By Dr. Mercola

One week from today California voters will vote on Prop 37 and we will see if truth will win out over corporate greed, and hopefully people will finally be given the right to know what is in their food.

The state of affairs in India with respect to GM foods is further validation of the importance of labeling GM foods with Prop 37 in California.

Over the past 16 years, it's estimated that more than a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide after being convinced to plant Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) seeds (especially Bt cotton), then having their crops fail, leaving them in financial ruin.

Earlier this year, India's National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), a government agency, sued Monsanto, the world leader in GM crops and seeds, and their collaborators, the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company, for biopiracy, accusing them of stealing local varieties of eggplant to develop a genetically modified version.

It seems now that the country may have had enough, and is citing the precautionary principle in their announcement that all GM field trials should be stopped until certain conditions have been met.

India to Ban Field Trials of GM Crops

In October 2012, a five-member Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Supreme Court of India unanimously recommended that all GM field trials in India should be stopped until the following conditions have been met:1

  • Specific sites for conducting field trials have been designated and certified and sufficient mechanisms for monitoring the trials put in place.
  • A panel of scientists, qualified in evaluation of the biosafety data of GM crops, has been engaged for scrutiny and analyses of the safety data.
  • Conflict of interest in the regulatory body has been removed.
  • The requirement for preliminary biosafety tests prior to field trials including sub-chronic toxicity in small animals has been included.

Two other noteworthy recommendations were also included in the TEC report:

  • A 10-year moratorium on field trials of all Bt food crops, based on the overall status of current food safety evaluations for these crops (including data on Bt cotton and Bt eggplant)
  • A moratorium on field trials of herbicide-tolerant crops until an independent assessment has evaluated its "impact" and "suitability"

It seems India is poised to join the ranks of those countries who do not want to use their population and land as guinea pigs to test out GM crops... others who have said "no" to GMOs (genetically modified organisms) include:2

New Zealand: No GM foods are grown there Switzerland: No GM crops, animals and plants until 2013
Germany: No GM corn Madeira: This small Portuguese island has a ban on GM crops
Ireland: GM crops were banned for cultivation in 2009, and foods containing GM foods can be voluntarily labeled as such Japan: No GM seeds are planted in the country (but wild contamination from imported GM canola have been found growing near ports)
France: Asked the European Commission to suspend Monsanto's authorization to plant GM MON 810 corn, but the EU stepped in and blocked the ban Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria and Luxembourg: All have bans on both cultivation and sale of GMOs

An Inside Look at India's Struggles With GM Crops

The film Bitter Seeds looks at the beginning of the consumer goods' supply chain – the raw materials – shedding much-needed light on the crisis created by Monsanto's genetically engineered Bt cotton.

The film features Manjusha Amberwar, an 18-year-old Indian village girl who wants to become a journalist in order to expose the severity of the problems caused by Monsanto's seed monopoly scheme. Farming debts claimed the life of her own father, a respected village leader. Manjusha interviews several families of local farmers who resorted to drinking pesticide. One of the village elders told her:

"In my time there were no suicides. Even the poor could survive by working hard. But there are no other seeds available now. Traditional seeds have disappeared. We farmers are illiterates. We follow false advertising like a dog follows bread."

What many still do not know is that farming has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Seeds have traditionally been saved and shared between farmers from one harvest season to the next. You rarely ever had to buy new seed. Nature, when left alone, provides you with the means to propagate the next harvest in a never-ending cycle.

In the 1970's, hybrid seeds were introduced into India, promising better yields using chemical fertilizers and insecticides. But it didn't take long before yields began to drop as the agricultural chemicals took their toll on the soils. Farm debts began driving Indian farmers to suicide in 1997, and it hasn't stopped since. In fact, matters have quickly gotten worse in the decade since Monsanto introduced its "revolutionary" Bt cotton, which cannot be saved or shared from season to season, but must be continually repurchased.

Genetically engineered seeds also require expensive agricultural chemicals, and more water – a commodity few farmers have access to unless it rains. Buried in debt and struggling against the rising cost of GM seeds and the chemicals required, combined with failing yields and GE-created super weeds and resistant pests, one Indian farmer now commits suicide every 30 minutes.

Are You Being Fed Lies?

You've probably heard that GM crops are safe and represent the "future of food" – a way to increase crop yields and feed the world. (That is, if you've heard anything at all... many people have heard precious little about GM foods, even though they're already in up to 80 percent of processed foods in the United States.)

Well, the authors of the report GMO Myths and Truths3 (who include Michael Antoniou, PhD, a 28-year veteran of genetic engineering technology who has himself invented a number of gene expression biotechnologies, as well as John Fagan, PhD, a leading authority on food sustainability, biosafety, and GMO testing) took a science-based approach to evaluating the available research, and came to the conclusion that most of the scientific evidence regarding safety and increase yield potential do not support the claims made at all. In fact, the evidence demonstrates that the claims for genetically engineered foods are not just wildly overblown; they simply aren't true... The authors concluded GM crops:

  • Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GE crops
  • Can be toxic, allergenic and less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
  • Do not increase yield potential
  • Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
  • Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant "superweeds," compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
  • Have mixed economic effects
  • Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
  • Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
  • Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
  • Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on

According to their report, there are three potential sources of adverse health effects from genetically engineered foods:

  1. The genetically modified gene product – for example, the Bt toxin in GM insecticidal crops may be toxic or allergenic
  2. The GM transformation process may produce mutagenic effects, gene regulatory effects, or effects at other levels of biological structure and function that result in new toxins or allergens and/or disturbed nutritional value
  3. Changes in farming practices linked to the use of a genetically modified organism may result in toxic residues – for example, higher levels of crop contamination with the herbicide Roundup are an inevitable result of using GM Roundup Ready® crops

Do You Eat These Common Sources of GM Foods?

