If you bought Hapu’u Ferns in the last year, call MISC and test!
If you bought Hapu’u Ferns in the last year, call MISC and test!
If you bought Hapu’u Ferns in the last year, call MISC and test!
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.
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Ruling first ever on controversial drug-producing GE crops manufactured by Monsanto and others
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)
Unbeknownst to the retailers, Aurora Milk producer was lying about being organic. See Documents here.
“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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- When natural Bt-toxin was fed to mice, they had tissue damage, immune responses as powerful as cholera toxin , and even started reacting to other foods that were formerly harmless.
- Farm workers exposed to Bt also showed immune responses .
- The EPA’s Bt Plant-Pesticides Risk and Benefits Assessment, created by their expert Scientific Advisory Panel, states that “Bt proteins could act as antigenic and allergenic sources.”
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.
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.
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.”
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