+ INJURED BIOTECH WORKER TELLS HIS STORY - David Bell, a worker at Davis, California biotech firm Agraquest, has told the story of the horrific symptoms he suffered from being exposed to bacteria and fungus in his job. He says he and other workers were told by company president Pam Marrone not to wear protective masks and clothing because it would cause an image problem for the public and investors. His immune system is ruined and he has undergone four major sinus surgeries. Doctors and the authorities have covered up or failed to report his problems. Marrone is a former Monsanto scientist and former NovoNordisk Entotech owner. David Bell’s story is at http://www.biotechawareness.com/index~option~com_content~view~article~id~174.php
In addition, Becky McClain, an injured molecular biologist from Connecticut, spoke of the dangers of working in the biotech industry at the 2009 Workers Memorial Day event in San Francisco. McClain encountered the same problems as Bell - not knowing what she had been exposed to that made her sick and non-compliance of the authorities with the law.
View video: http://blip.tv/file/2061380
+ PUBLIC WARNED OVER “GREEN” SOY SCAM
A new initiative to re-brand the intensive and damaging farming of soy as “responsible” is nothing short of greenwash and will con the public, said Friends of the Earth International.
The warning came as the so-called Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) met on 28 May in Campinas, Brazil to agree new voluntary standards on the cultivation of soy. Even environmentally damaging GM soy will be called “responsible”.
Over half of the world’s soy is grown in South America and Europe is the largest importer. Nearly all soy is used as cheap animal feed but soy oil is increasingly being used as a biofuel. Its expansion in recent years has led to widespread deforestation, social conflicts, high pesticide use and huge releases of greenhouse gases.
Adrian Bebb from Friends of the Earth said: “This scheme is nothing short of green-wash and should be abandoned. The standards they are developing will legitimise a devastating system of soy cultivation that is wiping out forests and destroying small farmer livelihoods for the benefit of a handful of very big landowners and multinational corporations. The only responsible soy is less soy.”
+ WWF PICKETED BY GREEN GROUPS OVER IRRESPONSIBLE SOY
WWF Holland was picketed by green groups for its involvement in the RTRS.
For great pics of the weeping WWF panda with the Monsanto ringmaster on its back, etc., see:
More pics and info in English at
***TAKE ACTION - SIGN PETITION AGAINST TOXIC SOY*** http://www.toxicsoy.org/toxicsoy/irresponsible.html
+ MONSANTO’S GREENWASH ADS
In the US, National Public Radio is broadcasting its program Marketplace with the following ad: “Marketplace is supported by Monsanto, committed to sustainable agriculture, creating hybrid and biotech seeds designed to increase crop yields and conserve natural resources…”
TAKE ACTION: Tell American Public Media, which produces the Marketplace program, to stop spreading Monsanto’s lies. Take action at
+ MONSANTO DROPS COOL $2M ON Q1 LOBBYING
Monsanto’s first-quarter lobbying disclosure form shows it spent $2 million pushing its agenda in Washington the first three months of the year. This included lobbying on Senate Bill 384 - the so-called Global Food Security Act - which would gear U.S. foreign aid policy to promote GMO seeds in developing countries. Monsanto’s other big legislative concern was strengthening already-draconian patent protection for the GMO seed industry - “the one it dominates like Microsoft dominate operating system software,” writes Tom Philpott.
+ PRO-GM EVENT AT VATICAN
In what seemed a foregone conclusion, a May 15-19 study week on GMOs sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Sciences ended with a strong endorsement of GMOs as “praiseworthy for improving the lives of the poor,” and promising “improved food safety and health benefits, better food security, and enhanced environmental performance in a sustainable manner.”
The Pontifical Academy for Sciences does not set official church teaching or represent the views of the Pope or the Catholic Church, but its conclusions will no doubt be adopted by GM pushers worldwide for propaganda purposes.
Irish missionary and environmental writer Fr. Sean McDonagh objected that no Catholic critic of GMOs was invited to the study week. “Who are the church’s real experts in this area?” McDonagh said. “[They're from] aid and development agencies, such as Misereor, Cafod and Caritas. [The academy] thought so little of the expertise in the Catholic church that they didn’t invite a single person from any one of those agencies. … What are they afraid of?”
It’s a point that study week participants largely conceded. “This is not a ‘balanced’ meeting, in the sense that you bring every point of view to the table and seek some kind of idiotic consensus,” said Bruce Chassy, one of the carefully selected “experts” at the Pontifical Academy GM meeting.