If you live in the United States and want to avoid GM crops, it isn't easy because they are already in commercial production – and GM crops are not labeled. According to the Non-GMO Project, GM crops already in production in the U.S. include:4

Alfalfa (first planting 2011) Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop) Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011) Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres) Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010) Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres) Animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because of contamination in feed

 

Common ingredients derived from these ubiquitous GM crops, which are added to the majority of U.S. processed foods, include:5

Amino Acids Aspartame Ascorbic Acid Sodium Ascorbate
Vitamin C Citric Acid Sodium Citrate Ethanol
Flavorings ("natural" and "artificial") High-Fructose Corn Syrup Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein Lactic Acid
Maltodextrins Molasses Monosodium Glutamate Sucrose
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Xanthan Gum Vitamins Yeast Products

Time is Running Out to Help Support GM Labeling With Proposition 37

Currently, a major problem facing Americans is forced ignorance. Even though many are undoubtedly concerned about the environment and the future of their children, they can't opt to avoid GM foods even if they want to, simply because the U.S. refuses to label them.

This must change – and California stands poised to decide the fate of Proposition 37, which would require genetically engineered foods to be identified on the label, on November 6.

Although many organic consumers and natural health activists already understand the importance of Proposition 37, it cannot be overemphasized that winning the battle over Prop 37 is perhaps the most important food fight Americans – not just Californians – have faced so far. But in order to win this fight for the right to know what's in our food, we need your help, as the biotech industry is spending tens of millions of dollars for their propaganda.

Please remember, the ONLY reason they're spending this amount of cash to "inform" you in this debate is because they want to PREVENT you from ever knowing that the foods you buy contain genetically engineered ingredients – and this includes trusted organic and all-natural brands! Ask yourself WHY?

Could it be because dozens of studies have now provided scientific evidence that GE foods cause severe health problems, including multiple organ damage and massive cancerous tumors in the first-ever lifetime feeding study?

The failure or success of this ballot initiative is wholly dependent on your support and funding! There are no major industry pockets funding this endeavor. In order to have a chance against the deep pockets of Big Biotech and transnational food corporations, it needs donations from average citizens.

So please, I strongly encourage you to make a donation to this cause. You can also contact EVERY person you know that lives in California and encourage them to view some of these videos and get educated on the issues so they can avoid succumbing to the propaganda, as Monsanto and company are paying tens of millions of dollars to deceive the voters in California.

We need EVERY vote we can to win in November.

The election is just over ONE week away.

It's important to realize that getting this law passed in California would have the same overall effect as a national law, as large companies are not likely going to label their products as genetically engineered when sold in California (the 8th largest economy in the world), but not when sold in other states. Doing so would be a costly PR disaster. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.

  • Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort, through the Organic Consumers Fund.
  • If you live in California and want to get involved, please contact CARightToKnow.org. They will go through all volunteer requests to put you into a position that is suitable for you, based on your stated interests and location.
  • No matter where you live, please help spread the word in your personal networks, on Facebook, and Twitter. For help with the messaging, please see CARightToKnow.org.
  • Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods.
For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

 

Donate Today! Donate Today!



Sources:


Related Articles:

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  The Lies You’re Told about Genetically Engineered Foods

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 Comments (34)

By Dr. Mercola

The European Union (EU) has historically taken a strict, cautious stance regarding genetically modified (GM) crops, much to the chagrin of Monsanto and in stark contract to the United States.

For instance, while GM crops are banned in several European countries, and all genetically modified foods and ingredients have to be labeled, this is in stark contrast to the U.S., where Monsanto has effectively restricted any unfavorable legal actions because of the massive conflict they have with federal regulatory agencies. 

Recently Connecticut and Vermont were ready to pass statewide GMO labeling requirements but backed out at the last minute when biotech giant Monsanto threatened to sue them if it was passed.

As a result, the U.S. has only recently begun passing legislation that protects the use of GM seeds and allows for unabated expansion, in addition to the fact that GM ingredients do not have to be labeled.

It's quite clear that the U.S. government, which is closely tied to Monsanto, has been aiding and abetting Monsanto's tireless and often ruthless quest to control the world's food crops.

U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, showed the government even conspired to find ways to retaliate against Europe for refusing to use GM seeds, mainly by engaging in aggressive trade wars against reluctant nations.i As you might suspect, the EU has been under heavy pressure to add some slack to their GM regulations ? and it seems they are about to cave ?

EU Proposes to Drop Zero Tolerance Policy

The European Commission has issued a proposal to drop the policy of zero tolerance for unapproved and untested GMOs in food. The proposal suggests setting a threshold below which contaminated imports could enter Europe?s food chain.

This is similar to the EU?s move in 2011 ? they once had a zero tolerance policy regarding GM contamination from unapproved GMOs in animal feed, but last year decided to allow contamination with up to 0.1 percent of such materials. At the time, Greenpeace EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer said:ii

?If the safety of a GM crop has not been tested in Europe, it should not be allowed. Setting a tolerance threshold, however low, is a sign that Europe is losing control over its own food production to please American exporters. The danger now is that EU countries come under pressure from the pro-GM lobby to also allow GM contamination in food products for direct human consumption.?

And, alas, that moment has come, just over one year later. Several GM opponents are urging the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Secretary of State Caroline Spelman to reject the proposals, noting:iii

?Pressure to drop the zero tolerance policy comes from the US government, the WTO and the biotech industry.?

EU Blocks France?s Ban on GM Corn

France recently asked the European Commission to suspend Monsanto's authorization to plant genetically modified MON 810 corn, citing "significant risks for the environment" shown in recent scientific studies (Germany has also banned the cultivation of MON 810 corn).

The EU stepped in and blocked the ban, which was an unsettling move to put it mildly, considering that in a leaked cable from 2007, Craig Stapleton, who was the U.S. ambassador to France at the time, commented on France's plan to ban the cultivation of GM corn, and stated that retaliation would occur:

"Europe is moving backwards not forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [European] Commission... Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voice.

... Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory."

UK Also Moving Full Steam Ahead with GMOs

Meanwhile, in the UK the Agriculture Biotechnology Council (ABC) published a new report "Going for Growth," which, according to GMWatch, ?calls for GM to be put at the heart of agricultural development in the UK.? But ABC is not a government authority; it?s a GM industry lobby group that represents the interests of Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont, Syngenta and other biotech giants.

However, the ABC is meeting with key UK government officials to present their case, and reportedly ?the industry?s push for GM is already being welcomed.?

Ironically, around this same time, a leading supporter of GM foods in the UK, George Freeman, has been touting a supposedly ?healthier? broccoli that fights heart disease as GM, and using it to show how ?GM food can improve health.? But it turns out the broccoli, sold under the brand Marks & Spencer is not GM at all, but is produced using natural plant breeding methods!

