December 26, 2014

GMO News Summary, December 26, 2014


*Farmers continue to look for ways to switch from GMOs to non-GM agriculture, as herbicide resistant weeds become more intractable and commodity prices slide. It’s sinking in that GMOs are an agricultural and economic bottleneck, a dead end for everyone but the corporations.
*Another reason is fear and trembling over China’s uncanny GMO import restrictions. China apparently has approved Syngenta’s MIR162 Viptera maize, the product which caused all the fuss starting in 2013. China doesn’t import much maize anyway, and the politico-economic disruptions caused by Syngenta were far greater than any reality-based trade effect. As I figured, the confrontation wasn’t really about this GMO but a negotiating ploy vis the US. China has an economic advantage with its non-GM market and isn’t going to compromise this lightly. In the trade wars the US wages China is trying to use import restrictions to force US concessions. In this case, the quid pro quo is said to be US agreement to ease restrictions on high-tech exports to China. Meanwhile, in the latest manifestation of Chinese ambivalence, lawmakers are working on a GMO labeling law to clarify the existing administrative labeling policy.
We must always stress that any such logjam is caused by the aggressive seller, not by the reluctant buyer or anyone else. Viptera, like all other GMOs, is a worthless product. Farmers, consumers, eaters, society would be much better off without any GMOs. That Canadian farmers are reluctant to approve Roundup Ready alfalfa (already contaminating US crops and causing the rejection of US hay shipments to China) while US farmers are switching to non-GM crops like sorghum to meet rising Chinese demand are just two pieces of evidence.
*As if Bt refuges weren’t enough of a scam already, the cartel continues to try to make them even more farcical in practice by claiming (and instituting as regulatory policy) that so-called “natural refuges”, i.e. any adjacent non-Bt crop, and not even the same kind of crop as the Bt variety, should count as sufficient. There’s now a “study” dedicated to this proposition. Yet even it finds the prospect dubious and can only recommend the continued escalation of the Bt treadmill, which of course is the real purpose of all such propaganda.
*I’ve written before about the escalated health hazards unique to “stacked” GMOs, where the unpredictable effects of genetic engineering as such are multiplied by the unpredictable effects of chaotic interactions among multiple transgenes. Now we have the first study confirming that a stacked GMO has unique compositional and metabolic differences from both the original non-GM version as well as the original single-trait GMOs whose transgenes went into the stack. The study found such significant differences as weakened transgene expression, which will accelerate the evolution of weed and pest resistance; changes in overall gene expression; alterations in two major metabolic pathways; and altered protein levels. These significant changes have unpredictable health implications.
*The USDA continues to refuse to test produce, processed vegetables, and other processed foods for glyphosate residues in its annual residue tests. The USDA claims it can’t do so because the tests are “extremely expensive…to do on a regular basis.” They mean politically expensive, as the results would be alarming to the public. This is really an admission that the USDA and Monsanto think our food is heavily loaded with toxic Roundup residues and that they don’t want to know the real levels, and certainly don’t want the public to know.
As for the alleged expense, it’s nothing compared to the government’s Big Ag subsidies, and would merely be another such subsidy. After all, the poison-selling corporations rightfully should be paying for government testing. They certainly can afford it. Which again proves that they live in terror of what the results would show. Otherwise why not pay the pennies involved, if it would give you a clean bill of health? That would be great PR spending.
*Under pressure from civil society, Monsanto requested that the EU patent office revoke one of its patents, and the agency complied. This was a bogus patent for a publicly-bred fungus-resistant tomato variety the company stole from a German seed bank. Monsanto did no work with the variety but sought and received the patent with a fraudulent application. No Patents on Seeds, the group which challenged the patent, is similarly challenging several other illegally awarded patents. The group also calls upon the European Commission to rein in this rogue agency and for a revision of EU patent law to make its prohibitions on patenting the products of conventional breeding more clear.
*Following up victories in 2014 for county-level GMO bans in Jackson and Josephine Counties, Benton County in Oregon will vote this May on their own county-level GMO cultivation ban and on measures to build the regional agriculture and food economy.
*The community rights movement which is fighting GMO agriculture in Oregon is also fighting hard vs. fracking in Pennsylvania, and has been racking up some legal victories. These ballots, laws, and court fights are meant to provide the campaign context for a constitutional renaissance on a pro-community, anti-corporate basis.
*In Belgium, the Ghent court of appeal has thrown out the “criminal conspiracy” charge against the Wetterin Eleven. These defendants were participants in an action by the Field Liberation Movement against a GM potato field trial. A field trial itself is a political action on the part of the corporate system (and this field trial was illegal), and here we had activism vs. activism. They tore out a portion of the trial plants and replaced them with real potatoes. They were originally charged with forming a criminal organization and found not guilty of the strongest charge but guilty of a lesser count of conspiracy. This appeals decision throws out all such politicized charges and reduces the conviction to the actual crimes involved, trespassing and vandalism. Their sentence was reduced to one month suspended, though heavy fines remain in force.
The decision is a setback for the prosecutorial trend of trying to criminalize democracy and political participation as such wherever the people seek to resist corporate aggression.



  1. Wow, the news about the Wetterin Eleven is great!

    Comment by DualPersonality — December 28, 2014 @ 9:27 am

  2. Hi Russ. Related to direct action, you need to check into the new wording that is starting to appear in community rights ordinances. In Josephine with their pesticide ban and their right to be free of toxic trespass that was on the November ballot, it is my understanding that they wrote in a clause to their right to direct action to enforce the ordinance if it passed by a vote of the people. If we had a chance to rewrite the ordinance in Benton asserting our right to a sustainable food system and our right to our seed heritage – GMOs being a violation of those rights – we would definitely look to putting in a clause legalizing direct action to enforce the ban.

    These community rights based ordinances to ban corporate harms in our communities are continually evolving. We are always learning from each other. This whole exercising our rights and implementing true democracy in the places where we live is most amazing and empowering.

    And thanks for your posts and education! We are all part of the solution as long as we work together for a better future for all!

    Comment by Dana Allen — December 29, 2014 @ 2:24 am

  3. […] day I briefly discussed the tumultuous and often inscrutable GMO situation in China. For more see here, here, here, here, and here. The GM corn phenomenon seems like a chaotic black market situation. […]

    Pingback by GMO News Summary, January 8th 2016 | Volatility — January 8, 2016 @ 8:28 am

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