GMO MON810 maize gut rot

January 2017
Image © Greenpeace
In the late 1990s, Scotland sparked an anti-GM storm when scientists Arpad Pusztai and Stanley Ewen at Aberdeen University reported adverse effects on laboratory rats fed GM potatoes.

It's not to the credit of scientists that these preliminary, short term (10-day), small-scale (6 animals per treatment) findings were not followed up.  Instead, Pusztai was silenced, and the science of GM safety-testing was effectively stifled for years. 

Florida GM mosquitoes will not be released

January 2017
Photo Creative commons
The first ever mass release of GM mosquitoes in the U.S. will NOT go ahead.

Not wanting to be used as lab rats forced to swallow, breath and be bitten by biotech mozzies in their own homes, the Florida community chosen to be the subjects of this reckless, real-life experiment complained very loudly.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which had fast-tracked approval of the trial release of Oxitec's self-destruct GM mosquitoes, simply hadn't done its homework.  There have been no impact assessments on people, nor on threatened and endangered species, nor on the environment, nor even on the Zika virus and Dengue virus the high-tech decimation of the mosquito population is supposed to achieve [1].

Any future applications for GM mosquito release will require an 'Environmental Assessment' and a 'Finding of No Significant Impact'.

US court notes GMO concerns

January 2017
Photo: Creative Commons
A US court has ruled that Federal law doesn't prevent States and Counties from passing their own local laws to regulate or ban commercial growing of GM crops.

Most importantly, the court acknowledged that growing GM raises "several well-documented concerns", including economic impacts due to gene pollution, and environmental impacts from increased use of pesticides, superweeeds, pest-resistance, and reduced biodiversity.

This is significant because GM crops and life-destroying chemicals are inseparable. 

NFU admits farmers must grow what consumers want

January 2017
Photo: Creative Commons
The Vice President of the National Farmers Union (NFU), who "thinks GM is the way forward" and that science, not "popular appeal", should be directing what farmers can and can't grow, has finally admitted he has to be "mindful of markets". He's noticed that he has to "grow what consumers want to eat" or what he grows won't sell.

Attendees at a meeting of United Oilseeds (co-operative specialist oilseeds merchant) were warned:
"If the UK takes a pro-GM attitude, where are our exports going to go? If we start to develop a different policy to the rest of the EU, those issues (product marketability) will raise their heads and we need to be very, very careful".
Add to this that there is a need for regulators "to recognise that agriculture is not just like any other industry" and that "some level of self sufficiency, some level of food security, is a political objective. Our home agriculture needs to thrive".

Monsanto's expert panels speak

December 2016
Photo: Creative Commons
The news that glyphosate herbicide, now pretty much ubiquitous in agriculture, public spaces and food, is not 'safe as salt' but a 'probable human carcinogen' was very unwelcome.

Amidst a rash of lawsuits by people claiming glyphosate gave them cancer, Monsanto and its agrichemical brethren face billions of dollars in lost revenue. Besides the collapse of their market for glyphosate-based formulations, such as Roundup, all their glyphosate-tolerant GM crops will go down the drain too.

Since GM crops now encompass maize, soya, cotton, oilseed rape, sugar beet and alfalfa grass, which together amount to most staple US agriculture, this is doubly-bad news for Americans.

For the regulators who allowed the whole situation in the first place, it's a political mess with legal and economic implications requiring urgent action.

Predictably, Monsanto and its friends at CropLife* America have launched a full-scale attack at every level they can think of.

Feeding disease

December 2016
Photo: Creative Commons
In 1973, the US Farm Bill was passed to assure a plentiful supply of staple foods at reasonable prices. The 'staples' are corn, soya, wheat, rice and sorghum, all subsidised by the US tax-payer.

Forty years on, US farmers planted maize over an area almost as big as California, and the area growing soya isn't far behind.

Prices for these commodities have been low in recent years, perilously close to their costs of production. Yet, courtesy of the government, they have been the safest bet for the growers of the vast fields of American monocultures.

How these subsidised 'staple food' crops are streamed into the market is a lesson in itself .

Proud to eat GM, or, non-GM

December 2016

Major food and feed-ingredient supplier, Bunge, is "excited" about its newest products.

These "new" offerings consist of verified non-GM corn ingredients and oils, plus ancient grains, rice, gluten-free breadings and puffed snacks. What's exciting is that Bunge is able to offer its major customers non-GM ingredients on a scale that allows them to grow their key non-GM brands with confidence.

What stimulated this exciting move was the market research suggesting:
"40 percent of consumers are actively managing (avoiding/minimising) consumption of GM foods in their daily diet". 
The market trend is towards clean labels, natural and minimally processed.