Freeman, who has received money from the biotech industry, is now in hot water with Marks & Spencer, who has banned GM foods for more than 10 years, and was one of the first UK retailers to put such a ban in place!

This type of thing has actually happened before. In 2008, retired chief government scientist in the UK, Professor Sir David King made claims that drought-resistant crops that have increased yields by 30% were being planted in South Africa ? even though the plants were only in a trial period, and effectiveness had yet to be proven. And as reported in the Guardian:iv

?King has been wrong before about new crops in Africa, claiming that a successful project near Lake Victoria was benefiting from GM technology, before having to admit the crops involved were not GM at all.?

GM Soy Linked to Illnesses in Farm Pigs

As you probably know the reason why there?s such heated controversy over the allowance of GM crops is due to their many health dangers, and the fact that their genes are capable of transferring to non-GM plants ?horizontally,? which means you cannot contain them. They absolutely WILL contaminate their conventional and organic counterparts, so one day soon there may be no such thing as ?GM-free,? because everything will be contaminated ? especially with the recent approval of GM alfalfa.

Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, provides overwhelming evidence that genetically engineered foods are unsafe and should never have been introduced. Smith has documented at least 65 serious health risks from GM food products.

Among them:

  • Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce
  • Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells
  • The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning
  • Many US farmers report sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed GM corn
  • Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products

There are countless examples of GM crop failures, as well as GM-associated toxicity being observed in animals fed the plants. For instance, a farmer in Denmark became frustrated because his pigs were sick. The pigs had chronic diarrhea, birth defects, reproductive problems, reduced appetite, bloating, stomach ulcers, weaker and smaller piglets, and reduced litter sizes ? and they were being fed GM soybeans.

The farmer looked into the effects of GM foods and their associated herbicides, and stopped feeding his 450 sows GM soy, giving them non-GM fishmeal instead. It only took two days for him to see noticeable results -- for the better.v

GM Crops are Not All They?re Cracked up to Be

Virtually all of the claims of benefit of GM crops ? increased yields, more food production, controlled pests and weeds, reductions in chemical use in agriculture, drought-tolerant seeds ? have not materialized. The Global Citizens' Report on the State of GMOs states: vi

  • Contrary to the claim of feeding the world, genetic engineering has not increased the long-term yield of a single crop.
  • Herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) crops were supposed to control weeds and Bt crops were intended to control pests. Instead of controlling weeds and pests, GE crops have led to the emergence of super-resistant weeds and super-resistant pests ? Herbicide resistant crops such as Roundup Ready cotton can create the risk of herbicide resistant "superweeds" by transferring the herbicide resistance to weeds.
  • Despite claims that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will lower the levels of chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) used, this has not been the case. This is of great concern both because of the negative impacts of these chemicals on ecosystems and humans, and because there is the danger that increased chemical use will cause pests and weeds to develop resistance, requiring even more chemicals in order to manage them.
  • Monsanto has been claiming that through genetic engineering it can breed crops for drought tolerance and other climate-resilient traits. This is a false promise.

Among the false claims made by Monsanto and the Biotechnology industry is that GE foods are safe. However, there are enough independent studies to show that GE foods can cause severe health damage.

Learn More about Genetically Engineered Foods

Due to lack of labeling, many Americans are still unfamiliar with what genetically engineered foods are. We have a plan to change that, and I urge you to participate and to continue learning more about genetically engineered foods and helping your friends and family do the same.

To start, please print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. You can also download a free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.

Your BEST strategy for now, however, is to simply buy USDA 100% Organic products whenever possible, (as these do not permit genetically engineered ingredients) or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers. The majority of the genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) you're exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you're not inadvertently consuming something laced with altered ingredients.

When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.

To learn more about genetically engineered foods, I highly recommend the following films and lectures:

Important Action Item: Support California's Ballot Initiative to Label GMO's!

In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to "immediately" require GM labeling if elected. We?re still waiting...

Fortunately, 24 U.S. states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has organized just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. Michigan and Washington are also starting similar campaignsvii. Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would likely affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide.

A coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals has already submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Actviii to the State Attorney General. They needed 800,000 signatures to get the Act on this year's ballot, and they succeeded! The next step is the campaigning. Remember, if California can get the law passed in November, it?s going to have the same impact as national law, because large companies are not likely going to label their products as genetically engineered when sold in California, but not when sold in other states. Doing so would be a PR disaster. So it?s going to have an impact on national labeling, even if other states do not create initiatives of their own.

Thousands of volunteers have already been enlisted, but more are needed. It?s going to be an enormous battle, as the biotech industry will outspend us by 100 to 1, if not more, for their propaganda.

Needless to say, the campaign needs funds. So if you have the ability, I strongly encourage you to make a donation. But they also need more volunteers, because that?s how we?re going to win this battle. The biotech industry may outdo us in funding ability, but we as consumers still outnumber them. Pamm Larry, the California grandmother who created the initiative, is correct when she says we need to reach every single California community?large and small.

I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S. states, so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!

  • If you live in California and want to get involved, please contact LabelGMOs.org. They will go through all volunteer requests to put you into a position that is suitable for you, based on your stated interests and location
  • No matter where you live, please help spread the word in your personal networks, on Facebook, and Twitter. For help with the messaging, please see LabelGMOs.org?s ?Spread the Word!? page
  • Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort, either through the LabelGMOs.org, or the Organic Consumers Fund
  • Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods.
  • Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
  • For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
  • Look for in-depth coverage of the issue at the Institute for Responsible Technology, subscribe to Spilling the Beans, and check out their Facebook or Twitter.

Donate Today!

References:




Sources:


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By Dr. Mercola

Brazil, the second-largest producer of genetically modified (GM) crops (after the U.S.), is the latest country to take a stand against biotech giant Monsanto, which could end up handing over at least $2 billion as a result.

A war has been waging against Monsanto in Brazil for nearly a decade, virtually ever since the country legalized farming of GM crops in 2005.

Since then, Monsanto has been charging Brazilian farmers double ? once for their seeds, and again when they sell their crops.

Farmers Have Had Enough With Monsanto?s Royalty Taxes and Penalties

In case you?re wondering how Monsanto has risen to the ranks of a superpower, a major reason is their patent on GM seeds, like the GM soya seeds in Brazil, which account for nearly 85 percent of the country?s total soybean crop. Each GM seed is patented and sold under exclusive rights.

