The U.S. government and multinational corporations have capitalized on African nations’ voids in regulatory frameworks to push genetically modified (GM) crops, standing to gain lucrative corporate profits while decimating food sovereignty, a new report states. Released Monday from the African Centre for Biosafety and commissioned by environmental network Friends of the Earth International, Who benefits from GM crops? The expansion of agribusiness interests in Africa through biosafety policy (pdf) looks at how U.S. interests have used the mantra of addressing food security to push these crops despite local opposition. “The U.S., the world’s top producer of GM crops, is seeking new markets for American GM crops in Africa,” stated report author Haidee Swanby. “The U.S. administration’s strategy consists of assisting African nations to produce biosafety laws that promote agribusiness interests instead of protecting Africans from the potential threats of GM crops.”
Farmers and farm businesses in 20 states have now filed more than 360 lawsuits against agricultural chemicals-maker Syngenta, and hundreds more may be coming as a federal judge organizes the complex case so they can move forward. The dispute centers around Syngenta’s sale of a corn seed called Agrisure Viptera, which was genetically altered to contain a protein that kills corn-eating bugs such as earworms and cutworms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved it in 2010, and Syngenta first sold it to farmers in 2011. China, a growing importer of U.S. corn that refuses to buy genetically modified crops it hasn’t tested, had not approved Viptera when Syngenta began selling it. In November 2013, China discovered the Viptera corn trait in several U.S. shipments.
On Friday, February 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the first genetically engineered apple, despite hundreds of thousands of petitions asking the USDA to reject it. In April 2013, we interviewed scientists about the genetic engineering technology used to create the Arctic Apple, whose only claim to fame is that it doesn’t turn brown when sliced. The benefit to consumers? Being able to eat apples without having any sense of how old they are? Here’s what we learned about the technology, called RNA interference, or double strand RNA (dsRNA), from Professor Jack Heinemann (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Sarah Agapito-Tenfen (from Santa Catarina University in Brazil) and Judy Carman (Flinders University in South Australia), all of whom said that dsRNA manipulation is untested, and therefore inherently risky. . .
Poland’s biggest ever farmers’ protest is now entering its second week after closing down key motorways and main ‘A’ roads. Rallies and blockades have so far taken place in over 50 locations across the country involving thousands of small and family farmers. Over 150 tractors have been blockading the A2 motorway into Warsaw since the 3rd February and hundreds more have closed roads and are picketing governmental offices in other regions. The farmers are vowing to continue the struggle until the government agrees to enter talks with the union and address what the growing crisis in Polish agriculture, and roll back measures that unfairly discriminate against smaller family-run farms.
In an unprecedented and alarming move, the US Department of Agriculture has given GE tree company ArborGen permission to pursue commercial production of a genetically engineered (GE) loblolly pine with no regulatory oversight or environmental risk assessment. This decision was withheld from the US public for almost five months. This is the first genetically engineered forest tree to be approved for commercial production anywhere in the world (outside of China). The potential impacts to the public or to the environment will not be evaluated, and overwhelming public opposition to GE trees is being completely ignored. This decision sets a terrible and unacceptable precedent. If unchallenged, it will allow other GE trees, with even more dangerous traits, to be developed without any federal or public review.
Monsanto said Wednesday its earnings fell 34% in its first fiscal quarter, as South American farmers cut back on planting corn, reducing demand for the company’s biotech-enhanced seeds. US farmers harvested record crops of soybeans and corn last year, sending prices on those food staples to their lowest levels in years. That has resulted in farmers in South America and elsewhere reducing the number of acres they dedicate to corn. Monsanto said its business was also affected by reduced cotton planting in Australia. The agriculture products company’s revenue fell more than 8% to $2.87bn in the period, on lower sales of corn seeds and herbicide. Analysts expected $2.96bn, according to Zacks. The St Louis-based company reported a profit of $243m, or 50 cents per share, down from $368m, or 69 cents per share in the same period last year.
