February 28, 2014

GMO News Summary February 28, 2014


*GMO plantings are peaking in the industrialized countries, according to one of the cartel’s own leading propaganda purveyors. US plantings continue to decelerate, increasing less than 1%. For the first time there was a slight decline overall. The ISAAA’s report attributes the decline to decreased GM canola plantings in Canada and decreased GM cotton plantings in Australia. GM cotton plantings are also down in the US. In both cases the cause is drought, and the fact that non-GM varieties perform much better under any condition of less-than-optimal water supply, as India’s GM cotton farmers have learned to their great despair.
This bodes ill for the GMO juggernaut, which as the core project of global corporatism must continue growing and expanding or the whole thing collapses. The ISAAA and many corporate media outlets (but far from all; the GMWatch link is to a Bloomberg piece) put an upbeat spin on things, stressing an alleged big increase in plantings in the “developing” world. Overall global plantings are said to have increased 3%, driven mostly by Brazil’s GM soy plantings. Brazil was a later adopter of GMOs, which is a big part of the reason its plantings are still increasing.
We can see why Monsanto is so fixated on Africa as the last great colonial frontier. The GMO power scheme, really just a big plundering expedition meant to be permanent in all the regions GMOs can conquer, is as dependent as Wall Street on corporate welfare, a permanent US government bailout, inflated stock prices, and the general perception of omnipotence. This is because its product is as fictive as any finance scam, as worthless from any reality-based point of view, and even more completely larcenous and destructive.
*More good news from Oregon about people who are trying to take back their communities from corporate occupation. Josephine County joins Benton County and two others in placing ordinances on the ballot banning GMO cultivation and rejecting corporate and preemptive central government interference with local/regional democratic rule where it comes to GMOs. This kind of activism is part of the ultimate solution.
*Scientists and public health professionals in Bangladesh are objecting to the way the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has rushed to commercialize four varieties of Bt brinjal (eggplant) in 2014 without having performed or required safety testing. The equivalent of India’s requirement for a 90 day sub-acute toxicity test would be meager and insufficient enough, yet even this is too stringent for Bangladesh “regulators” acting as de facto Monsanto cadres. Instead they accepted as compliance a set of industry tests done by Mahyco, which is Monsanto’s Indian subsidiary, upon a different Bt brinjal variety than the four now being commercialized in Bangladesh. As in every other country where GMOs have been commericialized (Bangladesh is now #29), the government does not perform or require any real independent safety testing, only at most some industry tests which don’t measure toxic effects.
Meanwhile India and the Philippines continue their moratoria on Bt brinjal, on account of fears that it will contaminate the world’s center of eggplant genetic diversity. Bangladesh has over 4000 native varieties, which in itself proves no GMO variety is necessary. This is purely about profit and power, including the intentional plan to destroy the existing eggplant germplasm diversity and replace it with a proprietary monoculture. The evil intent here can be seen in the disconnect between government propaganda, which has assured farmers they’ll have full ownership of the crops and seeds, and the language of the licensing agreement, which stipulates that Mahyco retains its full intellectual property prerogatives.
*Some strange goings-on in China. First there was a notice posted at the cafeteria of the education ministry building, warning of the dangers of GMOs and lauding the cafeteria’s non-GM policy. This could have been just an ad hoc initiative from a low-level officer. But the same can’t be true of a communique issued shortly afterward by the finance ministry, similarly warning about “serious threats to the health of the people” and announcing that their cafeteria will also be going GM-free.
These announcements come in the midst of an ongoing economic skirmish with the US, as Chinese customs has repeatedly rejected corn shipments contaminated with Syngenta’s MIR162 variety. The reason officials have given for these rejections is that MIR162 hasn’t been approved for import in food and feed. That’s true, but it’s also true of several other varieties widely cultivated in the US. Why is it only MIR162 which seems to be contaminating the shipments? Are the Chinese picking on a particular variety as some kind of signal to the US? Are these ministry announcements, making for flashy PR but not having much substantive significance, part of a propaganda war? Monsanto’s concerned enough about the situation that its CEO made a trip to China in December. All this follows upon a June 2013 deal China made to allow the import of Monsanto’s Intacta soybeans from Brazil. This deal came as a surprise after China had stressed its desire to import non-GM soybeans, to the point that Brazil’s soy industry trade group had publicly claimed it could fill that order. China’s seeming about-face came as a big disappointment to campaigners in the UK who have been trying to pressure British supermarkets to continue their commitment to poultry products from farmers who use only non-GM feed.
Instead of repeating the whole story I’ll link to my post from the time. The affair raises the issue of how viable Brazil’s non-GM soy exports really are. It must also be placed in context with Monsanto’s seemingly dire legal peril, as Brazil’s courts continue to threaten to shatter its entire business model in this, the one country pretty much single-handedly driving the global increase of GMO plantings, as I described above.
Brazil…China. And Russia, as I mentioned last week. I haven’t yet had the time to delve into the geopolitics and power politics of all this, so I don’t yet have much of a theory of what’s going on, other than that various power centers are trying to figure out how to assert their own power in the face of the US/Monsanto power bloc. None of these governments, we can assume, want to become Monsanto’s poodles the way the governments of, for example, Britain and India, and of course the US itself, have. (But it’s a safe bet neither of the governments or Russia or China, whatever they sometimes say, could ever be actually anti-GMO either. Most likely they want to shield themselves from the worst of the US/Monsanto onslaught while they try to figure out how to build their own rival cartel. If that’s true, the abolitionist position remains clear.) 
More on this to come.
*The US Geological Survey has published a study which found that 75% of air and rain samples collected in Mississippi in 2007 contained glyphosate residue. The study compared 2007 levels in the air and water of various agricultural poisons with levels from 1995. In 2007 glyphosate, the main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, was by far the most common poison. This is entirely on account of the explosive surge in its use since the commercialization of GMOs. In pre-GMO 1995 its usage was so low it wasn’t even measured. For comparison, atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in 50% or more of the samples in both 2007 and 1995. This is a good demonstration of how the claim made for Roundup Ready GMOs, that they would lower overall poison use, was a lie. Instead, glyphosate use has skyrocketed while the use of other herbicides has remained steady.
*The annual report of the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) was boosterish as usual in its tone, though amid the hype it admits that GMOs don’t actually work. Specifically, they don’t increase yield, they’re not economically beneficial for farmers, and they increase rather than reduce pesticide use.
*California state senator Noreen Evans, with support from a coalition of farmer, consumer, and citizen groups, is sponsoring a bill to label GMOs. This will supposedly be a more sleek and clear version of the one voters narrowly voted down in 2012.
*GMO labeling campaigners have not been rewarded for trying to be “moderate” where it comes to the labels they demand. Their attempts to establish labeling for raw and processed foods but not for meat and dairy products were not according to inherent logic, nor did it make sense from the point of view of trying to claim transparency and the right to know as a principle. The moderation was supposed to be political and economic, on the grounds that labeling policies around the world are crafted in the same incomplete, inconsistent way. But not only has this not worked politically, but the so-called “loopholes” were attacked, perhaps with some effect, by cartel propaganda. (Campaigners in California didn’t help their cause when they produced awful publicity material embracing the enemy framing and saying things like “Loopholes are good!”)
Therefore it’s good to see that proponents of labeling in the US, and of better labeling in the UK (which already has labeling of raw and processed foods, but not of meat and dairy), are increasingly insisting that GMO labeling needs to encompass these products as well.
That’s what makes sense from the point of view of health aspects, as well as according to any principle of transparency, democracy, or just consumer choice.



