Friday, February 21, 2014


Image previewTHIS JUST IN:
GE Food Labeling Bill SB 1381
INTRODUCED FEB 21 2014 by CA State
Senator Noreen Evans

Thursday, February 20, 2014


State Sen. Noreen Evans proposes labeling GMO foods in state   
Peter Breyfogle feeds his daughter, Katherine, 1, an organic package of pureed fruit and grains as Abraham Schroeder, left, feeds his son, Nathaniel, 8 months, a jar of organic pureed peas during lunch at Five Guys on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 in Petaluma. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)
State Sen. Noreen Evans plans to introduce legislation Friday that would require all foods containing genetically modified organisms to be labeled in California, a move sure to reignite a contentious and costly battle that the state's voters last weighed in on in 2012.
The Santa Rosa Democrat says genetically modified organisms have been linked to health problems ranging from allergies to cancer, and that babies, in particular, are at risk of getting sick, in part because their immune systems are not fully developed. “For parents, it's important that they not have to rely on the food industry before deciding what they feed their children,” Evans said Thursday. “Parents should be able to make their own choices.”

Evans originally was planning to target only baby foods. But later Thursday, her staff announced that her bill has been broadened to require GMO labeling for all foods used for “human consumption” in California. That more closely mirrors Proposition 37, which voters rejected in 2012. The senator's staff said about 85 percent of all foods on store shelves in California contain genetically modified organisms. Evans did not respond to a request seeking comment on the changes made to the proposed legislation. Teala Schaff, her spokeswoman, said the changes were made at the request of the California State Grange, which pushed for the original bill.

“It's still a consumer choice bill. She's always been a strong consumer choice advocate,” Schaff said. Mike Greene, director of legislative affairs for the California State Grange, on Thursday attributed the last-minute changes to a “lack of communication between us and the senator's office.”

The grange has about 10,000 members in about 45 California counties. Greene said the organization passed a resolution at its annual meeting in October calling for GMO labeling on baby foods. He said in November, a coalition of 17 groups, including the Grange, Pesticide Action Network and Organic Consumers Association, amended that stance to call for such labeling on all foods sold for human consumption in California. He said the group had four meetings with the senator's staff but that “they didn't understand we were no longer talking about baby foods. We were talking about all foods.”

That raises the stakes on the proposed legislation considerably. Anti-GMO advocates have been pushing for such labels for years, even though the federal government and many scientists say the bio-technology behind genetically modified organisms is safe.
Most grocers are opposed, on the grounds that such labels are unnecessary, confusing to consumers and likely to increase costs to produce new labels or ingredients to meet California's new restrictions.

“Every credible U.S. and international food safety authority that has studied GMO crops has found that they are safe and that there are no health effects associated with their use,” said Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. He said the nation's food safety and labeling laws “should not be set by political campaigns, or state and local legislatures.”

Humans have been altering the foods they consume for millennia. The current debate centers on genetically modified plants that are engineered to resist insecticides and herbicides, add nutritional benefits or otherwise improve crop yields and increase the global food supply. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States today have been genetically modified.

The Food and Drug Administration does not require genetically modified foods to carry a label, and attempts to change that at the federal level have failed. No states currently require labeling of GMO foods, although Greene said bills are pending in 26 states.

In 2005, Sonoma County voters rejected a ballot measure that would have banned certain GMO products for 10 years, ostensibly to allow more time for testing.

All of that has not deterred organic food companies and some consumer groups from continuing their push for labeling. Whole Foods Market is requiring all products sold in its stores in the United States and Canada to carry labels indicating whether they contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018.

Karen Hudson, coordinator of the group Sonoma County Label GMOs, said people “really don't know what the repercussions” of serving foods with genetically engineered ingredients are. With respect to infants, she said it's important parents be given the choice of knowing what goes into the products.

She said she doesn't view it any different than disclosing whether foods contain gluten, trans fats or known allergens. “All it is saying is it has GMO in the food,” she said.
The issue is whether such labeling should be mandatory.

Abraham Schroeder of Petaluma said he doesn't believe it's completely necessary, even though he's more likely to buy foods that specify the ingredients.
He and his wife, Kati Schroeder, choose foods labeled organic or non-GMO for their 8-month-old son Nathaniel, who also gets breast milk.

“We've been genetically selecting food for millennia. Everything we eat now is the result of thousands of years of cross-breeding and modification,” Abraham Schroeder said. “That being said, I like to know what's in my food.”

