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Syngenta Sued for $1 Billion Damages over China’s Rejection of GM Corn

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Syngenta Sued for $1 Billion Damages over China’s Rejection of GM Corn as China Halts Its GM Rice and Corn Programmes

85 % US export market to China destroyed as domestic prices for corn dropped 11 cents per bushel

Dr Mae-Wan Ho      Institute of Science in Society 10/13/14

US corn prices plummeted as China rejected all shipments containing traces of Syngenta’s MIR162. Farmers from 5 major corn growing states have filed 3 class action lawsuits against Syngenta, claiming damages of more than $ 1 billion [1, 2].

Syngenta released MIR162, trade name Agrisure Vipera, in 2009. It is engineered to make a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein vip3Aa20 toxic to lepidopteran insect pests (butterflies and moths) [3], and also has a gene pmi (phosphomannose isomerase) from E. coli to allow positive selection for the transgene. It was created with Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated plant transformation, a particularly hazardous vector system that risks further horizontal gene transfer (see [4] Ban GMOs Now, ISIS Special Report).  While MIR162 is approved for use in the US, China has not allowed its import into the country.

Syngenta is blamed for destroying the export of US corn to China, which led to depressed prices for domestic corn, according to Volnek Farms, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in Omaha, Nebraska federal court. The two other suits were filed in Iowa and Illinois federal courts.

None of the farmers involved in the lawsuits planted MIR162 seed in their fields in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. But their harvested crop was contaminated with traces of the transgenic trait, and hence unsalable to the Chinese market.

Although Viptera has been planted on only about 3 % of US farm acreage, it is difficult to say for sure “that any shipments of US corn will not be contaminated with trace amounts of MIR162”, the Nebraska plaintiff stated.

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) had encouraged Syngenta to stop selling Viptera, according to the Iowa claim. The NGFA estimated that actions taken in China against US corn have caused prices to drop by 11 cents per bushel. The Iowa suit also claims that the release of Syngenta’s Viptera caused the US to China export market to drop by 85 %. Nebraska plaintiffs, too, accuse Syngenta of having crippled the 2013-14 corn export market to China. The NGFA reported in April 2014 that China had barred nearly 1.45 million tons of corn shipments since 2013.

In 2011, Syngenta requested in federal court that a grain elevator firm, Bunge North America, to remove its signs that said it would not accept Vipera corn. The request was denied.

Concern over the safety of GM food may have played a role in a recent decision by China’s officials to move away from GM production. In August, China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced it would not continue with GM rice and corn [5].


  1. “Billion-dollar lawsuits claim GMO corn ‘destroyed’ US export to China”, RT Qestion More, 6 October 2014, http://rt.com/usa/193612-china-lawsuits-gmo-corn/
  2. Farmers Sue Syngenta. Chemical & Engineering News, 13 October 2014, http://cen.acs.org/articles/92/i41/Farmers-Sue-Syngenta.html
  3. Event Name: MIR162, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, accessed 13 October 2014, http://www.isaaa.org/gmapprovaldatabase/event/default.asp?EventID=130
  4. Ho MW and Sirinathsinghji E. Ban GMOs Now, ISIS Special Report, June 2013, http://www.thesparc.net/eprint_details/70/ban-gmos-now
  5. “End of the line: GMO production in China halted”, RT Question More, 21 August, 2014, http://rt.com/news/181860-gm-china-rice-stopped/

Written by laudyms

October 13, 2014 at 7:35 am

Widespread Glyphosate Contamination in USA

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Most comprehensive study reveals glyphosate and AMPA in the environment over 9 years and across 38 states

Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji     10/08/14  Institute of Science in Society

The most comprehensive research to date on environmental glyphosate levels exposes the widespread contamination of soil and water in the US, as well as its water treatment system. Looking at a wide range of geographical locations, researchers from the US Geological Survey (USGS) analysed 3 732 water and sediment samples and 1 081 quality assurance samples collected between 2001 and 2010 from 38 states in the US and the District of Colombia. They found glyphosate in 39.4 % of samples (1 470 out of 3 732) and its metabolite AMPA (α-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) in 55 % of samples [1]. Water samples included streams, groundwater, ditches and drains, large rivers, soil water, lakes, ponds and wetlands, precipitation, soil and sediment, and waste water treatment plants.

