Whole Foods will label GMO foods

By CANDICE CHOI | AP | MARCH 8, 2013

Whole Foods says all products in its North American stores will have labels disclosing if they contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018.

The company says it’s the first national grocery chain to set such a deadline for labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. A spokeswoman for Whole Foods said organic foods will not have to carry the labels since they do not contain GMOs by definition. Although Whole Foods is known as an organic grocer, it also sells a wide array of non-organic products.

Whole Foods Market Inc. notes that it has been working with suppliers for years to source products that don’t have GMO ingredients. It says it currently sells more than 3,000 products have gone through the non-GMO verification process, more than any other retailer in North America.

The use of GMOs has been a growing issue in recent years, with health advocates pushing for mandatory labeling. Last year, California voters shot down an initiative that would have required such labels. As various efforts continue for GMO labeling, Whole Foods said it would move ahead with its own plans.

A spokeswoman for Whole Foods noted that its stores in the United Kingdom already have GMO labeling, in compliance with national regulations.

Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, said the issue was about “the consumer’s right to know.”

Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch, a consumer and environmental advocacy group, called the Whole Foods announcement a “smart move.” Her group and others have been pushing for a federal law requiring labeling on all genetically modified foods.

“We’re continuing to work to make this label mandatory because everyone deserves to have that label, not just Whole Food shoppers,” Lovera said. “But I think it’s smart on their part to start giving consumers what they want, which is more information.”

The Genetically Modified Seed Monopoly

How biotechnology companies monopolize seed markets, escalate seed prices, and eliminate farmer choice

By KEN ROSEBORO | THE ORGANIC REPORT | FEBRUARY 18, 2013

This is the first of a 2-part series

The introduction of genetically modified crops has corresponded with increasing monopolization of seed by biotechnology companies and higher seed costs that have led to tragedies in some countries, while pushing out conventional, non-GMO seeds, and reducing farmer seed choices. These impacts are being seen in the United States, Brazil, India, the Philippines, and South Africa, and even Europe.

Seed monopoly

According to Philip Howard, a researcher at Michigan State University, economists say that when four firms control 40% of a market, it is no longer competitive. According to AgWeb, the “big four” biotech seed companies—Monsanto, DuPont/Pioneer Hi-Bred, Syngenta, and Dow AgroSciences—own 80% of the US corn market and 70% of the soybean business.

Monsanto has become the world’s largest seed company in less than 10 years by capturing markets for corn, soybean, cotton, and vegetable seeds, according to a report by the Farmer to Farmer Campaign. In addition to selling seeds, Monsanto licenses its genetically modified traits to other seed companies. As a result, more than 80% of US corn and more than 90% of soybeans planted each year contain Monsanto’s patented GM traits.

Other factors that have led to industry domination by a few players include purchase of smaller seed companies by larger companies, weak antitrust law enforcement, and Supreme Court decisions that allowed GM crops and other plant materials to be patented, while prohibiting seed saving by farmers.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated Monsanto’s dominance of the seed market after holding public meetings in 2010 where farmers described the company’s practices. But at the end of 2012, DOJ announced it had “closed its investigation into possible anticompetitive practices in the seed industry.”

Diana Moss, vice president of the American Antitrust Institute, told Mother Jones food blogger Tom Philpott, “To have a two-year investigation and close it without a peep in our view does a disservice.”

Tamara Nelsen, senior director of commodities at the Illinois Agricultural Association, compares Monsanto to Microsoft, a company that was prosecuted by DOJ for anti-trust violations. “Ninety-three percent of soybean production is Roundup Ready,” Nelsen told Nature Biotechnology. “It’s still like everyone is on a Microsoft system—at least, that’s how farmers feel.”

Escalating GM seed prices

Another indication that the seed market has become monopolized is the escalating prices for GM seed. Moss points out that in competitive markets, technologies that enjoy widespread and rapid adoption—such as GM crops—typically experience steep declines in prices.

