*Pressure from farmers has caused Forage Genetics International (the Monsanto subsidiary handling this product) to postpone its commercial release of GM alfalfa in Canada, at least for this spring.
There’s some controversy over whether there’s a shortage of alfalfa seed, and if so whether this is on account of the harsh winter, or because farmers planted less of a seed crop on account of anxiety over the GM alfalfa struggle. FGI denies there’s a shortage of seeds, but is unclear about the reason for the postponement. Farmers opposed to the release because it will contaminate non-GM alfalfa and harm dairy animals and products are claiming credit for the delay.
Proponents of Roundup Ready alfalfa make the odd argument that it’ll be good for the export market, even though there’s far less of an export market for GM alfalfa or for any other GMO than there is for non-GM crops and products. (For example, US corn exports have been permanently depressed since the widespread adoption of GM corn.) They also perpetrate the bizarre circularity that it’ll be good for alfalfa seed crops, though this obviously could apply only to a seed crop of RR alfalfa itself. So this is really saying, “growing GM alfalfa will be good for growing GM alfalfa”. I’m afraid we’ll need a better reason than this, but this is indeed what almost all pro-GM “arguments” boil down to.
*As part of its budgeting process for the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), the European Parliament voted resolution demanding much stronger “conflict of interest” rules including a modest two-year “cooling off period” before a corporate agriculture/food cadre can go through the revolving door.
But it looks like what they really did was release the money after delaying it for a little while, and merely accompany it with this pious resolution. The EFSA has already rejected any change in its corruption policies.
To put that term another way, what we see here and with other corporatist government bureaucracies is not really a conflict of interest, or in other words this concept mistakes the real nature of a bureaucracy like the EFSA.
As for the cooling-off time, anyone who thinks this would be unfair to our upstanding revolving door types should explain why corporate non-compete contracts for ex-employees should be considered any less unacceptable.
*A pilot study commissioned by Sustainable Pulse and Moms Across America has found extremely high levels of glyphosate in the milk of US mothers and in urine samples from a cross section of volunteers.
These levels are higher than allowed European levels, and are higher than the levels found in city water systems and in the urine of European volunteers in a 2013 study.
The participants in the study are people who have taken some steps in recent years to lessen their exposure to glyphosate and other poisons in their diets. We can expect that the poison levels would be even higher among people who haven’t taken any such steps.
This isn’t a full scientific study (though it’s more informative about human health than any of the industry conversion tests on GMOs and other poisons which are accepted as sufficient by regulators), but we can expect the hacks to irrelevantly accuse it of being an inadequate study. From day one, and to this day, one of the three main lies about the Seralini study, a fully conclusive scientific study of GMO and Roundup toxicology, is that it was a flawed cancer study, when in fact it never claimed to be a cancer study at all. On the contrary, it called for cancer studies to be designed and done.
*The farm minister of Denmark commissioned academic reviewers to assess the effects of glyphosate on livestock. Their review of the published evidence concluded that there may be harmful effects and that more study is needed. I suppose the “more study is needed” line is an improvement over the standard line of governments everywhere that no study is needed, but it’s still hardly a clarion call summoning society to action.
The review concluded that the two main ways in which glyphosate harms livestock are:
1. Glyphosate devastates the microbiome, the gut flora which are necessary for digestion and digestive system health.
2. As part of its intended action, glyphosate is a potent mineral chelator. This is how it kills plants, by preventing them from gaining mineral nutrition by binding up the minerals in an indigestible form. The evidence is that glyphosate also prevents animals from gaining necessary nutrition because their feed, mostly from Roundup Ready GMOs, is loaded with glyphosate residues and chelated minerals which are similarly indigestible to them. This leads to disastrous deficiency disease. It’s probably having a similar malnutritional effect on humans.
*The Dutch parliament has passed a law which will ban the sale of glyphosate formulations such as Roundup to “private individuals” for non-commercial use by the end of 2015. An existing restriction has all sorts of loopholes. The piece isn’t clear on whether municipalities will still be using the poison.
It’s good to get Roundup out of our neighborhoods, off our sidewalks, out of our parks, and so on. Often analyses of the health harms of glyphosate neglect this neighborhood use.
But this kind of ban is still just nibbling at the fringes of the poison problem, since the vast majority of Roundup is used for commercial agriculture, and it’s this use which really drives the poisoning of our soil, air, and water, and which is the main driver of the many ways glyphosate damages our health and makes us sick.
Nothing short of a complete ban and abolition of glyphosate will suffice for human health, livestock health, environmental health.
*In the latest political statement from Russia’s government on GMOs, prime minister Medvedev told an audience of farmers that Russia doesn’t need to grow or import GMOs, but can feed itself and build a vibrant export sector based on organic agriculture and food.
*Superbugs and superweeds are attaining ever faster turnaround times. According to reports of farmers and officials, insect pests are already gorging happily on the brand new Bt brinjal rollout in Bangladesh. This product was only newly commercialized in 2014, the first place on earth for GMO eggplant, and the government’s agricultural research institute first released the seeds to farmers in January. If these reports are confirmed it’ll set a new world record for GMO failure, already a hard-to-match hall of shame.