US military tracks anti-GM campaigners and independent scientists
The largest German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung has published a shocking report that reveals how Monsanto, the US military and the US government track anti-GMO campaigners and independent scientists who study the dangers of GMOs.
The report reveals how the US government “advances the interests" of corporations, using Monsanto as an example. The article states: “It is noticeable that anyone who criticizes Monsanto has their life made very difficult or an invisible hand ends their careers. But who is this Anyone? Targets are scientists such as the Australian Judy Carman. She has made a name for herself with studies of genetically modified organisms."
The article also mentions hacker attacks on GMWatch. These peaked around the release of the 2012 Seralini study, which found serious health effects from GM maize. Read more.
A separate article in the same newspaper explains how US diplomats aggressively promote the interests of Monsanto in countries outside the US. Read more.
Quote of the month
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith on UK environment secretary Owen Paterson's hyping of GM crops:
"I think he's falling into a trap over GM and I don't think he understands the issue. He's swallowed the industry line hook, line and sinker without talking to anyone with a different view. When designing policy that's a dangerous thing and I'm concerned big business is framing the debate for the government. The story so far suggests that GM is predominantly about the industry getting greater control over the food chain, rather than alleviating poverty or environmental concerns." Read more
US farmers want more scrutiny of new Monsanto crops. Read more
Monsanto has withdrawn eight out of nine applications for the cultivation of GM crops in Europe. Mute Schimpf of Friends of the Earth Europe said: “There is no market for GM crops in Europe: the public don’t want them, farmers don’t want them. With biotech companies rushing one by one for the exit it’s time to plough all our resources into ensuring the green and fair farming that European citizens demand.” GM Freeze welcomed the news but warned that Monsanto’s GM crops will still be imported into the EU, primarily for use in animal feed and biofuels, so the damage to ecosystems and human health caused by GM will continue elsewhere. Monsanto said it will focus on the conventional seed market for Europe instead.
Three Italian ministries have signed a decree banning the cultivation of a type of Monsanto's MON810 GM maize, citing environmental concerns. On May 21, the Italian Senate unanimously voted against permitting GM crop cultivation in the country. Read more
After Seralini study, France launches long-term study on GMO health risks
France's General Commission for Sustainable Development (CGDD) Department of Ecology has launched a research program to investigate the long-term health risks of GMOs. The move comes after the publication last year of the study by Prof GE Seralini's team, which found serious health effects in rats fed on a Monsanto GM maize and tiny amounts of Roundup herbicide. The proposed French study is in addition to the European Commission's planned study of the long-term toxicity of the same maize that Seralini studied. Read more
EFSA experts lobby to end animal testing of GMOs
As France and the European Commission are planning long-term animal feeding studies on the health risks of GMOs (see above), two former members of the European Food Safety Authority's GMO Panel have published a scientific paper lobbying for the abolition of any animal feeding studies on GMOs at all! Former GMO Panel head Harry Kuiper, a long-time affiliate of the GM industry-funded group ILSI, joined with a second ILSI affiliate and former EFSA working group member Esther Kok, and former GMO Panel member Howard Davies to author the paper. Read more
Commission presses ahead with allowing SmartStax maize in food and feed
The EU Commission is pressing ahead with allowing SmartStax stacked-trait GM maize in food and feed, in spite of the fact that the complete stacked-trait maize has never been tested in toxicological feeding studies. Poultry were fed on the maize for just 42 days to assess weight gain. Read more
No more GMO open field trials in France
France's last-remaining experimental open field trial of GMOs in France has been stopped, with the destruction of 1000 GM poplars. The immediate reason for the decision is the lack of government approval for the continuation of the experiment. Also, the project has failed to result in any industrial application or to attract any economic partners. Read more
UK citizens reject GM food and even farmers don't want to eat it
Only 21% of the UK public support GM food, according to the latest survey. Despite a massive pro-GM push by government, researchers and the media this latest poll carried out in June confirm that UK citizens continue to reject the technology. Meanwhile another survey has revealed that far from clamouring to use GMOs, as the government claims, less than half of UK farmers believe GM technology is a good innovation, and hardly any want to eat GM food. Both surveys were funded by Barclays Bank. Read more
MP says pro-GM environment secretary Paterson is "industry puppet"
The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has made a vociferous attack on Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, over his campaign to bring GM crops to Britain. The MP accused his fellow party member of making "nonsensical" claims about the benefits of GM, claiming that Paterson is a puppet of the industry and does not understand the dangers GM crops pose to the ecosystem. Goldsmith said of Paterson's recent speech to launch his campaign to grow GM crops in Britain, "Any half-way decent GM enthusiast with a scientific background would have blushed during much of the speech Owen Paterson made. You have to wonder about the government's gung-ho attitude to GM - you can't stuff pollen back into a tin," he said. Read more
Plenty of independent scientists available for expert panels
For years, public interest groups have criticised the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for employing scientists with conflicts of interest with industry on its expert panels which give scientific opinions on risky products like GMOs. In response, EFSA claimed that experts without links to industry are hard to find. But a survey among life science researchers conducted in the US, where public sector science is likely to be even more dominated by industry than in Europe, suggests this is untrue. Almost half (47.2%) of those who responded to the survey reported no relationships with industry. Read more
Move to introduce GM brinjal in Bangladesh
Experts and agriculture activists have voiced concern over the Bangladesh government move to introduce GM Bt brinjal to growers, despite a moratorium imposed on its commercialisation in India and a ban on field trials in the Philippines. Read more
India's government plans to "promote" GM food rather than regulate it
The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill's stated aim is to "promote" the safe use of modern biotechnology - a serious distortion of regulation in this sphere, writes Kavitha Kuruganti. The technology is already being promoted through existing policies and schemes related to the research and development on GMOs. The fact that the ministry of science and technology (a promotional ministry) proposes to house the regulator is an objectionable conflict of interest. Read more
Productivity gains, pesticide reductions in mostly GM-free Europe
Productivity gains in mostly GM-free Europe are taking place while the continent is simultaneously ratcheting down its use of pesticides, says an article in the US press based on the recent study by Jack Heinemann and others. Read more
Failing GM crops bolster the pesticide industry
As herbicide-resistant weeds and pests resistant to Bt crops spread, the GM companies are making more profits from the sale of chemicals, writes Tom Philpott in Mother Jones.
