Friday, January 25, 2013

"WE ARE THE MANY: OCCUPY FOOD" -MAKANA's Song at Dr. Vandana Shiva's HAWAI'I Tour - Jan 2013






apples-foodstar-andronicos-nrdc No bad apples: Grocery store cuts waste and cost by selling imperfect fruit

On the surface, it’s a common display. A bin of apples with a sale sign greets customers as they enter the grocery store. Behind the scenes, however, it’s unchartered territory. Those apples are too small to be considered sufficient quality, or grade, for retail grocery stores. They were destined to be juice, cattle feed, or maybe even landfill waste until a few crafty folks and a bold supermarket decided to break the grade barrier.
Meet FoodStar and its courageous partner Andronico’s Community Market, a small Northern California grocery chain. Together, they are taking a chance on the idea that maybe we consumers aren’t as picky as most supermarkets seem to think we are. Maybe we’d be willing to buy a slightly smaller apple that only has 37 percent red coverage instead of the requisite 40 percent needed to qualify as the “fancy” grade that stores usually buy (yes, it’s actually measured). Maybe we consumers would even consider it a score to get a bag of Pink Lady apples for just 69 cents per pound.
Last month, the Natural Resources Defense Council released a survey of farmers that indicated sometimes as much as 30 percent of fresh produce does not make it off the farm. This is a waste of nutrition in addition to all of the money and resources that went into growing that food. One key driver that causes fruits and veggies to be left on the field or fed to cattle is that they are not cosmetically perfect enough to meet the high standards that grocery stores mandate. Many retailers insist that fruits and veggies meet exact cosmetic criteria, including specifications for size, color, weight, and blemish level — leading to culling and incorporating waste as part of doing business. Waste, however, is not cheap. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that supermarkets lose $15 billion [PDF] each year in fruit and vegetable losses alone.
granny-smith-apples-hanoianAndronico’s Jonathan Packman said of the project, “We’re proud to be working with FoodStar to launch this initiative, since it simultaneously addresses several problems in the food supply chain. FoodStar presented Andronico’s with an opportunity to partner on this concept to divert food from the waste stream and create a viable, marketable product.”
“This is very groundbreaking stuff, because a retailer has broken the grade barrier and passed along the significant cost savings to the consumer,” says Ron Clark, coordinator for the Farm Direct aspect of FoodStar and former director of the California Farm to Family program, which distributed 120 million pounds of rescued produce to food banks in 2011 alone. By breaking the “grade barrier,” he is describing the highly specified standard of quality and aesthetics that most supermarkets would not dare to go below for fear a customer will be disappointed with their produce offerings. As Packman explains, “While selling from the same open bin of apples that the grower sends to us may seem simple, it actually represents a significant departure from how things are normally done in the grocery business.”
These were perfectly good apples we’re talking about, just with a bit of a Goldilocks problem. They were one quality level below what grocery stores traditionally buy. They were also too small to be used as “peelers,” which eventually become apple pie, applesauce, and McDonald’s Happy Meal snacks. In fact, they were actually on their way to becoming caramel apples for Halloween, but were pulled off the sorting line because orders for caramel apples were not as large as originally thought. Given this predicament, the apples would normally have been sent to the juice market if there were demand, or to cattle feed or a landfill if not. By intercepting them, FoodStar and Andronico’s are ensuring that these apples are going to their highest and best use possible — feeding people fresh food, affordably.
There are a few key aspects to this plan that make it work. First, the featured product changes, which allows surplus product in the supply chain to be absorbed in the way it happens — spontaneously. One week it’s Pink Ladies, the next week Granny Smiths. Second, decisions are made to keep the cost down, such as selling the apples out of large bins instead of the shipper paying to box them and the grocery store paying to unpack them. And finally, savings are passed on to the consumer, effectively warning the consumer that they might have to be slightly more tolerant of imperfections they wouldn’t normally see on the shelf. By carrying the FoodStar brand and locating the product in a different place, Andronico’s avoids the risk that consumers will judge their whole produce offering on this product.
Though they’re only a few weeks into the program, Packman reports that “so far, it’s going really well; we have sold over two tons of apples already, while actually improving our overall produce sales.” Everyone wins in this scenario. For Andronico’s, it’s a way to bring in traffic and offer their customers a good deal. FoodStar, who sources the product, is able to provide good value with products that would otherwise go to lower uses or waste. The supplier is able to sell the apples at a better price. And for us consumers, we score a bag of apples for half the normal cost.
Apple pie, anyone?
Dana is a food and agriculture-focused project scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), based in San Francisco. She blogs regularly about food waste here