The opposite has occurred with GM crops. Charles Benbrook, research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University, writes that from 2000 to 2010 as GM soybeans came to dominate the market, the price for seed increased 230%. The cost for Monsanto’s Roundup Ready2 soybeans in 2010 was $70 per bag, a 143% increase in the price of GM seed since 2001.

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the average per-acre cost of soybean and corn seed increased 325% and 259%, respectively, between 1995 and 2011. This is roughly the time period when acreage of GM corn and soy grew from less than 20% to more than 80-90%

Moss says that the escalating prices for GM seeds are outstripping increases in grain prices earned by farmers, resulting in farmers being squeezed by higher costs with less returns.

“Destroying the lives of many farmers around the world”

Problems resulting from escalating prices for GM seed are seen most dramatically—and tragically—in developing countries. According to a study by Consumers International, an estimated 270,000 small-hold farmers in the Philippines are being forced to grow GM corn and ending up in debt. The cost of corn seeds has risen 282% from its introductory price and accounts for 18-21% of a farmer’s total cost of production. Farmers are at the mercy of seed suppliers and lenders who are one and the same in the country and refuse to provide lending unless the farmers grow GM corn.

The impacts of high GM seed prices are even worse in India where more than 250,000 peasant farmers have committed suicide since 1998, or about one every 30 minutes. Indian farmers grow GM Bt cotton, which accounts for 95% of all cotton acres in the country. According to a report by the New York Times, the seeds can cost between 700 to 2,000 rupees ($38) per bag or about three to eight times the cost of conventional seeds. Similar to the situation in the Philippines, Indian farmers go into debt to buy the expensive GM seeds and pesticides. If their crops fail, many farmers kill themselves by drinking pesticides.

The suicides began before the introduction of GM cotton, but GM cotton has exacerbated the problem, according to an advisory from the Indian government, which stated, “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011–12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.” A PBS documentary, “Seeds of Suicide,” has also implicated expensive GM seeds and pesticides in the indebtedness and resulting suicides.

According to John Vandermeer, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, genetically modified seeds are “destroying the lives of many farmers around the world right now.”

(Part two of this series next month will focus on restricted availability of non-GMO seeds and reduced farmer choices in the United States, Europe, Brazil, and South Africa)

References:

  • Philip Howard. “Visualizing Consolidation in the Global Seed Industry: 1996–2008.” Sustainability 2009, 1(4), pg. 1266-1287.
  • Sara Shafer. “Behind the Seed Scene.” AgWeb. July 28, 2012.
  • Kristina Hubbard, Farmer to Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering. “Out of Hand: Farmers Face the Consequences of a Consolidated Seed Industry.” December 2009.
  • Tom Philpott. “DOJ Mysteriously Quits Monsanto Antitrust Investigation.” Mother Jones. December 1, 2012.
  • Charles Benbrook. “The Magnitude and Impacts of the Biotech and Organic Seed Price Premium.” December 2009.
  • Daniel Grushkin. “Threat to Global GM Soybean Access as Patent Nears Expiry.” Nature Biotechnology. January 2013, Vol 31: 10-11.
  • Vivekananda Nemana. “In India, GM Crops Come at a High Price.” New York Times. October 16, 2012.
  • Z. Haq. “Ministry Blames Bt Cotton for Farmer Suicides.” Hindustan Times. March 26, 2012.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Not Even in Moderation

By DAISY LUTHER | ORGANIC PREPPER | FEBRUARY 7, 2013

If I told you that there was a poison, let’s say, strychnine, for example, that you could ingest in teeny tiny minuscule doses and live to tell the tale, would you do it?

Strychnine poisoning is one of the most painful ways to die.

