News regarding the dangers of GMOs and biotech, and the advantages of organic sustainable agriculture.
Recently we reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft report on the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. This was in advance of a meeting in which a panel of scientists would discuss the available data on glyphosate and its potential to cause cancer—but that meeting never happened. It was postponed, ostensibly because the agency was seeking additional experts so there could be a more “robust review of the data.” The biotech industry is going all out to stop this review. CropLife America, the trade group for the nation’s largest biotech and pesticide manufacturers, strenuously objected to the government reviewing the cancer data, telling the EPA that there is no need to discuss the issue at all! Outrageously, CropLife also called for the removal of any scientist from the panel who has “publicly expressed an opinion regarding the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.” The trade group kindly offered the names of scientists who should be removed from the reviewing panel to restore “impartiality.”
The U.S. food system is set up to protect industrialized, centralized food production and distribution, while efforts to decentralize food are kept strictly under wraps. There are many problems with this system, including the fact that food production is often out of sync with demand, leading to excessive amounts of waste. In 2016, for instance, the industrial dairy industry has dumped 43 million gallons of milk due to a massive milk glut. The glut is the result of a 2014 spike in milk prices, which encouraged many dairy farmers to add more milk cows to their farms. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that dairy cows have increased by 40,000 in 2016, with a 1.4 percent increase in production per cow. With too much milk and nowhere to sell it, prices have tanked. Milk prices declined 22 percent in recent months to $16.39 per 100 pounds — a price so low some farmers can no longer afford to even transport it to the market.1 The milk glut isn’t only affecting the U.S., either. It’s been felt globally, which means milk producers can’t export their surplus milk. What’s a dairy farmer to do with a surplus of milk? Dump it — on fields, into animal feed or added to manure lagoons.
A USDA investigation of Pennsylvania farmer Amos Miller’s meat production practices has taken an ominous turn in recent days, apparently morphing into a national dragnet to collect the food purchase records of thousands of food club members around the country.
Earlier this month, major biotech and agriculture groups sent a letter to key members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee supporting the inclusion of $3 million in the fiscal year 2017 budget to “better inform the public about the application of biotechnology to food and agricultural production.” In plain English, these groups are asking for taxpayer dollars to fund propaganda efforts on behalf of the biotech industry. For those interested in real answers to questions about GMOs, we’ve recently updated and revamped our GMO Fact Check site. We’ve included the most up-to-date information on the safety of GMOs, the facts about GMOs and pesticide use, the epidemic of cross-pollination of GMOs with conventional (and/or organic) crops, the myth that GMOs increase crop yields, and much more. Our information is science-based and fully cited. Since industry has systematically attempted to corrupt so many government agencies, universities, and researchers working in this field, simply having accurate, scientific data is an accomplishment.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a draft report finding that glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular Roundup weed killer—is not likely to cause cancer in humans. This finding is preliminary, to be followed by the agency’s final review of glyphosate, which has been delayed until spring of 2017. The EPA decided to address the potential cancer-causing effects of glyphosate after the United Nations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced last year that the chemical was a “probable carcinogen.” An “independent” panel of scientists will review the EPA’s report this month. But as our readers know, Monsanto and other biotech giants have so deeply corrupted the science of this issue that finding independent scientists would be a very tough challenge.
When consumers purchase organic produce, they expect to avoid vegetables and fruits that have been genetically modified or sprayed with dangerous pesticides. The unsettling reality, however, is that cross-contamination between GM plants and conventional or organic plants is not only possible—it is already happening. Millions of acres of GM rapeseed, which is used to make canola oil, the most popular cooking oil in North America, are being grown—in Canada and Australia in particular, but also in the US. This GM rapeseed has spread across the world, growing wild in ports, railway beds, along highways, and other areas where it has “escaped” during transport. Not only is it growing wild—it has contaminated another Brassica, the parent of cruciferous vegetables known as Brassica rapa. Organic broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Napa cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and more are now under threat.
For years now, farmers have borne the brunt of government efforts to interfere with food rights and consumer access to the foods of their choice. That may be about to change, as consumers launch actions to take the burden of government harassment off farmers’ backs.
A $66 billion buyout by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer could make it harder for consumers to avoid products from the biotech behemoth. The number of companies controlling our food supply is about to shrink even further now that Bayer has bought Monsanto for $66 billion in cash, creating the world’s largest seed and pesticide company. The new megacorporation will control 25% of the world’s seeds and pesticides. Along with two other proposed biotech mergers, three companies will soon control the lion’s share of the world’s agricultural services, from seed production, to the herbicide and pesticide sprays that go on them, to the biotechnology used to produce them all. Monsanto/Bayer, Dow/DuPont, and Syngenta/ChemChina will sell 59% of the world’s seeds and 64% of the world pesticides.
On Friday, July 29, 2016 President Obama signed into law the GMO Labeling bill recently passed by Congress. This law preempts Vermont’s first-of-its-kind GMO Labeling law, which had just gone into effect on July 1, and authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a mandatory disclosure program for “bioengineered” (aka GMO) foods. Now that the law has been enacted, all eyes are on USDA, which has the primary responsibility of implementing the law. USDA has one year to conduct the QR code feasibility study, and two years to develop the labeling standards and regulations. Both of these processes will also require public input before being finalized. USDA is likely to see thousands upon thousands of comments from stakeholders during these next phases of implementation. By law they are required to consider all comments received, suggesting that a long process is ahead. The agency is also likely to hold public meetings to allow stakeholders the opportunity to submit oral, as well as written, testimony. Given the highly contentious nature of this legislation and the GMO debate in general, we hope to see USDA proceed through this process in as transparent and inclusive a manner as possible. All of these issues point to a lengthy and involved few years before a final disclosure requirement is in place. And regardless, once the regulations have gone through the public rulemaking process, a legal challenge is highly likely, which could further delay implementation.
Farmers in Arkansas and Missouri have filed more than 100 complaints with state agriculture agencies over a toxic weed killer that is drifting from adjacent farms and damaging their crops. The herbicide is not only stunting the growth of soybeans – it's also being used illegally. As National Public Radio and The Wall Street Journal reported, farmers say the chemical, known as dicamba, is being illegally sprayed by neighboring farms growing genetically modified crops from seeds created and sold by Monsanto, known as Roundup Ready 2 Xtend.