News regarding the dangers of GMOs and biotech, and the advantages of organic sustainable agriculture.
A federal judge in San Francisco will hear from expert witnesses on the science and safety of glyphosate at critical hearing starting Monday that will determine if plaintiffs around the country can move forward with their legal action against Monsanto over cancer claims. More than 365 pending lawsuits against the agribusiness giant have been centralized in multidistrict litigation under U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria. The plaintiffs claim they or their loved ones developed non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) due to exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller. During the week-long hearing—dubbed "Science Week"—epidemiologists, oncologists, toxicologists and other scientists representing both sides will offer testimony about glyphosate. The judge will not decide whether or not glyphosate causes cancer. Rather, Chhabria will determine if the experts providing scientific opinions regarding causation will be permitted to testify at trial, explained Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, one of the law firms leading the litigation.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) attempt to hide thousands of pages of key government documents revealing how the agency arrived at its controversial approval of the first-ever genetically engineered (GE) animal for human consumption, a GE salmon. The court order rejected the Trump Administration’s position that it can unilaterally decide which documents to provide and which to withhold from public and court review. “Dictatorial secrecy is antithetical to democracy. This is a safeguarding win for government transparency, accountability, and meaningful judicial review of government decisions,” said George Kimbrell, of Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case.
The story with Monsanto’s round that begins as early as the 1980s when laboratory tests on glyphosate began to show cellular changes in laboratory animals that should’ve been considered early signals of a relationship clearly to cancer. In fact, in 1985 the EPA determined that glyphosate, which is the primary ingredient in Roundup, needed to be classified as a Class C carcinogen, which meant that it clearly is suggested of a relationship to cancer. But then miraculously for some reason six years later the EPA suddenly changed that classification to something just the opposite. Now they were saying that they were wrong to classify it as a possible carcinogen and that the public had nothing to worry about when using products that contained this chemical. That was their change. Then all of a sudden the laboratory data from the early ’80s that the EPA use to classify glyphosate as cancer suddenly became unavailable to the public. Why? Because Monsanto argued that all the early testing results for this chemical fell under a protection of trade’s secret rule, meaning they didn’t have to share this information with the general public. It was theirs. They were going to keep it quiet. Joining me now to talk about this is Carey Gillam, author of the book Whitewash: The Story of Weed Killer, Cancer, and Corruption of Science.
No-Till Farmer is a magazine aimed at farmers who grow GM glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans using herbicides instead of ploughing to control weeds. In a revealing sign of the times, the magazine has published an article detailing the serious problems of soil and plant health caused by the application of glyphosate on these GM crops in no-till systems. The paywalled article, written by No-Till Farmer's senior editor John Dobberstein, draws on the expertise of Robert Kremer, a retired research microbiologist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service and adjunct professor at the University of Missouri, as well as other researchers. Noting that "there may be trouble on the horizon for glyphosate," Dobberstein says that when measured by pounds applied per square mile, the use of glyphosate has increased from less than 1 million pounds in 1974 to 28 million pounds in 1995, and 80 million pounds in 2010. Between 1974 and 2014, 30 billion pounds of glyphosate were applied to US agricultural lands, according to federal data.
We are told that big agribusiness, with its GM crops, flashy techno-fixes and financial clout, will save the world from widespread hunger and malnutrition and help food systems weather the impacts of climate change. However, a report from ETC Group shows that in fact, it is a diverse network of small-scale producers, dubbed the Peasant Food Web, that feeds 70% of the world, including the most hungry and marginalized people. The flagship report, "Who Will Feed Us?", is a data-driven report full of unexpected statistics that reveal a tale of two food systems. This is the third edition, and most complete synthesis, of a research exercise that ETC Group has been undertaking for several years. "Who Will Feed Us?" upturns common assumptions about who feeds whom in a hungry world.
An environmentally relevant concentration of Roundup caused changes in the gut microbiome of rats, according to a new study published by the group of Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini at the University of Caen, France.
The raw milk wars are heating up again. Raw milk is illegal in New Jersey, so many people who wish to drink pure, unadulterated raw milk direct from the farm, need to cross state lines into neighboring states in order to obtain it. Not satisfied apparently with restricting the production, sale, and distribution of raw milk in New Jersey, state regulators, allegedly backed by the powerful FDA, is going after citizens in New Jersey for mere possession of the banned substance. Furthermore, they are apparently targeting immigrants in the state, mainly from India, where raw milk is a big part of their culture and cuisine. Terrified citizens of New Jersey today fear fines and possible civil action simply for possessing raw milk.
A dicamba/glyphosate herbicide mix is being sprayed on Monsanto's GM soybeans that are tolerant to both herbicides. The herbicide is drifting and volatilizing onto neighbouring non-target plants, including non-GM soybeans and a wide variety of food crops, garden plants and wild plants, resulting in massive damage to those crops and plants and even a decline in honey production. In an attempt to reduce off-target spray damage next year, the US EPA has issued new tighter use restrictions that are displayed on the herbicide product labels.
Over 1,200 emails released under open records requests reveal that the US military is now the top funder and influencer behind a controversial genetic extinction technology known as “gene drives” – pumping $100 million into the field. The trove of emails, obtained via open records requests, also shed light on a $1.6 million dollar UN gene drive lobbying operation paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Emerging Ag,” a private PR firm funded by the Gates Foundation, is working behind the scenes to stack key UN advisory processes with gene drive-friendly scientists, and has recruited ostensibly independent academics and public officials into a private collaboration to counteract proposed regulations and to resist calls by scientists and conservationists for an international moratorium. Some of those recruited entered into the UN discussions without divulging their conflicts of interest or the role that paid political consultants played in shaping their inputs. The files, dubbed “The Gene Drive Files,” additionally cast a spotlight on the central role of the shadowy US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as the key funder now accelerating gene drive development. For example, DARPA is now revealed as the major financial backer of efforts to develop gene drive mammals (mice) that are led by a US environmental NGO, although DARPA has no biodiversity conservation mission, raising questions about the defence agency’s intent. These revelations come on the heels of a public warning issued by a leading gene drive researcher Dr Kevin Esvelt that current gene drives are too powerful to be used in conservation. “Gene drives are a powerful and dangerous new technology and potential biological weapons that could have disastrous impacts on peace, food security and the environment, especially if misused,” said Jim Thomas of ETC Group. “The fact that gene drive development is now being primarily funded and structured by the US military raises alarming questions about this entire field.”
The active ingredients of the commonly used herbicides, RoundUp, Kamba and 2,4-D (glyphosate, dicamba and 2,4-D, respectively), each alone cause antibiotic resistance at concentrations well below label application rates, a new study led by researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand has found. Professor Jack Heinemann of the School of Biological Sciences in UC’s College of Science said the key finding of the research was that “bacteria respond to exposure to the herbicides by changing how susceptible they are to antibiotics used in human and animal medicine.” The herbicides studied are three of the most widely used in the world, Prof Heinemann said. They are also used on crops that have been genetically modified to tolerate them. Prof Heinemann said, “They are among the most common manufactured chemical products to which people, pets and livestock in both rural and urban environments are exposed. These products are sold in the local hardware store and may be used without training, and there are no controls that prevent children and pets from being exposed in home gardens or parks. Despite their ubiquitous use, this University of Canterbury research is the first in the world to demonstrate that herbicides may be undermining the use of a fundamental medicine - antibiotics.”