See ALSO an interview with Chassy in which he suggests that the anti-GM movement is all a gigantic protectionist conspiracy involving European pesticide manufacturers (like Bayer and BASF, presumably!!), organic farmers, the EU, the “NGO industry”, and people “left over from the fall of socialism”:
+ VATICAN GM EVENT IS “CHARADE BY VESTED INTERESTS” - SPINWATCH
MORE PRESS COVERAGE OF VATICAN EVENT
National Catholic Reporter:
SpinProfiles of speakers:
Henry I. Miller
+ NEW REPORT UNDERMINES VATICAN MEETING
A new report from GM Freeze released on the eve of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ “Study Week” on GM food shows why GM won’t, and can’t, deliver on its promises. The report, GM Nutritionally Enhanced and Altered Crops, exposes the myth that new research will provide GM crops to feed the world.
+ MONSANTO DEVELOPING NON-GM SOYBEANS FOR FOOD
Monsanto plans to introduce non-GM soybeans for food use using advanced, conventional breeding methods. Augusto Freire, CEO of Cert ID Brazil, commented, “What will be gained if Monsanto produces non-GMO soybeans for food use and continues producing GM soy for making enormous volume of soy meal for feed, soy oil, and lecithin for food? Maybe a greenwash of their image for consumers who do not know better.”
+ COMPANY LAUNCHES “NON-GMO REVOLUTION”
Schillinger Genetics, based in Des Moines, Iowa, is focusing on developing and distributing non-GM food-grade soybean seed varieties under its eMerge Genetics brand. Schillinger Genetics wants farmers to “Join the Non-GMO Revolution,” as the company slogan says. John Schillinger, president of Schillinger Genetics, says he sees increasing interest among farmers to grow non-GM soybeans. “Farmers are looking at higher input costs with the Roundup Ready technology, and they will continually search for tools that will help their bottom line.”
+ OHIO FARMERS GO BACK TO NON-GM SOYBEANS
The combination of rising costs of herbicides and falling food prices paid to farmers for many crops is causing some Ohio farmers to go back to non-GM soybeans, which currently command a price premium.
+ OVER 70 COMPANIES VOW TO AVOID GM SUGAR BEETS
More than 70 companies have signed a pledge promising to avoid using sugar from GM sugar beets “wherever possible”.
+ GM’S PIPE DREAMS
Contrary to Angela Saini’s argument in her pro-GM article “Yield of dreams” on GM food in the May/June 2009 issue of New Humanist, there are few benefits from GM crops, and huge potential risks, writes Emma Hockridge of the Soil Association in an answering piece for the same publication.
Saini’s article: http://newhumanist.org.uk/2040
RESISTANCE / BANS ON GM
+ INTERVIEW WITH MONSANTO MOVIE MAKER
There’s an interesting interview with Marie-Monique Robin, maker of the expose film The World According to Monsanto, at
[Monsanto] maintained that [Roundup] was a 100% biodegradable herbicide that was completely harmless for humans and the environment. Too bad that it has been found guilty, first in the US and recently in France, for misleading advertising. Last year a confidential Monsanto study was made public where it was stressed that only 2% of Roundup decomposes in the soil, and then only after 28 days! A far cry from the concept of biodegradability. This is a crucial lie, since 70% of GMOs currently grown in the world have been genetically manipulated so they can be sprayed with Roundup.
+ EUROPEAN ELECTIONS: ORGANIC AUSTRIA RESISTS GMOS
Austrian voters want the next European Parliament to fight against GM crops. Only about 20% of Austrians plan to cast European ballots, yet they want their national GM ban left alone.
COMMENT from GM-free Ireland: The vast majority of EU voters want their European Parliament MEPs to keep Europe free of GM food and farming. Please vote only for MEPs who commit to opposing the European Commission’s undemocratic policy to force us to accept GM crops, who support the right of member states and regions to ban GM crops, and reject the European Food Safety Authority’s farcical rubber-stamping of new GMO approvals without proper risk assessments. Watch an informative EuroNews clip about the concerns of Austrian voters: http://www.gmfreeireland.org
+ GREECE EXTENDS BAN ON GM CORN SEEDS
Greece has extended its ban on a Monsanto GM strain of corn seed for another two years. The ban on importing and cultivating MON810 has also been expanded to include 100 types of the seed - up from 70 last year.
+ UK: MINISTER URGED TO TAKE TOUGHER LINE ON GM
Organic farming groups have called on Westminster to follow the Welsh and Scottish governments in taking a strong stance against GM crops. Representatives of the Organic Trade Board and the Soil Association, along with 10 organic businesses, met DEFRA (farm/environment) minister Hilary Benn in London to urge him to stop voting in favour of GMOs at policy-making meetings in Brussels. The groups condemned Benn for voting to try and stop countries like Germany from banning Monsanto’s GM maize - a decision taken by the German government after concerns were raised over the crop’s environmental impact.
+ US MOTHER CLAIMS GM AND OTHER FOODS MAKING CHILDREN SICK
A conservative US mother who thought food allergies were ridiculous changed her mind when her child had a violent reaction to egg. She has concluded that new foods in our diet, including GMOs, could be making children sick. Around 20% of American children have allergies.
In the last twenty years, there has been a:
400% increase in food allergies
300% increase in asthma, with a 56% increase in asthma deaths 400% increase in ADHD and between a 1,500 and 6,000% increase in autism.
See 50 Harmful Effects of Genetically Modified Food:
+ HANDS OFF OUR RICE!
At present, GM rice is not grown commercially anywhere in the world. But Bayer has genetically manipulated rice to withstand higher doses of the toxic pesticide glufosinate, which is considered to be so dangerous to humans and the environment that it will soon be banned from Europe.
In just a few weeks, the European Union will decide whether or not this GM rice can enter EU countries, appear on supermarket shelves and end up on our dinner plates. If the EU approves the import of Bayer GM rice, farmers in the US and elsewhere may soon start planting it.
Watch film here:
Sign petition asking governments around the world to reject Bayer’s GM rice and to stop GM rice trials:
REST OF THE MONTH’S NEWS IN BRIEF
For those who don’t receive our Weekly Watch
+ GOLDEN RICE: A DANGEROUS EXPERIMENT
Golden Rice hasn’t been proven safe to eat, yet it’s being targeted at malnourished people in the third world. What’s more, better, cheaper and proven solutions are already available.
+ GOLDEN RICE AND HAZARDS OF GMOs
Lecture by Dr Mae-Wan Ho on the problematic history of Golden Rice and other GMOs:
+ NEW DATABASE ON LOBBYING AND SPIN LAUNCHED
A new online database on lobbying, PR and spin has been launched. SpinProfiles is a massive international undertaking written collaboratively with wiki technology. It’s aimed at tackling PR and propaganda activities on a wide range of issues, including GM. The main website is at http://www.spinprofiles.org The GM portal is at http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php/GM_Watch:_Portal
For the SpinProfiles project to succeed it will need the support and involvement in the SpinProfiles community of as many concerned citizens from around the world as possible. If you’d like to get involved, contact the managing editor of SpinProfiles, Claire Robinson claire.robinsonATspinprofiles.org
+ CONFRONTING TWO-FACED SCIENCE
Part of the aim of SpinProfiles is to expose industry-friendly experts, and the institutes, think tanks, and front groups from which they operate in their battle to influence public opinion and public policy. As part of this, see Claire Robinson’s article on the lobby group Sense About Science, “Nothing to declare - GM guide’s two-faced science”.
+ IMMORAL MAIZE - THE DEFINITIVE ACCOUNT OF THE CHAPELA AFFAIR
“There’s no bigger, odder, or meaner story in biotechnology,” is how the journal Science and Policy perspectives described the Mexican maize scandal, and SpinProfiles hosts the definitive account of the affair and of the industry’s dirty tricks campaign to destroy Dr. Ignacio Chapela. Immoral Maize is by SpinProfiles editor and investigative journalist Andy Rowell, who worked with GMWatch to expose the dirty tricks campaign.
+ SEED FUNDING
The British Biochemical Society (BBS) has announced that it is accepting GBP113,000 from the Monsanto Foundation - the philanthropic arm of the giant American GM company - to “provide new resources in support of secondary school science”. The cash will go to the SciberBrain website (SciberBrain.org), from which teachers are invited to download genetics master classes for their budding boffins.
+ DEAL WILL DAMAGE ACADEMIC INTEGRITY
David Chicoine, the president of South Dakota State University, a land grant university with a mission for agricultural research and extension, is being paid almost $400,000 a year by Monsanto for sitting on its board of directors.
See also ag columnist Alain Guebert’s “Big biz and the big university”
+ PRO-GM MP CAUGHT WITH SNOUT IN TROUGH
Ian Gibson is a British Member of Parliament who was forced to admit in 2004 that he and Derek Burke, former Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, were “working together to try and erode the anti-GM debate.” Now Gibson is offering to stand down at the next election in the wake of disclosures about his dubious expenses claims as an MP.
