Thursday, December 27, 2012


New Year’s Revolution: Connecting the Dots, Coming Together and Fighting Like Hell

As a longtime writer and activist campaigning for decades on food and farming issues, most recently Prop 37, the California Ballot Initiative to label genetically engineered foods, I am reminded daily of the allure, indeed the addictive pleasure, of single-issue organizing. Despite the constant frustration of being the underdog in a David versus Goliath battle, it's great to have an avocation, not to mention a paying job, fighting Monsanto and its minions.
It's immensely gratifying to thoroughly understand, backward and forward, an issue like genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or organic agriculture.
It's stimulating to read and share dozens of articles and emails every day in my area of expertise, to stay in touch with other foodies working in the “buy local,” “buy organic” movement across the continent. It's ego boosting to see my name, or my organization's name in print, and to see thousands of "shares" and "likes" on Facebook. 
Let me tell you. There's nothing better than hanging out with the activist fish in our little pond. Nothing more satisfying than fighting the good fight, even if the bad guys always seem to win.
Or is there? 
What about our collective new normal? What about the weird weather, melting polar icecaps, killer droughts and floods, raging forest fires, permanent recession, deteriorating public health, senseless violence, and those never-ending wars for oil and natural resources? 
Why is it that the massive, world-changing majorities for social change, the proverbial 99%, and the campaigners like myself who are supposed to be leading the charge, are still working in relative isolation from one another? Why aren’t we talking about radical change and climate-friendly food, farming, buildings, energy, transportation, jobs, education, foreign policy, mass media, and elected officials in the same breath?
Why aren’t we united, indeed up in arms against the maniacs in the Corporatocracy and their political hirelings who are gambling not only with our hard-earned money and taxes, but also with our future? 
Can we connect the dots between our primary passions and the burning issues? Can we bring together the full spectrum of the activist rainbow into a single, powerful, laser-focused movement before it’s too late? Can we reach critical mass in public consciousness and grassroots mobilization before the tipping point in greenhouse gas pollution and runaway global warming (565 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide, 450 ppm of CO2) knocks us down forever? 
While we've been dutifully carrying on this year in our daily lives, in our separate domains, doing the right thing—taking care of our children and grandchildren; trying to save the whales, farm animals, and the bees; organizing the unorganized; promoting natural health; opposing the wars overseas; electing, or trying to elect, decent candidates; supporting green commerce; fighting GMOs; safeguarding organic standards—we have nonetheless been steadily losing ground.
Despite our best, often heroic efforts the New World Order of post-2012 is shaping up to be very difficult, indeed downright scary. How is it possible that tens of thousands of non-profit organizations and millions of health, environmental and justice-minded citizens have been stymied by the deadly "business-as-usual" practices of a ruthless Corporatocracy hell-bent on disaster?   
We need a New Year’s Revolution. We need a Main Street-to-the-Middle East Global Declaration of Interdependence. We need a 21st Century Green Manifesto to overthrow the Corporatocracy and dismantle the suicide economy, before it’s too late.
It’s time for a New Year’s Revolution.
Reviewing the balance sheet of the economy and public policy where I work every day, I see that progressive change is advancing. But the pace of transformation is too little, too late. While we may pat ourselves on the back because the multi-billion dollar U.S. market share for sustainable, relatively climate-friendly organic foods and fair-trade products has moved toward the magic 5% threshold, energy-intensive industrial farming, agricultural-related deforestation and factory farms are pumping out billions of tons of greenhouse gases and laying waste to the climate and the environment. 
Meanwhile, aided and abetted by indentured politicians and the mass media, out-of-control fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas pollution (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and black soot) in the energy, housing, manufacturing, military-industrial and transportation sectors are driving us inexorably toward catastrophic global warming, crop failures, resource depletion, endless war and mass starvation. 
The bottom line for humans, as we review our year-end 2012 financials, is discouraging. If we cannot reduce fossil fuel consumption by 90% within the next 20 years and leave most remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground, if we cannot naturally sequester several hundred billion tons of CO2 and greenhouse gases through global reforestation, organic farming and carbon ranching practices we are doomed. 
This mental accounting, according to a number of astute psychologists, is so terrifying that it has plunged millions of us into denial or depression. No wonder it's such a relief to take out our frustrations on Monsanto, Karl Rove, or Big Pharma, to work on single-issue problems or solutions. So please just pass me a stiff drink, or a joint, or at least a Millions Against Monsanto leaflet that I can hand out in front of Whole Foods.  
As climate activist leader Bill McKibben pointed out in July 2012, the mathematics of human survival, of staying below the tipping point of 2 degrees Celsius—the temperature that the world's scientists warn us will trigger runaway global warming—are terrifying, yet quite simple:  
"Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons (billion tons) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by mid-century and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees (Celsius) . . . .”  
Between May 2011 and May 2012, business as usual on the planet pumped 31.6 gigatons of CO2 and other greenhouse gas pollutants into the already-saturated atmosphere, up 3.2% from the year before. Do the math. Twenty more years of the Corporatocracy’s New World Order, 20 more years of single-issue activism, of failing to connect the dots between our fragmented movements and communities, and we’re doomed.
Our life-giving but delicately balanced atmosphere has now been pushed into the flashing red-light danger zone of 391 parts per million of CO2 —41 ppm higher than the level required to maintain civilization as humans have known it. We are fast approaching the catastrophic tipping point of two degrees Celsius, and 450 ppm of CO2, in greenhouse gas pollution that will melt the polar icecaps and the frozen tundra, burn up the world’s forests, kill the oceans, and set off massive crop failures and other “natural” disasters. 
Our now terminal dilemma is that single-issue, activism-as-usual organizing, and a fragmented activist rainbow, will never be able to overthrow the Corporatocracy and resolve the most serious threat that humans have ever faced in our 100,000-200,000 year evolution: runaway global warming and climate meltdown. 
In other words, you and I and a billion others need to jot down more than just a New Year’s resolution. We need a New Year’s Revolution. We need a Main Street-to-the-Middle East Global Declaration of Interdependence. We need a 21st Century Green Manifesto to overthrow the Corporatocracy and dismantle the suicide economy, before it’s too late. 
And, of course, I don’t need to tell you the hour is late. We need to jump-start this revolution in consciousness, coalition building, and action now. This doesn’t mean we have to give up on all of our daily responsibilities and our primary passions. But it does mean that we must all, or at least a critical mass of us, immediately connect the dots between climate-friendly food, energy, transportation, media, public education, public policy, and politics. We must harmonize our discourse, broaden our alliances, and bring together the myriad currents of a U.S. and global movement for survival and revival into an unstoppable force. 
Starting today, not next year, we all have to become climate hawks and democracy activists, breaking corporate control over the marketplace and over our elections, media, and public policy. Starting today we must move together to save our climate, our civilization, and Mother Earth.
Ronnie Cummins
Ronnie Cummins is a veteran activist, author, and organizer. He is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica.;

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Take Action: Uphold Organic Integrity, Food Grown in Sewage Sludge, Gun Regulations Now!

Toxic Sludge Yuck KidOrganic Integrity is at Stake

The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) is proposing to delay compliance with National Organic Standard Board (NOSB) recommendations that disallow non-essential synthetic vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in organic. An interim rule advanced by NOP will permit the continued illegal use of these synthetic nutrients in organic foods, which was allowed by a previous administration without the legally required NOSB ruling. Let the USDA know that you do not want synthetic ingredients in you and your family’s organic food by clicking here and adding a comment.

Tell Whole Foods to Label Food Grown in Sewage Sludge

An educated shopper in North Carolina has uncovered Whole Foods Market’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on “conventional” produce that may or may not be grown in sewage sludge. People have a right to know if the food they are buying is grown in human excrement and industrial waste. Sludge has been shown to contain toxic substances and other contaminants such as flame retardants (a carcinogen), pharmaceutical residues, endocrine disruptors, phthalates, industrial solvents, metals, and much more. Let’s demand that Whole Foods institute a company-wide transparency policy about fruits and vegetables grown in sewage sludge.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Obama Administration Snubs Risks, Set to OK 'Frankenfish'Published on Saturday, December 22, 2012 by Common Dreams
'Obama Administration continues to push approval of this dangerous and unnecessary product'

- Common Dreams staff  

The US Food and Drug Administration said Friday that a genetically modified salmon that grows twice as fast as normal salmon is 'unlikely' to harm the environment, clearing the way for the first approval of a scientifically engineered animal for human consumption.

   A genetically engineered AquAdvantage Salmon (background) alongside an Atlantic salmon of the same age (foreground). (Photo/Reuters)The environmental assessment concludes that the frankenfish “will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States.” The regulators also said that the fish is unlikely to harm populations of natural salmon, a key concern for environmental activists.

The nonprofit Center for Food Safety sharply criticized the FDA’s assessment, calling the decision “premature and misguided.”

“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama Administration continues to push approval of this dangerous and unnecessary product. The GE salmon has no socially redeeming value; it’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment. FDA’s decision is premature and misguided.” executive director Andrew Kimbrell said in a statement.

“We need a robust regulatory system that puts environmental, human health, economic and animal welfare risks first,” said Kimbrell. “Putting a GE animal on the path to consumer use without proper safeguards and with no mandatory labeling requirement proves that the system FDA has in place gives us none of that.”

The FDA will take comments from the public on its report for 60 days before making it final.

If the salmon are eventually approved for sale, consumers may not even know they are eating them.The FDA said more than two years ago that the fish 'appears to be safe' to eat, but the agency had taken no public action since then. Executives for the company behind the fish, Aquabounty, speculated that the government was delaying action on their application due to push-back from groups who oppose genetically modified food animals.

Experts view the release of the environmental report as the final step before approval.

If FDA regulators clear the salmon, as expected, it would be the first genetically altered animal approved for food anywhere in the world.

Critics call the modified salmon a “frankenfish.” They worry that it could cause human allergies and the eventual decimation of the natural salmon population if it escapes and breeds in the wild. Others believe breeding engineered animals is an ethical issue.

Countries in the European Union have banned some genetically modified foods outright and instituted tight labeling requirements on foods that contain modified ingredients. Countries such as Russia, Japan and Peru also have instituted restrictions on genetically altered foods.

The New York Daily News reports:

If the salmon are eventually approved for sale, consumers may not even know they are eating them. According to federal guidelines, the fish would not be labeled as genetically modified if the agency decides it has the same material makeup as conventional salmon. AquaBounty says that genetically modified salmon have the same flavor, texture, color and odor as the conventional fish, and the FDA so far has not shown any signs of disagreeing.

Wenonah Hauter, director of the advocacy group Food and Water Watch, said forgoing labeling not only ignores consumers' rights to know what they are eating, but "is simply bad for business, as many will avoid purchasing any salmon for fear it is genetically engineered."

Hauter urged members of Congress to block the impending approval of the fish. Congressional opposition to the engineered fish has so far been led by members of the Alaska delegation, who see the modified salmon as a threat to the state's wild salmon industry.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Friday she is working to convince fellow senators that approval for the fish should be stopped.

"This is especially troubling as the agency is ignoring the opposition by salmon and fishing groups, as well as more than 300 environmental, consumer and health organizations," she said of the preliminary approval.

# # #  sOURCE:

Thursday, December 20, 2012


How Does the FDA Know What Is Safe to Eat or Buy If It Doesn't Define Safe?
December 19, 2012 in Health and the Environment

More than 90 percent of Americans carry residues of the chemical BPA in our bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control. We encounter the chemical through every day products such as plastic water bottles, canned food, and ATM receipts, and this steady exposure poses significant risks. Independent scientific studies show that BPA interferes with estrogen and alters the development of the brain, prostate, and breast tissue. The evidence is so strong that 11 states have begun to regulate BPA.

The Food and Drug Administration, however, has delayed taking action on BPA for more than five years—effectively leaving consumers to believe it is safe. Yet when public health organizations ask the agency to explain why it hasn’t protected Americans from this harmful chemical, the FDA stonewalls. NRDC recently had to sue the FDA just to make it comply with our Freedom of Information Act request for material on the agency’s BPA review.

It shouldn’t take a lawsuit for the public to find out what government officials think about health risks posed by consumer products. But as detailed in an exposé by Barry Estabrook in the latest edition of NRDC’s OnEarth Magazine, the agency repeatedly fails to protect Americans from known hazards. Not only does it discount the weight of scientific evidence on issues ranging from antibiotic use to raise livestock to mercury contamination in seafood. But it also has refuses to share how it determines something is free of harm.

How do we know if a product is safe to eat or put on our children’s skin or bring into our homes if the FDA won’t explain why it has given its stamp of approval?

The lack of transparency begins with the near absence of guidance documents. These documents lay out an agency’s policies for conducting tests and analyzing results. If officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, are trying to assess the safety of a chemical, they follow clearly defined steps to decide whether a chemical is a carcinogen or developmental toxin and what level is safe to have in our air and water. The EPA doesn’t always stick to its guidelines, but because they are publicly available, when scientific review identifies gaps the public can hold the agency accountable and say: “You didn’t follow your own safety protocol.”

That level of accountability is not possible with the FDA. The agency has some guidance documents, but they do not make them accessible on the website. Some FDA officials say they are reluctant to issue guidelines because it reduces their ability to be flexible and respond to new science. They prefer to handle health hazards on a case-by-case basis.

The trouble with this approach is it can turn safety into a moving target.

After every major oil spill, for instance, the FDA has set different and sometimes wildly divergent standards for how much oil-contaminant is safe in the seafood we eat. When the BP disaster sent roughly 170 million gallons into one of America’s most productive fisheries, the FDA issued standards that were much less protective than the ones it issued after the Exxon Valdez spill and allowed for more contamination.

This change wasn’t because of new research but because the agency decided, this time, that a greater amount of cancer risk was “acceptable.” In addition, the agency relied on outdated science for the risk assessment methods it used to calculate allowable levels of oil spill contaminants in Gulf seafood. As a result, the FDA set levels up to 10,000 times too high to protect the most vulnerable populations—including pregnant women, children, and local fishers who eat more seafood than average Americans—from increased cancer risk.

When the FDA does share the reasoning behind its safety determinations, it often reveals influence from industry. Years of research, for instance, have confirmed that BPA poses health hazards. The nation’s leading group of hormone experts, the Endocrine Society, has said the presence of BPA in food containers is a significant health risk, and the National Institute of Health is focusing its BPA research on low-dose exposures because even that may be harmful. The FDA has chosen to discount hundreds of independent low-dose studies. Instead, it spent years defending its refusal to ban BPA in food by citing studies funded by manufacturers of BPA but twice these proposals have been rejected by outside reviewers. More recently it started doing its own research while continuing to postpone any regulatory decisions.

“Corporations can have too much to say about how the FDA operates,” says former FDAscientist Renee Dufault in the OnEarth article. Dufault was ordered by the agency to stop investigating the presence of mercury in high-fructose corn syrup. "If an industry group has enough clout, the FDA is going to be deferential.”

Several years ago, a group of science advisors conducted an independent review of the agency. They concluded that “The FDA cannot fulfill its mission because its scientific base has eroded and its scientific organizational structure is weak.” This is not merely some bureaucratic matter. It is a matter of public health. The science advisors’ report said, “The nation is at risk if FDA science is at risk.”



Illegal imports of genetically engineered maize into the EU?SmartStax produces six different insecticides                         
20. December 2012

Munich/ Brussels 20 December 2012. Testbiotech has informed the new Commissioner Tonio Borg about its suspicions that the genetically engineered maize, SmartStax, has been imported into the EU for years without legal authorisation. It is a joint Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences product, which produces six insecticidal proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides. SmartStax was assessed by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA in 2010, but the results of the assessment were controversial and the maize was not authorised.

„SmartStax is grown in the US on millions of hectares of farmland. In the last few years, around one million tonnes of maize have been imported from the US into the EU. It is highly likely that large amounts of SmartStax were among these imports,” says Christoph Then for Testbiotech. “If US maize importers cannot show that their shipments are free of SmartStax, the shipments must be stopped.”

