Friday, February 19, 2016


Published on
Friday, February 19, 2016

'Historic Settlement' Cheered as Harbinger of End to Toxic Pesticides' Harm

Impacts of atrazine and glyphosate, other pesticides on endangered species to be analyzed by USFWS
    Inline image 3
The California red-legged frog, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. (Photo:  J. Maughn/flickr/cc)
A conservation organization is celebrating what it calls a "historical settlement" that stands to put permanent restrictions on widely used pesticides and prevent federal agencies from doing industry bidding.

The settlement (pdf) reached Friday between the Center for Biological Diversity, the Interior Department, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) centers around the impacts of atrazine, simazine, propazine, and glyphosate on endangered species.
USFWS will now have to finish the consultation process with EPA on these chemicals' impacts on endangered species by December 2022.

The problem, as Center sees it, is that EPA had failed to do the required consultation before listing pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, and with those four chemicals accounting for 40 percent of annual pesticide use in the U.S., the conservation group says there are significant risks posed to endangered species as well as human health.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warned last year that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, "probably causes cancer," while atrazine has been linked to birth defects.
"The analysis required under the Endangered Species Act is our best bet for forcing the EPA to stop acting as a rubber stamp for industry, and to finally make environmental protection the highest priority in decisions about these dangerous pesticides," Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center, said in a press statement.

Hartl is hopeful that proper assessments will bring "long-overdue protections for our country's most endangered species."

"Once the Fish and Wildlife Service completes its analysis, and the public finally learns just how toxic and deadly these pesticides are to endangered species, we hope that the government will ultimately take most of these products off the shelf," he stated.

The organization also welcomed news this week that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would for the first time begin testing for residues of glyphosate in certain foods.

"It’s shocking that it’s taken so long, but we’re glad it’s finally going to happen," said Dr. Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement on Wednesday about the FDA testing.  "More and more scientists are raising concerns about the effects of glyphosate on human health and the environment," Donley continued. "With about 1.7 billion pounds of this pesticide used each year worldwide, the FDA's data is badly needed to facilitate long-overdue conversations about how much of this chemical we should tolerate in our food."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

#GMO SHILLS #JonEntine , #BruceChassy #KeithKloor #TamarHaspel SPEW INDUSTRY LIES

Chemical Industry's Master Messenger

Jon Entine of Genetic Literacy Project defends GMOs, pesticides, industrial chemicals, fracking and nuclear power, and attacks scientists and others who raise concerns. So who pays his bills? Here’s what we know:

WaPo Food Writer Missed the Food Movement

Washington Post food columnist Tamar Haspel investigated the food movement and concluded there isn’t much of a food movement and people don’t care about GMO labeling. Her sources? Outdated, irrelevant polls and an interview with the chemical industry's PR firm.

"Independent" Professor Chassy?

University of Illinois Professor Emeritus Bruce Chassy argues against organic food and advocates for policies to help the agrichemical industry. Don't miss this CounterSpin interview with Carey Gillam about the internal documents that reveal Chassy's undisclosed ties to Monsanto.

Keith Kloor's Attack Beat

Freelance journalist Keith Kloor has made a beat of attacking consumer, public health and environmental advocates who raise questions about the risks of pesticides and GMOs. Now he has a page on the Polluter Watch website:

Circle of Spin

How do PR operatives like Jon Entine work with journalists to promote chemical industry interests? Documents obtained by U.S. Right to Know reveal associations between Entine, Kloor and Haspel.

USDA Censorship of Scientists Draws Federal Probe

The Ag Department's inspector general is opening a broad investigation into complaints that agency officials have silenced USDA researchers on issues such as pesticides. Inspector General Phyllis Fong said her office has received a “significant volume” of complaints, “which is why we're taking it seriously.”

Organic For The Win

New meta study: 40 years of science comparing long-term prospects of organic and conventional farming finds organic agriculture is the key to feeding the world sustainably.

Tweets of the Week 

@KariHamerschlag #Organic farming does better than chemical ag in face of climate change; more profitable, new meta study finds

@FoodMythBusters "In their village it was easier to get Pepsi than potable drinking water" Listen for more: @annalappe via @905KHSU

@FoodAwakenings Consumer demand bolstering organic production and markets in the U.S., reports USDA

Want more food for thought? 

