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May 23, 2014

GMO News Summary May 23rd, 2014

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*Congratulations to the Community Rights movement and the people of Jackson and Josephine counties in Oregon who voted by wide margins to ban cultivation of GMOs. The initiatives also declare seed patents invalid. These defensive measures are part of an affirmative effort to rebuild local food sovereignty.
 
Benton County will vote on a similar measure in November, and several other Oregon counties are in varying stages of preparation to launch their own initiatives.
 
*As the Russian parliament ponders a bill which would effectively ban cultivation of GMOs, the non-profit Genetic Safety Public Association is enlisting researchers and raising funds to perform what it says will be the “first-ever independent international research on GMOs.”
 
*A new meta-analysis further confirms the link between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is especially prevalent among farmers and agricultural workers.
 
*European Commission bureaucrats are plotting to evade enforcement of a law passed by the European Parliament which would effectively ban for most uses endocrine disrupting poisons like glyphosate and neonicotinoids. The EFSA and DG SANCO (the EC’s chemicals regulators) have been dragging their feet and missed several legislatively mandated deadlines for presenting plans to enforce the law. Sweden has announced it will file suit in the European Court of Justice to force EC bureaucrats to obey the law.
 
A memo from an EFSA cadre to DG SANCO proposes that the two bureaucracies team up to evade the law by expanding a narrow exemption for uses that create “negligible exposure” for humans into a giant loophole. The mechanism presumably would be the normal one wherein the bureaucracy simply raises the level of exposure which it dogmatically declares to be “safe” or “negligible”. This has been the pattern of US and EU bureaucracies all along – allowed levels of human exposure to any agricultural poison are set not according to any scientific standards based on health evidence, but instead are set at whatever level the corporations desire. The bureaucracy then declares this level to be “safe” in doctrinaire fundamentalist fashion.
 
The memo also delves into EFSA philosophy. It objects to the law in principle on the grounds that the law would restrict what the government bureaucracy sees as a corporate right to profit. It’s easy to see why the EC is so ardent for the TTIP, with its “Investor/State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) provision, to be concluded and forcibly imposed on Europe. Only this can maximize the ideology and enforcement of a corporate license to seek profit regardless of any and all other values.
 
*New Zealand’s High Court has overruled a ruling by the NZ Environmental Protection Agency that a “genome editing” technique being used by the country’s publicly funded corporate research group Scion does not qualify as genetic engineering and therefore does not need to be regulated as such.
 
This is one win amid a general trend in the US and elsewhere to try to remove new kinds of GMOs from any regulatory oversight at all, meager as this oversight is.

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