We wish all our readers a very happy new year! Be sure to check out our LOBBYWATCH and COVID-19 sections for the latest on Kevin Folta’s exotic lies, Bill Gates’ dangerous disinfo, Joe Biden’s “Mr Monsanto”, hidden Pentagon funding, deranged Transhumanists, and more.
A new scientific publication shows that CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications in animals unintentionally leave traces. The findings, as commented on by Testbiotech, are not related to unintended changes in the DNA, which have often been described, but to gene regulation, i.e. epigenetics. The effects are heritable and may, for example, result in disruption of embryonic development. London-based molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou said there are implications in the new findings for food safety of gene-edited plants.
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A new opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) dangerously underestimates the risks posed by gene-edited crops and paves the way for their de-regulation – envisioning a future in which few or no safety checks would be carried out. GMWatch has published our analysis of this opinion, divided into two parts: Part I is an overview for those who want the broad picture, while Part II is a detailed scientific analysis (with technical terms explained).
More criticism of the EFSA opinion on gene-edited plants comes from Testbiotech. Testbiotech considers the opinion is inadequate and misleading on the protection of health and the environment.
Researchers at North Carolina State University are calling for a coalition of biotech industry, government and non-government organizations, trade organizations, and academic experts to work together to provide basic information about gene-edited crops to lift the veil on how plants or plant products are modified and provide greater transparency on the presence and use of gene editing in food supplies. The warn that the lack of public information on gene-edited crops could decrease public trust.
One argument promoted by those seeking to exclude gene-edited organisms from regulation, including at the national level, is that organisms engineered with gene-editing techniques do not fall within the definition of a Living Modified Organism (LMO), the term used for a GMO in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. But a new briefing shows that currently deployed gene-editing technologies and applications, including all techniques involving CRISPR-based systems, clearly fall within the Protocol’s definition of an LMO, whether they involve inserting, deleting or editing sequences of genomes.
Data from Monsanto revealed that Bt proteins expressed in genetically modified (GM) plants are significantly more toxic than natural Bt toxins, reports Testbiotech. It is more than 30 years ago since, in 1990, Monsanto data first showed that if mixed with plant material from, e.g. soybeans, cotton and maize, toxicity could be up to 20 times higher. This is due to enzymes naturally present in the tissues of many crop plants. These findings were never taken into account by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). It seems as if EFSA simply overlooked the relevant publications.
A decree has been released on Mexico’s National Commission for Regulatory Improvement (CONAMER) website that confirms a phase-out of use of both glyphosate and GM corn for human consumption in Mexico by 2024. The decree states that use of the herbicide glyphosate will be phased out over the next four years, although glyphosate will not be used in any government-sponsored program during that transition period. The draft also includes an article that requires the revocation of existing and future permits for both the cultivation of GMO corn and the use of GMO corn for human consumption. The use of GMO corn in human consumption would be phased out no later than January 31, 2024.
Exposure to glyphosate weedkiller makes genetic changes to rats that can be linked to increased disease in their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a new study has found. The study provides evidence that glyphosate-induced changes to sperm from exposed rats could be used as biomarkers for determining propensity in subsequent generations for prostate and kidney diseases as well as obesity and incurring multiple diseases at once. In fact, by the time third- and fourth-generation rats whose predecessors had been exposed to the chemical were middle-aged, 90% had one or more of these health problems, a dramatically higher rate than the control group.
GMWatch comment on study showing glyphosate causes genetic changes (see above)
The single dose used in this experiment was way above the level that people and animals are likely to be exposed to, but it was half the No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL), the level deemed in industry regulatory experiments to have no visible adverse effect. The study shows that the assumed NOAEL is not reliable. The particular value of the study is that it identifies effects over multiple generations and suggests a mechanism by which the effects could be transmitted down the generations — via sperm.
On 17 December, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed the opening arguments and evidence in its litigation challenging the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) re-approval of glyphosate. The CFS is representing a broad coalition of farmworkers, farmers, and conservationists seeking to have the pesticide prohibited from use or sale because of its unlawful approval.
A laboratory analysis of 20 brands of spaghetti showed that seven products contained traces of glyphosate.
Newly published scientific papers illustrate the ubiquitous nature of the weedkilling chemical glyphosate and a need to better understand the impact exposure to the popular pesticide may be having on human health, including the health of the gut microbiome. In one of the new papers, researchers from the University of Turku in Finland said that they were able to determine, in a “conservative estimate", that approximately 54 percent of species in the core of the human gut microbiome are “potentially sensitive” to glyphosate.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has released a draft biological evaluation finding that glyphosate herbicide is likely to injure or kill 93% of the plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. The draft biological evaluation released by the agency’s pesticide office found that 1,676 endangered species are likely to be harmed by glyphosate. The draft opinion also found that glyphosate adversely modifies critical habitat for 759 endangered species, or 96% of all species for which critical habitat has been designated.
Prolonged exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of the weedkiller Roundup causes significant harm to keystone species, according to new research. The researchers used waterfleas, or Daphnia, to test the effects prolonged exposure to concentrations of Roundup deemed safe by regulatory agencies. They found that even at approved regulatory levels, the weedkiller causes embryonic development failure, significant DNA damage, and also interferes with the animals’ metabolism and gut function.