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Ten things you need to know about the Séralini study

1. Most criticisms of Séralini’s study wrongly assume it was a badly designed cancer study. It wasn’t. It was a chronic toxicity study – and a well-designed and well-conducted one.
2. Séralini’s study is the only long-term study on the commercialized GM maize NK603 and the pesticide (Roundup) it is designed to be grown with.
3. Séralini used the same strain of rat (Sprague-Dawley, SD) that Monsanto used in its 90-day studies on GM foods and its long-term studies on glyphosate, the chemical ingredient of Roundup, conducted for regulatory approval.
4. The SD rat is about as prone to tumours as humans are. As with humans, the SD rat’s tendency to cancer increases with age.
5.Compared with industry tests on GM foods, Séralini’s study analyzed the same number of rats but over a longer period (two years instead of 90 days), measured more effects more often, and was uniquely able to distinguish the effects of the GM food from the pesticide it is grown with.
6. If we argue that Séralini’s study does not prove that the GM food tested is dangerous, then we must also accept that industry studies on GM foods cannot prove they are safe.
7. Séralini’s study showed that 90-day tests commonly done on GM foods are not long enough to see long-term effects like cancer, organ damage, and premature death. The first tumours only appeared 4-7 months into the study.
8. Séralini’s study showed that industry and regulators are wrong to dismiss toxic effects seen in 90-day studies on GM foods as “not biologically meaningful”. Signs of toxicity found in Monsanto’s 90-day studies were found to develop into organ damage, cancer, and premature death in Séralini’s two-year study.
9. Long-term tests on GM foods are not required by regulators anywhere in the world.
10. GM foods have been found to have toxic effects on laboratory and farm animals in a number of studies.


Report: 'Big Food' Infiltrates Nutrition Association

Coke, Nestlé, corn lobby "educate" dietitians

- Beth Brogan, staff writer
"Big Food" companies such as Coca-Cola and Hershey have hijacked the largest association of nutrition professionals, according to a damning new report by pubic health attorney and author Michele Simon.
"Healthwashing" Lays potato chips at the Frito-Lay booth at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (Photograph: Michele Simon) But the "deep infiltration" of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is largely unacceptable to the vast majority of its 74,000 members.
"The food industry's deep infiltration of the nation's top nutrition organization raises serious questions not only about that profession's credibility, but also about its policy positions," Simon writes in the executive summary of "And Now a Word From Our Sponsors: Are America's Nutrition Professionals in the Pocket of Big Food?"
Among the study's most shocking findings:
  • Processed food giants ConAgra and General Mills have been AND sponsors for 10 of the last 12 years.
  • Among the messages taught in Coca-Cola-sponsored continuing education courses are: sugar is not harmful to children; "Aspartame is completely safe, including for children over one year"; and "A majority of studies have not found a link between sugar and behavior in children."
Worse, groups such as the Corn Refiners Association—lobbyists for high fructose corn syrup—and companies such as PepsiCo., Kraft Foods  and Nestlé remain "partners" of the organization, and for a fee are able to offer continuing education credits to registered dietitians—essentially "free publicity under the guise of education," Simon writes.
In a post on Simon's website,, registered dietician Andy Bellatti writes of the 2012 Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo in October:
Sadly, the event once again demonstrated how this registered dietitians' accrediting organization drags its own credential through the mud by prioritizing Big Food's corporate interests over sound nutrition an health ... I am embarrassed that the nation’s largest nutrition trade organization maintains partnerships with companies that contribute to our nation’s diet-related health problems ... Big Food’s presence was sometimes more covert. One session on food additives was sponsored by the International Food Information Council, the same food industry front group that last year assured us that pesticides are safe.
Members of AND also overwhelmingly find the relationship between the organization and Big Food unacceptable, with 97 percent surveyed contending that the academy should verify that a sponsor’s corporate mission is consistent with that of the Academy prior to accepting them; and 80 percent saying that sponsorship implies academy endorsement of a company and its products.
"Some of the food companies’ products are full of questionable and/or harmful ingredients," registered dietitian Carla S. Caccia told Simon. "Are GMOs safe in moderation? I don’t know. Caramel coloring? High fructose corn syrup? Is lean meat still the healthy choice even though the animal was given general antibiotics? Is grilled chicken still the healthy choice even though it ate feed contaminated with arsenic? I don’t know and I’m supposed to be the expert! I would like to turn to AND for these answers but I can’t trust them because they are in partnership with food companies whose products are full of these things."
“The food companies are being very strategic,” Simon told nutrition educator and journalist Kristin Wartman in an interview. “They know that RDs are the vehicles through which information is carried to the consumers, so they want to make sure that their message gets out loud and clear to these professionals.”
Wartman points to a passage in Simon's report in which she describes a McDonald’s booth offering smoothies and oatmeal.
Simon writes:
To visit the McDonald’s booth, you’d think the fast food giant only sold oatmeal and smoothies. I asked a few RDs why they were there and they said they were hungry. Fair enough, but it was clear that McDonald’s had succeeded in positioning itself as a purveyor of healthy food while feeding RDs breakfast.
"Simon points out that food companies are normalizing their products at these conferences," Wartman writes. "'The message is: It’s perfectly fine to promote processed food as your everyday diet, as long as it has whole grains sprinkled on it or has fewer calories.'" 


