News regarding the dangers of GMOs and biotech, and the advantages of organic sustainable agriculture.

Report: Costco to Stop Selling Glyphosate-based Roundup Weed Killer

Zen Honeycutt, the leader of Moms Across America, announced this week that Costco will not be selling the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup Ready. In a live video update posted on Facebook, Honeycutt stated that she received word that Costco was no longer selling Roundup or glyphosate-based herbicides. While she has reportedly not received any official word yet from Costco, she stated that she has talked to various people at the headquarters and various regional offices to confirm this news. Honeycutt stated that based on the recent lawsuit against Monsanto in 2018, where a jury awarded damages to a man with terminal cancer resulting from exposure to glyphosate, Costco had decided to stop carrying the product. Moms Across America also sponsored a petition on Change.org that received over 89,000 signatures asking Costco, Lowes, and Home Depot to stop selling Roundup. It is hoped that Home Depot and Lowes will now follow Costco's example.

After 80 Years, Hemp, the Non-psychoactive Cousin of Marijuana, is Legal Again in the U.S.

United States’ hemp agriculture has been given the “green light” in the 2019 Farm Bill. President Trump signed the 2019 Farm Bill that was passed by both the Senate, with an 87 to 13 vote, while the House voted it into law with a 369 to 47 count. President Trump signed it into law on December 20th, 2018. It includes a clause that legalizes hemp agriculture throughout the entire United States. What had been a valued commodity for thousands of years among varied cultures, including America until immediately after WWII, has been a viable cash crop denied to American farmers, till now. Even though many of our U.S. founding fathers grew hemp as an agricultural product in the 1700s, it has been illegal to grow in the U.S. for over 80 years. From circa 1960 to now, hemp advocates have been constantly campaigning to bring hemp agriculture and hemp products back into open commerce. Hemp advocates have tended to promote the superiority of many hemp products over ecologically-destructive material sources for paper, clothing, plastics, and even building materials. But it appears that what has finally swayed the nation’s lawmakers was the fact that many farmers need this agricultural option to improve their lot for a variety of reasons.

Africans Paid 69 Cents an Hour to be Bitten in GMO Mosquito Trial

Under the headline, Malaria trial pays Africans to be bitten, The Times of London reports that human “guinea pigs” in the West African state of Burkina Faso are being paid to expose themselves to mosquitoes that could potentially carry malaria or other diseases. Although the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested $70 million in the project, The Times reports that about 25 African “volunteers” in the village of Bana are being paid just 69 cents (£0.55) an hour to expose their legs for six hours a night to all mosquitoes in their local environment, as part of a GMO mosquito trial. The villagers taking part have been given information sheets warning them that they could be bitten by a mosquito and be “infected by malaria or another sickness transmitted by the mosquito”. According to The Times, for each six-hour shift, between dawn and dusk when the insects are most active, the villagers are paid just $4.17 (£3.30) a night “to compensate for fatigue and time given”. As part of this, they are expected to try and capture the mosquitoes that come to bite them. The information sheet also says they will be tested regularly for malaria.

Banned for Use in War, But OK for Our Crops

Researchers who recently examined studies sponsored by Dow Chemical and used by the EPA to approve chlorpyrifos, a type of insecticide, found inaccuracies in what the company reported to the agency. A memo sent to EPA management said that “The study was graded unacceptable due to an inadequate presentation of the statistical data analysis.” Some research has linked the pesticides to autism and other brain disorders. There’s also evidence to suggest that some children are more vulnerable to the chemicals than others due to their genetic makeup. These health effects should come as no surprise when we consider that chlorpyrifos were developed as a nerve gas during World War II by the Nazis, though they weren’t used in battle. Chemical weapons were prohibited by the Geneva Convention after WWI—so the chemical is too inhumane to use in war, but A-OK for our food, according to the government’s thinking.

Judge Rejects Monsanto’s Bid to Overturn Glyphosate Conviction but Reduces Punitive Damages from $250 Million to $39 Million

Earlier this week (October 2018) San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos rejected Monsanto’s appeal to overturn the jury verdict which found that glyphosate in the herbicide RoundUp causes cancer. Judge Bolanos had earlier hinted that she might overturn the jury's verdict, and eliminate the $250 million in punitive damages. While denying Monsanto's attorneys their request for a new trial, Judge Bolanos did reduce the punitive damages from $250 million to $39 million, the same amount (39 million) that was awarded to the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, who is not expected to live much longer due to his cancer diagnosis. Judge Bolanos also stated that if Dewayne Johnson and his attorneys did not accept the reduction in punitive damages, that she would order a new trial. Johnson’s lawyers said in a statement that the “reduction in punitive damages was unwarranted” and that his legal team, Baum Hedlund and the Miller Firm, was “weighing the options.” Bayer, now the parent company for Monsanto, stated that they would file another appeal of the jury's verdict.

