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.
France's agriculture ministry has just banned the sale, use and cultivation of Monsanto's MON 810 genetically modified maize, the only variety currently authorised in the European Union. The French government, which maintains that GM crops present environmental risks, has been trying to institute a new ban on GM maize (corn) after its highest court has twice previously struck down similar measures. The decision is timed to avert any sowing of GM maize by farmers before a draft law is debated on April 10 aimed at banning planting of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
Another court in Mexico has ruled against GMO crops. A ban against genetically modified soybeans in the Campeche region of Mexico was upheld last week by the Second District Court. This follows the decision by two other judges in Mexico last year (2013) to keep in place bans on GM corn. Could "Made in Mexico" become the new quality standard in organic agriculture for the future? Less than 1% of the population in the United States is involved in agriculture today, where it is dominated by biotech firms heading more and more to GMO seeds, supported by the U.S. government. Mexico, by contrast, still has over 13% of its population in agriculture, and much of that is still small-scale traditional farming. This is a smaller amount post NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), which opened the door for cheap subsidized crops from the U.S. to be imported to Mexico, putting many farmers out of work who could not compete with these cheap subsidized commodity crops from the U.S. If judges in Mexico continue ruling against biotech companies and their GMO products, Mexico could become a major exporter to the U.S. of high-quality non-GMO organic products. Almost all of the corn supply in the U.S., for example, has been contaminated by GM corn (even certified organic corn), while hundreds of heirloom varieties still exist in Mexico.
The Kauai County Council has overridden Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s veto of Bill 2491, freeing the way for the GMO-related bill. Bill 2491, which passed a County Council vote on Oct. 16, will force agricultural companies to disclose when and where they spray pesticides, restrict spraying to a certain distance away from public areas, and disclose what genetically engineered crops they grow on Kauai.
While recent research is looking at the health consequences of consuming genetically modified foods, equally concerning is the failure of glyphosate and other herbicides to control a new breed of "demon weeds" that have arisen as a byproduct of the GMO industry. Many older and more toxic classes of pesticides are also returning to the market place as pests become resistant to GMOs, and the government is allowing increased use of pesticides for food production. The Alliance for Natural Health has just released a new video highlighting the health concerns of these "demon weeds" as well as the toxic effects of glyphosate. A new study from ANH-USA finds that exposure to glyphosate, an ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup is linked to very serious human health issues – including birth defects, miscarriages and cancer. With so many GMO-related initiatives around the country, your involvement can make a significant positive difference in this fight.