Children of God for Life is calling on the public to boycott products of major food companies that are partnering with Senomyx, a biotech company that produces artificial flavor enhancers, unless the company stops using aborted fetal cell lines to test their products.
In 2010, the pro-life organization wrote to Senomyx CEO Kent Snyder, pointing out that moral options for testing their food additives could and should be used.
But when Senomyx ignored their letter, they wrote to the companies Senomyx listed on their website as “collaborators” warning them of public backlash and threatened boycott. Food giants Pepsico, Kraft Foods, Campbell Soup, Solae and Nestlé are the primary targets of the boycott, though Senomyx boasts other international partners on their website.
Senomyx website states that “The company’s key flavor programs focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products.…Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.”
Senomyx notes their collaborators provide them research and development funding plus royalties on sales of products using their flavor ingredients.
“What they do not tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 – human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors”, stated Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director for Children of God for Life, a pro-life watch dog group that has been monitoring the use of aborted fetal material in medical products and cosmetics for years.
“They could have easily chosen COS (monkey) cells, Chinese Hamster Ovary cells, insect cells or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors”, Vinnedge added.
In writing to their collaborators, it took three letters before Nestlé finally admitted the truth about their relationship with Senomyx, noting the cell line was “well established in scientific research”.
After hearing Ms Vinnedge speak publicly on the problem, angry consumers began writing the companies. Both Pepsico and Campbell Soup immediately responded.
Shockingly, Pepsico wrote: “We hope you are reassured to learn that our collaboration with Senomyx is strictly limited to creating lower-calorie, great-tasting beverages for consumers. This will help us achieve our commitment to reduce added sugar per serving by 25% in key brands in key markets over the next decade and ultimately help people live healthier lives.”
Campbell Soup was more concerned in their response: “Every effort is made to use the finest ingredients and develop the greatest selection of products, all at a great value. With this in mind, it must be said that the trust we have cultivated and developed over the years with our consumers is not worth compromising to cut costs or increase profit margins.”
While Campbell did not state they would change their methods, still their response, gave Vinnedge hope.
“If enough people voice their outrage and intent to boycott these consumer products, it can be highly effective in convincing Senomyx to change their methods”, she noted.
Need proof of Senomyx use of aborted fetal cell lines?
Following is the link to the on-line article for their patent on sweet receptors (they filed several separate patents for each of the different taste receptors): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC123709/
As it is lengthy and technical, we recommend you simply do a search in the document for HEK-293.
HEK CELL (Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cells), also often referred to as HEK 293, 293 cells, or less precisely as HEK cells are a specific cell line originally derived from human embryonic kidney cells grown in tissue culture. HEK 293 cells are very easy to grow and transfect very readily and have been widely-used in cell biology research for many years. They are also used by the biotechnology industry to produce therapeutic proteins and viruses for gene therapy.
Below is a list of products that contain HEK cells.
HEK cell Products; http://www.cogforlife.org/fetalproductsall.pdf
Pepsi Beverages on the Boycott
• All Pepsi soft drinks
• Sierra Mist soft drinks
• Mountain Dew soft drinks
• Mug root beer and other soft drinks
• No Fear beverages
• Ocean Spray beverages
• Seattle’s Best Coffee
• Tazo beverages
• AMP Energy beverages
• Aquafina water
• Aquafina flavored beverages
• DoubleShot energy beverages
• Frappuccino beverages
• Lipton tea and other beverages
• Propel beverages
• SoBe beverages
• Gatorade beverages
• Fiesta Miranda beverages
• Tropicana juices and beverages
Other Senomyx Partner Products
- At this time we are formally boycotting PepsiCo products, however many have asked us for lists of the other companies involved with Senomyx and what products are involved.
Unless we know a certain product or brand name specifically, we intend to boycott all of the company’s products.
• All coffee creamers
• Maggi Brand instant soups, bouillon cubes, ketchups, sauces, seasoning, instant noodles
Kraft – Cadbury Adams LLC Products:
• Black Jack chewing gum
• Bubbaloo bubble gum
• Bubblicious bubble gum
• Freshen Up Gum
• Sour Cherry Gum (Limited)
• Sour Apple Gum (Limited)
Cadbury Adams LLC Candies
• Sour Cherry Blasters
• Fruit Mania
• Bassett’s Liquorice All sorts
• Maynards Wine Gum
• Swedish Fish
• Swedish Berries
• Juicy Squirts
• Original Gummies
• Fuzzy Peach
• Sour Chillers
• Sour Patch Kids
• Mini Fruit Gums
Other Cadbury Adams LLC Products
• Certs breath mints
• Halls Cough Drops
Not part of Senomyx – N eocutis Products
This company produces anti wrinkle creams that contain cells from a 14 week gestation aborted malebaby. Following is the list of the creams, but we recommend a full boycott of all Neocutis Products.
Bio-Gel Prevedem Journee
Bio Restorative Skin Cream
Vaccines Containing HEK Cells And the Manufacturers:
MMR II (Merck)
ProQuad (MMR + Chickenpox – Merck)
Varivax (Chickenpox – Merck)
Pentacel (Polio + DTaP + HiB – Sanofi Pasteur)
Vaqta (Hepatitis-A – Merck)
Havrix (Hepatitis-A – Glaxo SmithKline)
Twinrix (Hepatitis-A and B combo – Glaxo)
Zostavax (Shingles – Merck)
Imovax (Rabies – Sanofi Pasteur)
Pulmozyme (Cystic Fibrosis – Genetech)
Enbrel (Rheumatoid Arthritis – Amgen)
Note: Moral options exist for Rabies, Polio,
Rheumatoid Arthritis. Separate moral options
currently not available for Measles and Mumps.
Back in January, Oklahoma Senator Ralph Shortey proposed legislation to ban the production of aborted fetal cell-derived flavor chemicals in his home state. If passed, S.B. 1418 would also reportedly ban the sale of any products that contain flavor chemicals derived from human fetal tissue, which includes Pepsi products as well as products produced by Kraft and Nestle (http://www.naturalnews.com)
.Biotech company using cell lines from aborted babies in food enhancement testing http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/biotech-company-using-cell-lines-from-aborted-babies-in-food-enhancement-te
Pro-life groups call for Pepsi boycott over aborted fetal cell lines
Oklahoma lawmaker wants to stop Pepsi from using aborted fetus cells in soda flavoring research (NaturalNews)
To Contact PepsiCo:
Jamie Caulfield, Sr. VP
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
Edmund M. Carpenter, Chair, Corporate Development
1 Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103-1701
Pro-life groups joining CGL in the boycott to date are: Life Issues Institute, American Life League, Colorado Right to Life, American Right to Life, Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute, ALL Arizona, Central Nebraskans for Life, Pro-Life Waco, Houston Coalition for Life, Mother and Unborn Baby Fox Valley, Womankind, Billboards for Life, Movement for a Better America, Defenders of the Unborn, Focus Pregnancy Help Center, Idaho Chooses Life, EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers of NY, Four Seasons for Life, CREDO, Life Choices, STOPP Dallas, CA Right To Life, Human Life Alliance, International Right to Life Federation, Operation Rescue, Pro-Life Nation, LifeNews.com, and Mary’s Outreach for Women.
To be clear, the aborted fetal tissue used to make Pepsi’s flavor chemicals does not end up in the final product sold to customers, according to reports — it is used, instead, to evaluate how actual human taste receptors respond to these chemical flavorings. But the fact that Pepsi uses them at all when viable, non-human alternatives are available illustrates the company’s blatant disregard for ethical and moral concerns in the matter.
HEK 293 cells were generated in the early 70s by transformation of cultures of normal human embryonic kidney cells with sheared adenovirus 5 DNA in Alex Van der Eb’s laboratory in Leiden, The Netherlands.
The human embryonic kidney cells were obtained from an aborted fetus and originally cultured by Van der Eb himself; the transformation by adenovirus was performed by Frank Graham who published his findings in the late 1970s after he left Leiden for McMaster University in Canada.
They are called HEK for human embryonic kidney, while the number 293 comes from Graham’s habit of numbering his experiments; the original HEK 293 cell clone was simply the product of his 293rd experiment.
Ice cream recipes have changed considerably since the days of old fashioned ice cream parlors. We’re now subjected to a slew of toxic ingredients in almost every type of ice cream found in parlors, restaurants and grocery stores. From economy to premium brands, there is often no escape from the chemical concoctions in our favorite frozen treats. So what ingredients should you avoid and why are they so deadly?
By weight, ice cream is primarily composed of water (from milk and cream). The lethality of current formulations don’t come from these basic constituents, but from the gamut of sweetners, flavorings, emulsifiers and stabilizers. After all, the industry relies on increasing shelf life and having the most smooth or creamy ice cream over time, so preserving these consistencies is the key to sales.
By volume, 30% to 50% of ice cream is air whipped into the mix during the early stages of the freezing process. “There are no real chemical reactions that take place when you make ice cream,” says H. Douglas Goff, an ice-cream expert and professor in the department of food science at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, “but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of chemistry.”
Richard W. Hartel, professor of food engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, explains that “when you bite into ice cream, how the flavor is released into the mouth probably is a function of structure.” Initially, the milk fat exists as tiny globules in the milky starting mixture. Milk proteins on the globules’ surface work as an emulsifier to keep the fat in solution. To make the ice-cream structure, these fats need to be destabilized so that they coalesce into larger networks. “When two partially crystallized fat globules come together, like in ice cream, they form a partially coalesced structure,” Hartel explains. “We sort of envision them as grape clusters, with some connectivity, but the crystalline fat prevents complete coalescence.”
Ice-cream makers use an emulsifier that replaces the surface proteins and aids in forming the network. Egg yolks were originally used as this destabilizing emulsifier, but now, ice-cream manufacturers use toxic substances such as mono- and diglycerides as well as the sorbitan ester Polysorbate 80.
Polysorbate 80 has been found to negatively affect the immune system and cause severe anaphylactic shock which can kill. According to Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Volume 95, Number 6, December 2005 , pp. 593-599(7), “it is of current relevance as a ‘hidden’ inductor of anaphylactoid reactions”, and “Polysorbate 80 was identified as the causative agent for the anaphylactoid reaction of nonimmunologic origin in the patient. The study included a pregnant woman who suffered anaphylactic shock after being given a IV drip of multi-vitamins containing polysorbate 80.
In addition to this, there have been studies in Food and Chemical Toxicology which showed that Polysorbate 80 causes infertility. Baby female rats were injected with polysorbate 80 at days 4-7 after birth. It accelerated the maturing of the rats and caused changes to the vagina and womb lining, hormonal changes, ovary deformities and degenerative follicles.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, which is part of the United Nations, scientists from the organization are developing vaccines specifically to damage fertility as a method of contraception. A suggested ingredient for the vaccine is Polysorbate 80 (also known as tween 80). As it is a preferred ingredient, scientists are obviously aware of its ability to cause infertility.
Mono- and Diglycerides
We recently reported on the irresponsible actions of supplement companies who continue to use hydrogenated oils and magnesium stearate as flowing agents. It seems that ice cream manufacturers are just as careless in their use of hydrogenated oils.
Mono-diglycerides remain the most widely used emulsifiers in food production. They are called mono-digylcerides because they are made from oils that have a high mono saturated fat content, but they are still hydrogenated. They are hidden trans fats where an alcohol (in this case glycerol) has been combined to form an emulsifying agent.
One of the largest food oil producing companies worldwide is Gillco. With the exception of their distilled non-hydrogenated monoglycerides (not incorporated in ice cream applications), a large variety of their emulsifiers are hydrogenated and this is stipulated on the company’s fact sheet for each product.
Make no mistake, mono-diglycerides are not nutritious in anyway. Their only purpose is to improve volume, uniform structure and develop the right meltdown characteristics. Regardless of their quantity, the inclusion of hydrogenated oils in any food product is only detrimental to our health and their adverse effects are well documented. Avoid any ice creams (or any food products for that matter) with mono-diglycerides.
As one of the most prolific preservatives in the food industry, it is difficult to find an ice cream without potassium sorbate. However, it is not only recommended to avoid this chemical, it’s a necessity to eliminate it from our foods. The food industry and its scientists will parrot endless myths that potassium sorbate is not a health threat because of its safety record and non-toxic profile. This could not be further from the truth.
Food and chemical toxicology reports have labeled potassium sorbate as a carcinogen, showing postive mutation results in the cells of mammals. Other studies have shown broad systemic and toxic effects on non-reproductive organs in animals. No long term studies have ever been initiated on either animals or humans, so there is simply not enough evidence to theorize what could happen after years of ingesting this preservative. However, based on short-term carcinogenic and toxic effects, is it worth the risk to find out?
There are a plethora of serious concerns with sodium benzoate. It can convert into lethal carcinogenic poison when combined with absorbic acid. Professor Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology, tested the impact of sodium benzoate on living yeast cells in his laboratory. What he found alarmed him: the benzoate was damaging an important area of DNA in the “power station” of cells known as the mitochondria. “These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether.” he stated.
“The food industry will say these compounds have been tested and they are complete safe,” he said. “By the criteria of modern safety testing, the safety tests were inadequate. Like all things, safety testing moves forward and you can conduct a much more rigorous safety test than you could 50 years ago.”
Sodium Benzoate, as most other preservatives, should not be ingested in any quantity. This toxin is banned from all foods and drinks for children under three, and is currently being phased out of all Coca-Cola products.
Artificial colors and flavors such and blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, yellow 6, red 3, red 40, and others are found in many types of ice cream, especially commerical varities. Artificial flavor means it is derived from a chemical made in a laboratory and has no nutritional value. Researchers have determined that artificial colors (especially when paired with sodium benzoate) increase levels of hyperactivity in preschool and older children within the general population. They have also been found to provoke asthma attacks and have links to thyroid tumours. Coincidently, artificial colors are very prevalent in ice cream products which are directly marketed to children.
Every single artifical color in the food industry has some kind of detrimental health effect. These include neurotoxicity, organ, developmental, and reproductive toxicity and cancer.
Carrageenan is another emulsifier and stabilizer. It comes from algae or seaweed extract common in the Atlantic Ocean. It is typically extracted from natural sources using powerful alkaline solvents. Carrageenan is often touted as 100% vegetarian and natural. So does that mean it’s safe? Just because something comes from a natural source does not mean that it is safe. There are also natural sources of MSG and Aspartame which are chemically identical to the artificial brands. These are equally poisonous to humans as those marketed in the food industry.
Several studies on humans have demonstrated that digestive enzymes and bacterial action convert high weight carrageenans to dangerous low molecular weight carrageenans and poligeenans in the human gut. These carrageenans, even at low doses, have been found to destroy human cells and are linked to various human cancers and digestive disorders.
Carrageenan has also been found to impair and depress cell-mediated immunity and cause the proliferation of tumour growth. The mechanism responsible for carrageenan-induced immune suppression is believed to be its selective degenerative effect on white blood cells.
It is also important to understand how overrun calculations affect the concentration of ingredients in ice cream. This is never stated on the label of any brand. Overrun is the percentage increase in volume of ice cream greater than the amount of mix used to produce that ice cream. In other words, if you start off with 1 litre of mix and you make 1.5 litres of ice cream from that, you have increased the volume by 50%. Economy and standard brands of ice cream are the lowest quality and have the greatest percentage of overrun (greater than 100% and as high as 120%) meaning they will require an increased percentage of emulsifiers to increase their volume than higher quality brands. This keeps manufacturing costs low since there is a smaller quantity of medium to higher quality ingredients used for every litre of final product.
Premium and super-premium brands have a lower percentage of overrun (less than 90% and as low as 25%) and don’t use as many emulsifiers in their formulations. This results in the highest body and quality of ice cream. It also means that more nutritious ingredients typically make up for the volume. This increases manufacturing costs due to a greater quantity of high quality ingredients used for every litre of final product.
If your store brand or parlor ice cream melts rapidly, that’s a good sign as it likely has a low overrun and little fat destabilization, which means a lower percentage of toxic emulsifiers and stabilizers. When made with wholesome and natural ingredients, homemade ice cream will always melt quickly. There is simply no healthy way to keep the fat from destabilizing naturally.
Keep in mind that any frozen treats that are made with dairy products and engineered to be low fat (i.e. frozen yogurt, low-fat ice cream) will typically have the highest overrun and emulsifier/stabilizer percentages. Here’s a breakdown of brands, fat content, solids, overrun and cost:
* Fat content: usually legal minimum, e.g., 10%
* Total solids: usually legal minimum, e.g., 36%
* Overrun: usually legal maximum, ~120%
* Cost: low
* Fat content: 10-12%
* Total solids: 36-38%
* Overrun: 100-120%
* Cost: average
* Fat content: 12-15%
* Total solids: 38-40%
* Overrun: 60-90%
* Cost: higher than average
* Fat content: 15-18%
* Total solids: >40%
* Overrun: 25-50%
* Cost: high
The highest overrun percentages are found in ice creams that use guar gum and xanthan gum, typically in a 3:1 ratio respectively.
Xanthan gum is produced by fermentation of glucose or sucrose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium. One of its most remarkable properties of is its capability of producing a large increase in the viscosity of any liquid by adding a very small quantity of gum, usually less than one percent. For this reason, it is used as an emulsifier in a very large percentage of ice creams around the world.
As a polysaccharide, one of the problems with this food additive is that it is typically made from corn. People who have corn allergies may not be aware that these additives can cause diverse reactions when consumed. Moreover, a very large percentage of corn around the world is now genetically modified (GM) which is then reflected in the production of many types of xanthan gum. GM foods are a cause for great concern.
Some people develop an allergy to conventional xanthan gum, with various gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Even consumption of a very minor amount can lead to days and days of recovery and many trips to the bathroom. For others a xanthan reaction can also precipitate migraine headaches and skin itchiness.
Plant sourced organic xanthan gum is non GM and non corn-derived without any chemical reproduction in a laboratory. Some people who develop reactions to synthetic xanthan sources and then consume organic sources experience no symptoms at all. If the xanthan gum is not labeled as organic, avoid the product.
Guar gum is an emulsifier, a firming agent, a formulation aid, stabiliser, a thickener and even a plasticizer. It is a natural hydrocolloid that is obtained from the ground endosperm of the guar plant. When untreated ice cream melts and refreezes, grainy ice crystals often form. Guar gum has the natural ability to bind with water molecules, preventing them from forming the unwanted crystals. The gum functions dynamically and synergistically with xanthan gum by increasing the viscosity of ice cream.
The use of conventional guar gum as an ingredient in non-prescription diet aids was officially banned in the early 1990s in Canada and the U.S. The guar gum would bind with liquids in the stomach and swell, causing a feeling of satisfying fullness.
However, this mass of swollen guar gum would also cause dangerous intestinal and duodenal blockages, as well as abdominal cramps, nausea, flatulence and diarrhea. Guar gum was declared unsafe and ineffective for use as a non- prescription diet aid, but then allowed in small doses in the food supply.
Conventional and synthetic guar gum has been linked through studies to a high molecular weight agent that can cause occupational rhinitis and asthma. Its ingestion may also cause a significant reduction in the absorption and bioavailability of calcium, iron, and zinc.
Organic guar gum containing a high quantity of soluble fiber can be a very good aid to both irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. The soluble fiber present in organic guar gum dissolves in water though it is not digested. Moreover, when fully organic, this natural laxative contains no harmful chemicals as found in synthetic and conventional versions and thus has no side effects.
If the guar gum is not labeled as organic, avoid the product.
Soy Lecithin or Soya Lecithin
Healthy sources of soy lecithin have many benefits and are a source of choline. It helps dissolve fat and cholesterol and can help regulate your kidney, liver and gallbladder function.
The problem is, just as corn, a very large percentage of soy lecithin is produced from soy which is GM and unfermented. Fermented soy is the only soy fit for human consumption. Unfermented soy has been linked to digestive distress, immune system breakdown, PMS, endometriosis, reproductive problems for men and women, allergies, ADD and ADHD, higher risk of heart disease and cancer, malnutrition, and loss of libido.
If you can contact the food manufacturer and firmly source the soy lecithin and confirm it’s non GM and fermented …fantastic, otherwise stay away from any food product with this additive.
Commerical Varieties and Making Your Own
Some of the largest ice cream chains in the world such as Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Queen and Häagen-Dazs all use the above toxic ingredients in their flavours. All local ice cream parlors also include them in their formulations. There are literally hundreds of other conventional ice cream manufacturers and brands around the world. With the exception of companies that emphasize organic all-natural products (i.e. Mapleton’s), we have yet to find one ice cream producer that does not use any of the above ingredients in their manufacturing process.
These days, there is only one way to eat healthy ice cream….make it yourself. Here’s how:
Borrowed from “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon:
* 3 egg yolks
* 1/2 cup maple syrup
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 1 tablespoon arrowroot
* 3 cups heavy cream, preferably raw, not ultrapasteurized
Beat egg yolks and blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to instructions. (Remember to choose the highest quality ingredients you can find like raw cream, eggs from pastured chickens, or at least organic eggs, and organic (grade B, if you can find it) maple syrup. Pure vanilla extract and arrowroot powder or flour can be found in most health food stores.)
On May 25, 2013, millions marched against Monsanto across the globe. I took part here in New York City, of course, and was fortunate to have the opportunity to lead a teach-in called: “Food Justice, GMOs, & the Vegan Option (Eat Like a Revolutionary).”
The ostensible goals of this event included:
- Present GMOs as much more than a single issue.
- Suggest that GMOs offer a powerful entry point for outreach to the mainstream.
- Provide facts to be used for such outreach.
- Explain why there’s more to food justice than screaming “Fuck Monsanto.”
At the request of those who attended the teach-in, I’ve compiled some of the material in an article of sorts. This is not meant to be the definitive word on any of these topics. Rather, I strongly encourage all readers to follow-up with their own research and, of course, share what they find.
Monsanto is not a food company.
Monsanto a chemical company that made its name, for example, selling saccharin to Coca-Cola and Agent Orange to U.S. military. Its products also include PCBs, dioxin, DDT, and rBGH.
Monsanto records annual sales of roughly $11.8 billion and operates 404 facilities in 66 countries, over 6 continents with products grown on more than 282 million acres worldwide.
Monsanto is one of three corporations (along with DuPont and Syngenta) that control 70 percent of the global seed market — aiming for monopoly power over the planet’s food and water supplies.
GMO is short for “genetically modified organism” and is the result of corporate scientists taking genes from one species and inserting them into another species in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic. GMOs are also known as “transgenic organisms” and the process is often called “genetic engineering” or GE.
Examples of genetic engineering include:
- Inserting spider genes into goat DNA in an attempt to produce goat milk that contains spider web protein to be used in the manufacturing of bulletproof vests.
- Arctic fish gene spliced into tomatoes and strawberries to make them tolerant to frost.
- Potatoes that will glow in dark when they need water.
All this and so much more is happening even though, as any non-corporate scientist can tell you, our current understanding of the way DNA works is extremely limited. Any change to DNA can have side effects that are impossible to predict or control. Still, the industry forges on, e.g. 94 percent of soy is GM, 90 percent of cotton, 88 percent of corn, and 95 percent of sugar beets.
Reality: 80 percent of processed food contains at least one GM ingredient.
Monsanto Protection Act
For those who seek solace in oversight, be warned: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require a single safety study, does not mandate the labeling of GMOs, and allows companies to put GM foods onto the market without even notifying the agency.
You might even say we are the test.
GMOs were introduced into the American food supply in 1996 and within nine years, the percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7 percent to 13 percent while food allergies skyrocketed.
Which brings us to what is euphemistically known as the “Monsanto Protection Act.” Thanks to the Farmer Assurance Provision, Section 735, of the recently passed spending bill, even if an individual or group were to bring suit against a GM company, no action could be taken until an “Environmental Impact Statement” (EIS) is compiled — and this typically takes years.
Translation: The product suspected to be dangerous stays on the market until the EIS inevitably declares it safe.
GMOs are bad for the environment.
GMOs, explains Greenpeace, “can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non-GE environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way. Their release is genetic pollution and is a major threat because GMOs cannot be recalled once released into the environment.”
Most GM crops are engineered to be “herbicide tolerant.” This is why Monsanto sells Roundup Ready crops, designed to survive their Roundup herbicide. As a result, between 1996 and 2008, U.S. farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds herbicide on GM crops and the overuse of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide creates what are called “superweeds,” and thus, even more herbicide is used in the futile attempt to control this cycle.
GMOs interbreed with natural organisms, contaminating non-GE environments. Again: once genetic pollution is released into nature, it cannot be recalled.
GMOs are not the answer to world hunger.
The 2008 Friends of the Earth report, “Who Benefits From GM Crops,” sums it up well: “The majority of GM crops are not destined for hungry people in developing countries, but are used to feed animals, generate biofuels, and produce highly processed food products — mainly for consumption in rich countries. GM crops have not increased food security for the world’s poor. None of the GM crops on the market are modified for increased yield potential and research continues to focus on new pesticide-promoting varieties that tolerate application of one or more herbicides.”
Companies like Monsanto seeks only profit and control.
In my 2010 interview with journalist Marie-Monique Robin, she told me: “Monsanto is the world leader in biotechnology and the first seed company. Ninety percent of the GMOs grown in the world belong to it. During the last decade, the firm bought dozens of seed companies all over the world, pushing its transgenic seeds, which are patented. A patented seed means that the farmers who grow it may not keep a part of his crops to re-sow it, the next year, as farmers used to do everywhere in the world. In the United States and Canada, farmers who grow transgenic crops must sign a ‘technology agreement.’ The no-sowing requirement is clearly expressed. If they don’t respect the agreement and violate the patent, they are harassed by the ‘gene police’ and sued by Monsanto. Clearly transgenic crops are just a tool to control the seeds supply — which is the first link in the food chain — by forcing farmers to buy seeds each year.”
Seed monopolies = 250,000 farmers to commit suicide in India alone.
Next from Monsanto: Gene Use Restriction Technologies (GURTS).
Some radical food choices…
Obviously, we need to do more than talk and listen and learn. We have to put into practice the kind of world we want. In terms specific to GMOs, we can:
- Avoid buying ‘em and instead opt for fresh, local, organic non-GMO, non-processed food from farmers markets.
- Label ‘em ourselves.
- Organize non-GMO seed banks/local swaps/seed bomb events.
- Start or join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiative.
- Grow our own organic non-GMO food everywhere: window boxes, balconies, community garden, rooftops, fire escapes, etc.
- Choose food not lawns.
FYI: The single most irrigated crop in the U.S. is lawn.
Instead of gardens, we have 40 million acres of lawn from sea to overfished sea. Americans spend $40 billion per yea on seed, sod, and chemicals; one-third of all residential water use in the United States goes to lawns; and lawns require ten times more chemicals per acre than industrial farmland.
“If the Bill of Rights contains no guarantee that a citizen shall be secure against lethal poisons distributed either by private individuals or by public officials,” wrote Rachel Carson some five decades ago, “it is surely because our forefathers … could conceive of no such problem.”
We now produce pesticides at a rate more than 13,000 times faster than we did when Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962. The EPA considers 30 percent of all insecticides, 60 percent of all herbicides, and 90 percent of all fungicides to be carcinogenic, yet Americans spend about $7 billion on 21,000 different pesticide products each year.
How have we reached this point? One reason is that we’ve opted to blindly trust the morally indefensible and scientifically fraudulent institution of animal experimentation.
This is but one way our speciesist culture intersects with Monsanto. Also, 65 percent of grains — the vast majority of which is GM — are fed to the 53 billion land animals murdered for “food” each year.
FYI: These animal “food” products are also not labeled as GE.
For activists to know all this and still consume animal products is at the very least denial and at the very most: sheer hypocrisy.
The most radical food choice…
The vast majority of food we consume involves GMOS, unspeakable animal cruelty, exploited human labor, a human health holocaust, higher profits and more control for the 1%, and irreversible environmental degradation.
Translation: Every time you order a pizza to one of your rallies or get a quick bite at McDonalds (or any such death emporium) or opt to chow down on Ben & Jerry’s because the owners are so “progressive,” or plan a turkey dinner for climate change victims, you are voting with your meager dollars for GMOs, unspeakable animal cruelty, exploited human labor, a human health holocaust, higher profits and more control for the 1%, and irreversible environmental degradation.
What kind of irreversible environmental degradation, you ask? Let’s begin with this: The number one source of human-created greenhouse gases is the global animal by-products industry — factory farming, the meat-and-dairy-based diet.
- We lose nearly 7 billion tons of topsoil every year and 75 percent of the original U.S. topsoil is already gone. Without nutrient-rich topsoil, human life will vanish… and guess what’s causing 85 percent of this topsoil erosion: livestock raising and feedcrops.
- 200,000 acres rainforest are destroyed every single day and 70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is now pastures or feedcrops for doomed livestock. Every time you eat a burger sourced from the rainforest, you are responsible for 700 pounds of living matter being destroyed: 20-30 plant species; 100 insect species; and of dozens reptiles, birds, and mammals.
- The land used to raise animals for “food” is 10 billion acres. Livestock production consumes 70 percent of all agricultural land, which translates into one-third of the land surface on the planet.
Each year, 65 percent of untested GM grains are fed to 53 billion doomed land animals in an industry that eats up one-third of the land surface on the planet and is the number one source of human-created greenhouse gases.
Translation: Going vegan is a lot more than just tofu recipes.
It’s even more than barbarism like: veal crates, vivisection, battery cages, slaughterhouses, whaling ships, carriage horses, dogfight rings, fur farms, zoos, circuses, and rodeos.
It’s also about (among many other things): workplace justice, torture, health care, deforestation, overfishing, poverty, habitat loss, ocean dead zones, corporate welfare, and GMOs.
Most of all, embracing veganism and animal rights is more than a boycott, a diet, or a lifestyle option. It is a surrendering of a privilege and that privilege is called “speciesism.” Every time someone voluntarily surrenders a privilege, it is an act of revolution. Thus, veganism and animal rights are part of a liberation movement, recognizing that animals are not property, products, or commodities.
Angela Davis, someone who knows a thing or two about challenging privilege, has declared her vegan status to be “part of a revolutionary perspective — how we not only discover more compassionate relations with human beings but how we develop compassionate relations with the other creatures with whom we share this planet.”
At your next sign-making party:
Recognize that Monsanto is far from only corporation killing planet via food industry and consider…
Tyson Foods, which became the world’s largest poultry and red meat provider after buying Iowa Beef Processors, Inc. (IBP) in 2001. Tyson controls 27 percent of all meat and poultry sales in the United States. One out of every four pounds of chicken, beef, and pork consumed in the United States is a Tyson product.
Fuck Tyson Foods…
Smithfield Foods, the largest pig-farming operation in the united States and the world’s largest pork producer. Smithfield controls 26 percent of the U.S. pork market, raising 14 million pigs at its facilities and killing 27 million of the 60 million that went to slaughter in 2006.
Fuck Smithfield Foods…
Cargill, the second largest meat processing company in the United States, after Tyson Foods. It is the second largest supplier of animal feed in the world.
Cal-Maine Foods, the largest egg producer in the U.S. In 2009, Cal-Maine sold approximately 778 million dozen shell eggs, representing approximately 18 percent of domestic shell egg consumption. The company’s approximately 27 million laying hens and 6 million pullets and breeders is the largest concentration of chickens in the United States.
Fuck Cal-Maine Foods…
Nestle, the world’s leading producer of dairy products.
McDonalds, the largest purchaser of beef and second largest purchaser of poultry in the United States.
KFC, the largest purchaser of poultry in the United States.
This is where food justice and our food choices connect directly with Wall Street and with “free trade” agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Not free, not trade
TPP, as described by the Citizens Trade Campaign, is a “massive new international trade pact being pushed by the U.S. government at the behest of transnational corporations. The TPP is already being negotiated between the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — but it is also specifically intended as a ‘docking agreement’ that other Pacific Rim countries would join over time, with Japan, Korea, China and others already expressing some interest. It is poised to become the largest Free Trade Agreement in the world.”
Such an agreement would also give animal agribusiness the opportunity to pressure countries to eliminate import safety standards and eliminate tariffs on U.S. meat, dairy, and egg exports.
Translation: More animals suffering on factory farms, more climate change and factory farm pollution, more destruction of rainforests for livestock feed, more diabetes, heart disease, and cancer in the global South, more outbreaks of deadly diseases like bird flu and swine flu, and dig this: more countries shifting to factory farming to stay competitive.
Fuck Wall Street and fuck the TPP…
Side note to the lesser (sic) evil crowd: Neither party gets it on these issues or wants to get it or will ever get it.
I give you Michael Taylor, appointed by President Obama to the position of deputy commissioner for Foods at the FDA. Taylor is also vice president for public policy at Monsanto, which means he’s in charge of GMOs being put into our food supply.
Fuck Obama and fuck the so-called 2-party system…
It starts with alternative vision: While the dominant hierarchy drowns in its own hypocrisy, fear, and greed let’s use our energy and passion to create – occupy – a whole new cultural model.
So yes, scream: “Fuck Monsanto!”
But also scream: “Fuck the entire system!”
Fuck the entire system because we have reached the point of no return and minor changes are no longer enough.
Fuck the entire system because we recognize the big connections and must stop acting like we’re the last generation of humans.
Fuck the entire system because we must re-imagine our relationship with the natural world, the source of our existence.
Fuck the entire system because we want total liberation and we know that mutual aid and cooperation are not utopian. We know that mutual aid and cooperation are our last, best chance.
Utah Phillips once said: “The earth is not dying. It is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.”
With that in mind, here’s our message to the 1%: If you won’t protect all life on earth, we will… and we will do so, by any means necessary.
“In nature’s economy, the currency is not money, it is life.” – Vandana
Apocalyptic fever is running high. A friend in the Bible Belt, who recently became “born again,” called me excitedly to tell me she was leaving me her house. “In case I suddenly vanish,” she confided.
Of course. She would be raptured up and I, a hard core “One God” believer, would be left behind. How sweet of her to make preparations for the damned.
But the projected date for the rapture came and went and disappointed, my friend abandoned her new found religion. Not so fast for the 2012-er’s however. The end of the world is still scheduled for December 21, 2012 according to those who buy into the Mayan prophecies, Planet X, Niburu, exponential solar flares –did I miss anything?
The scenarios are stunning—tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, as the world comes crashing down around us.
And should we awaken the morning of December 22 to find ourselves still alive, the ratcheting up of doomsday prophecies will deflate like a spent balloon.
And we just may find ourselves sucker-punched.
Lurking right under our noses is the specter of what may occur in 2013. While another war in the Middle East and a global pandemic might pale in comparison with the cataclysmic changes promised by the 2012-ers, the result might be very close to the same thing. We may not see the hand of God reach down and pluck His faithful from this troubled planet, we may not see benign aliens beam themselves down into our living rooms while the walls are imploding around us, but the effect of what the governments of the world have cooked up may result in a similar upheaval.
The announcements that the global pandemic will hit in 2013 have hardly been ear splitting. One has to be attentive to find these predictions, which are being made by such insiders as former Senators Jim Talent and Bob Graham (http://www.youtube.com/watch?
And what would be the connection between a global pandemic and those attending to biological weapons, like Graham, Talent and Gerstein?
A parallel thread runs through this last decade, right alongside the events of 911 and the fallout from that event. The parallel thread pertains to the anthrax attacks, which took place only one week later. Our government responded to the attacks of 911 with a Draconian shift towards a top heavy surveillance society and a concomitant stripping of our civil liberties, all of which has made us increasingly vulnerable to government intrusion and attack. Emphasis on the word “attack.” The response to the anthrax mailings was to invest billions of dollars in a biological warfare program for which there is no transparency and no public oversight.
Since September of 2001, the U.S. government has pumped over 60 billion dollars into what it euphemistically terms “biodefense.” Let’s take a moment to consider what has gone into that program and what has come out the other end. The concept of “dual use” is the first thing we must consider in order to understand what constitutes “biodefense.” To put it simply, dual use means that you first have to create the bug in order to find the cure.
And our biodefense program is top heavy with bugs: ebola, marburg, anthrax, we got ‘em and we are secretly working to cut and splice natural horrors into recombinant nightmares.
And that brings us to the crux of the matter. What goes on in these “biodefense” labs are occluded by protestations of “national security.” The now defunct Sunshine Project, which was dedicated to working “against the hostile use of biotechnology in the post-Cold War era,” found that there was little if any oversight as to the types of research going on in these labs. In 2007, in a report submitted to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for the Hearing: Germs, Viruses, and Secrets: The Silent Proliferation of Bio-Laboratories in the United States, Sunshine Project Director Edward Hammond wrote the following: “Our research indicates that in the vast majority of cases, it is not possible to verify that federally funded research is properly overseen at the local level, nor are the local committees that are charged with overseeing this research actually required to produce meeting minutes or annual reports that demonstrate that they have fulfilled this charge.” Elsewhere in the report, he states that “lab expansion under the Bush administration has gone far beyond what is prudent and necessary, and without an adequate regulatory framework.”
In summary, Hammond blasted the biodefense industry and wrote “The proliferation of BSL-3 and BSL-4 laboratories across the United States since 2002 is greater than what our country needs and what its safety and security net can absorb. One-off NEPA processes are not sufficient or appropriate for this national-scale problem .Congress should impose a moratorium on federal funding for construction and commissioning of new biodefense labs. No new construction contracts should be issued, and no new labs should open until a comprehensive needs assessment is performed by the Government Accountability Office.”
One must ask what has come out of all these billions pumped into biodefense. The answer is clouded. We do know that we have not even produced a second generation anthrax vaccine. The first generation anthrax vaccine was reputed to cause Gulf War Syndrome and other ills. A scientist working in a BSL-3 in Arizona proudly informed me recently that he has developed a smallpox vaccine that also cures herpes. Awesome, bro…except we pretty much stomped out smallpox decades ago….
When informed of the plans for a new biodefense campus at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, local activists became alarmed. Beth Willis, chairwoman of the Frederick County Containment Lab Advisory Committee and founder of Frederick Citizens for Biolab safety, has stated concerns that the plans for the Homeland Security lab at Detrick may be in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention. The DHS facility has opened but is not yet fully operational. While some of the Frederick activists have stopped short of declaring that the US has indeed launched an offensive biological weapons program, others are not so shy. Barry Kissin, an attorney and activist in Frederick has stated that the US is now illegally producing and stockpiling biological weapons.
In order to produce biological weapons you must first have a lab, properly outfitted for the seriousness of bug you are working with. The labs are designated from BSL-1 through 5, with the 3’s and 4’s housing the most dangerous bugs known to man. The 5′s purportedly deal with space bugs, although you wouldn´t ever hear that from the CDC. That agency recently responded to a FOIA Request about the containment specifications for the 5’s, stating that these records were not in their office. The CDC, which has the responsibility for tracking these bugs and registering the labs, is furiously shoveling out disinfo about the proliferations of 3’s and 4’s , tripping over itself in its eagerness to convince us that there are no more BSL-3 and 4 labs than before 911.
In fact, the proliferation of these labs has been astounding. There are at least 1360 BSL-3′s at this juncture, according to documents released by the DOJ and DOE (although the CDC insists the number is closer to 250). The CDC can only count as far as six when it comes to BSL-4s, although independent sources, such as the Federation for American Scientists, have come up with a head count of 13. Factor in the existence of secret labs on military bases, evidenced by the C.V.’s of a couple of engineering firms which proudly state that they constructed BSL-4s on at least two bases, and the numbers of these labs , like Topsy, just keep on growing.
If a global pandemic should hit in 2013, the chances are good that we will have caused it through the release of a biological weapon that has been cooked up in one of these labs. The similarities between what is now happening in the US and what happened in Germany in the thirties are perturbing: A false flag event used to topple our civil rights and a project to poison us with …well, this time it won’t be Zyklon- B.
If our government learned anything from the mistakes made by Adolph Hitler, it was to keep appearances up. The public image maintained by the United States is that of freedom and justice. The image is straining due to the weight of evidence to the contrary, and the more evidence that accumulates the higher pitched are the denials being issued by the State.
This reporter has been working off information provided by a high level source back in 2003, when he confided that the State of Israel would be destroyed around the time that the bugs were selectively released. Israel, you say? You thought Israel was pulling the strings all along, did you?
Israel was very likely set up to be destroyed. A haven for the Jews after the horrific events of WWII and the holocaust morphed into a ghetto for those far- flung in the diaspora. Forty percent of the world’s Jews now reside in Israel. A well placed missile or two and you’ve gotten rid of 7,848,800 people–approximately 5,865,300 are Jews. Hitler will be high- fiving from the seventh circle of Hell.
The government of Israel is just itching to get into this war with Iran, a war for which Israel is poorly prepared, defensively speaking. The much touted “Iron dome”, Israel’s primary missile defense system, only works for incoming projectiles that are launched from nearby, like Gaza. Israel is largely unprotected from a fly- over. Factor in the state- of- the- art S-300 defense system possessed by Iran, and the odds that Israel will survive this war appear to be almost non- existent.
Israel wiped off the map due to all the trouble fomented by the United States in the Middle East, culminating with a manufactured war with Iran and then a fatal bug, released through a selective mechanism such as the double line water system (http://neworleans.indymedia.
The hell, you say. The Zionists run the world! Well, yes and no. If the Zionists are the same guys, heavily anti-Semitic, (such as Mark Sykes and Otto Rand, ) who set up the State of Israel in order to lure the world’s Jews into that alleged haven—a desert mirage– so that Boom! Then yes, those Zionists may indeed run the world. And some of those Zionists are Jews. The Jews are ill informed as to the traitors within their midst, the same sort of saboteurs as Stephen Wise, head of the US Jewish Congress during WWII. Wise lobbied heavily to keep the Eastern European Jews from immigrating to the United States, thus ensuring they would be unable to escape Hitler’s death machine. This reporter has had her own skirmishes with duplicitous leadership in the Jewish community, some of which are discussed in this article.
And please, don’t get me wrong. The Jews are certainly not the only ones on the chopping block. When the dust clears, after the Big Bug strikes, we will likely see a world divested of much of its people of color. This is already happening.
Africa is being emptied out by AIDS. Dark- skinned people are also now experiencing an epidemic of the “silent killers” of diabetes and hypertension, believed to be a product of a biological weapon leaked into food and attaching onto melanin (those with darker skin have more melanin). According to Dr. Trudy Gaillard, a researcher and with the Wexner Medical Center, about 12% of African Americans are now diagnosed with diabetes, three times as many as reported in 1980. The actual figures may be quite a bit higher. If you look at the statistics for African American women over the age of 55, 25% are now diagnosed with diabetes. The numbers are also up for other dark- skinned groups, such as indigenous Mexicans and Pacific Islanders.
Dr. Wouter Basson, who sailed through the South African Truth and Reconciliation hearings, was under scrutiny for his work with Project Coast, which was the apartheid government’s biological weapons group. Basson was purportedly working on developing a “blacks only” bioweapons back in the 1980’s The epidemic of diabetes and hypertension among people of color began to surface shortly thereafter. Was Basson successful in creating this race specific bioweapons? He ain’t talking.
And, as a writer-friend in Los Angeles once noted, “Anyone who will sell out his brother for his own safety gets to sit at the table.” The resonant and beautiful voices of resistance may also succumb to the selectively delivered Big Bug. How convenient and diabolical this plan is. Any problem person, any out- of -favor demographic group, and our beneficent government utilities and/or Big Pharma will provide the final solution. No recriminations and no onus of responsibility. No Nuremberg Trials, no Truth and Reconciliation Commission and no one pointing the finger at anything except a wayward microbe, an accident of nature.
Just a whole lot of burying to do and the world made over, in a different image: Obedient and lily white. A Nazi’s wet dream.
The Biological Weapons Convention will meet twice this year in Geneva for intersessional meetings. I hope to be able to attend in an effort to impact the direction of the above cited course of events. I need your help to do so. Please visit janetphelan.com to contribute for travel expenses via PayPal. At the BWC in December, I blew the whistle on the illegal biological weapons program being run by the United States government. It was a good beginning and so much more needs to be done. The time is short.
Stroller-pushing mothers delivered nearly a million signatures in Sacramento on Wednesday, for an initiative to put to populist vote The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.
The ten-week signature drive collected nearly double the amount needed to put the R2K Act on the November 6, 2012 ballot.
The state will take between five and seven weeks to validate the signatures, and then certify the results. Of the 555,236 needed, thousands of volunteers collected 971,126, just shy of the hoped-for million.
“In ten weeks, nearly a million registered voters signed the ballot initiative,” said Pamm Larry, who single-handedly started the drive on January 20, 2011. “Even biotech engineers gathered signatures for us.” Having founded LabelGMOs.org, Larry then coordinated with other pro-labeling civic groups across the state and nation.
Victory celebrations were held in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego today, reported CA Right to Know in a press conference.
If voters approve the measure this fall, beginning July 1, 2014, food makers will be required to label those products that contain genetically modified ingredients.
Significantly, the “natural” term can no longer be used if the product contains GMOs.
There are several exemptions, including GMO-fed and GMO-drugged animals, as well as any raw ag product that was unintentionally contaminated with GMOs. Suppliers and producers may be asked to provide a sworn statement that as far as they know, the food is GE-free.
According to the Act, anyone relying on those sworn statements is off the hook legally if the product turns out to have GMOs.
There is a requirement in the Act that grocery store bins or shelves must also be GE-labeled if any unlabeled raw agricultural GE products (like GE corn) are sold. But there’s no liability to the store owner if the supplier provides a sworn statement that the food is GE-free when it’s not.
Given the biotech industry’s penchant for hyperbole (relating to yield, cost and pesticide use), it’s no surprise tohear them declare the Act will cause food prices to spike.
But, as one of the organizers says, “They have 18 months after the election to change their labels, something that is frequently done in the food industry.” Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield which has been organic-certified for 20 years, added, “All they have to do is add some ink.”
Several large organizations opposing the measure have organized behind Stop Costly Food Labeling (SCFL), including the Grocery Manufacturers Assn., the Council for Biotechnology Information, the CA Farm Bureau Federation, and, you guessed it, the Chamber of Commerce.
Another lie right out of their lying mouths is that the R2K Act will require, “prohibiting processed foods from being labeled as natural, even if they contain no GE ingredients.”
No such language exists in the eight-page Act.
Not only that, but there’s still a whole lot of wiggle room for GE-contaminated foods. See pages 4-6 for the list of exemptions, like this one:
“Until July 1, 2019, any processed food that would be subject to section 110809 solely because it includes one or more genetically engineered ingredients, provided that: (i) no single such ingredient accounts for more than one-half of one percent of the total weight of such processed food; and (ii) the processed food does not contain more than ten such ingredients.” §110809.2(e)
This means that food can have up to 5% genetically modified organisms by weight (and up to ten of the little buggers) and remain free of the GE label. Looks like biotech scored big on that exemption. GE-free should be GE-free.
Fundraising to Counter Biotech Lies
Both sides will engage in a media spectacle aimed at swaying voters, using TV and print to promote their positions. If their April 26 press release is any indication, the biotech sector of Big Ag and its supply chain plans to drive a wedge between small operators and consumers who want to know what’s in their food. “It’ll put you out of business!” screams the upcoming headline.
Heaven forbid. Requiring food labels is akin to truth in advertising. Big Pharma certainly hasn’t disappeared because they can’t keep nasty side effects a secret.
Grocery stores have nothing to fear, despite the SCFL’s spin that “right to know” means “right to sue.” Whining they’ll have to follow what’s done in 40 other countries, adding a little ink to food labels in the biggest agriculture state in the US won’t put anyone out of business.
We’re gonna be inundated with a barrage of lies to the point we’ll stand in muted awe at the audacity. Kinda like the informed’s reaction when Condi Rice objected to her “integrity” being impugned after she promoted the wild WMDs lie.
But now is not the time for muted silence. And the media campaign to support California’s initiative must be funded, nationally, says Dr. Mercola, who runs the biggest natural, homeopathic website in the world.
He’s teamed up with several groups including Organic Consumers Assn. and Food Democracy Now! to launch a major fundraising campaign for the upcoming battle of words, explained OCA spokesperson, Katherine Paul, in an email to Food Freedom. “But all of the funds will be turned over to the CARighttoKnow campaign to use for media consultants, advertising, and legal help,” she advised.
“Between May 1 and May 26, a broad coalition of food, farming, health groups, and organic food manufacturers, will attempt to raise one million dollars to defeat Monsanto propaganda and get the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act on the ballot for November 6, and passed into law. Money raised in this Million Dollar Money Bomb on Monsanto campaign will support the California Ballot Initiative and other state GE-labeling campaigns. If donations totaling $1 million is reached by May 26, a coalition of benefactors will MATCH it, bringing the Money Bomb to $2 million!”
According to the opposition, Mercola has already put up $800,000 of his own money. The busy man didn’t get back to me as to whether this is actually true, but it smells right that he’d want to back his own horse.
“We can’t leave California to battle the biotech giants on their own,” he says. “They need your help! Donating funds to this campaign may be the best money you’ll spend all year to safeguard your health, and the health of your children.”
This is all great news… and no one doubts California’s R2K GE Food Act will be on the ballot on November 6, 2012.
Which brings us to the ballot… cast on electronic voting systems that studies funded by Secretary of State Debra Bowen proved are not secure from hack. (See, e.g., here and here.) Other studies by different states and universities and privately-hired tech firms agreed, but Bowen and her Sec-State peers across the nation all bought those expensive, hackable machines anyway.
Even so, since over 90% of US eaters want their food labeled, the vote result is a foregone conclusion. And, what’s done in the biggest Ag state in the union is sure to be followed in at least some of the 20-some states that allow an initiative process – a tool used by citizens to adopt laws and constitutional amendments without the support of the Governor or the Legislature.
Vermont, another state now undergoing an agricultural renaissance, does not have this freedom, so the GMO-food label bill passed by the legislature will not be enacted, as Governor Shumlin has advised he will veto it. We reported on this in the last half of this news video on Monday.
Robyn O’Brien of Allergy Kids Foundation says:
“My youngest daughter’s face began to swell shut at breakfast one day – and I had no idea why. We were only eating waffles, scrambled eggs, and tubes of blue yogurt…so what was happening to her? Before my daughter had a violent allergic reaction that morning, I honestly hadn’t given a lot of thought to what I fed my kids. I mean, if it was on grocery store shelves, it was all the same, right?But since then, like so many moms, I learned that there are all kinds of new ingredients in our foods that weren’t in what we ate as kids. That’s why we need labels.”
Just Label It is working on the FDA for a national directive requiring GMO-food labels, and sent their congrats to California. They’re still collecting petition signatures until May 13, and have produced this quick little video by Robert Kenner, director of Food, Inc.
But California may beat FDA to the punch, and its Right to Know Act will impact food labeling across the nation. This is the big one from which the biotech-feds’ House of Secrecy begins to crumble. All those who support GMO-food labeling are going to have to drop a bomb of money on them to counter the war chest of the biotech industry.
It is no secret that the average American diet is in completely in the slumps. Consuming packaged foods, fast food, artificially enhanced products, and especially low quality cheap food is the norm, but is it any wonder that being overweight while also falling victim to a host of illnesses is also the norm. Being raised in this era of poor health makes it difficult to know what is truly healthy and unhealthy. Food has drastically changed since decades ago, and so parents often aren’t aware of the severe decline in food quality. Fast food in particular is one of the primary reasons for the drastic health decline seen today.
Why You Should Avoid Fast Food at All Costs
If you haven’t already, take a couple of hours to watch the documentaries Super Size Me or Fast Food Nation. After watching these films, you can see first hand how fast food causes severe damage to your body – even if you don’t consume it for every meal of every day like in one of the films. Fast food is nothing but a concoction of harmful and health-damaging chemicals which can easily be understood if you were to think for a moment how any restaurant could offer a double cheeseburger for only $1.
Most recently it was uncovered that these $1 cheeseburgers, along with the rest of McDonald’s’ beef and chicken, were actually harnessing ‘pink slime’ scrap meat covered with ammonium hydroxide. Not only does this fake meat provide no nutritional value at all, but it is chemically contaminated from ammonia, the toxic cleaning agent found under the sink. The meat is actually fat trimmings and connective tissue that are separated from the bone – scrap meat that is not fit for human consumption. The ammonia treatment is in response to the danger of contamination from salmonella or E. coli, but the scrap meats themselves are more likely to contain pathogens. Despite the chemical treatment, the meat is still in the line of fire for contamination.
Additionally, McDonald’s McNuggets contain 7 different ingredients making up the ‘meat’, many of which contain sub-ingredients. Instead of using real meat, the ingredient list utilizes sodium phosphate, safflower oil, wheat starch, dextrose, and autolyzed yeast extract – a particularly dangerous substance very similar to the toxic MSG. Along side with these ingredients comes the use of dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicon substance used as an anti-foaming agent and often found in breast implants and silly putty.
Of course the use of these ingredients is not limited only to McDonald’s. In fact, all of the fast food restaurants are guilty of using them. The worst part? They are aware of the destructive nature behind these ingredients, but truly couldn’t care any less. The truth behind such a statement can be exemplified by Taco Bell’s attempt to create a drive-thru diet where individuals would supposed to lose weight by eating fast food. It was only a few years ago when Taco Bell announced the “Drive-Thru Diet”, where they showcased their foods low in fat. But what they don’t tell you is that even if their food has 9 grams of fat, it is still made up of numerous ingredients contributing to the global health decline.
While the reasons for the influx of fast food consumption are many, one primary one is the usage of psychological advertising. Being one of the most powerful tools to reach both the conscious and subconscious, advertising plays a huge role in how society is ran today, and that includes which foods we eat. What’s more, children are much more influenced by what they see and hear, and research proves it. A study conduced late in 2011 showed that 71 percent of children will choose junk food like french fries over apple slices when given coupons for each of them. The number dropped only to 55 percent when parents encouraged children to choose the apple slices. But the desired reach does not stop at direct advertising and influence.
A new children’s educational book has recently been launched by the Council for Biotechnology Information, educating young children on the ‘numerous benefits’ of genetically modified food. Of course genetically modified food has time and time again been shown to cause human and environmental harm, but still the attempt to brainwash young children is carelessly made. The advertising for such food is also heavily tied in with fast food, as virtually all fast food is constructed with genetically modified food and ingredients.
These are but only a few of the countless reasons to never ingest fast food.
Source: Natural Society
As the world begins to digest the implications of intellectual property for online censorship, another IP issue threatens an even more fundamental part of our daily lives: our food supply. Backed by legal precedent and armed with seemingly inexhaustible lobbying funds, a handful of multinationals are attempting to use patents on life itself to monopolize the biosphere.
Find out more about the process of patenting life and what it means for the food supply on this week’s GRTV Backgrounder.
Transcript and sources:
The oft-neglected legal minefield of intellectual property rights has seen a surge in public interest in recent months due to the storm of protest over proposed legislation and treaties related to online censorship. One of the effects of such legislation as SOPA and PIPA and such international treaties as ACTA is to have drawn attention to the grave implications that intellectual property arguments can have on the everyday lives of the average citizen.
As important as the protection of online freedoms is, however, an even more fundamental part of our lives has come under the purview of the multinational corporations that are seeking to patent the world around us for their own gain. Unknown to a large section of the public, a single US Supreme Court ruling in 1980 made it possible for the first time to patent life itself for the profit of the patent holder.
The decision, known as Diamond v. Chakrabarty, centered on a genetic engineer working for General Electric who created a bacterium that could break down crude oil, which could be used in the clean-up of oil spills. In its decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger ruled that:
“A live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101”
With this ruling, the ability to patent living organisms, so long as they had been genetically altered in some novel way, was established in legal precedent.
The implications of such a monumental ruling are understandably wide-reaching, touching on all sorts of issues that have the potential to change the world around us. But it did not take long at all for this decision’s effects to make itself felt in one of the most basic parts of the biosphere: our food supply.
In the years following the Diamond v. Chakrabarty decision, an entire industry rose up around the idea that these new patent protections could foster the economic incentive for major corporations to develop a new class of genetically engineered foods to help increase crop yields and reduce world hunger.
The first commercially available genetically modified food, Calgene’s “Flavr Savr” tomato, was approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration in the US in 1992 and was on the market in 1994. Since then, adoption of GM foods has proceeded swiftly, especially in the US where the vast majority of soybeans, corn and cotton have been genetically altered.
By 1997, the problems inherent in the patenting of these GM crops had already begun to surface in Saskatchewan, Canada. It was in the sleepy town of Bruno that a canola farmer, Percy Schmeiser, found that a variety of GM canola known as “Roundup Ready” had infected his fields, mixing with his non-GM crop. Amazingly, Monsanto, the agrichemical company that owned the Roundup Ready patent, sued Schmeiser for infringing their patent. After a years-long legal battle against the multinational that threatened to bankrupt his small farming operation, Schmeiser finally won an out-of-court settlement with Monsanto that saw the company agree to pay for the clean-up costs associated with the contamination of his field.
In India, tens of thousands of farmers per year commited suicide in an epidemic labeled the GM genocide. Sold a story of “magic seeds” that would produce immense yields, farmers around the country were driven into ruinous debt by a combination of high-priced seeds, high-priced pesticides, and crop failure. Worst of all, the GM seeds had been engineered with so-called “terminator technology,” meaning that seeds from one harvest could not be re-planted the following year. Instead, farmers were forced to buy seeds at the same exorbitant prices from the biotech giants every year, insuring a debt spiral that was impossible to escape. As a result, hundreds of thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the Indian countryside since the introduction of GM crops in 1997.
As philosopher, quantum physicist and activist Vandana Shiva has detailed at great length, the effect of the invocation of intellectual property in enabling the monopolization of the world’s most fundamental resources was not accidental or contingent. On the contrary, this is something that has been self-consciously designed by the heads of the very corporations who now seek to reap the benefit of this monopolization, and the monumental nature of their achievement has been obscured behind bureaucratic institutions like the WTO and innocuous sounding agreements like the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
Although the deck appears to be stacked in favour of the giant multinationals and their practically inexhaustible access to lobbying and legal funds, the people are by no means incapable of fighting back against this patenting of the biosphere.
In India itself, where so much devestation has been wrought by the introduction of genetically engineered crops, the people are fighting back against the world’s most well-known purveyor of GMO foods, Monsanto. The country’s National Biodiversity Diversity Authority has enabled the government to proceed with legal action against the company for so-called biopiracy, or attempting to develop a GM crop derived from local varieties of eggplant, without the appropriate licences.
Although resistance to the patenting of the world’s food supply should be applauded in all its forms, what is needed is a fundamental transformation in our understanding of life itself from a patentable organism to the common property of all of the peoples who have developed the seeds from which these novel GM crops are derived.
This concept, known as open seeds, is being promoted by organizations around the globe, including Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya organization.
To be sure, it will be a long and arduous uphill battle to bring this issue to the attention of a public that seems to be but dimly aware of what genetically modified foods are, let alone the legal ramifications of the ability to patent life, but as the work of such organizations as Navdanya continues to educate people about the issues involved, the numbers of those opposed to the patenting of the biosphere likewise increases.
From seed-saving and preservation projects to an increased awareness of and interest in organic foods, people around the globe are beginning to take the issue of the food supply as seriously as the companies that are quite literally attempting to ram their products down the consumers’ throats.
As always, the power lies with the consumers, who can win the battle simply by asserting their right to choose where and how they purchase the food, a lesson that was demonstrated once again earlier this month in Germany.
Source: James Corbett and Vandana Shiva | GlobalResearch.ca
As courts and bureaucrats continue to assert that citizens have no fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice, we find Monsanto lurking nearby. The Wisconsin judge who recently ruled that we have no right to own a cow or drink its milk resigned to join one of Monsanto’s law firms.
Former judge Patrick J. Fiedler now works for Axley Brynelson, LLP, which defended Monsanto against a patent infringement case filed by Australian firm, Genetic Technologies, Ltd. (GTL) in early 2010.
GTL had sued several biotechnology firms, a medical lab and a crime lab that had used its patented methods for analyzing DNA sequences. Though a federal case, the district court which heard the matter, sits in Dane County, Wisconsin, where Fiedler coincidentally served as a state judge.
In that case, the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) “upheld Genetic Technologies Ltd.’s patent for noncoding DNA technologies, giving more firepower to the Australian company’s patent infringement suit against Monsanto Inc., Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. and a slew of rival laboratories,” reports Law360.
In another link, Myriad Genetics, which holds the exclusive U.S. patent on human genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, granted the license to GTL in 2002. These human genes are associated with breast and ovarian cancer.
In 2009, the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation (PubPat) sued the PTO, Myriad Genetics, and principals at the University of Utah Research Foundation, charging that patents on genes are unconstitutional and invalid. The suit also charges that such patents stifle diagnostic testing and research that could lead to cures and that they limit women’s options regarding their medical care.
In an absurd ruling this year, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the patent on these human genes, even though the DNA sequence occurs in nature. The court decided that simply because researchers had been able to extract it, the firm owns it. Of course, under this thinking, all of nature can be patented if human technology allows extraction.
“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted thousands of patents on human genes – in fact, about 20 percent of our genes are patented. A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene. As a result, scientific research and genetic testing has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents,” commented ACLU.
The US ruling gives Myriad monopolistic control over these human genes, and over diagnostic testing for that DNA sequence. The case is now headed to the US Supreme Court.
The Myriad patent was also challenged in Australia and at the European Patent Office. In 2009, the EPO granted a highly restricted BRCA1 patent.
Australia’s case will be heard in February 2012. Dr Luigi Palombi, who supports the pending Patent Amendment Bill, believes the US decision “is irrational, contrary to scientific fact and little more than a knee-jerk reaction to the fear mongering of the American biotechnology industry. It claims that without gene patents it will not have any incentive to undertake necessary research. Of course, this is a lie.”
Part of the problem, Palombi explains, is that much of the research that allowed Myriad to develop its breast cancer test was publicly funded. Going further:
“The decision turns patent law on its head because it means that the prize is given for the discovery not for the invention (a new, tangible and practical use of the discovery).
“The second problem is, Myriad’s scientists discovered and linked genetic mutations to breast and ovarian cancers, but that’s a long way off an invention. If there was any invention by Myriad (assuming it was also novel and involved an inventive step), it was in the development of a diagnostic test.”
Of note, in his dissenting opinion, Judge William C. Bryson wrote that the Dept. of Justice filed an amicus brief asserting that Myriad’s gene claims are not patent-eligible, thus undermining the PTO’s position. Bryson wrote:
“… the Department of Justice speaks for the Executive Branch, and the PTO is part of the Executive Branch, so it is fair to assume that the Executive Branch has modified its position from the one taken by the PTO in its 2001 guidelines…”
Given the DOJ’s protection of Monsanto interests, however, it is likely that its opposition to Myriad’s patents may have more to do with stifling competition than protecting nature from theft by biotech firms. After DOJ attorney Elena Kagen moved to the Supreme Court, the high court ruled in Monsanto’s favor allowing the planting of genetically modified alfalfa.
Earlier this year, Obama pressured the USDA to remove the buffer zone requirement for GM alfalfa, further ensuring genetic contamination of natural alfalfa. That decision ensures the destruction of the organic meat and dairy industries in the U.S. which rely on natural alfalfa feed. It will also strengthen biotech’s monopoly control over our food.
Obama has stacked his administration with Monsanto employees and biotech proponents, including Michael Taylor as FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, Islam Siddiqui as Ag Trade Representative, and Elena Kagen on the Supreme Court.
In a related matter, PubPat also filed suit this year against Monsanto over the patenting of genetically modified seeds which contaminate natural crops. “As Justice Story wrote in 1817, to be patentable, an invention must not be ‘injurious to the well being, good policy, or sound morals of society,’” notes the complaint, citing studies showing harm caused by Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, including human placental damage, lymphoma, myeloma, animal miscarriages, and other impacts on human health.
That any official would approve gene patents is bad enough – discovering nature is not inventing it. But in the Wisconsin case, Judge Fiedler ruled that humans:
- “Do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;”
- “Do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;”
- “Do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer;”
- “Do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice;” and
- Cannot enter into private contracts “outside the scope of the State’s police power.”
Ruling against raw milk forces consumers to drink genetically modified, antibiotic-laden milk from cows fed an unnatural diet of pesticide-loaded feed. No doubt that makes Monsanto a major fan of Patrick Fiedler. His decision was rendered on Sept. 9 and he stepped down from the bench on Sept. 30.
This case begs for competent legal counsel who can get the outrageous decision overturned.
EU beekeepers gain in genetic contamination case…
On Sept. 6, the European Union’s top court paved the way for farmers and beekeepers to recoup losses when their crops or honey become genetically contaminated from neighboring GM fields.
The European Court of Justice ruled that all food products containing GMOs – whether intentional or not – must undergo an approval process.
This marks a much stricter view than that being pushed by European Union Commissioner for health and consumer affairs, John Dalli, who wants no regulation of foods genetically contaminated “by accident,” a ludicrous idea given that coexistence ensures genetic contamination.
At the center of the dispute is Bavarian beekeeper Karl Heinz Bablok who joined with several others in suing the state when its research plots of Monsanto’s GM corn, MON 810, contaminated his honey.
In 2008, an administrative court banned Bablok from selling or giving away that honey. But in a bizarre turn, the Augsburg court also ruled that beekeepers have no claim to protection against the growing of GM crops. They immediately filed a new lawsuit. 
Discussing today’s ruling, attorneys for the beekeepers noted that they may now have “a claim for damages against a farmer if MON 810 pollen from his cultivation gets into their honey.” 
Attorneys Dr Achim Willand and Dr Georg Buchholz explained:
“If the beekeeper can no longer sell his honey, this is considered a major impairment causing a claim for damage. If the beekeeper moves his bees in order to prevent this impairment, it is also possible that the cultivator is liable for the additional work and expense of the beekeeper.”
They added that the “decision is important not only for beekeeping, but in general for the production of food and feed, as well as for trade.”
The new ruling will also apply to “imports containing traces of material from genetically modified crops that don’t have sufficient approval within the EU,” they said.
The European Court of Justice only “interprets EU law and does not settle the dispute itself,” notes Inf’OGM, a French group that maintains a neutral position on GMOs. Member states like Germany, France and Spain can apply the ruling however they deem fit in particular cases of genetic contamination. 
In describing the questions before the court, Inf’OGM explained that Monsanto failed to seek approval for genetically modified pollen. Instead, MON 810 approval only covers flour, gluten, semolina, starch, glucose and corn oil.
MON 810 approval is currently under reconsideration. It has been linked to organ damage in test animals  and its approval may be withdrawn. Until last year, it was the only GM crop approved for cultivation in the EU, although a total of 40 GMO food and feed products have been approved for sale. 
One of Commissioner Dalli’s first acts after taking office in 2010 was to lift the 13-year ban on BASF’s GM potato, Amflora. Sweden, Germany and the Czech Republic took the bait and immediately suffered from 47 contamination events. 
Today’s ruling also overturns the court’s Advocate General recommendation this February which found that genetic material inadvertently transferred from GM corn to other living organisms “is no longer viable and is thus infertile, is not a living organism and, therefore, cannot be regarded as a GMO.” 
In that same recommendation, however, the AG maintained that any products containing GMOs should be regulated.
Thijs Etty, a transnational environmental lawyer specializing in biotechnology and EU law, told Food Freedom, “The Court’s ruling underscores the EU’s zero-tolerance stance towards non-authorized GMOs, and signals a sensitive loss for Monsanto and the EU Commission.”
Etty explained that the EU Commission “has been working hard to loosen if not abandon the zero-tolerance policy,” citing a recent regulation “allowing ‘low level presence’ of non-authorized GMOs in feed imports.”
Today’s ruling puts that new regulation into question.
GMO opponents won a brief reprieve last year when Commissioner Dalli’s initial proposal to radically overhaul existing GM approval rules was later rebuked. The controversial proposal was dropped after the European Commission’s legal counsel determined the new rules violated EU and international trade laws. 
Of note, the European Food Safety Authority, which rules on GMO safety, has been under fire for hiring members with financial interests in the biotech industry. EFSA chair Diana Banati resigned last year after it was revealed she served as a consultant to biotech corporations including Monsanto, Bayer and BASF. 
Four other EFSA board members also have substantial ties to the food industry. One has financial interests in the GM seed industry (Piet Vanthemsche) and another is a chief lobbyist for the German food industry (Matthias Horst). Milan Kovác and Jirí Ruprich both have links to food industry bodies, EFSA admitted. 
“Today’s decision is an important victory for beekeepers, but also GMO-opponents and environmental NGOs,” concluded Etty.
But it’s not a complete victory. Though not as bad as in the U.S., GMO label laws still leave European consumers in the dark since meat, milk and eggs from animals fed GM feed are exempt, which bulldozes consumers into supporting the biotech industry.
Nature herself may be the best opponent of genetically modified crops and pesticides. Not onlyplants, but insects are also developing resistance. The Western rootworm beetle – one of the most serious threats to corn – has developed resistance to Monsanto’s Bt-corn, and entire crops are being lost. [Image]
Farmers from several Midwest states began reporting root damage to corn that was specifically engineered with a toxin to kill the rootworm. Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann recently confirmed that the beetle, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, has developed resistance to the Bt protein, Cry3Bb1.
Bacillus thuringiensis – Bt – is a bacterium that kills insects. Different proteins are engineered into cotton as well as corn plants.
In response to the July 2011 study, Monsanto said only the “YieldGard® VT Triple and Genuity® VT Triple PRO™ corn products” are affected.
“It appears he has demonstrated a difference in survival in the lab, but it is too early to tell whether there are implications for growers in the field.”
However, Kansas State researchers summarized the study, indicating that the specimens tested came from fields suffering severe rootworm damage and compared them to those from unaffected fields. In other words, it was a field study.
Resistance developed where the same Bt corn had been grown at least three years in a row. Gassmann found “a significant positive correlation between the number of years Cry3Bb1 maize had been grown in a field and the survival of rootworm populations on Cry3Bb1 maize in bioassays.”
Ag Professional’s Colleen Scherer explains that “the Cry3Bb1 toxin is the major one deployed against rootworms. There is no ‘putting the genie back in the bottle,’ and resistance in these areas is a problem that won’t go away.”
Monsanto urges farmers to try their “stacked” GM products where more than one trait is engineered and to employ integrated pest management (IPM) techniques.
Kind of like getting on a treadmill of ever increasing DNA manipulation and chemicals to maintain monocultures, instead of reverting to time-honored mixed farms that use companion plants (including weeds) for pest control. IPM does not have to include toxic chemicals or genetic manipulation for success. (See, e.g., Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture).
This year, Monsanto launched a “triple-stack” sweet corn which it envisions being sold at Farmers Markets. The FDA’s GMO label ban will certainly help, since most people who buy local are specifically trying to avoid genetically engineered foods.
In line with Monsanto’s goal to enter farmers markets, the Union of Concerned Scientists just came out with a report urging federal financial support in order to create jobs. The report notes that the number of farmers markets has doubled in the past ten years.
But, as we watch the feds target natural producers with raids and product seizure, while leaving Cargill’s 36 million pounds of tainted turkey alone until someone died, we can expect that any federal money put toward farmers markets will be used to support only that produce which is genetically modified, chemically doused and/or irradiated.
Click here to follow Iowa State’s work on the rootworm, and see the following pieces for more reasons to avoid herbicides and biotech foods:
Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark? Earth Open Source, June 2011
Herbicide-tolerance and GM crops Greenpeace, June 2011
Per USDA, Herbicide Use Increases with GE Crops, Beyond Pesticides, June 2011
More problems with glyphosate: Rice growers sound alarm, Food Freedom, May 2011
Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup, Food Freedom, Feb 2011
Monsanto’s superweeds come home to roost: 11 million US acres infested, Generation Green, Oct. 2010
GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible? Superweeds and birth defects: A review of scientific evidence on genetically modified soy and the herbicide glyphosate, Sept. 2010
Three Approved GMOs Linked to Organ Damage, Food Freedom, Jan. 2010
The Center for Disease Control has declined to confirm or deny allegations that the United States government is stockpiling biological and/or chemical weapons at Sierra Army Depot, a military base in Northern California.
According to Ron Davenport, who was a biomedical engineer who worked at the medical clinic at Sierra Army depot in the seventies, the base at one time contained a stockpile of nuclear weapons. Davenport states that much of the base is actually underground. This reporter has obtained the testimony of a civilian contractor with a security clearance who has stated that the nukes have been replaced by large vats of liquid.
In an interview this week with Lori Bane, Associate Director for Policy with the CDC Division of Select Agents and Toxins and Von Roebuck, CDC Public Affairs officer, the two also declined to confirm or deny the existence of a number of biological safety labs level 4. The level 4 labs, called BSL-4.s, handle the most dangerous germs known to man, including Ebola, Marburg and Argentine hemorrhagic virus.
The CDC is charged with the responsibility of registering labs which work with “select agents” and toxins. The labs range from Levels 1 to 4, and are designated in terms of their containment capacity. The 3’s and 4’s handle the really nasty bugs, some of which have no known treatment or cure and pose a grave threat to human life.
Bane and Roebuck maintain that there are only six operational BSL-4’s within the borders of the United States. However, a number of other BSL-4’s appear to be now operational. Biosecurity.org lists eleven: http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/website/resources/publications/2007_orig-articles/2007-04-04-highcontainmentbioresearchlabtable1.html. The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has counted thirteen, with some questions as to whether all the labs are operational at this point in time. The University of North Carolina has counted fifteen: http://cphp.sph.unc.edu/focus/vol5/issue1/5-1BiosafetyLevels…
When this reporter did a “roll call,” running down the entire FAS list, Bane began to fidget. Asked if there were an operational BSL-4 in Galveston, Texas, she responded that she “didn’t feel comfortable confirming or denying” if that facility has a registered BSL-4 or not.
She responded in a similar manner to questions as to whether there was an operational BSL-4 in Montana. “Based on what I see on the internet there may be,” she volunteered. The CDC is posited with the responsibility of registering the BSL-4’s and when asked why she was relying on internet searches to determine this, she stated that she was answering in this manner “for security reasons.” However, the CDC’s own website contains multiple references to the Montana Lab, for example:http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/16/3/373.htm
The granddaddy of all BSL-4’s was first established at Fort Detrick in 1969. This reporter has found indications of two other BSL-4’s at Detrick. Bane stated she was unable to comment on this. Bane and Roebuck also attempted to convince this reporter that there is only one BSL-4 at the CDC. However, this reporter found indications that a second one may have gone online recently.
Following 911, and particularly following the anthrax letters which came fast on the heels of the Twin Towers attacks, these” biological safety” labs started to proliferate as silently and quickly as mushrooms. At this point in time, Congress is allocating over one billion dollars a year to fund biological defense research. But is it really defensive research going on in these labs?
According to the Sunshine Project, an international non-profit working against the hostile use of biotechnology, the institutional safeguards put into place to ensure that these labs are doing the appropriate kinds of research are almost nonfunctional. Edward Hammond, who was the director of the Sunshine Project, cited instance after instance where the oversight committees for these research facilities had never even convened, let alone reviewed the nature of the research ongoing in these facilities. He also found where the mandated research was not taking place and other, non- authorized research was occurring instead.
The Pentagon did not respond to queries concerning the possibility of BSL-4’s on two military bases, Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah and Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. This reporter located two architectural firms which claimed that they had been involved in building BSL-4s at these bases:http://www.linkedin.com/in/waynewalters; http://www.ninowconsulting.com/
The potential presence of these weapons at Sierra Army Depot augurs the likelihood that these weapons are being stockpiled on other bases, as well. The Soldier and Biological Chemical Command of the U.S. military lists installations at these facilities:
- Aberdeen Proving Ground
- Anniston Chemical Activity
- Blue Grass Chemical Activity
- Deseret Chemical Depot
- Edgewood Chemical Activity
- Jefferson Proving Ground
- Newport Chemical Depot
- Pine Bluff Chemical Activity
- Pueblo Chemical Depot
- Rocky Mountain Arsenal
- Umatilla Chemical Depot
- Chem/Bio – Rapid Response Team
- Technical Escort Unit
- Natick Soldier Center
- Research, Development and Engineering Center
- Rock Island Site
The apparent “secret” presence of BSL-4’s on military bases, coupled with indications of biological and/or chemical stockpiles at Sierra and elsewhere, point to the likelihood that the U.S. is engaged in developing biological warfare agents. This is a violation of the international Biological Weapons Convention. The U.S. signed the convention in 1972 and is a repository of this international arms treaty, along with Russia and Great Britain. Unlike many other arms treaties, which come with a host of inspection capabilities and repercussions for violators, the BWC has no teeth. There is no investigatory capability and no oversight body to assign penalties. In this sense, the BWC is merely window dressing.
It has recently come to light that the United States violated this treaty, at least on paper, through the passage of the Expansion of the Biological Weapons Statute, which is published as Section 817 of the U.S. Patriot Act. This Statute largely reflects the language of the BWC, which restricts thedevelopment, production, and stockpiling of biological weapons. However, there is a caveat at the end of 817 which releases the United States government from culpability for violating the restrictions contained in 817, stating: “ (c) Whoever knowingly violates this section shall be fined as provided in this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both, but the prohibition contained in this section shall not apply with respect to any duly authorized United States governmental activity.” It is through this caveat that the U.S. violated both the letter and spirit of the BWC.
What the U.S. has accomplished, through the passage of The Expansion of the Biological Weapons Statute, is to give itself a “blank check” for the deployment of these weapons. Richard Ebright, a researcher at Rutgers University, disputes the perception that the U.S. is moving towards deployment. “A blank check doesn’t mean anything unless you use it,” he declared in an interview last month. Ebright vigorously denies that the U.S. is engaged in bioweapons research. However, the structure of the BWC itself, a convention without an investigatory or enforcement arm, could also be considered a blank check.
The anthrax attacks themselves belie the declarations that the U.S. is not engaging in this research. It has been generally acknowledged that the anthrax contained in the several letters was cooked up in a government lab. The FBI’s contention that they “had their man” in Dr. Bruce Ivins seemed to be both confirmed and put into suspension by Ivins’ alleged suicide. The mainstream media played down the fact that Ivins, who allegedly overdosed on Tylenol, began to gain strength in the hospital. While waiting for a kidney transplant, he was subsequently removed from life support. And that is how Dr. Ivins died.
Recently, the National Academies released their long awaited report concerning the FBI investigation which nailed Ivins as the anthrax mailer. The National Academies did not endorse the methodology used by the FBI to determine that Ivins was culpable and was unable to support and endorse the Department of Justice’s conclusions concerning Ivins’ guilt.
The affixing of responsibility to Dr. Ivins, who was a researcher at Ft. Detrick, does have its political perks. The identification of a suspect (conveniently now dead) removes suspicion from anyone else lurking in these labs. It certainly derails any concerns of a larger, government conspiracy concerning the anthrax letters, which were received by liberal Congressmen and members of the media right before the vote on the U.S Patriot Act. Viewed through this lens, nagging doubts may surface, in which a biological warfare agenda emerges into the foreground as a dark and ominous possibility.
“Dual-use” is a term often used to refer to technology which can be used for both peaceful and military aims. Obviously, weapons grade anthrax from a government lab was used against U.S. citizens in the anthrax attacks. Is other research going on now which might result in later attacks? And are these toxins being stockpiled on military bases and if so, why?
And if the U.S. is indeed manufacturing these weapons in “biosafety labs” under the guise of defensive research and stockpiling them at army bases, and if the purpose of the “blank check” being written for Biological and Chemical weapons via Section 817 of the U.S. Patriot Act and buttressed by the impotent BWC is to nullify the possibility of redress for deployment, then the next question becomes: How do we begin to address this spectre?
Adding to the natural rice industry’s woes after Bayer CropScience contaminated a third of the US rice supply with transgenic rice in 2006, the widespread application of Bayer’s glufosinate and Monsanto’s glyphosate is reducing crop yields, and burning and deforming rice plants that survive. [Image: Glyphosate deforms the growing points on rice plants.]
The Mississippi Rice Council (MRC) has sounded a national alarm over damage caused by aerial drift of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, calling for severely restricted aerial application.
MRC president Mike Wagner recently told crop dusters at this year’s Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association annual meeting that glyphosate is wreaking havoc on the natural rice industry where “non-transgenic rice is planted in a sea of genetically modified crops that are tolerant to glyphosate.”
Wagner reported that, “Rice specialists noticed that rice that had no obvious damage through the growing season would yield and mill poorly and would exhibit the classic trait associated with late glyphosate drift — the kernel would be shaped like a parrot beak instead of its normally elongated, symmetrical shape.”
[Image: Glyphosate causes rice to deform from a cylinder into a parrot beak shape.]
Field studies run in 2007 and 2008 by the University of Arkansas showed reduced rice yield by up to 80% from glyphosate, as well as glufosinate, an herbicide produced by Bayer. On top of reduced yield, both herbicides burned the leaves and stunted the growth of rice plants.
In December, the MRC unanimously recommend an annual cutoff date of June 1 for its aerial application, when yield potential for rice is determined.
“Damage occurring at this time does not allow for an alternate crop to be replanted. Consequently, the farmer has two nooses around his neck: (1) he is stuck with a crop that will generate lower revenues, and (2) he has already incurred nearly all expenses that are associated with that crop,” said Wagner.
Because those expenses range from $650 to $900 per acre, “One can see that any losses can be staggering. This is a losing proposition for our rice industry, and one that continues to occur. Our alarm is warranted.”
In 2010, Louisiana Rice Man noted that the pressure from bacterial panicle blight, leaf scald and leaf smut “was about the worst I have ever seen.” Though he attributes it to abnormally high temperatures, most likely the cause is glyphosate and/or glufosinate, which destroy soil microflora that assist in plant defense.
The 2006 genetic contamination of natural rice resulted in the collapse of the export market to Europe and other nations. Further reductions in the yield of natural rice now threaten the industry with collapse.
Publicizing this information can be difficult at best and career-ending at worst. In the U of Arkansas study cited above, researchers noted that most rice farmers wrongly believe the damage from glufosinate is only cosmetic. Worse, in 2008, the US Dept. of Agriculture announced it would stop publishing information about the amounts and types of agrochemicals sprayed on crops, leaving the public blind to the corporate poisoning of our environment. Since then, we’ve had to rely on sporadic reports, whistle blowers, or independent scientists to warn us of emerging dangers.
Bertram Verhaag’s scenically beautiful film, Science Under Attack, is one of several he produced on biotechnology. (Also see David vs Monsanto, Seeds and Seed Multinationals, and Life Running out of Control.) In Science Under Attack, he interviews scientists whose careers were ruined because they published studies warning of health dangers from genetically modified crops. From smaller brain size in rats fed biotech food, to lowered immunity, organ damage, and infertility, the information is suppressed by the biotech industry and governments beholden to it.
When world-renowned biochemist Arpad Pusztai studied the effect of a GM potato on rats, he found “36 significant differences” between those fed the GM versus non-GM potatoes. The film includes the clip from his career-ending interview on a UK television show in 1999, exposing some of these problems. Those 150 seconds changed his life forever. He and his wife (also a researcher) were both fired, and his reputation smeared.
In a 1998 lawsuit, the Center for Food Safety produced thousands of documents showing that the Food and Drug Administration suppressed its own science reporting that GM crops are not “substantially equivalent” to normal food, refusing to perform the recommended studies.
Ignacio Chapela is another scientist who made world news when he exposed widespread genetic contamination of natural corn in Mexico, which at the time banned GM crops. UC Berkeley tried to fire Chapela three times before he finally took a job in Norway at the Institute of Gene Ecology. This multidisciplinary research institute studies biosafety. Its existence reveals a global scientific rebellion resisting and confronting the technocracy serving only profits.
Earlier this year, in response to scientific suppression concerning GM foods and their associated agrochemicals, the European Union Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, promised to overhaul the risk assessment process, providing funding for independent investigation into “toxicological, environmental, allergenic or nutritional aspects.”
Glyphosate, Spontaneous Abortions and Birth Defects
Another scientist warning about glyphosate and featured in the film is Andres Carrasco. In 2010, he released a summary of scientific evidence on genetically modified soy and the herbicide glyphosate, and its impact on humans. In Science Under Attack, Carrasco reports that glyphosate causes brain, intestinal and heart defects in fetuses. (Brain defect image from Poison of the Pampas)
The summary includes a “study on human cells [which] found that all four Roundup formulations tested caused total cell death within 24 hours. These effects were found at dilution levels far below those recommended for agricultural use and corresponding to low levels of residues found in food or feed.”
Of note, “The adjuvants in Roundup increase the toxicity of glyphosate because they enable the herbicide to penetrate human cells more readily.”
In The Poison of the Pampas, a 22-minute news report by journalist Rolando Grana, broadcast in Argentina in April of last year, severe birth defects have been documented in babies whose mothers were exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy. (English subtitles can be activated by clicking on the closed captioning icon: cc. Also see Part 2.)
Industrial scale agrochemicals and GM crops are also linked to the collapse of honeybee populations, which the film Queen of the Sundetails. Indeed, with growing evidence from independent scientists showing harm to animals ingesting GM crops, it’s no wonder many of the speakers in this film are convinced that GM crops contribute to colony collapse disorder (My review here.)
Earlier this year, plant pathologist Don Huber revealed a link between glyphosate and a dangerous new pathogen which is found in nearby soil and in the feed of animals suffering with infertility and spontaneous abortions. The pathogen is present in sudden death syndrome in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soy and Goss’s wilt in RR corn.In addition to warning the USDA in January, Huber also notified the European Union president and several key ministers in April of the dangers to plants and animals associated with glyphosate. “In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency,” he told the USDA.
The newly discovered submicroscopic organism is “infectious to cattle, pigs, horses, poultry,” Huber told Food Democracy Now! earlier this month in a 20-minute video interview. “It will kill a fertilized egg in 24-48 hours.”
An important aside: Huber has serious concern with genetic contamination of natural alfalfa, which is guaranteed with this open-pollinated perennial crop. Huber predicts, “In five years, you won’t have anything except Roundup Ready alfalfa. Coexistence is not possible,” he says. “When you take a number one forage crop and you place it any kind of jeopardy, we have a tremendous impact on the sustainability of our animal production.”
Ignoring Huber’s dire warnings, the USDA approved the deployment of GM alfalfa this year. This can be seen as nothing other than a deliberate move to destroy the organic beef and dairy industry in the U.S. and Canada. You can send a letter to President Obama asking for an immediate moratorium on GM alfalfa at this Food Democracy Now! action page.
The National Agricultural Aviation Assn. will hold this year’s annual convention in Las Vegas Dec. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Hilton. Crop dusters might appreciate well crafted literature showing the destruction wrought by agrochemicals on human and animal health, as well as the environment.
KBA urged Homeland Security to locate bioweapons lab in Tornado Alley…
The head of Health and Human Services not only denies that Americans have a right to bodily health and food of their choice, but Kathleen Sebelius is hell bent on spending taxpayer money to promote genetically modified food and drugs. One of her projects, Kansas Bioscience Authority, a publicly funded venture enterprise developed to promote biotechnology, is currently under criminal investigation. CEO Tom Thornton has resigned.
KBA also lobbied the Dept. of Homeland Security for the highly controversial bioweapons and cattle disease lab in the state, along with former Governor Sebelius, now President Obama’s Cabinet Secretary. Under her governorship and full support, the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004 passed, funding KBA’s mission with $581 million in tax revenue to develop a bioscience industry in Kansas.
The Johnson County District Attorney’s office recently joined a Kansas Senate committee’s investigation of KBA, which began at least two months ago after spending irregularities came to the attention of state Senators. Part of the alleged wrongdoing includes awarding contracts to out-of-state firms in which former CEO Tom Thornton may have a financial interest, and concern that several executives earn over $100,000 a year – beyond what public service employees generally make.
Governor Sam Brownbeck ordered a forensic audit of the public agency, which, until recently, KBA refused. On April 15th, Gov. Brownbeck released the following statement:
“I continue to have very serious concerns regarding leadership at the Kansas Bioscience Authority. It is essential we get to the bottom of the recently raised issues that prompted a criminal investigation. The next step should be a truly independently overseen forensic audit of KBA. We have asked for this for more than a month. The KBA also needs a new President and CEO who has no ties to the current regime. There is too much at stake for KBA to continue to refuse this legitimate scrutiny of how the authority spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.”
Following the Governor’s statement, Thornton stepped down. David Vranicar, who runs Heartland BioVentures, KBA’s commercialization division, now serves as KBA’s interim president and CEO. Throughout the growing controversy, KBA issued no formal statements on itswebsite until May 2nd, when Vranicar assured stakeholders “full transparency and cooperation” with police and other authorities.
Rather than address the criminal issues, former Kansas Governor and KBA Chairman John Carlin complained to the Topeka Capital-Journalthat the “Senate committee’s inquiry could jeopardize KBA’s credibility.” However, it’s not an inquiry that damages a firm’s credibility as much as the behavior which prompts it.
Bill Bullard of R-CALF USA, an independent ranchers organization, is one of many who have expressed horror at the site selection for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Tornado Alley, which KBA and Sebelius both promoted. “Foot-and-mouth disease research currently is conducted on a New York island – Plum Island – where previous, inadvertent releases of the virus have not impacted U.S. livestock.”
He sees no reason “to expose our U.S. cattle herd to a heightened risk of disease introduction by locating the NBAF in Manhattan, Kansas.” The proposed NBAF site is located at the orange dot in the tornado map below:
Bullard believes that “politics, greed and corruption” played into the site selection. “We expect this current probe of the KBA to be but the tip of the iceberg,” he added.
By its own admission, KBA was “a driving force on the NBAF initiative.” The lab plans to develop bioweapons to defend against an agro-terrorist attack and to study foot-and-mouth disease. Last November, the National Research Council estimated a 70% chance a pathogen would escape that lab, based on info provided by DHS. The cattle industry could incur $50 billion in losses from an FMD outbreak, the NRC estimated. Regardless, DHS continues to approve the site selection.
It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. Pathogen release by germ labs has caused widespread economic damage in the past, resulting in the slaughter of millions of animals. In 2007, the UK suffered its second outbreak of FMD in a decade, which investigators linked to an FMD research facility. This year, Korea repeated the exercise after an FMD outbreak, slaughtering two million animals, 90 percent of which were disease-free.
As Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sebelius asserted in a 2010 lawsuit that American citizens have no right to bodily and physical health, no right to freedom of contract, and no right to eat the foods of their choice. Siting a bioweapons lab in Tornado Alley therefore, won’t infringe the non-right to bodily health, but, also, she apparently believes we have no right to a protected cattle supply either.
Sebelius is unequivocal in her support of genetically modified food and drugs. Last November, she granted $1 billion in taxpayer funds for the advancement of biotechnology. Meanwhile, as overseer of the Food and Drug Administration, she is using armed agents to harass the natural, drug-free and GMO-free dairy industry, seizing its products, and putting out of business small family operations across the U.S.
Sebelius also headed Obama’s swine flu hoax in 2009, in collusion with the World Health Organization. Last year, the prestigious British Medical Journal revealed that several industry paid scientists guided the World Health Organization’s pandemic policy and handling of the costly hoax. WHO even went so far as to change the definition of pandemic, deleting “enormous number of deaths” so that it could raise the mild H1N1 swine flu rating to the highest level possible (Phase 6), thus triggering vaccine contracts worldwide.
Under Sebelius, several U.S. states passed unconstitutional mandatory vaccine laws. (Also at Scribd) With government support, vaccines are a lucrative business for the biotech industry, with a growing list of dead bodies, narcolepsy, brain damage, and other ill health effects. Several nations have banned the use of some drugs, while ending their mandatory vaccine programs.
In response to KBA’s actions, the lunacy of locating a bioweapons lab in Tornado Alley (and a FMD research site in cattle country), and given the current criminal probe, R-CALF is demanding that Homeland Security relocate the proposed lab. In its letter to DHS head, Janet Napolitano, R-CALF accused DHS of exemplifying “how politics, greed and corruption are undermining our nation’s food safety and food security.”
In its letter to Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, R-CALF urged her “to strike from the federal budget all funding for the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility … and to initiate a thorough, probing investigation to determine the extent to which the KBA influenced DHS’ decision to expose our U.S. cattle herd to a heightened risk of disease introduction by locating the NBAF in Manhattan, Kansas.”
As Kansas authorities explore criminal wrongdoing by KBA, they face some formidable backers of the biotech industry. In 2009, Forbes named Kathleen Sebelius the 56th most influential woman in the world. In 2010, she reached the 23rd spot.
Prosecuting corruption isn’t a strong suit of an administration that only wants to “look forward,” but perhaps sanity will prevail and, at the very least, the invidious bioweapons lab will be relocated. Maybe next, they’ll decommission those nuclear power plants built in earthquake zones.
While industries continue to pollute the planet with their toxic chemicals, toxic waste and toxic spills, Earth’s pollinators sing a swan song that leaves no doubt as to the folly of modern civilization. Our ability to hear and appropriately respond to the crisis of declining pollinators will determine humanity’s survival.
“In 1923, Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist, philosopher and social innovator, predicted that in 80 to 100 years honeybees would collapse.” Queen of the Sun
Steiner believed the industrialization of bees would lead to their demise. It looks like he was right. In the past two decades, the United States has lost 100-300 billion bees, and the problem has spread to Europe and beyond. While industrialized beekeeping operations do kill millions of bees each year, several other factors contribute to their massive die-off.
Pollinators are sickened by lack of a diverse diet from the tens of millions of monoculture acres. By ingesting genetically modified crops, pollinators also ingest GM microbes, to their detriment. By and far, though, agrochemicals contribute most to pollinator decimation. In a last ditch effort to save the hive, some bees seal off hive cells that contain inordinate amounts of pesticide. But even these hives eventually die.
Bolstering industry’s multi-factor assault on nature, the ubiquitous communications industry adds electromagnetic pollution, causing bees (and birds) to lose their ability to navigate. Taking advantage of weakened, disoriented bees, exotic pathogens like the Varroa mite, imported via globalized trade, suck the remaining life out of them. And, so, we see the collapse of the honeybee and North American bats.
Much of this we learn in Taggart Siegel’s part philosophical love story, part documentary, Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?Theatrically released on March 25, the award-winning film is further supported by a newly released report from the United Nations Environment Programme, Global Bee Colony Disorders and other Threats to Insect Pollinators.
A sure way to collapse an ecosystem is to decimate a keystone species – one from which the entire localized web of life radiates. Pollinators contribute nearly ten percent to the global food economy, or about $218 billion USD (€153 billion) a year. Of the 100 or so crop species that provide 90% of the world’s food, bees pollinate 71 of them, according to UNEP’s report. Among the 20,000 known bee species worldwide, the honeybee, Apis mellifera, is most important, contributing between $33 and $82 billion annually (€22.8 to €57 billion).
So while we are witnessing the planet’s sixth extinction spasm (popularly detailed in Ed Wilson’s The Diversity of Life), it is the bee that garners our deserved attention.
“Bees are the legs of plants,” Michael Pollan explains in Queen of the Sun. They co-evolved so that the sessile organism feeds the aerial one in exchange for propagation. That mutualism supports much of life today. Without pollinators, crops will collapse. As crops collapse, myriads of species, including humans, will starve.