Ten to twenty minutes after exposure, the body’s muscles begin to spasm, starting with the head and neck in the form of trismus and risus sardonicus. The spasms then spread to every muscle in the body, with nearly continuous convulsions, and get worse at the slightest stimulus. The convulsions progress, increasing in intensity and frequency until the backbone arches continually. Convulsions lead to lactic acidosis, hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis. These are followed by postictal depression. Death comes from asphyxiation caused by paralysis of the neural pathways that control breathing, or by exhaustion from the convulsions. The subject dies within 2–3 hours after exposure.  (Source)

Despite the agonizing death that could await, people used to deliberately consume small doses of strychnine as an athletic performance enhancer and as a stimulant.  The use of strychnine increased at the turn of the 20th century, then fell out of favor as the risk of use was too high.

With what we know these days about the use of strychnine, would you dip a little into your coffee and say, “Oh, it’s okay in moderation”?  Would you sprinkle a little on a granola bar to give to your child before a soccer game? Would you feed a little to your family because it was a special occasion?

So, with the things we are learning about GMO foods, why do we think the consumption of these is okay in moderation?  Every week or so, some new hazard springs up in the alternative news.  The hazards are carefully and quietly swept under the rug by the mainstream media at the behest of their “johns” – the Big Food advertisers who pay the salaries of the media mouthpieces.

There are many valid, peer-reviewed studies that tell us consuming genetically modified foods is a death sentence.  Proponents of GMOs like to attempt to pick apart the science.  They like to accuse those of us who are concerned about GMOs of being foolish, uneducated and superstitious.  From their lofty perches in academia, they condescend to the rest of us, claiming that GMOs are no different than the natural evolution of plant life, and that we, the ignorant masses, are too irrationally afraid of things that are new and wonderful to deserve labeling of these chemistry projects.  They invoke guilt upon those of us who practice organic gardening and support organic farms, alleging that these “unsustainable practices” will leave the Third World to die of starvation as the non-modified crops we insist upon succumb to failure.

Here are some facts about the GMOs that are poisoning our global food supply.

Effects of GM Corn on Mammalian Health

A notorious French study on rats fed a lifetime of GMO corn proved that the rats had a 50-70% chance of developing horrific, grotesque tumors from the diet.  Naysayers attempted to refute the science behind the study and a war developed in the scientific community.    Natural News summarized some findings of the study:

• Up to 50% of males and 70% of females suffered premature death.

• Rats that drank trace amounts of Roundup (at levels legally allowed in the water supply) had a 200% to 300% increase in large tumors.

• Rats fed GM corn and traces of Roundup suffered severe organ damage including liver damage and kidney damage.

• The study fed these rats NK603, the Monsanto variety of GM corn that’s grown across North America and widely fed to animals and humans. This is the same corn that’s in your corn-based breakfast cereal, corn tortillas and corn snack chips.

Flavr Savr Tomato Caused Gastric Lesions and Death

One of the first GMO monstrosities prematurely approved by the FDA was the Flavr Savr tomato, by the company Calgene (now a part of Monsanto).  Scientists added a bit of recombinant fish DNA to slow the spoiling process.  BEFORE the tomato was approved by the FDA, the tomatoes were fed to rats for only 28 days before gastric bleeding and death occurred.  7 of the 40 rats developed bleeding stomachs and 7 more died and the FDA STILL APPROVED the tomatoes for public consumption.

The only reason they were taken off the market is because the flavor and texture were poor.  Had they been tasty, they’d still be on supermarket shelves.

GM cotton crops in India caused livestock death and severe allergic reactions in humans.

India began commercial planting of  Bt Cotton back in 2002.   Since that time, farm and factory workers began complaining of health concerns.

“All the evidence gathered during the investigation shows that Bt has been causing skin, upper respiratory tract and eye allergy among persons exposed to cotton… The allergy is not restricted to farm labourers involved in picking cotton but has affected labourers involved in loading and unloading Bt from villages to market, those involved in its weighing, labourers working in ginning factories, people who carried out other operations in the field of Bt cotton, or farmers who stored cotton in their homes etc.” (Source)

The issue was not limited to humans.  Sheep that grazed on the crop began to die mysteriously.  25% of the livestock died within a week of being allowed in the fields from what post-mortem analysis called “toxic reaction.”

