GMO news related to the United States

16.01.2018

Agribusiness First: Trump’s Farm Policy

Reducing Competition and Farmers’ Choices

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Another major merger, between global giants Bayer and Monsanto, appears to be next in line for regulatory approval. In January, prior to taking office, President-elect Trump met with officials from Bayer and Monsanto indicating that he would approve the proposed merger. In November, Trump’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency body housed at the Department of Treasury, gave the merger the green light. The merger is still being reviewed by the Justice Department and European Union antitrust regulators have yet to approve the merger, expressing concerns about reduced competition, choices for pesticides and seeds, and prices for farmers.

If the Bayer-Monsanto merger is approved, the new company would be the world's largest vegetable seed company, world's largest cottonseed company, world's largest manufacturer and seller of herbicides and world's largest owner of intellectual property/patents for herbicide-tolerant traits, according to an analysis by civil society organizations.

“We have to buy seeds; they (Monsanto-Bayer) have us in a situation where we have to buy their product,” Texas farmer Dee Vaughan told the Texas Tribune. “But they still have the ability to go even higher on their prices.”

15.01.2018

To Save Family Farms, We Must Oppose Monsanto-Bayer Merger

Iowa has lost nearly a third of its family farms since Senator Grassley’s election to Congress. The remaining farmers face a crisis. Crop prices have fallen by more than 50 percent since 2013, with no end in sight. In fact, farmers’ debt levels are almost as high as they were prior to the farm crisis of the mid-1980s and Iowa currently has the slowest growing economy of all 50 states.

Meanwhile, a wave of mergers among the world’s agricultural giants is upending the markets for fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds. If approved, the proposed merger would result in just two companies – Monsanto-Bayer and Dow-DuPont – controlling about three-quarters of the American corn seed market. The power that these corporations would hold in the seed market is unprecedented. The corn, soybeans, and cotton markets would be considered highly concentrated under the government’s own merger guidelines.

04.01.2018

Whitewash by Carey Gillam

The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science

It’s the herbicide on our dinner plates, a chemical so pervasive it’s in the air we breathe, our water, our soil, and even found increasingly in our own bodies. Known as Monsanto’s Roundup by consumers, and as glyphosate by scientists, the world’s most popular weed killer is used everywhere from backyard gardens to golf courses to millions of acres of farmland. For decades it’s been touted as safe enough to drink, but a growing body of evidence indicates just the opposite, with research tying the chemical to cancers and a host of other health threats.

In Whitewash, veteran journalist Carey Gillam uncovers one of the most controversial stories in the history of food and agriculture, exposing new evidence of corporate influence. Gillam introduces readers to farm families devastated by cancers which they believe are caused by the chemical, and to scientists whose reputations have been smeared for publishing research that contradicted business interests. Readers learn about the arm-twisting of regulators who signed off on the chemical, echoing company assurances of safety even as they permitted higher residues of the herbicide in food and skipped compliance tests. And, in startling detail, Gillam reveals secret industry communications that pull back the curtain on corporate efforts to manipulate public perception.

24.12.2017

Violating the Sacred: GMO Chestnuts for the Holidays?

VIOLATING THE SACRED: GMO CHESTNUTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS?

GENETIC ENGINEERING IS NO GIFT TO FUTURE GENERATIONS

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Deregulation of the GE American Chestnut

William Powell, lead American chestnut scientist at SUNY/ESF recently announced his team is almost ready to apply for Federal deregulation to allow them to distribute their GE trees, free of charge, in hopes they will be planted in great numbers. Some of these GE trees, modified with a wheat gene, will be planted near surviving disease resistant non-GMO American chestnut trees. The goal is for the GE tree to cross pollinate with the others and create the next generations of disease-resistant offspring.

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Powell and his team, along with researchers from North Carolina State University, have spent considerable time with stakeholders from the Oneida Nation in New York State. They, along with their brother nations of the Haudenasaunee, hold vast swaths of eastern woodland areas where a majority of the wheat-altered GE chestnuts could be planted. Support for this plan has been mixed. Traditional elders remind us that communication with these natural entities is a key element in medicinal efficacy. By changing its genetic makeup it is a totally different and foreign organism. Tom Goldtooth, an elder and executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network has said that GE trees have no soul. Others, however, are cautiously optimistic and are taking a wait and see approach.