Monarch butterflies urgently need your help. This iconic, orange-and-black beauty was once common in backyards across the country — but its population has plummeted by 80 percent in the past 20 years. One of the main causes of its decline is the widespread use of glyphosate herbicide — which is wiping out milkweed, the butterfly's only host plant. Sign the petition to urge the US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act before it's too late.
More than 80% of the GM crop area in the US has been planted with GM glyphosate-tolerant crops. The intensive use of glyphosate has resulted in the evolution of resistance by some 48 weed species in the US, including Amaranthus palmeri (Palmer amaranth). The US is the largest exporter to Japan of corn, soybean, and cotton crops genetically modified to be glyphosate-tolerant. A study has detected A. palmeri tolerant to glyphosate at Japanese ports. Because GM plants have not been commercially cultivated in Japan, their occurrence is evidence of spillage during transport of GM grain commodities.
Leydy Pech, an indigenous Mayan beekeeper, led a coalition that successfully halted Monsanto’s planting of GM soybeans in southern Mexico. The Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the government violated the Mayans’ constitutional rights and suspended the planting of GM soybeans. Now Pech has been awarded the 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize.
Dicamba herbicide is used on GM dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton in the US, but has caused huge problems due to its tendency to drift off-target and harm other crops. Now University of Missouri weed scientists have found that dicamba was detectable in rainwater throughout the growing season at some sites. In the sites located in the southern corner of Missouri, known as the Bootheel, dicamba amounts in rain were high enough to injure sensitive crops, especially with multiple exposures. The researchers also detected 2,4-D in some rainwater samples.
Soybean farmers whose fields were injured by off-target dicamba movement in the past six years can file claims for compensation, after the details of a $300 million settlement with Monsanto (now a subsidiary of Bayer) were finalized. The settlement is part of Bayer's efforts to settle ongoing lawsuits involving its herbicides.
Bayer shareholders have criticised Bayer AG Chairman Norbert Winkeljohann over the three-year contract extension granted to Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann in September, given the company continues to grapple with the fallout from the Monsanto acquisition that he spearheaded. That takeover has come to be widely viewed as disastrous because, among other things, it saddled Bayer with massive legal bills tied to Monsanto’s controversial Roundup weedkiller, prompting open rebellion from shareholders against senior management.
Bayer’s CEO Werner Baumann, who engineered the troubled takeover of Monsanto, will not seek any corporate board seats after his current term expires in 2024, he said. Baumann plans to “all but retire from corporate public life” afterwards.
On 17 December, the European Parliament voted to adopt five objections against authorisations of GM crops for use as food and feed in the EU. These objections, which are not binding on the European Commission, will bring the overall number of objections to 51 since December 2015. So far, the Commission has ignored all objections and adopted the GM crop authorisations regardless (except for three cultivation authorisations). This is despite the fact that political support for these authorisations has been shrinking over the last years.
Green MEPs Tilly Metz and Eleonora Evi argue that the EU must no longer be complicit in the destruction of primary forests, expansion of monocultures and use of toxic chemicals banned in the EU through the continued import of GM crops. They write, "None of the GM soybean varieties grown in Brazil and Argentina are approved for cultivation in the EU, and several chemicals that are used on these crops are not allowed for use inside the EU. By allowing the import of these GM crops, mostly to feed industrially farmed animals, the EU turns a blind eye to farming practices that it would not tolerate within its borders — an unacceptable double standard."
In a comprehensive new study, scientists report that pesticide poisonings on farms around the world have risen dramatically since the last global assessment 30 years ago. Based on an evaluation of available poisoning data from countries all over the world, the researchers conclude that there are about 385 million cases of acute poisonings each year, up from an estimated 25 million cases in 1990. This means that about 44% of the global population working on farms — 860 million farmers and agricultural workers — are poisoned every year.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a transgenic GM pig for use in food as well as human therapeutics. The aim of the genetic modification is to eliminate the production of alpha-gal sugar in the pigs' cells. Alpha-gal sugar in red meat, including pork, causes allergic reactions in some people. In human transplant patients, alpha-gal sugar contributes to the problem of rejection of pig-derived organs and tissues. However, the risks and limitations of the GM pigs are not properly addressed in the FDA evaluation. They include the presence of an antibiotic resistance gene in the GM pigs and potential new allergens in the meat. The safety of organs and tissues taken from the GM pig for transplant into human patients has not been proven.
The Danish ministry of agriculture has announced that "signs of GMOs" have been revealed in mysterious packages of seeds sent to citizens in the mail, apparently from China. If the presence of GMOs is confirmed, this development is just the latest in a long line of illegal disseminations of GMOs by advocates.
The cultivation of (GMO) soybeans in Brazil are feeding the UK's insatiable chicken addiction — and certification systems are not preventing continued forest destruction.
To one sort of capitalist, the insecurity and chaos that Brexit will bring is horrifying. To the other, it is highly profitable. In this civil was within capitalism, the people are just collateral damage, writes George Monbiot. GMWatch points out that GMOs are a significant part of the disruptive agenda.
