The major role for GMO’s is to sell poisons to famers

Don’t believe the crap that Monsanto really wants to feed more people. It wants to get rich by selling poisons. And it’s working. As plants develop resistance. farmers need to buy more product to get the same effects they used to. Add after they’ve done this for a few years, or decades, they forget how they used to get more crops than they now do–but without poisoning the earth. As Philpott says below:

But there’s another sense in which stakes are high indeed. The industry’s core traits, herbicide and pesticide resistance, have proven vulnerable. Nearly half — and growing — of all U.S. farms are plagued by weeds resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, and farmers have responded by jacking up their Roundup doses and adding to them older, more toxic herbicides. Meanwhile, a pest called the western corn rootworm has evolved resistance to Bt corn.

  This is a great response to someone who said we pay too much attention to GMO’s.

Crop flops: GMOs lead agriculture down the wrong path

By

Harvester rejected GMO corn crop
Martchan / Shutterstock

Editor’s note: After we ran What I learned from six months of GMO research: None of it matters, Nathanael Johnson’s essay concluding his “Panic-Free GMOs” series, we heard from a lot of people who think that GMOs really do matter. We’re publishing three responses: one from Denise Caruso, author of Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet; one from Ramez Naam, author of The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet; and — to kick things off today — one from Tom Philpott, whose work long graced these pages and who is now at Mother Jones.


Before I respond to Nathanael Johnson’s assertion that the “stakes are so low” in the debate over GMOs, I want to address a smaller point. “The debate isn’t about actual genetically modified organisms — if it was we’d be debating the individual plants, not GMOs as a whole,” Johnson writes.

That’s a good place to start: actually existing GMOs. What traits are on the market today, in use by farmers? First, I’ll note that there’s no shortage of land devoted to GMOs. Since the novel seeds hit the market in 1996, global GM crop acreage has expanded dramatically, reaching 420 million acres by 2012, reports the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. That’s a combined landmass more than four times larger than California. The pro-GMO ISAAA hails this expansion as “fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture.”

Yet, for all of that land devoted to GMOs, there are just two traits in wide use: herbicide resistance and pest resistance (Bt). Note, in the below ISAAA chart, the “<1″ at the bottom. That represents the percentage of all global GMO acres planted in crops that aren’t either herbicide- or pesticide-tolerant: that is to say, less than 1 percent.

clive james biotech acres

Now, one might ask: But isn’t the industry on the brink of rolling out wonder crops — new varieties that are more nutritious, or use water more efficiently, or need less fertilizer? One way to tell is to peek into the U.S. Department of Agriculture pipeline of new GMO products being considered for deregulation. Here we can expect to find the stuff the industry has tested and found rugged and ready for field conditions. What’s in there? Thirteen products — nine of which involve herbicide tolerance or insect resistance.  Of those nine, five are engineered to resist two herbicides — a dispiriting trend I’ll explore more below. The others are an apple variety engineered not to brown, a eucalyptus designed to resist freezing, a potato charged with bruising less easily, and an alfalfa type meant to contain less lignin.

Something tells me that none of these novelty items are destined to crack ISAAA’s <1 percent box.

It’s true that rice engineered to deliver beta-carotene is due out in 2016 in the Philippines, and that citrus trees engineered to resist a ruinous pathogen have shown promise. Then there are those virus-resistant GM papayas in Hawaii — though it should be noted that the state’s entire papaya production covers about 2,000 acres, the size of a moderately sized corn farm in Iowa. But until the “golden rice” and the novel oranges prove effective, durable, and acceptable to a large swath of growers, we live in a world in which upwards of 99 percent of GMOs are engineered for the two traits mentioned above.

And that means that actually-existing GMOs remain essentially an appendage of the pesticide industry, which has dominated the technology from the start. But a fixation on pesticides doesn’t fully answer the question of why the industry’s vaunted innovation has stagnated into variations on two themes, with a few promising products at the margin. Monsanto, for one, has signaled its intention to diversify away from pesticides by entering what might be called the climate-change-services business; and back in 2008, the company pledged to create seeds that would “reduce by one-third the amount of key resources required to grow crops by the year 2030,” while also doubling yields.

More than five years later, where’s the progress? For that, I think, we have to look to the fact that genes and traits (the cool things we want plants to do in the field) don’t always track on a one-two-one basis. There are single genes that confer resistance to particular herbicides or express the toxic-to-insects trait of Bacillus thuringiensis, the basis of Bt corn and cotton. But there’s no one gene that regulates the way a plant uses water — which probably explains why Monsanto’s “drought-tolerant” corn, deregulated by the USDA in 2012, has fallen with such a thud. In its Final Environmental Assessment of the crop, the USDA delivered quite a caveat. “It is prudent to acknowledge,” the agency declared, that the Monsanto product’s ability to fend off drought “does not exceed the natural variation observed in regionally-adapted varieties of conventional corn (representing different genetic backgrounds).” Translation: In areas of the U.S. corn belt where drought is typically a factor, conventional breeders had already developed varieties that do just as well under drought conditions as Monsanto’s genetically altered product.

