US GM report an insult to truth and democracy
2.US report an insult to truth and democracy
EXTRACT: The [US] report is an insult to Italian democracy, and to European farmers, food producers, retailers and consumers. It is also riddled with misinformation. (item 2)
NOTE: Over the last couple of years, GM supporters have gone all out to try and break down global resistance to GMOs, yet if anything they seem to be losing ground. Nowhere is this more the case than in Europe where the miniscule amount of GM crop cultivation has actually been shrinking, and a series of countries have introduced outright bans.
With opposition as strong as ever and the industry leader, Monsanto, increasingly mired in controversy, there now seems to be a growing air of desperation on the part of the GM lobby, with its lobbyists forced to resort to fantastical claims. Last week it was that Greenpeace were backing down on their opposition to Golden Rice and GMOs, and this week we have the US Department of Agriculture (the USDA) claiming that Italians and the Pope support GMOs! Item 2 takes the USDA claims apart.
1.Italy is 'weak point' of EU's anti-GM defences
Agrimoney.com, 18 January 2010
Italy is the Achilles heel of the campaign to maintain Europe's defences against genetically modified crops, a US report has said, adding that the region's consumers are not as opposed to the technology as is portrayed.
With 65% of Italians supporting biotechnology, and the Vatican a "vocal advocate" of GM crops as a way of easing hunger in Africa, the country was a "good place to start" a campaign to "educate" Europeans about GM crops.
"Italy may present uniquely valuable opportunity for improving public opinion about biotechnology in the EU," her report said.
Engaging Italy's consumers in the biotechnology debate could help battle the "minority composed of fringe groups and government officials [which] are responsible for Italy's ban on biotech crops and food", Cynthia Barmore, US Department of Agriculture attache in Rome, said.
Indeed, Europeans as a whole "may not be as intractably negative as it is often portrayed" about GM foods, the briefing added, quoting 2005 research.
"In fact, public opinion is fairly divided," Ms Barmore said.
"Part of the misperception about European public opinion is the disproportionate attention paid to fringe activists who are not representative of the general public.
"Most Europeans have heard of biotechnology, but they are not activists and their opinions are not very strong."
The task of winning government consents to at least sell GM foods in retailers, rested in part on the battleground chosen, with arguments on environmental and pesticide considerations more likely to bear fruit than those based on value for money.
"When price becomes the salient factor, Europeans may believe the price comes at the expense of quality or safety," the report said.
Doctors and academics may prove more effective advocates than government or industry figures.
America is home to some of the world's biggest GM seeds group, including Dow Chemical, DuPont and Monsanto. European rivals include Germany's Bayer and, outside the EU, Switzerland's Syngenta.
2.US report an insult to truth and democracy
The following comment is from GM-free Ireland
This article refers to a report published last week by the US Department of Agriculture attache in Rome, Cynthia Barmore, with the revealing title "How to Influence Public Opinion about Agricultural Biotechnology" .
Insult to European democracy
The report is an insult to Italian democracy, and to European farmers, food producers, retailers and consumers. It is also riddled with misinformation which AgriMoney.com failed to correct.
The USDA describes Italians who oppose GMOs as a "minority composed of fringe groups" and talks of the need for the US to "educate" Italian consumers about food!
The anti-GM "fringe groups" which the USDA hopes to educate include:
* The Italian Government, whose Minister for Agriculture, Luca Zaia  said "A new ethics for agriculture is needed if we truly want to feed the world. My opposition to GMOs is well-known, in fact I do not believe that they are the solution to the hunger problem. We are with the farmers and always with those who work." 
*16 of Italy's 20 Regional Governments – together with 41 provinces and 2,446 municipalities – that have declared themselves as GMO-free zones; 
*Italy's main farming union Coldiretti, with 18 regional federations for 98 provinces, 765 area offices, 9,812 sections, and over 568,000 farms; 
*Italy's biggest retailer, CoopItalia; 
*leading Italian food brands that have adopted GM-free supply chains such as the giant meat and poultry producer BovinMarche , Amadori (one of Europe's biggest producers of chicken and turkey) , and the poultry producer Fileni; 
*the national multi-stakeholder initiative ItaliaEuropa Liberi da OGM  involving 28 organisations representing farmers, large distribution, small and medium sized businesses, consumer, environmental, scientific, cultural and international cooperation interest groups opposed to GM food and farming. During two months in 2007, ItaliaEuropa organised a National Consultation on GMOs which collected 3 million votes against GMOs; 
*the University of Gastronomic Sciences , a government-backed international research and education centre for the renewal of farming methods, the protection of biodiversity, and the development of an organic relationship between gastronomy and agricultural science;
*Slow Food International , the Italian-based globally influential eco-gastronomic network which campaigns for good, clean, fair and GM-free food and farming with 100,000 members in 132 countries – whose founder Carlo Petrini was described by the UK's Guardian newspaper as one of the "50 people who could save the planet."
