The FDA recently announced that it would be accepting public input on how—or whether—to define the term “natural” on food labels. This action came about as a result of a number of petitions filed by the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) and Consumers Union. The GMA asked the FDA to redefine “natural” so that foods derived from biotechnology (read: GMO foods) could use the label, while Consumers Union separately filed a petition asking the FDA to prohibit the use of “natural” on food labels altogether since the term is vague and misleading to consumers. The FDA is asking for public input on a variety of questions revolving around which foods should be allowed to bear the term “natural” and what kinds of things—such as processing and different manufacturing methods—should bar a food from being called “natural.” The GMA petition is a case in point—what meaning does the label have if genetically manipulated foods doused with herbicide can be called “natural”?
In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, to be a “probable carcinogen” (Class 2A). This determination was based on evidence showing the popular weed killer can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with “convincing evidence” it can also cause cancer in animals. Monsanto has maintained that the classification as a carcinogen is wrong and continues to tout glyphosate (and Roundup) as one of the safest pesticides on the planet. However, they’ve now been slapped with a growing number of lawsuits alleging they long knew that Roundup’s glyphosate could harm human health. In fact, internal Monsanto documents reveal they knew over 30 years ago that glyphosate caused adenomas and carcinomas in the rats they studied – and that’s only the beginning of Monsanto’s trouble. As each day goes by, the GMO (genetically modified organism) cookie continues to crumble.
Robert Kremer, Phd., co-author of the book Principles in Weed Management, is a certified soil scientist and professor of Soil Microbiology at the University of Missouri. He recently retired from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), where he worked as a microbiologist for 32 years. He's conducted research since 1997 on genetically engineered (GE) crops, and in this interview he reveals how GE crops and glyphosate impact soil ecology and biology. We often think of glyphosate as just another herbicide being applied topically, but it's important to realize that one of the properties of glyphosate is that when it enters a plant, it becomes systemic, and cannot be washed off like many other herbicides. Making matters even worse, glyphosate formulations such as Roundup are synergistically even more toxic than glyphosate itself.
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 2015 study was 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.