Another Petaluma father, Peter Breyfogle, said he doesn't know whether “there's an actual risk” tied to genetically modified organisms in food. Still, he and his wife, Marian Hughes, are opting to feed their 13-month-old daughter, Katie, foods that are labeled organic.
“Consumer choice is important, and knowing what you're looking at when you make that choice is great,” he said.

However, UC Davis Professor Martina Newell-McGloughlin said consumers would interpret GMO labels on foods as a warning that the products are unsafe, when she said there is no evidence of that.

She said since the introduction of modern bio-engineered crops in 1994, Americans have consumed about “two trillion” meals containing the organisms without suffering “one single documented incident of any adverse effect.”

“All food has been genetically modified to one extent or the other over the last 1,000 years, and especially, the last 100 years,” said Newell-McGloughlin, director of Life and Health Sciences Research Initiatives and International Biotechnology Program at UC Davis.
Critics of Prop. 37, which was defeated by six percentage points, argued that it would be a payday for lawyers suing to enforce violations.

Greene said Evans' legislation would only allow people to collect attorney's fees, and no damages.

He said her bill also clarifies that food manufacturers — and not retailers — are responsible for disclosing whether foods contain genetically modified organisms. It also does not cover foods consumed by animals.

“People want to know what's in their food, and that's about it,” he said.


2012 Ag Census Figures Show Women Principal Operators Holding Steady at 14% of Total

Women continue as principal operators of 14% of the nation's farms, even though the total number of farms declined between 2007 and 2012, according to preliminary figures released today by the US Department of Agriculture.
Women were listed as principal operators of 288,269 farms nationwide in 2012, compared to 306,209 in 2007. The overall number of farm operators declined from 2.2 million to 2.11 million during that five-year span. Men and women appear to have left farming at an equivalent rate.

Women continue to operate smaller farms than men, earn less income on average, and own a greater percentage of their farmland. This corresponds to the type of farms a majority of women operate: small-scale, diversified farms producing goods for direct sale, rather than the large commodity farms that tend to be operated by men.

"Our network continues to receive calls from aspiring and beginning women farmers all over the US, looking for technical and financial support, and for community," said Adcock. "The network has grown from 300 in 2008 to more than 4,000 today. Women in sustainable agriculture are here to stay."

The 2007 ag census showed a 30% increase in the number of female principal operators since 2002.
"Some of the jump we saw in women operators between 2002 and 2007 may have been due to improved sampling techniques," said Leigh Adcock, executive director of Women, Food and Agriculture Network. "In past years, the census questionnaire had only one space for the primary operator, and in a farm partnership the man typically filled out that form."

Beginning in 2002, the census form included space for two primary operators, allowing women to be more accurately counted.

Adcock added that the preliminary census publication does not yet provide information on women as a percentage of all farm operators (as opposed to principal operators).

Read the 2012 Ag Census Preliminary Report at this link. Data specific to women primary operators, nationwide and by state, begin on page 18 of the report.

Visit WFAN's website to learn more about our programming for women farmers, landowners, and healthy food systems advocates.

WFAN''s mision is to link and empower women to build food systems and communities that are healthy, just, sustainable, and that promote environmental integrity.

For more information, call 515 460 2477, or click here to email the staff.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Malawi's small farmers kept in the dark about G8 New Alliance
By the time the government launched the initiative in December, some of the reforms it had committed to were already under way

Liz Ford in, Tuesday 18 February 2014 04.59 EST

A Malawian farmer waters his maize crop. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Cryton Chipeta and Charles Mazibuko have not heard of the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. The treasurer and secretary, respectively, of the Chisemphere farmers' organisation in Kasungu,Malawi, are also unaware of their government's plans to earmark 200,000 hectares of land for large-scale commercial farming, relax export bans on certain crops, reform its tax laws to make it easier for companies to do business in the country and enact a new land bill.

What Chipeta and Mazibuko do know is that Monsanto offers the best seeds in town, but at a price.

"The benefits are the higher yields and early maturity, but they are quite expensive," Chipeta said.

"But it's worth it, especially if we have a good buyer, like the World Food Programme," added Mazibuko, who is in Blantyre with Chipeta in the hope of selling the maize grown by the farmers' group 208 members to the WFP. "More people are buying hybrid seeds because of the high yields. Hybrids are very resistant to disease," he said.