A new study conducted by the EU has shown that standard test for GM foods may be missing a potentially poisonous gene for humans Uncovered, the 'toxic' gene hiding in GM crops: Revelation throws new doubt over safety of foods 

  • EU watchdog reveals approval for GM foods fails to identify poisonous gene
  • 54 of the 86 GM plants approved contain the dangerous gene
  • Gene found in food for farm animals producing meat, milk and eggs
  • Biotech supporters argue there is no evidence that GM foods are harmful
By Sean Poulter, Consumer Affairs Editor
A virus gene that could be poisonous to humans has been missed when GM food crops have been assessed for safety. A new study conducted by the EU has shown that standard tests for GM foods may be missing a potentially poisonous gene for humans.

GM crops such as corn and soya, which are being grown around the world for both human and farm animal consumption, include the gene.

A new study by the EU's official food watchdog, the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA), has revealed that the international approval process for GM crops failed to identify the gene.

As a result, watchdogs have not investigated its impact on human health and the plants themselves when assessing whether they were safe.

The findings are particularly powerful because the work was carried out by independent experts, rather than GM critics.
It was led by Nancy Podevin, who was employed by EFSA, and Patrick du Jardin, of the Plant Biology Unit at the University of Liege in Belgium.

They discovered that 54 of the 86 GM plants approved for commercial growing and food in the US, including corn and soya, contain the viral gene, which is known as 'Gene VI'.
In this country, these crops are typically fed to farm animals producing meat, milk and eggs.
Significantly, the EFSA researchers concluded that the presence of segments of Gene VI 'might result in unintended phenotypic changes'.

Such changes include the creation of proteins that are toxic to humans. They could also trigger changes in the plants themselves, making them more vulnerable to pests.

Critics say the revelations make clear that the GM approvals process, which has been in place for 20 years, is fatally flawed.
They argue the only correct response is to recall all of the crops and food products involved. Director of the campaigning group, GM Freeze, Pete Riley, said the discovery of the gene, 'totally undermines claims that GM technology is safe, precise and predictable'.
He said: 'This is a clear warning the GM is not sufficiently understood to be considered safe. 'Authorisation for these crops must be suspended immediately, and they should be withdrawn from sale, until a full and extended review of their safety has been carried out.'

Typically, GM crops are modified in the laboratory to give them resistance to being sprayed with powerful weed killers such as Monsanto's Round-up.

This means that, in theory, fields can be doused with the chemical, so wiping out the weeds and allowing the food plants to thrive.

It was previously assumed that virus genes are not present in plants once they are grown in the field and reach consumers, however it is now clear that this is not the case
It was previously assumed that virus genes are not present in plants once they are grown in the field and reach consumers, however it is now clear that this is not the case
The modification process involves inserting genes into the plants using a technique that allows them to piggyback on viruses that are commonly found in the soil and plants.
It has been assumed that virus genes are not present in the plant once it is grown in the field and reaches consumers, however it is now clear that this is not the case.

A review of the EFSA research in Independent Science News said the presence of the viral gene appears to have been missed by biotech companies, universities and government regulators.
'This situation represents a complete and catastrophic system failure,' it said. 'There are clear indications that this viral gene might not be safe for human consumption. It also may disturb the normal functioning of crops, including their natural pest resistance.

'A reasonable concern is that the protein produced by Gene VI might be a human toxin. This is a question that can only be answered by future experiments.'

Biotech supporters argue that there is no evidence from countries such as the USA that eating GM food causes any harm.
However, the reality is that no health monitoring has taken place to establish this. The findings will embarrass the government and the food and farming Secretary, Owen Patterson, who has embarked on a pro-GM propaganda exercise designed to win over sceptical consumers.
Mr Patterson recently rejected public concerns as 'humbug' and 'complete nonsense'. Policy director at the Soil Association, Peter Melchett said: 'For years, GM companies have made a deliberate and chilling effort to stop independent scientists from looking at their products.

