Archive for the ‘Food’ Category
The Institute of Science in Society 09/28/15
‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ is agribusiness’ latest attempt to promote industrial farming and undermine agro-ecological approaches generally recognized as the real solution to food production under climate change
Agribusiness corporations that promote synthetic fertilisers, industrial meat production and large-scale industrial agriculture are calling themselves “Climate Smart”. The Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture was launched a year ago; Its membership of 21 nations includes only ten developing countries, three farmers´ organisations, and a large private sector (with numerous corporations), 60 % of which linked to the fertilizer industry. Monsanto, Walmart and McDonalds have launched their own “climate-smart agriculture”.
CSA claims to include all models of agriculture. However it lacks any social or environmental safeguards and fails to prioritize farmers’ voices, knowledge and rights as the key to facing and mitigating climate challenges. Most of all, CSA actually threatens to undermine agro-ecological approaches generally recognized as the real solution to food production under climate change.
There is huge opposition from all sectors of civil society all over the world. An open letter addressed to decision makers objecting to CSA has been signed by 55 international organisations and 300 national organizations (including the Institute of Science in Society). The full text is reproduced below. Please forward widely to your policy-makers.
Don’t be fooled!
Civil society says NO to “Climate Smart Agriculture” and urges decision-makers to support agroecology
We, the undersigned, belong to civil society organizations including social movements, peasants/farmers organizations and faith-based organizations from around the world. We are working to tackle the impacts of climate change that are already disrupting farming and food systems and threatening the food and nutrition security of millions of individuals. As we move towards COP21 in Paris, we welcome a growing recognition of the urgent need to adapt food systems to a changing climate, and the key role of agroecology within a food and seed sovereignty framework in achieving this, while contributing to mitigation through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
However, despite these promising signals, we share deep concerns about the growing influence and agenda of so-called “Climate-Smart Agriculture” (CSA) and the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA). Climate change is the biggest and the most urgent threat our societies face. We need a radical transformation of our food systems away from an industrial model and its false solutions, and toward food sovereignty, local food systems, and integral agrarian reform in order to achieve the full realization of the human right to adequate food and nutrition. We therefore urge decision-makers at country and UN levels to reject the dangerous rhetoric of Climate-Smart Agriculture.
Climate Smart Agriculture must not be confused with agroecology
Climate Smart Agriculture must not be confused with agroecology . Agroecology is a holistic approach to agriculture, based on principles of ecology as well as food and nutrition security, food sovereignty and food justice which seek to enhance agricultural systems by using and recycling natural resources instead of relying on externally-purchased inputs. It encourages local/national food production by small food producers and family farmers, and is based on techniques that are not delivered from the top-down, but developed from farmers’ traditional knowledge and practices as well as from farmer innovations. This approach is based on farmers’ participation and makes nature a powerful ally in ensuring food and nutrition security, building healthy soils and conserving water. It increases farmers’ incomes and resilience in the face of climate change, while improving biodiversity and crop diversity. It is therefore crucial for all efforts to realize the human right to adequate food and nutrition. Governments must recognise that industrial approaches that degrade soil health and water retention, pollute water systems, poison nature and create dependency on external inputs, impoverish biodiversity and ecosystems are not only harmful and unnecessary, but also deeply misguided for a planet facing hunger, ecological crises and climate change.
Written by laudyms
September 28, 2015 at 4:55 am
New Peer Reviewed Study Shatters Myth of Substantial Equivalence and GMO Safety
From the National Press Club earlier this week, an independent scientist with four degrees from MIT, Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai released the results of groundbreaking new research that proves the FDA’s current legal construct of “substantial equivalence”, which allows new GMO crops to be approved without proper safety tests, is seriously outdated, unscientific and a fraud when it comes to assessing the safety of GMO foods.
Utilizing modern tools, Dr. Ayyadurai’s team has conducted the first of its kind systems biology analysis of more than 11,597 published peer reviewed scientific papers and found that the process of genetic engineering creates significant cellular disruption in GMO plants.
According to the new research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural Sciences, the process of genetic engineering creates significant disruptions to basic cellular functions in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMO soybeans.
The new research found:
- The process of genetic engineering introduces oxidative stress or system shock in GMO soybean plants.
- This stress creates a metabolic disturbance in the plant’s normal cellular functions, including the plant’s ability to rid itself of harmful toxins.
- This results in an alarming rise in the accumulation of Formaldehyde, a known class 1 carcinogen
- and a significant depletion of Glutathione, a master antioxidant responsible for cellular detoxification and necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system.
This new research is alarming and raises serious questions for everyone who eats regarding the safety of our food supply and the current regulations that block GMO labeling and rubber stamp the approval of new GMO food crops.
These findings shatter the myth that GMOs are “substantially equivalent” and show for the first time that significant damage is done at the cellular level to foods that have been genetically engineered through the process of transgenic insertion of foreign genes.
Therefore, we need an immediate ban on new GMO approvals until new safety standards and independent tests can be conducted.
Tell Congress and the FDA that GMOs are NOT the same as Non-GMOs – “substantial equivalence” is a fraud! It’s time to stop Monsanto’s corruption of science, democracy and our food supply – demand mandatory GMO labeling! Every voice counts!
Anthony Gucciardi exposes Monsanto’s secret department that one Monsanto employee went on record in admitting actually exists to ‘discredit’ scientists who are against their GMOs.
Acting as sort of a PR wing for the company, the reality here is that Monsanto is desperate to ‘discredit’ any form of scientific opposition to their creations.
And looking even beyond GMOs, we now know that the World Health Organization and other organizations has been publicly outspoken against Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing Roundup (their #1 selling herbicide).
Institute of Science in Society June 22, 2015
Review of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, by Steven M. Druker, Clear River Press, Salt Lake City UT, 2015. ISBN 978-0-9856169-1-5 (hardcover), 978-0-9856169-0-8 (softcover).
According to the advocates of genetic engineering, GMOs have been proven by countless rigorous trials to be safe, no humans or even animals have ever been harmed by them, genetic modification is no different from the natural and artificial breeding that has been going on for millennia, it has produced crops with all sorts of desirable properties such as drought resistance, we cannot hope to feed the world without it, and so on.
These statements are all false. And in Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, Steven Druker, a lawyer, shows them to be false exactly as if he were in a courtroom. He has collected a vast amount of documentary evidence: scientific papers and also internal reports and memos. He has interviewed many of the people who were involved and he explains the science so that lay readers can follow the arguments.
The book is a surprisingly good read, considering how long it is and the amount of detail it contains, but it is also a valuable reference text. When the GMO lobby confidently state that genetic engineering is the same as ordinary breeding, this is where you can learn why it is not. When they describe the work of Arpad Pusztai or of Gilles-Eric Séralini as ‘discredited’, you can find out what actually happened, and why neither result has ever been properly challenged, let alone refuted.
It’s not just a matter of one person’s word against another. Unlike the GM lobby, Druker presents solid evidence for what he claims. It’s there in detail and it is fully referenced; you are welcome to check it for yourself.
To give you a flavour of the book, here are brief outlines of two of the early chapters, one on Asilomar and one on tryptophan. Both stories are very important in the history of genetic engineering, but they are seldom mentioned today. When they are, the usual spin is that a few scientists raised their concerns at a meeting but soon accepted that these were unwarranted, and that the tryptophan incident had nothing to do with GM. In both cases, the truth is quite different.
Forty years ago, when transferring genes from one organism to another was first becoming a standard research technique, scientists naturally began to worry about its potential hazards. The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) appointed a commission to look into the issues, and this led to a letter to the journal Science  and then, in February 1975, a meeting of over a hundred scientists at the Asilomar Conference Center in Monterey, California. The outcome was a statement  with a list of safety guidelines, including the requirement that research should be carried out using only disabled bacteria that could not survive outside the laboratory. Just the sort of thing you would expect when there is a possibility of danger. Chemists, after all, work in specially designed laboratories, not out in the open, and they have to make special arrangements to dispose of the waste from their experiments; they are not allowed to pour it down the sink and into the public sewers.
The Asilomar guidelines were, however, soon abandoned. They are seldom mentioned today, and if you have heard of them at all you’ve probably been told that while they were an understandable reaction to a new technology, they were soon shown to be unnecessary because it was conclusively demonstrated that the techniques pose no significant hazards.
Druker, who has looked carefully through the published records and interviewed many of those who were around at the time, tells a very different story. One of his key points is that the claim that genetic engineering was safe was largely based on research involving only one bacterium, E. coli K-12. But K-12 had been used in laboratories for many years and was relatively weak, i.e. it would be unlikely to survive outside the laboratory. So while the release of a genetically modified K-12 into the environment might not be dangerous, that would be reassuring only if all future research were confined to K-12. Even then, there would remain the risk that the transferred gene would pass into another, stronger organism.
Yet molecular biologists used, and continue to use, this evidence to justify their claim that genetic engineering involves no special risks and that GM organisms require no more testing than those that have been conventionally bred; they are, in the words of the US Food Additive Amendment of 1958, “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) and consequently exempted from testing.
It’s easy to understand why so many molecular biologists, rushing to push ahead in what they saw as an important and exciting new area, allowed their enthusiasm to cloud their judgement. They could also see the prospect of turning their research into profit, and that made them even less anxious to think about the dangers. Crucially, they managed to convince the Reagan administration that there was money to be made and jobs to be created and that the US must not be left behind. That, combined with the Reagan-Thatcher policy of relaxing all regulation – in banks as well as in molecular biology – made support for genetic engineering a part of government policy. The US government has consistently backed the GM industry and has used its strength to pressure other countries into accepting GM crops. The Asilomar guidelines and the concerns that led to them have been totally forgotten.
