A decade and a half after farmers began planting the first genetically engineered (GE) crops, the future is clear. The scientists who pioneered genetic engineering thought of themselves as environmentalists, creating products that could reduce pesticide use. Instead, they have simply perpetuated the same "pesticide treadmill" as their pesticide-peddling counterparts resulting in the application of a greater volume of ever more toxic pesticides.
Did you know that genetic engineering (GE) "is helping to improve the health of the Earth and the people who call it home"? A trade group funded by Monsanto wants your kids to believe it.
- by PRWatch guest contributor Michele Simon
In case you had any doubt that California's Prop 37 -- which would require labeling of food containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) -- is a significant threat to industry, a top food lobby has now made it perfectly clear.
After a series of court defeats over the past few years, Monsanto and friends are trying to use Congress to make an end-run around the courts and current law. Lawsuits brought by opponents of genetically engineered (GE) crops resulted in the temporary removal of two products -- Roundup Ready Alfalfa and Roundup Ready Sugarbeets -- from the market. If the biotechnology industry and the legislators they support have their way, future GE crops will not suffer the same fate.
Driving through Ngong Hills, not far from Nairobi, Kenya, the corn on one side of the road is stunted and diseased. The farmer will not harvest a crop this year. On the other side of the road, the farmer gave up growing corn and erected a greenhouse, probably for growing a high-value crop like tomatoes. Though it's an expensive investment, agriculture consultants now recommend them. Just up the road, at a home run by Kenya Children of Hope, an organization that helps rehabilitate street children and reunite them with their families, one finds another failed corn crop and another greenhouse. The director, Charity, is frustrated because the two acres must feed the rescued children and earn money for the organization. After two tomato crops failed in the new greenhouse, her consultant recommended using a banned, toxic pesticide called carbofuran.
A judge in New York sided with Monsanto and against organic farmers in the first case of its kind seeking to protect famers from being accused of patent infringement upon unintentional contamination by Monsanto's GMO seed.
Organic farmers sought a judgment against Monsanto to protect themselves from being sued for patent infringement when their crops are unintentionally contaminated with the company's genetically modified (GMO) seed, was dismissed in federal district court in New York by Judge Naomi Buchwald called the plaintiffs' concern an "intangible worry, unanchored in time."
CMD's guest blogger, Jill Richardson, has done some ground-breaking reporting on the potential cause of the massive bee die-off. According to Jill's investigation, leaked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) memos reveal that the agency gave conditional approval to pesticides now in wide use, without requiring adequate proof that they are safe to use around honeybees. In the wake of the new information, beekeepers are starting to blame the country's massive die-off of honeybees on the pesticides. A leaked EPA memo dated November 2, 2010, discusses Bayer CropScience's efforts to legalize use of its pesticide clothianidin on mustard seed and cotton crops. EPA gave conditional approval for the chemical in 2003 and let Bayer start selling it, but told the company that they needed to complete further safety testing by a certain deadline to get full approval. The additional testing was to assure the chemical was safe to use around honeybees. Bayer failed to do the testing for years, and instead sought and received an extension of the conditional permit to use the chemical. When Bayer finally performed the study, they did it in another country, and on crops that aren't grown much in the U.S. Bayer also used bees that were located on a small patch of treated crops surrounded by thousands of acres on untreated crops -- a design that handed Bayer the result it wanted by making the chemical appear safe to use. EPA deemed the defective study acceptable and gave full registration to clothianidin in 2007. In November, 2010, when Bayer asked to extend use of the pesticide to more types of crops, EPA still did not comment on the inadequacy of Bayer's study. Beekeepers are incensed at this information, and along with others are asking why EPA allows pesticides to go onto the market before they have been adequately safety tested. They also wonder how sound the science around such studies can be when they are performed by the pesticide makers themselves.
The global drug firm Roche has decided to withdraw from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), the peak lobbying group for the U.S. drug industry.