Judge Says She Will Overturn Jury Conviction of Monsanto and Nullify $250 Million Award in Damages Over Glyphosate Injuries

A San Francisco judge cast doubt recently on a jury’s $289 million damage award to a former Bay Area groundskeeper who was diagnosed with cancer after frequently spraying school grounds with a widely used weed-killer manufactured by Monsanto Co. Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos said in a tentative ruling that she would likely overturn $250 million in punitive damages because there was no convincing evidence that Monsanto had knowingly manufactured a harmful product or acted “despicably” toward the plaintiff, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson. Bolanos did not announce a final ruling, but showed little indication during the hearing that she was reconsidering her tentative decision on punitive damages. “I’m not following your argument,” she told Miller at one point after the lawyer said Monsanto had failed to properly test its product or study its effects. “You may not have been convinced by the evidence but we were,” juror Gary Kitahata said in a letter to Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who is considering Monsanto’s requests to reduce the damages or overturn the entire verdict. “I urge you to respect and honor our verdict and the six weeks of our lives that we dedicated to this trial.” Another juror, Robert Howard, said in his letter to the judge that the jury had paid “studious attention” to the evidence, closely followed Bolanos’ instruction and deliberated for several days. The possibility that “our unanimous verdict could be summarily overturned demeans our system of justice and shakes my confidence in that system,” Howard wrote.

Developer of GMO Potatoes Renounces Own Work: Warns Against Consuming GMO Potatoes

Dr Caius Rommens developed GMO potatoes for the Idaho-based agbiotech company Simplot. The chief genetic modification he introduced was to silence the potatoes' melanin (PPO) gene. This gene, when operative, causes potatoes to discolour when bruised. The GMO potatoes do not discolour when bruised. They have therefore been marketed as bruise-resistant and are being sold without GMO labels in the US and Canada under innocuous-sounding names like Innate, Hibernate, and White Russet. After finding that “most GMO varieties were stunted, chlorotic, mutated, or sterile, and many of them died quickly, like prematurely-born babies”, Dr Rommens renounced his genetic engineering career and wrote a book about his experiences, Pandora’s Potatoes: The Worst GMOs. Dr Caius Rommens explains why we should be wary of the products he created.

Study: Glyphosate Weed-killer Spreading to Bee Larvae and Threatening World’s Bee Supplies

A new study has been published out of Argentina showing how bee exposure to the herbicide glyphosate is affecting the development of honey bee broods. Published in PLOS One, the title of the study is Glyphosate affects the larval development of honey bees depending on the susceptibility of colonies. Most of the world's bee supplies are used to pollinate crops by professional bee keepers. Previous studies have already confirmed that glyphosate is affecting the health of bees. This current study from Argentina suggests the problem may be more serious than first known, as it is affecting bee larvae in bee broods as they develop, and not just adult bees. It also means that most of the world's honey supply is also contaminated with glyphosate, since most commercial honey products, including "local" honey, is the product of bees being used to pollinate crops.

USDA Defrauds Consumers with “Product of USA” Sticker on Meats from Outside the U.S.

Where is the meat you’re buying really from? Many of us look for the “Product of USA” sticker on the meat we buy in the supermarket, but we may not be aware that the USDA allows meat raised outside the US to carry that label. It’s a shameful case of government-sanctioned fraud. Current USDA policy allows foreign meat to be imported to the US and carry the “Product of USA” label if it passes through a USDA-inspected plant. The USDA loophole allows foreign multinational corporations to disguise their products and take advantage of the lucrative US market. There’s good reason to believe that this loophole also violates the federal government’s own policies that prohibit false or misleading labeling.

Glyphosate Weed Killer Linked to Bee Deaths

The world’s most widely used weedkiller – used on over 85% of GM crops – may also be indirectly killing bees. New research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that honey bees exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, lose some of the beneficial bacteria in their guts and are more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria. Scientists believe this is evidence that glyphosate might be contributing to the decline of honey bees and native bees around the world. The findings are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.