The GMO Cover-Up

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was getting lots of appreciative applause and head nods from the packed hall at the Community Food Security Coalition conference today, held in Des Moines, Iowa. He described the USDA’s plans to improve school nutrition, support local food systems, and work with the Justice Department to review the impact of corporate agribusiness on small farmers. But then, with time for only one more question, I was handed the microphone.

“Mr. Secretary, may I ask a tough question on GMOs?”

He said yes.

“The American Academy of Environmental Medicine this year said that genetically modified foods, according to animal studies, are causally linked to accelerated aging, dysfunctional immune regulation, organ damage, gastrointestinal distress, and immune system damage. A study came out by the Union of Concerned Scientists confirming what we all know, that genetically modified crops, on average, reduce yield. A USDA report from 2006 showed that farmers don’t actually increase income from GMOs, but many actually lose income. And for the last several years, the United States has been forced to spend $3-$5 billion per year to prop up the prices of the GM crops no one wants.
“When you were appointed Secretary of Agriculture, many of our mutual friends—I live in Iowa and was proud to have you as our governor—assured me that you have an open mind and are very reasonable and forward thinking. And so I was very excited that you had taken this position as Secretary of Agriculture. And I’m wondering, have you ever heard this information? Where do you get your information about GMOs? And are you willing to take a delegation in D.C. to give you this hard evidence about how GMOs have actually failed us, that they’ve been put onto the market long before the science is ready, and it’s time to put it back into the laboratory until they’ve done their homework.”

Read entire article here.

Biotech industry wants organic farmers to pay for GMO contamination of their own crops

Thursday, November 29, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) committee dominated by representatives from the biotechnology industry, seed companies, and academia has decided to make an official recommendation to the public agency that organic farmers be forced to bear financially responsible for the genetic contamination of their own organic crops by genetically-modified (GM) crops.

The USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century Agriculture, also known as AC21, is largely of the persuasion that agricultural coexistence means organic farmers should have to foot the bill when their fields are destroyed by unintentional GMO drift. According to an advisory report recently issued by the committee, this means requiring that organic farmers purchase their own crop insurance to pay for potential damages resulting from transgenic contamination.

“Of particular concern in the report is the recommendation that organic and non-GE conventional farmers pay to self-insure themselves against unwanted GE contamination,” said a recent statement issued by the National Organic Coalition (NOC). “This proposal allows USDA and the agricultural biotechnology industry to abdicate responsibility for preventing GE contamination while making the victims of GE pollution pay for damages resulting from transgenic contamination.”

Organic and conventional farmers have long had to deal with the threat of transgenic contamination from nearby GM crop fields, the pollen of which occasionally drifts or is carried by bees into organic crop fields. In the past, violated farmers have had to basically suck up their resultant losses, or even face litigation from the company whose seed materials trespassed onto their properties.

Real coexistence between GMOs, organic crops is impossible

The contamination issue has become so problematic in recent years that a number of industry groups have tried to pursue so-called coexistence measures that, in some sort of alternate universe, would allow GMOs, conventional crops, and organic crops to peacefully coexist in harmony with one another. But as anyone with any knowledge of GM crops already knows, it is virtually impossible to contain GMOs and prevent their eventual spread.

With this in mind, AC21 seems fully aware of the fact that GMO spread and contamination is inevitable. Its solution to the problem; however, is not to restrain GMOs in any way, but rather to set them free and leave it to organic farmers to clean up the mess. And this, of course, is the apparent position of the federal government as well, which continues to unleash new and unnecessary GMOs like Monsanto’s GM alfalfa into the wild without any concern for the irreversible damage this will cause.

“We urgently need meaningful regulatory change that institutionalizes mandatory GE contamination prevention practices,” added the NOC about the inherent failures of the committee proposal. “USDA needs to stop dragging its heels, get serious and focus on making this happen.”

 

Response to “Some truth about GMO” by Mr. Wilmot Simmons

— 04 November 2011 — by Naud Brouwer

Dear Editor,

The use of BT in organic farming is a fact; the thing is that organic farmers have used BT as a pesticide, sprayed on their crops so the UV light from the sun can break it down, and the rain could wash the BT off before any product would be harvested.

Another interesting thing is that the BT used by organic farmers for over 50 years is a weakened or almost dead bacteria. This is only sprayed in case of high insect infestation and only onto the affected area. The bacterium inside the spray contains the pro-form of the so- called BT toxin.

This is not an active component; it needs to be tailored (cut to size) to produce the active BT toxin, which is effective as a pesticide.

When the insect eats the dead bacterium, the toxin is partially digested in the insect gut by proteolytic (cutting) enzymes and converted to active BT toxin. This is actually a lectin which binds to the gut wall of the insects and this interferes with the digestion/absorption of food, thereby preventing growth, maturation, reproduction.