USDA wrong about the facts
The USDA report describes a Eurobarometer survey from 2005 as "the most recent data" on EU public opinion towards agricultural biotechnology, and claims that 65% of Italians "support biotechnology".
In reality, Eurobarometer's most recent survey on GMOs was published in 2008: it found that 58% of Europeans – incuding 55% of Italians – are "personally opposed" to GM food and farming, while only 21% support their use . The most recent Italian survey – carried out by Coldiretti-SWG in 2009 – found that 63% of Italian consumers believe that GM foods are less healthy than traditional foods, up from 52% in 2003. 
The report's claim that most Italians "support biotechnology" is also misleading, because the vast majority of Europeans have no objection to non-GM biotechnology applications such as Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) of beneficial crop traits, and the production of insulin and other medicines from the contained use of GM bacteria in sealed vats in biosecure laboratories. No objection to these forms of biotech does not indicate support for GM crops!
Vatican not in favour of GMOs
The USDA's claim that the Vatican is a "'vocal advocate' of GM crops as a way of easing hunger in Africa" is sheer propaganda that was first disseminated after GM industry-funded scientists infiltrated an organisation called the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in a failed attempt to convice the Vatican to endorse GM farming in 2009. 
Unless its diplomats are utter idiots, the USDA and the US embassy in Rome must surely know that the Pontifical Academy does not represent the views of the Vatican. Vatican policy can only be declared by the Pope, the Secretary of State, or the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and none of these bodies have ever given the Vatican's endorsement to GM food and farming.
Far from endorsing GMOs, Pope Benedict XVI has stated "The campaign to promote GM sowing, that pretends to grant food security [...] risks to ruin small farmers and to suppress their traditional crops, making them dependent on GM production companies" . The Pope reiterated this view on 1 January 2010 when he expressed his support for "suitable strategies for rural development centred on small farmers and their families" . The official Instrumentum Laboris (agenda) of the Synod of Bishops' Second Special Assembly for Africa held on 3-4 October 2009 makes this opposition to GM crops explicit:
"Farm workers, on whom a great part of the African economy depends, are victims of injustice in marketing their products. They are often paid a very low price for their goods. Paradoxically, in some parts of Africa, the cost is even set by the buyers themselves. Populations already suffering from a disadvantage are thereby further impoverished. The seeding campaign of proponents of Genetically Modified Food, which purports to give assurances for food safety, should not overlook the true problems of agriculture in Africa: the lack of cultivatable land, water, energy, access to credit, agricultural training, local markets, road infrastructures, etc. This campaign runs the risk of ruining small landholders, abolishing traditional methods of seeding and making farmers dependent on the production companies of OGM [i.e. GMOs]". 
Scientific evidence of GM health risks
The claim that "Doctors and academics may prove more effective advocates [for GMOs] than government or industry figures" reflects the US Government's ignorance of science.
Medical and scientific groups and NGOs which have raised the alarm over the health dangers of GM feed and food include the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN), Consumers International, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture, the Independent Science Panel on GM, the African Centre for Biosafety, the Indian Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, the US Centre for Food Safety, the Canadian ETC Group, the British Institute of Science in Society, the German Foundation on Future Farming, the Norwegian Institute of Gene Ecology, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, GeneWatch, GM Watch, GM Free Cymru, GM-free Ireland, numerous other NGOs and university scientists around the world.
Despite suppression of scientific research and cover-ups by Monsanto and other agribiotech companies , at least 50 scientific papers have already reported on the health dangers of GM animal feed and food , including the hidden use of GM feed for the production of meat, poultry, eggs, fish and dairy produce that is still sold in the EU without a GM label to inform consumer choice . As Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini of CRIIGEN points out, if the industry's secret risk assessment data on the health dangers of GMOs held by the European Food Safety Authority were made available for scientific peer review, all GM feed and food would be withdrawn from the market immediately. 