Chipeta says a 5kg bag of seeds costs up to 4,000 kwacha (more than £5), not a trivial sum when, according to government statistics, over 40% of the country's population of more than 15 million live on less than $1.25 (£0.75) a day. But local seeds are vulnerable to increasingly erratic weather conditions.

The catch for farmers buying hybrid seeds from the likes of Monsanto and the Seed Co Malawi, which dominate the market, is they will need to buy new seeds every year, as what they purchase only lasts for one season.

Monsanto is one of the eight international companies that have signed up to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Malawi. A further 15 companies registered in Malawi, but not necessarily Malawian-owned or managed, are also involved. The 23 companies are jointly promising $100m (£63m) in investments in agriculture.

Malawi announced its was joining the G8 initiative in June last year, promising a range of policy commitments and legislative changes to make the country more attractive to private investors and boost its agricultural output. The changes are to be rolled out between December 2013 and the end of 2018, but most should come into effect over the next two years.

Food insecurity is a huge problem in Malawi. Parts of the country, particularly in the south, are heavily reliant on the UN and NGOs for assistance. Last month, the Malawi vulnerability assessment committee said more than 1.85 million people - more than 10% of the country's population - will need food assistance between January and March. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 1.6 million people received food aid from WFP and NGOs in January. Late rains and sustained high food prices following the government's decision to devalue the kwacha in 2012 are blamed.

The government believes the new alliance will improve the lives of 1.7 million people in Malawi by 2022 through the production of more nutritious crops, investment in agro-processing and increased exports.

Universal Industries, a Blantyre-based snacks and drinks manufacturer, is waiting to hear if it will get a slice of the 200,000 hectares ring-fenced for private investment. The company, which last year took part in new alliance discussions on the policy changes that would help private companies do their work, wants to produce breakfast cereals using locally grown rice and maize, a nutritious porridge by processing soya flour and an instant soya meal. The company is bringing $2m to the table, and sees local farmers as key to making its plans a reality.

Chief executive Kaushik Pillalamarri said around 4,000 hectares of land would allow the company to develop its proposals.

Pilalklamari said it was already working with local smallholders, buying produce and supporting them with technical and good practice advice. "We give them the technical knowhow. It's important that we give them this so they will be successful," he said.

Including farmers into the value chain was crucial to improving incomes,food security and nutrition in the country, he added.

There are concerns, however, about the lack of information available to farmers like Chipeta and Mazibuko. The government only officially launched the New Alliance in December, by which time some of the proposals in its co-operation framework were already in process.

An NGO worker, who declined to be named, said the potential to develop agriculture in Malawi was huge, but that big agricultural companies such as Monsanto dominated the market.

"Eighty percent of people are subsistence farmers. They can easily be turned into commercial farmers if they are supported," he said.

"Farmers need to be listened to. There are no shortcuts to development. Donors are interested in results, quick wins, but most of the problems need long-term [solutions]. You have to talk to farmers."


Ten African countries and their G8 New Alliance commitments
Some of the 200-plus commitments made after agribusinesses were granted unprecedented access to decision-makers

Claire Provost, Tuesday 18 February 2014 05.01 EST
A worker tends to a paddy field on the Saudi Star rice farm in Gambella, Ethiopia. Photograph: Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images

The pledges made by 10 African countries in their New Alliance co-operation frameworks include changes to laws and regulations that make it easier for companies to do business by easing export controls and tax regimes, and by ringfencing huge chunks of land for investment.

Benin promised to change tax, legal and regulatory provisions to encourage and favour investment in agriculture by December 2014. It said it would also revise its investment code to create a more favourable environment for investors. Unlike many other countries involved in the New Alliance, Benin included explicit, albeit vague, commitments to gender equality in its co-operation framework.

Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso committed to helping private sector companies invest in fertiliser. It also said it would improve customs procedures and review its seed law. The government further promised to adopt and implement a national food security policy.

Ethiopia said it would refine its policies on agrochemical imports and revisit its land law to encourage long-term land leasing. It also pledged to ratify a new seed law and implement policies to secure ownership and trade rights for commercial farms. The government said it would encourage international seed companies to operate in the country and revisit regulations to "stimulate private sector engagement in livestock production".

Ghana promised to appoint representatives of private sector investors in key grains to a ministry of food and agriculture committee. It also said it would change its seed law and, by the end of 2015, identify 10,000 hectares of land for private investors.

Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast said it would strengthen services to assist and support investors and develop an action plan to combat products and trademark fraud which threatens the agropharmaceutical industry. It also pledged to change its seed law by the end of 2014. Unlike many other countries involved in the New Alliance, Ivory Coast's co-operation framework includes a few explicit commitments on nutrition. It says it will strengthen regulations and laws on biofortification and food hygiene, and draft laws on the marketing of breast milk substitutes.
Malawi said it would set aside 200,000 hectares of land for large scale commercial agriculture by 2015. It also pledged to end export bans on crops other than maize and set up a one-stop shop to promote and attract investment and assist investors. The government said it would fast-track new agriculture, irrigation, industry and trade policies by January 2014, and review tax regimes to "maximise incentives to investment" in areas identified by its national export strategy by the end of 2016.
Mozambique said it would revise its seed law and stop the distribution of free and "unimproved" seeds except in emergencies. It pledged to implement new regulations to promote private sector investment in seed production and adopt procedures so that land rights could be obtained faster and at lower costs.
Nigeria pledged to complete the privatisation of power companies and pass a new seed law that reflects the role of the private sector in the development, multiplication and marketing of seeds. The government also promised to liberalise the country's agricultural insurance market by the end of 2014 to allow private sector companies to participate. On nutrition, it said it would develop a fully costed plan and update its national policy. Nigeria said it would provide funding to expand school feeding programmes, with 25% of produce purchased from local farmers.
Senegal's commitments are particularly broad and open to interpretation. It said that it would "implement tax incentives for agricultural investment" by late 2013 but did not specify what the incentives would be. It also said it would "update and implement" its policies on nutrition and the feeding of infants and young children in 2016.
The Tanzanian government pledged to reduce or lift taxes on farm machinery and equipment, crops, seeds and seed packaging. It also made commitments to facilitate imports of seeds and agrochemicals from outside the region.



Published on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Inter Press Service

Private Equity Predators and the Great American Farm Grab
Half of US farmland being eyed by private equity interests

by Carey L. Biron'S FARMALND

Industry analysts say the institutional share of U.S. farmland ownership is rising quickly. (Credit: Bigstock)WASHINGTON - An estimated 400 million acres of farmland in the United States will likely change hands over the coming two decades as older farmers retire, even as new evidence indicates this land is being strongly pursued by private equity investors.

Mirroring a trend being experienced across the globe, this strengthening focus on agriculture-related investment by the private sector is already leading to a spike in U.S. farmland prices. Coupled with relatively weak federal policies, these rising prices are barring many young farmers from continuing or starting up small-scale agricultural operations of their own.

"This is no longer necessarily about food at all, but rather is a way to reap financial profits." -- Anuradha Mittal

In the long term, critics say, this dynamic could speed up the already fast-consolidating U.S. food industry, with broad ramifications for both human and environmental health.

“When non-operators own farms, they tend to source out the oversight to management companies, leading in part to horrific conditions around labour and how we treat the land,” Anuradha Mittal, the executive director of the Oakland Institute, a U.S. watchdog group focusing on global large-scale land acquisitions, told IPS.

“They also reprioritise what commodities are grown on that land, based on what can yield the highest return. This is no longer necessarily about food at all, but rather is a way to reap financial profits. Unfortunately, that’s far removed from the central role that land ultimately plays in terms of climate change, growing hunger and the stability of the global economy.”

In a new report released Tuesday, the Oakland Institute tracks rising interest from some of the financial industry’s largest players. Citing information from Freedom of Information Act requests, the group says this includes bank subsidiaries (the Swiss UBS Agrivest), pension funds (the U.S. TIAA-CREF) and other private equity interests (such as HAIG, a subsidiary of Canada’s largest insurance group).

“Today, enthusiasm for agriculture borders on speculative mania. Driven by everything from rising food prices to growing demand for biofuel, the financial sector is taking an interest in farmland as never before,” the report states.

"Driven by the same structural factors and perpetrated by many of the same investors, the corporate consolidation of agriculture is being felt just as strongly in Iowa and California as it is in the Philippines and Mozambique.”

As yet, the amount of U.S. land owned by private investors is thought to be relatively low. The report points to a 2011 industry estimate that large-scale investors at the time owned around one percent of U.S. farmland, worth between three five billion dollars.

