Saturday, January 5, 2013


86260863Leading Environmental Activist’s Blunt Confession: I Was Completely Wrong To Oppose GMOs    
 | Posted Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, at 2:27 PM ET  

Anti-Monsanto activists in Germany in 2009  Photo by NIGELTREBLIN/AFP/Getty Images
If you fear genetically modified food, you may have Mark Lynas to thank. By his own reckoning, British environmentalist helped spur the anti-GMO movement in the mid-‘90s, arguing as recently at 2008 that big corporations’ selfish greed would threaten the health of both people and the Earth. Thanks to the efforts of Lynas and people like him, governments around the world—especially in Western Europe, Asia, and Africa—have hobbled GM research, and NGOs like Greenpeace have spurned donations of genetically modified foods.
But Lynas has changed his mind—and he’s not being quiet about it. On Thursday at the Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas delivered a blunt address: He got GMOs wrong. According to the version of his remarks posted online (as yet, there’s no video or transcript of the actual delivery), he opened with a bang:
I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.
As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.
So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.
His honest assessment of his heretofore poor understanding of the issue continues for almost 5,000 words—and it’s a must-read for anyone who has ever hesitated over conventional produce. To vilify GMOs is to be as anti-science as climate-change deniers, he says. To feed a growing world population (with an exploding middle class demanding more and better-quality food), we must take advantage of all the technology available to us, including GMOs. To insist on “natural” agriculture and livestock is to doom people to starvation, and there’s no logical reason to prefer the old ways, either. Moreover, the reason why big companies dominate the industry is that anti-GMO activists and policymakers have made it too difficult for small startups to enter the field.
 “In the history of #environmentalism, has there ever been a bigger mea culpa than that given here?” Discover blogger Keith Kloor tweeted. (Kloor recently called GMO foes “the climate skeptics of the left” in Slate.)
I can’t think of another environmentalist. But it does call to mind another turnabout. In 2002, medical writer Arthur Allen penned a New York Times Magazine story titled “The Not-So-Crackpot Autism Theory.” The piece suggested there might indeed be a link between autism and vaccination, and its publication in an outlet so mainstream as the New York Times gave the previously fringe theory more credibility. But soon after the article’s publication, more and more published research effectively confirmed that there is no link. Allen took that research seriously. A 2009 Times article about the book Autism’s False Prophets said of Allen: “He later changed his mind and now ‘feels bad’ about the [magazine] article, he said, ‘because it helped get these people into the field who did a lot of damage.’ ”  
 He began writing extensively about the dangers of anti-vaccine activism—including Slatepieces arguing that thimerosal is safecriticizing Oprah for promoting the dingbat Jenny McCarthy, and decrying dangerous autism “treatments” purported to reverse “vaccine damage” that never really happened. He wrote a bookVaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, that examined the fears and misconceptions surrounding vaccination.
To admit that you got something wrong—whether for almost two decades, like Lynas did, or in a single but influential article, like Allen did—is terrifying. It is also the mark of intellectual rigor.
Lynas concludes that people who want to stick with organic are entitled to—but they should not stand in the way of others who would use science to find more efficient ways to feed billions. “[T]he  GM debate is over. It is finished. We no longer need to discuss whether or not it is safe. … You are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM food,” he says.
Now the question is, will his former anti-GMO fellows heed his urge to review the science—or will they call him a turncoat shill for Monsanto?


Initiative to require labeling GMO food to be submitted    
The Seattle Times

A legislative initiative similar to a ballot measure defeated in California in November calls for foods that have genetically modified content to be labeled.

By Melissa Allison
Seattle Times business reporter
Originally published  January 2, 2013 at 5:38 PM | Page modified January 4, 2013 at 2:23 PM

A legislative initiative that would require food companies to label products containing genetically modified organisms is set to be filed Thursday with the Secretary of State's office in Olympia.

A similar measure was defeated by California voters last fall in a battle that pitted big and small businesses against each other. Monsanto, Nestle, Hershey and others raised $46 against organic food companies and other groups, which raised $9.2 million.

The big businesses argued that labeling would raise food prices and hurt farmers. Proponents of the measure said big business won by spreading disinformation (, including saying in the California Official Voter Information Guide that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics considers biotech foods to be safe.

The academy repudiated that claim on its website,, saying it had no position on the California measure. "Here we go, Round 2," said the Washington initiative's sponsor, Chris McManus, who owns a small advertising firm in Tacoma. "They got us the first time in Cali, but we're stitched up, greased up and ready to go."

People who want to label foods with GMOs say the products raise health concerns, in part because the inserted DNA sometimes comes from animals, bacteria and viruses, not plants. They also are concerned that GMO plants can cross-pollinate onto non-GMO farms, creating crops that are genetically modified even though farmers may not want them to be and may have trouble marketing them.

McManus told the Secretary of State's Elections Division staff that he plans to submit about 340,000 signatures at his 1 p.m. appointment Thursday. That comes right after Tim Eyman's appointment to file signatures for a legislative initiative that would tweak the initiative procedure itself by, among other things, adding six months for signature gathering and setting penalties for interfering with or retaliating against signature-gatherers and petition-signers.

At least 241,153 valid signatures must be submitted for an initiative to be certified. The Secretary of State's office expects to have a decision by the end of the month about whether the GMO labeling initiative has enough valid signatures to be certified.

Unlike voter initiatives, legislative initiatives go first to the Legislature, which can enact, reject or modify them. They typically do not enact them directly.
Modified initiatives are sent to the ballot in two forms, the original and the legislature's alternative.

The campaign for the GMO labeling initiative raised almost $324,000 to help gather signatures, including roughly $100,000 from Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or On Twitter @AllisonSeattle


Family Farmers to Travel to Washington, D.C....Family Farmers to Travel to Washington, D.C. to Take on Monsanto        Diana Reeves            

Farmers to Attend January 10th US Court of Appeals Oral Argument in Appeal of Dismissal OSGATA et al v. Monsanto; 10am Citizen's Assembly for Family
WASHINGTON, D.C. - January 4, 2013 - Dozens of family farmers, Plaintiffs in the landmark lawsuit Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto,will travel from across America to Washington, D.C. next week to take on Monsanto and demand the right to farm. They will attend the January 10th Oral Argument in the Appeal of Dismissal to be aired before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A Citizen's Assembly in support of family farmers at 10am in Lafayette Square will coincide with the beginning of the Oral Argument inside the court room.

"Our farmers want nothing to do with Monsanto," declared Maine certified organic seed farmer, Jim Gerritsen, President of lead Plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. "We are not customers of Monsanto. We don't want their seed. We don't want their gene-spliced technology. We don't want their trespass onto our farms. We don't want their contamination of our crops. We don't want to have to defend ourselves from aggressive assertions of patent infringement because Monsanto refuses to keep their pollution on their side of the fence. We want justice."

Many farmers have been forced to stop growing certain crops to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits from Monsanto. This case challenges the validity of Monsanto's genetically engineered seed patents and seeks Court protection for family farmers who, through no fault of their own, may have become contaminated by Monsanto's patented seed and find themselves accused of patent infringement.

Monsanto filed 144 lawsuits against America's family farmers and settled another 700 out of court between 1997 and 2010. These aggressive lawsuits have created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

"The District Court erred when it denied the organic seed plaintiffs the right to seek protection from Monsanto's patents," said attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit Public Patent Foundation "At the oral argument on January 10, we will explain to the Court of Appeals the District Court's errors and why the case should be reinstated."

A Citizen's Assembly In Support of Family Farmers is scheduled for 10am in Lafayette Square on Thursday, January 10. Family farmers, their lawyers, and supporters will join after the hearing to explain why they traveled thousands of miles to protect their farms and communities.

"Farmers have planted and saved seeds for more than 10,000 years without interruption until Monsanto's genetically engineered seeds entered the market in 1996. Almost immediately Monsanto began a campaign of harassment against America's farmers, trespassing on their land and launching frivolous patent infringement lawsuits," said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!. "It's time to end Monsanto's campaign of fear against America's farmers and stand up for farmers' right to grow our food without legal threats and intimidation."

The lawsuit was originally filed in March 2011 by a large group of 83 Plaintiffs, which included individual family farmers, independent seed companies and farm organizations, whose memberships total over 300,000 individuals. The case was dismissed in February 2012 by Federal Judge Naomi Buchwald who ruled that the farmers lacked standing.

Lawyers from the Public Patent Foundation representing the farmers have identified numerous reversible legal and factual errors committed by the judge, which they assert caused her to mistakenly dismiss the case and have filed a powerful appeal brief with the court. Amici briefs in support of the Plaintiffs have been filed by a group of eleven prominent law professors and by a group of fourteen non-profit agricultural and consumer organizations.
OSGATA has established a Farmer Travel Fund to provide travel assistance to Plaintiff farmers for the case. Donations can be made here.