SmartStax was introduced into the US market in 2009. Since then imports of maize into the EU have been increasing. These imports are mainly used for animal feed. 800.000 tonnes of maize were imported into the EU in 2011. In 2012, the US has so far exported large quantities of its maize harvest despite a reduced yield in many regions due to a severe drought. The harvest from fields with SmartStax should be separated in the US to prevent it being exported to EU markets. However, there are no efficient controls in place since it is difficult to identify. SmartStax consists of several genetically engineered maize events, which are already authorised as single plants and can therefore be easily mistaken.

Seemingly, industry is relying upon the fact that illegal imports will escape the notice of the authorities. It is highly likely that large quantities of SmartStax have already entered the EU. This is because although the EU Commission did not authorise the plants, it equally took no measures to prevent it from being imported. There are thus sufficient grounds for suspecting that large amounts of the US maize imports violate current EU legislation.

SmartStax combines various insecticidal toxins that were originally produced only in soil bacteria. It is grown in the US because pest insects there have increasingly adapted to genetically engineered plants that produce just one single toxin. One of the six toxins in SmartStax (Cry1A105) is artificially synthesized from several bacterial proteins and does not have a true homology in nature. The EU requires that so-called stacked events produced by crossing genetically engineered plants can only be marketed if they have been authorised. They must be checked for risks arising from the interactivity of the various inserted DNA constructs in the plant cells.

SmartStax, however, was never fully investigated. For example, poultry was fed with the kernels for just 42 days to observe weight gain, and no results from feeding trials with kernels or plants to investigate health effects were forwarded to the authorities for the market application in EU. Testbiotech is demanding a new and comprehensive risk assessment of SmartStax and efficient measures to stop its import into the EU.

Christoph Then, Testbiotech, Tel +4915154638040,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Monsanto’s Roundup Devastating Gut Health, Contributing to Overgrowth of Deadly Bacteria  pesticidesprayfield 260x162 Monsantos Roundup Devastating Gut Health, Contributing to Overgrowth of Deadly Bacteria

December 17th, 2012 | Updated 12/17/2012 at 10:30 pm

Read more:

Much of the public forgets the gut when it comes to warding off the flu and other more threatening diseases, but the gut—and its army of beneficial bacteria—are essential in protecting us from harm. That’s why eating genetically modified and/or conventionally farmed food could be a direct assault on your own health. Most recently, research has shown that Monsanto’s herbicide, known as Roundup, is destroying gut health, threatening overall health of animals, people, and the planet significantly.

The journal Current Microbiology recently published a study that caught Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide’s active ingredient, glyphosate, suppressing beneficial bacteria in poultry specimens. Given that gut health is directly linked to chronic illnesses and overall health, this isn’t exactly welcome news for people who can’t always afford or who lack access to organic, locally grown food.

But it gets worse. While good bacteria died, highly pathogenic bacteria were unaffected by glyphosate. These pathogens include several strains of Salmonella and the class Colstridia, anaerobic bacteria known to be some of the deadliest known to us, including C. tetani (tetanus) and C. botulinum (botulin). Although botulin is used to ease overactive muscles and in Botox, America’s most popular cosmetic procedure, it takes but 75 billionths of a gram to kill someone weighing 75 kg (165 lbs).

“A reduction of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microiota by ingestion of glyphosate could disturb the normal gut bacterial community,” the authors of the study wrote. Glyphosate, they added, “could be a significant predisposing factor that is associated with the increase in Clostridia botulinum-mediated diseases by suppressing the antagonistic effect of these [good] bacteria on clostridia.”
Dangers of Pesticides

This is hardly the first time eyebrows have been raised over glyphosate. The toxic ingredient is also known for causing sterility in men, obesity, and Parkinson’s and related diseases, and not just in field workers of conventional farms but also in locals and animals that drink the groundwater polluted by such establishments.

Finally, the researchers also noted that glyphosate can cause bacteria to genetically mutate with chronic exposure. And the food we eat, the animals we eat, and we ourselves are already victims of chronic exposure, which is partially why concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are today known for being hotbeds of botulism and other pathogens. (Cattle in Ireland have already been victims of botulism thanks to contaminated poultry litter.)
Pesticides and Food Irradiation Not the Answer

To eradicate the problem of food contamination, the Food and Drug Administration recently loosened their grip on the conventional use of food irradiation, allowing now 1.5 Kilograys more than last month to dose poultry. One Kilogray, by the way, offers the same amount of radiation as 2,500,000 chest x-rays. Food radiation by itself is another hotly debated health dilemma and, frankly, a dead end.

That’s because food irradiation doesn’t solve the problem that glyphosate causes direct harm to workers, consumers, animals, and the planet—even the very soil we grow our food in that we find lacking in nutrients of late.

There are simple ways to avoid pesticides in food and overall exposure. Read our updated list of the dirty dozen foods you should always buy organic, plus 15 that are low in pesticide residue.
Read more:

Friday, December 14, 2012





Published on Friday, December 14, 2012 by The Progressive

Monsanto Gets Its Way in Ag Bill
by Jim Goodman

“The Farmers Assurance Provision” is the title of a rider, Section 733, inserted into the House of Representatives 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Somehow, as a farmer, I don't feel the least bit assured.

The only assurance it provides is that Monsanto and the rest of the agriculture biotech industry will have carte blanche to force the government to allow the planting of their biotech seeds.

In addition, the House Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill draft includes three riders – Sections 1011, 10013 and 10014. These amendments would essentially destroy any oversight of new Genetically Engineered (GE) crops by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

If these riders had been in place during the review of GE alfalfa, Monsanto could have requested – no they could have compelled – the Secretary of Agriculture to allow continued planting of GE alfalfa even though a federal court had ruled commercialization was illegal pending completion of an environmental impact study.

Essentially, the riders would prevent the federal courts from restricting, in any way, the planting of a GE crop, regardless of environmental, health or economic concerns. USDA's mandated review process would be, like court-ordered restrictions, meaningless. A request to USDA to allow planting of a GE crop awaiting approval would have to be granted.

Wow, who's next to get in on a deal like this, the drug companies?

Not only will the riders eviscerate the power of USDA and the authority of the courts, but it will also permanently dismiss any input from other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Fish and Wildlife Service or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Does Congress really believe it has the right to remove the court's power of Congressional oversight? Doesn't that violate the separation of powers guaranteed in the Constitution?

The trade group behind the riders, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), insists that the riders do not, in any way, reduce regulatory requirements for new GE crops. What? They only eliminate any oversight from the judicial branch – that’s sort of a big thing.

The approval process for new GE crops is not without its perceived delays. As limited as it may be, review takes time but getting new GE crops approved is a cakewalk.

The new GE crops are basically the old GE crops, just redesigned to resist different, more toxic herbicides while having become less effective at killing insect pests.

StarLink corn and Liberty Link rice slipped through the approval process only to have major contamination and health issues after commercialization. Once a crop is in the USDA pipeline, approval is a near certainty.

BIO insists the riders are necessary to avoid delays in approval. Of course, delays cost them MONEY, which is obviously all they are concerned about. If they were concerned about environmental impacts, or food safety, wouldn't they request input from EPA and FDA?

So, the “Farmer Assurance“ thing – using farmers as their poster children — is quite disingenuous. The biotech industry cares about farmers because farmers are their meal ticket.

Farmers are not stupid; we've learned that the promises of biotech were short lived at best and to various degrees, simply false. The new GE crops are basically the old GE crops, just redesigned to resist different, more toxic herbicides while having become less effective at killing insect pests.

No, the Farmer Assurance Provision and the Farm Bill riders – are not about farmers, nor are they about speeding needed crops to the waiting public. They’re about getting fast rubber stamp approval for new, profitable GE crops.

These riders are an effort to end run Congress, the Courts and the Constitution.

Corporate collusion with government is not new, but this takes it to a new level. By allowing corporations to subvert the Constitution, Congress is saying that corporate influence and profits are more important than the best interests of the people.

