Monsanto now virtually free to wreak death in the United States

By ANTHONY GUCCIARDI | NATURAL SOCIETY | MARCH 25, 2013

In the typical slippery nature of Monsanto’s legislation-based actions, the biotech giant is now virtually guaranteed the ability to recklessly plant experimental GM crops without having to worry about the United States government and its subsequent courts. The Monsanto Protection Act buried deep within the budget resolution has passed the Senate, and now nothing short of a presidential veto will put an end to the ruling.

In case you’re not familiar, the Monsanto Protection Act is the name given to what’s known as a legislative rider that was inserted into the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill. Using the deceptive title of Farmer Assurance Provision, Sec. 735 of this bill actually grants Monsanto the immunity from federal courts pending the review of any GM crop that is thought to be dangerous. Under the section, courts would be helpless to stop Monsanto from continuing to plant GM crops that are thought even by the US government to be a danger to health or the environment.

Senate Passes Monsanto Protection Act Despite Outcry

It is a lobbyist-created recurring nuisance that has been squashed in previous legislation thanks to outcry from not only grassroots but major organizations. Last time we saw The Center for Food Safety, the National Family Farm Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists all come out against the Monsanto Protection Act from the 2012 Farm Bill.

This time, there was a swift resistance I thought might be enough, however sadly the Senate acted so quickly on this and almost entirely ignored the issue that it has now passed despite thousands of fans signing the old petition I linked to in my previous articles on the subject. The old petition by Food Democracy Now detailed the effects of the bill:

“If approved, the Monsanto Protection Act would force the USDA to allow continued planting of any GMO crop under court review, essentially giving backdoor approval for any new genetically engineered crops that could be potentially harmful to human health or the environment.”

That said, now a new petition exists telling Obama to veto the bill. The reality is that the bill is actually seen as a positive one by most politicians, which is where Monsanto lobbyists were so deceptive and slippery as to throw in their rider (the actual Monsanto Protection Act into the bill). This makes it very unappealing to veto the bill, but also we must remember that Obama actually promised to immediately label GMOs back in 2007 when running for President.

Ushering In a New Era of Activism

The simple fact is that this bill will likely not be vetoed by Obama, and instead Monsanto will get what they wanted. That said, this ushers in an entirely new era of activism. Monsanto has decided to push the envelope in a way that is unprecedented, fighting the US federal courts. I expected to see almost immediate legal action taken that will certainly hit the headlines, leading to even more people to become aware of what’s really going on with this company and therefore their dinner.

Sometimes in order to truly have an intellectual revolution on a subject, the people need to see exactly what they are facing. With the truly blatant and downright arrogant Monsanto Protection Act, it’s now clearer than ever.

Roundup is on the Soil, Food and Rain

Wherever Monsanto’s chemical is used, it leaves the soil, goes back up and down on our heads.

GMFreeze.org
October 22, 2011

Monitoring by the US Geological Survey (USGS) has revealed that glyphosate and its breakdown product Aminomethylphosphonic acid (known as AMPA) are frequently found in rainfall and rivers in the Mississippi Basin, where most GM crops tolerant to glyphosate are grown. [1]

Glyphosate (the basis of Monsanto’s brand name product Roundup) is widely used in the US with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GM crops, which have been genetically modified to tolerate the weedkiller, so they survive when a field is sprayed with it. Herbicide tolerant GM plants are not currently grown in the UK due to concerns about adverse impacts on wildlife associated with the loss of habitat caused by the weedkiller. However Monsanto has lobbied persistently for their introduction. Roundup Ready soya and maize are imported from the US for use in animal feed, and meat and dairy products fed on GM feed are not labelled in many British supermarkets.

The USGS results are based on two studies of rain and watersheds in agricultural areas of the Mississippi Basin where the “the greatest use” of glyphosate takes place to control weeds in GM maize, soya and cotton tolerant to glyphosate/Roundup. The USGS reports that glyphosate use rose by more than eight fold, to 88,000 tons, in the 15 years to 2007, further eroding the myth that GM crops reduce chemical use.

Monsanto has repeatedly denied that glyphosate washes off fields in significant amounts, claiming the herbicide binds to soil particles and therefore cannot be leached. [2]

The USGS results confirm warnings from other countries that glyphosate is more mobile in some soils than the biotech corporation is prepared to admit. [3]

The presence of glyphosate and AMPA in surface waters means that drinking water quality and aquatic wildlife may be put at risk. Studies have shown many aquatic species are affected by the herbicide and its breakdown product, and there is growing concern about the safety of the product for human health. [4] In addition the overuse of glyphosate on GM soya, cotton and maize crops is driving an escalation and spread of problem weeds resistant to the weedkiller, meaning even more Roundup has to be used, often in combination with other herbicides, in an attempt to control these new “super” weeds.