Complete background on the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit is available here.
About OSGATA: The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association is a not-for-profit agricultural organization made up of organic farmers, seed growers, seed businesses and supporters. OSGATA is committed to developing and protecting organic seed and it's growers in order to ensure the organic community has access to excellent quality organic seed free of contaminants and adapted to the diverse needs of local organic agriculture.

# # #
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association-OSGATA

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) is a national non-profit organization commit...


Honolulu, Hawaii, Please join us as we join our voices in an effort to take back our government from the control of the corporations.

We will do more than grumble and talk...we will march and rally and organize our voice into one...THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE!!!

Participate and share this with others. This will be a great event! Walter Ritte

Friday, January 4, 2013


newmexicogmolabeling 265x165 Next Prop 37? New Mexico Law Calls for Mandatory Labeling of GMOsNext Prop 37? New Mexico Law Calls for Mandatory Labeling of GMOs

Anthony Gucciardi
Is this the next Prop 37, complete with a forthcoming wave of successful activism and education from concerned consumers? Unfortunately we know that Prop 37 failed due to not only irrefutable deception and lies from the Monsanto-funded ‘No on 37′ campaign, but also seriously questionable vote counting. What did succeed, however, is mounting awareness over the dangers of GMOs and the subsequent need for labeling.
This awareness has triggered New Mexico lawmakers to introduce legislation that actually calls for the mandatory labeling of GMOs within the state. In essence, it’s the next Prop 37 — and it’s influence is very much the same. It’s also a second chance for health activists worldwide to start the proverbial fire that will ignite similar legislation around the nation and eventually the world.
The New Mexico bill, which was introduced by State Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), goes into debate this year and will likely be hit (in a similar manner to Prop 37) with a ton of corporate-backed roadblocks. Nevertheless, it’s statistically what the consumers want. Over 90 percent of United States citizens have repeatedly voiced their support of GMO labeling legislation. And that’s using very conservative figures; many show 96% or higher.
Now I don’t agree with everything Senator Wirth does, but this bill is definitely a step in the right direction. And as he puts it, it’s blatantly simple. It’s really not challenging to add an additional notification to consumers that products contain genetically altered ingredients — ingredients that have been linked to everything from infertility to tumors. In fact, it’s beyond absurd that these indicators do not exist. Of course Monsanto and other mega corps profiting on this fact simply do not want you to know what you’re eating.
In a statement reported by RT, Wirth explains:
“The premise of this amendment is simple – New Mexicans deserve the right to know what’s in the food they are eating and feeding to their families.”
The issue is that a precedent was set with the multi-million dollar squelching of Prop 37, an achievement that Monsanto and fellow goons put as one of their greatest. With Prop 37 being crushed by deception, it makes approving this legislation harder. Because in the eyes of some legislators (besides those paid off by corporations who profit from GMOs) it has already been tried.
Major organizations are already giving their support for the bill, however, and many more will likely soon come out and sound the alarm. Food & Water Watch is one of these organizations, with the New Mexico offices coming out and cheering the success of the bill and the necessity of GMO labeling. The organization’s New Mexico Organizer Eleanor Bravo said:
 “Giving foods with GE ingredients a label will only improve and expand independent health and scientific knowledge about genetic engineering…”
The time is now to begin spreading the word about this initiative and lighting the fire. It’s almost a certainty that Monsanto & Co. will pump millions into defeating this legislation if it gets too big, but we can have the edge by getting into the game before they disseminate their deceitful propaganda to voters. Ultimately Monsanto will fail, and it will be a grassroots campaign that is responsible for throwing the last stone.

Read more:

Thursday, January 3, 2013


In 2013, Our Fight Against GMO Food Continues

On November 6, in the wake of one of the most expensive and scurrilous smear campaigns in history, six million voters scared the hell out of Monsanto and Big Food Inc. by coming within a razor’s edge of passing the first statewide mandatory labeling law for genetically modified organisms (GMOs).The battle for GMO labeling and numerous challenges against the industrial food system will continue in 2013. (Image via
Prop 37, a citizens’ ballot initiative that would have required the mandatory labeling of billions of dollars of genetically engineered (GE) foods and put an end to the routine industry practice of fraudulently marketing GE-tainted foods as “natural” or “all natural,” lost by a narrow margin of 48.6% to 51.4%. Opponents couldn’t claim anything close to a landslide, even though they outspent the pro-labeling campaign almost six to one.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) immediately put a happy face on the narrow victory, repeating its tired old propaganda in a public statement: “Proposition 37 was a deeply flawed measure that would have resulted in higher food costs, frivolous lawsuits and increased state bureaucracies. This is a big win for California consumers, taxpayers, business and farmers.”

But Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Food Marketing Institute, came closer to expressing the real sentiments of the big guns who opposed Prop 37, a measure she had previously said “scared us to death,” in her official statement:

“This gives us hope that you can, with a well-funded, well-organized, well-executed campaign, defeat a ballot initiative and go directly to the voters. We hope we don’t have too many of them, because you can’t keep doing that over and over again . . .”.

Maybe they can’t. But we can. Unlike the Food Marketing Institute and its friends at the GMA, consumers can – and will – “keep doing that over and over again.” We can – and will - propose state laws and state ballot initiatives as often as we need, in as many states as we must, until we have what 61 other countries have: truth and transparency in the form of mandatory GMO labeling laws. Far from giving up, the alternative food and farming movement that was narrowly defeated in California has evolved into a battle-savvy, seasoned national movement, bigger and stronger than ever.

As Zuri Allen, California Field Organizer of the Organic Consumers Association put it, “We may have lost this first major battle in California, but millions of angry and energized consumers across the country are now joining together in a nationwide right to know campaign which will ultimately drive genetically engineered crops and foods off the market.”

That clearly has Big Biotech and Big Food worried.  And well it should. We’ve barely rung in the new year, and already GMO labeling battles are heating up in Washington State, Vermont and Connecticut.  Other states aren’t far behind.

On Jan. 4, activists in Washington State will deliver approximately 300,000 signatures to the state legislature to guarantee that a mandatory GMO labeling Initiative, I-522, will be on the ballot in November. Initial polling shows that Washington state voters will likely pass this Ballot Initiative, no matter how much money the biotech industry and large food corporations put into an anti-labeling campaign.

On the other side of the country, Vermont is picking up where it left off last year after the governor caved in to Monsanto’s threats to sue the state if it passed a GMO labeling law. Undaunted, and buoyed by 90% support from consumers, legislators will reintroduce a GMO labeling bill in early January.  Vermont’s pro-organic, anti-GMO proponents fully expect to pass a labeling bill by May. Connecticut is right behind them, with plans to introduce a similarly popular GMO labeling bill early this year.

Why a win is just around the corner.

Giant biotech and junk food corporations, joined by major food processors and supermarket chains, poured more than $46 million dollars into a vicious dirty tricks campaign to defeat GMO labeling in California. Their tactics included a relentless barrage of TV and radio ads falsely claiming GE food labels would raise grocery prices, hurt family farmers, and enrich trial lawyers. They unleashed “scientific” testimonials manufactured by phony front groups, and they mailed counterfeit voter guides. They may even have engaged in “vote-flipping” by pre-programming electronic voting tabulators.

A statewide pre-election eve poll conducted by Lake Research found that the Biotech Behemoth’s “No on 37” propaganda campaign successfully confused many Californians. As of Nov. 5, the day before the election, the majority of Californians stated that they still supported mandatory labeling of GE foods. But a critical mass, especially the 40% who voted early by absentee ballot, said they were willing to give up their right to know what was in their food if mandatory GE labels might  increase food costs, expand the size and power of state bureaucrats, harm family farmers or unfairly benefit trial lawyers and other “special interests.”

That changed once the YES on 37 campaign launched its own modest $3-million ad campaign on October 27. Once the pro-labeling ads rolled out, several million undecided voters saw through the biotech and junk-food industry propaganda and voted Yes on 37. In fact, Prop 37 won the election-day vote. But it was too little, too late. The campaign couldn’t recover from its losses in early voting.

That was California. Washington State promises to tell a different story.

Looking at the logistics and outcome of the Prop 37 campaign in California in 2012 and comparing these to the upcoming I-522 battle in Washington, there are several major differences that will likely prove to be decisive:

1. Size and campaign costs. California is an enormous state, both geographically and in terms of population. Its TV and radio ad markets are also among the priciest in the country. Tough for a grassroots campaign with a small budget to reach California voters far and wide, on the ground and through the media. Even tougher to compete with an opposition willing and able to spend $46 million to win. Compare that scenario with Washington State, which has one-fifth the population of California, and where $1 spent on TV ads equals $8 in California.  Factor in that Washington’s population is highly concentrated in the health and environmentally-conscious Seattle metropolitan area, and it’s easy to see that internet, in-person contact, and radio and TV advertising will cost less and be easier to execute in Washington than it was in California. Experts estimate that Monsanto and its allies will be able to spend only $20 million in Washington on advertising. That’s enough to saturate the state’s airwaves. But it’s not too much for the Yes on I-522 campaign to overcome as long as it can raise and spend $4-$5 million – about half of what the California labeling campaign raised.
2. Timing. In California, Yes on 37 forces didn’t get on the ballot until May. That left only six months for public education and fundraising. In Washington, I-522 proponents have a full nine months before people begin their voting (which is by mail).
3. Support from farmers and rural communities. In California, Prop 37 was supported mostly by consumers and organic farmers. In Washington State, wheat farmers, whether organic or not, apple farmers and fishing communities also vocally support mandatory GMO labeling. That’s because GMO labeling is arguably in the best economic interests of a state where unlabeled GMO wheat, apples and salmon spilling into the market would severely damage state agricultural exports to countries that either forbid GMO imports or require GMO labeling.
4. Progressive elected officials and electorate. California’s Governor Brown refused to take a stand on Prop 37. But Washington’s new elected Governor, Jay Inslee, is a long-time supporter and former Congressional advocate of GMO labeling.  Washington voters recently reminded us that they are proud progressives, by approving the legalization of marijuana via a November ballot Initiative. California voters defeated a similar measure in 2010.
5. The Frankenfish controversy. Despite enormous public opposition and warnings by scientists that genetically engineered salmon pose unacceptable health and environmental risks, the Obama administration’s FDA announced in late December that it would nonetheless allow unlabeled genetically engineered salmon to be commercialized. Polls show that Washington voters are adamantly opposed to this fast-growing, likely allergenic mutant salmon - part fish, part eel - entering the market. Fishermen/fisherwomen, chefs and restaurants are already raising their voices in opposition. Meanwhile in Alaska, GMO salmon will have to be labeled because of a state law passed in 2005. The biotech industry is going to have a difficult time explaining why Frankenfish have to be labeled in Alaska, but not in Washington or other states.
6. Divisions between Big Food and Big Biotech. As the comments by the Food Marketing Institute executive suggest, big food companies are starting to worry about their image. They’re worried about having to fight costly, high-profile battles against GMO labeling in numerous states, possibly even simultaneously.  A number of large food companies that dumped big money into defeating Prop 37 – companies like Kellogg’s, General Mills, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft and Dean Foods, own “natural” or organic brands. Those brands, including Kashi, Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Ben and Jerry’s, White Wave, Horizon and others, are starting to feel the heat from angry consumers who have joined the “Traitor Boycott.” How long will the nation’s food manufacturers and supermarket chains carry the water and do the dirty work for Monsanto and biotech industry?
It’s only a matter of time before we pass GMO legislation. Once we do, it will mark the beginning of the end for GMO food and farming, just as it did in Europe. But to ensure that this happens, sooner rather than later, state GMO right-to-know campaigns in Washington, Vermont, Connecticut and other states need money, technical assistance volunteers, and endorsements.
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.;


Tell the FDA: NO Frankenfish! 

GMO Salmon Would Be Approved as ‘New Animal Drug’

  TAKE ACTION: Tell the FDA: No Frankenfish!
Please sign the petition to the FDA at the bottom of this page.