Last year, however, another industry analyst put this figure at around 10 billion dollars, suggesting that the institutional share of farmland ownership is rising quickly.

“We’ve been seeing a decimation of the family farmer for a long time, but now these processes are accelerating,” Mittal says. “We need a tightening at the policy level before we’re swamped by these trends."

Demographic collision

In the year after food prices suddenly rose in 2008, global speculation in land rose by some 200 percent. With the international financial meltdown coinciding almost simultaneously with this crisis, investors have increasingly viewed agricultural land as a relatively safe place to put their money amidst rising volatility.

In the United States, investors are particularly eyeing potential future returns from mineral prospecting, water rights and strengthening trends in meat consumption. U.S. farmland is also seen as globally desirable due to a combination of high-tech farming opportunities and lax regulations regarding the use of genetically modified crops.

As a result of this new interest, land prices in the United States have risen by an estimated 213 percent over the past decade. This could now play into two trends at once.

Already, the United States is home to relatively low numbers of farmers, with the country famously home to more prisoners than full-time agriculturalists. But those who do continue to farm are also quickly aging.

While federal agriculture officials are expected to offer updated demographic information within the coming week, the most recent statistics suggest that just 6 percent of farmers are under 35 of age. Further, some 70 percent of U.S. farmland is owned by people 65 years or older.

“The older generation needs to cash out because they have no retirement funds, even as the new generation doesn’t have the capital to get into the kind of debt that [starting a farm] requires,” Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a farmer and co-founder of the Agrarian Trust, a group that helps new farmers access land, told IPS.

“Today there is a huge number of older folks trying to decide what to do with their land, and in many places we don’t have many years to help them make that decision. So in that sense there’s an urgent need, and we don’t have many tools at the federal level to help.”

For the most part, Fleming suggests, U.S. federal agriculture policy today is not aligned to the country’s best interests, instead pointing away from greater agricultural diversity, regional resilience and greater strengthened opportunity for rural economies. Nonetheless, she says that her organisation is encountering a surge of attention from young people that want to start their own farms.

“Over the past seven years, we’ve had an explosion of interest in being trained as a farmer and entering the trade of agriculture, and this is very much related to the crises around the banks and the environment,” she says.

“The problem we’re facing is not one in which nobody wants to farm, but rather the fact that the U.S. economy is structured in such a way that makes it really hard to start a farm in this country.”

© 2014 IPS North America



Confirmed: DNA From Genetically Modified Crops Are Transferred Into Humans Who Eat Them