Results expected

These results are to be expected when the use of glyphosate has steadily increased in the US (and similarly in Canada) over the years, particularly since the introduction of genetically-modified crops tolerant to the herbicide. The rise of glyphosate-resistant weeds also means that farmers need to spray more chemicals than before in order to protect their crops (see [2] Monsanto Defeated by Roundup Resistant Weeds, SiS 53). Glyphosate accounted for 32-36% of all pesticide (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) use in the US in 2007 according to EPA data [3]. It is the top pesticide in agriculture and the second for home and garden and commercial settings. Agricultural use has gone up from 3 180 tonnes (of active ingredient) in 1987 to 82 800 tonnes in 2007. Non-agricultural use of the herbicide has also risen steadily in the US, from 2 270 tonnes in 1993 to 9 300 tonnes in 2007 (Figure 1). The common use of glyphosate in urban areas is also exacerbated by the impervious surfaces of cities, resulting in substantial pesticide inputs to urban drainage systems. Until recently data had been lacking on glyphosate occurrence in the environment, though studies published over the last couple of years are raising concerns. Detecting glyphosate in surface waters, rain and even groundwater, contradicts the producers’ claim that its chemical propensity to bind to sediment will prevent it from leaching into groundwater supplies (see [4] GM Crops and Water – A Recipe for Disaster, SiS 58).

Figure 1              Use of Glyphosate and Planted Hectares of Corn and Soybeans From 1987-2008

Data collection had previously been limited not only by glyphosate’s high solubility and polarity which make its detection more difficult, especially at environmentally relevant levels, but also due to the official line taken by authorities that glyphosate is safe. This makes assessment of its presence in our environment less of a priority, and hence left unstudied and unregulated. The safety claim has also encouraged farmers to overuse glyphosate, mostly sprayed on crops “post-emergence” or after crops and weeds have emerged from the soil and often applied repeatedly throughout the season, especially with the rise of glyphosate-resistant weeds. In addition, they are liberally used on non-GM crops as a dessicant (drying agent) to facilitate harvesting (see [5] How Roundup® Poisoned my Nature Reserve, SiS 64).

To address the lack of knowledge in this area, researchers at the USGS began developing their own methods in the 2000s, using solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy, which is able to detect both glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA at levels as low as 0.02 μg/l (0.02 part per billion, ppb) for both compounds.

The results are shown in Table 1. Glyphosate and AMPA were most frequently detected in soil, followed by drains and ditches, rain and large rivers. For soil and sediment, and soil water a total of 45 soil and sediment samples were collected from seven sites in Mississippi and Indiana, with both glyphosate and AMPA being detected at least once in samples from all seven sites. Both were detected in 90 % of sediment samples with concentrations frequently above 10 μg/kg, with an average of 9.6 μg/kg. In 116 soil samples glyphosate and AMPA were detected in 34.5 % and 66.5 % respectively. Large rivers showed average levels of 0.03 μg/kg in 53.1 % of samples tested. Least frequent but detectable levels were found in groundwater samples, with 5.8 % and 14 % of samples testing positive for glyphosate and AMPA respectively.

Glyphosate is claimed by biotech proponents not to leach into groundwater supplies, but this work and a previous study performed in Catalonia, Spain have both detected its presence in groundwater supplies [4], a major source of drinking water.

The present study also found an increase in concentrations over time, showing higher levels from 2006-2010 compared to earlier years (2001-2005), consistent with rises in both agricultural, home and commercial use of the herbicide. Temporal patterns however, were not recorded and these likely change with agricultural seasons.

The study highlights the ubiquitous contamination of the environment with glyphosate herbicides at ever increasing levels. This herbicide is highly toxic to humans, farm animals, and wildlife, and at levels as low as 0.1 ppb; there is indeed a strong case for halting its use altogether (see [6] Ban GMOs Now, Special ISIS report).

Table 1    Concentrations of both glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA in US environment

Hydrologic Setting Number of Samples Percentage and (number) with Glyphosate Detections Median Glyphosate in μg/l or μg/kg Maximum Glyphosate in μg/l or μg/kg Percentage and (number) with AMPA Detections Median AMPA in μg/l or μg/kg Maximum AMPA in μg/l or μg/kg
All sites 3 732 39.4 (1,470) <0.02 476 55.0 (2,052) 0.04 397
Streams 1 508 52.5 (791) 0.03 73 71.6 (1,079) 0.20 28
Groundwater 1 171 5.8 (68) <0.02 2.03 14.3 (168) <0.02 4.88
Ditches and drains 374 70.9 (265) 0.20 427 80.7 (302) 0.43 397
Large rivers 318 53.1 (169) 0.03 3.08 89.3 (284) 0.22 4.43
Soil water 116 34.5 (40) <0.02 1.00 65.5 (76) 0.06 1.91
Lakes, ponds, and wetlands 104 33.7 (35) <0.02 301 29.8 (31) <0.02 41
Precipitation 85 70.6 (60) 0.11 2.50 71.8 (61) 0.04 0.48
Soil and sediment 45 91.1 (41) 9.6 476 93.3 (42) 18.0 341
WWTP outfall 11 9.09 (1) <0.02 0.30 81.8 (9) 0.45 2.54