20.12.2017

Glyphosate: A Toxic Legacy

Journalist and Author Carey Gillam Shares Decades of Research into Monsanto and its Ubiquitous Weed Killer

Carey Gillam is a Kansas-based journalist turned glyphosate geek. Her first book, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, fills a gaping hole in the literature and is getting excellent reviews. Erin Brockovich says Whitewash “reads like a mystery novel as Gillam skillfully uncovers Monsanto’s secretive strategies.” Publishers Weekly says, “Gillam expertly covers a contentious front” and paints “a damning picture.” And Booklist calls it “a must-read.” Gillam brings more than 25 years in the news industry covering corporate America to her project investigating Monsanto’s premier product and the malfeasance that surrounds it. During her 17 years employed by the global news service Reuters, she developed her specialty in the big business of food and agriculture.

14.12.2017

Human exposure to glyphosate increased 500 percent since GM crop introduction in the US

Glyphosate is a key ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup. Use of this herbicide has increased approximately 15-fold since 1994 when GM Roundup Ready (RR) glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced. Used mainly on RR soy and corn, glyphosate is also sprayed on a substantial portion of wheat and oats grown in the US. In July 2017, glyphosate was listed by California as a carcinogen, following the WHO cancer research agency’s classification as glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

A study by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine (report published in the journal JAMA) compared urine excretion levels of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in 100 people living in a Southern California community who provided samples during five clinic visits that took place over a 23-year timespan between 1993 to 1996 and 2014 to 2016, starting just before the introduction of GM crops in the US.

The study found that prior to the introduction of GM foods, very few people had detectable levels of glyphosate, but as of 2016, 70% of the study cohort had detectable levels, an increase of approximately 500%. Among this 70%, the mean level of glyphosate increased from 0.203 μg/L in 1993-1996 to 0.449 μg/L in 2014-2016 while the mean level of AMPA went up from 0.168 μg/L in 1993-1996 to 0.401 μg/L in 2014-2016.

14.12.2017

Latest Monsanto GMO seeds raises worries of monopoly

Now some farmers say they are being forced to use the new GMO seeds to guard against dicamba.

Nathan Reed, a farmer in Marianna, Arkansas, whose crops were damaged by dicamba from fields more than two miles away, worries about his business.

"We use overwhelmingly non GMOs, not because we are anti-GMO but because we found some niche markets," Reed said at a public meeting last month. "We are in the business of making money, just like Monsanto is."

"It is going to put that ability at risk for us," he said.

Farming states Missouri, Minnesota and North Dakota have imposed restrictions on dicamba, though they permit farmers to use the herbicide one or two times at the start of the season.

12.12.2017

This Is How Badly Monsanto Wants Farmers to Spray Its Problematic Herbicide

Why is Monsanto offering such a sweet deal on its dicamba mix? It’s probably not what the company had in mind when it broke ground on a $975 million expansion of its dicamba plant in Luling, La., earlier this year.

The answer likely lies in the more than 3.6 million acres of non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans that the US Environmental Protection Agency reports were damaged by wayward dicamba applications during the 2017 growing season. In addition, the EPA notes, off-target dicamba hit a variety of fruit and vegetable crops, as well as residential gardens, trees, and shrubs.

30.11.2017

New ‘Glyphosate-Free’ Label for Food and Beverages Is a Big Win for Humans and Bees!

In recent years, consumers have become more conscientious of the products they buy, leading to a number of certifications being added to labels of products, like “Gluten-Free,” “Non-GMO Project Verified,” “Vegan,” etc., and now there is a new label on the shelves — “Glyphosate Residue Free.”

Glyphosate is the world’s most commonly used herbicide that is typically known by the commercial name Roundup (a Monsanto-owned weed killer), and its presence has become a growing concern for conscious consumers. Extensive scientific studies have shown that glyphosate is detrimental to the health of humans, the environment, and animals, particularly bees.

The World Health Organization’ cancer agency declared the chemical to be a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015, and it has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor. Glyphosate is said to pollute up to 75 percent of U.S. air and water resources, and it is present in 90 percent of soybeans and 70 percent of corn grown in the U.S.

16.11.2017

Standard CRISPR gene drives may work too well to be used for conservation

Gene-editing tools heralded as hope for fighting invader rats, malarial mosquitoes and other scourges may be too powerful to use in their current form, two new papers warn.

Standard forms of CRISPR gene drives, as the tools are called, can make tweaked DNA race through a population so easily that a small number of stray animals or plants could spread it to new territory, predicts a computer simulation released November 16 at bioRxiv.org. Such an event would have unknown, potentially damaging, ramifications, says a PLOS Biology paper released the same day.

“We need to get out of the ivory tower and have this discussion in the open, because ecological engineering will affect everyone living in the area,” says Kevin Esvelt of MIT, a coauthor of both papers who studies genetic solutions to ecological problems. What’s a pest in one place may be valued in another, so getting consent to use a gene drive could mean consulting people across a species’s whole range, be it several nations or continents.