A secret virus has been discovered in genetically modified food.

The most recent horror to come to light was released in a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

According to an explanation on the Natural Society website:

“…Researchers discovered a previously unknown viral gene that is known as ‘Gene VI’. What’s concerning is that not only is the rogue gene found in the most prominent GMO crops and about 63% of GMO traits approved for use (54 out of 86 to be precise), but it can actually disrupt the very biological functions within living organisms. Popular GMO crops such as Roundup-Ready soybeans, NK603, and MON810 corn were found to contain the gene that induces physical mutations.”

How does this potentially effect the consumer?  The report continues to discuss the characteristics of Gene VI.  The gene:

  • Helps to assemble virus particles
  • Inhibits the natural defense of the cellular system
  • Produces proteins that are potentially problematic
  • Makes plants susceptible to bacterial pathogens

Monsanto cafeterias serve organic food.

The most telling thing is that in the not-so-hallowed halls of Monsanto, genetically modified food is not served.

Those who create these science projects and label them food do not consume their own creations.

Since 2000, there have been reports that cafeterias at Monsanto plants have chosen not to serve GMOs.  A notice in one cafeteria in the UK said:

“as far as practicable, GM soya and maize (has been removed) from all food products served in our restaurant. We have taken the steps to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve.”

Both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller University Foundation have been found praising organic food, while simultaneously promoting Monsanto’s toxic seeds to Third World countries.

Many countries have banned GMOs, or at the very least require labeling for the consumer.

The following countries have either banned the cultivation and sale of GMOs or require a warning label:

  • All countries in the European Union
  • Australia  
  • Chile
  • China 
  • France
  • India
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
Why are the United States and Canada not found on this list?  At the very least, why won’t these two industry leaders require labeling of GMOs?

Food safety “authorities” have no interest in safety at all.

The FDA is notoriously in bed with Monsanto.  They have insisted on no long term studies.  They regularly authorize the sale and distribution of toxins in the food supply.  The public cannot have any confidence in an agency whose board of directors enter through a revolving door with the world’s number one producer of toxic GMOs.

Over 85% of corn grown in North America is GMO.  Over 80% of soy grown in North America is GMO. Over 90% of canola grown in North America is GMO.

In one form or another, these GMO items can be found in nearly every non-organic item on your grocery store shelves.  Many fast food chains spent millions of dollars in the campaign against the labeling of GMOs when it was on the ballot in California last November, which would indicate that they too benefit from GMOs.

The question is, are these toxins safe in “moderation”?  Can you feed your children HFCS made from genetically modified corn in small amounts?

Long term toxicity has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt.  GMOs can accelerate aging, cause organ failure, cause tumors, affect unborn babies, affect fertility and weaken the immune system.  If we choose to consume these things “moderately”, how can we know what that threshold of moderation actually is, when those in charge of food safety refuse to study it, perhaps because they fear what they will discover?

I’ve always believed that foods, even “junk foods” are okay in moderation, as long as most of your diet is clean and healthy.  In the light of ever-appearing revelations about the deadly effects of genetically modified foods, I’ve revised my personal stance. I don’t believe that GMOs are acceptable in moderation and strive to avoid them for my family whenever possible, a task which is becoming increasingly difficult as a quick scan of an ingredients lable will confirm.

The End Of The World As We Know It may not be the result of a horrific natural disaster or act of terrorism from overseas.  It may be as simple as pollen floating from one field to contaminate the next one, until we are starving to death or dying of cancer amidst a bounty of succulent-looking, fresh-from-the-farm poison.

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European Food Safety Authority identifies toxic gene in Genetically Modified Crop

Presence of segments of Gene VI create proteins that are deadly to humans.

By SEAN POULTER | MAIL ONLINE | JANUARY 23, 2013

A virus gene that could be poisonous to humans has been missed when GM food crops have been assessed for safety.

GM crops such as corn and soya, which are being grown around the world for both human and farm animal consumption, include the gene.