U.S. Right to Know – a new nonprofit organization — released a new report today on Big Food’s PR campaign to defend GMOs: how it manipulated the media, public opinion and politics with sleazy tactics, bought science and PR spin. Since 2012, the agrichemical and food industries have mounted a complex, multifaceted public relations, advertising, lobbying and political campaign in the United States, costing more than $100 million, to defend genetically engineered food and crops and the pesticides that accompany them. The purpose of this campaign is to deceive the public, to deflect efforts to win the right to know what is in our food via labeling that is already required in 64 countries, and ultimately, to extend their profit stream for as long as possible.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) is helping biotech run the latest war in Ukraine. Make no mistake that what is happening in the Ukraine now is deeply tied to the interests of Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, and other big players in the poison food game. Monsanto has an office in Ukraine. While this does not shout ‘culpability’ from every corner, it is no different than the US military’s habit to place bases in places that they want to gain political control. The opening of this office coincided with land grabs with loans from the IMF and World Bank to one of the world’s most hated corporations – all in support of their biotech takeover. Previously, there was a ban on private sector land ownership in the country – but it was lifted ‘just in time’ for Monsanto to have its way with the Ukraine.
How about an EXTRA does of Bt toxins in your food? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already given their rubber stamp toBacillus thuringiensis or Bt corn, cotton, potatoes, and soy that contain a soil dwelling bacterium used as a biological pesticide linked to negative immune system responses in a single dose, but now insect-resistant trait event DAS-81419-2, a double Bt toxin soy has now been de-regulated or ‘approved’ by our illustrious ‘protector of the food supply.’ he USDA’s deregulation of the two Bt protein trait to be allowed in soybeans through biotech engineering methods opens the door for other crops to be modified with additional Bt toxins as well. This ‘in-plant’ GM version of soy was created in order to protect against pests like fall army (Spodoptera frugiperda), soybean looper (Pseudoplusia includes), velvetbean caterpillar (Anticarsia gemmatalis), soybean podworm (Helicoverpa gelotopoeon) and tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens) and Rachiplusia nu.
Americans are speaking with their wallets like never before in order to voice our true collective opinion of how corporations and Big Food are working with our food. One critical example of how we are demanding change can be seen where the sale of non-GMO Project Verified foods have more than doubled since 2013. Verified GMO-free food sales were $3 billion in 2013 and were $8.5 billion in 2014! Not only that, organic food sales overall are projected to grow another 14% by 2018, and this is a modest estimate according to The United States Organic Food Market Forecast & Opportunities.
Europe banned the cultivation of GM rapeseed, but new studies prove that genetically modified Brassica napus L. is growing all over Switzerland. This is likely the first study of its kind to prove that cross-contamination (or possible illegal seed spreading by Biotech and Monsanto) is a bigger problem than anyone may have suspected. The study published in PLoS is titled, “Unexpected Diversity of Feral Genetically Modified Oilseed Rape (Brassica napus L.) Despite a Cultivation and Import Ban in Switzerland.” Of 105 plants sampled, 15 contained the banned GMO rapeseed variety. Though this was considered a ‘small’ contamination rate in the study, there obviously should be no GM plants present at all considering the ban. This is concerning, too, since once GM seeds are introduced into the wild, they can continue to cultivate, interbreeding with non-GM, local plants.
ArborGen’s GE Eucalyptus trees will be an ecological disaster. They are non-native, invasive, water-greedy, suppress the growth of other vegetation, provide no habitat for wildlife, and are explosively flammable. And ArborGen wants to see them in huge plantations along the US Gulf Coast. So if the GE chestnut tree is truly “intended solely for the public good,” why is ArborGen involved? Why are they promoting them? For one reason. The GE American chestnut tree is being used to try to convince the public that GE trees can be beneficial. The hope is that they will help change the extremely powerful public opposition to GE trees and open up markets for new GE tree “products” that could mean big big profits for timber and biomass companies.