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April 11, 2014

GMO News Summary April 11, 2014

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*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.

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20 Comments

  1. As I believe you’ve remarked in the past, if GMOs are as marvelous as Monsanto claims, they would be eager to have tests done proving once and for all that opponents are indisputibly wrong. Responding that “There’s no evidence it is harmful” is hardly practicing respectable science.

    Comment by DualPersonality — April 12, 2014 @ 1:31 am

    • That’s part of corporatist ideology, which in this case is just the newest form of the age-old Might Makes Right. The assumption is that anything a corporation is capable of doing, it has license to do, and no other value has any right to exist if it gets in the way of this corporate prerogative. That’s part of what I mean when I say that corporations and corporatism are totalitarian.

      This is also characteristic of the closely affiliated ideology of scientism/technocracy, which assumes that if something is technologically possible, if it can be done by technicians, then it should be done. Again, no other value is presumed to have any right to exist at all.

      It’s easy to see how the totalitarians of scientism have made this alliance with the totalitarians of corporatism.

      None of this has anything to do with science, and is radically opposed to it. The opposite, rational view is the Precautionary Principle, which says that given a questionable technology or practice, those who want to deploy it should first have to provide sufficient evidence that it’s safe. This obviously makes sense from any human point of view, and the need for it has been empirically proven by the sordid history of tobacco, asbestos, PCBs, DDT, thalidomide, dioxins, and other technological marvels which turned out to be as bad for human health as the initial dissenters said. GMOs and other agricultural poisons now join this malign parade.

      Never forget that the “credentialed professional” types who today are sticking up for GMOs and fraudulently enlisting “science” on their behalf are the same people who did the same for tobacco, asbestos, and the rest. What rational person would trust any group with such a malignant record of lies?

      The Precautionary Principle is actually the third we need to apply. The first question we need to ask is, Is there a Need for this thing? The second is, Is there a good Alternative.

      In the case of agriculture there was never any need for GMOs, and we know that corporations cannot produce and distribute food for humanity anyway. We also know that agroecology is an infinitely better alternative, in terms of providing calories and nutrition, in terms of the resiliency and sustainability and genetic health of agriculture, in terms of human and livestock health, in terms of economic and political self-determination and democracy, and in terms of human prosperity and happiness.

      Scientism, for all its ideological gibberish, is really only about technical engineering such as GMOs. In itself engineering has nothing to do with science. A tinkerer who’s good with tools is not necessarily a scientist, and may not understand or respect science even the slightest bit. Today we see an extreme example of that with the GMO proponents among the technical and professional crowd. They’re all simply out for profit, or have become useful idiots, fellow travelers of this extremist ideology and program.

      Of course genetic engineering has not been a particularly well-designed tool, and its practitioners have been consistently incompetent engineers. It’s because GMOs are such crappy products that GMOs have always been completely dependent on corporate welfare, government lies and forbearance, monopoly muscle, and shouting down and persecuting dissenters.

      Comment by Russ — April 12, 2014 @ 2:53 am

    • Oh, give the corporatists a little credit here. They know full well whatever they show us, whatever independent study, whatever science outcome we will NEVER concede our philosophical dogma that GMO is the certain ruination of our planet and everything upon it. Corporatists will continue to stonewall and delay into perpetuity just to keep us flailing away, fully expecting us to mess up often enough to compromise our credibility so severely even disinterested people perceive all of us as drooling nutjobs. Posting so much really silly, emotionally maniacal anti-GMO schlock all the time doesn’t help our image any, either. Makes us look like we are all riding the crazy bus just because a few obsessed bloggers compete furiously to be crowned driver of that bus. Russ – you listenin’, pard?

      Comment by Brandon — April 12, 2014 @ 11:49 am

      • You’re the only drooling nutjob, you and every other lying piece of vermin. The funny thing is that you’re clearly a worthless loser by your own standards, since by your Randroid measure if you’re reduced to concern trolling obscure blogs you must be a pathetic bottom-feeder. Why aren’t you rich, scumbag?

        Comment by Russ — April 12, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

      • Brandon, some of us don’t care about our image. We care about the truth.