In a new study published in the peer reviewed Public Library of Science (PLOS), researchers emphasize that there is sufficient evidence that meal-derived DNA fragments carry complete genes that can enter into the human circulation system through an unknown mechanism. (0) 
It’s interesting to ponder if the scientists at these biotech corporations have already identified this method? In one of the blood samples the relative concentration of plant DNA is higher than the human DNA.  
The study was based on the analysis of over 1000 human samples from four independent studies. PLOS is an open access, well respected peer-reviewed scientific journal that covers primary research from disciplines within science and medicine.  It’s great to see this study published in it, confirming what many have been suspecting for years.
When it comes to genetically modified crops and foods, we really have no idea of what the long term effects will be on the public. The very first commercial sale of genetically modified foods was only twenty years ago in the year 1994.
There is no possible way that our health authorities can test all possible combinations on a large enough population, over a long enough period of time to be able to say with certainty that they are harmless. Geneticist David Suzuki recently expressed his concern, saying that human beings are part of a “massive genetic experiment” over many years, as thousands of people continue to consume GMO’s, and it makes sense.
Advances in genome science over the past few years have revealed that organisms can share their genes. Prior to this, it had been thought that genes were shared only between individual members of a species through reproduction. Geneticists usually followed the inheritance of genes in what they would call a ‘vertical’ fashion, such as breeding a male and female -you follow their offspring and continue down the road from there.
Today, scientists recognize that genes are shared not only among the individual members of a species, but also among members of different species.
Our bloodstream is considered to be an environment well separated from the outside world and the digestive tract. According to the standard paradigm large macromolecules consumed with food cannot pass directly to the circulatory system. During digestion proteins and DNA are thought to be degraded into small constituents, amino acids and nucleic acids, respectively, and then absorbed by a complex active process and distributed to various parts of the body through the circulation system. Here, based on the analysis of over 1000 human samples from four independent studies, we report evidence that meal-derived DNA fragments which are large enough to carry complete genes can avoid degradation and through an unknown mechanism enter the human circulation system. In one of the blood samples the relative concentration of plant DNA is higher than the human DNA. The plant DNA concentration shows a surprisingly precise log-normal distribution in the plasma samples while non-plasma (cord blood) control sample was found to be free of plant DNA.
It’s not like a human being mates with an apple, banana or a carrot plant and exchanges genes. What biotechnology and biotech corporations like Monsanto have done, is they have allowed for the transfer of genes from one to the other without any regard for the biological limitations, or constraints. The problem with this is that it is based on very bad science.
The conditions and biological ‘rules’ that apply to vertical gene transfer, at least those that we are aware of, do not necessarily apply to horizontal gene transfer. Biotech science today is based on the assumption that the principles governing the inheritance of genes are the same when we move genes horizontally as they are when they are moved vertically.
It just goes to show that GMO’s should be subjected to much more experimentation and rigorous research before we continue to consume them.
How can our governing health authorities approve these as safe? It’s almost as if they told us they were safe, and we just believed them without questioning it. We seem to be a very gullible race, but things are changing and more are starting to question the world around them.
One small mutation in a human being can determine so much, the point is when you move a gene, one gene, one tiny gene out of an organism into a different one you  completely change its context. There is no way to predict how it’s going to behave and what the outcome will be. We think that we design these life forms, but it’s like taking the Toronto orchestra prepared to play a Beethoven symphony and then you take some random drummers from “here” and flip them in with the Toronto symphony  and you say play music. What comes out is going to be something very very different. Publicists say that there is good intention behind GMOs, but the fact of the matter is it’s driven by money. – David Suzuki
I personally believe the intentions go beyond money, but that’s another story.
It’s also pretty clear that DNA from food can and does end up in animal tissues and the milk products that people eat. (4)(5)
There are studies that show when humans or animals digest genetically modified foods, the artificially created genes transfer into and alter the character of the beneficial bacteria in the intestine. Researchers report that microbes found in the small bowel of people with ilestomy are capable of acquiring and harboring DNA sequences from GM plants.(1)
Genetically modified crops have infiltrated animal feed since 1996, and it’s normal for them to have a complete GM diet. Studies have linked GMO animal feed to severe stomach inflammation and enlarged uteri in pigs.
It’s also important to note that gene transfer among genetically engineered agricultural crops and surrounding native species has given rise to a highly resistant species called super weeds. According to the world health organization, gene transfer and the movement of genes from GM plants into conventional crops or related species may have an effect on food safety and food security.
“This risk is real, as was shown when traces of maize type which was only approved for feed use appeared in maize products from human consumption in the United States.” (3)
The truth is, genetic engineers have never taken the reality of gene transfer into consideration when they produce these things and introduce them into the environment. As a result, we are now starting to see the consequences of genes that are engineered, particularly how they spread and alter other organisms in various environments. Watrud et al (2004) found that the herbicide-resistance transgene spread via pollen to an area up to 21 km beyond the control area perimeter and had pollinated wild creeping bentgrass.(2)
Prior to this year, governments concluded that transfer of DNA from GM crops/foods is unlikely to occur. Now we can see that they are wrong, or perhaps they had knowledge of this already?
Regardless of the fact that DNA from GM foods can be transferred to humans and animals, very little is still known today and what is known does not look good.
There are studies linking GMO’s and pesticides to various ailments. We’ve presented and written about them on our website numerous times, this is another article to add to the growing amount of evidence to suggest we need to halt the production of GMO’s until we conclusively know that they are safe for human consumption.
It’s not a mystery why most countries around the world have completely banned GMO’s.
Lipton, H Bruce, The Biology of Belief. United States: Hay House INC. 2006



OCA's GMO Talking Points

·         Organic Consumers Association, February 7, 2014 
For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Millions Against Monsanto pageand our Genetic Engineering page.

In January, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) obtained the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s (GMA) “One-Pager” of talking points about GMOs and GMO labeling laws. The document is intended for use by food industry lobbyists whose job it is to convince state lawmakers to reject GMO labeling bills in their states.

The GMA’s talking points include the usual misinformation about GMO safety testing and the so-called benefits of GMOs. They also include claims that GMO labeling laws are unconstitutional—claims that, as we explain here, are baseless.

