1.USA: The effects of GM foods - YouTube film
2.France: National Assembly adopts historic amendment
3.France: Law amendment on GMO
4.Iraq: Can Iraq Rebuild its Ag Economy?
5.Africa: Playing God will not answer prayers
NOTE: All these items from the GM-free Ireland news page http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/index.php
1.USA: The effects of genetically modified foods
The People's Voice, 7 April 2008
Watch this very informative video and find out the details about how harmful this genetic food is. When soy products were introduced into the UK, soy allergies increased by 50%. Genetically engineered soy has much higher levels of known allergens. It has new proteins that have allergenic properties. It reduces the amount of digestive enzymes in the pancreas thus reducing the body's ability to digest protein. It has herbicidal residues, which also make it more allergenic. When genetically modified food was fed to rabbits and mice they suffered damage to all the major organs. In rats that were fed genetically engineered soy the sperm cells and embryos were altered and more than 50% of the offspring died within three weeks.
See the video on UTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7rXIujvXGc
2.France: National Assembly adopts an amendment which strongly frames the use of GMOs
By Gaelle Dupont (Translated by GM-free Ireland) Le Monde, 8 April 2008
'Incredible!' Leaving the assembly shortly after midnight on Wednesday 2 April, the Socialist deputy for the Dordogne, Germinal Peiro, is still overwhelmed by the emotion. After many hours of heated debate on the proposed new GMO law marked by lots of invectives between the Left and Right, the National Assembly has just adopted an opposition amendment defended by the Puy-de-DÃ´me Communist deputy André Chassaigne. Placed at the head of the text, it strongly changes its balance.
The text indeed states that transgenic crops may only be cultivated subject to the condition that they respect 'agricultural structures, local ecosystems and 'GM-free' production and commercial lines, and with full transparency.' The amendment was voted by elected socialists, communists and Greens, but also by four elected representatives of the majority party who tipped the balance of the Assembly.
The government's proposal only stipulated that cultivation of GMO crops should take place 'with respect for the environment and public health.' Since Tueday 1st of April, when the debate began aiming to set up a long-term framework for the co-existence of (GM) production lines on the territory, opposition MPs did not stop warning about the threat posed by GMO cultivations, as they see it, to quality agriculture production lines (Appelation d'Origine Controlée, labels, organic farming), in view of environmental pollen drift.
The socialist MPs emphasised that the adoption of this amendment represents 'a fundamental step forward for the respect of GM-free farming' by establishing a legal basis to ban GMOs from certain zones of the territory. The opposition claimed 'a political victory'.
During the debate, the rapporteur Antoine Herth (UMP, Bas-Rhin), repeatedly opposed amendments which aimed at a similar objective, in the name of [EU] Community law. The legal project does indeed transpose an European Directive from 2001, which sets the principles of farmers' choice to grow GMOs or not, and which prohibits the declaration of 'GM-free zones' to respect this freedom.
'We want to stick to EU law as closely as possible', explained Mr Herth. 'Deciding to prohibit GMOs from whole zones is not possible, but it is possible to set up voluntary bans.'
On the other hand, during a discussion on an identical amendment defended by Mr. Chassaigne tabled by the UMP deputy from Puy-de-DÃ´me Louis Giscard d'Estaing, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Kosciusko-Morizet, distanced herself from this position, trusting the 'wisdom' of the Assembly, leaving MPs free to vote as they see fit.
If Mr Giscard d'Estaing ended by withdrawing his amendment at the rapporteur's request, Mr Chassaigne's was retained and adopted, triggering jubilation from the opposition benches.
This episode once again reveals the tensions on the subject of GMOs between Ministers Jean-Louis Borloo and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, and the UMP majority. The Secretary of State's position drew thunder from the President of the Commisison on Economic Affairs, Patrick Ollier, and from the pro-GMO UMP delegate of Seine-et-Marne Christian Jacob, during session breaks.
It also shows that some UMP representatives are worried about GMOs. Many right-wing deputies who voted for the amendment are from mountain areas, where agriculture backed with a quality label carries significant economic and cultural weight.
'We are in the first reading, the text may still evolve', according to one of these deputies, Martial Saddier (UMP, Haute-Savoie), as he left the building. 'But we have raised an important issue which must be addressed.' 'There was some confusion, it's not a disaster, we can make things right', commented Mr. Jacob.