1. "How to Influence Public Opinion about Agricultural Biotechnology", USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, GAIN report number IT1003, prepared by Cynthia Barmore, Rome Italy: http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/How%20to%20Influence%20EU%20Public%20Opinion%20about%20Agricultural%20Biotechnology_Rome_Italy_1-11-2010.pdf
2. See Luca Zaia's profile on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luca_Zaia and his website at http://www.lucazaia.it/en
Zaia refuses to allow GM field trials of GM crops in Italy. He has strongly criticised the EU Commission's recent approval of Syngenta's new GM maize, and stated that GMOs are "not the solution" to world hunger at the recent FAO summit http://www.lucazaia.it/en/index.php?newsId=c4b7dc8a178bf07e992f312628a3487c&page=1. The author of the USDA report, Ms. Blackmore, can not have been unaware of Minister Zaia's anti-GM policy, since it was reported by her own USDA Foreign Agricultural Service GAIN report "Agricultural News for Italy and the EU" of 12 January 2010: http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/Agricultural%20News%20for%20Italy%20and%20the%20EU%20-%20December%202009_Rome_Italy_1-12-2010.pdf.
3. "Waiting for G8: Farmers union, Zaia to speculators: keep your hands off agriculture", 19 March 2009: http://www.lucazaia.it/en/index.php?newsId=2575f31deee3042f5d3cdf0b46166de1&page=2
4. For details of GM free zones in Italy, see http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/gmo-free-regions/italy.html
5. Coldiretti http://www.coldiretti.it
6. CoopItalia http://www.e-coop.it adopted a GM-free policy in 1997 and uses its own "NO OGM" GM-free label. Its policy "OGM in agricoltura. Le ragioni di chi dice NO. (GMOs in agriculture : Reason says NO) states that CoopItalia banned GMOs from its own‚brand products in 1998, and monitors its GM-free guarantee via two independent certification bodies.
7. BovinMarche http://www.bovinmarche.it
8. Amadori http://www.amadori.it/_vti_g2_home.asp?rpstry=14
9. Fileni http://www.fileni.it The company's policy states: "Our label clarifies one of the issues that most preoccupies consumers: None of our chickens or turkeys was fed on GM feedstuffs."
10. ItaliaEuropa Liberi da OGM http://www.liberidaogm.org. Members include Acli, Adiconsum, Adoc, Adusbef, Agci Agrital, Aiab, Alpa, Assocap, Avis, Cia, Cic, Cittí del Vino, Cna, Codacons, Coldiretti, Confartigianato, Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano, Coop, Copagri, Fedagri, Federconsumatori, Focsiv, Fondazione Diritti Genetici, Greenpeace, Legacoop Agroalimentare, Legambiente, Libera, Res Tipica, Slow Food Italia, Unci, Vas, and WWF.
ItaliaEuropa leaflet (in English):
11. Description of the National Consultation:
Responsible Science for Sustainable Food appeal:
12. "I valori dell'agroalimentare italiano", (Values of Italian agri-food sector), report on a survey of 1,600 Italian households in October 2009: http://multimedia.coldiretti.it/Raccolta%20Documenti%20Forum%20Cernobbio%202009/ Rapporto%20Coldiretti-Swg2009.ppt, PowerPoint presentation by Coldiretti at the VIII International Forum of agriculture and feeding, 16-17 October 2009, Villa D'Este, Cernobbio, Italy http://multimedia.coldiretti.it/Lists/Cernobbio/AllItems.aspx
12. The University of Gastronomic Sciences http://www.unisg.it/welcome_eng.lasso was founded in 2004 by Slow Food (see below) in cooperation with the Italian regions of Piedmonte and Emilia-Romagna. It is a ministerially recognized, private non-profit international research and education centre for those working on renewing farming methods, protecting biodiversity, and building an organic relationship between gastronomy and agricultural science.
13. Slow Food International http://www.slowfood.com/ is also the organiser of the Terra Madre Network http://www.terramadre.info which comprises 250 universities and research centres, including 450 individual academics throughout the world collaborating to protect and support small food producers, and to change the systems that put them in danger by bringing together those players with decision-making power: consumers, educational institutions, chefs and cooks, agricultural research entities, NGOs, etc.
