Last week saw an inter-agency power grab. It begins with the weakening of organic standards—and could end with the term “organic” becoming practically meaningless. Action Alert! Tell the USDA to use a public and transparent process for all major changes to organic standards by publishing proposed changes in the Federal Register, and actively seeking public input and discussion. In addition, tell the USDA to enforce the sunset provision of the OFPA as it was originally intended—allowing synthetic products to remain after their “sunset” date only after public debate and a two-thirds vote of the NOSB. More than 100 synthetics will be up for sunset consideration in 2015. We must act now to protect the integrity of organics.
The United States now uses about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year, and mounting research has linked pesticides to an array of serious health problems. What we need is not a new breed of chemical-resistant crops, but that’s exactly what we’re getting.
In a ruling lauded by Costa Rica’s anti-GMO activists, the country’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court struck down the government’s regulatory framework on genetically modified organisms, declaring the process of approval for GMO projects unconstitutional. In the court’s opinion, Chief Justice Gilbert Armijo Sancho wrote that the regulations violate the Costa Rican Constitution because the secrecy allowed to GMO companies in terms of the genetic information of their products violates the constitutional right to freedom of information. “This is an important precedent that shows the interests of companies linked to this type of activity – among them the multinational Monsanto which is seeking permits to plant corn – have benefited from the granting of permits in a manner that violates the fundamental rights of the population,” FECON said.
With more and more people waking up to the dangers and false claims being made for vaccines today, it is becoming more difficult for the pharmaceutical lobbyists to enact mandatory vaccination laws at the local level. A recent bill in Colorado was defeated when citizens turned out to oppose legislation that would have prohibited vaccine exemptions. Are pharmaceutical companies now looking for new ways to market their vaccines that bypass the freedom to choose completely without the consumer even realizing they are consuming their products? The chemical industry, after all, has been successful for years in getting municipalities to put fluoride in public water supplies completely bypassing consumer choice. Recently obtained information through a freedom of information act shows that pharmaceutical companies and biotech are teaming up to produce genetically modified corn that will contain vaccines like hepatitis B. There are secret locations along California's Central Coast where plots of experimental genetically engineered corn are producing proteins for industrial and pharmaceutical uses, including an experimental vaccine for hepatitis B.
In a close vote, Guatemala's Congress rejects genetically modified seeds in country's agricultural development. The law would have authorized stricter property rights and risked monopolizing agricultural processes in the country by placing copyrights on agriculture for the next 25 years.
GM Golden Rice was developed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines with the hope that it could provide more vitamin A through beta carotene. The project was a huge disaster, however, and basically shelved for years. But then Bill Gates came along, the college-drop-out-turned-billionaire who started Microsoft Corp., looking for something to spend his billions of dollars to promote. All of a sudden, with big money providing jobs to pursue a failed project, GM Golden Rice has new life. There are multiple problems with GMO Golden Rice, including the fact that the people from rice-producing countries do not want it! Recently many top scientists and farmer advocates from rice-producing countries met in the Philippines in an effort to try and stop more field testing, and the commercialization of Golden Rice. The science behind Golden Rice does not prove benefits, and it threatens genetic diversity among traditional rice varieties which is necessary in many parts of the world that experience natural and man-made disasters. Like any GMO seed crop, Golden Rice would take the future of farming in rice-producing countries away from the control of the farmers and give it to multinational corporations that would then control the rice seed supplies. MASIPAG (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development) in the Philippines hosted the event earlier this year, and has recently provided video interviews from some of the participants in English.
The Latin American countries are waking up to the fact that most of the world's export market does not want GMO food. Brazil recently increased their export of corn to China, for example, when China rejected U.S. genetically modified corn that was not approved in China. With an apparent eye to the potential export market for non-GMO corn, a court in Brazil banned approval of further GMO corn in the country. Likewise, judges in Mexico seem to also be waking up to the dangers of GMO corn and have recently banned GMO corn in some provinces. Unfortunately, the biotech industry responsible for producing GMO seeds in America has tremendous political power. We have documented in the past how the U.S. State Department has tried to force European countries to adopt made-in-the-USA GMO seeds. We have also documented how the United States has used their military might to force occupied countries to adopt our GMO seeds, at the expense of local agriculture. So it should come as no surprise that the United States is now trying to pressure Latin American countries to buy our GMO seeds. Sustainable Pulse is reporting that the U.S. is tying 277 million dollars in aid relief to El Salvador to a condition that they buy our GMO seeds. We can only hope that these poorer countries will resist this kind of political blackmail and walk away from tainted U.S. funds to develop their own export markets from countries and sources demanding non-GMO products.
Brazil is quickly trying to change course on its biotech policies and capture more of the world market demanding GMO-free products. We reported recently that the United State's lax GMO laws are hurting U.S. exports to countries who have stricter GMO policies. This includes a recent announcement that China had rejected U.S. GMO corn, resulting in a sales loss of over 1 million tons of corn. China instead turned to Brazil to purchase their corn this year. Now Brazil is reportedly looking to ban the use of glyphosate as well, the toxic herbicide (trade name of Roundup) which has been linked to many health problems with the recent publication of new research. Glyphosate is the herbicide sprayed on GMO crops which have been genetically altered to not die when sprayed with glyphosate. It is so pervasive in agriculture today, that a recent study indicated that tests of breast milk found the presence of glyphosate in 3 out 10 mothers tested. It would be nearly impossible at this time to ban glyphosate in the U.S., due to the strong sales of the product and the powerful biotech political lobbyists. If Brazil is successful, could Brazil become a major world producer and supplier of non-GMO and glyphosate-free products?
The biotech industry's success or failure in its strategy for planting GMO corn in Mexico could very well determine the future of the world's corn supply. We reported last year that a judge in Mexico had banned further planting of Monsanto and Pioneer GMO corn in Mexico, and earlier this year a Monsanto appeal to that ban was also struck down. Even if Mexico succeeds in eventually banning GMO corn completely, some wonder if it is already too late? The presence of GMO corn is already found in nearly half of Mexico's states, according to a new report written by Timothy A. Wise, Policy Research Director at Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute. Still, if Mexico acts soon to completely ban GMO seeds, there is reason to hope it can stem the tide and preserve native seed varieties, and become a major player in the world market demanding GMO-free corn. It is estimated that 90% or more of the U.S. corn supply is already contaminated with GMO DNA, even in certified organic corn. Mexico could be positioned to become a major world leader in GMO-free corn. Some companies in the U.S. that emphasize GMO-free products, such as Tropical Traditions, have already stopped selling many organic corn products from the U.S. due to the presence of GMO DNA. They are beginning to look to Mexico and other countries outside the U.S. for their supplies of corn. Could the label "grown in Mexico" soon become a symbol of high-quality non-GMO products?
Health concerns aside, U.S. GMO policy is damaging the U.S. economy and costing jobs. China just announced they were rejecting U.S. GMO corn in favor of Brazilian corn, draining hundreds of millions of dollars out of the U.S. economy.