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May 9, 2014

GMO News Summary May 9th, 2014

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*A new review surveys the evidence linking the surge of glyphosate use in recent decades with the surge of cases on non-Hodgkins lymphoma over that same period.
 
*Harrowing accounts of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin (CKDu) among agricultural workers. The epidemic is strongly linked to the herbicide Roundup.
 
*Those are just two of the many reasons glyphosate and its commercial formulations like Roundup should be banned.
 
But poisoner governments are trying to head in the opposite direction. Today the EU is contemplating raising the allowable level of glyphosate in Europe’s food and water. The recommendation has nothing to do with the health evidence, which strongly condemns it as an extreme toxin for humans, livestock, and the soil. Rather, such bureaucratic recommendations and regulations are set according to corporate needs. However much Roundup Monsanto wants to sell, however much industrial agriculture wants to spray, and therefore whatever the resultant concentration in human food, water, and bodies, that’s the concentration that bureaucracies like the EFSA and EPA will set. Then these bureaucracies lie on behalf of that level, saying they found it to be “safe”, when in fact they’ve never conducted any safety studies, and systematically ignore all the independent scientific evidence.
 
Food and Water Watch is running a petition against the EFSA’s position.
 
*There’s nothing new about this latest nomination of corporate food lobbyists to the managing board of the EU’s European Food Safety Agency. While all such government bureaucracies are designed to serve corporate interests, the EFSA is especially brazen where it comes to its revolving door character.
 
*As more information is forced out on the UK government’s pro-Monsanto media blitz, we get more details on how the corporate media functions as a de facto Propaganda Ministry. Memos demonstrate how the government complied a list of corporate-friendly media cadres, to whom information and talking points on upcoming government initiatives would be sent. They similarly compiled a blacklist of journalists who had questioned the corporate claims.
 
The memos also describe how government employees were deputized to engage in pro-GMO propaganda work, and how the government asked corporate marketers to advise on this publicly funded propaganda.
 
*France has confirmed its ban on cultivation of MON810 Bt corn. The senate voted for the ban, while country’s high court rejected an appeal from the country’s industrial corn trade group.
 
Under current EU federalism, the EU can approve a GMO product for cultivation, but member states can opt out by passing national bans. MON810 is currently the only GMO approved for cultivation in Europe. Ten member states have de jure or de facto bans in place, while Spain is the only country where it’s widely grown.

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May 2, 2014

GMO News Summary May 2nd, 2014

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*Congratulations to Vermont for becoming the first state in the country to pass a law requiring labeling of GMOs in our food, without any political stipulations about when it goes into effect. While Connecticut and Maine have also passed labeling laws, these won’t go into effect until several other states also enact such policies. Maine’s specifically requires that New Hampshire adopt the same policy, which its legislature recently refused to do. (Maine’s government has also expressed hostility to its own law.)
 
This is the latest example of Vermont’s pioneer spirit, where it comes to policy which makes sense morally and practically. Vermont was the first state in the union to abolish slavery, and more recently it was the first to ban fracking.
 
*The FDA is weakening its already threadbare process for regulation of genetically engineered animals by disbanding its Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee, a group of outside academics supposed to provide peer review of FDA regulatory procedures, and which has provided adverse commentary on the looming approval of GM salmon, which the FDA badly wants to approve. So far it’s been scared of the potential political repercussions, in part because its advisory committee has been so unsupportive.
 
Obviously the FDA is disbanding the committee because this committee has not shown sufficient coordination on behalf of the corporate imperative.
 
Pressed for an answer by public interest groups and a member of Congress, the FDA has lied, claiming that maintaining the group is too costly. But records obtained by Food and Water Watch through FOI requests confirm that the FDA spent $0 on the group in 2013, so it’s certainly not breaking the budget.
 