'This is what happens when there is a complete absence of independent scrutiny of their GM crops.' Biotech firms are represented by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council(ABC).
Its chairman, Dr Julian Little, said the EFSA study was one small part of a strict and complex scrutiny process.
He said: 'Over the past 25 years, the European Commission has funded more than 130 research projects involving 500 independent research groups which have found no higher risks to the environment or food chain from GM crops than from conventional plants and organisms.
'Furthermore, nearly three trillion meals containing GM ingredients have been eaten without a single substantiated case of ill-health. The combination of these two facts can give consumers a huge amount of confidence in the safety of GM crops.'
GM critics and EFSA are at odds over the implications of the research paper, which was written by the deputy chairman of the organisation’s advisory panel on the issue and a former senior member of staff.
EFSA insists that the research highlighting the presence of Gene VI does not represent a new discovery of a viral gene and does not indicate a safety concern about GM crops already approved.
It said the viral gene ‘cannot infect animals or humans and therefore presents no threat to human or animal health’. This is challenged by GM critics who say there is no research evidence to justify this statement.

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Dear Friends,

On behalf of the steering committee for the California Right to Know campaign, and our 500,000 members and subscribers in California, we want to thank you for your incredible support for Prop 37. With your help, we’ve built a powerful Right to Know Movement. Our Movement, with its call to label genetically engineered foods here in the U.S., is sweeping the nation.

Over the holidays, the California Secretary of State posted the final results for Prop 37. The results were shocking to big food manufacturers and politicians across the country. But they were not shocking to those of us who understood from the beginning the power of a grassroots campaign built on truth and transparency.
Despite being outspent nearly 6 to 1, and a scandalous campaign of dirty tricks and unending barrage of lies and misleading TV ads, we nearly won: YES – 48.6% to NO – 51.4%. After taking on some of the most powerful corporations on the planet, we lost by a mere 353,657 votes.
No one likes losing, especially those of us who formed the steering committee for Prop 37. But we want you to know that your hard work and sacrifice have built an enduring movement to label GMOs here in the U.S.
We also want you to know that we will be back in California in 2014 with another ballot initiative for GMO labeling, and that in the meantime the Prop 37 steering committee members are deeply involved in a GMO labeling ballot initiative in Washington State (I-522), as well as legislative battles in Vermont, Connecticut and many others. Chances for passing mandatory labeling in all three of these states in 2013 are looking good.
In Washington State, I-522, an initiative to label GMOs, recently qualified for the ballot in 2013. Activists there gathered more than 340,000 signatures and the fight has already begun. The initiative already has strong support from farmers, consumers and several key state legislators. And in Vermont and Connecticut, where GMO labeling bills failed last year after Monsanto threatened to sue those states, activists are working once again to push through laws this year.
This fall, more than 6 million Californians voted Yes on 37 to label genetically engineered foods. And millions more, from every state in the country, rallied around this historic battle to label GMOs. People in all 50 states donated time and money to help get the word out. We stood against impossible odds, in the fight against some of the most powerful and corrupt companies in the world. All for the simple right to know what’s in our food.
We narrowly lost this one battle, but we built an unstoppable movement. And we turned a relatively unknown issue into a mainstream public debate.
Just as the country came together to support Prop 37, we must come together to support GMO labeling laws in Washington, Vermont, Connecticut and everywhere active citizens put labeling bills forward in their state legislatures. 
It is more urgent than ever that we pass GMO labeling laws this year. Right now, 13 new GMO crops await approval at the USDA. The first genetically engineered animal, AquaBounty’s GMO salmon, could be approved by the FDA in less than 60 days.  
Now more than ever, we need to stand together to accomplish our simple goal of labeling genetically engineered foods here in America.
So, stay tuned, stay engaged. Check out the California Right to Know Facebook page where new materials are being posted everyday. And let’s take back our right to know what’s in our food!

Regards and Solidarity,

The Steering Committee of the California Right to Know Campaign

Dave Murphy — Food Democracy Now!
Gretchen DuBeau — Alliance for Natural Health
Pamm Larry — Label GMOs

Steve Rye —
Michael Potter — Eden Foods
Ronnie Cummins — Organic Consumers Association


The red dots indicate many of the farms on Kauai growing GMO crops.
Image: Hawai‘i seed

Cover image for Jan 9, 2013Food as Weapon

Dr. Vandana Shiva Brings Earth Democracy to Hawai‘i

Albert Einstein was Dr. Vandana Shiva’s hero as a little girl growing up in India. “I was always fascinated with the workings of nature, and Einstein was the kind of scientist I wanted to be,” says Shiva, born in 1952. Trained as a physicist, with a Ph.D. in philosophy, she became an activist known globally for her opposition to genetically engineered (GE) crops and her advocacy for sustainable farming. Dr. Shiva is coming to the Islands next week to speak about food justice and ecologically responsible, diversified agriculture–issues that are pivotal as Hawaii, a cradle of GE seed corn, begins to address its severe food insecurity.

Dr. Shiva has authored more than 20 books on globalization, food supply, eco-feminism and biotechnology. Her writings reveal that modern industrial agriculture, a high-cost, chemical-intensive method, is actually a recipe for hunger. As an expert on biodiversity and intellectual property rights (IPR) legislation, Dr. Shiva has received numerous awards. She has assisted Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria in grassroots campaigns against genetic engineering. Time Magazine named her an environmental hero in 2003.
Growing up in the Dehradun forest on her mother’s farm, where wheat, chickpeas, mustard, sesame and sugarcane grew amongst guava, lemon and lychee trees, Shiva saw firsthand how much food could come from a small farm. Her father was a forester. “That childhood did shape my values, and my love for nature. More importantly, my parents taught me two things by example. Follow your conscience, and be fearless.”

Earth Democracy

Shiva began fighting globalization in 1987 when she discovered the biotech industry’s plans to genetically engineer and patent seeds. That’s when she started the nonprofit organization Navdanya, the movement to save seed. In 1993, she mobilized 500,000 farmers in India for a rally in Bangalore to say, “No to Patents on Seed and Free Trade.” She also helped form the International Forum on Globalization, which organized the anti-globalization protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle in 1999.
“Everything we predicted has happened,” Shiva recalls via email from Delhi, where she resides. “Inequalities have grown, democracy has eroded, economies are collapsing, an oligarchy is emerging. Our goal is to defend the planet, people’s rights, and democracy. This is what I call Earth Democracy.”
Earth Democracy translates into a mission of preserving biodiversity and creating seed sovereignty, food sovereignty and water democracy. Navdanya has helped set up 111 community seed banks throughout India, trained more than 500,000 farmers in saving seeds and practicing sustainable agriculture over the past two decades and helped set up the largest direct-marketing, fair-trade organic network in India.
“I have followed Gandhi’s footsteps of Swaraj, self rule, and Satyagraha, the force of truth and the refusal to obey unjust laws,” she explains. “We have practiced seed satyagraha, the refusal to obey patent laws on seed, since seed is not an invention, and seed monopolies are immoral and unethical.”

The biggest myth

Shiva wishes to dispel the misconception that industrial agriculture produces more food. In reality, “Industrial agriculture promotes monocultures, which are nutritionally impoverished,” she says. Monocultures (growing a single crop every year on the same land without rotation) and GE crops use 10 times more water than ecological agriculture, and are the single biggest reason for the water crisis, according to Shiva. She adds that genetic engineering has not increased the yield of a single crop.
“To turn the world into a dependency on staples [like corn, soy, sugar and rice] has nothing to [do] with feeding the world, it has to do with control,” Shiva said in an interview for The Future of Food video series. “Maximizing the production of commodities for international trade is directly proportionate to the decrease in nutrition availability to local communities, which is why food insecurity grows.”
In her book Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply (South End Press, 2000), Shiva explains that the growth of agribusiness in the U.S. has gone hand-in-hand with U.S. foreign policy to deliberately create hunger in order to make the world dependent on our food supplies, allowing us to exert control over their decisionmaking. Shiva says that the U.S. has been using hunger as an instrument of war since the Vietnam War, when the term “food as weapon” was popularized as chemical weapons were used to destroy vegetation and crops.
The U.S. Foreign Trade Act strong-arms other countries into participating in monopolies that cause growing economic injustice, according to Shiva. “We were bullied to allow Monsanto in India,” she says. As a result, she adds, Monsanto was responsible for triggering an epidemic of 270,000 farmer suicides from 1995–2010 in India’s cotton belt, where the company had established a genetically engineered Bt cottonseed monopoly. “Monsanto controls 95 percent of the cottonseed, which is now all Bt cotton,” Shiva explains. “The costs are 8,000 percent more than cottonseeds that were available earlier. Farmers are getting trapped in debt, and indebted farmers are committing suicide.”