3.Law amendment on GMO in France
Organic-market.Info, 8 April 2008
After many hours of heated debates on a bill on GMO, marked by many insults between the rightists and the leftists, the French National Assembly adopted an amendment raised by the opposition, defended by the communist delegate of Puy-de-DÃ´me, André Chassaigne. It indicates that transgenic plants only may be cultivated in the respect of 'agricultural structures, local ecosystems' and in lineÃwith production methods which are qualified as 'without genetically modified organisms', and in 'full transparency'. The bill was voted for by the socialistic, communist and green delegates, but also by four delegates of the majority, which overturned the assembly.
The bill of the government had just allotted that the GMO cultures have to have their place 'in respect of the environment and of the public health'. Since April 1st, the date of the beginning of the debate which had the goal to fix a long-time frame for the co-existence of the GMO and non-GMO agriculture, the delegates of the opposition did not quit warning against the hazards which GMOs bring to quality certifications like AOC (appellation d'origine contrÃ´lée) and organic certification. The adoption of this amendment represents a 'major advantage for GMO-free cultures', since it is a legal basis to exclude GMO from certain zones, the socialistic delegates underlined. The opposition called it a political victory.
4.Can Iraq Rebuild its Ag Economy? Only If U.S. Policy Allows
By Olive Rockfish Fish Wrap (USA), 7 April 2008
On 3/25/2008, the Morrison County Record printed an article written by columnist Peter Graham in Farming and Your Freedom with the headline Can Iraq Rebuild its Ag Economy?
In his article Graham refers to a story published in the High Plains/Midwest Journal and writes, 'it will take millions to put them back on their feet and help them become productive again. It will also take enlightened government policy-on the part of the Iraq and the U.S. governments.'
The operative words being enlightened government policy.
Unfortunately, in his 400 day stint as administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) (the American body that ruled the 'new Iraq' in the early days of the U.S. invasion) Paul Bremer issued a series of directives known as the '100 Orders'. These orders established the blueprint for the new Iraq.Ã Among the items contained in the 100 Orders relevant to Graham's original question is Order 81, officially titled: Amendments to Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law.*** (Enacted by Bremer on April 26, 2004.)
Order 81's a 'legal' tweak establishing strong intellectual property protections on seed and plant products that a company like Monsanto (producers of genetically modified (GM) seeds and other patented agricultural goods) required prior to moving into new markets like Iraq.
In a nutshell,ÃOrder 81 mirrors the business conditions created years earlier in India, conditions leading Monsanto to highly profitable success within that region while simultaneously unleashing a pandemic proportioned onslaught of suicides among Indian farmers, the subject ofÃthe PBS documentary The Dying Fields.
While the U.S. stopped short of mandating Iraqi farmers to purchase from corporations like Monsanto, basic laws of nature coupled with Order 81Ãcould quickly and easily leave American agribusiness claiming rights on Iraqi farm fields regardless of where they obtain their seed supply.
Percy Schmeiser, a Saskatchewan farmer found himself tangled with Monsanto in a lawsuit after a few rogue GM seeds blew from a truck passing by his land. Monsanto didn't careÃhow the Roundup Ready plants got there, as far as the company was concerned, Schmeiser was in possession of an agricultural product whose intellectual property belonged to them and they didn't care how it happened. Monsanto sued Scheimer for $400,000.00.
In 2005 the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) reported that Monsanto had a 10 million dollar budget earmarked and a staff of 75 devoted to investigating and prosecuting farmers. Monsanto admits to aggressively investigating farmers it suspects and according to the CFS report, evidence suggests that the numbers reach into the thousands.
Prior to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq it was illegal to patent seeds. Now, under U.S. decree all that is necessary to obtain a patent is to be the first to 'describe' or 'characterize' the plants. ***
While technically, Iraqi farmers are not being stopped from saving and sharing seed from their traditional crops as they have always done, there is now nothing stopping Monsanto, Cargill, Dow, Bayer and other multinationals from 'describing' or 'characterizing' Iraq's traditional seeds. Once this is done Iraqi farmer will be prohibited from saving and sharing the very seeds that have been cultivated and passed down in their country for generations and they will be forced Ãto buy them from who ever owns the patent. ÃÃAlso, Iraqi farmers can be sued by companies like Monsanto if they discover their non-GMO crops polluted by GMO crops planted in their vicinity like Percy Schmeiser did.
