March 4, 2016

GMO News Summary March 4th, 2016


*As we discussed last week the EU government shows what it thinks of the WHO-acknowledged fact that glyphosate causes cancer by calling for the re-approval of glyphosate in Europe for the next 15 years. This isn’t just an ongoing crime at the most monumental human and environmental level, but it even violates EU de jure law. (The latter is more important to most people who care at all.) The 2009 EU pesticides law requires that carcinogenic pesticides be banned.
Six European NGOs are now suing on the grounds that the German BfR and EU’s EFSA also broke the law in the tendentious way they reassessed glyphosate, in particular the way they whitewashed the WHO’s finding that glyphosate causes cancer.
Specifically, by its own admission the German BfR did nothing but regurgitate and launder the propaganda put out by the industry’s Glyphosate Task Force. The BfR then used fraudulent, industry-dictated methodologies to disparage the WHO’s procedure and falsely exculpate glyphosate. The EFSA then parroted the BfR’s whitewash, and the EU in turn will try to use this to justify re-authorizing glyphosate. The NGO suit is trying to have the GTF/BfR/EFSA fraud thrown out and force the regulators to start over.
There’s one element of the regulator strategy to continue literally to force this cancer agent into our bodies.
*Another element is what GMWatch hails as “a modest breakthrough” in the lies the European Union government is telling about glyphosate and other pesticides. Under stepped up pressure following the WHO’s 2015 finding that glyphosate causes cancer, such as the lawsuit I just mentioned, Germany’s BfR and the EFSA feel the need to go so far as to admit that maybe the commercial glyphosate formulations have some cancer risk. This was the only way they could try to assimilate part of the WHO’s finding while still politically exonerating glyphosate. One of the basic regulator frauds is to assess in ivory tower isolation only the so-called “active ingredient” in a pesticide and not the formulation which is used in the real world. In reality the terms “active” and “inert” have zero scientific meaning but are purely political, meant to facilitate this regulatory scam and fool people into thinking the dictionary definition of “inert” applies and that these ingredients are non-toxic. In reality these supplementary ingredients are there to render the primary ingredient more potent and therefore more toxic, and such supplementary ingredients as POEA (used in Roundup all over the world except in Germany itself, where it’s banned) are often more toxic than the primary ingredient. So a commercial formulation is actually far more poisonous by volume (in Poison Spring E. Vallianatos describes how one of the purposes of the active/inert scam is to greatly reduce the volume of poisons reported sprayed) and in its potency. (Not to mention synergy effects among the multiple poisons.)
Now, under the spotlight of parliamentary questioning in anticipation of the upcoming vote of member states to reauthorize glyphosate in Europe for the next 15 years, the European Commission says it will start to think about revising its assessment procedure to include some account of the real world product and not the falsely isolated “active ingredient” which is used nowhere in reality. As the bureaucrat put it, “In the context of the regulatory system we are opening a new area of work. This is not something we have done a lot before, looking at the co-formulant, looking at the end product.” Looking at the end product, imagine that! What’ll they think of next? Actually they’re not really thinking of it now either, only about “a lot of concerns we have heard, including from MEPs and civil society.” As always only political pressure can make anyone do anything. As with the FDA’s promise to test for glyphosate residues in some food products, they’ll see how far they can get with just the announcement, how long they can delay actually doing anything, and then what minimal level of action will be sufficient to appease enough erstwhile “concerned” people. Cf. the new GMO labeling proposal below for a similar example.
This is also meant to evade the Pesticides Law I mentioned above. The law applies to carcinogenic “active” ingredients. So if the EU can get away with blaming all the cancer evidence on tallowamine, it can claim that the continued authorization of glyphosate is legal as well as safe. But in fact regulators have known at least since the early 1980s that glyphosate by itself causes cancer. The fact that commercial glyphosate formulations are even more carcinogenic doesn’t exonerate glyphosate itself.
*For an example of what these glyphosate co-formulants, these “inert” ingredients, actually do to our health, see the new study which measures the endocrine disruptive effects of the co-formulants of six glyphosate herbicides. The study found that the co-formulants by themselves as well as each of the formulations decreased aromatase activity (essential for balancing production of testosterone and estrogen) at doses far below standard agricultural uses. This is why there’s no safe “tolerance” level for pesticide exposure or ingestion: They’re all endocrine disruptors, and these effects occur at very low doses. Endocrine disruption in turn is a major cause of reproductive problems, birth defects, and cancer.
*Given the standard operating procedure of regulators, it’s no surprise that the USDA muzzles scientists and persecutes those who adhere to the scientific method instead of the corporate science paradigm. Nor is it a surprise that the USDA concluded a review of this censorship process by congratulating itself and promising to stay the course. PEER, the NGO which has been organizing the pressure on this front, concludes, “Something now unmistakably clear is that no scientist in their right mind should report political manipulation of science inside USDA.” This is true, but the conclusion goes way beyond this. Something now unmistakably clear, if it wasn’t clear before, is that any citizen should recognize there is no science at the USDA, only corporate-dictated “science”.
*I forgot to include legal immunity as part three of my regulator template. (See here for one of my many descriptions of this heuristic which I’ve found to be broadly applicable to all kinds of political phenomena.) Do you still believe now there’s such a thing as a “rule of law”?
*BASF announces it’s rolling back the range of its genetic engineering projects. This follows the removal of its GE division from Europe to North Carolina a few years ago, a migration in search of a more favorable political habitat. If GMWatch’s take is right, this latest move sounds like Monsanto and BASF would not be a good match, since Monsanto can’t pretend to offer anything but more of the same genetic engineering hype which BASF may be gradually moving away from. Yet BASF was looking like Monsanto’s last chance to make the kind of diversification deal it needs. Monsanto needs to make a deal with someone who’s more product-diversified since it’s so dependent on Roundup, a product whose time may be running out. As we saw with Syngenta’s spurning of their suit last year, Monsanto may not have much that anyone else wants.
*In news related to the sector calcification we touched on in the above item, here’s more fraud centering on the hype of genetic engineering. As with patent pumping in general, this is looking more and more like another stock-pumping scam. A few weeks ago I discussed how “hi-tech agriculture” is looking like another dotcom bubble in the making.
*Purdue University is a liar. Monsanto publicists there have put out a fake “study” which claims to find that GM crops outyield non-GM. In order to obtain this result which runs counter to all prior evidence, they cherry-picked some answers from a USDA questionnaire which the agency itself said was completely unscientific, and then bogusly interpreted these extremely qualitative figures. Namely, they arbitrarily compared production figures for the variable “GMO” vs. “non-GMO” with zero knowledge of all other variables (such as fertilizer use) and fraudulently declared any differences to be caused by this variable. Anyone with a high school level knowledge of scientific method knows you can’t attain a result this way. But clearly Purdue professors never comprehended even this elementary concept. This kind of “science” is the norm under the corporate science paradigm.
*Clearly nothing is more loathesome than what Republican propaganda consultant Frank Luntz dubbed “the patchwork”. Luntz’s term is now extremely popular among both Republican and Democrat types. Thus we have broad consensus, from Monsanto to Merkley: Monoculture good, diversity (and democracy) bad. They disagree only on some details.
*Here’s a stark lesson in how the corporate system views the difference between real democracy, including real votes driven by the people, and the corporate-approved kangaroo elections being held this year for “president” and other corporate positions. In Washington the state supreme court is quashing ballot democracy in compliance with corporate demands. As the CELDF’s Mari Margil writes:

“Let the voters decide.”

While we hear that slogan often – especially in a presidential election year – the truth is that at the local level, Washington voters rarely get to cast a ballot in their own communities on critical issues.

That’s because our authority to place issues directly on the ballot – through the citizens’ initiative – has been under siege by business interests affected by its use and by courts friendly to those interests.

In February, the Washington Supreme Court continued that trend, removing a citizens’ initiative from the Spokane ballot that sought to protect community, environmental and worker rights. In its ruling, the court declared that the people’s local initiative power isn’t really a right at all, but merely a privilege granted by state government to our communities….

More than a century ago, the people of Washington enacted the citizens’ initiative process to secure our rights to directly make law. With its recent ruling, the state Supreme Court effectively eliminated our authority to do so.

With the court’s action, going forward we should expect few, if any, local citizens’ initiatives – in Spokane or other communities across Washington – to be placed on the ballot for a vote. This includes in Tacoma, where opponents of the proposed methanol plant are seeking to place an initiative on the ballot to give residents the authority to decide whether to grant permits to large water users, such as the methanol plant, that seek to use more than one million gallons a day….

State governmental power exercised in this manner, of course, is nothing new. State governments guard their powers jealously, even to the point of forcibly preventing local communities from protecting their own people, workers and the natural environment….

Our state Legislature is not unique in seeking to preempt local governing authority, even when that authority is exercised to protect people’s rights to their own health and safety. Across the country, state governments have now eliminated the power of communities to ban hydro-fracking for natural gas, genetically modified crops, corporate water bottling operations, pipelines and other practices.

It’s precisely when we watch our elected officials restricting our democratic rights that the people need the initiative power more than ever….

It’s time to push back against the power of the state to tell communities what they can and cannot do. It’s time to recognize a right of communities to expand rights at the local level and to insulate the exercise of that right from the power of state governments to override it.

Hostility toward participatory democracy and the technocratic lust for preemption of democracy is widespread and not limited to the corporations either. For example, this technocratic mindset is one thing upon which Monsanto and many GMO labeling advocates agree. As I mentioned above, nothing’s more abhorrent to monoculture believers of every sort than the “patchwork”, aka diversity, of ecology, democracy, and freedom.



1 Comment

  1. […] greeted the news that the EU had postponed the re-approval vote by calling for a ban not only on the POEA co-formulant but on glyphosate itself. . The increasingly hostile political climate I recently described […]

    Pingback by GMO News Summary March 11th, 2016 | Volatility — March 11, 2016 @ 7:41 am

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