Advertisements

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.”

Advertisements

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 Vaccines with reprogrammed insect virus are here!

NATURALNEWS | FEBRUARY 8, 2013

A new vaccine for influenza has hit the market, and it is the first ever to contain genetically-modified (GM) proteins derived from insect cells. According to reports, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the vaccine, known as Flublok, which contains recombinant DNA technology and an insect virus known as baculovirus that is purported to help facilitate the more rapid production of vaccines.

According to Flublok’s package insert, the vaccine is trivalent, which means it contains GM proteins from three different flu strains. The vaccine’s manufacturer, Protein Sciences Corporation (PSC), explains that Flublok is produced by extracting cells from the fall armyworm, a type of caterpillar, and genetically altering them to produce large amounts of hemagglutinin, a flu virus protein that enables the flu virus itself to enter the body quickly.

So rather than have to produce vaccines the “traditional” way using egg cultures, vaccine manufacturers will now have the ability to rapidly produce large batches of flu virus protein using GMOs, which is sure to increase profits for the vaccine industry. But it is also sure to lead to all sorts of serious side effects, including the deadly nerve disease Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GSB), which is listed on the shot as a potential side effect.

“If Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) has occurred within six weeks of receipt of a prior influenza vaccine, the decision to give Flublock should be based on careful consideration of the potential benefits and risks,” explains a section of the vaccine’s literature entitled “Warnings and Precautions.” Other potential side effects include allergic reactions, respiratory infections, headaches, fatigue, altered immunocompetence, rhinorrhea, and myalgia.

According to clinical data provided by PSC in Flublok’s package insert, two study participants actually died during trials of the vaccine. But the company still insists Flublok is safe and effective, and that it is about 45 percent effective against all strains of influenza in circulation, rather than just one or two strains.

FDA also approves flu vaccine containing dog kidney cells

Back in November, the FDA also approved a new flu vaccine known as Flucelvax that is actually made using dog kidney cells. A product of pharmaceutical giant Novartis, Flucelvax also does away with the egg cultures, and can similarly be produced much more rapidly than traditional flu vaccines, which means vaccine companies can have it ready and waiting should the federal government declare a pandemic.

Like Flublok, Flucelvax was made possible because of a $1 billion, taxpayer-funded grant given by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the vaccine industry back in 2006 to develop new manufacturing methods for vaccines. The ultimate goal is to be able to quickly manufacture hundreds of millions of vaccines for rapid distribution.

Meanwhile, there are reportedly two other GMO flu vaccines currently under development. One of them, which is being produced by Novavax, will utilize “bits of genetic material grown in caterpillar cells called ‘virus-like particles’ that mimic a flu virus,” according to Reuters.

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.

The Real Agenda encourages the sharing of its original content ONLY through the tools provided at the bottom of every article. Please DON’T copy articles from The Real Agenda and redistribute by email or post to the web.

USDA Committee wants farmers to insure themselves against GMO crop contamination

Members of the committee refused to assign responsibility to GMO producers for contamination of organic and conventional crops.

By CAREY GILLAM | REUTERS | NOVEMBER 21, 2012

Organic growers and food safety advocates on Tuesday condemned an advisory report to the Agriculture Department claiming its recommendations would be costly for farmers who want to protect their conventional crops from being contaminated by genetically modified (GMO), also known as genetically engineered (GE), varieties.

The groups were responding to a report submitted Monday afternoon to the U.S. Department of Agriculture by a committee assigned by USDA with studying how best biotech agriculture could “co-exist” with organic and conventional agriculture.

“Of particular concern in the report is the recommendation that organic and non-GE conventional farmers pay to self-insure themselves against unwanted GE contamination,” said a statement by the National Organic Coalition.

“This proposal allows USDA and the agricultural biotechnology industry to abdicate responsibility for preventing GE contamination while making the victims of GE pollution pay for damages resulting from transgenic contamination,” it said.

Since their introduction in 1996, genetically engineered crops have become popular with U.S. farmers and now make up the majority of corn and soybeans produced in the United States. But there are a range of environmental and health concerns tied to biotech crops, and many farmers prefer not to grow them and many markets, both domestic and international, pay a premium for non-GMO crops and other products.

In its report, the advisory committee, known as the AC21, said all American farmers have the right to make the best choices for their own farms, including the choice to grow genetically engineered crops, or to grow organic or conventional crops.

“It is important that every American farmer is encouraged to show respect for their neighbor’s ability to make different choices,” the report said.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA would review the report and consider the recommendations. He said USDA supports “all segments of agriculture.”

“The report is the culmination of a great deal of hard work and complex discussion and review,” said Vilsack in a statement. “I understand that required compromises to find common ground.”

COMPENSATION ISSUE UNRESOLVED

USDA had asked the advisory committee to analyze what types of compensation mechanisms, if any, would be appropriate to address economic losses by farmers due to contamination by GE crops. And while there was some dissent, a majority of AC21 members did not agree on any type of compensation mechanism.

The committee said its members could not agree about the extent to which a systemic problem exists and whether there is enough data to warrant a compensation mechanism to address it. While the committee acknowledged there are unintended GE materials found in commercial products, they differed in their assessment of the significance of the unintended presence.

The committee recommended that the USDA evaluate data to better understand actual economic losses by farmers tied to GE contamination. If a compensation program is needed, the committee said it should be modeled on existing crop insurance. Co-existence agreements between neighboring farmers should be developed, the committee said.

“This issue will only increase as new biotech products come to market so it is essential that the federal government step up now and establish strong policies that ensure coexistence measures are carried out by farmers, seed companies, and others who move food from the farm to the consumer’s table,” said Greg Jaffe, a committee member and director of the Biotechnology Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based non-profit.

Jaffe said he supported the report’s recommendations.

The committee was comprised of 23 individuals from 16 states and the District of Columbia, representing academia, the American Farm Bureau, corn, wheat and soybean industry organizations, the organic industry, grain companies and others.

The committee also recommended that USDA should set up and fund a comprehensive education and outreach initiative to “strengthen understanding of coexistence between diverse agricultural production systems.”

And the committee said the USDA should fund and research improved techniques for mitigating contamination and gather data from seed companies on contamination. It also recommended that USDA evaluate on an ongoing basis the pool of commercially available non-GMO seed and ensure that the seed supply remains diverse.

In criticizing the report, the organic growers said the committee “failed to make a single recommendation holding the patent holders of genetic engineering technologies responsible and liable for damages” caused by biotech seed use.

“We urgently need meaningful regulatory change that institutionalizes mandatory GE contamination prevention practices,” the National Organic Coalition said. “USDA needs to stop dragging its heels, get serious and focus on making this happen.”