Follow us on Twitter:@USRighttoKnow  @CareyGillam @StacyMalkan 
@GaryRuskin. Join us on Facebook and invite your friends to sign up for our newsletter.


FDA to Start Testing for Glyphosate in Food

The federal agency already tests for residues of many agricultural chemicals on food. Now it will include the widely used weed killer linked to cancer.
The FDA’s move comes amid growing public concern about the safety of the herbicide known as glyphosate, and comes after the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO)rebuked the agency for failing to do such assessments and for not disclosing that short-coming to the public.
Private companies, academics, and consumer groups have recently launched their own testing and claim to have detected glyphosate residues in breast milk, honey, cereal, wheat flour, soy sauce, infant formula, and other substances.
FDA officials dubbed the issue “sensitive” and declined to provide details of the plans, but FDA spokeswoman Lauren Sucher said the agency was moving forward to test for glyphosate for the first time in the agency’s history.
“The agency is now considering assignments for Fiscal Year 2016 to measure glyphosate in soybeans, corn, milk, and eggs, among other potential foods,” she told Civil Eats. Soybeans and corn are common ingredients in an array of food products and genetically engineered (or GMO) varieties are commonly sprayed with glyphosate.
The start-up costs to implement selective residue methods for glyphosate at six FDA testing laboratories is pegged at about $5 million, according to a statement the FDA gave the GAO after the GAO criticized FDA for not testing for glyphosate in a 2014 audit. The GAO reported that it found multiple deficiencies in the FDA’s pesticide residue testing program, and specifically cited a failure to test for glyphosate, which the GAO called the “most used agricultural pesticide.”
“Maybe we shamed them into it,” said John Neumann, a spokesman for the GAO FDA report. Neumann said the GAO did not demand that FDA conduct such testing, but said at the very least, FDA needed to disclose the lack of testing. The GAO will be reviewing FDA’s progress on meeting all of the GAO recommendations in June, Neumann added. “There were significant limitations to the credibility of their data,” he said.
Both the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) routinely conduct such testing of foods for the residues of hundreds of pesticides. Both routinely skip testing for glyphosate, however, claiming such testing is too expensive and not needed to protect public health. Now, Sucher said, the agency has developed “streamlined methods” for testing for the weed killer.
Under the existing regulatory framework, the EPA sets standards—known as tolerances—for pesticide residues on foods. An arm of the USDA monitors meat, poultry, and processed egg products to ensure they do not violate EPA’s tolerances, while FDA monitors other foods, including fruits and vegetables. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service gathers annual residue data for highly consumed foods. But unlike the USDA, FDA holds enforcement authority, the ability to take action against a company, if residues exceed legal levels, though critics have charged the FDA’s enforcement powers are weak.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, and is the most widely used herbicide in the world. Monsanto patented the herbicide in the 1970s, and it quickly became popular for its effectiveness in killing troublesome weeds. Glyphosate use skyrocketed after Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” crops in the mid-1990s, which were genetically engineered to be immune to glyphosate—meaning farmers could spray the pesticide directly over the crops. There are also many non-GMO crops, including wheat, that are sprayed directly with glyphosate before being harvested to help dry them out. Glyphosate is now off patent and is used in hundreds of herbicide products around the world.
The FDA effort comes during an intense political debate over perceived risks of genetically modified crop technology to human health and the environment, and glyphosate residues on food is a key concern. Several states have moved to mandate labeling of foods made with GMOs, and one such measure in Vermont is set to take effect July 1.  Many large food industry players and agribusiness interests are fighting mandatory labeling and seeking a federal bill that would block Vermont’s law.
The FDA move to start testing was cheered by Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union, though Hansen said the USDA must not continue to duck the issue. The USDA’s annual pesticide data program (PDP), in operation since 1991, is considered the primary authoritative report on pesticide residues on food.
“That’s an excellent first step … but it should be part of the pesticide data program (at the USDA),” said Hansen. “The United Kingdom has been doing this for years. Given the vast expansion in use we should be seeing more exposure. They should have been doing it a lot earlier.”
Monsanto brings in about $5 billion annually in revenues from glyphosate. The company and other agribusiness interests say that there is no valid evidence linking glyphosate to disease or illness and trace amounts of glyphosate residues on food are nothing to fear. They say there are numerous studies that have determined glyphosate to be safe.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has largely agreed, and in 2013, raised the amount of glyphosate residues on certain food crops that the agency considered safe. A new risk assessment conducted by EPA of glyphosate was expected to be released last year but has been delayed.
But critics say several studies have linked glyphosate to human health ailments, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma and kidney and liver problems, and because glyphosate is so pervasive in the environment, even trace amounts can be harmful due to extended exposure.
Glyphosate use by U.S. farmers rose from 12.5 million pounds in 1995 to 250 million pounds in 2014, a 20-fold increase, while global use rose from 112.6 million pounds in 1995 to 1.65 billion pounds in 2014, according to recent research in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe by Charles Benbrook. Benbrook is currently a private consultant, but he conducted the research as a professor at Washington State University.
A USDA spokesman, who did not want to be named, said that agency had been informed that FDA will start the testing with corn and soybeans. The USDA does not plan to start its own testing, he told Civil Eats. Monsanto had no immediate comment.

