Elle Cochran Introduces Pesticide Disclosure BIll

Councilmember Elle Cochran on Maui is introducing a pesticide disclosure bill similar to that on Kaua’i.  Read the bill here. The bill may be heard January 28th.

You may email the Maui County Council about  Elle Cochran’s Pesticide Disclosure Ordinance to ask that it be scheduled and passed.

In particular, ask Riki Hokama to schedule a hearing in his committee.

riki.hokama@mauicounty.us

cc:

mike.white@mauicounty.us, don.guzman@mauicounty.us, don.couch@mauicounty.us, gladys.baisa@mauicounty.us, elle.cochran@mauicounty.us, stacy.crivello@mauicounty.us, michael.victorino@mauicounty.us, robert.carroll@mauicounty.us

Federal Court Rules Biopharm Permits Issued Illegally in Hawai’i

Ruling first ever on controversial drug-producing GE crops manufactured by Monsanto and others
HONOLULU, HI

Citing possible harm to Hawai’i’s 329 endangered and threatened species, a federal district judge has ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in permitting the cultivation of drug-producing, genetically engineered crops throughout Hawai’i. The court found that USDA acted in “utter disregard” of the ESA, and also violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), by failing to conduct even preliminary investigations prior to its approval of the plantings.

The August 10 decision represents the first federal court ruling ever on “biopharming,” the controversial practice of genetically altering food crops to produce experimental drugs and industrial compounds. Biopharming has provoked the ire of the food industry, public interest groups, and farmers concerned about contamination of foods and the environment with potent drugs, and potential economic losses from adulterated food. The four USDA-issued permits primarily at issue in the case authorized Monsanto, ProdiGene, Garst Seed Company, and the Hawai’i Agriculture Research Center to plant over 800 acres (1.25 square miles) of drug-producing corn and sugarcane at various sites in Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, and Maui from 2001 to 2003.

The plaintiffs in the case – Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, Pesticide Action Network North America, and KAHEA (the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance) – sued the USDA in November 2003. Plaintiffs were represented by Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety.

“This decision shows that regulatory oversight of this out-of-control industry has been woefully inadequate. The agency entrusted with protecting human health and the environment from the impacts of genetic engineering experiments has been asleep at the wheel,” said Paul Achitoff, attorney with Earthjustice.

“The ruling is a clear victory for Hawai’i’s environment,” said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director of the Center for Food Safety. “It will help protect the islands from the illegal field-testing of genetically engineered, drug-producing crops.”

Plaintiffs point to a scathing critique of USDA’s regulation of biopharm and other genetically altered crops issued by the agency’s Inspector General in December 2005 as evidence that USDA continues to neglect its regulatory duties. That report documented numerous violations, including USDA’s failure to record locations of field trial sites and conduct required inspections. In two instances, USDA regulators were unaware that a total of more than two tons of harvested biopharm crop material was stored at uninspected facilities for over a year.

Hawai’i is the nation’s leading state for plantings of experimental, genetically engineered crops, having hosted more than 5,000 such tests from 1987 through 2004, including several dozen biopharm crop trials. Biopharm crops produce substances such as experimental vaccines, growth hormones, blood-clotting and –thinning agents, antibodies, and industrial enzymes. Two high-profile contamination incidents in 2002, in which biopharm corn produced by ProdiGene contaminated soybeans and corn in Nebraska and Iowa, provoked widespread criticism of the practice, which nevertheless continues.

Plaintiffs have also challenged USDA’s practice of concealing the locations of trials from the public, and in most cases not disclosing the substances being grown in the plants.

Judge J. Michael Seabright ordered the parties to appear in court on August 22, 2006, to discuss remedies for the government’s violations.

“We will not rest until the federal government prohibits the irresponsible and hazardous field-testing of drug-producing, genetically engineered crops,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety.

Read a copy of the court’s ruling (pdf file)

Read the USDA Inspector General’s report (pdf file)

More background on biopharming

Geneticists Express Concerns Re GMOs

“Research studies show that genetically modified crops have harmful effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials and on the environment during cultivation. They have increased the use of pesticides and have failed to increase yields. Our report concludes that there are safer and more effective alternatives to meeting the world’s food needs.”