Ministers’ pledges to preserve the UK’s food and farming standards after Brexit will not prevent the import of lower-standard products and could spell potential disaster for Britain’s farmers, a report has found.
An article in the Guardian offers a largely uncritical view of lab-grown fake meat, which has just been approved in Singapore. The article minimises the problem of the massive energy and resource requirements for fake meat production and simply ignores the food safety question.
A peer-reviewed paper calls for a reformation of regulatory procedures for GM crops by exploring the potential of Feminist Care Ethics to offer an alternative approach. The Feminist Ethics of Care framework acknowledges that GM crops are part of and promote a system of industrialised agriculture that damages socio-ecological relations. The paper calls for a "re-imagining" of the current system to include voices currently missing from the discourse.
GMO and pesticide promoter Kevin Folta has boasted, “I have the ultimate kick-ass garden”. But evidence supplied by his ex-wife suggests otherwise.
The newly developed partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the global agrochemical industry is a cause for great concern, says an editorial in the Bangkok Post. The collaboration shows the industry's tentacles reach deep even into organisations whose job it should be to insist upon rigorous standards and practices within the global food supply chain, both in terms of health and ethics.
Messengers of Gates’ agenda: How Cornell Alliance for Science spreads disinformation on behalf of Gates Foundation
The Cornell Alliance for Science is an organisation that operates out of Cornell University. As an institution, the Alliance is misnamed, however. It is not an Alliance and it owes its allegiance not to Cornell but to its founder and main funder, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Moreover, as shown in a new report, neither does the Alliance promote ‘science'. Rather, it promotes agribusiness, its associated technologies, and its principal agendas. It does so largely by virtue of extended trainings in public relations, given at Cornell, to its ‘Global Leadership Fellows’. These are individuals recruited from target nations who then return to their homelands to act as paid mouthpieces for their sponsors.
President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture. Vilsack delivered corporate-friendly policies when he headed the USDA in the Obama administration. And under Vilsack, the USDA approved many GM herbicide-tolerant crops, including crops tolerant to dicamba. The result has been a full-on disaster. Dicamba has strayed from targeted fields and damaged millions of acres of crops, trees, and home gardens.
Tom Vilsack is a corporate yes man and former lobbyist with a dismal record in his previous time as secretary, according to George Goehl, director of People’s Action. Goehl called Biden's pick for agriculture secretary “appalling”.
A small but powerful minority of seed and agriculture industry lobby groups continue to push for the deregulation of old and new GMOs (New Breeding Techniques or NBTs), both at European level and in the Member States, notably Italy and France.
Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance has hidden almost $40 million in Pentagon funding and militarized pandemic science
The EcoHealth Alliance is a US non-profit with crucial roles in the current pandemic. When the SARS-CoV-2 virus first emerged in Wuhan, the EcoHealth Alliance was financing the Wuhan Institute of Virology to collect and study novel bat coronaviruses. Its President, Peter Daszak, has been the media’s primary expert chosen to explain the origins of the pandemic. Of the two major international committees now tasked with investigating the origins of the virus (the WHO committee and the EAT Lancet committee), Daszak is a member of the first and head of the second. In none of Daszak’s media appearances has it been revealed that almost $40 million, representing one third of EcoHealth Alliance’s total budget, is derived from the US Department of Defense. This revelation, plus evidence of other military ties, adds a new dimension to analyses of the EcoHealth Alliance, the underlying purpose of its activities, and potentially, the origins of the pandemic itself.
Those looking for a credible independent investigation into the origins of the current pandemic, including whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus leaked from a lab, have expressed dismay at the WHO and the Lancet Commission’s announcements of their teams of investigators and the WHO investigation’s terms of reference. The investigators are conflicted, biased and/or China-approved, and the possibility that the virus originated from a lab will not be looked at. In sum, an independent and credible investigation will not be achieved.
We have no idea how COVID-19 erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan last year. But having seen the destructive impact of this pandemic from a virus with comparatively low fatality rates, everything possible must be done to find its origins to guard against subsequent eruptions of possibly worse infections. Yet there are fears the World Health Organisation is appeasing China, which desperately wants to blame other nations as the source, while the scientific establishment is closing ranks to protect some key figures.
Explosive emails from a group of top-level scientists and government doctors in the United States reveal one suggested Covid-19 could have originated from human activities rather than arising naturally from animals. Another asked if it might have been deliberately engineered. The documents also show that a key letter sent early in the pandemic from America’s top scientists to the White House had a line deleted that suggested the virus could have been "an unintentional release from a laboratory". These revelations come as evidence of China’s cover-up grows.
A team from the BBC went to China to investigate claims that the SARS-CoV-2 virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology — but found themselves blocked at every turn. According to the reporter, "We ran into checkpoints at which unidentified men told us their job was to keep us out".
The Transhumanist Party in 2020 nominated Ben Zion, to avoid running a candidate linked to Jeffrey Epstein, but rejected him after accusations of cannibalism. Meanwhile their founder, Zoltan Istvan, is upset he's not getting a COVID vaccine ahead of folk who "live in the ghetto".