Monday, February 15, 2016


JOINT SIGN-ON STATEMENT FAO Symposium on Biotechnology: The biotechnology industry runs the show The undersigned representatives of peasant and other Civil Society organizations, men and women, express our concern and alarm about the FAO International Symposium on “The Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition”1 to be held at FAO headquarters in Rome on 15-17 February 2016.

We are concerned as to why FAO has decided to hold this Symposium, and why now. We remember the disastrous last attempt by FAO to act as an undercover agent for biotechnology companies, by organizing the International Technical Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2010.2

We are alarmed that FAO is once again fronting for the same corporations, just when these companies are talking about further mergers amongst themselves, which would concentrate the commercial seeds sector in even fewer hands. FAO should act as a knowledge center, rather than as a promoter of the ideological approach of the private sector. Unfortunately the program for this symposium is designed to showcase the "benefits" of GMOs, artificial genetic constructs created with possibly even more dangerous technologies, and other biotechnologies held by a handful of TNCs. 

Last year FAO hosted an international symposium on agroecology and three regional meetings to discuss with governments and civil society how to move the agroecology agenda forward.3 Those activities were much closer to the way that FAO should act, as a center for knowledge exchange, without a hidden agenda on behalf of a few. Yet in this case, truly useful peasant-based technologies must take a backseat to those that only serve to advance corporate profits. 

It is clear that, through the FAO, industry wants to re-launch their false message that genetically engineered crops can feed the world and cool the planet, while the reality is that nothing has changed on the biotech front. GMOs don't feed people, they are mostly planted in a handful of countries on industrial plantations for agrofuels and animal feed, they increase pesticide use, and they throw farmers off the land.4 The industrial food system that it promotes is one of the main drivers of climate change.5 If anything, the situation has worsened over the past years: 

  • The quality of private sector agricultural research has been declining, even as their expenditures have increased, leading to vulnerability among seed and crop chemical input companies;
  • As a result, mergers and acquisitions are being planned with, and among, the Big Six seed/pesticide corporations that already control 75% of global private sector research and development in agriculture; 
  • In desperation the surviving companies are calling for “climate-smart” agriculture, demanding protection from anti-cartel/competition regulators, pushing for more intellectual property rights and for increased public subsidies to allow them to go ahead with their plans. 
  • The same corporations are going beyond conventional GMO plant varieties toward “extreme biotech” strategies such as synthetic biology to create new genetic constructs, and trying, once again, to overturn the UN moratorium against Terminator seeds. Not only do they ignore the rights of farmers, they are using biotechnologies to patent plant genes that are already in peasants’ fields and that we have selected ourselves. With collaboration of the Seed Treaty, the so called Divseek program offers totally free access to all the gene sequences of the seeds that we have given free of charge to the gene banks. With the new biotechnologies for editing the genome, international corporations re-compose these genes in order to patent them. They want to forbid us to produce our own seeds and oblige us to buy their patented GMOs every year as well as their toxic pesticides, indispensable to grow those GMOs. 
  • In animal husbandry and fisheries where transgenic salmon and pigs already exist, we see the same scenario, the strengthening of industrial production and the increase in the use of antibiotics....

