptation foods off the pantry shelves and out of the refrigerator and restock with just what you need to achieve your goals. To this end I have provided a list to identify the foods you should eliminate. You can donate the discarded foods to a local food pantry that will be thrilled to pass them on to families in need. With the shelves empty you can now fill them with the following suggested alternatives.
1. Pasteurized, Homogenized Milk: there’s a raw milk movement steam rolling across this country because of the health issues caused by commercial milk. Buying organic is a better choice, but eliminating milk from your diet would be ideal.
2. White Bread: with nothing to commend it nutritionally, buy organic whole grain bread made without enriched flours and do your intestines a favor.
3. Vegetable Oils: blended from seeds and plants, oils are an important part of your daily diet so choose ones that are non-GMO and grown organically. A few examples to buy are: extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and ghee (clarified butter).
4. Mac & Cheese box: an inexpensive and quick favorite for children and adults alike, but opt for the organic whole grain or dairy-free version of M&C. Better still make your own from scratch.
5. Canned Soups: most are loaded with sodium and questionable oils. Go instead with low sodium, organic soups in aseptic containers.
6. Peanut Butter with additives: with 16 grams of fat per 2 tablespoons why indulge your senses in dangerous partially hydrogenated fats when you can enjoy real nut butters without the added sugars and salt. Explore the raw nut butters for a nutritious treat.
7. Breakfast Cereal: mostly a waste of time, yet people insist on their morning bowl, so best to buy a whole grain cereal containing little or no sugar and sweeten to taste at the table.
8. Refined White Flour: the refined gluten becomes glue in your intestines causing a huge traffic jam down below. Instead buy whole wheat, spelt, and rice flours or try a packaged gluten free flour mix when making your next batch of pancakes.
9. Velveeta Cheese: anything is better than this pseudo-food product, and if you must eat cheese than opt for a raw, organic variety that retains the natural enzymes. It is good to note that humans can digest a sheep or goat’s cheese better than pasteurized cow’s cheese.
10. Enriched Pasta: if it is enriched it is also refined flour, meaning more glue for your intestines. With so many delicious whole grain pastas now available have fun trying a rice fettuccini or a spelt angel hair for your next dinner.
11. Coffee: this crop is so highly sprayed with toxic pesticides, plus you drink a cup of Joe at least once a day, that you are much better off spending a bit more and buying a fair trade organic brand.
12. Chicken Eggs: begin by watching the documentary Food Inc. and you’ll understand why buying free range, organic eggs from a local farmer is so much better for your health and the health of the laying hens.
13. Instant Grains: actually instant anything should be bagged and put out on the curb for the garbage men to pick up in the morning. Preparing whole grains from scratch is so much easier when you use a rice cooker, a pressure cooker, or a Crockpot.
14. Frozen Dinners: if you are depending on these processed, nutrition depleted meals to see you through the day then wear blinders when shopping. The time it takes a frozen dinner to bake in a real oven (no microwaves, please), you can create a nutritious meal from scratch. If you are not convinced read the ingredients list.
15. White Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners: you won’t have to suffer sugar withdrawals when you replace the sweet taste with raw honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, and the herbal sweetener stevia. And if you don’t know how destructive artificial sweeteners can be for your brain click: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/a-poisonous-sweetener.html to be enlightened, then throw what you have in the trash, period.
Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle based on her 28 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia's credentials include author, holistic health counselor, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker. Follow Delia's blogs: brcleanse.blogspot.com and brokenbodiesyoga.wordpress.com. To view her website go to www.deliaquigley.com
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/15-foods-to-banish-from-your-kitchen.html#ixzz19hXF9vEe
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Attack of the Clones: U.K. Approves Food from Clones' Offspring
by Taylor Leake December 10, 2010 07:08 AM (PT)
It's like something out of a bad sci-fi movie: cloned animals giving birth to genetically superior progeny, who populate farms by the thousands, producing vast amounts of milk and meat. Unfortunately, this very scene has already started in the United Kingdom, and the government just gave it the legal go-ahead.
There are more than 100 animals in the U.K. that are the offspring of cloned animals. Most are Holstein cows on dairy farms. And just this week, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said meat and milk from these animals was perfectly fine to sell at grocery stores without special safety checks or — and here's the kicker — any special labeling. Apparently the FSA believes such labels are "unnecessary and disproportionate" and would provide "no significant food safety benefit to consumers." Really?