Brazilian regulator ignores adverse health effects in mice fed GM beans
A GM virus-resistant bean developed by the Brazilian government's research company Embrapa had adverse effects on the health of mice in the company's own tests. This revelation comes from one of the Brazilian regulator CTNBio's own scientific experts, Prof José Maria Gusman Ferraz. Ill effects in GM-fed mice included larger sized villi (structures that line the intestines). This finding is consistent with the findings of Dr Arpad Pusztai in his experiments in the 1990s with GM potatoes. The lack of consensus about GMO safety in general within CTNBio is clear from Prof Gusman Ferraz's article, which draws attention to the scientific laxness surrounding the approval of the bean by CNTBio in 2011. The bean is due to be commercialized in 2014-2015. Read more
GMOs have changed Brazilian agriculture for the worse - agronomist
Leonardo Melgarejo represents the Ministry of Agrarian Development at Brazil's GMO scientific advisory body, CTNBio. In an extraordinary in-depth interview, Melgarejo concludes that GMOs have changed Brazilian agriculture for the worse. Problems include rising pesticide use, herbicide-tolerant weeds, pest resistance to Bt crops, massive farmer losses due to a plague of caterpillars on GM crops, health problems in GM-crop producing regions due to herbicide spraying, and depopulation of rural areas due to the monoculture model. Melgarejo deconstructs CTNBio's unscientific approach to GMO approvals and criticises its official dismissal of the Seralini study on GM maize, a decision which some current and former CTNBio scientists opposed. He sees hope for the future in the form of the Brazilian government's policy to support agroecological and organic agriculture, a move won by powerful social movements acting at the grassroots level. Part 1. Part 2.
Genetic damage found in soybean workers in Brazil
A new peer-reviewed study has found DNA damage and elevated cell death of blood cells in soybean workers exposed to fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides in Brazil. Glyphosate and 2,4-D were among the herbicides used by the exposed group. 2,4-D is increasingly used to combat glyphosate-resistant weeds in GM soybean fields. Read more
Roundup disrupts male reproductive function - study
Following news that glyphosate has been found in the urine of city dwellers in Europe, a new study from Brazil shows that Roundup disrupts male reproductive function in rats at low doses. In light of the falling fertility levels in the US and Europe, as well as the reports of infertility in people living in GM Roundup Ready soy producing areas of Argentina, governments must step up to implement programs to phase out the use of Roundup. Read more
Roundup toxicity underestimated - study
A new study found that low levels of Roundup and glyphosate such as can be found in the environment are toxic to Daphnia magna, the water flea. However, glyphosate is classed by regulators as “practically nontoxic” to aquatic invertebrates. Daphnia magna is a widely accepted model for environmental toxicity. Read more
U.S. plans to hike allowed glyphosate levels in food supply
The US EPA is preparing to massively raise the allowed residue level for glyphosate in some food and feed crops, including soy. A new EPA regulation would allow “oilseed” crops such as flax, canola, and soybean oil to contain glyphosate at levels up to 40 parts per million (ppm), up from 20 ppm, which is over 100,000 times the concentration needed to induce the growth of human breast cancer cells in vitro, according to a recent study. Read more
USDA researchers confirm Heinemann conclusions on new-type GMO risks
A new peer-reviewed paper by USDA researchers draws attention to potential hazards of pesticides and GMOs made with RNA-interference (RNAi) gene-silencing techniques. These hazards could include off-target gene silencing or immune stimulation. The paper confirms the conclusions of another recently published paper by researchers Jack Heinemann, Sarah Agapito-Tenfen and Judy Carman. Read more
Syngenta walked out of coexistence meetings on GM beets prior to crop destruction
The background to the mystery destruction of over 6000 GM sugar beets in Oregon has emerged. A series of meetings had taken place in which organic/non-GM growers tried to reach a "coexistence" deal with Syngenta, the company responsible for the GM beet plantings. But Syngenta had refused to reveal where its GM beets were grown and then walked out of the meeting. Afterwards, the GM beets were destroyed. Oregon has a major organic and non-GM beet and chard seed industry which is threatened by GM contamination. Read more
Japan shuns US wheat due to GM contamination
Japan stopping imports of the western white wheat variety from the US after GM contamination was found in an Oregon wheat field. The episode is yet another example of how GM crops can destroy markets even when the crop has never been approved for commercialisation. Read more
A safer GM method?
The biotech companies BASF and Cibus have developed oilseed rape and canola with a technique called RTDS (Rapid Trait Development System). Cibus markets its RTDS crops as non-transgenic and as produced "without the insertion of foreign DNA into plants". It says the method is "all natural", has "none of the health and environmental risks associated with transgenic breeding", and "yields predictable outcomes in plants". But scientists with whom we discussed the method say it's still GM, albeit targeted. They say that even changing a single gene, especially one encoding an enzyme, can have dramatic biochemical disturbances in addition to what is intended, and that the tissue culture process that accompanies the method also produces a lot of mutations. Read more