    We remember the last time FAO allowed the biotech giants to push them into an international conference, in Guadalajara in 2010, at which the FAO worked hard, as in this case, to limit the involvement and participation of La Vía Campesina and other CSOs, and was publicly condemned for shameless promotion of GMOs by many organizations across the world6 .

    Why does FAO limit itself to corporate biotechnology and deny the existence of peasant technologies? It is time to stop pushing this narrow corporate biotech agenda. The vast majority of the world's farmers are peasants, and it is peasants who feed the world. We need peasant-based technologies, not corporate biotechnologies.

    It is high time that FAO gets its priorities clear. Rather than allowing corporations to push their biotechnology agendas, FAO should forcefully pursue agroecology and food sovereignty as the path to feed the world and cool the planet!

    International and Regional Organizations

    ActionAid International
    African Biodiversity Network (ABN)
    Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
    Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)
    Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)
    Campaña Mesoamericana para la Justicia Climática
    CICODEV Africa
    Coordinación Regional del Frente Parlamentario contra el Hambre de América Latina y el Caribe
    Comité pour l’Annulation de la Dette du Tiers Monde (CADTM International) Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité (CIDSE)
    Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Brussels ETC Group
    Focus on the Global South India, Thailand and Philippines
    Friends of the Earth International Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity
    Greenpeace International
    Growth Partners Africa –GPA
    Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC)
    International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)
    La Via Campesina
    Movimiento Agroecológico de América Latina y el Caribe (MAELA)
    Pan-Africanist International Pelum Association, Africa Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD Regional) Red interamericana de economía solidaria de latinoamérica y el caribe. RIPESS LAC Red por una América Latina Libre de Transgénicos Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas para América Latina (RAPAL) RIPESS Europe RIPESS Intercontinental Slow Food Society for International Development (SID) Solidarity Economy Europe Transnational Institute (TNI) Urgenci Europe Urgenci International Network World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) World Public Health Nutrition Association World Rainforest Movement (WRM)

    National and Local Organizations

    Acción Ecológica, Ecuador ADTM International, Belgium African Center for Biodiversity, South Africa and Tanzania Agriculture Sovereignty Ghana AGRECOL, Germany AIAB, Italy ALIANZA DERECHO HUMANO A LA ALIMENTACIÓN –ADHAC, , Guatemala Alianza por una Mejor Calidad de Vida/Red de Acción en Plaguicidas de Chile, RAPChile Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), India ALTERNATIVAS (COMCAUSA), Mexico AMAR Environment Defense Association, Brazil APROMAC Environment Protection Association, Brazil Articulação de Agroecologia na Bahia- (AABA), Brazil Articulação Semiárido Brasileiro (ASA), Brazil Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) Associação Brasileira de Agroecologia (ABA), Brazil Associação Gaúcha de Proteção ao Ambiente Natural (AGAPAN), Brazil Associação para o Desenvolvimento da Agroecologia (AOPA), Brazil Association Citoyenne de Défenses des Intérêts Collectifs (ACDIC), Cameroon ATTAC Argentina ATTAC France ATTAC CADTM, Morroco Attac Côte d'Ivoire Australian Food Sovereignty Allianc BioScience Resource Project, USA Bread for the World, Germany CADTM, Maroc Campaña Yo No Quiero Transgénicos, Chile Censat Agua Viva - Amigos de la Tierra, Colombia Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America, Germany Centre Europe-Tiers Monde (CETIM), Switzerland Centro de Derechos Humanos "Fray Francisco de Vitoria OP", A.C., Mexico CENTRO DE DIREITOS HUMANOS E EMPRESAS (HOMA), UFJF, Brazil Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” , Ecuador Centro Ecologico, Brasil Çiftçi-SEN (Confederation of Farmers' Unions), Turkey CSMM, Ecuador CCFD-Terre Solidaire, France Coalition for a GM-Free India, India Coldiretti, Italy Colectivo Revuelta Verde, Mexico Colectivo VientoSur, Chile Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, Ecuador Community to Community, USA Comunidades Campesinas y Urbanas Solidarias con Alternativas, México Conselho Nacional das Populações Extrativistas (CNS), Brazil Cooperativa por un Ambiente Biodiverso y Sustentable, CAMBIOS, S.C., Mexico Cooperativa Semilla Austral, Chile Coordinadora de Movimientos Populares para la Integración Latinoamericana Coordination Climat Justice Sociale, Switzerland Earthlife Africa, South Africa Ecologistas en Acción, Spain Ekologistak Martxan, Spain Educación, Cultura y Ecología, A. C. (Educe AC.), Mexico FASE - Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional, Brazil Food First, USA Food Sovereignty Ghana Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, Argentina Friends of the Earth U.S.A. Fronteras Comunes A.C., Mexico Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD), El Salvador Fundación Mundubat, Basque Country GE Free New Zealand Générations Futures, France Global Justice Alliance, USA Grupo Coletivo Triunfo de Agricultores Familiares, Brazil Grupo de Agroecología y Soberanía Alimentaria (GASA), Panama Grupo de Coordinación Ampliado del Grupo Carta de Belém, Brazil GUERREROS VERDES A.C., Mexico Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA Institute for Research and Promotion of alternatives in development (IRPAD), Mali Instituto de Estudios Ecologistas del Tercer Mundo, Ecuador Jubileu Sul, Brasil Kenya Biodiversity Coalition Kenya Food Rights Alliance – KeFRA Kenya Food Rights Alliance –KeFRA La Asamblea Veracruzana de Iniciativas y Defensa Ambiental (LAVIDA) Laboratorio de Investigación en Desarrollo Comunitario y Sustentabilidad, Mexico La Fédération Unie de Groupements d’Eleveurs et d’Agriculteurs (FUGEA), Belgium Living Farms, India Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, Chile MASIPAG, Philippines Mesa Nacional frente a la Minería Metálica (MNFM), El Salvador Mesa Permanente por la Justicia Laboral (MPJL), El Salvador Millennium Institute, USA Mouvement "Nous Sommes la Solution", Senegal Mouvement d'Action Paysanne (MAP), Belgium Movement Generation, USA Movimiento de los Pequenos Agricultores-MPA, Brazil Movimiento Nacional en Defensa de la Tierra (MOVITIERRA), El Salvador Navdanya, India Never Ending Food, Malawi Organic Systems, New Zealand Other Worlds, USA PACS - Institute Alternative Policies for the Southern Cone of Latin America, Brazil PAPDA, Haïti Peuples Solidaires-ActionAid, France PLATAFORMA DE ECONOMÍA SOLIDARIA (PECOSOL), Guatemala rede de Comunidades Tradicionais Pantaneira, Brazil Rede Ecovida de Agroecologia, Brazil Red de Accion por los Derechos Ambientales (RADA), Temuko,Chile. RED DE HUERTOS URBANOS DE TALCA, Chile Red de Semillas Libres de Chile RED SOCIOAMBIENTAL SEMILLAS, Chile Red Mexicana de Acción Ecológica y Pacifista [Red ECOPAZ] RELUFA (Network for the Fight Against Hunger), Cameroon Save Our Seeds, Germany Semillas de Vida, Mexico Serviço de assessoria a organizações populares rurais (SASOP), Brazil Solidaridad Suecia - América Latina, Sweden South Durban Community environmental Alliance, South Africa Sri Lanka Nature Group Sunray Harvesters, India Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO), Tanzania Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), Tanzania Tarım Orkam-Sen, Turkey Terra de Direitos, Brazil Terra Nuova, Italy The Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity Conservation TOXISPHERA Environmental Health Association, Brazil Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE), South Africa Unidad de la Fuerza Indígena y Campesina (UFIC), México Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña (UNES), El Salvador Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Palestine US Food Sovereignty Alliance, USA USC CANADA Vía Orgánica, Mexico War on Want, UK WhyHunger, USA



Published on Monday, 15 February 2016 10:37

Press release – La Via Campesina, ETC and Grain

More than 100 civil society organizations raise alarm about
FAO biotechnology meeting
(Rome, Monday 15 February, 2016) Just when the biotech companies that make transgenic seeds are merging, the corporate vision of biotechnology is showing up at FAO. At today’s opening of the three-day International symposium on agricultural biotechnologies convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, more than 100 civil society and social movement and organizations (CSOs) from four continents have issued a statement denouncing both the substance and structure of the meeting, which appears to be another attempt by multinational agribusiness to redirect the policies of the UN agency toward support for Genetically-engineered crops and livestock.

The global peasant and family farm movement, La Via Campesina, invited CSOs to sign the letter when the symposium’s agenda became public.  Two of the FAO keynote speakers are known proponents of GMOs, and the agenda and side events over the three days include speakers from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (a biotech trade group in the USA), Crop Life International (the global agrochemical trade association), DuPont (one of the world’s largest biotech seed companies) and CEVA (a major veterinary medicine corporation), among others. FAO has only invited one speaker or panellist openly critical of GMOs.  Worse, one of the two speakers at the opening session is a former assistant director general of FAO who has pushed for so-called Terminator seeds (GMO seeds programmed to die at harvest time forcing farmers to purchase new seeds every growing season), in opposition to FAO’s own public statements. The second keynoter’s speech is titled, "Toward Ending the Misplaced Global Debate on Biotechnology" – suggesting that the FAO symposium should be the moment for shutting down biotech criticism.

In convening the biased symposium, FAO is bowing to industry pressure that intensified following international meetings on agroecology hosted by FAO in 2014 and 2015.  The agroecology meetings were a model of openness to all viewpoints, from peasants to industry. But the biotech industry apparently prefers now to have a meeting they can control.  This is not the first time FAO has been drawn into this game. In 2010, FAO convened a biotechnology conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, that blocked farmers from its organizing committee, and then tried to prevent their attendance at the conference itself.

"We are alarmed that FAO is once again fronting for the same corporations, just when these companies are talking about further mergers amongst themselves, which would concentrate the commercial seeds sector in even fewer hands" the CSO statement denounces.

It is clear, according to the Civil Society Statement, that industry wants to use FAO to re-launch their false message that genetically engineered crops can feed the world and cool the planet, while the reality is that nothing has changed on the biotech front. GMOs don't feed people, they are mostly planted in a handful of countries on industrial plantations for agrofuels and animal feed, they increase pesticide use, and they throw farmers off the land. Transnational biotech companies are trying to patent the planet's bodiversity, which shows that their main interest is to make enormous profits, and not to guarantee food security or food sovereignty. The industrial food system that these companies promote is also one of the main drivers of climate change. Confronted with the rejection of GMOs by many consumers and producers, the industry is now inventing new and possibly dangerous breeding techniques to genetically modify plants, without calling them GMOs. In doing so, they are trying to avoid current GMO regulations and trick consumers and farmers.

The agroecology activities were much closer to the way that FAO should act, the Statement points out, "as a centre for knowledge exchange, without a hidden agenda on behalf of a few." Why does FAO now limit itself again to corporate biotechnology and deny the existence of peasant technologies? FAO should support the peasant technologies, that offer the most innovative, open source, and the effective pathway to ending hunger and malnutrition. It is time to stop pushing a narrow corporate agenda, says Civil Society. "The vast majority of the world's farmers are peasants, and it is peasants who feed the world. We need peasant-based technologies, not corporate biotechnologies."

"It is high time that FAO puts an end to biopiracy and to its support for genetically modified crops, which only serve to allow a handful of transnational companies to patent and to grab all the existing biodiversity," said La Via Campesina leader Guy Kastler. "On the contrary, FAO should support farmers' organisations and researchers engaged in collaborative plant breeding in the service of food sovereignty and peasant agroecology”.
The statement and the list of signatories can be downloaded here:
Media contacts in Rome:
Guy Kastler and other Via Campesina leaders
Phone numbers: + 39 329 665 53 44 and +39 331 188 64 35


Over 57,000 express concern with human feeding trials of GMO bananas

Simultaneous demonstrations in Ames and Seattle highlight controversy surrounding Gates Foundation-funded transgenic banana study at Iowa State University
On Monday February 15th, Iowa State University graduate students will deliver 57,309 petition signatures to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at ISU while AGRA Watch members deliver the same petition to the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington. (The petitions will be delivered at 9:30am PST and 11:30am CST.) The petition asks the University and the Gates Foundation to cease supporting the transgenic banana study, including human feeding trials, and to change the trajectory for this type of research conducted at public universities.  Petition signatures were collected in a partnership between ISU graduate students, AGRA Watch and CREDO Mobile.