But of course we already knew that the claim about cost was a lie, since government invariably lies whenever it claims it can’t afford a program which might actually help people. The proof of this is that it always believes it has infinite money for corporate welfare, corporate bailouts, weapons and war, the police state, prisons, and the rest of the worthless, predatory, obscenely expensive corporate state. In the FDA’s case there’s no budgetary problem for paramilitary-style assaults on small farmers and co-ops and for the plan to “regulate” produce on behalf of Big Ag’s imperatives. This is the goal and purpose of the Food Control Act, aka the “Food Safety Modernization Act”, as Orwell named it. (I should note here that FWW, along with almost all the NGOs who are intermittently good on GMOs and some other aspects of corporate agriculture, supports the Food Control Act and the increase of FDA power which will be used to attempt to suppress the Community Food sector. That’s an example of the typical schizophrenia among system NGOs, and why we can benefit from their reportage but must never trust their political prescriptions. Perhaps someone can explain to me how the same FDA which is gutting this committee and which has always been so gung ho for GMOs is a good bet for having control over who’s allowed to produce and distribute vegetables. Policy like the FSMA is obviously a weapon for economic warfare and repression, not public interest regulation as described by those who hold delusions of “good government”.) Nor will there be a budgetary issue with enforcement of the preemptive GMO anti-labeling policy being pushed in Congress by the cartel’s Grocery Manufacturers Association, if this bill is ever passed.
 
It’s always true that government can always spend as much as it wants on the public interest. It simply does not want to spend on this, but only for the corporate interest, and only against the public. So it is with the FDA.
 
*I’ve often written about the perfidy of the industrial organic sector and the ongoing plan of the USDA to erode organic standards. Members of the Organic Consumers Association and other citizen groups have been protesting a significant erosion of the National Organic Standards pushed through in secret and behind closed doors last autumn. Previously, dubious ingredients allowed on the “organic” list would automatically be retired after five years unless a 2/3 majority of the organic standards board voted to maintain them on the list. The new policy reverses this; they’ll automatically be kept on the list unless voted off.
 
Since the NOS board is stacked with corporate cadres, any such vote is unlikely. So not only will such toxic ingredients as carrageenan, factory farm sausage casings, synthetic vitamins, and DHA still be allowed to be included under the “certified organic” rubric, but it’ll become easier to add such things to the list and keep them there. This is the general plan of the industrial organic sector’s Organic Trade Association, which is a corporatist outfit just like any other Big Ag trade group. I’ve written before about how industrial organic shares with the USDA the nightmare of eventually allowing GMOs under the “organic” certification.
 
Once again we have confirmation that the organic certification is a stopgap at best, and is no kind of sufficient substitute for restoring our naturally local/regional agricultural and food economies on the basis of agroecology and food sovereignty.
 
*An Italian court has upheld the country’s ban on cultivation of MON810. The decision upholds the precautionary principle as a key element of rational, science-based public interest policy. Italy is one of ten European countries which have banned this, the only GMO approved for cultivation in the EU. The product is widely grown only in Spain.
 
*The Scottish government is claiming to be surprised and upset that British Environment Minster Owen Paterson failed to represent Scotland properly at a recent EC meeting on the future of GMO policy in Europe. Scotland is GM free and its government claims to want to continue this policy. The UK government, by contrast, acts as the poodle of the US on this even though no British corporations are GMO leaders. The Big 6 of the cartel are from the US and continental Europe.
 
I find it hard to believe anyone in Scotland could be so foolish as to be surprised by this. Paterson has made it crystal clear that he’s a liar with zero scruples or integrity, and that under any circumstance he’ll act as a flunkey of the US government and the GMO cartel. So why is the Scottish minister pretending to be surprised? It has to be what he expected. Who lets someone represent them at a meeting when they know for a fact they can’t trust that person?
 
People of Scotland beware. Your government’s hardly looking like a vigorous, enthusiastic representative of your interests on this.
 
*Recently the problem of Roundup’s harmful health effects on livestock has been getting significant mainstream attention in Denmark.
 
*The Benton County Community Rights Coalition announces that it has been cleared to begin collecting signatures toward putting a Local Food Sovereignty initiative on the November 2014 ballot.
 
The bill is designed to protect community rights and autonomy by forestalling corporate assaults on those rights. It would ban GMO cultivation and the enforcement of seed patents, toward the goal of rejuvenating the county’s local food production and distribution. In this way it will help rebuild the local/regional economy of food and the broader economy, while politically it will help repulse invasive corporate tyranny and restore community self-determination.

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