Seeds represent the foundation of life. We depend on them for food, for medicine and for our very survival. In many ways, you can trace the underpinnings of any given culture through the heritage of their crops and seeds. It wasn’t long ago when seeds were mostly the concern of farmers who, as the Worldwatch Institute put it, “were the seed producers and the guardians of societies’ crop heritage." But this is no longer the case. Once considered to be the property of all, like water or even air, seeds have become largely privatized, such that only a handful of companies now control the global food supply. Ninety-three percent of seeds were lost from 1903 to 1993. Just four agrichemical companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed supply. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are in danger of extinction.
For over three decades, Stephanie Seneff, PhD, has researched biology and technology, over the years publishing over 170 scholarly peer-reviewed articles. In recent years she has concentrated on the relationship between nutrition and health, tackling such topics as Alzheimer’s, autism, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as the impact of nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins on human health. At a recent conference, in a special panel discussion about GMOs, she took the audience by surprise when she declared, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.” She noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Roundup on crops (and the creation of Roundup-ready GMO crop seeds) with rising rates of autism. Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.
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.
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.
What if the very GM agricultural system that Monsanto claims will help to solve the problem of world hunger depends on a chemical that kills the very pollinator upon which approximately 70% of world's food supply now depends? A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology titled, "Effects of field-realistic doses of glyphosate on honeybee appetitive behavior," establishes a link between the world's most popular herbicide – aka Roundup – and the dramatic decline in honeybee populations in North American and Europe that lead to the coining of the term 'colony collapse disorder.'
In the first ever testing on glyphosate herbicide in the breast milk of American women, Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse have found ‘high’ levels in 3 out of the 10 samples tested. The shocking results point to glyphosate levels building up in women’s bodies over a period of time, which has until now been refuted by both global regulatory authorities and the biotech industry. The levels found in the breast milk testing of 76 ug/l to 166 ug/l are 760 to 1600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides. They are however less than the 700 ug/l maximum contaminant level (MCL) for glyphosate in the U.S., which was decided upon by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) based on the now seemingly false premise that glyphosate was not bio-accumulative. Glyphosate-containing herbicides are the top-selling herbicides in the world and are sold under trademarks such as Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’. Monsanto’s sales of Roundup jumped 73 percent to $371 million in 2013 because of its increasing use on genetically engineered crops (GE Crops).
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).
Ever since the introduction of genetically modified crops into the food chain, the tussle has been largely between farmers and Monsanto , which says since 1997 it has filed 145 lawsuits against farmers who've improperly reused its patented seeds, or on average about one lawsuit every three weeks for 16 straight years. In that time frame, the biotech hasn't lost a single case, even when farmers like the organic growers who had their case against Monsanto tossed last year sued for cross-contamination of their crops. DuPont , the world's second-largest seed producer behind Monsanto, is similarly seeking to police the use of its seeds by hiring retired police officers to ferret out farmers allegedly improperly using its patented seeds. Defeating the well-financed GMO behemoth has been a losing battle, but that may be about to change. In 2010, a western Australia organic farmer, Steve Marsh, found that his harvest had been contaminated by his neighbor's genetically modified canola/rapeseed crops planted with Monsanto Roundup Ready seed. Marsh subsequently had 70% of his farm's organic status for produce stripped from him causing severe financial harm, some $85,000 in earnings. In a first of its kind lawsuit, Marsh is suing his neighbor for the loss resulting from the seeds blowing onto his oat and wheat crop, contaminating them.
The recent "ban" on trans fats may actually be a way to promote a Monsanto GMO product. It’s important to note that since this is a proposed rule, and not a final one, there’s still a chance it could be changed or dropped. In the rule, the FDA mentions that the agency is open to alternate approaches to addressing partially hydrogenated oils in food, such as the setting of acceptable trans fat threshold levels. The timing and intent of the FDA’s rule is suspect for two reasons. First, it was announced only after most companies had already eliminated trans fat—it’s currently only in a handful of foods. Second, the ban will promote market demand for two new GMO soybeans by Monsanto and DuPont, which are engineered for trans fat free oils.
Last March, what the world has been calling the “Monsanto Protection Act”, was inserted at the last minute into a “must-pass” funding bill to keep the government running through the use of a congressional tool known as a Continuing Resolution (CR). The so-called Farmer Assurance Provision—misnamed because, frankly, the only ones who are assured about anything are GMO manufacturers like Monsanto—actually strips federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of potentially hazardous genetically engineered crops while USDA is performing an environmental impact statement. It’s a huge blow to the justice system, completely overriding judicial safeguards that protect both farmers and the public. The emergency funding period (and with it, this sneak provision) ends September 30, but since Congress has been unable to pass their appropriations bills, they will try to extend the CR as another stop-gap to prevent total government shutdown. Not surprisingly, the same noxious language has already appeared in the House Appropriations CR that was nearly voted upon last week! However, because it’s so controversial and Congress is afraid of citizen backlash, that bill is still sitting in the House—just waiting for the right opportunity to be pushed through. Help us put an end to this underhanded end-run around the courts once and for all.