With the purported goal of reducing Vitamin A deficiency in Uganda and other parts of the world, genetically modified bananas are enriched with beta carotene. The study examines the extent to which the bananas’ beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body and absorbed by consumers. The study is funded by the Gates Foundation.
The CREDO petition is a follow-up to a petition launched in 2015 by ISU graduate students who, in partnership with AGRA Watch, collected over 1000 signatures, that were delivered in December. These petitions respond to an email that was sent to the ISU student body in April 2014 inviting young women (ages 18-40) to eat genetically modified bananas in return for $900.

This study is one of the first human feeding trials of a genetically modified product, and there has been no prior animal testing of this product. Thus, ISU students are being asked to be the first to consume a product of unknown safety. The study is not being conducted in a transparent manner, and concerned ISU community members have not been able to receive answers about the research design, risks, nature of the informed consent given by the subjects, and the generalizability of the study.

The safety concern is not limited to students or activists. Dr. David Schubert, a molecular biologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, said, “Beta carotene is chemically related to compounds that are known to cause birth defects and other problems in humans at extremely low levels, and these toxic chemicals are possible if not likely by-products of plants engineered to make large amounts of beta carotene. Since there is no required safety testing of the banana or any other GMO, doing a feeding trial in people, especially women, should not be allowed. It is both unethical and immoral, particularly because there are several naturally occurring varieties of banana that are safe and have higher levels of beta carotene than the GM varieties.”

Beyond the possible harm to students, the banana may have negative long-term impacts on Ugandan agriculture.  Many banana varieties serves as staples in Ugandan diets. Ugandans have the right to have access to safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food. A coalition of over 100 U.S., African and international organizations expressed concerns in an Open Letter that genetically-modified bananas are not meant to serve such a purpose, and that this crop will have an adverse affect on Ugandan agriculture, food security and food sovereignty.

Bridget Mugambe, a Ugandan campaigner with Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, declared, “What is eluding the Gates Foundation is the existence of diverse alternative sources of Vitamin A rich foods that are easily planted and readily available in Uganda. The need for this Vitamin A rich GM banana is clearly assumed, and may sadly end up destroying a food that is at the very core of our social fabric.”

The demonstrations come on the heels of a widely-reported new critique of the Gates Foundation, commissioned by UK-based Global Justice Now. In the report entitled “Gated Development”, the organization argues that “big business is directly benefitting, in particular in the fields of agriculture and health, as a result of the foundation’s activities.” The report goes on to claim that the foundation creates “a corporate merry-go-round where the [foundation] consistently acts in the interests of corporations”.  

Mariam Mayet, Director of African Centre for Biodiversity (South Africa) stated, “We in Africa vehemently oppose the introduction of GM crops plants into our food and farming systems that is being carried out in the name of the public good. Once again we would like to draw attention to the conclusions of the 400 global experts of the IAASTD report, who are under no illusion that the current obsession with yield and productivity (personified in the extreme by GMOs) is a panacea for a more ecologically sustainable and equitable food system.”

Source: Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch

Sunday, February 14, 2016


GMO labeling, NY

A GMO labeling bill requiring mandatory labeling of food made with genetically modified organisms recently moved forward in New York.

Watch this Video on GMOs
In this HBO video, you will see some undeniable proof of what genetic engineering has done to our planet. Biotech titans like Monsanto may push genetically modified crops as a savior, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

Take the time to watch it, even if in part.

healthy fast food

Former Trader Joe’s CEO has an idea; give people on limited incomes access to healthy, organic food. Here's how.


Citing concerns, 67 Members of the European Parliament are asking that glyphosate, an herbicide ingredient, NOT be re-approved.