Corporations are not people, my friends, despite the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
© 2012 The Progressive

Jim Goodman and his wife Rebecca run a 45-cow organic dairy and direct market beef farm in southwest Wisconsin. His farming roots trace back to his great-grandfather's immigration from Ireland during the famine and the farm's original purchase in 1848. A farm activist, Jim credits more than 150 years of failed farm and social policy as his motivation to advocate for a farmer-controlled consumer-oriented food system. Jim currently serves on the policy advisory boards for the Center for Food Safety and the Organic Consumers Association, and is a board member of Midwest Environmental Advocates and of the Family Farm Defenders.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


How the Food Movement Is Gaining Strength
Posted: 12/12/2012 7:28 pm

Ocean Robbins

Author, Speaker,

How the Food Movement Is Gaining Strength
Posted: 12/12/2012 7:28 pm

More and more people are realizing that our food chain is in crisis. Agribusiness has made profits more important than your health -- more important than the environment -- and more important than your right to know how your food is produced.

The United States now spends nearly 20 percent of GDP on health care, but levels of obesity, diabetes and chronic illness are higher than ever.

Perhaps because so many people are suffering, beneath the surface, a revolution has been building.

From rural farms to urban dinner plates, from grocery store shelves to state ballot boxes, ever more people are finding their voices and taking action. If you believe in taking responsibility for your health, if you believe there is an important link between the quality of the food you eat and the quality of your life, you are part of this movement.

In the seven years after my dad and colleague, John Robbins, released the first edition of his landmark bestseller Diet for a New America in 1987, beef consumption in the United States dropped by 19 percent. The National Cattlemen's Association, not pleased, pointedly blamed Diet For A New America. Since then, beef consumption has continued to slowly drop, while organic food sales have increased over 26-fold, to now exceed four percent of market share.

This month marks the release of the 25th anniversary edition of Diet For A New America, and it couldn't come at a more opportune time. People are taking an increasing interest in the way that the animals raised for food are treated. In fact, a poll conducted by Lake Research partners found that 94 percent of Americans agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from cruelty. Nine U.S. states have now joined the entire European Union in banning gestational crates for pigs, and Australia's two largest supermarket chains now sell only cage-free eggs in their house brands.

The demand is growing for food that is organic, sustainable, fair trade, GMO-free, humane, and healthy. In cities around the world, we're seeing more and more farmer's markets (a nearly three-fold increase in the last decade), and more young people getting back into farming. Grocery stores (even big national chains) are displaying local, natural and organic foods with pride. The movements for healthy food are growing fast, and starting to become a political force.

Earlier this year, California voters put an initiative on the ballot that called would have mandated the labeling of food containing GMOs. Monsanto and their buddies in the pesticide and junk food business were forced to spend $46 million burying California's voters under an avalanche of deception in order to narrowly defeat California's Proposition 37 in the November election. Although they won the battle, more than six million California voters had come out in favor of the "right to know." It was clear that the natural foods movement was becoming a political force to be reckoned with.

Now organizers in 30 other states have begun building GMO labeling campaigns, and efforts to improve treatment of animals, to make factory farms pay for the pollution they produce, and to reform the food offered in school lunches are all gaining strength.

What You Can Do
Go to the movies. Eric Schlosser's Food, Inc., Drs. Caldwell Esslestyn and T. Colin Campbell'sForks Over Knives, and Jeffrey Smith's Genetic Roulette are some of the most popular and insightful films currently on the market.

Boycott the bad guys. Many people are choosing to boycott companies that oppose labeling of GMOs, that treat farm animals cruelly, or that profit from the sale of junk food. Other consumers are choosing to buy from the good guys. For example, the non-profit Non-GMO Project, which offers a third party certification program, has now verified 764 products, and had a record-shattering 189 new enrollment inquiries in October. You can also check out the farmer's marketnearest you.

Sign petitions for GMO labeling. Want to work for policy change? A team of organizations, led by Care2 and the Food Revolution Network, have launched a petition demanding that Congress label GMOs, and it has already generated more than 65,000 signatures. And last year's JustLabelIt petition to the FDA, which generated more than 1.3 million signatures, is being revived in hopes that the FDA might eventually dig itself out of Monsanto's back pocket.

Get politically engaged. For the passionate activist, there's always more you can do, like lobbying your member of Congress, your mayor, your governor, your local media outlets, or your relatives. You can also join the Humane Society's campaign for farm animal protection, or Farm Sanctuary's work for animal welfare legislation.

Get engaged and informed. For a directory of organizations working for healthy, sustainable and humane food, as well as free access to dozens of cutting edge articles and tools to help you make a difference, you can join the Food Revolution Network. Or check out the newly released 25th anniversary edition of Diet for a New America, the book that helped to launch the modern food movement.

Big agribusiness would probably like us all to sit alone in the dark, munching on highly processed, genetically engineered, chemical-laden, pesticide-contaminated pseudo-foods. But the tide of history is turning, and regardless of how much they spend attempting to maintain their hold on our food systems, more and more people are saying No to foods that lead to illness, and YES to foods that help us heal.

Ocean Robbins is founder and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 80,000 member Food Revolution Network, an initiative to help you heal your body, and your world... with food. Find out more and sign up here.



Members on the Title VII Farm Bill Committee, the section that contains subsidies and the Monsanto Rider (HR 733 that allows Monsanto immunity from Federal law).

Go down the list and CALL THEM ALL and Facebook  them too!!


Subcommittee Chairman Bob Casey, (215) 405-9660, (717) 231-7540

Patrick Leahy, (802) 863-2525, (202) 224-4242

Tom Harkin (319) 365-4504, (563) 322-1338, (202) 224-3254

Sherrod Brown (216) 522-7272, (202) 224-2315

Michael Bennet, 303-455-7600, 202-224-5852

Kirsten Gillibrand
(518) 431-0120, (202) 224-4451

Ranking Member - Dick Lugar, (317) 226-5555, (202) 224-4814

Thad Cochran, (601) 965-4459, (202) 224-5054

Mitch McConnell, (502) 582-6304, (202) 224-2541

Mike Johanns, (402) 758-8981, (402) 476-1400, (202) 224-4224

John Hoeven, 701-250-4618, 202-224-2551

Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
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Deadly Risk to Bees Ignored, Say British MPs  
Regulators ignored "data on the danger that one of the world's biggest selling pesticides could pose to bees and other pollinators," says committee chair

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Published on Thursday, December 13, 2012 by Common Dreams
(Photo: Beatrice Murch via flickr)

Regulators are ignoring evidence that the world's most used pesticide is killing bees and other insects, Members of Parliament in the UK say.

The Guardian's Damian Carrington reported Wednesday on findings from an inquiry by the Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that scrutinized the pesticide, and wrote that MPs are "accusing regulators of 'turning a blind eye' to the risk for bees."

The questions surround the Bayer-made imidacloprid, a systemic insecticide and neonicotinoid, a kind of pesticide that has been implicated in many studies to a decline in bees and other pollinators.

Carrington reports:

"European regulators seem to have turned a blind eye to data on the danger that one of the world's biggest selling pesticides could pose to bees and other pollinators," said Joan Walley MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC). "Evidence seen by the committee raises serious questions about the integrity, transparency and effectiveness of EU pesticides regulation. Data available in the regulators' own assessment report shows it could be 10 times more persistent in soils than the European safety limit." [...]

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which assesses the risks of pesticides accepted earlier in 2012 that current "simplistic" regulations contain "major weaknesses". But the UK government has failed to follow countries including France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia in suspending the use of some neonicotinoids, although it has accelerated its research on the issue. [...]

Even the National Farmers Union (NFU), which argues that there is no need for a change of approach to neonicitinoids, told MPs: "It is very well known that the current pesticide risk assessment systems for bees were not developed to assess systemic pesticides."