The OCA has its own list of GMO talking points. A list we don’t need to “leak.” We’re happy to make it public for everyone, not just lobbyists and the politicians they hope to influence. Because our talking points are backed up by facts, research and reliable sources.

I. Facts on Genetic Engineering in Agriculture

Genetically engineered crops do not improve yield.

Source: Failure to Yield, Union of Concerned Scientists

Less than 1% of genetically engineered crops are disease-resistant.

For Hawaiian papaya, the only major disease-resistant crop, yields are down, costs to farmers are up.
Sources: War of the Papayas
Papaya Production Taking a Tumble

Insects quickly develop resistance to crops engineered to produce insecticides, requiring extensive and diverse insecticide use.
Source: Monsanto Shares Slip on Bug-Resistant Corn Woes

Weeds quickly adopt genetically engineered crops’ herbicide tolerant traits, requiring excessive and varied herbicide use. 
Sources: Resistant weeds by species and country
Killer Pig Weeds Threatens Crops in the South
'Superweed' explosion threatens Monsanto heartlands

Monsanto pays farmers to use more herbicide on its genetically engineered crops. 
Sources: US Farmers Cope with RoundUp-resistant weeds
Monsanto paying farmers to increase herbicide use

Genetically engineered crops require 26% more pesticides than normal crops.

The only drought-resistant genetically engineered crop, a corn variety developed by Monsanto, is only useful for 15% of U.S. corn.

The cost of farming papaya has gone up. A Hawaiian genetically engineered papaya farmer says, “The price is going down and still the costs of farming goes up.” Quoted in “Papaya production taking a tumble.”

The cost of genetically engineered seeds has gone up.

Herbicide costs have gone up for farmers growing genetically engineered crops.

Insecticide costs have gone up for farmers growing genetically engineered crops.

Costs for farmers have increased due to genetically engineered crops’ decreased nitrogen fixation. 

II. Facts on Current Federal Policy on Genetically Engineered Food Labels

The Grocery Manufacturers Association quotes the FDA, as saying:

The agency is still not aware of any data or other information that would form a basis for concluding that the fact that a food or its ingredients was produced using bioengineering is a material fact that must be disclosed…FDA is therefore reaffirming its decision to not require special labeling of all bioengineered foods.
- Food and Drug Administration, 2001

The GMA is quoting a 2001 draft guidance on voluntary labels that was never finalized. This is what they want to become law, but it is not the law. The 2001 draft guidance suggests that genetically engineered food should not be labeled, absent a finding that genetically engineered food are harming human health. That is not the standard under current law for food labels.

The relevant FDA document is: 

FDA Statement of Policy: Foods Derived From New Plant Varieties, May 1992

The standard for requiring labels under current law is that information is needed to prevent consumer confusion or deception.

Consumers are unaware that some foods have been genetically engineered, and if they do know that genetic engineering is being used to produce food, they cannot identify those foods.

Consumers believe that foods like corn and soy are the same crops that have been cultivated by humans for thousands of years. In fact, these and other food crops have been engineered at the genetic level to produce unique, patentable traits, that have never before been part of the human diet. That information is material whether or not we know the health consequences of eating these foods.

III. What Independent Scientific Organizations Actually Say

The World Health Organization:

"Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods."

The American Medical Association:

"(4) Our AMA supports mandatory pre-market systematic safety assessments of bioengineered foods and encourages: (a) development and validation of additional techniques for the detection and/or assessment of unintended effects; (b) continued use of methods to detect substantive changes in nutrient or toxicant levels in bioengineered foods as part of a substantial equivalence evaluation; (c) development and use of alternative transformation technologies to avoid utilization of antibiotic resistance markers that code for clinically relevant antibiotics, where feasible; and (d) that priority should be given to basic research in food allergenicity to support the development of improved methods for identifying potential allergens. The FDA is urged to remain alert to new data on the health consequences of bioengineered foods and update its regulatory policies accordingly."

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences:

The products of genetic engineering “carry the potential for introducing unintended compositional changes that may have adverse effects on human health.”