14: "Special Eurobarometer 295: Attitudes of European Citizens toward the Environment" (published in March 2008): http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_295_en.pdf. Extract: "The majority of Europeans declare that they are opposed to the use of GMOs (58%) while around a fifth (21%) supports their use. A further 9% say they have never heard of GMOs. At country level we see that the absolute majority in most countries are opposed to the use of GMOs. This is particularly the case in Slovenia (82%) and Cyprus (81%). Respondents in Malta, Portugal and Spain hold the mildest opinions in this respect which is mainly explained by the high share of respondents in these countries spontaneously admitting that they have never heard of the concept or do not form an opinion for or against."
15. As the US National Catholic Reporter points out, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is "a think tank that does not issue authoritative church teaching" http://ncronline.org/news/ecology/vatican-studies-genetically-modified-crops. In May 2009, the Academy organised a study week in the Vatican on the theme "Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development." According to the UK watchdog group Spinwatch, the event was a "charade by vested interests" and a total farce", whose speakers are "all GMO supporters, with many well known for their extreme pro-GMO views or having vested interests in GMO adoption." A May 13 release from the group asserts that several speakers have financial ties to Monsanto, an American agricultural company that is the world's largest producer of genetically engineered seed: http://www.spinwatch.org/-articles-by-category-mainmenu-8/46-gm-industry/5283-spinwatch-condemns-vatican-gm-event-as-a-charade-by-vested-interests
16. Statement by Pope Benedict XVII in "Instrumentum Laboris", quoted in "When biotech business undermines science: the case of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences", press release by Guido Pollice, President of Verdi Ambiente e Societí , and Fabrizia Pratesi, coordinator of Comitato Scientifico Equivita, 13 May 2009: http://www.antivivisezione.it/Academy_ignores_message_of_Pope.htm
17. "Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2010": http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-x vi_mes_20091208_xliii-world-day-peace_en.html
18. "Agenda (Instrumentum Laboris) for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops", 3-4 October 2009: http://www.jctr.org.zm/downloads/2ndsynodInstrumentum%20Laboris.pdf
19. "Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research? Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops. That restriction must end". Scientific American, Editorial, August 2009 edition, published 21 July 2009: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-seed-companies-control-gm-cr op-research
20. A useful check-list of scientific papers on the health dangers of GM feed and food can be found at http://www.gmfreeireland.org/health/studies.php
"Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods" by Jeffrey M. Smith Publisher: Yes! Books; hardcover; 336 pages;; available by mailorder from http://www.GeneticRoulette.com.
"Effects of GMOs and pesticides systematically underestimated CRIIGEN appeal to public authorities, July 2009" Committee for Independent Research and Genetic Engineering: http://www.criigen.org/images/stories/pressrelease-ijbs_080709.pdf
21. For info on the hidden use and dangers of GM animal feed, see the following:
Leaked memo from the US Deparment of Health & Human Services revealing concerns by the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine that toxins from GM foods might bioaccumulate in farm animals, and the related lawsuit that forced the FDA to disclose some of its secret documents on the dangers of GMOs: http://biointegrity.org/list.html.
"Detection of Transgenic and Endogenous Plant DNA in Digesta and Tissues of Sheep and Pigs Fed Roundup Ready Canola Meal", Sharma, R. et al., J. Agric. Food Chem., Vol. 54, No. 5, 2006, pp. 1699-1709;
"Assessing the transfer of genetically modified DNA from feed to animal tissues", Mazza, R. et al., Transgenic Res., Vol. 14, No. 5, 2005, pp. 775-784.
"Detection of genetically modified DNA sequences in milk from the Italian market", Agodi, A., et al., Int. J. Hyg. Environ. Health, Vol. 209, 2006, pp. 81-88 .
22. "Three Major GMOs Approved for Food and Feed Found Unsafe". Press release, CRIIGEN – Committee of Research and Information on Genetic Engineering [France], 11 December 2009: http://www.criigen.org/images/stories/pressrelease-3ogm-ijbs_1209.pdf
"A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health", Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5(7), 706-726: http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.pdf
"New Report highlights Monsanto's corrupt science in GM canola [oilseed rape] assessment", Dr Brian John, GM Free Cymru [Wales, UK], 14 January 2010: http://www.gmfreecymru.org/pivotal_papers/canola.html