News regarding the dangers of GMOs and biotech, and the advantages of organic sustainable agriculture.
Germany has initiated a move to stop the growing of genetically modified crops under new European Union rules, documents seen by Reuters showed on Monday. German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has informed German state governments of his intention to tell the EU that Germany will make use of new "opt-out" rules to stop GMO crop cultivation even if varieties have been approved by the EU, a letter from the agriculture ministry seen by Reuters shows. A new EU law approved in March cleared the way for new GMO crops to be approved after years of previous deadlock. But the law also gave individual countries the right to opt out by banning GMO crops even after they have been approved as safe by the European Commission.
Our society is largely built on the idea that science can help us make good, solid decisions. But now we're facing a world so rife with problems caused by the very sciences that were supposed to keep us healthy, safe, and productive, it's quite clear that we're heading toward more than one proverbial brick wall. In a sense, the fundamental role of science itself has been hijacked for selfish gain. Looking back, you can now see that the preferred business model of an industry was created first, followed by "scientific evidence" that supports the established business model. When the science doesn’t support the company’s economic gains, it’s swept under the rug, even if people are dying and the planet is becoming irreparably poisoned as a result. Today we live in a world where chemical companies and biotech giants can easily buy and pay for their own research studies, as well as the lobbying to support whatever legislation they need passed in their favor. Conflicts of interest have become the norm within virtually all fields of science, which creates a completely unworkable – and dangerous – situation in the long run.
An article published today in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine by two of the nation’s most respected experts on pesticides and children’s environmental health calls for the Food and Drug Administration to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) food. This comes after the House of Representatives passed a bill last month that would block states from enacting their own labeling laws and make it nearly impossible for the FDA ever to implement national mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Titled “GMOs, Herbicides, and Public Health,” the paper by Philip J. Landrigan, M.D. and Charles Benbrook, Ph.D. focuses on the widespread adoption of GMO crops across the U.S. and the resulting explosion in the use of toxic herbicides – some of them, like Monsanto’s glyphosate, linked to cancer – and argues that labeling these foods is a matter of protecting public health.
A new review of the scientific literature shows that glyphosate herbicides may be toxic below regulatory safety limits. Dr Robin Mesnage and co-authors examined a number of different types of toxic effects to arrive at their conclusions, including liver and kidney toxicity, neurotoxicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, and teratogenicity (ability to cause birth defects). Unlike regulatory authorities, the researchers considered studies from the independent literature, as well as the few industry toxicity studies, conducted in support of regulatory approvals, that have been made public. They shared this approach of considering the entirety of the published literature with the World Health Organization’s cancer agency IARC, which recently concluded that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen. The new review shows that endocrine (hormone) disruptive effects can occur below the doses deemed not to cause any toxic effects in industry studies performed for regulatory approvals. Endocrine disruption may increase the risk of certain types of cancer. Yet regulatory studies do not test low dose exposures for endocrine disruptive effects.
Federal lobby disclosure forms from big food and biotechnology companies, and their trade groups opposed to mandatory GMO labeling reveal a surge in lobbying expenditures during the first half of 2015, according to a new analysis by EWG. A major reason for the explosion in lobbying money is the food industry’s support for the Deny Americans the Right to Know – or DARK – Act (H.R.1599), which the House passed last month by a vote of 275-150. The legislation blocks state GMO labeling laws, blocks state laws prohibiting “natural” claims on GMO foods, and makes it virtually impossible for FDA to create a mandatory national GMO labeling system. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents these and other food manufacturers, reported expenditures of $5.1 million that mentioned GMO labeling and hired 32 lobbyists exclusively to advocate for legislation to block state and federal GMO industry lobbying dwarfed expenditures reported by GMO labeling advocates, including EWG and Just Label It, which disclosed $2.5 million in the first two quarters of 2015, $2 million in all of 2014, and nearly $1 million in 2013. Since 2013, industry lobbyists have outspent GMO labeling advocates by 25-to-1. “The gap between the amount of money spent by Big Food and that spent by public interest groups is simply mind-boggling,” Foley said.
As we reported last week, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced a bill that has been championed by the Monsantos of the world, not to mention the Big Food industry. The deceptively titled “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015” would preempt state efforts to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws with a completely voluntary standard. It would also block communities and states from banning the cultivation of GMO crops. Late last week, by a vote of 275 to 150, the DARK Act passed the House, and is now on it’s way to the Senate. While it still is unclear if the Senate will consider the DARK Act or take up a similar bill that is reportedly being written by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), any step forward for this bill is dangerous for the 93% of Americans who want to know what’s in their food.
The industry-sponsored voluntary GMO labeling bill is heading for a floor vote in the House, and could be voted on any day now. If the DARK Act passes the House, its next stop would be the Senate. We reported in May that Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) is preparing his own—again, completely voluntary—GMO labeling bill. Whether the Senate will consider the House-approved DARK Act, or Hoeven’s bill when it’s ready, or neither, remains to be seen. New additions to the DARK Act also prevent local communities from banning GMO crops!
Prof Christopher Portier, one of the co-authors of the recent report by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which determined that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, said at a scientific briefing today, “Glyphosate is definitely genotoxic. There is no doubt in my mind.” “Genotoxic” means it damages DNA. It is widely believed by regulators that for genotoxic chemicals that are also carcinogenic, as glyphosate appears to be, there is no safe level of exposure.
The decision by an organization of the world’s leading cancer experts to classify the herbicide 2,4-D as a possible carcinogen underscores the risk posed by the U.S. government’s recent approval of 2,4-D for use on genetically engineered, or GMO, crops. 2,4-D is one of the two active ingredients in Enlist Duo, a toxic weed-killing cocktail marketed by Dow AgroSciences, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently approved for use in 15 states. The other herbicide in Enlist Duo is glyphosate, which the international cancer agency had previously classified as “probably carcinogenic.” Exposure to both chemicals has separately been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The Green party made their warning after testing the breast milk of 16 women from a variety of German regions. Traces of glyphosate, a chemical used in weed-killers, amounting to between 0.210 and 0.432 nanograms per mililitre were recorded. In drinking water a quantity of no more than 0.100 nanograms of the substance is allowed. Irene Witte, professor of toxicology at the University of Oldenburg described the findings as “intolerable.” “I would never have guessed that the quantities are so high,” she said.