The Environmental Leaderreports on efforts by more than 150 organizations to urge the US Department of Agriculture to improve its oversight of experimental trials of gentically engineerd crops:
Organic food manufacturer Amy’s Kitchen, Farm Aid, Clif Bar & Company, The Urban Farm, Organic Seed Alliance and the Center for Food Safety are among more than 150 farm organizations, millers, retailers, bakeries, seed businesses and food processors urging the US Department of Agriculture to improve its oversight of experimental trials of genetically engineered crops.
The groups have signed a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that centers on their concern over the discovery this summer of unapproved genetically engineered wheat in Oregon. The signatories say the contamination shows the inadequacy of US regulation of genetically engineered crop field trials. The incident also reinforces the sensitivity of export markets, all of which reject genetically engineered wheat.
The economic impacts of the genetically engineered wheat discovery were immediate, the signatories say. Shipments from Oregon wheat farmers were temporarily put on hold after the unapproved wheat was found.
The delegation has asked the USDA to halt new approvals of genetically engineered wheat field trials at least until the contamination investigation is complete. The group also says the USDA should publish a report detailing the investigation, implement recommendations that aim to improve field trial oversight, and require mandated containment protocols for all genetically engineered crop field trials.
Several on-line sites have posted information about a lawsuit filed by environmental groups to stop the planting of genetically modified crops in wildlife refuges:
Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop planting genetically modified crops in wildlife refuges in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri.
The coalition of green groups—which includes the Sierra Club, the Center for Food Safety, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility—want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials to halt any possible damage to the lands until environmental analyses are completed.
The suit alleges that under the National Environmental Protection Act and the Refuge Improvement act, the government is required to do those studies before entering into farming contracts.Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is named as the lead defendant in the 35-page filing. Jewell’s office did not respond to a request for response to the lawsuit or details of the federal program under which the farms exist.“Allowing pesticide promoting, (genetically engineered) crops is antithetical to the basic purpose of our refuge system,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety.
By John UptonThe state of Hawaii has become a lot like the island of Dr. Moreau. Except that instead of Dr. Moreau — the mad scientist in H.G. Wells’s 1896 novel who vivisected animals into beast-people — Hawaii is ruled by the GMO industry.
Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, and BASF use the Pacific archipelago as open-air testing grounds for their experimental genetically modified crops, and they spray those crops with herbicides and other chemicals to test how they respond.
But now many residents, including lawmakers, are saying they have had enough of this science-fictionesque madness.
These transnational corporations prefer Hawaii for growing and testing GE crops because of its abundant sunshine, rainfall and year-round growing climate. GMO opponents say the companies also enjoy Hawaii’s isolation, largely removed from the public eye.
Yet these companies, which have been in Hawaii for decades, are now facing increasing opposition from residents concerned about GMOs, the health and environmental impacts of pesticides and what they see as a lack of oversight and transparency. Continue reading →
Unless the rice you buy is certified organic, or comes specifically from a farm that tests its rice crops for genetically modified (GM) traits, you could be eating rice tainted with actual human genes. The only known GMO with inbred human traits in cultivation today, a GM rice product made by biotechnology company Ventria Bioscience is currently being grown on 3,200 acres in Junction City, Kansas — and possibly elsewhere — and most people have no idea about it.
Since about 2006,Ventria has been quietly cultivating rice that has been genetically modified (GM) with genes from the human liver for the purpose of taking the artificial proteins produced by this “Frankenrice” and using them in pharmaceuticals. With approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),Ventria has taken one of the most widely cultivated grain crops in the world today, and essentially turned it into a catalyst for producing new drugs.
Originally, the cultivation of this GM rice, which comes in three approved varieties, was limited to the laboratory setting. But in 2007,Ventria decided to bring the rice outdoors. The company initially tried to plant the crops in Missouri, but met resistance fromAnheuser-Busch and others, which threatened to boycott all rice from the state in the event that Ventria began planting its rice within state borders.
So Ventria‘s GM rice eventually ended up in Kansas, where it is presumably still being grown for the purpose of manufacturing drugs on 3,200 acres in Junction City. And while this GM rice with added human traits has never been approved for human consumption, it is now being cultivated in open fields where the potential for unrestrained contamination and spread of its unwanted, dangerous GM traits is virtually a given. Continue reading →
I’d like to know why Americans aren’t more skeptical of these GM crops. Why we are so quick to accept studies, put out by the industry, that assure us they’re safe to eat? In the industrialized world our population is the fatest and sickest. Our life expectancy, in some demographics, is decreasing. Allergies are going through the roof. Could it be tied to the low quality, pesticide and antibiotic laden food we’re eating? Just asking….
GMO debate stretches from farm to table
While proponents feel public will accept biotech food, others fear resistance
By JOHN O’CONNELL
Among the 20 genetically modified crops now awaiting USDA approval, two stand out — a new potato and an apple.
While most of the biotech crops being evaluated will be fed to livestock or crushed for biofuel feedstock, the potato and apple are intended for human consumption, sparking keen interest among both the farmers who will grow them and the public who will eat them.
Simplot Plant Sciences introduced the biotech potato, called Innate, that is engineered to resist browning and black spot disease and to have fewer sugars and acrylamide, a substance linked to cancer and is produced when a potato is fried.
A Canadian company, Summerland, B.C.-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits, introduced Arctic apples, which stay white after slicing. That makes them good for a variety of uses such as packaged apple slices and to be served in restaurants.
But even as regulators at USDA and consumers at local grocery stores consider those and other biotech food crops, the recent discovery of unauthorized genetically modified wheat growing in an Oregon field has escalated the intensity of the debate over genetically modified crops. USDA investigators have yet to figure out how the biotech wheat got into the field and how widespread it might be. Overseas wheat buyers have delayed some purchases of soft white wheat and are testing the shipments they receive for genetic modification. Continue reading →
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a previous ruling that found organic growers had no reason to try to block Monsanto from suing them as the company had pledged it would not take them to court if biotech crops accidentally mix in with organics.
Organic farmers and others have worried for years that they will be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement if their crops get contaminated with Monsanto biotech crops.