A very happy new year to all our readers! 2015 will be a critical year in the GMO battle, with Europe vulnerable to increased GMO cultivation; Asia and Africa coming under growing pressure to open up their farming systems to GM; Monsanto continuing to sow misery in Latin America; and ongoing legal and ballot measures aimed at restricting or labelling GMOs in North America.
Your support has never been more important. Please consider making a donation to GMWatch to help us continue our work of countering the push to genetically engineer our food supply, and of highlighting the proven successful alternatives to GM. Every donation, big or small, is much appreciated. Regular donations are particularly helpful. We'd also like to thank our existing regular donors, who have been helping to keep us afloat.
A diet containing GM soy and maize fed to rats for 30, 60, and 90 days caused a wide range of toxic effects, including DNA damage, abnormal sperm, blood changes, and damage to liver, kidney, and testes.
Companies are developing GM crops using techniques that either are outside the jurisdiction of the US regulatory agencies or use new methods — like "genome editing" — that were not envisioned when the regulations were created. But companies that claim gene editing is precise and predictable must demonstrate it through detailed analysis, a scientist told GMWatch. Here's how you can learn more about this crucial issue that will affect all our food supplies in the near future.
As the monarch butterfly looks headed for endangered species protection in the US, let's remember who – and what – put them onto the endangered list. That would be Monsanto's glyphosate-tolerant GMO crops, which have led to a 90% decline in monarch populations by wiping out their food source, milkweeds.
Conventionally bred tomatoes with a natural resistance to a fungal disease called botrytis are not Monsanto's invention, the European Patent Office has admitted.
Comedian Bill Maher has congratulated activists on the island of Maui who brought in a law to prevent Monsanto from carrying out its plans to grow GMO crops there. A judge has since ruled that the law is invalid, but his ruling is being appealed. Calling Monsanto "evil" and "ruthless", Maher also said he believes the US will get mandatory GMO labelling.
In a survey, Americans aged 40 and under ranked GMOs as 2014's most important food story – and a significant number are concerned enough to have changed their behaviour as a result.
Chinese lawmakers are considering a proposed revision to the country's Food Safety Law, including mandatory labelling of GM foods.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed off on a law establishing liability for the violation of mandatory requirements for the labelling of food products that contain GMOs.
Non-GMO verified products have hit $8.5 billion in annual sales in the US, said Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, the main supplier of non-GMO labels.
Snowville Creamery’s Warren Taylor has created a model to increase non-GMO feed supply as a way to convert to organic and eliminate GMOs.
More US farmers are planting non-GMO soybeans and corn. The trend is driven by better economics and comparable yields for non-GMO seed, glyphosate-resistant superweeds in GMO fields, and better acceptability of non-GMO crops for human food products.
Herbicide-resistant superweeds choking up fields and market rejection of GMOs are pushing farmers towards an alternative – sorghum (also known as milo), a grain crop that isn't GM – yet. However, the biotech company Ceres wants to commercialise a GM sorghum for biofuels.
Canadian farmers are shunning Roundup Ready canola because they don't want Roundup-resistant canola infesting their soybean crop.
A new study looks at the ability of “natural refuges” versus non-Bt cotton refuges to delay Bt toxin resistance in pests. But Dr Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Center for Food Safety points out the limitations of these tactics and says agroecological approaches are the best sustainable solution to pest resistance to Bt crops.
Iowa farmers and companies are suing Syngenta, claiming they suffered financial losses when China rejected corn shipments containing a GM seed developed by the company but not approved for use in China. China recently confirmed that the country has finally approved imports of the Syngenta GM corn (MIR162) and two varieties of GM soybeans. But Reuters comments that US corn exporters will likely see little impact, since "China’s main buyers remain awash in local supplies" and have little need for imports.
More than half of food tested by the US government for pesticide residues last year showed detectable levels of pesticides, but in a new report, the USDA claims they are safe. The USDA failed to test for glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide, which is sprayed on over 80% of GM crops. Is it a case of "don't look, don't see"?
In a new round of testing commissioned by Moms Across America, glyphosate has been discovered in PediaSure Enteral Nutritional Drink, which is widely used by hospitals in the US for children who are in need of nutrition in intensive care.
Despite an investment of $1 billion, none of the projects funded under the Gates Foundation’s "Grand Challenges" banner has made a significant contribution to saving lives and improving health in the developing world, according to a critique in the Seattle Times.
Despite a ban on cultivation of GM rapeseed (canola) in Europe, Monsanto and Bayer's plants are now freely growing there, shows a new study.
In an important victory, a Belgian court of appeal has heavily reduced the sentences of 11 protesters who were accused of causing criminal damage for their role in destroying a GM potato crop in 2011 – and has thrown out a conviction of "criminal conspiracy".
In a superb article, Colin Tudge - co-founder of this week's Oxford Real Farming Conference in the UK - examines the growing need for an agrarian renaissance to tackle the increasingly obvious failings of industrial agriculture.
UK minsters are not expecting commercial planting of GMO crops in this country "for at least a few years" but will ease their way by ensuring that "pragmatic" regulations are put in place.
Welsh Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jill Evans correctly says the law being finalised in Europe allowing member states to "opt-out" of GMO cultivation will also open the doors to GMOs. Wales has historically been opposed to GM crop plantings, but Jill Evans is asking constituents to contact her with their views.
In a review of the literature, Chinese researchers concluded that there is "serious debate" around findings from long-term and multigenerational studies on GM foods. The review makes clear why a "spoiler" review concluding no adverse effects from GM foods was required to be published shortly afterwards.
Tests in mice show that the protein in the most commonly grown GM Bt maize may be an allergen when exposure occurs through inhalation.
A study shows that ingested fragments from the CaMV-35S promoter used in many GM crops have incorporated into the blood, liver, and brain tissues of experimental rats. While there’s no proof it does harm, there’s no proof it’s safe either, according to scientists who contributed their comments to GMWatch.
In an excellent video, John Hilary, executive director of War On Want, explains what's wrong with the TTIP:
- why it's nothing to do with 'free trade' but all about deregulation of controversial and risky products like GMOs, tobacco, and hormone-treated meat;
- why it won't boost our economies;
- how politicians know that much of what we're being told about the supposed benefits of TTIP is a lie.
If TTIP is adopted:
- a million jobs in the US and EU combined will be lost, 600,000 of them in the EU;
- Europe will lose exports;
- the precautionary principle as the basis of European regulation would be trashed, along with food safety rules, labour rights, and the European social model;
- corporations will be able to sue national and regional governments (i.e. the taxpayer) in secret courts for daring to regulate their products.
A written report by John Hilary is here.