Churning out crops designed to require less nitrogen — which involves another complex process beyond the scope of a single gene — has so far proven to be an equally vexed project.

So what we have here, in essence, is a bit of a carnival-game scheme: an industry that lives by trumpeting elusive promises while quietly profiting from old tricks. In that sense, I agree with Johnson: stakes are low in the GMO debate, in that it’s an industry that’s wildly overhyped — by champions and foes alike.

But there’s another sense in which stakes are high indeed. The industry’s core traits, herbicide and pesticide resistance, have proven vulnerable. Nearly half — and growing — of all U.S. farms are plagued by weeds resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, and farmers have responded by jacking up their Roundup doses and adding to them older, more toxic herbicides. Meanwhile, a pest called the western corn rootworm has evolved resistance to Bt corn. Here’s NPR’s Dan Charles, writing last summer:

It appears that farmers have gotten part of the message: Biotechnology alone will not solve their rootworm problems. But instead of shifting away from those corn hybrids, or from corn altogether, many are doubling down on insect-fighting technology, deploying more chemical pesticides than before. Companies like Syngenta or AMVAC Chemical that sell soil insecticides for use in corn fields are reporting huge increases in sales: 50 or even 100 percent over the past two years.

The failure of these products — a profitable failure, if you make both GMOs and pesticides — has brought industrial-scale agriculture to a crossroads. Farmers could respond by making tweaks that have been proven to maintain productivity while slashing herbicide, insecticide, and fertilizer use — simple changes like adding another crop to the rotation and planting fall cover crops, as demonstrated by a landmark 2012 study by Iowa State University researchers.

Such a relatively minor change in farming practices would bring enormous benefits to society — to name a few, more carbon stored in soil, less fouling of drinking water with agrichemical runoff, and greater resilience to drought in the heart of the U.S. grain belt. U.S. farm policy could and should underwrite a shift to a more diversified and low-input agriculture — an unlikely prospect, given that the industry deftly invests a chunk of its profits to lobbying Congress, and that its “feed the world” rhetoric has won over a broad swath of progressive thought leaders.

Or farmers could head down the path paved for them by Monsanto and its very few peers in the agrichemical/GMO game, including Dow and DuPont. This way involves responding to the plague of resistant weeds by adding yet another herbicide to the mix, through those double-herbicide-resistant products now marching through the USDA’s deregulation process.

In a 2012 paper, Penn State researchers pondered what would likely happen if they make their way onto farm fields. Chances are “actually quite high” that the products will give rise to a new generation of superweeds that resist both Roundup and the older, more toxic herbicides that will come into use. And farmers will likely respond just as they responded to the advent of Roundup resistance — by applying ever higher doses. Here’s what the Penn State team envisions:

The authors predict that glyphosate (Roundup) use will hold steady at high levels—and use of other herbicides, like 2,4-D, will soar.
From Mortensen, at al, “Navigating a Critical Juncture for Sustainable Weed Management,” BioScience, Jan. 2012
The authors predict that glyphosate (Roundup) use will hold steady at high levels — and use of other herbicides, like 2,4-D, will soar.

So it seems to me that the stakes in this fight are indeed quite high. Yet, given what’s going on within the halls of the USDA and on our farm fields — corn and soy covers more than half of U.S. cropland, and nearly 90 percent of it is GMO — I wonder if the agrichmemical industry hasn’t already won.

Monsanto Gets it on the Chops: Black Friday–May 31, 2013. Down 4% and fallling fast.

Monsanto has been on a surge over the past 12 months, up almost 40% YTY and 10% YTD–Until Friday. Earnings were rising and free cash flow was estimated as high as $2 billion.

On Aril 3rd, Monsanto (MON) announced earnings per share of $2.74 for the 2nd quarter of 2013, up 22% from the second quarter of 2012. Expectations were high, the average estimated EPS was $2.58 from a range of $2.40 to $2.71. Fortunately for shareholders, this backs up the high flying stock that is up 10% YTD, 50% above its 52-week lows and with more  upside in-store.

All this despite some heavy and large protests around the world and some serious analysis of the dangers of their scientific with plant fundamentals.

However, the Round-up Ready (glyphosate-resistant) wheat plants found alive and thriving in Oregon ten years after trials have called the basic premise of Monsanto’s efforts to gain control of major crops world-wide into question in a very practical way. Those countries who want to keep natural diversity alive have responded immediately and forcefully. Wheat farmers in America can expect to see their exports shrivel up in a painful fashion. South Korean joined Japan in suspending shipments of America weekly within hours of the Japanese move.