Therefore, farmers must purchase the GM seeds every year, because saving seeds (which has long been the traditional way) is considered to be patent infringement. Anyone who does save GM seeds must pay a license fee to actually re-sow them.

But that?s not all.

In Brazil, Monsanto has charged farmers a 2 percent royalty fee on all of their Roundup Ready sales since 2005! And, they test all of the soy seeds marketed as ?non-GM? to be sure they don?t contain any Monsanto seeds. If they are found to contain the patented seeds, the farmer is penalized close to 3 percent of his sales!

The issue with the latter penalty is that GM soy is very hard to contain, and often contaminates nearby fields. So farmers are forced to pay a penalty for having their fields contaminated with GM crops, through no fault of their own ? and likely against their wishes entirely!

For years now, farmers have been taking Monsanto to court over their excessive fees and taxes, and in 2009, a group of farmers sued the company, claiming the Monsanto tax was illegal because it was impossible to keep the GM seeds away from the non-GM varieties.

A judge ruled that the tax was illegal, especially since the patents on Roundup Ready seeds in Brazil already expired. Monsanto was ordered to stop collecting all royalties ? and to return all the royalties collected since 2004 ? an amount that could add up to a minimum of $2 billion!

Monsanto appealed, but in June 2012 the Supreme Court dismissed it, so it looks like Monsanto is going to be getting their just deserts.

France, India Also Find Monsanto Guilty

Earlier this year, a French court found Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning in a case involving a French farmer, who suffered neurological problems after exposure to Monsanto?s Lasso weed killer. A few years before that, a French court again found Monsanto guilty, this time of falsely advertising its Roundup herbicide as "biodegradable," "environmentally friendly" and claiming it "left the soil clean."

France has also recently asked the European Commission to suspend Monsanto's authorization to plant genetically modified MON 810 corn, citing "significant risks for the environment" shown in recent scientific studies (Germany has also banned the cultivation of MON 810 corn).

Meanwhile, India's National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), a government agency, is suing Monsanto and their collaborators, the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company, for stealing local varieties of eggplant to develop a genetically modified version.

India requires that any entity attempting to use a native plant for commercial or research purposes must first get approval; Monsanto, however, neglected to do this, opting instead to essentially steal the native plants in order to modify them for their own commercial gain

The case marks the first time a government has accused Monsanto of biopiracy, and the results could set an important precedent for the future of the food supply.

Monsanto Involved in Lawsuits Over Mass Contamination, Illnesses

Monsanto is also facing a class-action lawsuit involving tens of thousands of residents from Nitro, West Virginia, where a Monsanto chemical plant produced the herbicide 2,4,5-T, a component of Agent Orange; the suit alleges the company spread toxic substances, primarily carcinogenic dioxins, all over the city.

And in Anniston, Alabama, a Monsanto plant produced toxic chemicals called PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, from 1929 until 1971, and they heavily contaminated soil and waterways in the area. Even though PCBs were banned in the United States in the late 1970s, they persist in the environment for decades and possibly even for centuries. In other words, almost all of the toxic PCBs that Monsanto released are still there.

Class-action lawsuits ? to the tune of $600 million ? were settled and paid, and an additional $100 million went toward cleanup, but still area residents are struggling with health issues as a result. Recently, research revealed that Anniston residents, who are one of the most highly exposed populations to PCBs in the world, have a significantly higher rate of diabetes, for instance.i

It?s No Secret: Monsanto?s Behavior is Unconscionable

The cat is out of the bag, so to speak, and it is now becoming common knowledge why Monsanto is top on list of immoral and destructive corporations. City Watch recently put together a tidy list of some of the ?highlights? of Monsanto?s controversial past:ii

  • ?Contributed to the research on uranium, for the Manhattan Project, during WWII.
  • Operated a nuclear facility for the U.S. government until the late 1980s.
  • Top manufacturer of synthetic fibers, plastics and polystyrene (EPA?s 5th ranked chemical production that generates the most hazardous waste).
  • A top 10 US chemical company.
  • Agriculture pesticides producer.
  • Herbicide producer - herbicides 2,4,5-T, Agent Orange, Lasso, and DDT.
  • Agent Orange (used in Vietnam), had the highest levels of dioxin and contaminated more than 3 million civilians and servicemen of which only partial compensation awarded.
  • Nearly 500,000 Vietnamese children were born deformed and never compensated.
  • Lasso was banned in USA, so weed killer ?Roundup? is launched in 1976.
  • A major producer of both dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which generated many law suits and environmental cleanups
  • $180 million settlement for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange
  • Fined $1.2 million for concealing the discharge of contaminated waste water
  • Ordered to pay $41.1 million due to hazardous waste dumping
  • Paid $600 million in settlement claims to more than 20,000 Anniston residents [for PCB contamination].
  • Produced GM cattle drug, bovine growth hormone (called rBGH or rBST)
  • Acquiring seed companies from the 1990?s and forward.
  • Monsanto Filed 144 lawsuits against struggling farmers and settled out of court with 700 farmers, for reportedly violating seed patents. A full time staff of 75 Monsanto employees investigates patent infringement. They are dedicated solely to finding farms that have been contaminated by their unwanted seed. As of 2007, Monsanto was awarded in 57 recorded judgments against farmers a total of $21,583,431.99.?

Of course, Monsanto?s foray into genetic engineering is perhaps their biggest insult of all, threatening the very future of the food supply. For a concise explanation of many of the problems surrounding GM crops, watch the video below.

Monsanto Has a Firm Grip on the U.S. Government

Once you realize just how many of Monsanto's employees have shifted into positions of power within the federal government, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to see how this biotech giant managed to rake in a net income of $126 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012,iii despite being the mastermind behind some of the most dangerous products known to man.

Even if you have friends in high places, it never hurts to spend millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government just to make sure legislation goes in your favor, and Monsanto does just that.

In the first quarter of 2011, for instance, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government -- a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter. If we all had several million to drop solely on lobbying efforts, suffice it to say the world would be a very different place. Unfortunately, it's primarily multinational corporations like Monsanto that have this type of clout, and they use it to increase their power, wealth and control -- not only in the United States, but throughout the entire world.