The USGS found glyphosate in more than 60% of air and rain sampled at three locations in Mississippi, Iowa and Indiana, with AMPA found in more than 50% of samples, at concentrations up to 9.1ng/cubic metre and 0.49ng/cubic metre respectively. [5] Researchers from the USGS estimate that about 1% of glyphosate sprayed in catchments ended up in surface waters in the four areas where monitoring was conducted in streams and rivers. Concentrations varied between different river systems that formed part of the monitoring programme. The highest median level of glyphosate detected was 5.7μg/litre. [6] This level would not be allowed to enter public supply untreated under the EU Drinking Water Directive.

This year the European Commission postponed to 2015 a scheduled safety review of the European approval of glyphosate. [7]

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

“The Mississippi Basin has been subjected to glyphosate application on a massive scale for the last 15 years. As a result of this giant uncontrolled experiment, the USGS is now finding that glyphosate and its breakdown products are turning up in rainfall and rivers, and not, as Monsanto would have us think, being safely locked up in the soil.

“Politicians and regulators need to take note of these findings and suspend the use of Roundup tolerant crops wherever they are grown to protect water supply, wildlife and public health. The first step should be to urgently reschedule the safety review of glyphosate, ensuring it is both transparent and independent of data supplied by the industry.

“Thanks to opposition from the public and some Members States, the EU has escaped being part of the Monsanto experiment and has the opportunity to say ‘No’ to GM herbicide tolerant crops, which are now rightly seen as an escalation of the chemical arms race which began in the 1950s. On the basis of this latest USGS survey results, it’s time to use new tactics. The mounting evidence on the safety and movement of glyphosate now merits a ban on GM tolerant crops. ”

Notes

[1] USGS press release, 29 August 2011. “Widely Used Herbicide Commonly Found in Rain and Streams in the Mississippi River Basin

[2] “From soil and plant applications of glyphosate herbicide it is expected that a small amount of the applied glyphosate may enter surface waters through runoff or attached to soil particles that wash off treated fields.” Monsanto. 2003. Backgrounder. Glyphosate and water quality. Updated November 2003.

[3] See GM Freeze report Herbicide Tolerance and GM crops – Why the world should be ready to Roundup glyphoste. Chapter 4

[4] See GM Freeze report Herbicide Tolerance and GM crops – Why the world should be ready to Roundup glyphoste. Chapters 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7

[5] Chang FC, Simcik MF and Capel CD, 2011. “Occurrence and fate of the herbicide glyphosate and its degradate Aminomethylphosphonic acid in the atmosphere”. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 30, 548–555

[6] Coupe RH, Kalkhoff SK, Capel PD and Gregoire C, 2011. “Fate and transport of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in surface waters of agricultural basin”. Pesticide Management Science, 67, doi: 10.1002/ps.2212

[7] See GM Freeze action Is Roundup Safe?

GM crops, Pesticides Cause Deadly Disease

NaturalNews
July, 2011

The recent upswing in crop failures and spontaneous animal miscarriages appears to be the result of a deadly new plant disease, suggests a prominent researcher. According to ongoing research being conducted by Emeritus Professor Don Huber from Purdue University in Indiana, this disease is likely a result of genetically-modified (GM) crops and the pesticides and herbicides used to grow them.

Reported on by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the findings do not specifically pinpoint whether GMOs, their pesticides, or a combination of both is directly responsible for spawning the pathogen, but Huber says that, either way, GM systems are clearly a detriment to the environment, animal health, and likely human health.

“They’re finding anywhere from 20 percent to as much as 55 percent of those [animals] will miscarriage or spontaneously abort,” Huber told reporters, concerning farm animals that contact the deadly pathogen as a result of eating GM corn and soybeans. “[The pathogen] will kill a chicken embryo, for instance, in 24-48 hours.”

Plants and crops are suffering the much the same fate, according to Huber, because GMOs and their chemicals are robbing soil of many nutrients, and preventing uptake of what few nutrients remain. This disruption of proper microbial balance leaves plants an easy target for many diseases that eventually kill them.

“If you have the [GM] gene present, there is a reduced efficiency for the plant to use those nutrients,” added Huber. “When you put the glyphosate out then you have an additional factor to reduce the nutrient availability to the crop.”