Read the article at EarthOpenSource

Read the report itself

Key points from the report

  1. Genetic engineering as used in crop development is not precise or predictable and has not been shown to be safe. The technique can result in the unexpected production of toxins or allergens in food that are unlikely to be spotted in current regulatory checks.
  2. GM crops, including some that are already in our food and animal feed supply, have shown clear signs of toxicity in animal feeding trials – notably disturbances in liver and kidney function and immune responses.
  3. GM proponents have dismissed these statistically significant findings as “not biologically relevant/significant”, based on scientifically indefensible arguments.
  4. Certain EU-commissioned animal feeding trials with GM foods and crops are often claimed by GM proponents to show they are safe. In fact, examination of these studies shows significant differences between the GM-fed and control animals that give cause for concern.
  5. GM foods have not been properly tested in humans, but the few studies that have been carried out in humans give cause for concern.
  6. The US FDA does not require mandatory safety testing of GM crops, and does not even assess the safety of GM crops but only “deregulates” them, based on assurances from biotech companies that they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts. This is like claiming that a cow with BSE is substantially equivalent to a cow that does not have BSE and is thus safe to eat! Claims of substantial equivalence cannot be justified on scientific grounds.
  7. The regulatory regime for GM foods is weakest in the US, where GM foods do not even have to be assessed for safety or labelled in the marketplace, but in most regions of the world regulations are inadequate to protect people’s health from the potential adverse effects of GM foods.
  8. In the EU, where the regulatory system is often claimed to be strict, minimal pre-market testing is required for a GMO and the tests are commissioned by the same companies that stand to profit from the GMO if it is approved – a clear conflict of interest.
  9. No long-term toxicological testing of GMOs on animals or testing on humans is required by any regulatory agency in the world.
  10. Biotech companies have used patent claims and intellectual property protection laws to restrict access of independent researchers to GM crops for research purposes. As a result, limited research has been conducted on GM foods and crops by scientists who are independent of the GM industry. Scientists whose work has raised concerns about the safety of GMOs have been attacked and discredited in orchestrated campaigns by GM crop promoters.
  11. Most GM crops (over 75%) are engineered to tolerate applications of herbicides. Where such GM crops have been adopted, they have led to massive increases in herbicide use.
  12. Roundup, the herbicide that over 50% of all GM crops are engineered to tolerate, is not safe or benign as has been claimed but has been found to cause malformations (birth defects), reproductive problems, DNA damage, and cancer in test animals. Human epidemiological studies have found an association between Roundup exposure and miscarriage, birth defects, neurological development problems, DNA damage, and certain types of cancer.
  13. A public health crisis has erupted in GM soy-producing regions of South America, where people exposed to spraying with Roundup and other agrochemicals sprayed on the crop report escalating rates of birth defects and cancer.
  14. A large number of studies indicate that Roundup is associated with increased crop diseases, especially infection with Fusarium, a fungus that causes wilt disease in soy and can have toxic effects on humans and livestock.
  15. Bt insecticidal GM crops do not sustainably reduce pesticide use but change the way in which pesticides are used: from sprayed on, to built in.
  16. Bt technology is proving unsustainable as pests evolve resistance to the toxin and secondary pest infestations are becoming common.
  17. GM proponents claim that the Bt toxin engineered into GM plants is safe because the natural form of Bt, long used as a spray by conventional and organic farmers, has a history of safe use. But the GM forms of Bt toxins are different from the natural forms and could have different toxic and allergenic effects.
  18. GM Bt toxin is not limited in its toxicity to insect pests. GM Bt crops have been found to have toxic effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials.
  19. GM Bt crops have been found to have toxic effects on non-target organisms in the environment.
  20. Bt toxin is not fully broken down in digestion and has been found circulating in the blood of pregnant women in Canada and in the blood supply to their foetuses.
  21. The no-till method of farming promoted with GM herbicide-tolerant crops, which avoids ploughing and uses herbicides to control weeds, is not more climate-friendly than ploughing. No-till fields do not store more carbon in the soil than ploughed fields when deeper levels of soil are measured.
  22. No-till increases the negative environmental impacts of soy cultivation, because of the herbicides used.
  23. Golden Rice, a beta-carotene-enriched rice, is promoted as a GM crop that could help malnourished people overcome vitamin A deficiency. But Golden Rice has not been tested for toxicological safety, has been plagued by basic development problems, and, after more than 12 years and millions of dollars of research funding, is still not ready for the market. Meanwhile, inexpensive and effective solutions to vitamin A deficiency are available but under-used due to lack of funding.
  24. GM crops are often promoted as a “vital tool in the toolbox” to feed the world’s growing population, but many experts question the contribution they could make, as they do not offer higher yields or cope better with drought than non-GM crops. Most GM crops are engineered to tolerate herbicides or to contain a pesticide – traits that are irrelevant to feeding the hungry.
  25. High adoption of GM crops among farmers is not a sign that the GM crop is superior to non-GM varieties, as once GM companies gain control of the seed market, they withdraw non-GM seed varieties from the market. The notion of “farmer choice” does not apply in this situation.
  26. GM contamination of non-GM and organic crops has resulted in massive financial losses by the food and feed industry, involving product recalls, lawsuits, and lost markets.
  27. When many people read about high-yielding, pest- and disease-resistant, drought-tolerant, and nutritionally improved super-crops, they think of GM. In fact, these are all products of conventional breeding, which continues to outstrip GM in producing such crops. The report contains a long list of these conventional crop breeding successes.
  28. Certain “supercrops” have been claimed to be GM successes when in fact they are products of conventional breeding, in some cases assisted by the non-GM biotechnology of marker assisted selection.
  29. Conventional plant breeding, with the help of non-GM biotechnologies such as marker assisted selection, is a safer and more powerful method than GM to produce new crop varieties required to meet current and future needs of food production, especially in the face of rapid climate change.
  30. Conventionally bred, locally adapted crops, used in combination with agroecological farming practices, offer a proven, sustainable approach to ensuring global food security.

First Super Weeds – Now Super Bugs

First Super Weeds, Now Super Insects — Thanks to Monsanto

Dr. Mercola
Published: Wednesday 30 May 2012
“Not only are we seeing rapid emergence of super-weeds resistant to glyphosate, courtesy of Roundup Ready crops, we now also have evidence of emerging Bt-resistant insects.”

A new generation of insect larvae is eating the roots of genetically engineered corn intended to be resistant to such pests.  The failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.

And the economic impact could be huge. Billions of dollars are at stake, as Bt corn accounts for 65 percent of all corn grown in the US.

The strain of corn, engineered to kill the larvae of beetles, such as the corn rootworm, contains a gene copied from an insect-killing bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.

But even though a scientific advisory panel warned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the threat of insects developing resistance was high, Monsanto argued that the steps necessary to prevent such an occurrence — which would have entailed less of the corn being planted — were an unnecessary precaution, and the EPA naively agreed.

According to a recent NPR report:

“The scientists who called for caution now are saying ‘I told you so,’ because there are signs that a new strain of resistant rootworms is emerging…[A] committee of experts at the EPA is now recommending that biotech companies put into action, for the first time, a ‘remedial action plan’ aimed at stopping the spread of such resistant insects …

The EPA’s experts also are suggesting that the agency reconsider its approval of a new kind of rootworm-killing corn, which Monsanto calls SmartStax. This new version of Bt corn includes two different Bt genes that are supposed to kill the rootworm in different ways. This should help prevent resistance from emerging, and the EPA is allowing farmers to plant it on up to 95 percent of their corn acres. But if one of those genes is already compromised…  such a high percentage of Bt corn could rapidly produce insects that are resistant to the second one, too.”

There can be little doubt that genetically engineered crops are the most dangerous aspect of modern agriculture. Not only are we seeing rapid emergence of super-weeds resistant to glyphosate, courtesy of Roundup Ready crops, we now also have evidence of emerging Bt-resistant insects. Add to that the emergence of a brand new organism capable of producing disease and infertility in both plants and animals, and a wide variety of evidence showing harm to human health, and the only reasonable expectation one can glean is that humanity as a whole is being seriously threatened by this foolhardy technology.

Bt Corn—a Most Dangerous Failure

Monsanto’s genetically modified “Bt corn” has been equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which produces the Bt-toxin. It’s a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.

This pesticide-producing corn entered the food supply in the late 1990′s, and over the past decade, the horror stories have started piling up. And the problem with Bt crops go far beyond the creation of Bt-resistant insects.

Monsanto and the EPA swore that the genetically engineered corn would only harm insects. The Bt-toxin produced inside the plant would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact at all on consumers, they claimed. Alas, they’ve been proven wrong on that account as well, because not only is Bt corn producing resistant “super-pests,” researchers have also found that the Bt-toxin can indeed wreak havoc on human health.

Bt-Toxin Now Found in Many People’s Blood!

Last year, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of:

  • 93 percent of pregnant women tested
  • 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and
  • 67 percent of non-pregnant women

The study authors speculate that the Bt toxin was likely consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class—which makes sense when you consider that genetically engineered corn is present in the vast majority of all processed foods and drinks in the form of high fructose corn syrup. They also suggest that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn, which most livestock raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO, or so-called “factory farms”) are.

These shocking results raise the frightening possibility that eating Bt corn might actually turn your intestinal flora into a sort of “living pesticide factory”… essentially manufacturing Bt-toxin from within your digestive system on a continuing basis.

If this hypothesis is correct, is it then also possible that the Bt-toxin might damage the integrity of your digestive tract in the same way it damages insects? Remember, the toxin actually ruptures the stomach of insects, causing them to die. The biotech industry has insisted that the Bt-toxin doesn’t bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals (which would include humans). But again, there are peer-reviewed published research showing that Bt-toxin does bind with mouse small intestines and with intestinal tissue from rhesus monkeys.

Bt-Toxin Linked to Allergies, Auto-Immune Disease, and More

If Bt genes are indeed capable of colonizing the bacteria living in the human digestive tract, scientists believe it could reasonably result in:

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Food allergies
  • Childhood learning disorders

And lo and behold, all of these health problems are indeed on the rise… The discovery of Bt-toxin in human blood is not proof positive of this link, but it certainly raises a warning flag. And there’s plenty of other evidence showing that the Bt-toxin produced in GM corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. For example, in government-sponsored research in Italy , mice fed Monsanto’s Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses, such as:

  • Elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, which are typically associated with allergies and infections
  • An increase in cytokines, which are associated with allergic and inflammatory responses. The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were found to be elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, to MS and cancer
  • Elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases.

Rats fed another of Monsanto’s Bt corn varieties called MON 863, also experienced an activation of their immune systems, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells. These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of liver- and kidney toxicity.

Topical versus Internal Toxins

Farmers have used Bt-toxin from soil bacteria as a natural pesticide for years, and biotech companies have therefore claimed  that Bt-toxin has a “history of safe use in agriculture.” But there’s a huge difference between spraying it on plants, where it biodegrades in sunlight and can be carefully washed off, and genetically altering the plant to produce it internally.

Bt crops have the Bt-toxin gene built-in, so the toxin cannot be washed off. You simply cannot avoid consuming it. Furthermore, the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the spray.

There are also peer-reviewed studies showing that natural Bt-toxin from soil bacteria is not a safe pesticide either:

Do You Know what You’re Eating?

Did you know that two years ago, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on all physicians to prescribe diets without genetically modified (GM) foods to all patients?

They sure did, although few doctors seem to have gotten the memo. They also called for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), long-term independent studies, and labeling, stating:

“Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.  …There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation…”

I couldn’t agree more. Avoiding genetically engineered foods should be at the top of everyone’s list—at least if you want a decent shot at optimal health.

The simplest way to avoid genetically engineered (GE) foods is to buy whole, certified organic foods. By definition, foods that are certified organic must never intentionally use GE ingredients, and must be produced without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Animals must also be reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GE corn feed.

You can also avoid genetically modified (GM) ingredients in processed foods, if you know what to look for. There are currently eight genetically modified food crops on the market:

 

Soy Sugar from sugar beets
Corn Hawaiian papaya
Cottonseed (used in vegetable cooking oils) Some varieties of zucchini
Canola (canola oil) Crookneck squash

This means you should avoid products with corn, soy, canola, and any of their derivatives listed as an ingredient, unless it’s labeled USDA 100% Organic. As of late last year, this also includes sweet corn, as Monsanto introduced a brand new genetically engineered sweet corn called Seminis®, which contains not just one but TWO types of Bt-toxin, PLUS the Roundup Ready gene for weed control! So besides containing the insecticide, their toxic Roundup herbicide will also accumulate in the kernels.

For a helpful, straightforward guide to shopping Non-GMO, see the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology.

Why We MUST Insist on Mandatory Labeling of GM Foods

Mandatory labeling may be the only way to stop the proliferation of GM foods in the U.S. because while GM seeds are banned in several European countries, in the U.S., certain states are actually passing legislation that protects the use of GM seeds and allows for unabated expansion! At present, no less than 14 states have passed such legislation. Michigan’s Senate Bill 777i, if passed, would make that 15. The Michigan bill would prevent anti-GMO laws, and would remove “any authority local governments may have to adopt and enforce ordinances that prohibit or regulate the labeling, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, use, or planting of agricultural, vegetable, flower or forest tree seeds.”

While legislation like this sounds like crazy nonsense to normal people, such bills are essentially bought and paid for through the millions of dollars Monsanto and other biotech companies spend lobbying the US government each year. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government — a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter.

Their efforts of persuasion are also made infinitely easier by the fact that an ever growing list of former Monsanto employees are now in positions of power within the federal government.

Proof Positive that GMO Labeling WILL Change the Food Industry

Many don’t fully appreciate the strategy of seeking to have genetically engineered foods labeled in California. The belief is that large companies would refuse to have dual labeling; one for California and another for the rest of the country. It would be very expensive and a logistical nightmare. So rather than have two labels, they would simply not carry the product, especially if the new label would be the equivalent of a skull and crossbones. This is why we are so committed to this initiative as victory here will likely eliminate genetically engineered foods from the US.

Powerful confirmation of this belief occurred in early 2012 when both Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo Inc. chose to alter one of their soda ingredients as a result of California’s labeling requirements for carcinogensii:

“Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are changing the way they make the caramel coloring used in their sodas as a result of a California law that mandates drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens bear a cancer warning label. The companies said the changes will be expanded nationally to streamline their manufacturing processes. They’ve already been made for drinks sold in California.”

This is a PERFECT example of the national impact a California GMO labeling mandate can, and no doubt WILL, have. While California is the only state requiring the label to state that the product contains the offending ingredient, these companies are switching their formula for the entire US market, rather than have two different labels. According to USA Today:

“A representative for Coca-Cola, Diana Garza Ciarlante, said the company directed its caramel suppliers to modify their manufacturing processes to reduce the levels of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, which can be formed during the cooking process and as a result may be found in trace amounts in many foods. “While we believe that there is no public health risk that justifies any such change, we did ask our caramel suppliers to take this step so that our products would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning,” Garza-Giarlante said in an email.”

GMO Labeling (Hawaii Bill)

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. >> On a recent sunny morning at the Big Y grocery here, Cynthia LaPier parked her cart in the cereal aisle. With a glance over her shoulder and a quick check of the ingredients, she plastered several boxes with hand-designed stickers from a roll in her purse. “Warning,” they read. “May Contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).”

For more than a decade, almost all processed foods in the United States — cereals, snack foods, salad dressings — have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators and many scientists say these pose no danger. But as Americans ask more pointed questions about what they are eating, popular suspicions about the health and environmental effects of biotechnology are fueling a movement to require that food from genetically modified crops be labeled, if not eliminated.

Labeling bills have been proposed in more than a dozen states over the past year, and an appeal to the Food and Drug Administration last fall to mandate labels nationally drew more than a million signatures. There is an iPhone app: ShopNoGMO.

The most closely watched labeling effort is a proposed ballot initiative in California that cleared a crucial hurdle this month, setting the stage for a probable November vote that could influence not just food packaging but the future of American agriculture.

Tens of millions of dollars are expected to be spent on the election showdown. It pits consumer groups and the organic food industry, both of which support mandatory labeling, against more conventional farmers, agricultural biotechnology companies like Monsanto and many of the nation’s best-known food brands like Kellogg’s and Kraft.

Read rest of the article at the Star Advertiser