The first genetically engineered salmon - dubbed "frankenfish" - could be in grocery stores and restaurants as early as 2014. The FDA is expected to approve AquaBounty Technologies' GE salmon after a 60-day public comment period. If approved, it will be the first approved food from a transgenic animal application to enter the U.S. food supply.
Consumer and environmental activists oppose genetically engineered "frankenfish" for many reasons, including the potential danger it poses to human health, to the environment and to the U.S. fishing economy. Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist with the Consumers Union, the advocacy and policy arm of Consumer Reports, called the FDA's Environmental Assessment (EA) of GE salmon "flawed and inadequate."
Please sign the petition (at the bottom of the page) if you agree that the FDA should reject should AquaBounty's genetically engineered salmon, at least until it completes further, more reliable safety testing.
What is frankenfish?
AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts-based biotech company, created the "AquAdvantage" salmon by injecting a fragment of DNA from an ocean pout fish, which is a type of eel, along with a growth hormone gene from the Chinook Pacific salmon, into a fertilised Atlantic salmon egg. The result? A salmon that produces growth hormone year round, instead of only during warm weather. This allows the fish to reach market weight in just 18 months, instead of the usual three years.
What are the risks?
  1. Potential harm to human health. The FDA has allowed this fish to move forward based on tests of allergenicity of only six GE fish. Even with such limited testing, the results showed an increase in allergy-causing potential, according to Hansen. AquAdvantage also contains elevated levels of the growth hormone, IGF-1, which is linked to prostate, breast and colon cancers.
  2. Potential harm to wild salmon population. Only 95% of the AquAdvantage salmon may be sterile, the rest fertile. Plus, the fish at the egg production facility in Prince Edward Island, Canada, will not be sterile. The FDA says the likelihood of the GE salmon escaping into the wild is "extremely remote" but gave little reassuring evidence to support that assumption. According to studies, the frankenfish eat five times more food than wild salmon, and have less fear of predators. All it would take is for some of these frankenfish to escape, and the world's wild salmon population would be at risk.
  3. Unlabeled. Without GMO labeling, consumers will not be able to avoid frankenfish when it arrives in grocery stores and fish markets.
  4. Less nutritious. GE salmon contains less Omega-3 fatty acids than non-GE salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are the "good" fat which has important health benefits.

    TAKE ACTION: Tell the FDA: No Frankenfish!
(Watch the video of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski speaking against the approval of  genetically engineered salmon).
Additional Background
  • The FDA's 158-page Environmental Assessment was completed May 14, but was blocked from release by the White House, which waited until December 21 - well after the election.
  • The Environmental Assessment states that genetically engineered salmon will be adapted "to feeding on synthetic aquaculture diets." The FDA didn't explain what it meant by "synthetic aquaculture" or make any investigation into what the genetically engineered salmon would eat. Conventional farmed salmon can be fed byproducts from poultry processing, such as feathers, necks and intestines, and genetically modified soy and canola.
  • The FDA said that AquAdvantage does not pose a threat to the environment and is "as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon." But in its 5-page summary, the agency admits that it intentionally narrowed the scope of its analysis.
  • Since September 2010 there has been unprecedented pushback on plans to grow an engineered variant of farmed Atlantic salmon. Over 400,000 public comments in opposition have been sent to the FDA. Forty members of Congress called for a full Environmental Impact Statement before approval was granted.
  • Opponents argue that approval of frankenfish will pave the way for other genetically engineered animals for human consumption, which could raise serious questions about animal welfare.
  • The Ocean Conservancy opposes AquAdvantage salmon.
  • Intrexon Corporation owns a 48-percent stake in AquaBounty, the inventor of frankenfish. Intrexon is a biotechnology company focused on the industrial engineering of synthetic biology. Intrexon designs and produces novel and enhanced biological products and processes for protein production, agricultural biotechnology and animal science. The company boasts "unprecedented control over the function and output of living cells."
We need to keep fighting the pro-biotech, pro-Monsanto politics of the Obama Administration. Help us send as many public comments to the FDA as possible to try to stop genetically engineered salmon. Direct action is going to be necessary, too. If the Obama Administration stubbornly continues to hide behind the scientifically discredited Bush-Quayle doctrine of "substantial equivalence" claiming there isn't a "material" difference between genetically engineered and normal salmon, then we'll have no choice but to use every tactic we can muster to throw a wrench into the gears of the Frankenfoods Express.
Please sign the petition today.  And, please forward this action alert to everyone you know. Thank you!
I urge FDA to reject approval of genetically engineered salmon. GMO salmon hasn't been proven safe and shouldn't be approved for human consumption.
The jury is still out on the long-term effects of genetically engineered salmon on humans - there simply isn't enough data. But what we do know is that these genetic changes increase allergy risk, and produce a salmon with lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids - the "good" fat which has important health benefits.

I am also concerned by the elevated levels of growth hormone in this fish. This poses a cancer risk, as elevated IGF-1 levels are linked to prostate, breast and colon cancers.

In addition, there are environmental impacts that the FDA has ignored in its Draft Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact.