IV. Is There a Constitutional Issue?


“Where a law compels disclosure of ‘purely factual and uncontroversial information,’ the law need only be ‘reasonably related to the [government’s] interest in preventing deception of consumers’ to pass muster under the First Amendment.”
Source: American Meat Institute v. USDA

The GMA points out that one labeling statute has been overturned for violating the First Amendment: “In 1996, the Second Federal Circuit in the case of IDFA v. Amestoy, applied the test found in Central Hudson Gas and blocked a Vermont law that required dairy producers to label milk from cows treated with a growth hormone. The court explained that Vermont’s stated interests in adopting the law – strong consumer interest and the public’s right to know – were not substantial enough to justify the functional equivalent of a warning about a production method that has no discernible impact on a final product.”

The reasoning of IDFA v. Amestoy was overturned in IDFA v. Boggs.

If the GMA sues, the case will be dismissed.

The current situation, where the vast majority of consumers know virtually nothing about how genetic engineering is being used in food production, is a case of consumer confusion that demands action.

There are proponents of genetic engineering in agriculture that support labels. 
Sources: (Consumer Attitudes Toward Biotech Food)

A label that says "produced with genetic engineering" makes a neutral statement of fact. It is not an advertisement and it is not a warning label. The label is not trying to induce the consumer to reach for or reject the product. It is just a simple fact.

The only basis the state needs to require labeling is that, absent a label, consumers will be confused or misled.

Most people figure that some food sold in stores today is genetically engineered. (Among people whose education is a high school degree or less, only 44.7% know this, while 81.4% who have a college degree or beyond know it.) But, very few people can identify those foods. Only one of four people say they completely understand genetically engineered food.

V. What is the GMA?

The GMA says it is “the voice of more than 300 leading food, beverage and consumer product companies that sustain and enhance the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people in the United States, and around the globe. Based in Washington, D.C., GMA’s member organizations include internationally recognized brands as well as steadily growing localized brands.”

GMA members include Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Dupont, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft, Ely Lily, General Mills and Syngenta.

More on the GMA here:

Research compiled by Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Monsanto’s Bt-Toxins Found to Kill Human Embryo Cells

Christina Sarich
January 24th, 2014
Updated 01/24/2014 at 1:15 am
genetically modified corn 263x175 Monsanto’s Bt Toxins Found to Kill Human Embryo CellsMany individuals have heard it a million times, but for the uninformed, or those just looking to fuel their 2014 fire to finally defeat Monsanto and their cronies, you’ll be interested to know that Monsanto’s Bt-toxin is far from ‘safe’ as the chemical company claimed it would be when filing their papers with the FDA. New research from Canada show that BT toxins are showing up in pregnant women, and low and behold – they are killing human embryo cells. 2014 is the year of the horse, but we’re not through beating this one to death.
It’s called reproductive toxicology, and just like their suicide seeds, these Bt toxins are starting to kill our own unborn children. This is no exaggeration. Hopefully reading further will compel you to take action. It is time to put Monsanto to rest, bankrupt them, and let the world know their ‘secrets’ near and far.
Bt toxins are prominent in genetically altered crops such as corn, soy, wheat, and others, called Cry1Ab – and they can be lethal. Not only do these cry-toxins target the kidney cells of developing human fetuses, but when Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac are combined with RoundUp, they can delay apoptosis of human cancer cells. What’s worse, glyphosate, the main ingredient in RoundUp, also causes necrosis – i.e. the death of human tissue, and this happens even when the substance is found in much smaller amounts than what is currently being used on our agricultural crops. The stuff is still carcinogenic in the parts per trillion range.
In its rush to remain the ‘agricultural leader’ of the world, the US government erected defunct regulatory bodies that have no means to truly examine the ramifications of biotechnology on our food. The National Institute of Health (NIH) is a joke and the FDA gave Monsanto an indefinite hall pass to cause mayhem on the food supply.
More people need to file lawsuits against this company until they are without one red cent to continue poisoning the planet and killing our unborn babies. The Organic Seed Grower’s Association sued Monsanto in 2011, and Idaho wheat growers are suing Monsanto for cross-contamination, but what about parental groups? Mother’s Against Drunk Driving was formed when a mom lost her baby to a drunk driver. Perhaps the mothers who face reproductive failure due to Monsanto’s hand can sue them collectively.
The FDA’s internal memos about their concerns surrounding GMO seed crops recently surfaced in one lawsuit, though the public was never meant to see them. GMO foods are not the foods we have always eaten. This is an outright lie.
Any lawyers out there willing to go against the monopoly? I’d sign a class action suit today. Would you? In the meantime, utilize these 5 tips for avoiding GMOs while you write your local senator, state representatives, congressman, and president.

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