Obama signs Monsanto Protection Act.jpgMonsanto Protection Act puts GM companies above the courts

President Barack Obama has outraged American citizens and civil society groups by signing off what has become known as "the Monsanto Protection Act". The Act hijacks the constitution and puts Monsanto and other GM companies above the federal courts. The Act means that the courts cannot stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed, even if it is linked to illness or environmental problems. The backlash has been furious. Senator Barbara Mikulski, chair of the Senate appropriations committee which was ultimately responsible for the bill, has apologised and said she doesn't support the Act. A Food Democracy Now petition has attracted 250,000 names. "This provision is simply an industry ploy to continue to sell genetically engineered seeds even when a court of law has found they were approved by US department of agriculture illegally," says one petition. Read more 

Also read:

Monsanto claims "There is no Monsanto Protection Act"

Monsanto-funded farm group wants to extend Monsanto Protection Act

Senator Mikulski says she doesn't support the Act

Take action (in US): Ask Obama to veto Monsanto Protection Act


Building soil structure and biodiversity are keys to resilient farming

The key to resilient farming lies in building good soil structure – and biodiversity is the way to get to that, according to research at the University of Missouri. In contrast, monoculture or corn/soy rotations deplete soil and make it vulnerable to drought.

An inspiring audio explains how the more varied the plants you grow above ground, the better the soil and yield. Reduced tillage, use of cover crops, and compost applications produce soil that's better at holding water, enabling crops to survive drought.

Head researcher Tim Reinbott makes clear that GM crops are now part of the problem, due to herbicide-resistant superweeds. The take-home lesson is that GM crops are an outdated technology.

Listen to audio

Soil structure

Quotes of the week

Food writer Mark Bittman on the Monsanto Protection Act:
"Our job as citizens is to support the production of energy and food by the most sustainable and least damaging methods scientists can devise. If that's genetic engineering, fine. But to date it hasn’t been; in fact, the technology has been little more than an income-generator for a few corporations desperate to see those profits continue regardless of the cost to the rest of us, or to the environment." Read more 

Farmer Michael Hart on why GM crops should not be grown in the UK or Europe:
"As a farmer I do not want to see GM crops grown in the UK or Europe because it will put farmers and the food chain in the hands of a few companies, intensifies farming, and, having seen them in a number of countries around the world, they are not going to feed the world or make farmers more profit or give environmental benefits." Read more 

More articles

GMO Free USA rallies against Kellogg’s on Earth Day Read more

Hawaii Senate Committee hears then kills GMO labelling bill Read more

Bt crop farmers to use more soil insecticides Read more

Italy asks EU to halt GM maize cultivation Read more

Stop Monsanto patenting our food - petition Read more

Lawsuit filed against EU authorisation of GM soybeans Read more

European Ombudsman investigates GM insects conflicts of interest at EFSA Read more

If we rely on corporate seed, we lose food sovereignty Read more

Monsanto continues expansion in Argentina Read more

The state of the science on GM food crops - Dr Stuart Newman Read more

GMO updates from China:
Part 1: Health and reproductive problems in animals and humans that are believed to have eaten GMOs Read more
Part 2: Activists want answers on 'GM-maybe' feed and pig deaths: Read more

Other GMWatch links

GM Songs

Videos on GM

Do we need GM?

GM Myths

GM Mythmakers

GM Firms

GM News


Campaign for GE Free SeafoodConsumers oppose GM seafood as GM salmon approval looms

A coalition of consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups have launched the “Campaign for Genetically Engineered (GE)-Free Seafood” by announcing that several major grocery retailers representing more than 2,000 stores across the US have committed not to sell GM seafood if it is allowed onto the market. The growing market rejection of GM fish comes as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducts its final review of a GM salmon. If approved, the salmon would be the first ever GM animal allowed to enter the human food supply. Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen criticised the safety data provided by the developer company AquaBounty as “sloppy”, “misleading”, and “woefully inadequate”. The company used small sample sizes and culled deformed fish, thus skewing the data. Read more

Also, differences were found in the GM salmon that suggested they could be more allergenic than ordinary salmon, but these findings were not followed up. Read more

Petition: Tell FDA to say no to GM salmon. Read more

Major US supermarkets to boycott GM salmon. Read more


legal judgementMonsanto bullies farmers

In the US, Monsanto has sued 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses for alleged seed patent violation. Monsanto has won every single case. The company was awarded nearly $24 million from just 72 of those judgments, the Center for Food Safety found. Additionally, as many as 4,500 small farmers who could not afford legal representation have been forced to accept out-of-court settlements. Bill Freese of the Center for Food Safety estimates, based on Monsanto's documents, that those farmers paid Monsanto between $85 and $160 million in out-of-court settlements. Read more


Professor Jack HeinemannNew-type GMOs could silence human genes

In a new peer-reviewed study, the researchers Jack Heinemann, Sarah Agapito-Tenfen and Judy Carman have found that government safety regulators are failing to consider the risks of new kinds of GM plants and some emerging co-technologies. These plants are designed to make a form of genetic information called double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), to alter the way genes are expressed or to silence genes. Research has shown that dsRNAs can transfer from plants to humans and other animals through food. Potentially, they could also be transferred into people by inhaling dust from the plant (e.g. breathing in flour from GM wheat while baking with it), or by absorption through the skin. In a worst-case scenario, they could silence human genes. The same technology is being developed for spraying directly onto plants as a pesticide. Read more

More information: Read here

Video in which Prof Heinemann and Dr Carman explain the risks: Watch video

Audio podcast with Prof Heinemann: Listen to podcast

Science Media Centre wades in to defend GMOs but fails to disclose conflicts of interest of its 'experts': Read more

Science Media Centre disinformation tactics over dsRNA risks/Q&A with the new paper's authors: Read more


le monde articleDid a former tobacco lobbyist try to silence Séralini's study?

The former tobacco lobbyist Henry I Miller tried to publish in the French newspaper Le Monde an article he co-authored with pro-GM scientist Bruce Chassy, attacking the research of Prof GE Séralini, according to Le Monde's science correspondent Stephane Foucart. Séralini's study found that GM maize NK603 and tiny amounts of Roundup herbicide harmed the health of rats. Fortunately, the editors of Le Monde are a bit more savvy than many of their counterparts in the US and the UK, and refused to publish the article. Foucart has written a book which likens Miller's attempts to discredit Séralini's research to his lobbying efforts for Big Tobacco.

English translation from French of an article worth reading in full: Read more


broilersSainsbury's funds sustainable feed research

The Sainsbury's Innovation Fund is funding research to find to what extent UK-produced rapeseed meal can be substituted for soybean meal in broiler diets. The aim is to reduce the environmental impact and improve the sustainability of poultry meat production. "The project addresses concerns about the continuing use of imported soya bean meal due to the potential negative environmental impact of production in third countries, as well as the scarcity of supply of non-GM soya bean meal," said a statement. Read more

Take action: Keep up the pressure to remove hidden GM animal feed from our food chain. You can send a letter with just one click to all the main UK supermarkets: Read more


EU-US free trade talks are chance for GM firms to design GMO approvals process

Brussels-based lobbying firm Alber & Geiger is offering US corporations help with lobbying to influence the EU-US free trade agreement talks. The firm argues that the talks "will offer many US firms a second chance to get their interests implemented effectively in Europe… numerous sectors that have been fighting for change for decades could see their fortunes turn around within a short period of time." GM firms, writes managing partner Andreas Geiger, "now will be presented with the ultimate opportunity to change the entire process to suit their needs." Read more


Industry biosafety data on GMOs must not be kept secret - EFSA GMO Panel member

Industry biosafety data on GMOs must not be kept secret, says a new peer-reviewed paper by Kaare Nielsen. Nielsen is a member of the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) GMO Panel, which assesses GMOs for safety. The paper is timely in light of Monsanto's threat to sue EFSA over publication of its "commercially confidential" data on the GM maize NK603. Read more


Attempts to curb pest resistance in Bt crops may fail - study

Pest resistance to Bt toxin in single-trait Bt crops has led the GM industry to stack multiple types of Bt toxin in one crop, in an attempt to kill off the pests that have evolved resistance to one toxin. But new experiments suggest that this strategy is doomed to fail. The researchers found that caterpillars selected for resistance to one toxin survived better on two-toxin plants than caterpillars from a susceptible strain. The researchers said the findings may explain reports indicating some field populations of cotton bollworm rapidly evolved resistance to both toxins. Read more

GM not the solution to feeding the world - study

GM is way down the list of potential solutions to feeding the world, finds a comprehensive new peer-reviewed study. The authors conclude that if the goal is to provide sufficient food for the world's growing population in a sustainable way, then much of the research funding that currently goes into the development of GM crops would be better spent in other areas, such as nutrition, policy, governance, and solutions based on local market conditions. Read more.

India: Farmers from 15 states protest in Delhi

Thousands of farmers from 15 states gathered in Delhi, demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to resolve the farm crisis in the country. The protesters asked for the promotion of ecologically friendly agriculture and opposed the introduction of GM crops, as the technology is controlled by corporations. They said they will not allow the enactment of the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill, which ensures the introduction of GM technology in the country. Read more

Anti-GM activists' court case postponed after law professors' article

A court case in which activists are being tried for liberating a field of GM potatoes in Belgium has been postponed after an article was published by two law professors questioning the trial's legality. In January 2013, in the presence of a huge crowd of supporters for the activists, the court denied the 11 anti-GM activists the legal right to a defence in court. The court refused to allow defence witnesses to give their statements and refused to allow video footage to be shown, in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. In response, the 11 field liberators and their lawyers unanimously decided to leave the courtroom. The case is now due to re-start on 28 May. Read more

GM food and farming makes gut flora unhealthy

Two studies published in the past six months reveal a disturbing finding: glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup suppress the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, leading to the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria. The studies come in the wake of farmer reports of gut problems and digestive disorders in livestock animals fed GM feed. Read more