For example, the FDA found that genetically engineered salmon have "higher metabolism and food requirements" than normal salmon. Conventional salmon farming has been compared to raising tigers for meat. 1.5 – 8 kilograms of wild fish are needed to produce one kilogram of conventional farmed salmon. The FDA didn't investigate the environmental impacts of the genetically engineered salmon's increased food requirements.

The Environmental Assessment also mentions that genetically engineered salmon will be adapted "to feeding on synthetic aquaculture diets." The FDA didn't explain what it meant by "synthetic aquaculture" or make any investigation into what the genetically engineered salmon would eat. Conventional farmed salmon can be fed byproducts from poultry processing, such as feathers, necks and intestines, and genetically modified soy and canola.

Now Intrexon Corporation owns a 48-percent stake in AquaBounty, which invented the genetically engineered salmon, "synthetic aquaculture" could mean anything. Intrexon Corporation is a biotechnology company focused on the industrial engineering of synthetic biology. Intrexon designs and produces novel and enhanced biological products and processes for protein production, agricultural biotechnology and animal science. The company boasts "unprecedented control over the function and output of living cells."

The FDA should conduct a full Environment Impact Statement that takes into account a complete life-cycle analysis of the environmental impact of Intrexon's plans for raising genetically engineered salmon in dry-land tanks. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


January 2, 2013
12:56 PM

CONTACT: Food & Water Watch
Anna Ghosh,, 415-293-9905

Despite Food Safety Problems, Australia’s Privatized Meat Inspection Deemed “Equivalent” to U.S. by USDA

WASHINGTON - January 2 - Today the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to review its decision to allow the newly privatized meat inspection system of Australia to be considered equivalent to U.S. inspection. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the group pointed to repeated discoveries of meat imported from Australia that was contaminated with fecal material and digestive tract contents.
“Documents from USDA and Australian officials reveal that this is not an isolated problem,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The repeated problems with products coming from Australia in 2012 show that this is a systemic problem and that privatized meat inspection in Australia is not working.”
One letter from a USDA official to Australian food safety officials, summed up the problems in imported products from Australia: “Within the last month, there have been five additional zero tolerance (fecal material/ingesta) POE (point-of-entry) violations in four separate establishments, including one establishment that had repetitive violations during this month (December, 2012), as well as earlier this calendar year.”
Australia is not the only country exporting meat to the United States that is operating a privatized inspection system, and is not the only exporting country with food safety problems. In 2012, there was a recall in the United States for 2.5 million pounds of Canadian beef products that were potentially contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 produced using a privatized inspection system that the USDA had secretly recognized in 2006.
“U.S. consumers should not be endangered by unsafe imports from Australia or from any other country exporting to the United States,” said Hauter. “It is time for USDA to revoke the equivalency determinations of privatized meat inspection schemes, and to abandon its attempts to privatize inspection here in the United States.”
Food & Water Watch's letter can be found at:
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink. 


Poland Bans Genetically Modified Corn, Potatoes

- Common Dreams staff

Poland banned the cultivation of genetically modified corn and potatoes on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse is reporting.
The agency reports that while Prime Minister Donald Tusk felt "lawmakers had been forced to pass the blanket approval for GM crops," a loophole allowed the country to ban the specific strains of German agricultural giant BASF's Amflora strain of potato and Monsanto's MON 810 corn.
Greenpeace Hungary cheered Poland's move, saying it joined 8 other EU countries, including France, that have similar bans.
Greenpeace Poland stated, "The government has kept its promises."