Chemical treadmill

According to Shiva, GE crops harness farmers to a chemical treadmill. In India, Bt cotton called “Bollgard” was supposed to control the Bollworm pest. Today, the Bollworm has become resistant to Bt and now Monsanto sells Bollgard II cotton, containing two additional toxic genes. New pests have emerged, and farmers are using more pesticides. Pesticide use has increased 13-fold since Bt cotton was introduced, according to research by Navdanya. A study recently published in the Review of Agrarian Studies also showed a higher expenditure on chemical pesticides for Bt cotton by small farmers than for other varieties.
Although Monsanto’s advertising campaign in India reported a 50 percent increase in yields for its Bollgard cotton, a survey conducted by the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology found that the yields in all trial plots were lower than what the company promised. Navdanya’s research in India has shown that contrary to Monsanto’s claim of Bt cotton yield of 1500 kg per acre, the real yield is an average of 400–500 kg per acre.
GE crops create resistant pests and, through pollen drift, weeds. They need an almost sterile environment, so more pesticides are needed on these crops. In the U.S., GE crops increased overall pesticide use by 318.4 million pounds over their first 13 years on the marketplace (1996–2008), according to a study derived from U.S. Dept. of Agriculture data by Dr. Charles Benbrook, chief scientist at the Organic Center. Increased concentration of chemicals in air, water, and soil in the communities surrounding GE fields is a legitimate public health concern.

Pesticide drift

Dr. Shiva will visit Kauai because it’s the island with the most extensive GE crop plantings (approximately 13,000 acres) in Hawaii, where biotech companies Dow, BASF, Monsanto, Syngenta and Pioneer operate on ag lands throughout the state. More than a year ago, a group of 150 Waimea, Kauai residents filed suit against Pioneer Hi-Bred (a subsidiary of chemical giant DuPont) over allegedly pesticide-laden dust that has been blowing onto their properties for more than a decade from GE fields. According to the lawsuit, filed Dec. 2011 in 5th Circuit Court, Pioneer uses dangerous pesticides during open-air testing of GE crops without controlling airborne pollutants, as required by state and county law.

Toxic impacts

Dr. Shiva further contends that GMOs have their own unique health and environmental risks. This, she points out, is why a UN Biosafety Protocol was created in 2000. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international treaty that seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by GMOs. It establishes an advanced procedure for ensuring that countries are provided with information necessary to make informed decisions before agreeing to import GMOs into their territory. To date, 163 countries and the European Union have ratified or acceded to the Protocol. The U.S. has not. In addition, the biotech industry that brought the world agrichemicals tries to silence all scientists who do research on the health and environmental impacts of GMOs, states Shiva. Contamination of crops, soil and water, along with unknown risks of human consumption, are the major issues of scientific debate.
Monsanto’s argument is that the Bt toxin in GE crops poses no danger to human health because the protein breaks down in the human gut. However, a recently published Canadian study entitled, “Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Township of Quebec, Canada,” (Reproductive Toxicology, May 31, 2011) found the Bt toxin in the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women tested and in 80 percent of their umbilical cord and fetal blood.

Seed slaves

GMOs go hand-in-hand with patents. Patents mean royalties, which help to cause farmer debt. In addition to dangers to public health and ecosystems, biotechnology allows for corporations to own seeds and crops through patents and IPRs. Patents provide royalties for the patent holder, creating corporate monopolies, which results in monster profits for biotech companies like Monsanto and inescapable debt for small farmers.
The most dramatic case of patent bullying via contamination and genetic pollution made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada when Percy Schmeiser, a canola seed grower whose crop was contaminated by Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready Canola refused to pay Monsanto a license fee when he found their seed had contaminated his fields. Contamination of canola in Canada is so severe that 90 percent of certified non-GE Canola seed samples contain GE material. Instead of paying Percy for the damage of contamination in accordance with its “Polluter Pays” principle, Monsanto approached him to pay a license fee for using their patented technology without a license, and then sued Percy for Intellectual Property theft (patent infringement) to the tune of $300,000.
After six years of court battles, the court ruled in a 5-4 majority that, intentionally or not, growing genetically modified plants constitutes the use of the patented invention. This case increased the protection available to biotech companies in Canada and set a precedent globally.
“I have called what is happening a new form of imperialism: bio-imperialism,” Dr. Shiva contends. “I see it as a new form of slavery–seed slavery.” She asserts that all communities should be sovereign in their seed supply. “That is why we should have seed banks of open pollinated seeds everywhere. Communities should become free of GMOs, chemicals, and poisons. Working with nature on the principles of agroecology is the best road to sustainability.”

