Campaign mobilizes shoppers / GM fish and meat
2.CANADA/UK: Audience of growers hears case against GM
3.USA: Pigs with Mouse Genes: How GM Animals May Be Entering the Food Chain without Labeling
4.USA: Genetically Engineered Salmon May Soon Hit Stores
1.Campaign Mobilizes Health Conscious Shoppers To Non-GMO Brand
Jeffrey M. Smith
Spilling the Beans newsletter, October 2008
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Non-GMO Education Centers are now appearing in natural food stores nationwide. These six-foot high blue towers feature books, DVDs, CDs, and handouts about genetically modified organisms. The sign on top offers two potent messages. The first "Healthy Eating Starts with No GMOs" is the slogan that The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America wants shoppers to understand. The second is what the Campaign wants shoppers to do: "Ask for Non-GMO Products."
A similar one-two punch already knocked down genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST). Consumers learned that milk from treated cows is less healthy; it has more pus, antibiotics, growth hormone, and IGF-1 a hormone linked to cancer (seeÃhttp://www.YourMilkonDrugs.com). When shoppers asked for non-hormone-treated milk, the food industry responded. Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Kroger, and about 40 of the 100 top dairies so far have removed rbGH products over the past couple of years. Monsanto recently abandoned the cow drug altogether, selling it off at a steep discount to Ely Lilly's animal division Elanco.
The demise of rbGH began in trend-setting natural food aisles before spreading mainstream. That is the Campaign's plan for genetically modified (GM) crops, which they expect to follow closely on the heels of rbGH.
No one knows exactly how many devout non-GMO shoppers are needed to achieve the "tipping point," but because GMOs offer no consumer benefits, the critical mass will likely be quite small perhaps 5%. With a population of 300 million, that translates to only 15 million people or 5.6 million households. Now consider that 28 million people buy organic products regularly; another 54 million occasionally shop organic. Thus, the tipping point can be generated exclusively by health-conscious shoppers.
The vast majority of these folks would choose non-GMO brands if given a clear choice. That's why the most important item in the Education Center is the Non-GMO Shopping Guide. The free 16-page pocket Guide lists brands as GMO or non-GMO, and also explains how to evaluate other food items not yet listed. View the Press Release[http://www.responsibletechnology.org/GMFree/MediaCenter/ReleaseNewNon-GMOShoppingGuide/index.cfm] explaining how the Non-GMO Shopping Guide can help you create a Non-GMO Thanksgiving
On the top row of the Education Center next to the Guides are free GMO Health Risk brochures, providing extra motivation to shop non-GMO. They summarize many of the alarming documented risks of GMOs, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. These and other problems are further elaborated in the popular DVDs and books available in the shelves below, including the DVDs The World According to Monsanto, Future of Food, and The GMO Trilogy, and the books Seeds of Deception, Genetic Roulette, and Your Right to Know.
View the Non-GMO Shopping Guide
View the GMO Health Risks Brochure
Purchase 50 of the Guides and/or Brochures, price approximately at our cost
Natural Food Stores play pivotal role
Whether or not natural food stores host the full Non-GMO Education Center, they can still distribute GMO Health Risk brochures and Shopping Guides at no charge. They can also download the Retailer Campaign Kit [http://www.seedsofdeception.com/GMFree/CampaignforHealthierEatinginAmerica/Retailers/Tool-CampaignKit/index.cfm], which includes staff education materials, articles for their website or newsletter, and publicity materials and handouts to use in conjunction with free public showings of the blockbuster new documentary The World According to Monsanto.
Nature's Pantry of Independence Missouri demonstrated the impact of a natural food store Non-GMO Campaign. They ran a series of five of our articles in their printed newsletter, circulation 19,000. Another was written for their 20-page Kansas City Star insert, that went to 190,000 homes.
"After reading the articles," says store manager Michele Conway, "a lot of shoppers are now very aware of what they are eating. We have customers coming in specifically looking for labels that say non-GMO or organic, much more than before."
In October 2008, the store sponsored a free public showing of the feature-length film The World According to Monsanto, as well as a GMO lecture. More than 20,000 bag stuffers announcing the lecture were distributed over three weeks.
Nature's Pantry co-owner Bob Perkins says, "Our events are about educating customers. We hope to be the catalyst for GMO education in the Kansas City area, and our customers will help spread the news. They will take the story to their friends."
While his primary motivation is customer education and better health, Bob sees an impact on his bottom line as well. "We have the largest selection of organic and non-GMO in town, so we are getting more loyal customers who are seeking non-GMO."
Michele says, "People are shocked at what is in their food. We are looking at the long term effect of this education. People will tell their friends, who will tell their friends. It will snowball."
Message Spreads to Physicians, Chefs, Schools, Websites, Organizations...