FDA Eliminates 1 Million Signatures for GMO Labeling on ?Technical? Reasons

Mandatory labeling may be the only way to stop the proliferation of genetically engineered foods in the U.S., but simple petitions will likely fail. We strongly support state initiatives, such as California?s ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. A recent story highlights why state initiatives in particular are so vitally important.

It?s a brazen example of how the FDA completely ignores the people it?s supposed to listen to and protect ... The agency actually decided to eliminate and disregard over a million U.S. citizens? signatures and comments collected by the Just Label It campaigniv. Organizers of the campaign said they gathered more than 1 million signatures of people who want to know what?s in the foods they?re eating. But the whole effort ended up being for naught as the FDA declared that signatures on form letters don?t count.

According to the Chicago Tribunev:

?The agency says that if 35,000 people, for instance, sign their name to the same form letter it only counts as one person or ?comment.? And if tens of thousands sign a petition, they are only counted as one ?comment,? too.?

Therefore, under the FDA counting method, the 1 million signatures were whittled down to a measly 394 people asking for labeling ... The FDA says it?s still considering the issue, and that they would let the Just Label It group know if, and when, they make a decision on whether they would mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Proof Positive that GMO Labeling WILL Change the Food Industry

Many don?t fully appreciate the strategy of seeking to have genetically engineered foods labeled in California. The belief is that large food companies would refuse to have dual labeling; one for California and another for the rest of the country. It would be very expensive, not to mention a logistical nightmare. To avoid the dual labeling, many would likely opt to not use genetically engineered ingredients in their product, especially if the new label would be the equivalent of a skull and crossbones.

This is why we are so committed to this initiative, as victory here will likely eliminate most genetically engineered foods from the US.

Powerful confirmation of this belief occurred in early 2012 when both Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo Inc. chose to alter one of their soda ingredients as a result of California?s labeling requirements for carcinogensvi:

?Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are changing the way they make the caramel coloring used in their sodas as a result of a California law that mandates drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens bear a cancer warning label. The companies said the changes will be expanded nationally to streamline their manufacturing processes. They've already been made for drinks sold in California.?

This is a PERFECT example of the national impact a California labeling mandate can, and no doubt WILL, have. While California is the only state requiring the label to state that the product contains the offending ingredient, these companies are switching their formula for the entire US market, rather than have two different labels. According to USA Today:

?A representative for Coca-Cola, Diana Garza Ciarlante, said the company directed its caramel suppliers to modify their manufacturing processes to reduce the levels of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, which can be formed during the cooking process and as a result may be found in trace amounts in many foods. "While we believe that there is no public health risk that justifies any such change, we did ask our caramel suppliers to take this step so that our products would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning," Garza-Giarlante said in an email.?

Learn More about Genetically Engineered Foods

Due to lack of labeling, many Americans are still unfamiliar with what genetically engineered foods are. We have a plan to change that, and I urge you to participate and to continue learning more about genetically engineered foods and helping your friends and family do the same.

To start, please print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. You can also download a free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.

Your BEST strategy for now, however, is to simply buy USDA 100% Organic products whenever possible, (as these do not permit genetically engineered ingredients) or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers. The majority of the genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) you're exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you're not inadvertently consuming something laced with altered ingredients.

When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.

To learn more about genetically engineered foods, I highly recommend the following films and lectures:

Important Action Item: Support California's Ballot Initiative to Label GMO's!

In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to "immediately" require GM labeling if elected. We?re still waiting...

Fortunately, 24 U.S. states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has organized just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. Michigan and Washington are also starting similar campaignsvii. Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would likely affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide.

A coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals has already submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Actviii to the State Attorney General. They needed 800,000 signatures to get the Act on this year's ballot, and they succeeded! The next step is the campaigning. Remember, if California can get the law passed in November, it?s going to have the same impact as national law, because large companies are not likely going to label their products as genetically engineered when sold in California, but not when sold in other states. Doing so would be a PR disaster. So it?s going to have an impact on national labeling, even if other states do not create initiatives of their own.

Thousands of volunteers have already been enlisted, but more are needed. It?s going to be an enormous battle, as the biotech industry will outspend us by 100 to 1, if not more, for their propaganda.

Needless to say, the campaign needs funds. So if you have the ability, I strongly encourage you to make a donation. But they also need more volunteers, because that?s how we?re going to win this battle. The biotech industry may outdo us in funding ability, but we as consumers still outnumber them. Pamm Larry, the California grandmother who created the initiative, is correct when she says we need to reach every single California community?large and small.

I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S. states, so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!

  • If you live in California and want to get involved, please contact LabelGMOs.org. They will go through all volunteer requests to put you into a position that is suitable for you, based on your stated interests and location
  • No matter where you live, please help spread the word in your personal networks, on Facebook, and Twitter. For help with the messaging, please see LabelGMOs.org?s ?Spread the Word!? page
  • Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort, either through the LabelGMOs.org, or the Organic Consumers Fund
  • Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods.
  • Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
  • For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
  • Look for in-depth coverage of the issue at the Institute for Responsible Technology, subscribe to Spilling the Beans, and check out their Facebook or Twitter.

Donate Today!

References:




Sources:


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 Comments (53)


By Dr. Mercola

It's been called the "largest wave of recorded suicides in human historyi."

Indian farmers have been robbed of their livelihoods, causing them to take their own lives in despair.

Over the past 16 years, it is estimated that more than a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide.

Who is responsible for this tragedy?

The most obvious culprits are global corporations like Monsanto, Cargill and Syngenta and the genetically engineered seed they have forced upon farmers worldwide.

None are hit harder than those in India, where socioeconomic and environmental factors have magnified the impact, making it almost impossible for these farmers to survive.

In fact, genetically engineered seeds are so fundamental to the problem that it's been termed "GM Genocide."ii

The rate of Indian farmer suicides has greatly increased since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002iii.

This is not a pleasant subject to read about, but it is a necessary one? one that can help you understand why it's so important to continue fighting seed monopolies with ever-increased resolve.

I experienced the Indian farmers' plight firsthand while spending two weeks in India, where I saw for myself the devastating effects of GM seed upon the lives and livelihoods of these rural farmers.

I worked closely with Organic India, a company helping more than 150,000 farmers change back to time-honored methods of producing high quality plants and herbs. If you have any doubts about the dire global implications of GM crops, the plight of these farmers should put those doubts to rest.


