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Ending GMOs Now

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 Dr Mae-Wan Ho   Institute for Science in Society     04/21/15

Global rejection sent Monsanto profits plummeting, farmers abandoning GM crops in record numbers, reclassification of glyphosate as probable carcinogen triggering fresh calls for bans and restrictions; GMOs failing old and new, while organic and non-GMO markets continue booming; the days of GMOs are numbered, let’s hasten the demise.

Sign the petition to ban glyphosate here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_dont_silence_science_loc/

The year 2015 is auspicious. It started with oil prices plunging to a five year low, sparking a downsizing wave in an industry desperate to rid itself of stranded assets as burgeoning renewable energies are making oil redundant and civil society grassroots movements are winning major campaigns to divest mega-investments from fossil fuels and leave oil in the ground (see [1] Age of Oil Ending? SiS 65).

Simultaneously, a remarkable conjunction of events is boding ill for GMOs (genetically modified organisms). There is superb synergy between the end of oil and the end of the heavily oil-dependent GMO monoculture for a truly sustainable world under climate change, which we made clear in a comprehensive report [2] Food Futures Now -Organic -Sustainable -Fossil Fuel Free published in 2008. So let’s read the signs, and do our best to hasten the end of GMOs.

Mass rejection of US GM corn exports and record losses

It began with China rejecting shipment after shipment of US corn imports that tested positive for Syngenta’s Agrisure Vipera GM corn released and deregulated in the US since 2011, but not approved in China. Between November 2013 and April 2014, 1.45 million tonnes of US GM corn were destroyed or turned back [3]. Farmers and farming businesses in 20 States in the US have filed more than 360 lawsuits against Syngenta and hundreds more are expected as a federal judge is organizing the complex case. Claims may be up to $3 billion [4]. Although China eventually approved Vipera in December 2014, sales have not improved for US corn growers [3]. One reason is that China has been importing Ukrainian non-GMO corn under a loan-for-grain deal [5]. Ukraine shipped nearly 1 million tonnes to China in 2014, 470 047 tonnes were shipped in January 2015, and more expected to follow.

The other more significant reason is that US farmers are abandoning GMO crops and returning to non-GMO or switching to organic crops (see later).

GMO labelling fight reaches national level in the US

The GMO labelling movement in the US has been inching forward, despite the fact that 64 countries worldwide now label food containing GMOs, including China, Japan, Russia, Australia and all the EU countries. Three states, Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island have passed GMO labelling laws so far, but California, Colorado and Oregon have been defeated thanks to heavily-funded counter-campaigns by Monsanto, DuPont and the Grocery Manufacturers Association [6]. A total of 70 bills for labelling were proposed in 30 states within the past two years. Now, the battle has shifted to the national level. Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo introduced the ‘DARK’ (denying Americans the right to know) Act, which would pre-empt states from setting up their own GMO labelling systems and bar them from defining “natural” foods as free from GMOs. Food safety advocates and consumer groups are fighting back, supporting a national mandatory labelling bill called the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, re-introduced in February by a group of congressional Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »

GMOs, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the US

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roundup toxicGenetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America

Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014  ORIGINAL PAPER   ISSN 1177-42586
Authors:  Nancy L. Swanson,  Andre Leu, Jon Abrahamson,and Bradley Wallet

Introduction

Within the last 20 years there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with a marked decrease in life expectancy (Bezruchka, 2012). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the cost of diabetes and diabetes-related treatment was approximately $116 billion dollars in 2007. Estimated costs related to obesity were $147 billion in 2008 and cardiovascular diseases and stroke were $475.3 billion in 2009. Health care expenditures in the US totaled 2.2 trillion dollars in 2007 (CDC, 2013a). The onset of serious illness is appearing in increasingly younger cohorts. The US leads the world in the increase in deaths due to neurological diseases between 1979-81 and 2004-06 for the 55-65 age group (Pritchard et al., 2013). These mental disorder deaths are more typical of the over 65 age group. There have been similar findings for obesity, asthma, behavior and learning problems, an d chronic disease in children and young adults (Van Cleave et al., 2010). Type II diabetes in youth is being called an epidemic (Rosenbloom et al., 1999). The rate of chronic disease in the entire US population has been dramatically increasing with an estimated 25% of the US population suffering from multiple chronic diseases (Autoimmunity Research Foundation, 2012). These findings suggest environmental triggers rather than genetic or age-related causes.

During this same time period, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of glyphosate applied to food crops and in the percentage of GE food crops planted (Benbrook, 2012). We undertook a study to see if correlations existed between the rise of GE crops, the associated glyphosate use and the rise in chronic disease in the US.

Genetic engineering

To genetically modify a plant for herbicide tolerance, genes are identified which convey tolerance of the active chemical in the herbicide to the organism. In the case of glyphosate, glyphosate-tolerant genes were isolated from a strain of Agrobacterium. These were inserted into the genome of the plant via a multi-step process resulting in a plant that can withstand the direct application of the herbicide. Genetic modification is also utilised for developing insect resistant plants by using insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt toxin. The promoter used to drive the expression of the foreign genes is generally the 35S promoter from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV). Not only are the virus and bacteria genes themselves potentially harmful (Ho, 2013; Ewen & Pusztai, 1999), but the plants are sprayed directly with herbicides. The herbicide-tolerant plants absorb the poisons and humans and domestic animals eat them. ….