  1. Battaglin WA, Meyer MT, Kuivila KM, and Dietze JE. Glyphosate and Its Degradation Product AMPA Occur Frequently and Widely in U.S. Soils, Surface Water, Groundwater, and Precipitation. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 2014, 50, 275-290. DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12159
  2. Sirinathsinghji E. Monsanto Defeated By Roundup Resistant Weeds. Science in Society 53, 40-41, 2011.
  3. 2006-2007 Pesticide Market Estimates, 3.4 Amount of Pesticides Used in the United States: Conventional.  US Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/pestsales/07pestsales/usage2007_2.htm
  4. Sirinathsinghji E. GM Crops and Water – A Recipe for Disaster. Science in Society 58, 8-10, 2013.
  5. Mason, R. How Roundup Poisoned My Nature Reserve, SiS 64, to appear
  6. Ho MW and Sirinathsinghji E. Ban GMOs Now, ISIS, London, June 2013,http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Ban_GMOs_Now.php

95% of Income gains going to top 1%

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from The Benefits of Economic Expansions Are Increasingly Going to the Richest Americans

NYT 09/26/14       [Some call it Capitalism- looks more like Cannibalism.....]

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Consumers Union: GMO labeling will cost consumers less than a penny a day

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October 1, 2014   OregonRightToKnow.org

A new analysis commissioned by Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, and conducted by the independent Portland-based economic research firm, ECONorthwest, found from a review of published research that the median cost to consumers of requiring labeling of genetically engineered food, also known as genetically modified (or GMO) food, is $2.30 per person annually. The report is available online now here.

“That’s less than a penny a day for each consumer—a tiny fraction of the cost estimates put out by industry and certainly a very small price to pay for consumers’ right to know if their food has been genetically engineered,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union.

Consumers Union strongly supports Oregon’s GMO labeling ballot initiative, Measure 92. “Given the minimal cost to consumers, the increased herbicide use involved in growing almost all genetically engineered crops, as well as the failure of government to require human safety assessments before genetically engineered foods reach the marketplace, GMO labeling is well worth it,” Halloran said. “Companies change their labeling all the time and with GMO labeling costing so little, it is likely some producers won’t even bother to pass the minimal increase on to consumers.”

Consumers Union disputes claims made in ads opposing Measure 92 that labeling will force farmers and food producers to spend  “millions” and increase food costs for consumers. The group also takes issue with the assumptions made by industry-funded studies that it says have overestimated the cost of similar GMO labeling proposals in California, Washington and New York—putting the cost at $100-$200 annually (or $400-$800 for a family of four).

“Industry cost estimates incorporate unrealistic assumptions about how GMO labeling requirements will drive food producers to switch to all organic ingredients, which would be much more expensive. However, there is no factual basis for this assumption and we believe producers will continue to sell GMO foods once they are labeled, and many consumers will continue to buy them, with no discernible price impact,” asserted Halloran. “Measure 92 simply requires foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled so that consumers can make an informed choice.”

Genetically engineered foods are already required to be labeled in 64 foreign countries, including many where American food producers sell their wares. Labeling has not increased food prices in those countries, according to Consumers Union.

“Producers are required to label foods that are frozen, from concentrate, homogenized, or irradiated, as well as a food’s country of origin. Poll after poll has found that more than 90 percent of consumers want foods that are genetically engineered to be labeled,” said Halloran.

In addition to the Oregon initiative, a GMO labeling requirement is on the ballot in Colorado in November. Vermont has already passed legislation requiring GMO labeling, and legislatures in dozens of other states are considering similar labeling bills.

For the original article, Click Here. 

For the study, Click Here.

The Finance Industry has Effectively Captured our Government

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In 2009, the Atlantic published an article by Simon Johnson titled The Quiet Coup:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

Quite simply said- and pretty damn obvious as well. Corporate powers now also dominate the media to effectively suppress conversations about both the coup and what we can do about it. Info overload does the rest.