It was a controversial decision. To start with, there are still serious questions about such a new procedure. These cloned animals have more miscarriages, a higher rate of organ failure, and the offspring of cloned animals have a significantly higher rate of gigantism. Many cloned animals die early in their lives of heart failure, breathing difficulties, or a defective immune system. These disorders are obviously bad for the animals themselves, but it's also unclear if these sickly cows pose potential health risks to consumers. The research is paltry at best, so who knows what health issues may be discovered in the future?
In addition to the health and animal welfare concerns, cloning perpetuates factory farming. Cloned animals and their offspring will typically be raised in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) conditions, which come with their own set of environmental and health problems.
The lack of a label requirement is particularly galling. Not labeling milk and meat from cloned animals denies consumers"the choice to decide whether they want to eat this food. We have a Government that talks about honest labeling, yet it is saying to consumers that they won’t be able to exercise a choice," says Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming.
If the U.K. is going to allow food producers to sell products of the offspring of cloned animals, they should at the very least label them. People have the right to know how their food is produced. Even if these products turn out to be safe — and it seems far too early to tell that for sure — the animal welfare issues alone are worth a label. If you agree, please sign this petition to the FSA, urging the agency to reconsider its decision not to label products from cloned animals' offspring.
Groundbreaking Study Shows Roundup Link to Birth Defects
* International scientists confirm dangers of Roundup at GMO-Free Regions Conference in Brussels
GMO Free Regions, Sept 16, 2010
Straight to the Source
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the world's best-selling weedkiller Roundup, causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying and well below maximum residue levels in products presently approved in the European Union. This is reported in research (1) published by a group around Professor Andrés Carrasco, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School and member of Argentina's National Council of Scientific and Technical Research.
Carrasco was led to research the embryonic effects of glyphosate by reports of high rates of birth defects in rural areas of Argentina where Monsanto's genetically modified "Roundup Ready" (RR) soybeans are grown in large monocultures sprayed from airplanes regularly. RR soy is engineered to tolerate Roundup, allowing farmers to spray the herbicide liberally to kill weeds while the crop is growing.
At a press conference during the 6th European Conference of GMO Free Regions in the European Parliament in Brussels Carrasco said, "The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy." Reporting of such problems started in 2002, two years after large scale introduction of RR soybeans in Argentina. The experimental animals share similar developmental mechanisms with humans. The authors concluded that the results raise "concerns about the clinical findings from human offspring in populations exposed to Roundup in agricultural fields." Carrasco added, "I suspect the toxicity classification of glyphosate is too low. In some cases this can be a powerful poison."
The maximum residue level (MRL) allowed for glyphosate in soy in the EU is 20 mg/kg. The level was increased 200-fold from 0.1 mg/kg to 20 mg/kg in 1997 after GM RR soy was commercialized in Europe. Carrasco found malformations in embryos injected with 2.03 mg/kg glyphosate. Soybeans can contain glyphosate residues of up to 17mg/kg.
In August 2010 Amnesty International reported that an organized mob violently attacked people who gathered to hear Carrasco talk about his research in the town of La Leonesa, Chaco province. Witnesses implicated local agro-industry figures in the attack.
Carrasco is also the co-author of a report, "GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?" released on September 16 by a group of international scientists. The report documents a bulk of evidence in scientific studies on the harmful health and environmental impacts of GM RR soy and Roundup.
This report is released together with the testimonies of people who have suffered from such spraying. Viviana Peralta, a housewife from San Jorge, Santa Fe, Argentina was hospitalized together with her baby after Roundup spraying from planes flying near her home. Peralta and other residents launched a lawsuit that resulted in a regional court ban on the spraying of Roundup and other agrochemicals near houses.
(1) Paganelli, A., Gnazzo, V., Acosta, H., López, S.L., Carrasco, A.E. 2010. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signalling. Chem. Res. Toxicol., August 9. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/tx1001749
(2) GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?" is released on September 16 by Andrés Carrasco and eight other international scientists: http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/conference2010
Article Source: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_21645.cfm
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Seattle-led coalition tells Gates Foundation to change approach
The Seattle Times
Posted by Kristi Heim
December 8, 2010 at 3:04 PM
A coalition of groups led by Seattle-based activists has sent a letter and online petition to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, saying its current approach to agriculture in Africa is unlikely to solve problems of hunger, poverty and climate change, and may make them worse.
The letter, signed by 100 organizations and individuals from 30 countries, was released to coincide with protests at the UN climate talks in Cancun.
Led by the Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ), the coalition said the foundation and its private sector partners are pushing industrialized agriculture and genetically engineered crops at the expense of small farmers and the environment.
The Gates Foundation has made agricultural development one of its priorities in recent years, launching the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) with the Rockefeller Foundation in 2006.
The Gates Foundation spent about $316 million last year on agricultural development, which it says is part of a larger strategy to reduce hunger and poverty by giving small farmers tools and opportunities to boost their productivity and increase incomes.
The groups signing the letter, including environmentalists, academics and groups opposed to genetic engineering of food crops, said they're concerned the foundation's grants are "heavily distorted in favor of supporting inappropriate high-tech agricultural activities, ignoring scientific studies that confirm the value of small-scale agroecological approaches."
"Both the UN climate negotiators and the Gates Foundation must recognize that false solutions such as GMOs and agrofuels that threaten our biodiversity will further Africa's exploitation, not salvation," said Anne Maina, a member of the African Biodiversity Network, a civil society group based in Kenya.
The Gates Foundation responded that it's working comprehensively and with many partners, including African leaders and small farmers.
"Our goal is to help poor farmers grow and sell more so they can feed their families and build better lives," foundation spokesperson Susan Byrnes said. "This is an extremely complex challenge - and there's no silver bullet."
Byrnes said approach is to support seeds, soil, farm management and effective policies. "We're in this for the long haul and only interested in long-term solutions that are sustainable for the economy and the environment."
The petition urged the foundation to redefine its funding priorities in favor of small-scale agroecological agriculture, citing the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), initiated by the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
That report concluded that a radical transformation of world food and farming policies is needed, and reliance on technological fixes, including transgenic crops, is unlikely to address persistent hunger and poverty.
Industrial agribusiness has contributed to the erosion of food and livelihood security in the poorest countries, it said.
US to Vatican: Genetically Modified Food Is a "Moral Imperative"
Wednesday 29 December 2010
by: Mike Ludwig, t r u t h o u t | Report
US to Vatican: Genetically Modified Food Is a "Moral Imperative"
Vatican City. (Photo: Argenberg)
Secret United States diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks detail efforts to promote genetically modified (GM) crops and biotechnology across the globe, including the Vatican, where US diplomats pushed the Roman Catholic Church to support biotech food in developing nations.
Cables from embassies in Spain, Austria and even Pakistan reveal the US diplomats have clearly sided with the biotech industry, even as court cases and public debates over GM food raged in the US and abroad.
In 2005, a US diplomat and a USAID official met with Catholic leaders in Rome to discuss biotech foods, according to a leaked cable. The diplomats reported that Catholic leaders said the science and safety of GM food would soon be a "non-issue" in the Vatican and signaled a cautious acceptance of biotech products despite active opposition among the faithful:
Preoccupation at the Vatican, they said, was tied more to economic arguments, as some fear that widespread use of GMO food in the developing world would subjugate its farmer population and become a form of economic imperialism simply serving to enrich multi-national corporations.
US diplomats pledged to continue pushing GM foods as a "moral imperative" to feed growing populations in order to counter opposition to the biotech food industry among Catholic activists and clergy.
A document drafted by scientists linked to the Vatican and leaked to the press in 2010 suggested the Catholic Church could have a moral obligation to promote GM food crops to combat world hunger, according to the British newspaper The Independent.
Other cables reveal plans to counter anti-GM initiatives across Europe, and in 2008, US diplomats declared the Monsanto MON-810 corn crop in the biotech stronghold of Spain as "under threat" from a campaign to ban GM crops in Europe.
Spain was the first European country to approve the MON-810 corn variety, and by 2009, Spanish farmers were responsible for 75 percent of the MON-810 crop in Europe, according to the leaked cable.
Top Spanish officials warned US diplomats that Spain was under pressure from other European Union (EU) countries to ban MON-810, and Monsanto officials told the diplomats that acceptance of the product was threatened by an agreement between the French government and environmental groups.