Written by laudyms
June 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm
Campaigns to ban and phase out the chemical across the world intensify with major successes
Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji The Institute of Science in Society June 10, 2015
Could it be that the World Health Organisation’s classification of glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’ (see  Glyphosate ‘Probably Carcinogenic to Humans’ Latest WHO Assessment, SiS 66) will be the final nail in the coffin for the world’s most popular herbicide and Monsanto’s flagship product.
Recent weeks have seen the intensification of campaigns to ban or remove the product as well as lawsuits being filed against Monsanto; in the US for false safety claims of glyphosate, and in China, for hiding toxicity studies from the public. (El Salvador has already banned the chemical though yet to be signed into law , while the Netherlands last year banned private sales . Sri Lanka had a partial ban in place in regions most afflicted by chronic kidney disease that has been linked to glyphosate use (see later)).
People have known the truth for years. Industry and government regulators have conspired to bury copious evidence of toxicity for decades, and they feel to some extent vindicated by the latest WHO assessment (see  Glyphosate and Cancer, SiS 62) and  EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate Toxicity, SiS 51). More importantly, governments are finally beginning to take action.
Colombia has taken the lead, deciding to suspend aerial spraying of illegal coca as well as poppy plants, which is expected to come into effect in a few weeks’ time following a majority 7 to 1 vote for the ban by the National Narcotics Council . The day before the ban, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defence (AIDA) delivered 24 000 signatures to the Minister of Justice who also chairs the Narcotics Council to push for this decision .
Colombia had been employing US contractors to spray glyphosate for two decades, covering an estimated 1.6 million hectares of land. This spraying for the “war on drugs” has been ineffective in eradicating illegal cocaine production, but has instead caused rising illness in local communities, killing local crops and polluting land and water supplies. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities have borne the brunt of the fumigation programs, prompting protests against both coca production and glyphosate use that has been displacing people from ancestral lands . Colombia is not alone.
Bermuda, the British overseas territory in the Atlantic also banned glyphosate imports with immediate effect following the WHO assessment, as announced by their Minister of Health, Jeanne Atherden, whose decision was supported by local farmers . The Minister said she believes the “action we are taking today is prudent and in the best interests of a safe environment….Like any area of science, there are competing studies and a wealth of information on both sides of the argument…. I am satisfied that this action is warranted and we are committed to conducting an open and thorough investigation” .
Sri Lanka is the latest country to declare an outright ban. The decision follows the election of the new president, a farmer and previously the Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena taking the decision due the epidemic of chronic kidney disease .The spread of kidney disease highlights the wide-ranging toxicity of glyphosate not limited to carcinogenicity. The country’s battle to ban the chemical precedes the WHO declaration, coming after studies by Sri Lankan researchers linked the chemical to hard water, heavy metal contaminants and glyphosate use (see  Sri Lanka Partially Bans Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease Epidemic, SiS 62). This prompted an initial ban, which was later restricted to certain regions of the country following intense lobbying pressure. With the government paying for healthcare of over 25 000 residents and supplying them with fresh water, the latest decision for an outright ban could not come soon enough.
Imminent bans, protests, and fresh calls for bans
Brazil is facing growing pressure to follow suit, with the country’s public state prosecutor writing to Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) asking it to urgently re-evaluate their stance on glyphosate and also revoke authorisations on glyphosate-tolerant GM crops . He has even gone as far as launching an investigation into whether regulatory authorisations are legal for the GM crops. ANVISA are stalling their decision however, until the full report by the WHO is published.
In Argentina, 30 000 health professionals belonging to the union of doctors and health professionals (FESPROSA) have come out in support of the WHO decision , claiming that glyphosate “not only causes cancer. It is also associated with increased spontaneous abortions, birth defects, skin diseases, and respiratory and neurological disease.” The statement continues: “Health authorities, including the National Ministry of Health and the political powers, can no longer look away. Agribusiness cannot keep growing at the expense of the health of the Argentine people. The 30,000 health professionals in Argentina in the FESPROSA ask that glyphosate is now prohibited in our country and that a debate on the necessary restructuring of agribusiness is opened, focusing on the application of technologies that do not endanger human life.”
Similarly, the Society of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology (SAHOP) issued a statement calling for an immediate ban of glyphosate fumigation, signed by the President of the Paediatric society Pedro Zubizarreta. They objected to the massive use of toxic products being sprayed in ever increasing concentrations in combinations of both insecticides and herbicides, and being sold as ‘technological advancements’. They also warned of storing the grains in plastic bags, which leaves grains teeming with aflatoxins, categorised by the WHO’s IARC as a known carcinogen since 1993 . Glyphosate has already been previously linked to the growth of these fungi in scientific studies, along with many other crop diseases .