  I personally visited India when I met with Organic India.

A Farmer Commits Suicide by Pesticide Every 30 Minutes in India

The statistics are staggering. According to a publication from the New York University School of Lawiv, in 2009 alone (the most recent year for which official figures are available) 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide?that's one farmer every 30 minutes. A great number of those affected are cash crop farmers, and cotton farmers in particular.

Cotton exemplifies India's general shift toward cash crop cultivation, a shift that has contributed significantly to farmer vulnerability. The cotton industry, like other cash crops in India, has been dominated by foreign mega-corporations that promote genetically modified seeds and exert increasing control over the entire agricultural industry. Most farmer suicides are a direct result of overwhelming indebtedness. And the suicide numbers may be grossly underestimated.

According to the authors of the NYU report:

"While striking on their own, these figures considerably underestimate the actual number of farmer suicides taking place. Women, for example, are often excluded from farmer suicide statistics because most do not have title to land?a common prerequisite for being recognized as a farmer in official statistics and programs."

The general trend over time is increasing suicides, despite the generally decreasing numbers of Indians performing farming each year, which makes the statistics even starker: It's estimated that more than 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide so far. But this problem is not limited to India, as the suicide rate for farmers is higher worldwide than for the non-farming population.

In the Midwestern U.S., suicide rates among male farmers are twice that of the overall population. In Britain, one farmer commits suicide every week.v

For every Indian farmer who takes his own life, a family is hounded by the debt he leaves behind, typically resulting in children dropping out of school to become farmhands, and surviving family members themselves frequently committing suicide out of hopelessness and despair. The Indian government's response to the crisis?largely in the form of limited debt relief and compensation programs?has failed to address the magnitude and scope of the problem or its underlying causes.vi

India's "Suicide Belt"

India is an agrarian country, populated by 1.1 billion people, about 60 percent of whom are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. Two-thirds of farmer suicides occur in five Indian states/territories, which has come to be known as India's "Suicide Belt": Maharastra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Chattisgarh. The worst area is Maharastra. In 2007, there were 4,238 farmer suicides in this state alone, accounting for one fourth of the total farmer suicides in India that year. These territories represent zones of highly diversified, commercialized agriculture where cash crops dominate?especially Bt cotton, grown from Monsanto's genetically modified cotton seed. So, what is it about genetically engineered seed that is so damaging for Indian farmers?

Genetically Engineered Seeds Spell Global Disaster

There are four primary factors directly related to the use of genetically engineered seed that contribute heavily to this grim situation:

  1. Compared to traditional seed, genetically engineered seeds are very expensive and have to be repurchased every planting season
  2. Genetically engineered crops require much more water to grow, have much higher requirements for fertilizer and pesticide, in spite of Monsanto's claims to the contraryvii and, in spite of their cost to farmers, provide NO increased yield

While companies like Monsanto have plenty of blood on their hands, additional social, economic and environmental factors make matters worse for these small rural farms:

  • The "Green Revolution" of the 1960s and 1970s has funneled money toward the middle class and away from the farming/peasant classes
  • Rising prices for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and other farm supplies, along with falling prices for farm commodities, are forcing farmers to take out high-interest loans from opportunistic moneylenders
  • A trend from polyculture farming (diverse crops) to monoculture farming (primarily cotton) has depleted the soil and increased crop infestation by opportunistic pests
  • Limited water supplies, periodic drought, decreased monsoonal rainfall, and poor access to irrigation
  • Dishonest, predatory salesmen; lack of government support; and grossly inadequate government relief programs

  Here I am with local Indian farmers.

Green Revolution Not Kind to Small Indian Farmers

The introduction of hybrid seeds marked the beginning of the current issues plaguing Indian farmers today. Prior to the 1960s and 1970s, Indian farmers grew diverse food crops, but that all changed with the Green Revolution as modern machinery, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and hybrid seeds were introduced from the West. Most farmers in India now plant cash crops for export, rather than rice, legumes, millet, and other foods for local consumption.

And in India, cotton is king.

In 1998, under the World Bank's new lending policies, India opened its seed sector to international agribusiness, forcing small cotton farms to compete with giant cotton plantations in the West. Companies like Monsanto promoted their new hybrid seed technology. However, it was soon discovered that the new high-tech cotton required more water and more chemicals to grow. This was not good for small Indian farmers, for whom both money and water were, and still are, in short supply.

Seeds of Evil

In 2002, Monsanto "came to the rescue" with the introduction of even higher-tech seeds: genetically engineered Bt cotton. The company claimed that these miracle seeds were a dream come true for farmers everywhere?more pest resistant, higher yields, etc. Bt cotton contains a bacteria gene, an insecticide that repels bollworm, cotton's most voracious parasite.

But this genetically engineered cotton actually required far MORE water and far MORE pesticides than hybrid or traditional cotton!

These seeds were heavily marketed in India, using film stars and even religious deities to lure farmers in. And they came with a steep price tag?they are four to 10 times more expensive than hybrid seeds. Prior to hybrids, farmers were able to harvest their own seeds from each crop, to be planted next season. However, many genetically engineered seeds contain "terminator technology," meaning they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops don't produce viable seeds of their own. Therefore, new seeds must be purchased every year from big seed companies, at the same punitive prices.

Bt Cotton is a Debt Trap

Bt cotton requires more pesticide sprayings than indigenous cotton?MANY times more. Bt cotton has created new resistant pestsviii, and to control these, farmers must use 13 times more pesticidesix than they were using prior to its introduction. Rates of infestation by aphids, thrips, jassids, and other pests have risen since Bt cotton's introductionx.

Meanwhile, yields for Bt cotton are disappointingly low. Monsanto claims Bt cotton will yield 1500 kg per year, but farmers have gotten only 300 to 400 kg per year, average. High costs and unreliable output make GM cotton a debt trap. According to Voltairenet.org:

"When Monsanto first introduced Bt cotton in 2002, the farmers lost one billion rupees due to crop failure. Instead of 1,500 kilos per acre as promised by the company, the harvest was as low as 200 kilos per acre. Instead of incomes of 10,000 rupees an acre, farmers ran into losses of 6,400 rupees an acre? Poor peasants of the South cannot survive seed monopolies. The crisis of suicides shows how the survival of small farmers is incompatible with the seed monopolies of global corporations."

