By training, I am a plant biologist. In the early 1990s I was busy making genetically modified plants (often called GMOs for Genetically Modified Organisms) as part of the research that led to my PhD. I was not, at the outset, concerned about the possible effects of GM plants on human health or the environment. I now believe, as a much more experienced scientist, that GMO crops still run far ahead of our understanding of their risks. I have become much more appreciative of the complexity of biological organisms and their capacity for benefits and harms. As a scientist I have become much more humble about the capacity of science to do more than scratch the surface in its understanding of the deep complexity and diversity of the natural world. To paraphrase a cliché, I more and more appreciate that as scientists we understand less and less. I have read numerous GMO risk assessment applications. These are the documents that governments rely on to ‘prove’ their safety. Though these documents are quite long and quite complex, their length is misleading in that they primarily ask (and answer) trivial questions. Furthermore, the experiments described within them are often very inadequate and sloppily executed. Scientific controls are often missing, procedures and reagents are badly described, and the results are often ambiguous or uninterpretable. I do not believe that this ambiguity and apparent incompetence is accidental. To any honest observer, reading these applications is bound to raise profound and disturbing questions: about the trustworthiness of the applicants and equally of the regulators. They are impossible to reconcile with a functional regulatory system capable of protecting the public.
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.
This week Dr. Oz did something on his show that he stated he has never done before: criticize other doctors in his profession in public. He stated that he was compelled to do so after a vicious smear campaign was waged against him by corporate-sponsored doctors allegedly tied into the GMO biotech food industry. Dr. Oz had no choice but to take on publicly, via his TV show, 10 doctors who signed a letter calling for his removal from Columbia University Medical school. None of the doctors attacking him in the letter were from Columbia University, where Dr. Oz says he has "proudly" served on their faculty for almost 20 years. So Dr. Oz chose investigative reporter Elisabeth Leamy to uncover just who these doctors are who attacked him, and reveal their conflict of interest and ties to the biotech GMO industry. For those of us in the alternative media, Leamy's report did not reveal too much new that had not already been uncovered in the alternative media, particularly by Mike Adams at Natural News. Natural News actually goes into far more detail exposing these ten doctors and the forces behind them.
A new study has been published looking at the effects of three widely used herbicides on disease-causing bacteria and their susceptibility to antibiotics. The three herbicides are dicamba, 2,4-D (recently approved by the U.S. EPA), and glyphosate. In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, they researches found that these popular herbicides affected the bacteria responded to antibiotics, often developing a resistance to them.
U.S. Right to Know sent letters today to the chairs and ranking members of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees, and to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting an investigation of a possible cover up for Monsanto, and whether USDA scientists are being harassed when their work runs counter to the interests of the agrichemical industry.
U.S. regulators for the first time are proposing limits on the planting of some genetically engineered corn to combat a voracious pest that has evolved to resist the bug-killing crops, a potential blow to makers of biotech seeds. The measures proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency represent a bold step to thwart the corn rootworm, a bug that ranks among the most expensive crop threats to U.S. corn farmers.
Brian Shilhavy, CEO of Tropical Traditions, sent a letter recently to Tropical Traditions customers explaining why the company has had so many of its products out of stock or back ordered at the beginning of 2015. Tropical Traditions found out in late 2014 that much of the USDA certified organic wheat supply in North America was contaminated with residues of the herbicide glyphosate. Tropical Traditions has been in the process of testing all of its products for the presence of glyphosate since that discovery. Besides organic wheat and other organic grains that were tested positive for glyphosate and removed from the Tropical Traditions product line, they also tested and found glyphosate present in organic flax seeds, organic hemp, and organic freeze-dried strawberries. Products containing those ingredients are no longer available on the Tropical Traditions websites. Tropical Traditions also announced that they will be phasing out the USDA organic certification on its products, and replacing it with their new Healthy Traditions logos.
As we reported in November, Maui residents successfully passed a ballot initiative banning new GMO crops in Maui County. The resolution passed by a slim margin, but Biotech giants Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences spent $8 million in a campaign to prevent the measure from passing. So while the margin of victory was small, the victory was HUGE! As soon it was obvious that the measure had been passed, Monsanto Hawaii filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the ban; and a preliminary injunction was granted by the court. Here in the second week of December, the grassroots organization in Hawaii called "SHAKA" has successfully filed a motion to become a party to the lawsuit Monsanto filed, and successfully moved the case to a different judge. The memorandum filed with the federal court appears to have been so compelling, that the existing judge, Judge Barry Kurren, really had no choice but to allow SHAKA to become a party to the lawsuit. Then they promptly booted Judge Kurren off the case. Kurren ruled earlier this year that county ordinances regulating GMO and pesticides on Kauai and the Big Island improperly preempted state law, which is probably why Monsanto and Biotech wanted him on this case as well. Read more about how getting SHAKA into this case is a victory for the people of Hawaii, for all of the U.S., and potentially for the rest of the world as well!
Earlier in 2014 we reported how China had rejected over 1.45 million tons of U.S. corn because it was found to contain a variety of genetically modified corn that is not approved in China. Much of that corn export product went to Brazil instead, as the U.S. continues to lose exports abroad due to its biotech policies of not labeling GMOs. Now, the U.S. is losing another huge export crop from America: hay. China is taking a tough stance on GMO alfalfa, which means the United States loses yet another major export agricultural product to China in hay, a livestock feed.
As we reported earlier this month, Maui's voter-resolved ban on GMOs in their county has met with opposition from the well-funded biotech industry. Monsanto and others have challenged the voter resolution in court, and the county has agreed to delay the ban until all legal challenges are resolved.