Volatility

January 22, 2016

GMO News Summary, January 22nd, 2016

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*Now here’s fighters, resolute in Argentina against massive strength and great pressure. They’re not only brave, but patient. They’re in it for the long haul. We need to find that spirit in the West.
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These are regular citizens driven to direct action by the poison assault upon themselves and their children and the complicity of “the authorities”. They accept what’s necessary, and then they take whatever action they can to try to accomplish it. And look what’s possible once regular people decide to do that – they’ve held up Monsanto’s poison factory for over two years now.
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The people of the Argentine soy poison zone also have the support of networks of public health-oriented doctors and scientists.
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*Yet another good piece on the “new” kinds of GMOs which emphasizes how, if industry and pro-GM regulators like the EFSA, USDA, and FDA have their way, these GMOs won’t be considered GMOs at all for regulatory purposes. That will include their being exempted from labeling requirements, “mandatory” or otherwise. This is one of several main points ignored by the short-sighted celebrations of the Campbell’s announcement. A big part of the reason Mark Lynas and Campbell’s feel the time is right for a “mandatory” labeling policy is that GMOs are a moving target which, they hope, will already have moved beyond all labeling purview by the time such a policy was enacted. That’s a basic part of the scam being prepared for DARK Act Plan B.
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Here’s another piece making the same point.
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*Great to see some people still care about the state-level movement and want to improve it. Namely, real labeling advocates in Maine want to get rid of the “trigger” provision which renders the laws of Maine and Connecticut to be just for show. As they exist, these labeling laws won’t go into effect until several other states enact similar laws. In Maine’s case, the law specifically requires that New Hampshire also pass such a law. But a few years ago the “live free” types decided they’d rather die.
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But there’s resistance, including from impostors within the movement: “Still others on both sides have said the state should wait to see what federal lawmakers do with the issue, since industry-supported legislation that is pending U.S. Senate approval would pre-empt any state labeling requirements.”
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So-called “both sides”. How could one meaningfully be for labeling but counsel delay until federal preemption supervenes? No, that’s a liar who’s against real labeling. Just like the two kinds of climate change deniers, those who directly deny and those who pay lip service but who at every point are against meaningful action.
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*Yet another study finds that glyphosate causes prenatal brain damage. This is the latest evidence adding to what’s already proven beyond any reasonable doubt, that glyphosate causes birth defects.
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We have vastly more than enough evidence. By now continuing to call for “more testing” is nothing but procrastination and broadcasts a lack of self-confidence. Glyphosate must be banned completely. It must be abolished once and for all. Abolitionists must use the overwhelming evidence more effectively and aggressively. I recommend focusing on cancer and birth defects as the general message, reserving the many other kinds of glyphosate-inflicted violence to health for particular contexts.
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*Just when it looked like Kenya was cracking, the National Biosafety Authority abruptly called off its press conference where it was expected to announce its approval for the Bt maize product MON810. This is an already failed product which would only aggravate Kenya’s food insecurity while opening the door to corporate control of Kenyan agriculture on a commodity export basis. Every step of the way for the global South, GMOs = colonization. The cancellation came amid rumors of internal government disputes.
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*Syngenta continues to obstruct and delay in the big wave of lawsuits over losses to US corn growers and traders when China rejected several corn shipments because they were contaminated with the unapproved GM variety Viptera, aka MIR162. Now it’s challenging the selection of “bellwether” suits for inaugural litigation.
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In a statement about the lawsuits Syngenta claims it “obtained import approval from major corn importing companies” prior to marketing Viptera, which is self-evidently a lie. China is a major corn importer, and the company didn’t procure Viptera approval there until December 2014. (Not 2013 like the piece says.)
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The piece feels the need to throw in a standard lie that Bt toxins are “harmless to humans.” How do these lawyers know that? What evidence convinced them of it? The fact is that, like every other interest group, they know literally zero about the health effects and are simply brain-dead authoritarians regurgitating what government and industry-paid publicists told them. That’s what this society has come to.
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*The EU health commissioner admits in a letter to Testbiotech and UK GeneWatch that by law the EFSA is required to assess the combined effects of multiple pesticides used on agricultural products and has been breaking the law in not doing so. This guy specializes in lame excuses. In this case, “yes, EFSA is required by law to do this, but they don’t know how!” Of course anyone could write down an experimental design in five minutes. Cost should not be an object since the corporate applicant(s) should pay for testing but have no control over it. The corporate state just doesn’t want to do it, which is strict proof in itself that they know the results would be bad for their product. In this case, the products involved are soybeans engineered to be tolerant of glyphosate plus dicamba (Monsanto) or isoxaflutole (Bayer).
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Not that I’m calling for this testing. We already know each herbicide in itself causes cancer, birth defects, and many other health harms, which is more than enough to ban it. The combined effects could only be worse. We have all the evidence we need and more, now it’s time to use it effectively in a disciplined, relentless way in order to propagate the abolition idea and build momentum toward the abolition reality.
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*Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of Bihar state in India objected to attempts by Delhi University to illegally propagate Bt mustard seed within the state. The university has used public money to develop and field test this product on behalf of the industry. Now, even though the GM product has not been approved and its application is under challenge (and even its continued funding is in question), the university is trying to go ahead with the project of increasing the seeds. As Kumar points out, “It appears that when the interested parties have failed to win the confidence of the farmers of the country, they are pushing the technology through public institutions.” As always, GMOs are 100% dependent on government subsidies and monopoly muscle. Bihar is one of the states which have refused to allow field trials, citing the likelihood of bad ecological, economic, and human health effects.
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This is not the kind of mustard seed which, starting out “less than all the seeds that be in the earth”, grows up and becomes great. On the contrary, starting with infinite hubris and arrogance matched only by ignorance, it shall fail to fruit but instead wither and die.
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*Peculiar piece of news from Europe. Monsanto has withdrawn all its EU import registrations containing its “event” MON863. This is the original anti-rootworm type producing the Bt toxin Cry3Bb1, to which rootworms started becoming resistant years ago. (To this day Monsanto still offers only the failing Cry3Bb1 from its own roster, and relies on Dow’s Cry34/35AB1, also facing increasing resistance, for whatever effect SmartStax still has on rootworms. This is probably part of why the TriplePro product, which offers only Cry3Bb1 vs. rootworm, isn’t very popular judging by the relatively meager offerings in the seed catalogs.) MON863 was part of four GMOs which were authorized for import in food and feed. Monsanto says the MON863 seed has not been produced or sold since 2011. But it still turns up contaminating seed and feed, as recently as 2014 and 2015. Most likely this is because of transgenic contamination, though it could be that some unused seed is still floating around. It’s unlikely that anyone’s illicitly saving and replanting it since all such varieties are hybrids unreliable for seed saving.
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It’s unclear why they’re given up on the MON863 “event” as being obsolete. They may not want to bother with any further registration fees and paperwork maintenance. MON863 may soon be up for becoming an “orphan” GMO no one cares to maintain legally any longer, at least not under the current regulatory framework. The first such case was the original Roundup Ready soybeans.
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*Under pressure from No Patents on Seeds and Navdanya, the European Patent Office (EPO) revoked a patent it awarded Monsanto for a virus-resistant melon which the company did not in fact breed, but simply stole from India. Throughout its GMO and seed-selling history Monsanto has done almost no work and made no discoveries, but simply stole or bought everything it has. I’ll soon dedicate a post to this history.
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*A new study further documents the already rampant spread of feral Roundup Ready canola. The Australian study tries to downplay the significance of the trend by claiming that the contamination, while common, doesn’t become severe. Indeed, the record so far seems to be that it easily becomes a tenacious nuisance but doesn’t proliferate explosively. But as usual, they have zero idea what that’ll mean over the long run, and GM canola is the GMO already proven to have contaminated wild relatives in the US, Canada, and elsewhere. This contamination of other canola and wild relatives may bring along whatever mutations are contained in the Roundup Ready genomes. As always the point is they have absolutely no idea what the effects may be. And even if feral GM canola turns out to be a relatively lesser problem (not saying much, given the magnitude of all these poison-driven crises), that means nothing for what effect other kinds of contamination may have. But a piece like this is meant to allay concerns about contamination as such, not just about canola.
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Feral GM canola is most directly a threat to organic canola, which has been rendered largely impossible in Canada. The article on the Australian study omits this matter by design. The there’s the likelihood of contamination of other brassica crops. GM contamination has jumped from Brassica napus (canola) to wild B. rapa, which is the same species as turnips, bok choy, other Asian greens. That means it could contaminate those as well, and probably other brassica species.
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*The GMOs of Iran. Piece from July says rice is grown commercially for direct food, and that the agricultural ministry approves imports of GM maize, soybeans, and canola, in spite of having no clear authority to do so. The report says the government is divided on the subject while the public is largely unaware.
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*Hype about using genetic engineering techniques to help conserve endangered species is typical greenwashing. It’s of the same junk science genre as the fraudulent ideological application of “island biogeography” where it can’t legitimately be applied. That’s a favorite scam of corporate “environmental” front groups like the WWF and TNC. The trouble with the concept is that an island is an island, but a piece of rainforest surrounded by soybean plantations where the rest of the forest used to be is not an island, but a mangled fragment. A chopped off hand does not then act like a starfish. Once again we see reductive, mechanistic junk science in action. The only real environmentalism and conservation is to abolish the entire war-on-nature mentality and practice and replace it with ecological civilization.
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This is also a scam in that they have no intention of really saving endangered species this way. They’re just floating the idea of it, for propaganda and to reap some funding. Longer-term, this is practice for eventual commercial use. It’s toward animal eugenics for the factory farm system and for designer pets for the rich. Just like human genetic experimentation is toward “designer babies” and eventually a more comprehensive eugenics program. More on this to come.
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*Mercola exposes typical corruption. WebMD is doing the infomercial-which-looks-like-article thing. Of course these days corporate media leaders like the New York Times and Washington Post often don’t even bother with that subterfuge, but present the infomercial as a de jure article or news broadcast.
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There’s a legislative move in Oregon to repeal parts of the corporate-dictated “Bill 863” which was passed in 2013 in an anti-democratic “emergency session”, similar to the “fast-track” Obama’s demanding for the TPP and TTIP globalization pacts. Such tyrannical stampedes are necessary for the kinds of legislative proposals which could never survive if subject to democracy’s review. That’s why the enemies of the people tried to use chicanery to pass the DARK Act late in 2015. We can expect something similar for subsequent attempts.
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Bill 863 was pushed by a panicked corporate-controlled state legislature in response to the wave of county-level initiatives banning GMOs and/or some pesticide uses and promoting regional food sovereignty. The bill seeks to crush the democratic anti-poison movement in Oregon through preemption, one of the most vile kinds of anti-democracy legislative procedures. We can expect to see more such vileness as the push for FDA preemption of the true labeling democracy movement gathers support. The new proposal would restore democracy and rationally located food and agriculture policy.
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Preemption is always Monsanto’s game.
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January 5, 2016

How Does Monsanto Plan to Deploy the Terminator on a Mass Scale?

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According to lore, Monsanto halted its drive to commercialize GMOs containing the Terminator gene when Gordon Conway of the Rockefeller Foundation warned the company that its extreme aggressiveness was becoming so politically reckless and counterproductive as to put the entire GMO project at risk.
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Whatever the motivation, it’s true that Monsanto announced in 1999 it was not pursuing commercialization of the Terminator. This was followed in 2000 by an international moratorium on development and commercial approval of this technology, voted under the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The moratorium was reaffirmed in 2006 at the CBD meeting held in Brazil.
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[The Terminator, AKA a “GURT” (Genetic Use Restriction Technology), is a transgene which would cause the plants containing it to produce sterile seeds. This would render patent enforcement moot, since it would become physically impossible to save and replant seed from such a GMO. Some versions can be rendered fertile, i.e. the Terminator gene can be counteracted if the seed is coated with an antibiotic or some other chemical. So we see how, in addition to simplifying seed monopoly, the Terminator allows those deploying it to dream of inserting it into all commercial crop seed and then forcing all seed growers to buy the antidote from them.
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Could the Terminator spread chaotically to other crops and wild plants, rendering them sterile? As usual with genetic engineering, no one has the slightest idea. Anyone who claims to know this wouldn’t happen is a liar.
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The Terminator was developed jointly by Delta & Pine Land seed company and the USDA. These jointly hold the patent. In the late 1990s Monsanto’s attempt to buy DPL fell through, in part because of political outcry over the prospect of Monsanto’s gaining control of the Terminator technology. But in 2006 Monsanto was able to buy the company with little opposition.]
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We can take it for granted that Monsanto’s own Terminator moratorium has been purely a temporary expedient, and that their plan remains the same as always, to deploy the Terminator on a mass scale. The GURT must look especially attractive as GMOs expand beyond the range of the secure Western intellectual property regime. Brazil is troublesome for IP control in seeds, with many farmers allegedly saving and replanting GM soybeans without paying Monsanto’s tax. This has led to politically draining court battles and the very difficult process of Monsanto’s attempt to force traders to collect the tax on its behalf. Monsanto faces similar headaches collecting its taxes in Argentina. China of course is a problematic market from the point of view of patent enforcement. Africa’s an unknown quantity even if the US/UK/Monsanto colonization plan is able to conquer significant territory. Monsanto’s dream of conquering Iraqi agriculture, impeccable on paper as decreed by the US occupation regime, fizzled out for the inability to enforce it in physical reality.
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It’s clear that Monsanto needs to deploy the Terminator if it’s to have any hope of gaining the total control and power it seeks. So what’s one way this might happen? Here’s a way which seems plausible to me. Let’s list some facts.
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1. Monsanto’s Intacta soybean, developed specially for cultivation in Brazil and commercially introduced in 2013, is the first Monsanto product developed for a non-US market. (Intacta is a stacked product which is Roundup Ready and contains the Cry1AC Bt toxin vs. lepidopteran pests. But in Brazil glyphosate is failing against resistant superweeds and may render the soybean crop more susceptible to fungal infections. Across the world Cry1AC has widely failed in cotton, generating resistant superbugs. Just as Cry1F, deployed in maize GMOs, has widely collapsed in Brazil against the target armyworm, so we can anticipate Intacta’s vulnerability. According to Monsanto itself, feeding upon it may even strengthen some of the intended target pests. A 2015 study also found that Intacta yields less than non-GM conventional soybeans. So Intacta is triply a plagued, failing product just two years after it was put on the market.)
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2. In 2013 Brazilian officials negotiated a deal to export Intacta soybeans to China. In spite of some early indications that China would insist on a non-GM supply, it eventually agreed to accept Brazil’s general soybean commodity stream.
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3. For years China has been trying to develop its own GMO industry. Chinese state enterprises have worked on this themselves (many entries in the Developer list to the right), and perhaps in collaboration with DuPont (the story here is sketchy). In 2015 ChemChina made a bid to buy Syngenta.
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4. China is notorious for being an intellectual property scofflaw. Western patents and copyrights are frequently disrespected there.
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5. Soybeans are the most easily pirated crops, since they’re not hybrids like commodity maize, but open-pollinated.
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6. Obviously Monsanto’s Intacta patents are at some risk here.
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7. In late 2013 pro-Monsanto forces in Brazil launched a new attempt to gut the country’s 2005 Biosafety Law and have the country break the 10+ year moratorium on the Terminator. (These legislative attempts have been ongoing since 2005.) This is ironic since the moratorium was last reaffirmed in Brazil. Proponents claim to want to put the Terminator only in GM eucalyptus and other vegetatively propagated crops, but the proposal has enough loopholes and vagueness as to be indefinitely stretchable. So far this attempt has been beaten back, largely as the result of massive international grassroots pressure organized by the ETC Group. But the pro-GMO activists in the legislature continue to reintroduce the bill.
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8. Brazilian regulators approved GM eucalyptus in 2015.
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There’s the facts. What can we deduce from there? Obviously if the Terminator were to be incorporated in one product, it would quickly be deployed in others. In this case GM eucalyptus would be the camel’s nose in the tent. All of Monsanto’s interests say that Brazil and China are two places it would find the Terminator most useful. Therefore the indications point to Intacta as being the first major GMO into which Monsanto would want to engineer the Terminator gene. Grown in Brazil, exported mostly to China and other non-Western countries – perhaps it might not immediately generate a political firestorm in the West. (Some Intacta is exported to the EU for use in food and feed. European campaigners, recently seconded by a Norwegian government scientific assessment, have opposed it on food safety grounds. But no doubt the EFSA would deem a Terminator version of Intacta not to require a new review.)
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And then, once the Terminator was deployed in one major commercial GMO, it would be expanded to many or all of the others.
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So there’s one plausible scenario for the Terminator’s future.
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Campaigners around the world need to join with ETC and Brazilian campaigners to hinder the GM eucalyptus project and thwart the plan to have Brazil break the Terminator moratorium.
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December 25, 2015

GMO News Summary, December 25th, 2015

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*Bt cotton may be the most failure-prone and fraudulent (as far as the claims made for it) of all widely deployed GMOs. Even where it works temporarily against the target pest (and often it fails even at that), it’s quickly decimated by secondary pests. And it’s never more than a few years before the target bollworm develops resistance. Today the pink bollworm is devastating the cotton crop of India’s Karnataka state. This is in spite of Monsanto’s Bollgard II deploying two Bt toxins, Cry2AB2 and Cry1AC, against this pest. The original Bollgard produced just Cry1AC. That product was overwhelmed by the superbugs years ago.
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Even Keshav Kranthi of the Indian Central Institute for Cotton Research (by no means anti-GMO) admits that no cotton hybrid including the Bt varieties would stand a chance without the seeds being coated with imidacloprid. So once again we see how the “less pesticides” is also a pure fraud. (And that’s not even counting the endotoxins themselves as part of the pesticide load.) So Bt cotton is the ultimate fraud among GMOs which have actually been widely deployed. Of the Indian states, Karnataka has been one of the most grievously bereaved by the small cotton farmer suicide epidemic, and its government has been one of the most exasperated and active in trying to reform the situation. But they’ve still not done nearly enough. Nothing short of completely driving out the ineffective, fraudulent, and malign product will suffice.
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*K.P. Prabhakaran Nair, former Professor of the National Science Foundation, publicly declares that GMOs represent an agricultural paradigm which runs counter to Indian food security. In doing so he agrees with food sovereignty campaigners as well as the supreme court’s specially appointed Technical Expert Committee and two parliamentary committees.
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*Companies who deserve one another. Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (MMB), which is Monsanto’s main distributorship in India, has complained in court about nine seed contractors which have failed to remit the Monsanto tax on Bollgard II cotton. MMB has now canceled its contracts with three of these companies. The tax is 183 rupees (about $2.77 today) on a 450 gram seed packet. Prices per packet now vary from state to state, from 830 to 1000 rupees (c.$12.60-15.15) for a packet. This inexplicable variation is why the central government, which has imposed controls in the past to try to reduce stabilize obscene seed prices, is undertaking a new round of price control.
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*There was double good news as the furtive congressional attempt to attach the anti-science, anti-democracy DARK Act to the spending bill was thwarted, while a rider supposedly ordering the FDA to institute a labeling policy for GM salmon was attached. In fact there’s considerable ambiguity about whether this law directs the FDA to institute mandatory labeling, or just a voluntary policy.
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GM salmon is a stupid product concept. What difference could it make that the thing grows faster; fish farmers always have new generations coming to maturity anyway. I think that just like with hoaxes like “golden rice” and other worthless “product quality” GMOs like the botox apple, one of the main purposes is as a propaganda exercise, trying to normalize direct GM foods in the diet. And of course the techno-hype, however fraudulent, is supposed to confuse farmers, manufacturers, and retailers, as usual, and therefore be profitable for the patent-holders.
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*At the behest of environmental and public health campaigners, the city council of Barcelona is banning the use of cancer-causing glyphosate in public parks and green spaces. The ban will be phased in over the course of a year. The council cited glyphosate’s propensity to persist in the water and soil and its toxicity to animals.
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*The Swiss Federal Council has announced its decision to extend Switzerland’s moratorium on GM crop cultivation through 2021.
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*Disturbed by the increasing trend of biotech companies obtaining fraudulent patents on conventionally bred crop varieties, and the increasing willingness of the European Patent Office (EPO) to grant such patents, the European Parliament issued a resolution against this fraud and illegality. This is a not a new law, but a resolution demanding that the EPO obey existing law.
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*The UK House of Lords has issued a taxpayer-funded pro-Oxitec manifesto trumpeting the alleged need to release endless generations of genetically engineered insects into the environment, for agricultural as well as disease control purposes. Disease control is already known to be a failure from the field trials which have been conducted in the Caymans, Brazil, and elsewhere. As for crop pest control, the GM insect theme not only censors the fact that agroecology provides the best pest control system, it also implicitly concedes the failure of GM crops and pesticides to control crop pests. Since it’s the GM insect boosters themselves who are saying that previous GMOs don’t work, why should we believe them when they claim these GMOs will work? The same goes for the boosters of CRISPR GMOs, RNAi GMOs, etc.
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As usual with such infomercials, the memo systematically dodges all discussion of actual need, alternatives, and risks. The goal is nothing but propaganda to boost a UK-based company in an important “growth” sector. It identifies the following, not as actual problems, but as stupid public “anxieties” which propaganda must counteract:
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* horizontal gene transfer within the environment
* potential impact on ecosystems
* effects on predator/prey relationships and the food chain
* evolution of more virulent strains of particular pathogens following GM control
* a general feeling that GMOs are unsafe and create risks for individuals and the environment
* the potential for unknown and unintended consequences
* questions about intellectual property, patenting and excessive corporate involvement
* lack of confidence in scientists, companies and governments to understand and appropriately regulate the myriad possible implications of GMOs.

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Never mind that seven of these eight are proven harms and hazards, while the “general feeling” of lack of safety has all the evidence in its favor and no evidence against it.
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*Several US universities as well as the UK’s taxpayer-funded corporate propaganda machine, the so-called “Science Media Centre”, are exposed for having also received lavish funding from Coca-Cola. Sure enough, the “scientists” consulted by the universities and the SMC quickly discovered the benefits of high sugar consumption and pushed this information to the ardently receptive corporate media. This goes the same way as how they’ve previously discovered the benefits and lack of harm from other corporate funders led by the GMO cartel. This is standard for today’s practicing scientists, whether actively or by tacit acceptance. Scientists are exactly like lawyers: The great majority of them will advocate any position they are paid to advocate, and in their hands this paid position then becomes “science” or “the law”.
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*Teenage Canadian food sovereignty and anti-GMO advocate Rachel Parent has been so effective that she’s been targeted personally by the cartel’s thugs including Kevin Folta. She should be proud and invigorated by this evidence of how well she’s doing. I wrote previously about the revelations Parent extracted from Canadian pro-corporate bureaucrats.
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*The Yurok Tribe, the largest Native American group in California, has announced a full ban on GM crop cultivation and the release of GM animals in the Tribe’s territory. This initiative accompanies the tribe’s participation as part of the Northern California Tribal Court Coalition (NCTCC) The Yuroks and NCTCC are co-hosting an Indigenous Food Sovereignty Summit in Klamath in the spring of 2016.

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October 2, 2015

Europe Standing Tall Against Monsanto

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What’s happening in Europe is interesting. A solid bloc comprising the great majority of Europe’s people and arable land is taking official action to block GMO cultivation under the new EU rules which were designed to be more industry-friendly than the previous ad hoc system. But, evidently contrary to the cartel’s expectations, Europe is reacting with alacrity. If anything, the people and governments of Europe seem even more motivated today to repel the GMO invasion than they previously were, even as the EU relaxes its already farcical assessment and approval procedures.
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From any point of view Europe’s rejection of GMO cultivation is the rational choice. Europe’s non-GM conventional agriculture is more productive than the GM-dominated agriculture of the US and Canada, and the gap is widening. Similarly, Europe’s pesticide use continues to decline while that of the US continues to skyrocket. GMOs yield less and require greatly more pesticide, fertilizer, and irrigation. They’re an inferior yet vastly more expensive product in every way, even before we get to their health and environmental harms. Europe also has a booming organic sector, while the American organic sector is increasingly being polluted by GM contamination, at great cost to already beleaguered farmers. Forcing US organic to assimilate GMOs seems to remain the policy of the USDA, just as it attempted to do in the 1990s when it was first devising the certification program.
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Europe’s campaign may bode well for its resolve to reject the TTIP and CETA globalization pacts, which in the long run would render all this for naught. The goal of these compacts is to eradicate all popular democracy and national sovereignty and impose direct corporate dictatorship.
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There seems to be little hope of stopping the TTIP from this side of the pond, but the nations of Europe are certainly capable of rejecting it. Right now Europe has a great agricultural advantage over the North American Babylon, from the point of view of the great transformation which will soon be necessary as well as from today’s mainstream marketing point of view. Why throw this away? On the European side, the TTIP makes sense only from the point of view of a few big corporate sectors and the Commission bureaucracy. It would be a pure disaster from the point of view of anyone else, an abject submission to US corporate power. Here’s to the prospect that Europe’s broad-based rejection of GMOs is a preliminary to its rejection of corporate globalization’s last, greatest gambit.

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July 31, 2015

Module: Glyphosate Causes Birth Defects

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A summary of the evidence.
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*Both Roundup and glyphosate by itself caused malformations in chicken and frog embryos at doses far below agricultural applications. This 2010 lab study, performed by Argentine scientist Andres Carrasco and his research team, gave laboratory confirmation of the kinds of birth defects which epidemiological studies (see below) find to be rampant among humans living in the industrial soy zone. The researchers identified glyphosate’s interference with the retinoic acid signaling pathway as the likely mechanism of toxicity. This is one of the many disproofs of the standard lie that glyphosate cannot harm people because it affects only the shikimate pathway which is found only in plants. A subsequent module will focus on glyphosate’s mechanisms of human toxicity.
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*A lab study from 2007 exposed rat mothers to Roundup during pregnancy and lactation. The doses were not found to be toxic to the mothers. Male offspring showed decreased sperm count, lower levels of sperm production, a heightened percentage of abnormal sperm, lower serum testosterone at puberty, and sperm cell degeneration.
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*A 2003 lab study found skeletal malformations in rat fetuses after their mothers had been given maternally non-toxic doses of Roundup.
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*A 2003 lab study found that commercial glyphosate formulation caused death and, at lower doses, malformations in tadpoles.
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*A Russian researcher found that female rats fed Roundup Ready soybean meal produced litters with over 55% of the pups stunted. This was 6-9X the rate found in two groups not given the Roundup-laced feed. The stunted rats died within three weeks, while the non-stunted survivors were sterile.
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*Monsanto’s own studies on glyphosate (they seem never to have tested Roundup) found that maternal exposure to glyphosate in rabbits and rats, at both maternally toxic and at lower, maternally non-toxic doses, caused birth defects in offspring. European regulators tendentiously dismissed the data even though the UK’s Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) itself said the industry’s own studies established “a pattern” of birth defects.
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*A 2009 review of Monsanto’s own studies found that Roundup causes necrosis and apoptosis (two kinds of cell death) in human umbilical, placental, and embryonic cells.
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*A 2005 lab study found that glyphosate damages human placental cells and is an aromatase inhibitor. This highlights the fact that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor and causes developmental harm in many ways because of this. I’ll be devoting a module to glyphosate as endocrine disruptor, where there will also be more birth defect evidence, because these overlap. Glyphosate’s interference with estrogen production also associates it with breast cancer.
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*A 1997 epidemiological study of farming families in Ontario found a that the father’s exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides was significantly correlated with late miscarriages and premature births.
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*An epidemiological study carried out in California with publications in 2004 and 2006 found that Roundup exposure can lead to anencephaly, a birth defect of neural tubes or the brain and spinal structures, in which part of the skull and brain are missing. This finding along with the Argentine epidemiological studies is consistent with the lab studies which find that Roundup and glyphosate consistently impair central nervous system development. Monsanto’s own studies have also found that glyphosate harms skull development.
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Epidemiological studies from the world’s Roundup ground zero, the “Soy Republic” of Argentina, provide copious data on the effects of this poison on exposed residents, especially birth defects, reproductive problems, and cancer.
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*The 2010 Cordoba Conference of the Physicians of Fumigated Towns reported on the many health horrors the doctors documented from the Roundup zone, including an epidemic of birth defects, miscarriages, infertility, and neurological development problems in children, as well as very high cancer rates among children, young adults, and older adults.
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*Also in 2010 a government-commissioned report on the health of the glyphosate-saturated Chaco province found, among other epidemics, that birth defects quadrupled and childhood cancer rates tripled in the ten years of Roundup Ready soy cultivation.
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*Regional birth reports in the Chaco province documented a quadrupling of birth defects among villages in the Roundup zone.This spurred a multi-year study comparing Chaco villages within the Roundup zone to villages outside, which further documented the birth defects and reproductive problems and found much higher cancer rates in the Roundup-saturated area.
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*Most recently, a University of Cordoba study in the town of Monte Maiz, located near the Roundup fields and also used for grain storage, found massive glyphosate residues in the soil and air and documented a rate of spontaneous abortions five times the national average, a tripling of the miscarriage rate, as well as cancer rates five times the national average along with a long list of other severe health effects such as soaring rates of diabetes.
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*Danish farmer Ib Borup Pederson whose pigs were suffering an epidemic of birth defects, reduced live births, diarrhea, bloating, and poor appetite found that these symptoms, which developed after he had started using GM-based animal feed, disappeared when he switched back to non-GM feed. The feed was based primarily on Roundup Ready soy, and Pederson supposes the main problem was the Roundup residue. Based on Pederson’s experience, the Danish government announced a plan to conduct a study on the effects of different soy-based diets on pig health.
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*Retired USDA scientist Don Huber has been a leading figure documenting the severe epidemic of reproductive problems and birth defects among US livestock since Roundup-laced animal feed became the norm. Although there are several possible causes of the epidemic, each is related to Roundup, either as directly caused by it or else associated with it.
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Earth Open Source’s report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?”, summarizes the proven history of the European system’s conscious knowledge. The US regulatory knowledge has been even more precocious.
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Taken together, the industry studies and regulatory documents on which the current approval of glyphosate rests reveal that:

● Industry (including Monsanto) has known since the 1980s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses.

● Industry has known since 1993 that these effects could also occur at lower and mid doses.

● The German government has known since at least 1998 that glyphosate causes malformations.

● The EU Commission’s expert scientific review panel knew in 1999 that glyphosate causes malformations.

● The EU Commission has known since 2002 that glyphosate causes malformations. This was the year its DG SANCO division published its final review report, laying out the basis for the current approval of glyphosate.

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As always where dealing with the corporate science paradigm and its corrupt system, we must keep in mind that much of the most damning evidence is being kept secret by Monsanto and the US and German governments. These continue to stonewall and refuse to render public much of the information they have, under the rubric of protecting “trade secrets”. But where it comes to science no secret has any right to exist, and to assert or find such a right is prima facie proof of one’s bad faith and malign intent.
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By definition there can be no such thing as “secret science”. You can have science, whose results are part of the public record, or you can have secrecy. In that case reason and common sense must assume that the evidence is devastating to the secret-keeper. This, along with the absolute, systematic refusal of the government and corporations to perform legitimate safety testing on any GMO or pesticide, comprises negative proof that the corporations know or fear the worst. They live in terror of what would become of them and their criminal products if the truth came to light.
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We can regard this as definitively proven and go on from there.
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For further reading:
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Case Study in the Corporate “Science” Paradigm

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Here’s a textbook case, punctuated with a small victory.
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1. Under the corporate science paradigm, standard practice for regulators is to consider only secret corporate “studies” in their assessments, and to do nothing but rubber-stamp these. Independent science is rejected out of hand. In 2009 the European Parliament passed a law requiring the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA, a typical pro-corporate regulator) to consider in its pesticide assessments not only non-scientific, fraudulent and secret corporate “science” the way regulators prefer, but that it must consider independent science as well.
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2. EFSA dodged this by issuing a guidance in 2011 applying a special corporate standard as the single yes-or-no standard for admitting a study to the assessment. This is the “Klimisch criterion”, named after the head of a gang of BASF operatives who promulgated it in 1997. In 2012 the European Commission’s Science and Health Committee concurred. Perversely, the Klimisch standard is a pure example of the tendentious corporate “science” whose unchallenged reign the Parliament wanted to end. The single standard for assessment it asserts is called, Orwell-fashion, “Good Laboratory Practice” (GLP).
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GLP is a classic example of a pedantic regulation which has nothing to do with quality control, but which is fraudulently put forward by the corporation and the regulator as being a rigorous control. Rather, it is meant to set up procedural hurdles which wealthy corporations can easily overcome, but which would be too onerous for many independent studies. In theory GLP was supposed to apply only to corporate studies, not independent science, which instead is supposed to be held accountable by the peer review system. Therefore independent studies are not designed to conform to GLP, nor are they supposed to in principle.
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There we see another nefarious purpose of GLP. It’s supposed to justify “secret science”, as comprising an alleged alternative to publicity and peer review.
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So the EFSA and EC turned the Parliament’s intent completely inside out, parrying the attempt to force regulators to take science into account by imposing a corporate standard which dictates which “science” is allowed to be assessed. It’s standard corporate regulatory whack-a-mole.
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3. A scientist consultant to the EFSA, Geoff Frampton, recommended against adoption of GLP but had his submission censored and his recommendation changed by secret EFSA bureaucrats. When the public interest groups Client Earth and Pesticide Action Network Europe asked EFSA for the names of these bureaucrats, the EFSA refused to tell.
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The two groups sued, and the European Court of Justice (Second Chamber) has ordered EFSA to divulge the names. If EFSA complies, we’ll certainly find that they are or have been corporate employees, operatives of the exact same corporations whose products are being “regulated”.
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We’ll see if the EFSA obeys this judgement, or else what kind of trick or outright defiance it’ll try next. The only thing certain is that they’ll never give up and never change until GMOs and the Poisoner regime are abolished.
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For now science continues to face a harsh struggle to get its findings acknowledged and considered, indeed it faces a harsh struggle to exist at all, as the overwhelming preponderance of wealth, power, and cadre commitment is dedicated to the corporate “science” paradigm and to corporate power as such.

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April 24, 2015

GMO News Report April 24th, 2015

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*A new initiative is offering lab-certified glyphosate tests to the public. (Previous testing with the ELISA method was ignored by the EPA on a trumped up pretext, but the organizers want to pin the feds to the wall with the validated LS/MS/MS test.) We already know this poison which causes cancer, birth defects, liver and kidney disease, neurological disease, and many other maladies is rampant in our food, water, air, and soil, and we already know humanity must ban it. This testing program will allow anyone who wishes to further document the suffusion of this poison throughout our world. The tests will be available for drinking water, urine, and soon for breast milk. Check out their excellent information resource on the human health ravages of glyphosate.
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*Monsanto is being sued in Los Angeles County for false advertising of its Roundup herbicide. The suit focuses on one of the standard lies about glyphosate, that because it “only” targets the EPSPS enzyme pathway, which is found only in plants and not mammals, therefore glyphosate can’t be harmful to people, pets, or livestock.
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The suit focuses on the fact that EPSPS is found in the beneficial bacteria of our microbiome. These bacteria are critical for healthy digestive and other body systems. By disrupting these, glyphosate does affect mammalian health.
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We can add that glyphosate does adversely affect at least two mammalian pathways, the retinoic acid pathway and the CYP pathway. Glyphosate’s harmful action causes retinoic acid oversignaling which disrupts gene expression, leading to birth defects and cancer. Glyphosate also disrupts the CYP enzymes which are important for detoxifying foodborne and other environmental toxins. Therefore it suppresses our detoxification mechanism as well as the help we get from gut bacterial detoxification action, since these bacteria have the CYP pathway as well. This can lead to directly toxic effects, can trigger autoimmune disease and a wide range of conditions. “Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease”, in the words of scientist Stephanie Seneff. Finally, glyphosate’s chelation effect also concentrates hard metals in food, water, and our bodies, which causes kidney toxicity as documented in studies, and which scientists think is the cause of the epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu).
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*Environmental groups are condemning the new draft rules the European Commission has issued for the importation of GMO products for use in food and feed. (This is a separate rule from the previously disputed one on GM cultivation within the EU.) The draft directly breaks the prior promise of Commissioner Juncker to make the GM importation process more democratic. On the contrary, the new rule does not improve upon the ability of the European Council to block import approval by a majority vote (as things are now, it needs a supermajority; failing this, the decision passes to the undemocratic EC). Instead, the new rule will further limit the EU-approved grounds on which member countries can ban cultivation or import of GMOs. All this will be accompanied by an accelerated EFSA approval treadmill. The EC and the US government expect that once the flow of imports becomes a flood, it’ll be impossible for any part of Europe to resist or even monitor the Europe-wide spread of GM-based products. As things are, meat and dairy from animals fed on GM feed don’t have to be labeled, though many brands and retailers have committed to using non-GM feed. The new rules are meant to overwhelm all feed chains.
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*The Vermont attorney general’s office is drawing up rules for the state’s GMO labeling law, the first effective policy in the US, which will go into effect July 2016.
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*Neil Young is releasing an album this June including songs against Monsanto. Recently Young has been praising Vermont for its labeling law, condemning the Grocery Manufacturers Association (with such members as Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Kelloggs) for its SLAPP suit against Vermont’s democracy, and calling for a boycott of GMA member Starbucks.

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April 17, 2015

GMO News Report April 17th, 2015

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*Putting the AMA and similar Western professional organizations to shame, the Federation of Health Professionals of Argentina (FESPROSA) representing 30,000 doctors and health care workers has issued a statement demanding a ban on glyphosate in light of the WHO’s acknowledgement that it causes cancer. They add that Argentine researchers and doctors have also proven glyphosate causes reproductive problems, birth defects, and neurological disease. They condemn the Argentine government for its complicity in this massive poisoning of the people.
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Argentina is often called the Soy Republic (though Soy Regime would be more accurate), as the complete domination of the national economy by the Roundup Ready soy system is far more advanced here than for GMOs in any other country. But through the same circumstance Argentina has also seen the most comprehensive gathering of evidence documenting the health devastation wrought by Roundup.
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*A federal court is now extending the same hooded-judge in camera secrecy provisions we’re already enduring in cases where the government fraudulently invokes “national security” to corporate invocations of secrecy and “security”. The judges in Monsanto’s SLAPP suit against the people of Maui have accepted corporate submissions as evidence but are making only heavily redacted versions accessible to the defense. This is of course standard procedure in the corporate tribunals convened under globalization pacts like NAFTA, a jurisdiction of direct corporate dictatorship which will be vastly expanded if the TTIP and/or TPP go into effect.
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But as we see, the US federal courts are avoiding the rush. This secrecy regime, which already encompasses the void left behind where the scientific and academic establishment has abdicated even the pretense of integrity and legitimacy, is now being extended even to the basics of courtroom procedure. The courts shall increasingly be nothing but corporate kangaroo courts. This is the only way Monsanto can sustain its lies.
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These must be our principles: 1. Where it’s kept secret, and where they refuse to test at all, we can assume the worst must be true. The corporations and government would certainly trumpet to the skies any bona fide evidence which was good for their position.
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2. We reject all their secretive “studies” out of hand since these are based on secret alleged data which may not even exist at all, and at any rate does not scientifically exist, since only public data can scientifically exist.
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*Brazilian bioregulator CTNBio went ahead as expected and approved commercial cultivation of GM eucalyptus trees. The Campaign to Stop GE Trees denounces the decision as an illegal violation of the Convention on Biodiversity (to which Brazil is a signatory) and the Precautionary Principle. GM eucalyptus, if it is in fact more profitable for industrial foresters as expected on account of its faster growth, will only accelerate Brazilian rainforest destruction escalate the resultant carbon emissions and destruction of biodiversity. Contrary to the lies of pro-GM activists, all previous “efficiency” gains in industrial forestry only led to greater acreage being destroyed and given over to monoculture plantations. Of course GM trees growing for over five years will also spread their contaminated pollen far more widely than GM annual crops, to related trees and to honey production. And we can still expect a revival of 2013’s attempt to use GM eucalyptus as the camel’s nose in the tent for the Terminator gene, which Monsanto must be ardent to deploy in such crops as Brazil’s Intacta soybean.
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*This month the European Commission is expected to release rules for a new regulatory protocol for EFSA approval of GMOs for importation in food and feed. Friends of the Earth is criticizing a leaked draft promising the new importation approval system will be the same kind of sham as the cultivation approval protocol. In both cases, member states are allegedly to have an improved way to opt out of any GMO approvals. But these opt out provisions will actually be more onerous than the status quo, and will explicitly disallow national bans based on criteria the EFSA assesses, namely health and environmental concerns. This means that the pro-GM EFSA shall be officially enshrined as the only legal arbiter of the science of GMO-related health and environmental issues, which also happen to be the only WTO-allowed criteria for enacting what it would otherwise ban as “barriers to trade”. Meanwhile, the criteria which the new EU opt-out protocol will allow, such as socioeconomic and cultural effects, are precisely those banned by the WTO. So the goal here is to effectively outlaw EU member state bans on GMO cultivation or importation through a bureaucratic Catch-22. The new plan makes some noises about “co-existence” and anti-contamination measures, but will have zero enforcement provisions. Nor does anyone seriously think it will be possible to police the intra-European borders vs. the free flow of imported GM products.
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And what do member states have to give in return for this treacherous form of “opt-out”? Nothing but the surrender of their prior power to block Europe-wide approvals in the European Council, and their acquiescence in a general “streamlining” of the EFSA approval system.
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So the EC’s goal is to open the floodgates to EFSA approvals Europe-wide, inundate the continent with imported GM products (and undermine labeling rules), and make it easy for rogue states who want to allow chaotic GMO cultivation to do so, thereby greatly increasing the rate of general European contamination by GMOs.
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April 11, 2015

Yet Another Study Proves GMOs Are Not “Substantially Equivalent” Even Among Themselves, Let Alone To Non-GM Crops

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A new study compared two varieties of Monsanto’s MON810 insecticidal maize under optimal conditions and under two kinds of environmental stress: Cold and wet conditions, and hot and dry. According to the pro-GM activists, in the case of both varieties: 1. The transgene should be equally active. 2. It should express equal levels of the Bt toxin (Cry1AB, vs. corn borers and other lepidopteran larvae). 3. There should be a clear, constant ratio of transgene activity to Bt expression. 4. Environmental stresses should have no effect on 1-3. 5. If there is any effect, it should be the same in both varieties.
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The results were quite different:
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1. Under optimal conditions, transgenic action (gauged by the RT-PCR test) was similar, but the average Bt content (tested by ELISA) was higher in one variety than the other.
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2. Under cold/wet conditions, the Bt content increased in one variety but not the other.
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3. Hot/dry conditions, transgenic expression was significantly lower in one variety, but this did not affect Bt content.
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The researchers concluded that even though transgene expression was similar under “normal” conditions, Bt content is affected also by the genetics of the original maize variety, and will therefore vary chaotically from variety to variety (a given transgene will be bred into often dozens of varieties). Under stress conditions the Bt content is highly unpredictable. Inconsistent Bt expression will help the target insects develop resistance, another refutation of the scam “refuge” policy.
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Based on these results, the crop science group Testbiotech is calling for all authorizations of Bt GMOs to be suspended while a new safety review protocol is drawn up and put into effect, as this study demonstrates how chaotic the real-world transgenic behavior and Bt production of these GMOs is. Researcher Angelika Hilbeck noted that this study, along with several previous studies which also found chaotic variation in Bt expression, refute the entire paradigm of “safety assessment” as deployed by regulators, as this assumes consistent levels of the poison in the product. It also refutes advertising which promises a given level of “active ingredient” in the product. Buying the seeds of a poison plant is, after all, the same thing as buying a gallon of chemical pesticide.
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As is standard with regulators all over the world including in the US, the EU’s EFSA assessments do almost nothing to assess the real-world performance of GMOs. (Much like how only ivory tower glyphosate is subjected to only meager testing, while real-world Roundup is subjected to none, and the bogus testing of Roundup Ready GMOs doesn’t include spraying them with Roundup!) No one has the slightest idea what the real world effects of changing environmental conditions will be on GMO performance, and the subsequent effects on human and animal health, beneficial insects, and soil ecosystems.

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April 10, 2015

GMO News Report April 10th, 2015

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*Unlike comparable organizations in the West, Brazil’s National Cancer Institute (INCA) is capable of connecting simple dots. Even the WHO now acknowledges that glyphosate causes cancer. INCA reiterates this and the many other health afflictions caused by glyphosate and other poisons, and goes on to state the obvious, that it’s herbicide tolerant GMOs which are by far the main driver of this great surge of glyphosate use, and therefore of the cancer caused by it.
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As if in direct contradiction of the Cancer Institute, Brazil’s “regulator” CTNBio issued cultivation approvals for soybeans and corn engineered to be tolerant to another cancer-causing herbicide, 2,4-D, as well as water-guzzling, deforestation-driving GM eucalyptus, whose prolific pollen spread promises to quickly contaminate all related trees across the environment.
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*Chinese citizens are suing the government trying to force it to disclose the secret information it has on Roundup and the process by which it approved Roundup. We see how the Chinese government is at one with those of the US and EU in wanting to help Monsanto and other corporations keep the actual evidence about the effects of chemicals like Roundup secret from the people. The escalating democracy campaign to force disclosure of how much the corporations and governments really know about how deadly these agricultural poisons really are becomes all the more critical as we learn more and more about the health and environmental devastation being wrought by Roundup, including the gathering avalanche of knowledge about how it causes cancer.
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The fact is that by definition there cannot be secret scientific evidence. By definition evidence has to be publicized, so we can assume that the secrecy is in fact a cover-up. We must assume that whatever evidence does exist condemns glyphosate (and GMOs) as harmful to health and the environment, which is the reason why corporations and governments want to keep this evidence secret. Meanwhile the public assurances are nothing but propaganda and lies. No legitimate model of science or democracy can come to any other conclusion.
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*Food and Water Watch filed a pair of petitions with the FDA calling upon the agency to follow the law and regulate GMO salmon as the food containing a new additive it clearly is, rather than as an “animal drug”, the way the FDA has been preferring to do. The food additive review process is, in theory, more rigorous and more strongly applies the precautionary principle.
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*In a court filing forced out of it, Monsanto now admits it bankrolled the legal defense of the contract GMO “farmer” who trespassed upon and contaminated West Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh’s land, causing him to lose his certification and costing him his livelihood. It’s no surprise that Monsanto would see the outcome of this case as important for its future revenue and power, since one of the basic elements of government assistance it depends upon is the “co-existence” lie in general and in particular the de facto legal doctrine that where it comes to transgenic trespass and vandalism, the law is presumptively on the side of the aggressor, while it’s the legal and financial responsibility of the target to avoid being assaulted, or simply to submit to it and plant the herbicide tolerant GMOs himself. So among other things it’s a protection racket. In this case, the 2014 trial decision admitted that “co-existence” is impossible even as it reaffirmed the pro-polluter, pro-trespasser, pro-vandal, pro-aggressor doctrine. Since then the legal dispute has been over the trial judge’s order that March pay the Monsanto contractor’s legal fees. It was in that context that Marsh’s legal team was able to force Monsanto’s divulgence, since legal costs can be awarded only for a principal’s out of pocket expenses.
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*Most of the attention to the EU’s revamped “subsidiarity” policy for GMO approvals has focused on GMO cultivation. Now the Commission is about to release its new rules for approval of imported GMOs in food and feed. The main loophole in the EU’s GMO labeling policy is that meat and dairy from animals which were fed GMOs doesn’t have to be labeled, although many supermarket chains eschew GM feed for their own meat and dairy brands. Member states opposed to GM importations have generally been unable to prevent imported feed from entering their own supply chains, but have instead focused on blocking import approval in the first place. Although the details are unclear right now, both the Commission and civil society campaigners are expecting that the new rules, generally dedicated to “streamlining” regulation (i.e. making it more pro-corporate), will make it harder for member states to block EFSA import approval at the outset. There will be fig-leaf “opt out” provisions, but as a practical matter for a member state to opt out of allowing an imported processed product, which will easily cross the border in any number of ways, will be more difficult than opting out of allowing cultivation of a GMO.
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*In its desperation to claim some kind, any kind of support for the TPP and TTIP globalization assaults, the Obama administration released a set of quotes from the always reliable corporate environmentalist front groups the WWF and the Nature Conservancy, along with some other bogus NGOs, which expressed these groups’ “environmentalist” support for the pacts. Although the cowards are now trying to backpedal by claiming they have not technically endorsed these corporate anti-constitutions, the pieces and submissions are loaded with the sycophancy, lies, and neoliberal propaganda we’d expect from the the WWF and their treacherous like.

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