Soil Association, a UK group that campaigns for healthy food and farm systems and whoseKeep Britain Buzzing campaign is working to ban neonicitinoids, presented evidence to MPs at the inquiry in November. The group told the inquiry:
The UK Government is ignoring the strong and quickly growing body of scientific evidence which points to the damaging impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinating insects, including bumblebees and honey bees.
Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] has made commitments to put in place new research to explore further the impacts of neonicotinoids on bumblebees, and have acknowledged that the risks of pesticides to bees needs to be updated, but these plans ignore the weight of existing evidence, and will delay the action that the Government should take now.
Scientists have established that very, very small doses of neonicotinoids, well below what European governments consider a ‘safe’ level of toxic chemical, can disrupt bee behaviour in ways likely to contribute to the collapse in numbers of honeybees, bumble bees and other pollinating insects.
The European Food Standards Agency has admitted that neonicotinoid and other systemic insecticides have not been properly evaluated ever since their introduction and use of some neonicotinoids has been either banned or suspended in the USA, Germany and France. Italy banned neonicotinoid insecticide use on maize and this led to a halving of winter honey bees deaths over three years.
Banning neonicotinoid pesticides need not adversely affect farmers’ profits as Italian government research showed.
UK and EU pesticide safety testing is not of an acceptable standard. First, it relies not on science but on industry data, which is not subject to scientific peer-review and publication. Second, there is no requirement for companies to publish all the research they conduct, with the risk that cherry-picked, favourable studies are used to obtain regulatory approval. Third, no safety testing which looks at the impact of repeated, very low doses (below accepted ‘safe’ levels) of pesticide are required. Fourth, little or no research is done on the impact of likely combinations of pesticides (the cocktail effect) that insects like honey bees and other insects will actually encounter on farms.

Environmental group Buglife, which works for the conservation of all invertebrates, also offered testimony highlighting the dangers of inaction on neonicitinoids

"The use of these indiscriminate pesticides must be suspended before it is too late to halt the alarming decline in wild pollinators," said Buglife CEO Matt Shardlow. "Italy, Germany, France and Serbia are among the nations to have already suspended the use of these killers. It is time the Government realised that the public have no wish for the UK to be considered the dirty old man of Europe."

Despite the statements and studies outlining the risks of the accumulation of the pesticide in the soil to pollinators, environment minister Lord De Mauley's comments on Wednesday to the EAC offer little hope of change.

"The advice to government has been and remains that there are no unacceptable effects. If new work gives rise to a change in advice, we will take it," the Guardian reports De Mauley as saying. "At the moment, I am satisfied that [European regulatory system] is working properly."


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Groups challenge Monsanto attack on farmer for seed saving                        

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 22:03

Center for Food Safety, Save Our Seeds file Supreme Court brief testing Monsanto attack on farmer for seed saving

Case pitting corporations against farmers set to impact the future of seed patents

Center for Food Safety
10 Dec 2012

WASHINGTON, DC--Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Save our Seeds (SOS) -- two organizations dedicated to promoting safe, sustainable food and farming systems -- challenged the agrochemical giant Monsanto and its restrictive "seed saving" policies via a "friend of the court" brief filed in the forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, Bowman v. Monsanto.

The case involves Monsanto's prosecution of 75-year-old Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman for alleged patent infringement because he saved and replanted his soybean seeds rather than purchasing new seeds for planting.

Today's filing lays out a legal framework for why the Supreme Court should safeguard seeds as a public good, confirming the right of Bowman and all farmers to save seeds.

"Mr. Bowman's case represents a systemic crisis in U.S. agriculture," said CFS Executive Director, Andrew Kimbrell. "Through a patenting system that favors the rights of corporations over the rights of farmers and citizens, our food and farming system is being held hostage by a handful of companies. Nothing less than the future of food is at stake."

As the brief notes, farmers have saved their seed for millennia. However, comprehensive seed patent rights granted to a few large agrochemical corporations over the last few decades are destructive to farmers, agriculture as an industry, food security and consumer health and safety. The Bowman case represents the mounting trend of seed and agrochemical companies investigating and prosecuting farmers for alleged patent infringement.

The practice will be detailed in an upcoming CFS and SOS report slated for release in early 2013.

Reports by both groups show that today's patent and intellectual property (IP) rights systems have allowed for unprecedented consolidation of global seed supply. At present, four agrochemical companies own a full 43 percent of the world's commercial seed supply.

Further research shows even broader socio-economic consequences due to the IP regimes that have developed over the past few decades. These include skyrocketing seed prices, decreasing seed varieties and availability of seeds, and a constriction of seed research and development.

"What was formerly a free, renewable resource has now become a privatized commodity," said Debbie Barker, SOS program director. "Current patent regimes impact not only the historical fundamental right to save seeds, but, ultimately, the right and access to food."

The Supreme Court case Bowman v. Monsanto is slated to be heard sometime in early spring 2013.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Published on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 by Common Dreams

Watchdog Sues FDA For Information on Antibiotic Abuse in Cattle  -Physicians, scientists say practice leads to drug-resistant infections
- Beth Brogan, staff writer

The whistle-blower protection group Government Accountability Project on Wednesday sued the Federal Drug Administration to force the release of data on the long-documented use of antibiotics in food animals, which physicians, scientists and a long list of watchdog agencies argue is leading to antibiotic-resistant infections in humans.

Frozen blocks of beef. (Photograph: Keith Myers/Kansas City Star/MCT)The suit was reported by Mike McGraw ofThe Kansas City Star following a year-long investigation into the "multimillion-dollar-a-year pharmaceutical arms race in the beef industry [that] is not just about curing sick cows."

McGraw continues:

It’s also about fattening cattle cheaply and quickly, driven in part by efforts to maximize profits, according to food safety advocates. In fact, the same number of cattle today are producing twice as much meat as they did in the 1950s because of genetics, drugs and more efficient processing.

Despite decades of warnings, the federal government has failed to pass meaningful regulation of animal drug use, failed to adequately monitor the harmful residues they leave behind, and failed to stop the consumption of meat contaminated with such substances.

Leading up to to the suit, nearly 25,000 Americans sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg concerning the abuse of antibiotics in pigs, chicken, turkeys and cattle, "urging her to do a better job in helping to keep our precious antibiotics effective by asking for this critical information from Big Pharma, and making it public," the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy reports.

“How can we truly know the extent to which these drugs are causing harm if we can’t even access the information,” Amanda Hitt, director of the food integrity campaign at the Government Accountability Project, told the Star.

According a study (pdf) published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, following the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., 13 of 900 people suffered fungal and other infections from dirt and debris blown into wounds. Two children had highly antibiotic-resistant infections that drugs couldn't cure, and doctors said the overuse of antibiotics in livestock is to blame.

The Star reports:

According to the Pediatric Journal article, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in both children were linked to “agricultural antibiotic use, release of heavy metals, organic pollutants and spillage of fecal and pathogenic microorganisms.”

Since the 1950s, larger numbers of cattle have been confined to smaller plots of land to save money, breeding more disease. In an effort to stave off these effects, farmers regularly opt for a quick-fix by inundating their animals with high levels of antibiotics.

The animals' waste contaminates the soil with the drugs and, thus, the soil is overrun with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Each year, about 29 million pounds of antimicrobial drugs are used on cattle, pigs and poultry, The Star reports. It's "an intensive antibiotic regimen, even though the USDA reports that such practices contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans."

According to Food and Water Watch:

Antibiotic resistance has become a global problem. People get sicker from these infections, as it takes multiple rounds of increasingly stronger antibiotics to stop the infection, allowing the infection to progress further than it might otherwise. Fewer drug options can make it harder for doctors to treat patients with allergies and make it more likely for patients to require stronger drugs given intravenously.

But because the government won't reveal exactly how much of those drugs are used in cattle or other meat animals—it's a "trade secret," the Star reports—the Government Accountability Project sued for that information.

Opposition to antibiotic use in cattle has poured in from sources ranging from veterinarians to physicians, scientists and the World Health Organization. Even other cattle ranchers have stopped using antibiotics for growth promotion because, as rancher Bill Haw told The Star, "Given the problems, it's crazy to do so."

One legislator, Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D-NY), has advocated for legislation that would limit agricultural uses of seven antibiotics considered critical in humans, including penicillin. But the bill has never passed, because influential pharmaceutical and trade groups oppose it, arguing it “would ultimately harm animal welfare, animal health, food safety, and food security.”

Scientist Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, "They kick butt on (Capitol) Hill and they have blocked every single effort at oversight ... They would prefer that the public not know the quantities of antibiotics they are using and for what purposes, which is why they also oppose more data collection by the government."

Finally, in April, the FDA asked the beef industry for "voluntary" reductions in antibiotic use, and in August a court ordered the FDA to "stop dillydallying" and hold regulatory hearings about the use of drugs in livestock. The agency appealed the rulings.

Allen Williams, a former feedlot owner and cattle specialist at Mississippi State University, told The Star that the use of antibiotics is about the money.

“It’s pressure from pharmaceutical companies," he said. "They are making money . . . and they don’t want it to stop."

"Who’re the losers of FDA turning a blind eye?," asks Dr. David Wallinga at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. "You, me—virtually anyone who stands to suffer from ineffective antibiotics when they really need them. The winners, until now, have of course been Big Pharma. So long as no one questions how and where antibiotics get used in food production, they keep profiting from selling more of these precious drugs than they ought to."


Saturday, December 8, 2012


Anthony Gucciardi
by Anthony Gucciardi
December 7th, 2012 | Updated 12/07/2012 at 2:28 am
drozgarynull 260x162 Dr. Gary Null, Mike Adams, Organic Consumers, Others Speak Out Against Dr. Ozs Organic Food Lies Dr. Oz’s attack on informed individuals who choose to eat high quality organic foods free of genetically modified organisms and IQ-damaging pesticides has led to serious outcry over the past week. Many more health advocates are now joining independent journalists highlighting the many errors in Dr. Oz’s claims. This is great news as far as I’m concerned, having written my own piece detailing Dr. Oz’s lies regarding the consumption of GMOs and pesticides in conventional food.
Following the Time Magazine article piece in which Dr. Oz stated that GMO-laden conventional food is comparable to organic, full of nutritional value, and even that those that choose real organic food are ‘elitists’ and ‘snobs’, leading health experts have come out against the celebrity doctor’s claims. Groups like Organic Consumers Association, Mike Adams of NaturalNews, and Dr. Gary Null have spoken out publicly regarding Dr. Oz’s bogus claims.
Dr. Oz Facing Mass Response from Real Informed Consumers and Experts
Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Associated has authored a piece appearing on Alternet detailing how Dr. Oz, a man who has actually had shows which placed GMOs and pesticides in a negative light, has taken a card from politicians and flip-flopped on the issue. Whether due to the failure of Prop 37, a big financial incentive, or who knows what, Dr. Oz has effectively betrayed his informed fan base. The article is appropriately entitled ‘Dr. Oz Flip-Flops as High-Profile Attacks on Organic Food Intensify’.
The piece comes after Mike Adams addressed Dr. Oz’s attack on the day the article hit the news, in which Mike points out how Dr. Oz has sold out to Big Agriculture by siding with Monsanto and others. He also goes on to offer a possibility that I agree with, which is the likely possibility that Dr. Oz didn’t actually even author the article. Instead, he simply signed off on it — perhaps for a large financial incentive from a third party. The reasons for this are many, but the most important is the fact that the piece has too many similarities with recent organic assault pieces straight out of Time Magazine itself.
Outside of that, it’s very common for celebrities and major personalities to simply hire on a team of ghostwriters to generate stories for certain gigs. But even if Dr. Oz did not write the piece himself, he is still sticking up for it. On his Facebook page, Dr. Oz has tried many times to ‘set the record straight’ by literally repeating what was stated in his article. In the latest post he says that ‘critics’ of his post, which literally means those who are against GMOs and pesticides, just don’t seem to get it:
“Critics of the Time Magazine piece argue that my use of the phrase “food snob” (which describes me as well) undermines their fight to preserve the integrity of the American food supply.”
Immediately grouping everyone with informed opinions on food additives as ‘critics’ of Dr. Oz, Oz separates himself from millions of concerned consumers around the globe who were concerned with his organic food lies. Instead of apologizing, Dr. Oz continues to defend his statements.
And in case you’re doubting just how many people are fighting against GMOs (a number of which I am very grateful follow my work on a regular basis), you need to look no farther than Dr. Oz’s Facebook comments page. Over the past several days, the comments section has been almost 100% related to the Time piece. From demands for apology to accusations of being bought out by Monsanto, fans are not happy.
Dr. Oz’s loss of countless fans due to his organic food lies and failure to tell the truth about GMOs and other conventional food concerns shows how the element of truth works. Even if you’re a celebrity doctor with millions of fans, covering up information on such serious issues will not be forgotten. The new media, the alternative media, is entirely centered around exposing the truth in regards to topics that the mainstream media will not touch. Alternative media outlets make mistakes sometimes as we all do, but legitimate outlets push for truth. Dr. Oz appears to be pushing for the opposite.

Read more:

Friday, December 7, 2012


Seralini and Science: an Open Letter
October 2, 2012
(Authors listed below) (Traduction Francaise)        

A new paper by the French group of Gilles-Eric Seralini describes harmful effects on rats fed diets containing genetically modified maize (variety NK603), with and without the herbicide Roundup, as well as Roundup alone. This peer-reviewed study (Seralini et al., 2012), has been criticized by some scientists whose views have been widely reported in the popular press (Carmen, 2012; Mestel, 2012; Revkin, 2012; Worstall, 2012). Seralini et al. (2012) extends the work of other studies demonstrating toxicity and/or endocrine-based impacts of Roundup (Gaivão et al., 2012; Kelly et al., 2010; Paganelli et al., 2010; Romano et al., 2012), as reviewed by Antoniou et al. (2010).

The Seralini publication, and resultant media attention, raise the profile of fundamental challenges faced by science in a world increasingly dominated by corporate influence. These challenges are important for all of science but are rarely discussed in scientific venues.


1) History of Attacks on Risk-finding Studies. Seralini and colleagues are just the latest in a series of researchers whose findings have triggered orchestrated campaigns of harassment. Examples from just the last few years include Ignacio Chapela, a then untenured Assistant Professor at Berkeley, whose paper on GM contamination of maize in Mexico (Quist and Chapela, 2001) sparked an intensive internet-based campaign to discredit him. This campaign was reportedly masterminded by the Bivings Group, a public relations firm specializing in viral marketing – and frequently hired by Monsanto (Delborne, 2008).

The distinguished career of biochemist Arpad Pusztai, came to an effective end when he attempted to report his contradictory findings on GM potatoes (Ewen and Pusztai, 1999a). Everything from a gag order, forced retirement, seizure of data, and harassment by the British Royal Society were used to forestall his continued research (Ewen and Pusztai, 1999b; Laidlaw, 2003). Even threats of physical violence have been used, most recently against Andres Carrasco, Professor of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires, whose research (Paganelli et al. 2010) identified health risks from glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup (Amnesty International, 2010).

It was no surprise therefore, that when in 2009, 26 corn entomologists took the unprecedented step of writing directly to the US EPA to complain about industry control of access to GM crops for research, the letter was sent anonymously (Pollack, 2009).

2) The Role of the Science Media. An important but often unnoticed aspect of this intimidation is that it frequently occurs in concert with the science media (Ermakova, 2007; Heinemann and Traavik, 2007; Latham and Wilson, 2007). Reporting of the Seralini paper in arguably the most prestigious segments of the science media: Science, the New York Times, New Scientist, and the Washington Post uniformly failed to “balance” criticism of the research, with even minimal coverage of support for the Seralini paper (Carmen, 2012; Enserink, 2012; MacKenzie, 2012; Pollack, 2012). Nevertheless, less well-resourced media outlets, such as the UK Daily Mail appeared to have no trouble finding a positive scientific opinion on the same study (Poulter, 2012).

3) Misleading Media Reporting. A key pattern with risk-finding studies is that the criticisms voiced in the media are often red herrings, misleading, or untruthful. Thus, the use of common methodologies was portrayed as indicative of shoddy science when used by Seralini et al. (2012) but not when used by industry (see refs above and Science Media Centre, 2012). The use of red herring arguments appears intended to sow doubt and confusion among non-experts. For example, Tom Sanders of Kings College, London was quoted as saying: “This strain of rat is very prone to mammary tumors particularly when food intake is not restricted” (Hirschler and Kelland, 2012 ). He failed to point out, or was unaware, that most industry feeding studies have used Sprague-Dawley rats (e.g. Hammond et al., 1996, 2004, 2006; MacKenzie et al., 2007). In these and other industry studies (e.g. Malley et al. 2007), feed intake was unrestricted. Sanders’ comments are important because they were widely quoted and because they were part of an orchestrated response to the Seralini study by the Science Media Centre of the British Royal Institution. The Science Media Centre has a long history of quelling GMO controversies and its funders include numerous companies that produce GMOs and pesticides.