This has all been amplified by the dramatic fall in cotton prices as a result of the WTO's free trade policies, which make cotton farming financially unsustainable. Foreign agricultural subsidies have driven down the price of crops on the global market, and unsubsidized Indian farmers can't compete.

In 1994, one pound of raw cotton fetched $1.10. In 2006, that same pound brought in a meager 54 cents. A study carried out by the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE) shows that due to falling farm prices, Indian peasants are losing $26 billion annually.

Add to All of That a Water Shortage

Bt cotton requires irrigation, which only 10 percent of Indian farmers have. The other 90 percent depend on monsoonal rainfall, and in drought years, they risk losing their crops, their financial investment, and even their land.

Droughts are becoming more frequent due to the changing climate. Rains have largely failed for the past several years, and many genetically engineered crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off.

One studyxi showed that, although most Bt cotton seed packets carry the information that they are "best grown in irrigated conditions" (in fine print), NONE of the homes of suicided farmers had irrigated land. These farmers aren't educated about what it takes to make these seeds grow and the potential risk for total crop failure. And many farmers are completely illiterate and sign on the dotted lines without the benefit of reading, much less understanding, a contract.

And a Banking Shortage?

Another factor contributing to the problem is that farmers no longer have access to good loans. Thousands of rural bank branches have shut down since 1993, redirecting their lending away from farmers and toward elite city dwellers in Mumbai and Delhi, where high-tech growth and technology is booming. Lacking the financial means to pay for high-tech seeds and chemicals, about 80 percent of Indian farmers can borrow only from private moneylenders, who charge exorbitant interest rates. In order to obtain these loans, they must put up their land as collateral. When their crops fail, they lose everything and become servants to the moneylenders.

Many seed dealers operate like America's infamous subprime mortgage lenders.

India has an army of salesmen out selling farm products to farmers who can't afford them. A famer is manipulated into the deal with high-pressure sales tactics, and then borrows from a moneylender to do the deal. When his harvests fail, he has no choice other than to borrow even more. This marks the beginning of a downward spiral of indebtedness and despair. After crops fail and moneylenders hover like buzzards over their decimated fields, many farmers take their lives by ingesting the very pesticides they went into debt to purchase, suffering slow, agonizing deaths.

India's Farmers are Abandoned and Forgotten by their Government

The Indian government used to have agricultural extensions to help farmers, but those days are gone. Farmers now have no one to turn to for advice, except for predatory seed salesmen who don't have the farmers' best interests in mind. The Indian farmers have lost faith in their government, and who could blame them?

The government's priority is clearly India's new urban high-tech based economy. Corrupt officials are disinterested in protecting farmers, and little money is spent on infrastructure, in spite of the fact that 70 percent of Indians live in rural areas. Until the government begins to address irrigation, rural credit, and regulation of the business practices of multinational corporations, the farmer suicide crisis will unfortunately continue.

Genetic Engineering Brings Magnitude 10 Dangers

Genetically tinkering with the human food supply? what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out. The potential dangers of genetically engineered food run the gamut, including:

  • Contamination of organic crop varieties
  • Development of herbicide-resistant super weeds
  • Organ disruption, cancer, and increased rate of miscarriage and infertility in animals raised on genetically engineered feed
  • Air and rain samples contaminated with glyphosate, and waterways in agricultural areas contaminated with a genetically engineered bug-killing protein
  • A brand new organism related specifically to genetically engineered crops, found to be responsible for disease and sudden death in both plants and mammals

The potential risks of genetically engineered crops are so enormous that I have devoted an entire segment of Mercola.com to the subject.

The Importance of Buying Organic Cotton

A few Indian farmers have decided to switch to growing organic cotton. There are numerous advantages, of course, from the standpoint of health?but there are also financial advantagesxii. A minimum price for organic cotton is guaranteed. And the cost of growing organic cotton declines over time as the ecosystem regains its balance.

Organic cotton fields may harbor a few bollworms, but you'll also find plenty of helpful insects, such as ladybugs, and birds that help keep pests under control. Organic farmers make their own insecticides from a renewable mixture of cow dung, cow urine, and butter, and compost fertilizers as well.

You Can Help the Indian Farmers' Plight

Monsanto has been ruthless in their drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops, and it gives us a very clear picture of what could be in store for the rest of the world's small farmers if GM seed conglomerates are allowed to continue. This is why it's so important to vote with your pocket book, being vigilant about not purchasing GM foods.

I have visited thousands of Indian farmers who've escaped the clutches of Monsanto, thanks to the efforts of Organic India that has taught them how to grow crops organically. Organic India has also constructed a number of hospitals and clinics to serve these farmers, which has helped tremendously in restoring their dignity.

Your best strategy, to help both yourself and small organic farmers everywhere, is to buy USDA 100% Organic products whenever possible, (as these do not permit genetically engineered ingredients) or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers. The majority of the genetically engineered crops you're exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you're not inadvertently consuming something laced with genetically engineered ingredients. When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.


  Here I am with Organic India and local Indian Farmers.

You may also find this Non-GMO Shopping Guide helpful, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. You can also download a free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for "ShopNoGMO" in the applications. To learn more, I highly recommend the following films and lectures:

Important Action Item: Support California's Ballot Initiative to Label GMO's!

In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to "immediately" require GM labeling if elected. So far, nothing of the sort has transpired.

 

Fortunately, 24 U.S. states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has been busy organizing just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. The proposed law will be on the 2012 ballot.

Michigan and Washington are also starting similar campaignsxiii.

Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide. A coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals has submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General. Now, they need 800,000 signatures to get the Act on this year's ballot.

Proof Positive that GMO Labeling WILL Change the Food Industry

Many don't fully appreciate the strategy of seeking to have genetically engineered foods labeled in California. The belief is that large companies would refuse to have dual labeling; one for California and another for the rest of the country. It would be very expensive and a logistical nightmare. So rather than have two labels, they would simply not carry the product, especially if the new label would be the equivalent of a skull and crossbones. This is why we are so committed to this initiative as victory here will likely eliminate genetically engineered foods from the US.

