Posts Tagged Big Agriculture & Big Biotechnology
Thursday, February 23, 2012
With the faster reviews, there will be even less time spent on evaluating the potential dangers. Why? Because Monsanto is losing sales with longer approval terms.
The changes are expected to take full effect in March when they’re published in the Federal Register. The USDA’s goal is to cut the approval time for GMO crops in half in order to speedily implement them into the global food supply. The current USDA process takes longer than they would like due to ‘public interest, legal challenges, and the challenges associated with the advent of national organic food standards‘ says USDA deputy administrator Michael Gregoire.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, problems like public interest (activist groups attempting to bring the dangers of GMO crops to light), legal challenges (farmers suing Monsanto over genetic contamination), and national food standards are all getting in the way of their prime goal — to help Monsanto unleash their latest untested GMO creation. In fact, the concern is that Monsanto may be losing cash flow as nations like Brazil speed genetically modified seeds through laughable approval processes.
Steve Censky, chief executive officer of the American Soybean Association, states it quite plainly. This is a move to help Monsanto and other biotechnology giants squash competition and make profits. After all, who cares about public health?
‘It is a concern from a competition standpoint,’ Censky said in a telephone interview.
The same statements are re-iterated by analyst Jeff Windau in an interview with Bloomberg:
‘If you can reduce the approval time, you get sales that much faster,’ said Windau.
If you can reduce the approval time, as in the time it takes to determine if these food products are safe, then you can get sales much faster.
Is the USDA working for the United States consumer, or is it working for Monsanto?
by: Richard Schiffman
Thursday 23 February 2012
In a match that some would say was made in hell, the nation’s two leading producers of agrochemicals have joined forces in apartnership to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2,4-D, one half of the infamous defoliant Agent Orange, which was used by American forces to clear jungle during the Vietnam War. These two biotech giants have developed a weed management program that, if successful, would go a long way toward a predicted doubling of harmful herbicide use in America’s corn belt during the next decade.
The problem for corn farmers is that “superweeds” have been developing resistance to America’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, which is being sprayed on millions of acres in the Midwest and elsewhere. Dow Agrosciences has developed a strain of corn that it says will solve the problem. The new genetically modified variety can tolerate 2,4-D, which will kill off the Roundup-resistant weeds, but leave the corn standing. Farmers who opt into this system will be required to double-dose their fields with a deadly cocktail of Roundup plus 2,4-D, both of which are manufactured by Monsanto.
But this plan has alarmed environmentalists and also many farmers, who are reluctant to reintroduce a chemical whose toxicity has been well established. The use of 2,4-D is banned in several European countries and provinces of Canada. The substance is a suspected carcinogen, which has been shown to double the incidence of birth defects in the children of pesticide applicators in a study conducted by University of Minnesota pathologist Vincent Garry.
Researchers say that the effect of 2,4-D on human health is still not fully understood. But it may be a risk factor for conditions like Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and certain leukemias, which were often found in Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that the chemical could have “endocrine disruption potential” and interfere with the human hormonal system. It may prove toxic to honeybees, birds and fish, according to research conducted by the US Forest Service and others. In 2004, a coalition of groups spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network, wrote a letter to the EPA taking it to task for underestimating the health and environmental impacts of 2,4-D.
Large-scale industrial farming has grown dependent on ever-increasing applications of agrochemicals. Some have compared this to a drug addict who requires larger and larger fixes to stay high. Herbicide use has increased steadily over time as weeds develop resistance and need to be doused with more and deadlier chemicals to kill them. This, in turn. requires more aggressive genetic engineering of crops that can withstand the escalating chemical assault.
Many agricultural scientists warn that this growing addiction to agrochemicals is unsustainable in the long run. The fertility of the soil decreases as earthworms and vital microorganisms are killed off by pesticides and herbicides. They also pollute the groundwater and compromise the health of farm animals that are fed with the chemical-infused grain.
These impacts are poised to grow. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures reveal that herbicide use rose by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008. Significantly, nearly half of this increase (46 percent) took place between 2007 and 2008 as a result of the hawking of new herbicide-resistant crops like the new corn hybrid developed by Dow.
Nobody knows what effect introducing this hybrid would have on the health of American consumers. Corn laced with high levels of 2,4-D could taint everything from breakfast cereals to the beef of cattle, which concentrate the toxin in their flesh. Given that corn and high-fructose corn syrup are key elements in so many processed foods, some public health experts warn that all Americans will soon be guinea pigs in an ill-conceived mass experiment with one of the staples of our food supply. America’s agriculture department, the USDA is considering deregulating Monsanto’s new genetically modified corn variety (the one which will be used in conjunction with the 2,4-D) and is accepting final public comments on the matter until the 27th of this month.
Until recently, herbicide-resistant crops were popular with farmers who benefited from higher yields and nearly effortless management of weeds. But now that the weed problem is coming back with a vengeance, some are reconsidering the wisdom of this chemical-intensive mode of farming. Dow biotech corn costs nearly three times more than conventional seed. And theprojected doubling of pesticide use in the years ahead will be expensive, as well as destructive to farmland and ecosystems.
There are viable alternatives to chemical-intensive farming, time-tested methods like crop rotation, use of cover crops, and other practices which allow farmers to compete naturally with weeds. The time has come for farmers to revive the knowledge of their ancestors in this regard.
Some agricultural scientists advocate developing a system of integrated weed management to replace the unsustainable use of chemicals. But the big agrochemical companies have no interest in supporting the sustainable agriculture that would put them out of business. So long as there are billions of dollars to be made in selling herbicide and herbicide-resistant genetically modified seed, there won’t be much research money available to explore the natural alternatives to the destruction of our nation’s heartland.
North Carolina seed company joins class-action lawsuit against Monsanto that seeks protection against predatory patent lawsuits
Via: Natural News
Thursday, February 23, 2012
By: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
[NaturalNews] Asheville, N.C.-based Sow True Seed, a seed company that offers non-GMO, non-hybrid, and open-pollinated varieties of heirloom, organic, and traditional seeds, has joined a class-action lawsuit against biotechnology giant Monsanto that seeks protection for farmers against predatory patent lawsuits. On January 31, 2012, Federal Court Judge Naomi Buchwald from the Southern District of New York held a preliminary hearing of the case to decide if it will move forward, which was joined by hundreds of supporters who held a rally in Foley Square located just across the street from the Manhattan courthouse.
Filed by the Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGTA) on behalf of more than 300,000 organic and non-GMO farmers, the lawsuit addresses an important issue for which few people are aware. Besides polluting the environment with toxic herbicides and tainting the food supply with untested genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), the Monsanto Co. has a history of actually suing non-GMO and organic farmers whose crops have become contaminated with genetically-altered materials for supposed patent infringement.
“Monsanto has a monopoly over crops and over seed. And currently as the law exists, Monsanto can actually sue family farmers,” said Kristen Wartman, co-founder of Occupy Big Food, in a recent documentary short put together by the GRACE Communications Foundation.
“If their seed, which is genetically-modified, and if the pollen from that seed drifts on the family farmers’ crops, and then pollinates their seed, Monsanto can then go ahead and sue these family farmers for patent infringement. So this (lawsuit) is just basically so family farmers can protect their own livelihood and their own crops from Monsanto.”
Judge Buchwald is expected to make her decision on whether or not to allow the case to proceed within the next few months. In the meantime, advocates of food freedom who recognize Monsanto’s obvious and deliberate efforts to seize the entire food supply by force will continue to educate the public about the dangers associated with GMOs, and push for the passage of GMO labeling initiatives like the one currently moving forward in California (http://www.naturalnews.com/GMO_labeling.html).
“The petition gives a voice to the overwhelming majority of people who support mandatory labeling of genetically modified ingredients in our food,” said Cathryn Zommer from Sow True Seed to Mountain Xpresscon cerning her company’s petition for GMO-free agricultural zones to be established in Western North Carolina.
“Unlabeled and untested, pollen drifting from GE crops is a threat to the integrity of organic and non-genetically modified crops. This is in direct conflict with our right to produce and consume pure, natural food.”
You can access the Sow True Seed petition here: