The Glyphosate dodge

February 2017


If you're wondering why glyphosate herbicide is still legally present in your food and in GM animal feed when the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found it "probably carcinogenic to humans", some light was shed on this by the evidence heard during the 'Monsanto Tribunal' held in October 2016 (see below).

The IARC looked at experiments on mice fed glyphosate. In one life-time study, they saw significant increases in kidney tumours, and in another they saw increases in blood vessel cancer. They also noted increases in malignant lymphoma (blood cell cancer) in a further three mouse studies, but these were only mentioned, not included in the final report, because they were non-peer reviewed industry studies whose details couldn't be ascertained.

An IARC classification of 'probably carcinogenic' was unwelcome because it's only one short step away from "presumed carcinogen" which would, under EU law, trigger an automatic ban unless exposure levels were "negligible" (and this doesn't mean 'below permitted levels').

The GM fish oil business

February 2017

Global materials-supply company, Cargill, is entering the GM race. With its existing well-honed expertise in farmer services [1], agricultural commodity and processing, animal feed and nutrition, transportation and logistics (not to mention sustainability consulting, and financial and risk management), the Company is aiming to supply us with farmed fish raised on GM plant-based 'fish' oil in less than five years.

The team assembled to achieve this includes German chemical company BASF which has been working on transforming canola (oilseed rape) with look-alike algal genes for 20 years, plus GM compliant farmers in Montana with whom Cargill has a close relationship, and a newly-purchased Norwegian fish feed company.

The GM Glyphosate game

February 2017

In the last five years, concerns surrounding glyphosate-based herbicides have been the subject of some 90 articles here on GM-Free Scotland, one-fifth of the total.

These herbicidal formulations have been, and continue to be, the lynch-pin of GM crops, the vast majority of which have been engineered to survive spraying with glyphosate. They have, therefore, been central to the profitability of GM and to the biotech industry's control of agriculture.

A recent pest-protection consultant review of the history and future of this herbicide describes the predicament which this particular GM-based agriculture has got us into.

NK603 maize is not equivalent

January 2017
Photo: Creative Commons

It has long been a refrain in GM-free Scotland articles that the 'safety testing' of GM foods is too crude, too limited and too old-fashioned to tell us anything except that eating it won't make anyone drop dead. Science has many more sophisticated and more meaningful testing techniques at its disposal, if only there was the will to develop them for routine use.

At the end of 2016, however, the ball finally got rolling.

Pakistan cotton crisis

January 2017

Photo credit  Håkan Löndahl on Flickr
Pakistan's economy is in trouble, mainly due to a major setback in its agriculture and textile industry. At the heart of the problem is a massive 27.8% drop in cotton production.

A multitude of factors has been implicated this decline.

February 2016 saw international cotton prices touch a six-year low.

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'.