Monsanto’s stock fell four percent on Friday . It is strongly overvalued at the moment and when the hedge funds see the potential, they’re likely to start shorting in a major way.

Here’s one analysis from the Market side; Kevin Quong on Seeking Alpha. http://seekingalpha.com/author/kevin-quon

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On Friday, agricultural seed and chemical producer Monsanto (MON) endured a strong whiplash from the market upon news of South Korea’s suspension of wheat imports from the United States. The company’s stock fell 4.12% to $100.64 on the news as South Korea became another Asian importer joining Japan’s decision to halt wheat imports from the United States. As of now, the country may not be the last to follow suit as other Asian countries are currently mulling over similar decisions. The international drama appears to have been sparked by concerns over Monsanto’s inability to control its non-authorized genetically-engineered product.

On May 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced test results proving the presence of genetically-engineered glyphosate-resistant wheat plants in samples taken from Oregon. Additional testing showed they were of the same variety Monsanto was authorized to field test in 16 states from 1998 to 2005. Monsanto also claims that the products were of a program ended nearly a decade before the discovery, and was entirely separate from its new field trials now underway for an experimental wheat modified to survive its Roundup herbicide.

However, what has resulted is very quickly growing into a problem that Monsanto would rather have go away. The harsh reaction by countries around the world remains reminiscent of the Mad Cow beef scare more than a decade ago, an incident that crippled global sales of beef as countries banned imports from the United States. Yet unlike that incident in which contamination bore a true safety concern, it’s not believed that such a problem exists with Monsanto’s uncontrolled product. The USDA itself confirms that the wheat variety does not pose a food safety concern.

Implications to Consider

The escalation of a seemingly minute incident to one that is now being played out on an international stage raises many questions as to the market environment that is currently developing. While it is much too early to know how this incident will play out, the harsh reaction against a non-authorized genetically modified wheat variety and its ability to be controlled raises the risk profile of all players within the industry. Companies like Syngenta (SYT), Dow Chemical (DOW), and DuPont (DD) all maintain exposure to the design of genetically modified crops. However, Monsanto and Syngenta maintain the most direct exposure as can be noted in the market’s reaction over the past month.

MON Chart

MON data by YCharts

The concerns against genetically-engineered product contamination extends beyond just Asian importers. Most recently, the European Union also urged its 27 member states to test certain wheat shipments from the United States. Such actions prompt the question of what would happen should contamination be found. As it stands, Monsanto recently announced its plans to halt lobbying for genetically modified plant varieties in Europe citing low demand from local farmers. With such a backlash being felt on the European front as well, the tightening demand profile gives way to the longer-term implications of market expansion opportunities.

The longer-term regulatory environment also remains suspect. The Oregon incident provides additional proof that Monsanto’s non-authorized variety managed to thrive nearly a decade after its testing was completed. More attention may soon be driven to the inability to control plant varieties once they are introduced into the natural environment. The problem would also not be the first instance for Monsanto. A recent documentary named “David Versus Monsanto” highlights this growing problem as one farmer struggled to defend his land against invasive contamination by Monsanto’s products. With the problem now being played out as a global incident, expectations of a tighter regulatory environment is not difficult to imagine.

Conclusion

At its current price of $100.64, Monsanto now trades at a market capitalization of $53.73 billion. This represents an above average price-to-earnings ratio of 19.02 looking forward and a PEG ratio of 1.77. It also represents a somewhat high price-to-book ratio of 4.24 and a price-to-sales ratio of 3.80. Over the past year, the company has also seen its stock rise a healthy 38%.

Having already experienced sizeable gains over the past year, investors might be wise to anticipate additional downward pressure looking forward. Operationally, the company appears to be backing out of a region (Europe) it once found to be ideal. The negative public image is also likely to worsen should the contamination threat turn out to be more prevalent than previously believed. Above all, the market environment is likely to become more volatile as uncertainty becomes more widespread throughout the industry. This is especially so now that the situation is being played out on an international scale.

GMO–Monsanto Lose in Europe. (Nils Mulvad-Denmark)

GMO lose Europe – victory for environmental organisations

By:  | 29/05/2013 | Leave a Comment
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Monsanto will halt production of genetically modified corn in all of Europe, except Spain, Portugal and Czech republic. The agribusiness multinational states not to spend any more money on trials, development, marketing, court cases or anything else to get GM corn accepted in Europe.

 

Danish Ministry of Agriculture permalink

Leader of the state trial farm at Tystofte, Gerhard Deneken and former minister of agriculture Eva Kjer Hansen shows the story on GMO corn.

 

 

Quiet decision last year
”In Europe Monsanto only sells GM corn in three countries. GM corn represents less than 1% of the EU’s corn cultivation by land area. Field trials are only in progress in three countries. We will not spend any more money to convince people to plant them,” states Brandon Mitchener, Public Affairs Lead for Monsanto in Europe and Middle East, in an interview with Investigative Reporting Denmark.

The decision was taken quietly. The company found no reason to communicate it. This means that every agribusiness company has now given up on genetically modified crops in Europe – apart from selling them in Spain and Portugal.

Wikipedia on Genetically modified crops.

Effect on worldwide GMO-battle
“This is not surprising, knowing that BASF stopped its biotech research in Europe in 2012 and Syngenta moved its research years before. It will influence the international expansion of GMOs on a global scale,” comments Klaus Sall MSc.

Sall has been studying the politics of the GMO industry for several years, and is now working as a strategic business adviser. He has just written a status report on the development of GMOs in the EU for The Danish Ecological Association (Økologisk Landsforening).

BASF, Bayer and Syngenta halted their development of GMO potatoes in Europe in 2012, for the very same reasons as Monsanto – the battle was lost.

However green organisations are still fighting the agribusiness company – in Europe and the rest of the world.

”We are not a biotech company and NGOs campaigning against GM cultivation in Europe are beating a dead horse,” Brandon Mitchener points out.

Only Spain and Portugal face GMO-growth
In Czech Repulic the sale of GM corn declining, the only countries where it is on the rise being Spain and Portugal. Currently GM corn field trials are going on in just three countries: Romania, Slovakia and Czech Republic. They are done by academic partners of Monsanto or for EU variety registration. Totals here.

“We stopped most of the trials, including the trial in Denmark, following a strategic decision in 2011 to focus our commercial activity in Europe on high-performance, conventional hybrid seeds. Monsanto has a thriving business in Europe with conventional seeds and crop protection products. As a matter of principle, Monsanto will only seek to sell biotech seeds in countries where there is broad customer and political support for them as well as a functioning, science-based regulatory system – conditions which only apply in a few countries in Europe today,” says Brandon Mitchener.

Touch the GMO Maize

Former Danish minister of Agriculture and Food, Eva Kjer Hansen from The Liberal Party, Venstre, announced on September 16th 2009 the start of Monsantos three trials with GMO maize resistent to herbicide Round-Up (NK 603) in Denmark.

She told the press that in three years time Denmark could face acceptance of GMO crops and that a lot of farmers would be growing it. She invited journalists on a road trip and let them touch the GMO maize in the trial field in Tystofte near the Danish city Skælskør.

Even more trials

Two years later, in January 2011, Monsanto expanded these two years of examination with an additional year of testing, which was accepted by the Danish Environmental authority, Miljøstyrelsen.

The procedure is that crop companies’ new crops will be tested by the authority for two years before possibly being allowed for selling and growing in Denmark. At the time, Monsanto wanted to test a total of five different varieties with the transformation NK603.

Trial results are normally open to the public. In this case Monsanto explicitly asked to keep the test silent, and they withdrew the varities before the testing finished, so no results were published.

No information has then been released on these trials.

Fighting for access to trial results
Investigative Reporting Denmark has, together with an organisation for openness, Åbenhedstinget, asked for access to the results. It turns out the trials failed in the second year. On the 1st of February 2011 the authority stated that the GMO crops could not be allowed on the basis of the trial results of the first two years. The authority recommended one more year of trials.

The new maize crop resistant to Round-Up only performed 97 pct. compared to traditional maize for the two test years in total, the authority (Plantedirektoratet, Afdeling for Sortsafprøvning, Fagudvalget) writes. It also warns for the harmful effect of the herbicide Round-Up and concludes that the most realistic outcome is that the crop will not be allowed for growing in Denmark.

Monsanto cancelled the different crops from growing trials on different times. The last was cancelled on the 1st of February 2012. By doing that Monsanto could keep the failure out of the public domain.

Authorities support Monsanto on silence
The authorities have – after more than two months consideration – decided to follow Monsanto’s wish to keep the trial results silent.

Key documents in the FOI-case.
The main argument is that publication of the trial results would have an economically harmful effect on the company, despite the fact that the crops did not pass the trial.

Investigative Reporting and Åbenhedstinget together raise the case for The Danish Ministry of Agriculture. From a scientific viewpoint and for the use in other countries it is necessary to also get results of failed trials published, argue the two organisations.

“It is corrupting to the scientific method itself, when companies can decide that only positive results can be published. Therefore it is important to have this research published,” stresses Klaus Sall.

“This a good example of the need to require companies to accept free access to their GMO seeds, for scientific research, when the crop has been released for import to the EU as NK 603 has.”

Danish trial to be reported later

Brandon Mitchener from Monsanto points to a webpage where trials are reported. The Danish trials will be reported there later this year. The actual data from the trials are not included in the reports.

“I cannot believe that any company would ever voluntarily disclose information that might be useful to its competitors. It’s unrealistic, even surreal, that anyone would expect us to. Laws already strike the proper balance between confidentiality and transparency,” says Brandon Mitchener.

The horse is dead.

Experts getting moved away from GMO
In September 2009 The Danish Ministry for Agriculture and Food published a 235 page report on in an attempt to revitalise the debate and have GMOs allowed in Denmark. This took place on the same day as the roadtrip for the press to trial fields.

The report was met with a heavy criticism in the public debate. Today the topic is closed.

”Currently no agribusiness companies have GM varieties under testing for registration at The AgriFish Agency anymore,” explains Kristine Riskær, head of the center for farming and plants in the Danish State Authority for Farming, NaturErhvervsstyrelsen, a branch under The Danish Ministry for Agriculture and Food.

See dr.dk 29. maj 2013: Nu er det slut med genmodificerede afgrøder i Danmark

 

Roundup Ready: Destroying your Body without Noticing It.

Research Reveals Previously Unknown Pathway by which Glyphosate Wrecks Health

May 14, 2013 |

By Dr. Mercola

The more we learn about genetically engineered (GE) foods, the clearer the dangers become. I’ve warned you of the potential dangers of GE foods for many years now, as I was convinced that the artificial combining of plants with genes from wildly different kingdoms is bound to cause problems.

As the years roll on, such suspicions are becoming increasingly validated. In recent weeks, we’ve not only learned that GE corn is in no way comparable to natural corn in terms of nutrition, we’re also discovering the ramifications of dousing our crops with large amounts of glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto’s broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup.

GE crops are far more contaminated with glyphosate than conventional crops, courtesy of the fact that they’re engineered to withstand extremely high levels of Roundup without perishing along with the weed.

A new peer-reviewed report authored by Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant, and a long time contributor to the Mercola.com Vital Votes Forum and Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has fortunately received quite a bit of mainstream media attention.

Their findings, along with the development of another breed of “gene silencing” crops, makes the need for labeling all the more urgent, and the advice to buy certified organic all the more valid.

How Glyphosate Worsens Modern Diseases

While Monsanto insists that Roundup is safe and “minimally toxic” to humans, Samsel and Seneff’s research tells a different story altogether. Their report, published in the journal Entropy,1 argues that glyphosate residues, found in most commonly consumed foods in the Western diet courtesy of GE sugar, corn, soy and wheat, “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease.” According to the authors:

“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”

The main finding of the report is that glyphosate inhibits cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, a large and diverse group of enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances. This, the authors state, is “an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals.”

One of the functions of CYP enzymes is to detoxify xenobiotics—chemical compounds found in a living organism that are not normally produced or consumed by the organism in question. By limiting the ability of these enzymes to detoxify foreign chemical compounds, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of those chemicals and environmental toxins you may be exposed to.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff has been conducting research at MIT for over three decades. She also has an undergraduate degree in biology from MIT and a minor in food and nutrition, and I have previously interviewed her about her groundbreaking insights into the critical importance of sulfur in human health. Not surprisingly, this latest research also touches on sulfur, and how it is affected by glyphosate from food.

“Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport,” the authors write.

“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.

We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the ‘textbook example’ of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.”

The Link Between Your Gut and the Toxicity of Glyphosate

The impact of gut bacteria on your health is becoming increasingly more well-understood and widely known. And here, we see how your gut bacteria once again play a crucial role in explaining why and how glyphosate causes health problems in both animals and humans. The authors explain:

“Glyphosate’s claimed mechanism of action in plants is the disruption of the shikimate pathway, which is involved with the synthesis of the essential aromatic amino acids, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. The currently accepted dogma is that glyphosate is not harmful to humans or to any mammals because the shikimate pathway is absent in all animals.

However, this pathway is present in gut bacteria, which play an important and heretofore largely overlooked role in human physiology through an integrated biosemiotic relationship with the human host. In addition to aiding digestion, the gut microbiota synthesize vitamins, detoxify xenobiotics, and participitate in immune system homeostasis and gastrointestinal tract permeability. Furthermore, dietary factors modulate the microbial composition of the gut.”

As noted in the report, incidences of inflammatory bowel diseases and food allergies have substantially increased over the past decade. According to a recent CDC survey, one in 20 children now suffer from food allergies2 — a 50 percent increase from the late 1990’s. Incidence of eczema and other skin allergies have risen by 69 percent and now affect one in eight kids. Samsel and Seneff argue it is reasonable to suspect that glyphosate’s impact on gut bacteria may be contributing to these diseases and conditions. They point out that:

“…Our systematic search of the literature has led us to the realization that many of the health problems that appear to be associated with a Western diet could be explained by biological disruptions that have already been attributed to glyphosate.

These include digestive issues, obesity, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, liver diseases, and cancer, among others. While many other environmental toxins obviously also contribute to these diseases and conditions, we believe that glyphosate may be the most significant environmental toxin, mainly because it is pervasive and it is often handled carelessly due to its perceived nontoxicity.

[T]he recent alarming increase in all of these health issues can be traced back to a combination of gut dysbiosis, impaired sulfate transport, and suppression of the activity of the various members of the cytochrome P450 (CYP) family of enzymes.”

Former Navy Scientist Exposes Health Hazards of Glyphosate

Former US Navy staff scientist Dr. Nancy Swanson has a Ph.D. in physics, holds five US patents and has authored more than 30 scientific papers and two books on women in science. Ten years ago, she became seriously ill, and in her journey to regain her health she turned to organic foods. Not surprisingly (for those in the know) her symptoms dramatically improved. This prompted her to start investigating genetically engineered foods.

She has meticulously collected statistics on glyphosate usage and various diseases and conditions, including autism. A more perfect match-up between the rise in glyphosate usage and incidence of autism is hard to imagine… To access her published articles and reports, please visit Sustainable Pulse,3 a European website dedicated to exposing the hazards of genetically engineered foods.

According to Dr. Swanson:4

“Prevalence and incidence data show correlations between diseases of the organs and the increase in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the food supply, along with the increase in glyphosate-based herbicide applications. More and more studies have revealed carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting effects of Roundup at lower doses than those authorized for residues found in Genetically Modified Organisms.”

“The endocrine disrupting properties of glyphosate can lead to reproductive problems: infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, and sexual development. Fetuses, infants and children are especially susceptible because they are continually experiencing growth and hormonal changes. For optimal growth and development, it is crucial that their hormonal system is functioning properly.

The endocrine disrupting properties also lead to neurological disorders (learning disabilities (LD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Those most susceptible are children and the elderly.”

Warning! EPA Raises Limits for Allowable Glyphosate Residues

Amazingly, just as more independent reports are emerging confirming the health hazards of glyphosate and GMOs, the Environmental Protection Agency5 (EPA) is proposing to RAISE the allowed residue limits of glyphosate in food and feed crops! As reported by GM Watch 6:

“The allowed level in teff animal feed will be 100 parts per million (ppm); and in oilseed crops, 40 ppm. Allowed levels in some fruits and vegetables eaten by humans will also rise.”

Root and tuber vegetables, with the exception of sugar, will get one of the largest boosts, with allowable residue limits being raised from 0.2 ppm to 6.0 ppm. The new level for sweet potatoes will be 3 ppm.

“As a comparison, malformations in frog and chicken embryos were documented7 by Prof Andres Carrasco’s team at 2.03 ppm glyphosate, when injected into the embryos,” GM Watch writes.

Yet despite all the evidence, the EPA rule states:

 “EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the general population or to infants and children from aggregate exposure to glyphosate residues.”

Monsanto has in fact petitioned and received approvals for increases in residue levels for several crops. Why? Because the weeds are getting increasingly resistant, requiring farmers to increase the amount of Roundup they have to spray just to keep up with the superweeds created by the excessive use of the chemical in the first place…

The Rise of Superweeds

A recent article in Nature Magazine8 addressed some of the environmental and societal concerns associated with genetically engineered crops. One of them is the rise in crop-destroying superweeds, as weeds develop resistance to glyphosate. This was yet another possibility that was initially pooh-pooh’d by Monsanto. However, truth has a way of eventually becoming self evident, and now glyphosate resistance is becoming so obvious the facts are hardly disguisable. According to the article:

“As late as 2004, the company was publicizing a multi-year study suggesting that rotating crops and chemicals does not help to avert resistance. When applied at Monsanto’s recommended doses, glyphosate killed weeds effectively, and ‘we know that dead weeds will not become resistant,’ said Rick Cole, now Monsanto’s technical lead of weed management, in a trade-journal advertisement at the time.

The study,9 published in 2007, was criticized by scientists for using plots so small that the chances of resistance developing were very low, no matter what the practice.

Glyphosate-resistant weeds have now been found in 18 countries worldwide, with significant impacts in Brazil, Australia, Argentina and Paraguay… And Monsanto has changed its stance on glyphosate use, now recommending that farmers use a mix of chemical products and ploughing. But the company stops short of acknowledging a role in creating the problem…


Source: Ian Heap, International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weedswww.weedscience.org/graphs/soagraph.aspx (2013)

 

To offer farmers new weed-control strategies, Monsanto and other biotechnology companies, such as Dow AgroSciences, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, are developing new herbicide-resistant crops that work with different chemicals, which they expect to commercialize within a few years.”

What the author fails to mention is that some of these new herbicide-resistant crops are being designed to withstand chemicals that could be even more destructive, both environmentally and with regards to human health—especially in light of Samsel and Seneff’s new research.

For example, Dow AgroSciences has developed a new generation of genetically modified (GM) crops — soybeans, corn and cotton — designed to resist a major ingredient in Agent Orange, the herbicide called 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).

The use of 2,4-D is not new; it’s actually one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. What is new is that farmers will now “carpet bomb” staple food crops like soy and corn with this chemical at a previously unprecedented scale—just the way glyphosate has been indiscriminately applied as a result of Roundup Ready crops. In fact, if 2,4-D resistant crops receive approval and eventually come to replace Monsanto’s failing Roundup-resistant crops as Dow intends, it is likely that billions of pounds will be needed, on top of the already insane levels of Roundup being used (1.6 billion lbs were used in 2007 in the US alone).

Gene Transfer Hazards, and the Latest ‘Gene Silencing’ Crops

Nature Magazine also discusses the spread of transgenes to wild crops. Mexico in particular has reported the spread of GE corn despite the fact that GE crops are not approved for commercial planting in Mexico. It is believed that the transgenes originated in corn imported from the US, and that local farmers may have planted some of the corn originally purchased for consumption, not realizing they were genetically engineered.

Cross-breeding between native and GE varieties may have allowed for the continued spread of transgenic DNA. Sadly, once present, it’s virtually impossible to get rid of these transgenes, which means that native species may eventually be eliminated entirely—a fate that cuts deep into the heart of the Mexican people, where corn is considered sacred.

Latest Breed of GE Crops Can Silence Your Genes… What Then?

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has developed a type of genetically engineered (GE) wheat that may silence human genes, which could have truly disastrous health consequences.

Last year, University of Canterbury Professor Jack Heinemann released results from genetic research he conducted on the wheat, which unequivocally showed that molecules created in the wheat, intended to silence wheat genes to change its carbohydrate content, can match human genes and potentially silence them. Heinemann’s research revealed over 770 pages of potential matches between two genes in the GE wheat and the human genome. Over a dozen matches were “extensive and identical and sufficient to cause silencing in experimental systems,” he said.

Experts warned that eating this GE wheat could lead to significant changes in the way glucose and carbohydrates are stored in the human body, which could be potentially deadly for children and lead to serious illness in adults. Yet despite the seriousness of these findings, regulators are ignoring and dismissing such warnings. According to the Institute of Science in Society,10 the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has approved at least five such GE food products already.

Rather than using in vitro DNA modification (which is how Roundup Ready and Bt crops are created), this new breed of genetically engineered crops use a wholly different approach. In vitro DNA modification results in the creation of a new protein, but this new breed is designed to change their RNA content, thereby regulating gene expression within the plant. RNA is one of three major macromolecules, like DNA. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is responsible for regulating more than one-third of human genes. By engineering the plant to produce dsRNA, the plant can be “instructed” to silence specific genes—within itself, and potentially within your body…

A Global Experiment Based on Faulty Assumptions is Bound to Take its Toll…

It is assumed that both DNA and RNA are broken down in your gut when you consume them in GE food, which is why they both have GRAS status (Generally Regarded as Safe). However, experiments dating back to the early 1990’s have contradicted this assumption.11 According to Dr. Mae Wan-Ho12 (for references, see the original article):

“There have been many publications documenting the ability of DNA to survive digestion in the gut and to pass into the bloodstream whenever investigations were carried out with sufficiently sensitive detection methods. DsRNA in particular, is much more stable than single stranded RNA. DsRNA produced in genetically modified plants survive intact after passing through the gut of insects and worms feeding on the plants.

Also, oral exposure of insect pests to dsRNA was effective in inducing RNA interference. Worms can even absorb dsRNA suspended in liquid through their skin, and when taken in, the dsRNA can circulate throughout the body and alter gene expression in the animal. In some cases the dsRNA taken up is further multiplied or induces a secondary reaction resulting in more and different secondary dsRNA with unpredictable targets. Thus, not only are dsRNA mechanisms universal to all plants and animals, there is already experimental evidence that they can act across kingdoms.”

Dr. Mae Wan-Ho also points out research from China, which has demonstrated that dsRNAs can survive digestion and be taken up via the gastrointestinal tract, and that microRNA (miRNA) from food can circulate in the human blood stream and have the potential to turn off human genes.