Chem Corps mega $$ donations to defeat GMO labeling: time to fight back!

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Updated below

DuPont’s massive donation of $4.46 million this week, shattered the record for making the single largest contribution to a political campaign in Oregon history!

  • DuPont – the giant chemical corporation – dumped a whopping $7.46 MILLION into the GMO labeling fight this week – $4.46 million in Oregon and $3 million in Colorado!
  • Already Monsanto has spent more than $8.1 million in Oregon and Colorado to prevent common sense labeling initiatives from being passed into law.
  • These companies – combined with Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and the rest of their agrochemical friends – have spent a whopping $30+ MILLION to defeat GMO labeling.

That’s right, these 5 corporations are leading the pack to deceive voters by dumping in a stunning $30 MILLION to silence our voices and keep GMOs unlabeled on our tables. In Oregon, Monsanto, DuPont and Friends have already dumped more than $16.5 million to defeat Measure 92, while pouring another $14.3 million to defeat of Colorado’s Prop 105.

The real question is – What are they so desperate to HIDE?

We saw this in Washington in 2013 and California in 2012 – Monsanto, DuPont and the rest of their Big Food friends will stop at absolutely nothing in their disinformation campaign to defeat GMO labeling. They’ll lie to and confuse voters in misleading TV ads airing every single day if it means preventing GMO labeling from becoming law.

We can’t let them win! A victory at the ballot boxes for labeling would be a historic moment for our GMO labeling movement. We could see a wave of similar labeling measures roll across the entire nation – but only if we’re able to fight back now and deliver a crushing blow to Monsanto.

You could be the deciding factor in defeating Monsanto and winning GMO labeling. Make an urgent contribution today and we’ll rush it directly to labeling supporters in Colorado and Oregon.

What your contribution today will help accomplish:

  • Chip in $25 today to support volunteers going door to door in neighborhoods across Oregon and Colorado.
  • Chip in $50 today to buy 70 mailers to get the message out to voters. With the 3 to 1 match this will reach 210 voters!
  • Chip in $100 today to support volunteer phone banks to make more than 500 calls! With the triple match this grows to 1,500 phone calls to targeted voters!
  • Chip in $250 today to reach 400,000 voters with a hard-hitting TV ad!
  • Chip in $500 today to reach 1 million voters to combat the lies of Monsanto and the GMA’s misleading ads.

We’re running out of time to fight for GMO labeling in Colorado and Oregon. Standing up to the huge chemical companies will take everything we’ve got – are you in?

Please don’t wait – contribute before midnight tonight and your donation will be triple-matched by the incredible teams at Presence Marketing and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.

TRIPLE your impact before time runs out – we need to hear from you today! Every dollar counts!

Update 11/21/14:

GMO labeling measure heads into recount range as opposition margin narrows dramatically

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].

References

  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

References

  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

California fracking uses more than 2 mil gallons of water a day (in a major drought!)

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Photo: According to new analysis by Californians Against Fracking, the California oil & gas industry uses over 2 million gallons per day on activities like fracking, acidizing, and cyclic steam injection. Read more here: http://go.350.org/Y5XxHG Unlike many other water uses -- say, farming for instance -- fracking permanently pollutes water and effectively removes it from the water cycle.  What was that about a drought? Photo: Brooke Anderson Photography: Stills of Our Stories & Struggles

 

According to new analysis by Californians Against Fracking, the California oil & gas industry uses over 2 million gallons per day on activities like fracking, acidizing, and cyclic steam injection. Read more here:

Iraq records huge rise in birth defects

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The Independent 10/14/12 

New study links increase with military action by Western forces

It played unwilling host to one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war. Fallujah’s homes and businesses were left shattered; hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed. Its residents changed the name of their “City of Mosques” to “the polluted city” after the United States launched two massive military campaigns eight years ago. Now, one month before the World Health Organisation reveals its view on the legacy of the two battles for the town, a new study reports a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war.

High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

There is “compelling evidence” to link the increased numbers of defects and miscarriages to military assaults, says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the lead authors of the report and an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Similar defects have been found among children born in Basra after British troops invaded, according to the new research.

US marines first bombarded Fallujah in April 2004 after four employees from the American security company Blackwater were killed, their bodies burned and dragged through the street, with two of the corpses left hanging from a bridge. Seven months later, the marines stormed the city for a second time, using some of the heaviest US air strikes deployed in Iraq. American forces later admitted that they had used white phosphorus shells, although they never admitted to using depleted uranium, which has been linked to high rates of cancer and birth defects.

The new findings, published in the Environmental Contamination and Toxicology bulletin, will bolster claims that US and Nato munitions used in the conflict led to a widespread health crisis in Iraq. They are the latest in a series of studies that have suggested a link between bombardment and a rise in birth defects. Their preliminary findings, in 2010, prompted a World Health Organisation inquiry into the prevalence of birth defects in the area. The WHO’s report, out next month, is widely expected to show an increase in birth defects after the conflict. It has looked at nine “high-risk” areas in Iraq, including Fallujah and Basra. Where high prevalence is found, the WHO is expected to call for additional studies to pinpoint precise causes.

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