  1. Hi Russ and gang,
    Just this week I noticed that some of my food shopping products have NO GMO labels on them: Florida Natural orange juice, and Amy’s Pizza.

    Cheers, tawal

    Comment by tawal — March 1, 2014 @ 1:46 am

    • Hi tawal. Even though the voters keep stumbling, more and more manufacturers continue to see non-GMO as a rising consumer trend.

      Comment by Russ — March 1, 2014 @ 5:08 am

    • Tawal, you might want to rethink the OJ investments. As if the fructose content isn’t bad enough on its own… (more than sugary colas and soft drinks per serv…)

      “Close to three quarters of U.S. households buy orange juice. Its popularity crosses class, cultural, racial, and regional divides. Why do so many of us drink orange juice? How did it turn from a luxury into a staple in just a few years? More important, how is it that we don’t know the real reasons behind OJ’s popularity or understand the processes by which the juice is produced?

      In this enlightening book, Alissa Hamilton explores the hidden history of orange juice. She looks at the early forces that propelled orange juice to prominence, including a surplus of oranges that plagued Florida during most of the twentieth century and the army’s need to provide vitamin C to troops overseas during World War II. She tells the stories of the FDA’s decision in the early 1960s to standardize orange juice, and the juice equivalent of the cola wars that followed between Coca-Cola (which owns Minute Maid) and Pepsi (which owns Tropicana). Of particular interest to OJ drinkers will be the revelation that most orange juice comes from Brazil, not Florida, and that even “not from concentrate” orange juice is heated, stripped of flavor, stored for up to a year, and then reflavored before it is packaged and sold. The book concludes with a thought-provoking discussion of why consumers have the right to know how their food is produced.” http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300124712

      Comment by Pete — March 1, 2014 @ 11:14 am

      • There’s always excellent reasons to be on the vectors:

        1. Processed food to unprocessed.

        2. Globalized to local.

        This is an example of both.

        Comment by Russ — March 1, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

  2. Interesting, tawal. Looks as though the industrial system is scrambling a bit to ensure we don’t wander away. Just my own personal perception. Are they really non-GMO, though? I guess the pizza is organic?

    Comment by DualPersonality — March 1, 2014 @ 3:31 am

    • Amy’s has organic products, in which case the Non-GMO Project label might be superfluous, though I don’t know how many consumers know that “organic” on food labeling is supposed to mean, among other things, non-GMO. But maybe they just have their own non-GMO label. In the case of 100% orange juice, it also should be superfluous, though as the Rutgers survey showed, lots of people think commercial oranges are GMO. Not yet, though the cartel’s working on it.

      Comment by Russ — March 1, 2014 @ 5:16 am

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