When pollinators go, so will flowering plants. The chain reaction collapse can easily then lead to the end of the Age of Mammals. This would be similar to the end of the Age of Dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. The “terrible lizards” will have outlasted us by 100 million years. Only about half of all species survived that last extinction spasm – notably alligators and crocodiles. But human survival is hardly guaranteed if 40% of our food sources vanish. While gators and crocs can go a year or more without eating – and this survival mechanism vastly contributes to the species’ longevity – humans cannot.
The UNEP report lists eight reasons for colony collapse disorder: Habitat destruction, invasive species (like the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor), air pollution, electromagnetic pollution, pesticides and other chemical pollution, industrial transport (where a million bees die each year), colony splitting, and diet. The report does not mention genetically engineered crops as a contributing factor to bee decline, but does attack monocultures:
“It is increasingly difficult for pollinators to obtain sufficient pollen sources for all their essential amino acids. Consequently, this can weaken the insects’ immune system, making them more vulnerable to various pathogens.”
In Queen of the Sun, several speakers have no doubt. When plants are genetically altered (via a crude gun method), the process is so unreliable that only one out of thousands of cells transmutes. Dr Vandana Shiva explains that, because of this, antibiotic resistant genes and viral promoters have to be added. “Every genetically engineered seed is a bundle of bacteria, toxins, and viral promoters.”
These GM bacteria, toxins, and viral promoters are transferred into our gut (and that of bees), where they continue to function within the host. Only now, we’re the host. The bee is the host. And bees aren’t doing so well. Science has shown that high fructose corn syrup, a GM product fed to bees, inhibits genetic expression of immunity and detox functions.
Queen of the Sun highlights the delicate balance among the various members of an ecosystem, making the point that genetic integrity is required for the system to work. In order for the bee (or the flowering plant) to be the best at what it does, its DNA must remain intact.
Both the film and the UNEP report leave no doubt that the collapse of pollinators is the most urgent problem facing humanity today. Both make several suggestions to agribusiness and individuals, including: Stop (or greatly slow) the use of pesticides, grow bee friendly crops, buy organic, provide habitat and fresh water, and become a sustainable beekeeper. The UNEP report notes that pollinator conservation efforts should also plan nursery habitats, since the requirements of larval stages differ from winged adults.
Given that bee and bat decline is most severe in the United States, which has the longest history of deploying GM crops and which uses more agrochemicals than any other nation, the culprit seems pretty obvious. The top six agrochemical companies, Syngenta, Bayer CropScience, BASF, Monsanto, Dow Agrosciences, and DuPont, also spread genetically modified crops.
Pollinators are keeping score of the corporate war on nature. They are telling us that pesticides, biotechnology, and cell phones are winning. The tragedy is that when pollinators go, so will flowering plants and, likely, the Age of Mammals.
“A new invention to poison people … is not a patentable invention.” Lowell v. Lewis, 1817
A landmark lawsuit filed on March 29 in US federal court seeks to invalidate Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seeds and to prohibit the company from suing those whose crops become genetically contaminated.
The Public Patent Foundation filed suit on behalf of 270,000 people from sixty organic and sustainable businesses and trade associations, including thousands of certified-organic farmers.
“As Justice Story wrote in 1817, to be patentable, an invention must not be ‘injurious to the well being, good policy, or sound morals of society,’” notes the complaint in its opening paragraphs.
The suit points to studies citing harm caused by Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, including human placental damage, lymphoma, myeloma,animal miscarriages, and other impacts on human health.
Plaintiffs condemn Monsanto for prohibiting independent research on its transgenic seeds and for its successful lobby efforts to ban GM food labeling. Many raise the specter of allergic reaction to GM foods, proof of which is hidden by lack of labeling. GMO label laws, currently pending in 14 states, would partially remedy this situation. (Please contact your state reps.)
The suit also confronts the propaganda that transgenic seeds improve yield and reduce pesticide use, citing reports on failure to yield andincreased pesticide use. The complaint mentions a 2010 lawsuit by West Virginia after several studies contradicted yield results claimed in Monsanto’s ads. And, it notes the growth in glyphosate-resistant superweeds.
“Thus, since the harm of transgenic seed is known, and the promises of transgenic seed’s benefits are false, transgenic seed is not useful for society.”
Should the court agree that transgenic seeds fail the test of patent law, the suit has the potential to reverse patent approval on all biotech seeds, impacting BASF, Bayer, DuPont, Dow, and Syngenta, and others. Genetic contamination of natural plants occurs where GM seeds are grown, no matter who developed them. Ingesting food which has had its DNA mucked with is dangerous, regardless of who does the mucking.
What makes Monsanto different is its US seed monopoly. Well documented by market authorities, Plaintiffs point out that, “Over 85-90% of all soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar beets and canola grown in the U.S. contains Monsanto’s patented genes.”
Through its monopoly, Monsanto has spiked the cost of seeds in the past decade. Corn seed prices increased 135% and soybean prices 108%, the suit asserts. As recently as 1997, soybean farmers spent only 4-8% of their income on seeds, “while in 2009, farmers who planted transgenic soybeans spent 16.4 percent of their income on seeds.”
Monsanto has also used its dominant position to limit competition from other herbicide producers, as well, the suit alleges.
Listing 23 US patents by Monsanto, Plaintiffs also accuse the firm of “double patenting” thus strengthening its monopoly over the entire field of transgenic seeds:
“Although the United States patent system allows improvements on existing inventions, it does not permit a party to extend its monopoly over a field of invention by receiving a patent that expires later than and is not patentably distinct from a patent it already owns….
“Monsanto began applying for patents on glyphosate tolerance in the mid 1980s. Its first patents on the trait were granted in 1990 and are now expired. After pursuing its earliest patents on glyphosate resistance, Monsanto continued to seek and receive patents on Roundup Ready technology for over two decades….
“In acquiring the transgenic seed patents, Monsanto unjustly extended its period of patent exclusivity by duplicating its ownership of a field of invention already covered by other Monsanto patents.”
The suit then concludes, “Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents are thus invalid for violating the prohibition against double patenting.”
Here’s the mother of all arguments, which makes the most sense to the lay public. How dare Monsanto sue farmers damaged by genetic contamination of their crops? That’s like a pugilist suing for damage to his hand after he punches an unwilling victim.
“Plaintiffs cannot be held to have infringed any Monsanto transgenic seed patent if Plaintiffs become contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed through no intentional act of their own.”
Monsanto admits that its product contaminates natural crops. That must be why it recently altered its Technology Stewardship Agreement to transfer liability for its products to the farmers who buy them.
The suit logically asserts that genetic contamination amounts to trespass on the property of those who do not want GE seeds, causing them substantial economic harm.
We saw that when Bayer’s transgenic seeds contaminated a third of the US rice supply, causing the European Union to close its market to US rice. Bayer has faced 6,000 lawsuits due to that contamination and market closure. On top of lawsuits already lost or settled, last month, Bayer lost a $137 million lawsuit by Riceland Foods. The new suit notes that, “The worldwide total economic loss due to the [2006 GM rice] contamination event was estimated at $741 million to $1.285 billion.”
Impact on the Biotech Food Industry
The suit argues that because “contamination is reasonably foreseeable,” Monsanto thus loses its patent rights whenever it sells its GM seeds. This wouldn’t stop it from selling the seed, but it would allow farmers to save seeds from transgenic crops. No company can stay in business without repeat customers, especially ones that spend millions on research and development. And, because transgenic contamination is not limited to Monsanto’s seeds, all biotech seed companies would likewise face dissolution of their intellectual property rights.
Other harm from biotechnology does not stop with Monsanto’s seeds or chemicals, either. To protect the world from the biotech food industry, which extends to animals, patenting life itself should be banned. This lawsuit might take us closer to a return of that legal standard, prior to the 2001 High Court decision in J.E.M. Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International. In that case, Oyez explains:
“Farm Advantage filed a patent invalidity counterclaim, arguing that sexually reproducing plants, such as Pioneer’s corn plants, are not patentable subject matter within section 101. Farm Advantage maintained that the Plant Patent Act of 1930 (PPA) and the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) set forth the exclusive statutory means for protecting plant life.”
The court disagreed, and thus allowed patents on sexually reproducing life forms. Of note, the decision was written by ethically-challengedClarence Thomas, a former Monsanto attorney. Thomas also refused to recuse himself from a 2010 case involving Monsanto. (Geertson Seed v Monsanto involved contamination of natural alfalfa.)
Among the plaintiffs in the PUBPAT suit is Navdanya International, headed by Dr. Vandana Shiva who has long fought biopiracy. Genetic patents “have unleashed an epidemic of the piracy of nature’s creativity and millennia of indigenous innovation,” Shiva wrote at Navdanya.
The new lawsuit couldn’t come a moment too soon, given the USDA’s recent decision to allow rice modified with human genes by Ventria Bioscience. Such approval begs the question: At what point is the line into cannibalism crossed? Biotech and pharmaceutical companies have produced several hundred “pharma crops” – food that contains vaccines against a variety of diseases. The FDA and USDA would have us ignore that this scheme fails to consider appropriate dosage specific to a person’s age, weight and medical condition, the very foundation of pharmaceutical science.
The biotech industry is out of control, and poses a significant danger to humans and the environment. PUBPAT’s lawsuit marks a significant step toward restoring a safe, sane and consensual food supply.
By Richard Gray | Telegraph.co.uk…
Scientists have created genetically modified cattle that produce “human” milk in a bid to make cows’ milk more nutritious.
The scientists have successfully introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk.
Human milk contains high quantities of key nutrients that can help to boost the immune system of babies and reduce the risk of infections.
The scientists behind the research believe milk from herds of genetically modified cows could provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.
They hope genetically modified dairy products from herds of similar cows could be sold in supermarkets. The research has the backing of a major biotechnology company.
The work is likely to inflame opposition to GM foods. Critics of the technology and animal welfare groups reacted angrily to the research, questioning the safety of milk from genetically modified animals and its effect on the cattle’s health.
But Professor Ning Li, the scientist who led the research and director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University insisted that the GM milk would be as safe to drink as milk from ordinary dairy cows.
He said: “The milk tastes stronger than normal milk.
“We aim to commercialize some research in this area in coming three years. For the “human-like milk”, 10 years or maybe more time will be required to finally pour this enhanced milk into the consumer’s cup.”
China is now leading the way in research on genetically modified food and the rules on the technology are more relaxed than those in place in Europe.
The researchers used cloning technology to introduce human genes into the DNA of Holstein dairy cows before the genetically modified embryos were implanted into surrogate cows.
Writing in the scientific peer-reviewed journal Public Library of Science One, the researchers said they were able to create cows that produced milk containing a human protein called lysozyme.
Lysozyme is an antimicrobial protein naturally found in large quantities in human breast milk. It helps to protect infants from bacterial infections during their early days of life.
They created cows that produce another protein from human milk called lactoferrin, which helps to boost the numbers of immune cells in babies. A third human milk protein called alpha-lactalbumin was also produced by the cows.
The scientists also revealed at an exhibition at the China Agricultural University that they have boosted milk fat content by around 20 per cent and have also changed the levels of milk solids, making it closer to the composition of human milk as well as having the same immune-boosting properties.
Professor Li and his colleagues, who have been working with the Beijing GenProtein Biotechnology Company, said their work has shown it was possible to “humanise” cows milk.
In all, the scientists said they have produced a herd of around 300 cows that are able to produce human-like milk.
The transgenic animals are physically identical to ordinary cows.
Writing in the journal, Professor Li said: “Our study describes transgenic cattle whose milk offers the similar nutritional benefits as human milk.
“The modified bovine milk is a possible substitute for human milk. It fulfilled the conception of humanising the bovine milk.”
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, he added the “human-like milk” would provide “much higher nutritional content”. He said they had managed to produce three generations of GM cows but for commercial production there would need to be large numbers of cows produced.
He said: “Human milk contains the ‘just right’ proportions of protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins for an infant’s optimal growth and development.
“As our daily food, the cow’s milk provided us the basic source of nutrition. But the digestion and absorption problems made it not the perfect food for human being.”
The researchers also insist having antimicrobial proteins in the cows milk can also be good for the animals by helping to reduce infections of their udders.
Genetically modified food has become a highly controversial subject and currently they can only be sold in the UK and Europe if they have passed extensive safety testing.
The consumer response to GM food has also been highly negative, resulting in many supermarkets seeking to source products that are GM free.
Campaigners claim GM technology poses a threat to the environment as genes from modified plants can get into wild plant populations and weeds, while they also believe there are doubts about the safety of such foods.
Scientists insist genetically modified foods are unlikely to pose a threat to food safety and in the United States consumers have been eating genetically modified foods for more decades.
However, during two experiments by the Chinese researchers, which resulted in 42 transgenic calves being born, just 26 of the animals survived after ten died shortly after birth, most with gastrointestinal disease, and a further six died within six months of birth.
Researchers accept that the cloning technology used in genetic modification can affect the development and survival of cloned animals, although the reason why is not well understood.
A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals said the organisation was “extremely concerned” about how the GM cows had been produced.
She said: “Offspring of cloned animals often suffer health and welfare problems, so this would be a grave concern.
“Why do we need this milk – what is it giving us that we haven’t already got.”
Helen Wallace, director of biotechnology monitoring group GeneWatch UK, said: “We have major concerns about this research to genetically modify cows with human genes.
“There are major welfare issues with genetically modified animals as you get high numbers of still births.
“There is a question about whether milk from these cows is going to be safe from humans and it is really hard to tell that unless you do large clinical trials like you would a drug, so there will be uncertainty about whether it could be harmful to some people.
“Ethically there are issues about mass producing animals in this way.”
Professor Keith Campbell, a biologist at the University of Nottingham works with transgenic animals, said: ”Genetically modified animals and plants are not going to be harmful unless you deliberately put in a gene that is going to be poisonous. Why would anyone do that in a food?
“Genetically modified food, if done correctly, can provide huge benefit for consumers in terms of producing better products.”