June 6, 2014

GMO News Summary June 6th, 2014


*An estimated 2 million people worldwide took part in the third March Against Monsanto held on May 24th.
*Fruit from Brazil will be likely to have GMO fruit fly maggot carcasses in the fruit, as Brazil has authorized field releases of genetically engineered fruit flies. The GMO bugs like these work is they’re supposed to mate with wild insects and have offspring who die as larvae. That means the fruit or vegetable involved will have the corpses inside. There are plans to do the same with olive flies in Europe, so the GMO maggots will be inside the olives you eat.
European imports of such GMO-laced material from Brazil or elsewhere would be illegal, since EU regulations require a special testing and approval process for any GMO to be eaten directly as food, as these maggots will be. But the regulatory evasion seems the least of the problems with this.
The Brazilian releases are slated to take place sometime in 2014.
*In the same way that the GMO racket has always been long on hype but short on accomplishment, actually producing only poison-based crops, so the nascent synthetic biology sector has already given up the pursuit of the technological miracles it’s been promising and is instead focusing on luxury “fine chemicals” for food and cosmetics. So they’re keeping pace with their older sibling in being worthless for anything that could actually help people. There’s a good chance, though, that they’ll succeed at least as well in harming people.
*As the EPA continues on its slow boat toward maybe completing its reassessment of the health and environmental effects of glyphosate in 2015, after postponing it repeatedly over the last several years, Moms Across America broke the blissful see-no-evil speak-no-evil calm with a five-day phone blitz demanding faster action in light of the evidence which continues to pile up of glyphosate’s toxicity and its buildup in human tissues and breast milk. The EPA was forced to meet with the group.
In 2013 the EPA continued its pattern going back to the mid-90s of raising the officially “safe” levels of glyphosate residues in response to the ever-higher levels generated by the ever-greater use of this poison which has accompanied the spread of Roundup Ready GMO crops. These bureaucratic escalations never have anything to do with scientific evidence of safety, but are simply automatic, in response to the corporate need. 
*EU member states just voted for a proposal which promises to gut Europe’s moderate protections against GMO cultivation. According to this revision of the “subsidiarity” policy, each country would be required to make a special preliminary bureaucratic request of the applicant corporation for each individual application asking that its own territory be excluded from the scope of the application. Only if the applicant refuses will the member state then be allowed to enact its own ban. The technical criteria for such a ban to be valid in the bureaucratic courts would also be tightened. It’s meant to set up a legalistic Catch-22. The member states would relinquish their right to institute bans based on health or environmental rationales, i.e. the only rationales in theory allowed under globalization rules. These rationales would be surrendered completely to the pro-GMO rubber-stamp EFSA. Meanwhile the member states would retain a right, under this policy, to institute bans based on socioeconomic and planning concerns. But these are precisely the kind of policy rationales banned under WTO rules. The policy proposal is meant to take a roundabout route to gut the Precautionary Principle and state regulatory power over GMOs, and further exalt the preemptive power of EFSA assessments. The revolving door EFSA is little more than a Monsanto division.
In addition to its structural aims, the policy is meant to be cumbersome to the point of impossibility. Instead of taking cultivation approvals on a case by case basis, a national government is supposed to track down every pending application, assess its approval in a hypothetical way, make a future-oriented decision, and formulate a request. And who is supposed to do this – a bureaucracy which is naturally more likely to support the corporate project than a legislature which is more likely to be responsive to the public good. And then there’s the fact that the government of a day is to be able to tie the hands of its successors in perpetuity. Once again we see the fundamental hostility of the EC to democracy and to politics as such.
The policy is being bruited in terms familiar from big business rhetoric – this will “break the logjam”, will “streamline” regulation. It is indeed intended to do exactly what I’ve predicted about this EU federalism since 2010 – first open the floodgates to general EU cultivation approvals, and then gut the state-level bans piecemeal.
*That good old European regulation is on display as the EFSA is up to its antics again, this time with Dupont’s 1507 stacked maize variety. The EC is intent on approving 1507 for cultivation in spite of a spate of reports by Testbiotech calling its safety into question, as well as its rejection in European Parliament and European Council votes.
*Under pro-GMO European Commission pressure, Bulgaria is refusing to rescind its ban on cultivation of MON810 Bt maize. MON810 is currently the only GMO approved for cultivation in the EU, though as I just mentioned the EC is planning to authorize 1507 stacked maize for 2015.
*While pro-GMO propaganda continues to tout a genetically modified “anti-cancer purple tomato”, the conventionally bred non-GMO real thing is already available in supermarkets.
Meanwhile the corporate welfare project being carried out by the UK’s John Innes Center seems to be technologically stalled. It’s the same old story as with “golden rice” and other media hoaxes – the GM purple tomato doesn’t work.
So far you’d never go wrong if, presented with the idea of some special GMO which isn’t the same old kind of poison plant, you were to assume that a better conventionally bred variety already exists, and that the GM version doesn’t work.
*A new coalition, No Patents on Seeds, has filed a challenge with the European Patent Office against what it calls a fraudulent Monsanto patent on a conventionally bred tomato which Monsanto implied was genetically engineered. In Europe GE processes can be patented, but the results of conventional breeding cannot.
Monsanto pirated the original seeds, which it then crossed with other tomato varieties, from the international gene bank at Gatersleben, Germany. These kinds of germplasm repositories have a long history of playing this “public private partnership” role: They use public resources to pirate germplasm across the global South and gather the results for the convenience of corporate research.
*There’s a call out for Canadian volunteers to participate in a country-wide test for glyphosate residues in the body. This is intended to be a Canadian followup to the Moms Across America bombshell which discovered how much the breast milk of even health-conscious American eaters is laden with this poison.


1 Comment

  1. […] This week the European Council voted to change the process by which EU member states can opt out of authorizing cultivation within their territories of GMO crops authorized by the Commission. The change heavily weights the process in favor of the cartel and bureaucracy and against the people.   As things are now, whether or not a GMO which has been authorized for cultivation in the EU (as of this writing, only MON810 maize, though Commission approval for 1507 maize seems imminent) is allowed in a particular member state is a matter of that country’s normal political process. The result of this relatively accountable system is that MON810 has been banned in ten European countries and is widely grown only in Spain.   Under the new system, the main power over the opt-out process will be in the hands of a country’s unaccountable bureaucracy, which is far more likely to support the GMO prerogative than a European legislature. It’ll be up to the bureaucracy to take proactive action during the initial application stage and jump through several hoops in order to lay the groundwork for the government to then ban the GMO. If the bureaucracy fails to do this, the government’s hands are tied. The system also sets up a legalistic catch-22 in that member states must agree to accept EFSA rubber-stamping where it comes to human, livestock, and environmental safety, while basing their national bans only on socioeconomic, planning, or cultural concerns. These, of course, are the kinds of concerns which are banned by the WTO, which on the other hand in theory does have to allow the safety exceptions. So the goal is to render all rationales legally invalid one way or another. States must also waive all right to redress in the inevitable event of contamination.   Meanwhile, a state which goes through this rigmarole would also be forestalled from voting against EU-wide approval for the GMO. The result of all this is that everything rubber-stamped by the EFSA would automatically glide to EU-wide approval, and any state which wanted to allow any GMO would have license to go ahead. The UK government, hysterical to authorize GM crops and frustrated by both the EU and rejection by Scotland and Wales, has spearheaded this whole campaign.   Of course all of this is typical of what happens when a nation surrenders its sovereignty to any kind of alien bureaucracy. I’ve written before about how, from the point of view of the European Commission, the goal of the TTIP is to radically mitigate the extent to which European politics which can still affect the corporate economy.   But as we see here the Commission’s doing what it can to work with what it has right now. If this policy goes through it’ll gut the democratic oversight the peoples of Europe now have over whether GMOs are cultivated in their own lands. (Their NIMBYism in importing a huge amount of GM feed from Latin America and elsewhere is a different problem.)   I wrote more on this here and here. […]

    Pingback by EU Set to Gut GMO Regulation and Democracy | Volatility — June 14, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

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