Successful protests in Argentina were also recently mobilised to prevent Dr Medardo Ávila Vázquez from losing his job after the agribusiness-funded university threatened to sanction him for conducting and disseminating studies showing the high levels of cancers affecting his region as a result of agrichemical spraying . These protests are a tribute to his work in exposing the toxicity of glyphosate, as well as the groundswell of opposition to glyphosate spraying in the country despite support by the national government. Local residents are gaining strength to voice their concerns following the WHO news as well as the recent decision by the Ministry of Production in the province of Santa Fe to ban aerial spraying of 2,4-D within 6 km of residents, confirming the health risks of the chemical agricultural system that leaves children covered in chemical and dust particles as they walk to school .
In Europe, the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) (an influential body with member organizations in 27 countries) has written to officials at the EU parliament and Commission asking for an immediate ban of glyphosate herbicides and for insecticides also judged by the WHO to be carcinogens, without exceptions . A member of the EU commission stated in the 2015 GMO-free conference 2015 in Berlin, Germany that they will include the WHO assessment in their re-evaluation procedures that is due to be completed later this year. However the corrupt process of reassessment that was led by a consortium of chemical companies (see  Scandal of Glyphosate Re-assessment in Europe, SiS 63) means that EU campaigners will have to push hard to force the EU to have some semblance of integrity in their final decision making.
Written by laudyms
June 11, 2015 at 7:27 am
A senior scientist at MIT has declared that we are facing an epidemic of autism that may result in one half of all children being affected by autism in ten years.
Dr. Stephanie Seneff, who made these remarks during a panel presentation in Groton, MA last week, specifically cites the Monsanto herbicide, Roundup, as the culprit for the escalating incidence of autism and other neurological disorders. Roundup, which was introduced in the 1970’s, contains the chemical glyphosate, which is the focal point for Seneff’s concerns. Roundup was originally restricted to use on weeds, as glyphosate kills plants. However, Roundup is now in regular use with crops. With the coming of GMO’s, plants such as soy and corn were bioengineered to tolerate glyphosate, and its use dramatically increased. From 2001 to 2007, glyphosate use doubled, reaching 180 to 185 million pounds in the U.S. alone in 2007.
If you don’t consume corn- on- the -cob or toasted soybeans, however, you are hardly exempt from the potential affects of consuming glyphosate. Wheat is now sprayed with Roundup right before it is harvested, making any consumption of non- organic wheat bread a sure source for the chemical. In addition, any products containing corn syrup, such as soft drinks, are also carrying a payload of glyphosate.
According to studies cited by Seneff, glyphosate engages “gut bacteria” in a process known as the shikimate pathway. This enables the chemical to interfere with the biochemistry of bacteria in our GI tract, resulting in the depletion of essential amino acids .
Monsanto has maintained that glyphosate is safe for human consumption, as humans do not have the shikimate pathway. Bacteria, however, does—including the flora that constitutes “gut bacteria.”
It is this ability to affect gut bacteria that Seneff claims is the link which allows the chemical to get on board and wreak further damage. The connection between intestinal flora and neurological functioning is an ongoing topic of research. According to a number of studies, glyphosate depletes the amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine, which can then contribute to obesity, depression, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
GMO crops like these Roundup Ready sugar beets near Monroe would be outlawed in Benton County under Measure 2-89, but the initiative would have to stand up to legal challenges in court. Photo: Amanda Cowan
A ban on genetically modified crops is not the most radical part of Measure 2-89.
The most radical part of the Benton County ballot measure is its attempt to circumvent state law by asserting a fundamental right of local self-governance, even in the face of state or federal law.
If passed by voters in the May 19 special election, Measure 2-89 — also known as the Benton County Local Food System Ordinance — would prohibit corporations and government entities from using genetically modified organisms anywhere in the county and require them to harvest, remove or destroy all GMOs within 90 days of passage.
But in order for the measure to take effect, it would have to override Oregon Revised Statute 633.738, a two-year-old state law that bars local jurisdictions from regulating seeds or agricultural production.
In high-flown language reminiscent of the nation’s founding documents, M2-89 begins with a statement of “findings and intent” that directly challenges the rights of corporations and the authority of state and federal laws, culminating in this remarkable statement:
“We the people of Benton County therefore enact this local law pursuant to the inherent and inalienable right of the residents of Benton County to govern their own county for their own health, safety and welfare. That authority is also secured by the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that governments are instituted to secure the rights of the people, in the State Constitution of Oregon’s recognition that all power is inherent in the people, and in the Benton County Charter, which delegates the authority to the people and their representatives to enact local legislation on matters of county concern.”
The question, of course, is this: Can they really get away with that?
….. continued at site
Written by laudyms
May 9, 2015 at 7:30 am