I believe 70+ % of Americans agree about this state of affairs but most don’t know they have so much company – often because they are encouraged to use divisive rhetoric to express it so that gridlock appears to be the problem.

If TPP becomes a reality, we have no chance of ever getting our country back. Don’t you think it’s about time to loudly protest the theft of Democracy?? ISIL is no threat compared to this one! in fact it’s a joke.

How Roundup® Poisoned my Nature Reserve: A personal witness

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Institute of Science in Society  09/17/2014    by Rosemary Mason MB ChB FRCA

A personal witness to the devastating demise of wild pollinators and other species as glyphosate herbicides increase in the environment   

In March 2006, UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) announced the closure of its wildlife research centres [1], a decision opposed by 99% of 1 327 stakeholders.  Monks Wood centre, which hosted BBC’s Spring Watch, pioneered work on DDT and pesticides in the 1960s, and more recently revealed how climate change is affecting wildlife, with spring arriving three weeks earlier. The research centres were also involved in assessing the impacts of GM (genetically modified) crops on wildlife, with findings contradicting industry claims that no harm would be caused.

In response to that and to the unexplained disappearance of birds and invertebrates (such as bumblebees, honeybees and other pollinators), we set aside one acre of the field next to our house in South Wales to make a chemical-free nature reserve.


To begin with we had considerable success. We photographed many insects that were clearly benefitting from wild flowers, often insignificant ones, which supplied nectar and pollen resources but which had been eliminated from many conventional arable fields. The reserve also provided larval food plants for several species of moths, butterflies and bush crickets.

In 2009, I had major surgery followed by radiotherapy. The work on the reserve diverted me from dark thoughts, and insomnia allowed me to make nocturnal visits around the reserve and adjacent fields to see speckled bush crickets in their most active periods. With a bat detector set at 40 kHz, a torch and recording device, I followed the ‘singing’ adult bush crickets and recorded the progress of their courtships. In fact ‘stridulation’ is a sound produced by the males rubbing a tooth-bearing left wing across a scraper on the right wing. Courtship and mating takes place at the highest point. It was amazing how many I heard and saw. The same frequency picked up the staccato discharge of pipistrelle bats performing their erratic aerobatics as they hunted insects along the hedge above my head. I would hear tawny owls calling to each other, such a haunting sound, and follow the voice with my ears, as the owl moved on silent wings between groups of trees.

After observations made during the summer of 2009, we published a photo-journal: Speckled Bush Crickets. Observations in a small nature reserve [2] (see Box 1). On 10 February 2010, Dr David Robinson, who is studying the behaviour and acoustics of Leptophyes punctatissima (Speckled Bush Crickets) at the Open University, said: “I think that it is probably the first time anybody has produced a book about a single species.” He gave a copy to Dr Judith Marshall, who is the British expert on grasshoppers and crickets at the Natural History Museum.

At the end of 2010, we published another photo-journal, The Year of the Bumblebee. Observations in a small nature reserve [3] (see Box 1). The United Nations had declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, to celebrate the diversity of life on earth.  It also marked the year by which 200 countries had promised to halt biodiversity loss. In 2010 we set ourselves the task of identifying the six common types of bumblebees, their emergence, behaviour and the species of flower from which they took pollen and nectar.

Box 1

Extracts from photo-journals [2, 3] & other observations

Mating strategy in the female spider Araneus quadratus

“At fence post 22 on 16thAugust 2010, I was lucky enough to witness and photograph the courtship and mating of Araneus quadratus, an orb web spider, in our 1-metre high hedge.” Spiders reconstruct their webs during the night. “An early morning photograph illuminated by a torch, showing the previous night’s work. The prey catching web of an orb web spider is amazingly intricate. It was much more complex than her courtship web, which looked as if it had been thrown together in a hurry! There are strong frame threads and radial threads, after which the spider lays down a temporary auxiliary spiral which she takes down as she constructs the sticky prey- catching spiral. This ends before the central hub, leaving a free zone.”

The first pollen of the year for the Bombus Terrestris March 5th 2010

She descended like a helicopter, feet first into a large, purple crocus flower and disappeared completely. Apart from a faint tremor of the petals you would have been unaware she was there if you hadn’t actually seen her go in. Some 5-10 s later she emerged head first over the threshold, liberally powdered with pollen and crawled out like a drunk, narcotised by the first decent meal of the year.”


Moulting in a Speckled Bush Cricket nymph, August 8th 2009

She sat with her right hind leg extended and braced against the leaf below with the left leg flexed and acting as a counterbalance. The forelegs grasped the shroud and the two mid legs were used as stabilisers. The external mouthparts, mandibles and palps were clearly visible and this time I could see the mouthparts moving. She had chosen a perfect day on which to perform her ecdysis. She and her other self were poised like ballet dancers caught in the spotlight of the sun, casting surreal shadows on the scabious leaf below. At the end of 16 minutes all that remained was a pair of tibia, still hooked by their tarsi to a trefoil leaf above. Presumably she must have mentally calculated that the nutritional gain from climbing up and unhooking them was hardly worth the effort.”

The Ladybird Ball

For two weeks in April 2010 we studied 7-spot ladybirds. They are remarkable predators and natural pest removers!  They steadily graze their way through aphids and mildew spores. We made counts three times a day; morning, afternoon and evening. During those periods they migrated from positions in the field during the day and usually gathered on shrubs in the western hedge in the early evening sunshine; field maple, hawthorn, blackthorn, hornbeam and hazel. Here they fed, rested and mated. Although they meet by accident, the factors that govern their behaviour (they are attracted by light and move against the force of gravity) meant that they climb upwards and are drawn to the same places. In those 2 weeks we counted 348 ladybirds.


Three plant species that supported the insects

August 5th 2009: Male speckled bush cricket nymph on devil’s bit scabious leaf; ‘proof of grazing’. July 7th 2010: ‘The Teasels grew and grew, like Jack’s beanstalk, and had to be staked up against the July gales!’ Teasels were the favourite flower of the new bumblebee queens. They were used for both feeding and roosting. August 18th 2010: Bombus terrestris, buff-tailed bumblebee, has a short tongue which cannot reach the inside of the bell-shaped flowers of the Comfrey. She solves the problem of a short tongue by ‘stealing’ it. The short tongue penetrates the base of the flower.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by laudyms

September 17, 2014 at 5:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Changing from GMO to Non-GMO Natural Soy Animal Feed: Farmers See Big Difference

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“Pilegaarden” (Willow Farm)

Changing from GMO to Non-GMO Natural Soy, Experiences from Denmark

Institute of Science in Society   Sept 10, 2014

Healthier, more productive pigs, more profit, and much less birth deformities; an important lesson for all farmers not to use GMO feed or glyphosate on their land

By Borup Pederson  Based on invited lecture at the 1st Forum of Development and Environmental Safety,
25 – 26 July 2014, Beijing
My farm “Pilegaarden” (Willow Farm) is an average Danish farm in the small village of Hvidsten. Our pigs are raised accordingly to United Kingdom regulations for pig housing, and exported to the UK for consumption. Inside the pig farm is a straw-based system for the sows as well as a standard farrowing house.

I had read about the effects that GM feed has on rats in lab experiments (see [1] GM Soya Fed Rats: Stunted, Dead, or Sterile, SiS 33), so I decided to change the feed from GM to non-GM soy in April 2011 without telling the herdsman on the farm. Two days afterwards, he said to me: “You have changed the food.” He always notices whenever there is any problem with the feed and tells me. This time was different. Something very good was happening with the food as the pigs were not getting diarrhoea any more. The farm was saving 2/3 of the medicine or £7.88 per sow; not just my farm but three other farms in Denmark that switched from GMO to non GMO feed have also seen the same. Medication after the changeover in the weaners barn also went down dramatically by 66 %, with one type of antibiotics not being used since.

The sows have higher milk production; we can tell because the sows are suckling 1, 2 or 3 more piglets and have more live born pigs, on average 1.8 piglets more per sow. They wean 1,8 pigs more pr. litter, and have more live born pigs. We have seen a certain aggressive diarrhoea disappear altogether that affected young piglets in the first week of life, killing up to 30 % of the pigs. It has completely gone for over 3 years. Sows no longer suffer from bloating or ulcers and they also live longer in high production, only dropping in effectivity after 8 layers compared to 6 on GM soy.

So, a change to non-GM soy makes the herd easier to manage, improves the health of the herd, reduces medicine usage, increases production and is very profitable.

Severe birth deformities in piglets

Deformities in the pigs used to be very rare and I used to be proud to send Siamese twins to schools for classes because it would only happen one in a million. But then they became too frequent. So I read a lot on the subject and my suspicion fell on glyphosate. I read how glyphosate had been shown in scientific studies (see [2] Lab Study Establishes Glyphosate Link to Birth Defects, ISiS 48, [3]) to cause deformities and noted it was the same type of deformities that I was seeing in my pigs…   read more here

Written by laudyms

September 10, 2014 at 6:17 am


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