As NaturalNews reported previously, the increasing use of glyphosate, also known as Roundup, has led to skyrocketing cases of plant disease. And its many other negative effects on humans, animals, and the environment, though denied by Monsanto and others in the industry, cannot be denied based on available evidence (http://www.naturalnews.com/031138_M…).

To listen to ABC’s complete interview with Prof. Huber, visit:
http://www.abc.net.au/rural/content…

Monsanto accused of violating bio-safety rules

The Hindu
July 5, 2011

The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), a farmers’ organisation, on Monday joined hands with Greenpeace and sought an immediate ban on all open field experiments of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in the country by Monsanto (a bio-technology company), in the wake of alleged violation of bio-safety norms by the multinational seed firm in Bijapur.

The KRRS’ demand comes in the wake of allegations by Greenpeace that Monsanto had flouted the norms of bio-safety, leading to fears of transgene leakage and subsequent contamination.

KRRS president Kodihalli Chandrashekar called upon Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa to take swift action against Monsanto in the light of the alleged contamination caused due to gross violation of rules during field trials. “If the government does not respond positively to our demand, we will be constrained to take direct action against the multinational company,” Mr. Chandrashekar said at a press meet here.

“The company should be nationally blacklisted and thrown out of Karnataka,” he said.

Greepeace India’s representative Shivani Shah, who was also present, claimed that Monsanto was caught “red-handed” violating bio-safety rules during field trials of GM corn in a village in Bijapur district’s Sindagi taluk. “GM corn cobs with viable seeds have been lying at the field, which was harvested more than a month ago – on June 1, 2011– leading to concerns about the seeds from the plot dispersing to nearby areas. Thus, the rule to destroy all residues after the GM crop has been thrown to the wind,” she said.

Though the guidelines state that the refuge of the GM crops has to be destroyed, it has been left over by the company for the farmer to use as feed for cattle, she alleged.

“Alarmingly, there was neither a fence around the trial plot nor any signboard indicating that the field had untested GM corn in an experimental stage. Further, neither the Deputy Commissioner of Bijapur nor the senior Agriculture Department officials knew about any cultivation of GM crops in the district,” she said.

Convenor of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) Kavitha Kuruganti said the Bijapur field trials showed the company’s “arrogance in defying norms.” Convenor of Coalition for GM Free Karnataka Krishna Prasad criticised the State government for not having a clear stand on GM crops.

Meanwhile, Monsanto has denied the allegations levelled against it.

A company spokesperson said the required permission was obtained from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) for limited seed production of biotech corn. “Plantings took place in January 2011 and this information was proactively shared with State-level, district level and village level authorities.”

The area was fenced and display boards were put up. “The allegation that the residue was not burnt is false. In compliance with the guidelines from the regulatory authorities, we are monitoring the fields post harvest for a period of three months,” the spokesperson said.

Permission for 25 acres for each hybrid were obtained in November 2010 and the agreements with farmers were entered into subsequently before planting in Jan 2011, the spokesperson added.

EU allows unapproved GM material in feed imports

Reuters
June 28, 2011

The European Union adopted new rules on Friday allowing traces of unapproved genetically modified (GM) material in animal feed imports, in a bid to secure grain fodder supplies to the import-dependent bloc.

“The regulation … addresses the current uncertainty EU operators face when placing on the market feed products imported from third countries,” the Commission said in a statement.

The EU and its trading partners — backed by industry — argue the 0.1 percent threshold is needed to avoid a repeat of supply disruptions in 2009, when U.S. soy shipments to Europe were blocked after unapproved GM material was found in some cargoes.

But environmental campaigners and consumer groups have accused the EU of caving in to GM-industry lobbying by reversing its “zero-tolerance” policy on unauthorised GM crops.

Some environmentalists argue that the effect of consuming GM crops is unknown and say these varieties have not completed the EU’s safety assessment process.

The GM crops in question must have been approved in a non-EU producing country and an EU authorisation request must have been lodged with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for at least three months.

EFSA must also have issued an opinion that the presence of GM products at 0.1 percent does not pose risks to health or the environment.

The 0.1 percent threshold will only apply to imports of animal feed and not human food, despite warnings from traders and exporting states that it is impractical and costly to separate global grain supplies into those destined for humans and those for animals.

The EU currently imports some 45 million tonnes of protein crops a year, much of it soy beans and soy meal from Brazil, Argentina and the U.S. destined for use as animal feed.

The majority of soy beans grown in these countries are GM varieties developed by biotech companies such as Monsanto .

A majority of EU governments are reported to be in favour of a similar threshold for food imports, but the Commission has said it currently has no plans to table such a proposal.