It is important to note that prior to Abu Graib's infamous tabloid debut, that the town was once host to Iraq's seed bank. In 1996, Iraqi botanists packed up 200 kinds of seed, and sent them for safekeeping in Syria. When the Iraq war began, the Abu Graib seed bank was subsequently looted, all the remains of Iraq's long, rich agricultural heritage are the seeds held by farmer and those shipped to Syria.
While it would be nice to think that the intentions of the U.S. government are honorable, the broader U.S. plan appears to be more geared towards incorporating Iraqi agriculture into the massive web of U.S. agribusiness, leaving Iraq to grow a few high-yield cash crops for export instead of growing basic crops to feed the Iraqi people. Subsequently, under the U.S. policy the state-run food companies (who had traditionally provided a food basket to every Iraqi household rich or poor), will be privatized under the policy, farm subsidies will be eliminated and the traditional Iraqi food baskets assured to every household, will only be provided to the poorest of Iraq's people.
While Graham's article insinuates that the U.S. is working to ensure that Iraq regains its capacity to feeds its own people, exporting high-yield cash crops has not proven to be a successful mean of reaching this objective.
Graham ends his column with, 'who wants to see an Extension specialist blindfolded and awaiting execution for helping farmers to farm?
If Graham is truly that naive it is perhaps time he retire his column. It took nothing more than a cursory glance at the sources used by the High Plains Midwest Journal to see that the universities commenting on Iraq were departments notorious for being heavily financed by the multinational corporations who stand to profit from Order 81.
In the end maybe extension specialist will find themselves blindfolded and awaiting execution in Iraq because the 100,000 Indian's who committed suicide between 1993 and 2003, some of whom died in their fields after ingesting their last bottle of Roundup, failed to capture any real attention.
* The Hague Regulations requires that an occupying power 're-establish and insure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.' The imposition of major structural economic reforms is viewed by legal scholars around the world as aÃviolation of international law.
5.Africa: Playing God will not answer prayers
New York Post, 6 April 2007.
Why not use genetically-modified crops? The Safe Food Coalition (safe-food.org) and the South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering (safeage.org), both of which oppose genetically-modified crops in Africa, outline their arguments:
*Safety: There are strong indications of possible dangers from genetically-engineered (GE) foods to our health. We simply don't know, as no human testing has occurred. Many doctors and scientists are worried GE foods may damage our immune systems, create new toxins and allergens or increase resistance to antibiotics.
The Fight to Feed Africa
*Cost: Companies promoting genetic engineering constantly harp on how it will 'improve' food and farming but so far the only beneficiaries are the multinational corporations promoting them. Business is only interested in it because of the ability to own and patent life. When someone changes a life form they patent that thing. This means that a seed for a plant that has been genetically engineered can be owned, thereby forbidding anybody else to use it without payment. Recently many of the world's smaller seed companies have been bought by large multinational giants, so that six seed companies now effectively control a significant amount of the seed market.
*Environmental impact: GE crops may devastate the environment. We have already seen triple herbicide resistant weeds, making it necessary to use highly toxic weed killers, exactly the opposite of what GE is claimed to do. Herbicide use has increased since the introduction of GE crops, not decreased as claimed. Insect resistant genes have been shown to be persistent in soil and water, they affect soil life, earthworms and microbes. Once we let the genie out of the bottle, there is no way to put it back. Once genes are out there it is impossible to control them.
*It's unnatural: Many people feel the use of genetic engineering in food and farming is wrong, that it goes against nature or their spiritual beliefs. Others think it's wrong because it allows big companies to gain more control of the food chain. The fact is that genetic engineering allows scientists to take a gene from one species and insert it into a completely different species with which it could never naturally breed. Thus it is possible vegetarian, halaal, kosher and other rights may be infringed.
*Africa already has better solutions: What is often overlooked in this very real dilemma is that thousands of years of careful seed selection by African farmers has given rise to local varieties with valuable attributes such as drought and disease resistance. For example, in Kenya, where stem-borers can wipe out 80 per cent of a maize field, they plant a row of Desmodium, which gives off an odor which repels the stem-borer moths.
*The problem is not crops: There is enough food in the world to feed everyone on earth over a kilo of a good quality mixed diet daily. People go hungry because they do not have money, access to food, or land. GE will not change this. The problem is economic, political and practical, not technical. Most farmers will never be able to afford technology fees and the chemicals to grow these new GE seeds. Genetic engineering in its present form cannot form part of the solution; it is part of the problem.