Truthout recently reported that, in 2007, the former US ambassador to France wanted to "retaliate" against the French for creating anti-GM momentum in Europe and questioning the safety of MON-810 when the product was up for re-evaluation in the EU.
France suspended cultivation of MON-810 in 2008 despite a EU report that found no new risks associated with the crop. French and independent scientists initiated a rigorous debate with EU scientists over MON-810, and by 2009, bans were in place in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Luxembourg.
Additional cables from the Spanish embassy tracked the country's approval of GM corn varieties and identified Spain as a "country worth continuing to target" in efforts to promote acceptance of biotechnology.
MON-810 is engineered to excrete the Bt toxin, which is poisonous to some insect pests. A stacked version of MON-810 is also engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, an herbicide first popularized by Monsanto under the brand name Roundup.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Are Children Prey for Fast Food Companies?
Nov 8 2010, 10:15 AM ET 27
David Paul Morris/Getty Images
Food companies have been in a headlong rush to prevent government from enacting policies that would affect sales of items such as sugar-sweetened beverages and fast food. One of their tactics is for the companies to issue pledges to protect children, saying in so many words, "You can trust us to police ourselves so government can back down."
The marketing of junk food has been the focus of many such pledges. In the U.S., the pledges are made through the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The two largest fast food companies, McDonald's and Burger King, take part in this initiative. A new report from our group at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity help answer the question about whether these and other fast food companies have made any meaningful changes.
Charlie Brown kept hoping Lucy would hold the football in place. Government can keep hoping that industry will make meaningful changes, or it can step in.
This study by Yale researchers was the largest ever on the marketing of fast foods to children. A major finding is that the amount of marketing of fast foods to children is going up, not down. The average preschool child sees three ads for fast food, every day. For teens the number is five. Much of the advertising is to create brand loyalty as much as it is to promote certain foods. The companies want people in the door. And once they enter, it is not a pretty sight. A few more of the key findings:
• Only 12 of 3,039 possible kids' meal combinations meet nutrition criteria for preschoolers. Only 15 meet nutrition criteria for older children.
• At McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Taco Bell, employees automatically served French fries or another unhealthy side more than 84 percent of the time. A soft drink or other unhealthy beverage was served at least 55 percent of the time.
• Snacks and desserts often marketed directly to teens contain as many as 1,500 calories, which is five times more than the American Dietetic Association's recommendation of a 200- to 300-calorie snack for active teens.
• McDonald's and Burger King have pledged to reduce unhealthy marketing to children, but children ages six to 11 saw 26 percent more ads for McDonald's in 2009 compared to 2007. The increase for Burger King was 10 percent.
• African American children and teens see at least 50 percent more fast food ads than their white peers. McDonald's and KFC specifically target African American youth with TV advertising, targeted websites, and banner ads.
There is no longer doubt that children and teens need protection. Marketing of both brands and foods is relentless and the nation is paying a terrible price. The industry has had time to prove itself trustworthy, and government can look the other way only so long. Children's health and well-being are essential to the future vitality of the country and their erosion by some food industry practices must be stopped.
The fast food industry can do several things to help. One is to steer people toward healthier items, for instance offering fruit and milk as the default choices in kids' meals rather than fries and sugared drinks. Posters inside restaurants can promote healthier items. Healthier foods can be priced more attractively and deals that encourage purchase of large burgers, servings of fires, and sugared beverages can end.
Most important is for companies to remove children and teens from the list of groups to be recruited as loyal customers. It seems unlikely that industry will do so voluntarily—there is simply too much money at stake. More weak and ineffective promises from industry will hurt more than help. Charlie Brown kept hoping Lucy would hold the football in place. Government can keep hoping that industry will make meaningful changes, or it can step in.
There is much government can do. It has the authority to restrict marketing aimed at children and also has sway over what goes into food (for example, a number of cities in the U.S. and the entire country of Denmark have banned trans fats in restaurant foods). It is only a matter of time before government exercises this authority, driven by grave concern over rising health care costs, recognition that children need protecting, and legislators responding to public outrage as people learn just what industry is doing. Children's health is not something to be auctioned off to big food companies.
Source: The Atlantic: