News regarding the dangers of GMOs and biotech, and the advantages of organic sustainable agriculture.
Rep. Mike Pompeo’s voluntary GMO labeling bill has been amended to include another brazen giveaway to Big Food and the biotech industries. We’ve been closely monitoring the progress of the bill introduced by Rep. Pompeo (R-KS) and backed by industry. It’s titled, deceptively, the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015”—and the news hasn’t been good. A few weeks ago, we reported that a Senate version of Pompeo’s bill was in the works while the House bill continued to gain co-sponsors and bipartisan support. Worse, a new draft of the Pompeo bill doubles down in pandering to the Big Food and biotech industries. In this revision, states and localities would be prevented from banning GMO crops. That’s right—states would no longer have any oversight over genetically engineered crops! Over the last few weeks, the bill has been continuing to gain momentum. Hearings on the measure have been held in the Energy and Commerce and the Agricultural committees, and a “mark-up” session is expected to happen soon, bringing the bill even closer to a vote.
A current proposed federal law on GMO food would prevent States from passing their own GMO laws on labeling GMO foods. This past week, Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group reported that Rep. Mike Pompeo's anti-GMO labeling bill, H.R. 1599, would also prevent companies from voluntarily labeling their products with non-GMO claims. Section 102 of Pompeo’s bill would make any non-GMO claim a violation of federal labeling law – unless the non-GMO claim was approved through a new certification program to be established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under Pompeo’s bill, it could take the USDA at least a year, and more likely years to set up such a certification program. If you do not want the federal government forcing companies to stop voluntarily informing their consumers about whether or not their products have GMO ingredients in them, then urge your federal elected officials to oppose H.R. 1599 (and any Senate equivalent).
10,000 Sue Syngenta Over Unapproved GMO Corn Shipped to China – U.S. Farmers Lose $5 Billion in Sales
Town hall meetings have been taking place recently regarding corn litigation with the Syngenta company. The lawsuit is regarding claims that Syngenta sold genetically modified corn with a strain called MIR-162 to China without their approval of the modification. "The first shipment that tested positive for MIR-162," Hecker Law Group attorney Jacob Hecker said, "was destroyed by the Chinese in 2013. Afterwards all other shipments with trace amounts of the strain were sent back to where they came from." Due to the boycott, agriculture experts say the cost of the damages involved is in the range of $5 billion.
The U.S. Supreme Court today handed down their decision in USDA vs. Horne. They ruled against the USDA in favor of the Hornes, raisin farmers in California. The USDA set to make an example of the Hornes for opting out of the price-fixing scheme, slapping them with about $1 million in fines and threatening their small farm. The farmers sued, claiming that packaging and selling their raisins themselves rather than turning them over to the government pool made them “producers,” not “handlers,” and, therefore, not subject to the government rules. The 8-1 decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, with the court's more conservative justices in solid agreement. Roberts said the government violates citizens' rights when it seizes personal property -- say, a car -- as well as real property such as a house. While the government can regulate production in order to keep goods off the market, the chief justice said it cannot seize that property without compensation.
Dr. Anthony Samsel was recently interviewed by Tony Mitra, where he discussed certain documents he has in his possession from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that allegedly show Monsanto knew about research connecting glyphosate to cancer since the 1970s. In this follow-up interview, Dr. Samsel discusses how the rat chow used in the laboratory feeds he analyzed were all contaminated with glyphosate. This is significant, as it means standard rat chow used in scientific studies have probably been contaminated since they started using GMO feeds that had been sprayed with glyphosate.
French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal announced today a ban on the sale of popular weedkiller Roundup from garden centres, which the UN has warned may be carcinogenic. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was in March classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the UN's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The weedkiller, used by amateur gardeners as well as farmers, is the star product of American biotechnology giant Monsanto. "France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides," Royal said on French television. "I have asked garden centres to stop putting Monsanto's Roundup on sale" in self-service aisles, she added.
Swiss supermarket giants Coop and Migros have announced that they will no longer sell products that contain glyphosate, following the World Health Organization’s report stating that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. They have also announced that they will be exploring non-toxic alternative weed-killers. Coop’s and Migros’s decisions followed German giant retailer REWE Group’s decision, announced in early May, to remove glyphosate herbicides from the shelves of their 350 ‘toom Baumarkt DIY’ starting in September.
The latest from Paradise Ranch: The judge has ordered that all the animals we are charged with neglecting be forfeited unless we pay a bond of $39,780 by 4 p.m. Pacific time, Thursday, June 11. Unless we come up with the money by that time, 35 of our animals (cows and their calves, yearlings, and a boar) will be forfeited. On Tuesday, January 27, 2015 we became accused criminals. The Union County Sheriff’s Department served us with a search and seizure warrant after several animals died over an extended period of time. The next day, they confiscated every head of livestock from our Summerville, Oregon property on the grounds of “criminal neglect”—but nothing more specific than that. They stole our breeding boar and sow, 6 mules, 5 horses, 23 yearling calves, 2 bulls, 4 steers, and 43 cows. The mother cows represent years of genetic selection for cows that will do well living on pasture and eating only grass. Almost all of our mother cows, all of our future beef, and hog breeding stock were taken. This is the majority of our livestock. Prior to the seizure, law enforcement had not presented us with any specific concerns that they wanted to see addressed. They did not work with us to have a veterinarian come on the property to assess our animals. They did not ask to see our hay purchase records to confirm how much hay we were buying and feeding. They had never cited us for lack of appropriate care for our livestock. This led us to think we were meeting their expectations. But in a matter of hours, they took our past, present, and future.
This past weekend (June 6, 2015) a historic ban on growing GMO crops went into effect in Jackson County, Oregon. The ban was the result of a ballot initiative in 2014, where citizens voted overwhelmingly to ban the growing of GMO crops in Jackson County, Oregon, by a 65.9% to 34.1% measure. This was seen as a significant victory, since the corporate opposition to the GMO ban spent over $1 million to try and defeat the measure. Just after the GMO ban ballot initiative was passed, two GMO alfalfa farmers sued Jackson County saying the GMO ban would cause them undue financial hardship and violated their constitutional rights. But a federal judge rejected their request to block the ban on May 30th. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke ruled that the GMO ban is not pre-empted by Oregon's "right to farm" law. Non-GMO farmers now seem to have a clear path to sue GMO farmers if their crops are contaminated by GMO crops in Jackson County, which would be a first in the U.S.
The Washington, DC-based National Press Foundation announced that they're taking applications for an upcoming all-expenses-paid journalism conference called "Food, From Farm to Table." The conference promises to "take a holistic look at the issues: hunger, food waste, organic, GMOs, food science, feeding the world’s growing population, and more." That's cool, if you don't mind that one of its major sponsors is Monsanto, that the program includes a visit to the controversial agrobiotech company's research labs, or that this sounds a whole lot more like a press junket than a journalism conference.