The actual bacterium, which is not eaten by any insects, degrades in the light/sun/rain pretty fast (less than a day). The chances of pests developing resistance to it are very low indeed, since all the pests which are exposed to the toxin are affected by it.

NOTE! The ACTIVE TOXIN can only be found IN THE GUT OF THE INSECT. (Susan Pusztai Bt in organic
farming and GM crops – the difference)

The BT produced by BT corn however, does contain high doses of the active toxin, in the whole plant. The toxin cannot be washed off, or broken down by the sunlight. It stays in the plant after harvesting. The rest material of the plant breaks down, and the BT toxin gets into the ground, and the groundwater. Because of the constant exposure to BT toxin the pests that the farmers want to control develop a resistance to the BT itself, and this means that farmers will have to start spraying even more pesticides than they had to do before with their conventional Hybrid seed.

Is BT corn safe to eat? There has not been any long term testing on humans, so we simply do not know. We do know that:

• BT is extremely similar (so much so it is difficult to distinguish without sophisticated testing) to two other bacteria: B. cereus, which causes food poisoning, and B. anthracis, which causes anthrax.

• BT secretes many of the same toxins B. cereus does when it is growing. There is mounting evidence that spores germinate in humans and can live for extended periods of time in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. The effect of these low level infections is unknown, but there have been isolated reports of disease caused by BT. One of the reasons BT may not be seen as a common cause of sickness is that it is very hard to test for its presence – many cases diagnosed as B. cereus gastroenteritis (a fairly common form of food poisoning) may in fact be caused by BT.

• People with sensitive immune systems could be affected in ways we do not yet know, but immune responses are seen when BT infections establish in humans.
• DDT was used for thirty years and was claimed to be extremely safe for humans. The same sort of testing done to arrive at that conclusion has been
done with BT. (Quick Bt Facts)

“Lower crop production”

I am not aware of anyone saying that there will be a lower crop production. But I do know from scientific research that the promised higher yields are not as promising as the big companies tell us.

I would like you to read “failure to yield” written by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture data indicate that the average corn production per acre nationwide over the past five years (2004–2008) was about 28 percent higher than for the five-year period 1991–1995, an interval that preceded the introduction of BT varieties.

But our analysis of specific yield studies concludes that only 3–4 percent of that increase is attributable to BT, meaning an increase of about 24–25 percent must be due to other factors such as conventional breeding.”

Failure to yield

Another interesting research on higher yields is a study performed over 30 years.

“Organic farming is far superior to conventional systems when it comes to
building, maintaining and replenishing the health of the soil. For soil health alone, organic agriculture is more sustainable than conventional.

When one also considers yields, economic viability, energy usage, and human health, it’s clear that organic farming is sustainable, while current conventional practices are not.”

FST 30 Years

Since I am writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper and not a book, I have to leave it at this for now. I do want to challenge Mr. Simmons to come up with some unbiased (not paid for by any of the big GMO companies) research about all the issues there are about GMO corn. And I want him to convince me that there is nothing to worry about.

Naud Brouwer
San Miguel, Toledo

 

Miriam DeShield answers Wilmot

— 01 November 2011 — by Miriam DeShield – Original post on Amadala

Dear Editor,
  
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to agro-business’ representative in Belize, Mr. Wilmot Simmons, corn seed salesman of Prosser Fertilizer and Agrotec Co., Ltd., the agent for Monsanto in Belize, the pioneer corn that was imported and destroyed, was developed and the life forms patented by Monsanto who then sold the patents to agri-business’ DuPont’s Pioneer.
  
Firstly, comparison of the use of Bt as a naturally occurring organic pesticide sprayed on visible pest insects, and Bt as the CRY1Fa2 gene inserted by particle acceleration is worth discussion.   
  
Though often hailed as a precise method, the final stage of placing the new gene is rather crude, lacking precision and predictability, hence the name bio-ballistics. The construct is literally fired with a gene gun at the genetic code of the material it will manipulate.
  
The new gene can end up anywhere, next to any gene and even within another gene, disturbing its function or regulation, which can actually turn on or turn off other genes in the region, to unknown effects.
  
An example is salmon, genetically engineered with a growth hormone gene, which grew too big too fast, and also turned green. Other effects have included an increase in the production of toxins by the organisms.
  
Make no mistake, the genetically Bt corn is a pesticide and should not be compared to organically grown maize sprayed with naturally occurring Bt.
  
Mr. Simmons’ claims that public statements made in the press were “wild” does not refute the research, studies and other authoritative documents of many scientists and environmentalists who caution against GMOs, the information Mr. Simmons refers to as “junk” science.
           
Contrary to industry claims, GM foods are not properly tested for human safety before they are released for sale. In the US, the country from whom this recent importation was made, safety assessment of GMOs is voluntary and not required by law. Monsanto should be presenting its research in peer-reviewed journals.
           
The animal feeding studies conducted by GM crop developers are short in duration and use too few subjects to reliably detect harmful effects. Mr. Simmons would do well to realize that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
  
Studies on humans have not been done, but scientists are reporting a growing number of studies that examine the effect of GM foods on laboratory animals. These studies, which Monsanto goes to great lengths to discredit, are all reported in peer-reviewed scientific journals. They include problems with rats fed GM tomatoes, GM rape oilseed, GM potatoes, GM corn; mice fed GM soya, GM peas, GM corn, GM soya; and rabbits fed GM soya.
  
Long-term studies in livestock indicate that GM feed does have adverse effects. Liver and pancreas problems are found in sheep fed Bt GM corn over three generations; GM DNA is surviving processing which raises the possibility of antibiotic resistance and horizontal gene transfer.
  
GM DNA in feed is appearing in the milk and meat that people eat. In spite of these studies, GM crops that caused ill effects in experimental animals have been approved for commercialization.
  
While the industry conducts less than rigorous studies on its own GM products, it has systematically and persistently interfered with the ability of independent scientists to conduct more rigorous and incisive independent research on GMOs. 
  
Comparative and basic agronomic studies, assessments of safety and composition and assessments of environmental impact have all been restricted and suppressed by the biotechnology industry.
  
Patent rights are used to restrict access of independent researchers to commercialized GM seed. Permission to study patented GM crops is either withheld or made so difficult to obtain that research is blocked. The industry discredits and or muzzles scientists who do publish research that is critical of GM crops.
  
Aside from the possible ill effects on health with GMOs, we contend that genetically modified products do harm the environment. Farm scale trials sponsored by the UK government showed that herbicide resistant GM crops can reduce wildlife populations.
  
The massive conversion to GM soya in Argentina has caused a range of environmental problems, including problems for farmers in the spread of herbicide resistant weeds, soil depletion and increased pests and diseases. There is increasing worry that Bt insecticide producing Gm crops harm non-target populations, including butterflies and beneficial pest predators.
  
It is documented that Bt in GM crops can be toxic to water life and soil organisms.
  
While Mr. Simmons touts the benefits of GM products in greater yield, what he fails to acknowledge is the long recognized increase in production because of hybridization, a science which has been used for years. GM products are produced from proven hybrids with a long record of increased production.
  
What Mr. Simmons fails to tout are the real benefits of soil fertility and the fact that building soil has much longer positive effects on yields than does genetic modification. The USDA itself reports that after 30 years of GM “GE crops available for commercial use do not increase the yield potential of a variety.
  
In fact, yield may even decrease. Perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of GE crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative.
  
At best, GM crops have performed no better than their non-Gm counterparts, with GM soya giving consistently lower yields for over a decade. Field tests of Bt insecticide producing corn hybrids showed they took longer to reach maturity and produced up to 12% lower yields than their non-Gm counterpart.
           
Bt insecticide-producing GM crops have led to resistance in pests, resulting in rising chemical applications, thus negating the supposed benefits of GM technology. Secondary pests which are on the increase because of the absence of Bt vulnerable pests devastate Bt cotton.
  
In 2007, the first reports of field resistance by the stem borer to BT corn and by the sugarcane borer were published; however, the increase in resistance to GM crops relates mostly to resistance of weeds to Roundup in GM fields. Common Roundup resistant weeds include pigweed, ryegrass and marestall. Herbicides in the US are on the increase as a result.
           
Mr. Simmons’ lack of concern for organic, niche, and indigenous farmers over the issue of pollinization prompts a basic lesson in the birds and the bees. Besides those and other animals as nature’s pollinators, man causes contamination during product transportation.
  
   
I refer to the recent study of GM canola bordering the highways in Canada and the US where new, unpatented strains of GM canola are showing up as GM canola is mutating and cross-breeding.
  
A number of years ago a study attempted to use Mexican corn as a control and discovered that more than 1,000 miles away, Mexican corn had been contaminated by US GM corn.
  
It would be good of Mr. Simmons to acknowledge that the new technology he promotes puts at risk many Belizean farmers, valuable export markets and the health of all of us. He would be fair to admit that this technology has not been widely tested, is not approved in most developed nations and is openly rejected in much of the developing world.
  
To encourage the importation of a controversial, possibly harmful technology which will certainly impact trade, environment and most probably health, without full, open consultation, and without legal issues resolved is unwise at best, and likely foolish.
 
Miriam DeShield

 

Dear Reader,

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, we’re approaching the end of sweet corn season. For at least two or three more weeks we’ll be seeing plenty of corn available at roadside stands, framers markets and most grocery stores. So get it while you can, because it will soon be gone. But be on the safe side, pass on the stuff piled in produce bins at your local store because there’s a very good chance it’s Frankencorn and I’m sorry to report that  It’s Alive, ALIVE!
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