On Gibson’s role in the GM debate, read: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/CCIGMP.php
For the Gibson expenses scandal:
+ DOCTORS CALL FOR MORATORIUM ON GM FOODS
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has raised serious concerns about the safety of GM foods on human health and has called for an immediate moratorium on such foods.
+ GERMAN COURT REJECTS MONSANTO PLEA TO END GM MAIZE BAN
A German court has rejected an urgent application from Monsanto to end Germany’s ban on cultivation of its GM maize MON810.
+ REPORT FOR GERMAN PARLIAMENT SAYS GMOs WON’T SOLVE HUNGER
A study compiled for the German parliament shows that the use of GM in agriculture does not bring any macro-economic benefits. In fact, the use of GM crops incurs extremely high costs in the entire food chain, which would impact heavily on developing countries.
Download the report (in German): http://www.boelw.de/uploads/media/BOELW_Schadensbericht_Gentechnik090318.pdf
Listen to the report (in German):
+ IRELAND: ILLEGAL GM RICE DESTROYED BY HEALTH OFFICIALS
Health officials have destroyed banned GM rice flour that was being illegally imported into Ireland from China. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_18003.cfm
+ OPPOSITION GROWING ACROSS WHOLE OF EU
Hungarian Ag Minister thanks Spanish counterpart for supporting GM crop ban
We hope for GM-free Bulgaria
GM production banned in Latvia
+ WHEAT GROUPS GANG UP AGAINST CONSUMERS
With the view that acting together would minimize market disruptions, wheat industry groups in the United States, Canada and Australia said they would work toward the objective of “synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in the wheat crop.” However, the Canadian Wheat Board said it won’t support GM wheat until key conditions are in place, including assurances that its overseas markets would accept the crop. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_17977.cfm
A Farmer Speaks: No to GMO Wheat
+ GATES FOUNDATION SEEKS TO INTRODUCE GM RICE INTO GM-FREE KERALA
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is creating a partnership with the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) to do research on GM rice in Kerala. The Kerala government has a policy against GM seeds.
+ PHILIPPINES: FARMERS REVEAL TRUTH ABOUT GM CORN
A farmers’ forum to study the socio-economic impact of GM corn was held at the end of April in the Philippines. The results showed that the planting of GM corn resulted in farmer indebtedness, higher production costs, sickness from Roundup exposure, lower yield, reduced income, and loss of control over technology.
+ SOUTH AFRICA: CALL FOR INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION INTO GM
+ CROP FAILURE
Three varieties of Monsanto’s GM maize failed to produce crops during the 2008/9 growing season, leaving up to 200,000 hectares of fields barren of cobs and crop losses across several provinces in South Africa. Monsanto has compensated commercial farmers who lost their yield, and barred these farmers from speaking to the media or public. Sign petition demanding transparency about the crop failures:
+ SOUTH AFRICA FACING A TSUNAMI OF RISKY GMOs
The African Centre for Biosafety has warned that a wave of new GMOs are expected to flood the South African market during 2009, as the backlog of commodity import permits that have been stalled by a moratorium since 2005 are about to be processed. Vast amounts of money from biotech backers, such as the Bill Gates Foundation, are also bringing new GM crops into South Africa.
Download the ACB report (124.69 Kb)
+ NON-GM DROUGHT-RESISTANT RICE
A new non-GM upland rice variety has been released in the Indian state of Jharkhand. It was bred using marker-assisted backcrossing for improved root growth to improve its performance under drought conditions. It out-yields its parent variety by 10% under rainfed conditions.
+ “FAILURE TO YIELD” TURNS ON BIOTECH SPIN MACHINES
Two superb responses to criticisms (from the usual suspects) of the recent report on GM food crops in the USA, Failure to Yield, are at:
They come from The Real Scoop, a new online column from the Union of Concerned Scientists on the science- and policy-related aspects of industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, and sustainable agriculture. http://ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/the-real-scoo p/the-real-scoop.html
+ TASMANIA EXTENDS GM BAN TO 2014
Tasmania’s ban on the release of GMOs to the environment will continue for at least another five years.
+ TASMANIA BECOMING A SUPPLIER OF CHOICE FOR GM-FREE
+ FARMERS FAST OVER GM CROP TRIALS
Farmers in Western Australia have been fasting at Parliament House in protest against the State Government’s plans to go ahead with GM canola trials.
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