4) Regulator Culpability. In our view a large part of the ultimate fault for this controversy lies with regulators. Regulators, such as EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority) in Europe and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US, have enshrined protocols with little or no potential to detect adverse consequences of GMOs (Schubert, 2002; Freese and Schubert, 2004; Pelletier, 2005).

GMOs are required to undergo few experiments, few endpoints are examined, and tests are solely conducted by the applicant or their agents. Moreover, current regulatory protocols are simplistic and assumptions-based (RSC, 2001), which by design, will miss most gene expression changes – apart from the target trait - induced by the process of transgene insertion (Heinemann et al., 2011; Schubert, 2002).

Puzstai (2001) and others have consequently argued that well-conducted feeding trials are one of the best ways of detecting such unpredictable changes. Yet feeding trials are not mandatory for regulatory approval, and the scientific credibility of those which have been published to date has been challenged (Domingo, 2007; Pusztai et al., 2003; Spiroux de Vendômois et al., 2009). For example, Snell et al. (2012), who assessed the quality of 12 long term (>96 days) and 12 multigenerational studies, concluded: “The studies reviewed here are often linked to an inadequate experimental design that has detrimental effects on statistical analysis…the major insufficiencies not only include lack of use of near isogenic lines but also statistical power underestimation [and], absence of repetitions…”.

Apparently, the same issues of experimental design and analysis raised about this (Seralini) risk-finding study were not of concern to critics when the studies did not identify risk, resulting in ill-informed decision-makers. In the end, it is a major problem for science and society when current regulatory protocols approve GMO crops based on little to no useful data upon which to assess safety.

5) Science and Politics. Governments have become habituated to using science as a political football. For example, in a study conducted by the Royal Society of Canada at the request of the Canadian government, numerous weaknesses of GM regulation in Canada were identified (RSC, 2001). The failure of the Canadian government to meaningfully respond to the many recommended changes was detailed by Andree (2006). Similarly, the expert recommendations of the international IAASTD report, produced by 400 researchers over 6 years, that GMOs are unsuited to the task of advancing global agriculture have been resolutely ignored by policymakers. Thus, while proclaiming evidence-based decision-making, governments frequently use science solely when it suits them.

6) Conclusion: When those with a vested interest attempt to sow unreasonable doubt around inconvenient results, or when governments exploit political opportunities by picking and choosing from scientific evidence, they jeopardize public confidence in scientific methods and institutions, and also put their own citizenry at risk. Safety testing, science-based regulation, and the scientific process itself, depend crucially on widespread trust in a body of scientists devoted to the public interest and professional integrity. If instead, the starting point of a scientific product assessment is an approval process rigged in favour of the applicant, backed up by systematic suppression of independent scientists working in the public interest, then there can never be an honest, rational or scientific debate.

The Authors: Susan Bardocz (4, Arato Street, Budapest, 1121 Hungary); Ann Clark (University of Guelph, ret.);Stanley Ewen (Consultant Histopathologist, Grampian University Hospital); Michael Hansen (Consumers Union); Jack Heinemann (University of Canterbury); Jonathan Latham (The Bioscience Resource Project); Arpad Pusztai (4, Arato Street, Budapest, 1121 Hungary); David Schubert (The Salk Institute); Allison Wilson (The Bioscience Resource Project)

Signatories: Brian Wynne (Professor of Science Studies, UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, Cesagen, Lancaster University); Irina Ermakova, Dr of Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences; Jo Cummins (Professor Emeritus University of Western Ontario); Michael Antoniou, (Reader in Molecular Genetics; his university (King’s College, London) has a policy not to allow Dr Antoniou to use his affiliation here); Philip L. Bereano (Professor Emeritus University of Washington & Washington Biotechnology Action Council); Dr P M Bhargava (Former and Founder Director, Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology, Government of India); Carlo Leifert (Professor for Ecological Agriculture Newcastle University); Peter Romilly (formerly University of Abertay, Dundee); Robert Vint (FRSA); Dr Brian John (Durham University, UK, retired); Professor C. Vyvyan Howard, University of Ulster); Diederick Sprangers (Genethics Foundation); Mariam Mayet (African Centre for Biosafety, South Africa); Eva Novotny (ret. University of Cambridge); Ineke Buskens (Research for the Future); Hector Valenzuela (Professor, University of Hawaii); Ronald Nigh, (Centro de Investigaciones y Estudio Superiores en Antropología Social, Chiapas, Mexico); Marcia Ishii-Eiteman (PhD, Senior Scientist, Pesticide Action Network North America); Naomi Salmon (Dept. of Law, Aberystwyth University, Wales); Michael W, Fox (Minnesota, Veterinarian & Bioethicist, PhD, MRCVS); Neil J. Carman (PhD Sierra Club); Vandana Shiva (India); Hans Herren (President, Millennium Institute, Washington DC, USA); John Fagan (PhD Earth Open Source, UK and USA); Sheila Berry and the Global Environmental Trust; Av Singh (PhD, Perennia); Laurel Hopwood (for the Sierra Club, USA); Philip H. Howard (Associate Professor of Community, Food and Agriculture, Michigan State University); Donald B. Clark (on behalf of Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice and Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility, United Church of Christ, Pleasant Hill, TN); Robert Mann (Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry & in Environmental Studies (rtd) University of Auckland, NZ); Chris Williams (PhD, FRSA, University of London); Mae-Wan Ho (PhD Director Institute of Science in Society); Peter Saunders (Prof. Emeritus of Applied Mathematics, King’s College London); Dr. Terje Traavik (Prof. Gene Ecology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsö); Oscar B. Zamora (Prof. Crop Science University of the Philippines Los Banos College, Philippines); Adrian Gibbs (Prof. (ret.) Canberra, Australia); Christian Vélot (Senior Lecturer in Molecular Genetics, University Paris-Sud, France); André Cicolella (Scientific adviser INERIS (National Institute of Industrial Environment and Risk) France); Maurizio Pea (Bussolengo General Hospital and University of Verona, Italy) Xiulin Gu (PhD, Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, P.R.China); Brigitta Kurenbach (PhD,University of Canterbury, NZ); Elena Alvarez-Buylla (Instituto de Ecología, CU, Coyoacán, México); Elizabeth Cullen (MB, Ph.D, MD and environmental scientist); Claudia Chaufan, MD, PhD (University of California San Francisco); Marijan Jost (Prof., Croatia); Manuel Ruiz Perez (Dpto. Ecologia, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid-Spain); Rubens Onofre Nodari (Full Professor, Federal University of Santa Catarina Florianópolis, Brazil); Judy Carman (Institute of Health and Environmental Research Inc., Kensington Park, Australia); Florianne Koechlin PhD (Blueridge Institute, Switzerland); Richard Lasker (for Brabant Research, Inc., BioInformatix, Inc., Puget Environmental Group, Inc.); Anita Idel (Dr. med. vet. Mediatorin (MAB) Germany); J.R. Olarieta (PhD, Lecturer in Soil Science, Universitat de Lleida); Svein Anders Noer Lie Associate Prof. University of Tromsoe, Norway); Cathey Falvo, MD, MPH [(retired)Prof & chair, international public health, New York Medical College, NY); Thomas Bøhn (GenØk - Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway); Jiang Gaoming, PhD, Professor of Institute of Botany, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China); Prof. Enrique Ortega (FEA/Unicamp, Brazil); Gregory Möller (Prof. Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology, The University of Idaho-Washington State University, USA); Dr Paulo Roberto Matins, Coordinator of the Brazilian Research Network in Nanotechnology, Society and Environment); Paulo Cezar Mendes Ramos (PhD ICMBio - Chico Mendes Biodiversity Conservation Institute, Brazil); Henry Kuska (PhD ret. Associate Professor, Depart. of Chemistry, University of Akron, USA); Philipe Baret (Université de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium); Marco Tulio da Silva Ferreira (MSc, UFMG, Brazil); Facundo Martín Phd (Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, CONICET, Argentina); Jacinta Palerm (Colegio de Postgraduados, Mexico); Dr Maarten Stapper (BioLogic AgFood); Sergio dC Rubin, (Latin Research Center, Bolivian Center of BioScience Research); Dr. Jalcione Almeida (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brasil); Jaime Breilh, Md. MSc. PhD (Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Quito, Ecuador); Raquel Maria Rigotto (Profa. Departamento de Saúde Comunitária, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Brasil); John J. Moore, S.J. (D.Sc. ret. Professor of Botany UCD, Dublin and UNZA, Lusaka); Gualter Barbas Baptista (Researcher in Ecological Economics and Political Ecology, Portugal); Prof. José Carlos de Araújo (Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil); Ligia Regina Franco Sansigolo Kerr (Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, Brasil); Silvana Suaiden (Professora da PUC-Campinas, Brazil); Prof. Florence Piron (Université Laval, Québec, Canada); Luigi D'Andrea, Biologist, PhD (Biome, Switzerland); Dra. Maria do Céu de Lima (Professora Associada LEAT UFC, Brazil); Tim LaSalle, PhD, (Professor of dairy science,ret., RSA); Profa. Dra. Cecilia Campello do Amaral Mello, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil); Randy Wayne (Assoc. Professor, Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University, USA); Pr Marcello Buiatti (University of Florence, Italy); Kathya Orrico, PhD, (Brazil); Gabriel Silva Campos (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Espana); Prof. Dr. Andres E. Carrasco MD (Institute of Cell Biology and Neurosciences, School of Medicine Univ. of Buenos Aires, Argentina); Profa Dra. Valéria Cristina Lopes Wilke (Diretora da Faculdade de Filosofia, Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro - UNIRIO, Brazil);Profa Simone Benedet Fontoura (Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Amazonas, Campus Manaus Zona Leste, Brazil); Prof. Dr. Mauricio Chiarello (Ribeirão Preto - SP, Brazil); Prof. David O. Born (Professor, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, USA); Isabelle Goldringer (directrice de recherche INRA, UMR de Génétique Végétale, Université Paris-Sud, France); Rueidi Bastos (EMBRAPA, Brazil); Dr Stuart Parkinson (Executive Director, Scientists for Global Responsibility); Jean-Pierre Berlan (Directeur de Recherche INRA (retired)); Marciano Silva (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil); Dr Ulrich Loening (ex-Director of the Centre for Human Ecology, University of Edinburgh); Flávio Fabrini, PhD; Yara Paulina Cerpa Aranda (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul - Brasil); Thomas Heams (Assistant Professor, AgroParisTech and INRA, France); Donald R. Davis, Ph.D. (Biochemical Institute, The University of Texas, Austin, USA); Pierre M. Stassart (Associate Professor, Université de Liège, Belgium); Rosemary Mason (MB ChB FRCA); Dott. Ernesto Burgio (President of ISDE Scientific Committee, Italy); Dr. Narciso Barrera-Bassols (Investigador Nacional SNI II, Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad (UCCS), México); Jacques Hallard (Ing. CNAM, France); Jérôme Enjalbert (INRA, FRANCE); Rupa Patel, MD,FCFP (Queens University, Canada); Carlos Sonnenschein MD (Tufts University School of Medicine, USA); Bruno Gasparini (Coordenador do Curso de Direito do Instituto Superior do Litoral do Paraná, Paranaguá - Paraguay); Rod Toms (Ret. Lecturer in Biological Sciences Cornwall College); Cristine Carole Muggler (Associate Professor, Soil Science Department, Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil); Valério Pillar (Professor Titular, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil); David Quist (Senior Scientist, Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway); Emilia Wanda Rutkowski, University of Campinas, Brasil); Raoni Japiassu Merisse (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade - ICMBio, Brazil); Marc Mathieu (Research scientist, Inserm, France); Prof. Jorge A Quillfeldt (Biophysics Dept, IB / UFRGS, Brazil); Adelheid Kresse, PhD (Medical University Graz, Austria); Paul Connett, PhD (Prof. Emeritus of Chemistry, Director, American Environmental Health Studies Project, USA); Thomas Kesteman, MD, MPH (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium/Université Aix-Marseille II, France/Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, Madagascar); Juan Carlos Martínez García, PhD (Professor, Advanced Studies and Research Center of the National Polytechnic Institut of Mexico -Cinvestav/IPN-, México); Benjamin Bathfield, (PhD student at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Mexico); Jan Diek van Mansvelt, (ret. Wageningen University (NL) and Timirazev University (Moscow, Russia); Anna Milena Zivian, Ph.D (Ocean Conservancy); Dr. Peter Weish (Institut für Zoologie der Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien, Austria); Prof. Fábio Kessler Dal Soglio (Faculdade de Agronomia - UFRGS; Porto Alegre, Brasil); Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir (Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland); Harald Sverdrup (Professor of Chemical Engineering, Lund University, Sweden).

and if you are a scientist or academic and would like your name added to this list, please email: isneditor (at) and write 'Seralini letter' in the headline, providing an affiliation if you wish.


(1) In addition, US scientists who publish studies finding adverse environmental effects are frequently vehemently attacked by other pro-GM scientists. As a report in Nature, which discusses numerous examples, points out, "Papers suggesting that biotech crops might harm the environment attract a hail of abuse from other scientists. Behind the attacks are scientists who are determined to prevent papers they deem to have scientific flaws from influencing policy-makers. When a paper comes out in which they see problems, they react quickly, criticize the work in public forums, write rebuttal letters, and send them to policy-makers, funding agencies and journal editors" (pg. 27 inWaltz. 2009a. Indeed, when one of us wrote a Commentary in Nature Biotechnology ten years ago suggesting that more attention needs to be paid to the potential unintended effects associated with insertional mutagenesis, we received a flood of responses, and an administrator at the Salk Institute even said that the publication "was jeopardizing funding for his institution" (see Waltz, 2009a). Similar attacks have greeted studies on adverse effects of Bt toxins on ladybird beetles and green lacewing larvae, which were used by German authorities to ban cultivation of Mon810, a Bt corn variety (see: Hilbeck et al. 2012a,b , respectively). In 2009, a group of 26 public sector corn entomologists sent a letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency which stated "No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions involving these crops [because of company-imposed restrictions]” (pg. 880 in Waltz, 2009b; it was no surprise that the letter was sent anonymously as the scientists feared retribution from the companies that funded their work (Pollack, 2009). Furthermore, industry control over what research can be conducted in the US means that adverse findings can effectively be suppressed. In one example cited in the article, Pioneer was developing a binary Bt toxin, Cry34Ab1/Cry35Ab1, against the corn rootworm. In 2001, Pioneer contracted with some university laboratories to test for unintended effects on a lady beetle. The laboratories found that 100% of the lady beetles died after eight days of feeding. Pioneer forbade the researchers from publicizing the data. Two years later Pioneer received approval for a Bt corn variety with Cry34Ab1/Cry35Ab1 and submitted studies showing that lady beetles fed the toxin for only 7 days were not harmed. The scientists were not allowed to redo the study after the crop was commercialized (Waltz, 2009b). In another example, Dow AgroSciences threatened a researcher with legal action if he published information he had received from US EPA. As the article notes, “The information concerned an insect-resistant variety of maize known as TC1507, made by Dow and Pioneer. The companies suspended sales of TC1507 in Puerto Rico after discovering in 2006 that an armyworm had developed resistance to it. Tabashnik was able to review the report the companies filed with the EPA by submitting a Freedom of Information Act request. “I encouraged an employee of the company [Dow] to publish the data and mentioned that, alternatively, I could cite the data,” says Tabashnik. “He told me that if I cited the information…I would be subject to legal action by the company,” he says. “These kinds of statements are chilling” (pg. 882 in Waltz, 2009b).


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