A new study by the EU’s official food watchdog, the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA), has revealed that the international approval process for GM crops failed to identify the gene.

As a result, watchdogs have not investigated its impact on human health and the plants themselves when assessing whether they were safe.

The findings are particularly powerful because the work was carried out by independent experts, rather than GM critics.

It was led by Nancy Podevin, who was employed by EFSA, and Patrick du Jardin, of the Plant Biology Unit at the University of Liege in Belgium.

They discovered that 54 of the 86 GM plants approved for commercial growing and food in the US, including corn and soya, contain the viral gene, which is known as ‘Gene VI’.

In this country, these crops are typically fed to farm animals producing meat, milk and eggs.

Significantly, the EFSA researchers concluded that the presence of segments of Gene VI ‘might result in unintended phenotypic changes’.

Such changes include the creation of proteins that are toxic to humans. They could also trigger changes in the plants themselves, making them more vulnerable to pests.

FULL ARTICLE →

 

U.S. FDA calling for Genetically Modified Salmon to be released into the Environment

By ANTHONY GUCCIARDI | NATURAL SOCIETY | DECEMBER 27, 2012

While you were likely resting or enjoying time with friends and family over the Christmas break, the United States Food and Drug Administration was hard at work ramming through genetically modified salmon towards the final acceptance process. Despite the frankenfish actually being blocked by Congress last year over serious health and environmental concerns, the FDA is making a massive push to release the genetically modified salmon into the world as the FDA-backed biotech giant and creator of the fish AquaAdvantage screams for profits.

These fish of course threaten the very genetic integrity of the food chain when considering the fact that they will ultimately be unleashed into waters with other salmon and likely even the ocean at large. The AquaAdvantage genetically modified salmon have been engineered through genetic manipulation to grow double the size and weight of the average salmon. Hitting 24 inches instead of 13 and weighing in at 6.6 pounds instead of 2.8, the GM fish contains both a gene from another salmon known as the  Pacific Chinook as well as an eel-like fish.

This unnatural genetic infusion allows the fish to generate a growth hormone 24/7, making it a massively mutated ball of growth hormones and disease.

Genetically Modified Salmon Threaten Genetic Stability of Food Chain

In the event that awareness is not spread and Congress allows the FDA to approve AquaAdvantage’ GM salmon, it will become the first approved GM animal for growth and human consumption.

 Modified salmon will mate with regular breeds, creating hybrid mutations that may likely never be tracked. Hybrid families that may continue to repopulate for generations, all containing modified genes. After being consumed by predators like sharks or others, the sharks are then affected by the genetically modified fish through the development of various health conditions conditions. In mice trials alone it was found that eating GMOs triggered mass tumors and early death in the animals — and that’s just crops. Genetically modified crops are concerning enough, but are much less complex than animals.

The fact of the matter is that no one truly knows the long term effects of GM crops, let alone GM animals. But hey, why not test it out on the public? After all, who cares? It’s not like the FDA will do anything to Monsanto despite the numerous studies linking GMOs to disease. Instead, they just say it’s pseudo science and that only FDA-backed ‘science’ is worth anything. Forget the fact that the only lifelong rat study done on GMOs found it led to tumor development.

So what can we do?

There are a number of methods here, but first and foremost the word needs to be spread far and wide that genetically modified salmon is being pushed through by the FDA. People despise GM products on average, with 90 plus percent in favor of at least labeling. In addition, there is a petition going around to send to politicians to ask them to stop this approval as they did in 2011.

Ultimately, it comes down to opposition. If enough people know this is coming and are very upset about it, they will have trouble ramming it through. That’s why they announce these things over Christmas weekend. They don’t want anyone to even hear about it — they want to make it harder to popularize since hardly anyone saw it.

We can beat this as we did back in 2011, and the FDA knows it. Their dirty tactics are not effective in the technological age in which the transfer of information is more powerful than ever. Share this news and spread the word. Block genetically modified salmon from getting put on your dinner table without any labels.