Since the Non-GMO Education Centers and Shopping Guides were made available in October, several physicians have ordered them as patient education materials. Chefs and schools are also distributing materials, as are magazines, websites, and other organizations. The non-GMO tidal wave is being launched.
When Europe reached the non-GMO tipping point in April 1999, within a single week virtually all major manufacturers publicly committed to stop using GM ingredients in their European brands. Now, with so many stores and organizations jumping on board to educate consumers about GMOs, the Campaign expects to achieve the US tipping point before the end of 2009.
Other action alerts:
Tell Hershey's to Kiss GM Sugar Goodbye!
Tell USDA (by Nov 3!!) not to allow GM papayas to grow in Florida
2.Audience of growers hears case against GM
By Mark Casci Agricultural Correspondent
Yorkshire Post (UK), 30 October 2008
GENETICALLY modified crops came under the spotlight in Yorkshire at a lecture given by one of their most celebrated opponents.
Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser visited Driffield to talk to farmers about the effects GM crops could have on the future of the industry.
Mr Schmeiser achieved world-wide fame following his battles with GM giant Monsanto and now travels the world delivering lectures on the subject.
He made his appearance at The Bell Hotel in Driffield last week and spoke to more than 50 farmers about his experience of GM crops on his farm in Canada.
Mr Schmeiser emphasised the fact that GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) cannot be contained and said that the results of the engineered seed spread naturally - even over hundreds of miles - as well as through human transportation.
He claimed this would take away everyone's right to choose food free of GM contamination.
"You will say goodbye to your organic farms", he said.
When quizzed over the claims from some quarters that GM foods could help feed the world Mr Schmeiser had a clear message.
"GM is not the answer to the world food crisis.
"In fact the 14 years of Canadian experience show that GM yields are lower than conventional methods and GM necessitates the use of more and more toxic chemicals."
So far, the UK has held out against GM crops being grown and currently the UK does not allow imports of United States or Canadian GM foods.
Mr Schmeiser has been battling Monsanto ever since the company's GM plants were found on his land, even though he had never brought any crops from them. He claimed that the crops had blown onto his land and spent years battling the company over the issue.
The UK tour included Driffield since East Yorkshire is a major arable area.
Shan Oakes, of the area Green Party, was among those at the meeting.
She said: "GM threatens food production - and therefore all of us everywhere. Our food should not be in thrall to huge biotech companies.
"Unfortunately many people still think GM is just about the same as selective breeding but it is completely different: Genes from animals are introduced into plants and vice versa - transfers which could never happen in nature. In addition, the corporations who do this 'engineering' then own patents on the new life forms - genetically modified organisms - plants or animals.
"Is this what we want in Britain? The Government is currently reconsidering the GM issue, and big business is working on them - and on the public too. People should continue to let their MPs know that they don't accept this technology and they don't accept this way of doing business."
3.Pigs with Mouse Genes: How GM Animals May Be Entering the Food Chain without Labeling
By Ari LeVaux
AlterNet, 30 October 2008
The FDA may be taking the public, and nature, down a dangerous path.
On September 18, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released guidance on a regulatory framework for approving the entrance of genetically modified (GM) animals into the nation's food supply. The term "guidance" is agency-speak for the law will look something like this. Put another way, the FDA has offered advice, considerably weaker than legally enforceable regulation. With the announcement, a 60-day period for public comment was opened.
The only GM animal currently licensed for sale in the U.S. is the glow-in-the-dark zebra fish, a pet. With the exception of a few drunk frat boys, this fish is not expected to be consumed by humans, and its need for warm water precludes any possibility of it escaping into the wild. But the glowing zebra fish will soon have some GM company in stores near you.
The new guidance is primarily directed at animals genetically modified for food-production purposes, but it's based on the approval process used for animals that are genetically modified for pharmacological purposes, such as pigs designed to grow human livers, or goats that produce insulin in their milk. Under the guidance, all GM animals, be they of the farm or pharma variety, will be classified as drugs.
Technically, the drug is the bit of foreign DNA that's spliced into the animal's cells, and the FDA will grant or deny approval to just those bits of DNA, not to the whole organism. This creates a dangerous regulatory gray area, says Jaydee Hanson, a policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, who calls this arrangement a "fiction."
"The gene is in every cell of the animal, and regulating the animal is the only tool they have to control these genes, but they say they're only regulating the gene, not the animal," he says. "Drugs don't get loose and breed with each other. Animals do."
As a case in point he mentions the "AquAdvantage" line of GM salmon created by Aqua Bounty Technologies of Waltham, Mass., in 2001. The regulated "drug" in this case is a gene that makes salmon secrete extra growth hormone, causing the fish to reach maturity in 18 months instead of 30.
Should any of these fish escape into the wild, they would take their recombinant genes with them, posing unknown -- and therefore, Hanson says, unacceptable -- risk to wild salmon stocks and the ecosystems they inhabit.