Food Poisoning on a Global Scale

Food is supposed to provide us nourishment and health but because of the toxins it contains, what we consume has become a major threat to our health. Some toxic substances are added to our food physically, through adulteration, while some enter our food system chemically, through pesticide residues. And some toxins enter the food chain genetically, through genetic engineering of seeds and crops. Even food packaging can be a source of toxins in food.
While physical adulteration, like stones in pulses, can be removed, the chemicals can’t be. The pollutants will stop entering our food system only when poisonous chemicals are banned. Genetic pollution and contamination of food is the new, big threat to food safety and it cannot be undone. Once toxic genes are put into a plant, they are in the genetic code. There is no rollback. Which is why the debate on biosafety of GMOs is so intense.
With growing consumerism and greed, food safety is being bypassed. The distance between growers and eaters is getting larger and being ignorant about what comprises our food is getting deeper. Traders adulterate food to make more money, and consumers, manipulated to focus on the cosmetic appearance, buy adulterated food not knowing what they are eating. Government agencies, which are supposed to inspect and stop adulteration, fail because of corruption and inadequate support.
We are eating hazardous substances every day. Copper salts are used to colour pickles and canned vegetables green. The craze for the cosmetic appearance of food has created a market for dyes injected in watermelon, peas, capsicum and brinjal. Brick dust in chilli powder, coloured chalk powder in turmeric, and papaya seeds in black pepper are old tricks.
With new chemicals available in the market, adulteration has reached new levels. Apples are sprayed with lead arsenate; turmeric and mixed spices are adulterated with lead chromate. These substances can cause anaemia, abortion and paralysis.
One of the worst tragedies of food adulteration was the 2008 Chinese milk scandal, which was a food safety issue involving milk and infant formula adulterated with melamine. Melamine is an industrial chemical used to manufacture melamine-formaldehyde resin, a type of plastic known for its flame retardant properties. When added to milk, it caused it to appear to have higher protein content. But melamine causes renal and urinary problems and its use in food production is universally banned. The milk scandal broke in July 2008. By November there were 300,000 victims, with six infants dying from kidney stones and other kidney complications.
If the Chinese were using melamine in milk, the Indians are using urea to make synthetic milk. Synthetic milk is produced by mixing urea, caustic soda, cheap cooking oil, detergents, water and a tiny bit of natural milk. It has the colour, the structure and even the fat levels of natural milk and thus clears the basic tests. Synthetic milk can cause loss of sight and hearing and is even said to cause cancer.
Oxytocin is a hormone secreted and stored by the posterior pituitary gland that contributes to the second stage of labour. It has uterine-contracting and milk-ejecting actions. Oxytocin is now available as an artificial drug for use in emergencies. The drug can lead to the rupture of the uterus and, in rare cases, rupture of the womb. While the oxytocin for humans is priced at `15 per ampule, veterinary oxytocin is priced at 50 paise per ampule.
The dairy industry uses it on animals in the mistaken belief that it increases milk production when all it does is make the milk come faster, while destroying the cow’s reproductive system. The cow goes dry in three years and is abandoned.
Not only is the cow harmed, but those who drink milk from oxytocin-injected cows are also at risk, especially children. Oxytocin causes imbalanced hearing and weak eyesight. For expecting mothers, oxytocin increases the risk of post-partum haemorrhage and can inhibit breastfeeding. Because of hormones in food, minor girls are attaining early puberty. Oxytocin is also used for growing vegetables. Injected into a pumpkin or squash, it doubles the size overnight.
Pesticides are becoming a major threat to our health. India has gone through three major tragedies — the Bhopal gas tragedy, the endosulfan tragedy in Kerala and the tragedy of Punjab’s cancer train — related to pesticides that should have woken us to the fact that pesticides kill and cripple.
We are using 750 times more pesticides than Europe, foolishly equating poisons with progress. A study carried out by the All-India Coordinated Research Project on pesticide residues in food under the India Council of Agricultural Research concluded that 51 per cent of all food items have pesticide residues, and 20 per cent had pesticide residues above permissible levels. Globally the figures are 21 per cent and two per cent respectively. Indians are being poisoned at much higher levels than the rest of the world. And these poisons have consequences for our health.
Dr Rashmi Sanghi, a research scientist at the LNM Institute of Information Technology, Jaipur, found organochlorine and organophosphorous pesticide residues in human breast milk. When other researchers analysed the blood samples of women with breast cancer in Jaipur and compared it to blood samples of women without breast cancer, they found significantly higher levels of pesticide residues in the samples from women suffering from cancer.
Even as we have an increasing disease burden due to chemicals and pollutants, there is an attempt to push GMOs despite the serious health risks they pose. We need to assess these risks on the basis of the Precautionary Principle. The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm when scientific investigation has thrown data and evidence of health risks. Suppressing research on risk assessment of GMOs does not make the risks go away. A “don’t look, don’t see” policy does not make for safety.
The last Indian deserves healthy, nutritious and safe food. That is why we at Navdanya have started the campaign “Know your food, Know your farmer”. Join us, for the sake of earth and for the sake of your health.
Vandana Shiva
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist and eco feminist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is author of numerous books including, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis; Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as NGOs, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization and the Third World Network. She has received numerous awards, including 1993 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.