Powerful confirmation of this belief occurred in early 2012 when both Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo Inc. chose to alter one of their soda ingredients as a result of California's labeling requirements for carcinogensxiv:

"Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are changing the way they make the caramel coloring used in their sodas as a result of a California law that mandates drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens bear a cancer warning label. The companies said the changes will be expanded nationally to streamline their manufacturing processes. They've already been made for drinks sold in California."

This is a PERFECT example of the national impact a California GMO labeling mandate can, and no doubt WILL, have. While California is the only state requiring the label to state that the product contains the offending ingredient, these companies are switching their formula for the entire US market, rather than have two different labels. According to USA Today:

"A representative for Coca-Cola, Diana Garza Ciarlante, said the company directed its caramel suppliers to modify their manufacturing processes to reduce the levels of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, which can be formed during the cooking process and as a result may be found in trace amounts in many foods. "While we believe that there is no public health risk that justifies any such change, we did ask our caramel suppliers to take this step so that our products would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning," Garza-Giarlante said in an email."

You CAN Make a Difference

I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S. states, so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!

  • Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort
  • Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods.
  • Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
  • For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
  • Look for in-depth coverage of the issue at the Institute for Responsible Technology, subscribe to Spilling the Beans, and check out their Facebook or Twitter.

Donate Today!

References:





 Comments (116)

By Dr. Mercola

Under new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules, Monsanto and other biotech companies that create genetically modified (GM) crops will get speedier regulatory reviews of their genetically engineered food products.

The new rules will cut the time needed to approve biotech crops in half?from an average of three years, to about 13 months for new versions of already existing crop technologies, and about 16 months for brand new technologies.

The U.S. Congress is also helping out by increasing the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 2012 budget for biotech regulation from $13 million to $18 million.

One way the USDA plans to speed up approvals is by asking for public comments as soon as a petition for the deregulation of a biotech crop is filed, rather than waiting until the end of the review.

However, according to Bloombergi:

"The Center for Food Safety, a Washington-based non-profit group that has successfully challenged approvals of Monsanto's Roundup Ready sugar-beet and alfalfa crops, said the rule change is aimed at preventing opponents of modified crops from voicing criticism of the agency's methods.

"They are trying to work the system so they can dismiss public comments more quickly and easily in order to speed things up," Bill Freese, a policy analyst at the group, said in a telephone interview.

 "It's a rubber-stamp system. A real regulatory system will occasionally reject something.""

Monsanto Will Also Conduct Its Own Environmental Impact Studies...

As if that's not enough, let's not forget that the USDA also created a two-year long pilot program last year, which allows biotech companies like Monsanto to conduct their own environmental assessments.ii

This decision opens the door for massive conflicts of interest, because if history has shown us anything, it's that industries CANNOT police themselves. The end result is always the same?corporate vested interests win every time. This is exactly why we need independent agencies to do safety reviews.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government and our regulatory agencies are FILLED with former Monsanto employees, which is likely why all federal actions relating to genetically engineered foods are so illogical and downright foolhardy.

Take Michael Taylor for example. He was the vice president of public policy and a chief lobbyist at Monsanto, and he's now the deputy commissioner for foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)! According to Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, Taylor oversaw the creation of GMO policy, which may help explain why genetically engineered foods do not have to be labeled in the U.S.

According to Jeffrey Smith:

"If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist."

Once you realize just how many of Monsanto's employees have shifted into positions of power within the federal government, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to understand why they appear to so callously ignore public safety and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to any and all evidence of harm linked to Monsanto's products.

Monsanto Accused in Suit Tied to Agent Orange

Granting speedier approvals and allowing biotech companies to do their own safety reviews becomes even more ludicrous when you consider the poor safety record of companies such as Monsanto. Most recently, in the town of Nitro, West Virginia, tens of thousands of people filed a class-action lawsuit against Monsanto, accusing the company of spreading toxic substances, primarily carcinogenic dioxins, all over the city for two decadesiii. The Monsanto chemical plant in Nitro produced the herbicide 2,4,5-T; a component of Agent Orange, the extremely toxic herbicide used to defoliate jungles during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange is known to cause cancer, birth defects in children of exposed victims, leukemia, liver disease, heart disease, Parkinson's Disease, diabetes and chloracne.

The suit claims poisonous residues from the chemical have polluted the area, putting residents' health and the environment at serious risk. According to the Republic Broadcasting Networkiv:

"Monsanto is alleged to have burned dioxin waste in open pits, spewing dioxin and its ash into the air and polluting land ... The EPA recommended that Monsanto be criminally investigated for fraud in covering-up dioxin contamination in its products, including 2,4,5-T herbicide. Monsanto failed to report contamination, substituted false information to show no contamination or sent in 'doctored' samples of their products devoid of dioxin to government regulators."

Monsanto has tentatively agreed to a $93 million settlement with some of the residents. The settlement would include $21 million for medical testing, $63 million for additional screening, and $9 million for the cleanup of 4,500 homes.

Why We MUST Insist on Mandatory Labeling of GM Foods

Mandatory labeling may be the only way to stop the proliferation of GM foods in the U.S. It is primarily due to lack of labeling that many Americans are still unfamiliar with what GM foods are, and that they're eating them on a daily basis. We have a plan to change that, and I urge you to participate and to continue learning more about GM foods and helping your friends and family do the same. To start, please print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. You can also download a free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store.

You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.

Your BEST strategy, however, is to simply buy USDA 100% Organic products whenever possible, (as these do not permit GM ingredients) or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers.

The majority of the GMO's you're exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you're not inadvertently consuming something laced with GM ingredients. When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues. To learn more about GM foods, I highly recommend the following films and lectures:

  • Hidden Dangers in Kid's Meals
  • Your Milk on Drugs - Just Say No!
  • Everything You Have to Know About Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods

Important Action Item: Support California's Ballot Initiative to Label GMO's!

In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to "immediately" require GM labeling if elected. So far, nothing of the sort has transpired. Fortunately, 24 U.S. states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has been busy organizing just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. The proposed law will be on the 2012 ballot.

Donate Today!

Michigan and Washington are also starting similar campaignsv.

Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide. A coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals has submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General. Now, they need 800,000 signatures to get the Act on this year's ballot. I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S. states, so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!

  • Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort
  • Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods.
  • Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
  • For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
  • Look for in-depth coverage of the issue at the Institute for Responsible Technology, subscribe to Spilling the Beans, and check out their Facebook or Twitter.

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