“The data also indicated that some dsRNAs from plants are found more frequently than predicted from their level of expression in plants; in other words, there may be a selective retention or uptake of some miRNA molecules,” she writes.

Most Consumers Still Unaware of GMO Risks

The biotech industry, led by Monsanto, is increasing their propaganda efforts to reshape their public image, and sway your opinion against the need to label genetically engineered foods. As The Atlantic recently reported.13

“Given its opposition to the labeling of GM foods… it seems clear that Monsanto wants you to close your eyes, open your mouth, and swallow.”

Indeed, many consumers are still in the dark about the very real risks that GE crops pose, both to the environment and human health. This is precisely what the biotech industry wants, even as increasing research demonstrates the many dangers associated with GE foods. For example, one recent study found that rats fed a type of genetically engineered corn that is prevalent in the US food supply for two years developed massive mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage, and other serious health problems. This was at dietary amounts of about 10 percent. Does 10 percent or more of your diet consist of genetically engineered ingredients? If processed foods form the basis of your diet, then you’re likely consuming FAR MORE genetically modified organisms (GMOs) than that…

Unfortunately, you can’t know for sure how many items in your fridge and pantry might contain GMO since the US does not require genetically engineered foods to be labeled. With the emergence of “gene silencing” crops and the latest findings from Samsel and Seneff, the need for labeling couldn’t possibly be greater.

MONSANTO PROTECTION ACT or “Biotec Rider”

What did Obama sign?

Definitely there is no Monsanto Protection Act. What there is to benefit Monsanto can be found in Sec 735 of a much larger US federal appropriations bill. Want to see it? Look below for the excerpt or check out the original.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr933enr/pdf/BILLS-113hr933enr.pdf

Ok. Hard to see what Sec 735 means. Essentially, even if the courts decide that a genetically engineered crop is dangerous to the public or the environment, the court can no longer order Monsanto (or any other company) to stop planting the crops

Here’s an interpretation by one of the few small farm legislators in the US Congress.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mon.), whose organic family farm makes him the Senate’s only working farmer, delivered a scathing speech against the rider (735) on the Senate floor Wednesday before sponsoring an amendment that would nullify it. “Not only does this ignore the Constitution’s idea of separation of powers, but it also lets genetically-modified crops take hold across the country—even when a judge finds it violates the law,” he declared.

In his remarks, Tester stressed that the source of the rider is murky—there’s no way to find out which senator inserted it. “I don’t know who authored this provision,”  he said. “Maybe someone in Washington knows, but no one is willing to put their name to it. And that’s a shame.” I put calls into the offices of a couple of potential suspects, and got nowhere.

Tester also noted that yet another agribiz-friendly provision made it into the bill, one that would give “enormous market power to America’s three largest meatpacking corporations while stiffing family farmers and ranchers.” The provision, explained in more detail on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog, would override previous legislation and denies poultry and livestock producers the benefit of the the Packers and Stockyards Act, which seeks to give farmers a fair shake against the might of the few companies that dominate meat processing and can use their market power to shape the price they pay for hogs, steers, etc.. “The additional rider language is disastrous for producers and sets a terrible precedent for future appropriations bills,”  NSAC’s blog states. The Montana senator has introduced a separate amendment that would nullify this provision as well.

SECTION 735

SEC. 735. In the event that a determination of non-
4 regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the
5 Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated,
6 the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any
7 other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower,
8 farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary
9 permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to
10 necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with sec-
11 tion 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which
12 interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduc-
13 tion, continued cultivation, commercialization and other
14 specifically enumerated activities and requirements, in-
15 cluding measures designed to mitigate or minimize poten-
16 tial adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the
17 Secretary’s evaluation of the petition for non-regulated
18 status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able
19 to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and
20 carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner:
21 Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only
22 for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to com-
23 plete any required analyses or consultations related to the
24 petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That
25 nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the 81
U:\2013REPT\CONF\March CR\Bills\DIV A–AG1MAR CR T7.xml [file 8 of
29]
SEN. APPRO.
1 Secretary’s authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of
2 the Plant Protection Act.

This had been turned down earlier. As Mother Jones explains:

In what became known as the biotech rider, the provision would have allowed the planting of genetically modified crop varieties even if a federal judge rules that they have been approved by the USDA improperly—as happened, for example, in 2010, when a federal judge issued an injunction against the planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready sugar beets on the grounds that the USDA had approved them without a substantial environmental review.

Reference: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/03/yet-again-agribiz-sneaks-friendly-riders-unrelated-bill

The best general summary I have found of what and why Monsanto and others are spending so much time and money on lobbying the US Congress is also in Mother Jones.

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/07/gmo-industry-flexes-its-muscles-capitol-hill