Food sovereignty

In Hawaii, a status quo with an immense amount of privately owned land leased to the highest bidder has allowed Monsanto and other agribusiness “farmers” to use prime ag land to produce export crops that do not feed us.
For example, Kamehameha Schools has recently come under fire for leasing 1,033 acres on Oahu’s North Shore to Monsanto since 1999. According to Neil Hannahs, director of KS’s Land Assets divison, “We have looked into Monsanto’s pesticide application methods and are comfortable that they are following all regulatory protocols. We do not have any seed corn fields close to any schools or immediately adjacent to any residences,” Hannah wrote in an email.
Shiva maintains that the way to resist agribusiness and further pollution is by creating local, regenerative, resilient economies and communities. She says that communities with the greatest food insecurity today, such as Hawaii with our 85 percent imported food, could be the most self-sufficient. The solution is biodiversity–growing diverse food crops using organic and ecological methods. Such multiculture can produce five to ten times more nutrition than monocultures can, according to Shiva, who is currently advising the government of Bhutan on how to achieve their goal of becoming the first fully organic food-sovereign country. Hawaii already has a successful example: MAO Farms’ 24 acres of organic crops produce approximately 4,000 to 6,000 pounds of produce per week.
Hannahs adds that KS’s North Shore Plan includes a future 100-acre organic farm near Chun’s Reef, already has diversified Kahuku Farms and Twin Bridge Farms among their lessees, and is doubling their ag acreage in Punaluu. “We have many small farmers there and have invested heavily in the irrigation system, as well as in land clearing in order to increase the amount of acreage contributing to local food production,” Hannahs says.
In profiteering hands, food can be used as a weapon for control and oppression. However, the people can use food as weapon by voting with their dollar for every item on the grocery list. “To protect ourselves from GMOs we need to shift to local, organic food,” Shiva urges. “Know your farmer. Know your food.”

Vandana Shiva Visits Hawaii

Dr. Shiva’s visit is sponsored by Hawaii SEED and Ceres Trust. She will be accompanied by Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) and the Center for Food Safety, and local GMO labeling advocate Walter Ritte.
Events are FREE but one must reserve seats ahead of time and check in at venue ticket tables.

Tue., Jan. 15

UH Campus Center Ballroom: 5 p.m. (sold out), []

Wed., Jan. 16

“Heleku” March from UH to State Capitol: 8:30 a.m.
“We the People” Rally, State Capitol Rotunda: 9:30 a.m.
Salvation Army Ray Kroc Center, Kapolei: 7 p.m. talk, []

Thu., Jan. 17

Kauai Memorial Convention Hall, Lihue: 5 p.m. seed giveaway, 6 p.m. talk
For more information and updates: []

Common Pesticides

Conventional and GE food crops are sprayed with many pesticides that can endanger human and ecological health. GE crops use more pesticides. Below are some pesticides used in Hawaii.
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a soil-dwelling bacterium that kills insects, traditionally used as a spray by organic farmers. Now, Bt-toxin-secreting GE corn, cotton, potato and soy are grown.
2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), which was an ingredient in Agent Orange, is a weed killer commonly used on commercial crops like wheat, corn and rice. One study, published by the American Cancer Society in 1999, suggests that 2,4-D may contribute to the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which has increased in most Western countries during the last few decades.
Atrazine is commonly used with corn crops. The European Union banned all use of atrazine in 2004 because of persistent groundwater contamination. Studies have suggested that the chemical may be dangerous to reproductive organs in humans and other species. Recent epidemiological and animal research has suggested that exposure to high levels of atrazine during specific periods of pregnancy could result in birth defects, low birth weight babies, menstrual problems and cancer.
Glyphosate/Roundup, a weed killer, was discovered by a Monsanto chemist in 1970. By 2007, it was the most-used herbicide in U.S. agriculture. Many staple crops, like soy, alfalfa, canola, rapeseed, sorghum, corn, sugar beet, cotton and wheat have been genetically engineered by Monsanto to be resistant to it (“Roundup Ready”).
Chlorpyrifos/Lorsban is a neurotoxic insecticide introduced by Dow Chemical in 1965. While it is one of the most widely used insecticides in commercial agriculture, according to the EPA, it has been banned for use in homes since 2001 due to health risks to children. Chronic exposure has been linked to developmental disorders and autoimmune deficiencies. Lower birth weights and smaller head circumferences have been found in children whose mothers were exposed to the chemical during pregnancy.
Neonicotinoids (nicotine seed coatings) are insecticides that affects the central nervous system of insects. Several European countries have suspended the use of neonicotinoids in response to acute poisoning of honeybees associated with Colony Collapse Disorder. Data currently being reviewed by the EPA suggest that neonicotinic residues can accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants.
Dicamba (Banvel, Oracle, Vanquish) is a benzoic acid herbicide used on rye, asparagus, barley, corn, oats, soybeans, sugarcane and wheat. It persists in soil, may leach into groundwater, and is very irritating to eyes.
Sources: Fact sheets from the National Pesticide Information Center, [] and Beyond Pesticides, a non-profit organization. [
Source:  Honolulu Weekly


Scientists respond to Mark Lynas

Responses to Lynas by Indian scientists 1."It is the scientists who are asking for regulation and precaution" 2."In science, we go by evidence"
NOTE: Although Mark Lynas's recent speech has had very little media coverage in the UK, where it went barely reported outside of the farming press, in India he has been all over the press and is even reportedly being flown in to conference there as an "eminent person". Here are two responses by Indian scientists to all the fuss. 
A key element in the reception that Mark Lynas has obtained is his claim to having been a founder of the anti-GM movement in 1995. But this is completely untrue, even as regards the UK. Here's a telling comment that Dr Sue Mayer, who was science director at Greenpeace from 1990-1995, has sent to Mark Lynas: 
"Hello Mark, I was part of the anti-GM movement from 1990 onwards (ie before 1995), first at Greenpeace and then when I started GeneWatch UK. I am not usually one to make claims for myself but I think I can lay claim to having been one of the leaders of the campaign in the UK thoughout the 1990s and until 2007 when I left GeneWatch. It's strange that although we did speak on the phone once in the late 90s we never met and I missed the fact that you helped start the anti-GM movement..!! No doubt you did attend some rallies and workshops and did some direct action, but not help start the anti-GM movement in any significant way. I think this is a very misleading claim and you should feel ashamed of yourself. I wouldn't normally worry about people puffing themselves up like this but I am concerned that you are letting this be used to promote yourself and the biotech industry. Maybe you should think this self aggrandisement through a bit?" --- --- 1."It is the scientists who are asking for regulation and precaution" Prasanna Mohanty Governance Now, January 21 2013
*GM controversy: In conversation, Suman Sahai, geneticist, Padma Shree awardee and winner of 2004 Borlaug Award for contribution to agriculture and environment
What do you think of environmentalist Mark Lynas’ sudden change of heart – from being an anti-GM crusader to a pro-GM crusader? It is a renewed propaganda push to create goodwill around GM crop. This is a product that very large corporations are trying to sell. India is a very particular target because of large scale rejections (of GM crop) in Europe, many parts of Africa and Latin America. For these corporations, there are only two big potential markets – India and China. Everybody knows it is impossible to influence Chinese policy because they are very determined about what they want and what not. India is perceived as a soft target with a big market and therefore a huge amount of propaganda is directed towards India and Indian policy making.
What is your stand on promoting GM crops in India? As a scientist, geneticist, this is my subject. It is the scientists who are asking for regulation and precaution right from the beginning. The (GM) industry is trying to cut corners on regulation because adequate bio-safety testing costs money. It is my firm belief that had this technology been purely in public sector it would still be in the laboratory. It would only come to market after it was sufficiently and properly tested.
If you want to engage in science and technology that has a downside – any potential risk of the GM product having an allergenic component – but potential for benefits, then you have to be super careful to evaluate safety. --- --- 2."In science, we go by evidence" Prasanna Mohanty Governance Now, January 18 2013
*On GM crops: a conversation with Pushpa M Bhargava, eminent biotechnologist, Padma Shree awardee and founder of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
Dr Bhargava, what do you think of environmentalist Mark Lynas’ sudden change of heart – from being an anti-GM crusader to a pro-GM crusader?
I think it doesn’t change the situation one bit. We have no credentials of him and one swallow doesn’t make a summer.
In science, we go by evidence. Nothing has been added to the evidence that we have for or against the GM crop. Opinion is completely irrelevant in science if it is not based on evidence, existing or new. In science, if we ever change our opinion we always give reasons. Here, none is given.
To the community of scientists, he (Lynas) is a completely unknown entity and no different from somebody one might pick up on the street randomly.
How do we know that he is not purchased?
How do we know the person exists and not merely a story created by the multinational seed companies making GMOs? The very fact that this story has been released without scientific evidence makes the case against GM crops stronger.
What is your stand on promoting GM crops in India?
Firstly, we must make a socio-economic assessment whether there is a problem at all. We had a problem in case of cotton but not for brinjal at all.
Secondly, we must see if alternatives are available to the GM technology. In case of cotton, there was a problem but there were alternatives – integrated pest management, bio-pesticides and organic agriculture. So we didn’t need it.
Third, if it turns out that we need GM crops we must go through a very strict safety assessment. This has not been done for any GM crop (in India). Nearly 30 tests need to be conducted. Out of these, about six tests have been done and that, too, done badly. So for all practical purposes, no safety assessment has been done.
Therefore, a moratorium on GM crops is justified.