        Comment by DualPersonality — April 13, 2014 @ 1:59 am

  2. Why is the Canadian Biotech company mentioned in the article opposed to GM alfalfa? I would figure biotech would support this kind of stuff. Just curious 🙂

    Comment by DualPersonality — April 12, 2014 @ 1:39 am

    • If you mean the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, that’s an anti-GMO group. They’re listed on my blogroll.

      Comment by Russ — April 12, 2014 @ 3:04 am

      • The name “Biotechnology” had me confused, but I guess the “Action” is an important part of their name?

        Comment by DualPersonality — April 13, 2014 @ 1:58 am

      • It hadn’t occurred to me before, but I suppose the name might be ambiguous to someone new to them.

        Comment by Russ — April 13, 2014 @ 2:05 am

  3. Ouch, creepy smiley face there!

    Comment by DualPersonality — April 12, 2014 @ 1:39 am

    • This page seems to square them lately.

      Comment by Russ — April 12, 2014 @ 3:05 am

  4. LOL, love that blunt reply to the troll Brandon!

    Comment by DualPersonality — April 13, 2014 @ 1:56 am

    • One of the most stupid things about these trolls is how they’re incapable of even reading the things they’re attacking. All they register is “against GMOs” and launch into a shrill denunciation which usually has zero connection to the particular piece.

      Whatever one thinks of my critique of GMO-based agricultural practices and corporatism, it’s certainly not emotional, and in this case especially I’m sincerely unable to see what any reasonable reader would consider “emotional” in this post. Clearly the term is just one of the many content-free epithets in today’s “discourse”.

      Indeed, I often wonder if I don’t invest enough emotion in this writing.

      At any rate, the way the trolls at all levels talk (and it’s the same at all levels, from nameless scum like this one to celebrity hacks who get quoted in NYT pieces) is a measure of their own drooling, hyperventilating emotionality. It’s a severe condemnation of themselves that they become literally incapable of rational discussion the moment even the slightest criticism of GMOs is broached, but resort immediately to shrieking and insults. It proves that this is a religious crusade for them, and that they know deep down they have zero fact or reason on their side.

      Meanwhile, that’s also why I’ve learned to deal with them in kind, when I don’t just summarily delete their rancid idiocy.

      Comment by Russ — April 13, 2014 @ 2:16 am

      • A name like Brand-On? I say Brand-Off with his conscience!

        Brand, Brand… Humph

        Comment by tawal — April 15, 2014 @ 4:37 am

  5. Brand-O!

    March 30, 1973–For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ”Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.”

    When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

    But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

    It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one’s neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we’re not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

    Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don’t concern us, and that we don’t care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes….

    Comment by tawal — April 15, 2014 @ 4:57 am

    • Brand, brand, every where’s a brand…

      Comment by tawal — April 15, 2014 @ 4:59 am

    • When I was a kid, a brand was what you put on your cattle. F’brand’n!

      Comment by tawal — April 15, 2014 @ 5:01 am

      • ‘Course *Crust* was my favorite toothpaste, er sticker…

        Comment by tawal — April 15, 2014 @ 5:26 am

  6. Wow! Brandon dares to make a cogent observation and livid commenters do a pig pile. Doesn’t that only justify what Brandon was suggesting? Could you people make us look any crazier? Seriously? Have you any idea how difficult it is to engage in constructive discussion with TPTB with so many bats swooping and looping and diving in everyone’s hair? I, for one, am sick and tired of instantly being anticipated as a whackadoodle for being concerned about GMO. It must be possible to be concerned and circumspect at the same time. Why don’t we try a little of that, unless you fools doubt the credibility of our facts. Good data is not improved by all the drama, girls. I fear our crusade is hijacked by some very run of the mill haters. I doubt the sincerity of those people’s concern for our planet, as do most casual observers.

    Comment by Dr. R. M. VanD. — April 17, 2014 @ 9:57 am

    • You’re seen as a total idiot and wack-job for posting multiple comments under different names even though if you knew anything about online commenting you’d know I can see your IP address.

      And also, of course, for being the lowest kind of bottom-feeding loser, an unpaid concern troll. You know, there’s people who get paid to do this stuff. But it’s easy to see why you fail the audition.

      I’ll be deleting any further comments, loser.

      Comment by Russ — April 17, 2014 @ 10:31 am


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