It's rumored that AquAdvantage salmon will be the first GM food animal approved for sale by the FDA. Meanwhile, a growing number of GM animals are being developed for the food market, says Hanson, and given this fact he thinks an approval process is long overdue. But while steps toward the creation of a regulatory framework for GM food animals are steps in the right direction, he says the FDA's guidance as currently written leaves much to be desired.
"They're not offering good peer review, because the drug-approval process is held in secret," he says. This is ostensibly to protect trade secrets, but it's still a bad idea, says Hanson, who suggests that lack of transparency could compromise the integrity of the approval process.
"The genetically modified food industry is a small world," he says. "You're going to have someone who used to work for a company who now works for FDA, or serves on its review panel, in the position to approve something from their former company."
Many other food activists, policy analysts, and interested parties are also taking issue with the FDA's stance, contained in the guidance, against the labeling of foods containing GM animal products. Only foods that can be shown to have dietary properties different from their non-GM counterparts require labeling.
"They're talking about pigs that are going to have mouse genes in them, and this is not going to be labeled?" says Jean Halloran, director of food policy for Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine. "We are close to speechless on this."
Another concern is how the proprietary rights associated with modified genes will be enforced. Because genetic modifications are easily traceable, small livestock producers who introduce GM animals into their herds -- or who acquire animals with modified genes unintentionally -- might someday receive an unexpected bill for the use of those genes if they are traced to future generations of animals.
Producers of GM seeds have already sued farmers on such grounds, including cases in which the defendant's crops were contaminated by someone else's GM pollen from neighboring fields. Hanson says most cattle growers aren't paying enough attention to the prospect.
"The breeding industry is mostly concerned with tracking animals descended from clones," he says. Clones are genetic copies of other animals, but don't necessarily have foreign DNA inserted. But most GM mammals, Hanson points out, are clones. "Once you get it right," he says, "you clone it."
On September 19, the day after the FDA's "Draft Guidance on the Regulation of Genetically Modified Animals" was released, the USDA announced a call for public comment on the need to regulate the movement of GM animals to ensure they don't mix with wild animals or other livestock.
For producers and consumers alike, the onslaught of new biotech developments and the rapidly expanding world of associated potential consequences presents a near-overwhelming amount of information to digest.
But if ever there was an important time to comment on food and food safety, says Hanson, "this is it."
4.Genetically Engineered Salmon May Soon Hit Stores
CBS (USA), 30 October 2008.
Boston -- Genetically engineered food: It's either a great scientific leap forward, or a potentially dangerous experiment. And for the first time, the door is open to the possibility of genetically engineered meat and fish on grocery shelves.
The idea is hotly debated. One of the first companies trying to bring this new food to the market is Aqua Bounty Technologies, which has created genetically engineered salmon.
"It looks like a salmon, it acts like a salmon," said Aqua Bounty CEO Ron Stotish. "All attributes of the fish are the same as normal Atlantic salmon."
But there's one big difference. The Aqua Bounty salmon grow really fast.
"We can get from fish egg to a 3 to 4 kilo salmon in a little over a year. Now by comparison, the normal Atlantic salmon would take 4 or 5 years to reach that size," said Stotish.
Genetic engineering is a process where genes are manipulated to give new characteristics to, in this case, fish or animals.
For example, cattle that can resist mad cow disease, or chickens that lay eggs that are healthier for your heart.
To get their salmon to grow so fast, Aqua Bounty has added a gene.
"What we've done is overcome a barrier that's evolved in the salmon over centuries," said the company's CEO. And that gives some people the creeps.
Several people CBS spoke with in a local supermarket were hesitant about the possibility of buying genetically engineered meat or fish. But for the first time, the Food and Drug Administration is taking proposals from Aqua Bounty and other companies that could lead to the commercialization of these new food products.
Scientists working on genetically engineered food say it's safe, but the Union of Concerned Scientists says, not so fast.
"We have to look very carefully at what the risks and the benefits are," said Doug Gurian Sherman, who studies the issue for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, DC. "At this point, I think the FDA seems to be putting the cart before the horse."
There are 3 main concerns: The potential impact on people's health, possible environmental damage if the engineered animals get into the wild, breed and become dominant, and no requirement to label the food as "genetically engineered."
"We don't have a very good handle on how to assess the risks. And until we do, we really should take a really deep breathe, and not go forward with this," said the Union of Concerned Scientists' Doug Gurian Sherman.
But Aqua Bounty's Ron Stotish counters, "It's people's right not to buy our products. It's people's right to hold whatever opinions they choose. It's not their right to prevent the acceptance of new technology that may be very helpful to society, in the interests of their personal concerns."
Other companies are watching to see if the salmon are approved for market, and if they are, expect to see a number of other proposals begin to move forward.
In the case of these salmon, they are also being engineered to be sterile, so if any escaped into the wild, they would not be able to breed."