NOTE: For the full report (US version):
U.S. tax dollars promote Monsanto’s GMO crops overseas: report
Reuters, May 14 2013
U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for overseas lobbying that promotes controversial biotech crops developed by U.S.-based Monsanto Co and other seed makers, a report issued on Tuesday said.
A review of 926 diplomatic cables of correspondence to and from the U.S. State Department and embassies in more than 100 countries found that State Department officials actively promoted the commercialization of specific biotech seeds, according to the report issued by Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer protection group.
The officials tried to quash public criticism of particular companies and facilitated negotiations between foreign governments and seed companies such as Monsanto over issues like patents and intellectual property, the report said.
The cables show U.S. diplomats supporting Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, in foreign countries even after it paid $1.5 million in fines after being charged with bribing an Indonesian official and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 2005.
One 2009 cable shows the embassy in Spain seeking “high-level U.S. government intervention” at the “urgent request” of Monsanto to combat biotech crop opponents there, according to the Food & Water Watch report.
The report covered cables from 2005-2009 that were released by Wikileaks in 2010 as part of a much larger release by Wikileaks of a range of diplomatic cables it obtained.
Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher said Monsanto believes it is critical to maintain an open dialogue with government authorities and trade groups in other countries.
“We remain committed to sharing information so that individuals can better understand our business and our commitments to support farmers throughout the world as they work to meet the agriculture demands of our world’s growing population,” he said.
State Department officials had no immediate comment when contacted about the report.
Food & Water Watch said the cables it examined provide a detailed account of how far the State Department goes to support and promote the interests of the agricultural biotech industry, which has had a hard time gaining acceptance in many foreign markets.
“It really goes beyond promoting the US’s biotech industry and agriculture,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It really gets down to twisting the arms of countries and working to undermine local democratic movements that may be opposed to biotech crops, and pressuring foreign governments to also reduce the oversight of biotech crops.”
But U.S. officials, Monsanto, and many other companies and industry experts routinely say that biotech crops are needed around the world to increase global food production as population expands. They maintain that the crops are safe and make farming easier and more environmentally sustainable.
PROMOTION THROUGH PAMPHLETS, DVDs?
The cables show that State Department officials directed embassies to “troubleshoot problematic legislation” that might hinder biotech crop development and to “encourage the development and commercialization of ag-biotech products”.
The State Department also produced pamphlets in Slovenia promoting biotech crops, sent pro-biotech DVDs to high schools in Hong Kong and helped bring foreign officials and media from 17 countries to the United States to promote biotech agriculture, Food & Water Watch said.
Genetically altered crops are widely used in the United States. Crops spliced with DNA from other species are designed to resist pests and tolerate chemical applications, and since their introduction in the mid 1990s have come to dominate millions of acres of U.S. farmland.
The biotech crops are controversial with some groups and in many countries because some studies have shown harmful health impacts for humans and animals, and the crops have been associated with some environmental problems.
They also generally are more expensive than conventional crops, and the biotech seed developers patent the high-tech seeds so farmers using them have to buy new seed every season, a factor that makes them unappealing in some developing nations.
Many countries ban planting of biotech crops or have strict labeling requirements.
“It’s appalling that the State Department is complicit in supporting their (the biotech seed industry’s) goals despite public and government opposition in several countries,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of nonprofit organization Organic Consumers Association.
“American taxpayer’s money should not be spent advancing the goals of a few giant biotech companies.”
(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
Pat Mooney, co-founder & Executive Director of etcgroup.org (formerly RAFI) discusses terminator & traitor seeds patented by the USDA & Monsanto, possible implications for bio-warfare and agra-terrorism.
By Fritz Kreiss
GMOs hiding in almost all food in this country, what are you doing about it?
GMOs are in more than 75% of foods in the US now, and the number continues to increase year after year. Not only are they in almost everything, but since labeling isn’t required they remain hidden and you have to research all the potential ingredients that are likely to be GMO (which is also constantly increasing). Recent research has shown that GMOs are carcinogenic, toxic to people’s livers, kidneys, and blood, and their related herbicide partner RoundUp contributes to birth defects, a number of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Autism in addition to a number of other effects which are only now beginning to come to light.
Now the question is this, are you going to sit back and accept this or are you going to do something about it? There are many ways to take part, but at this time we have finally gotten enough support to get people out in the streets protesting. Please take the time to check out the March Against Monsanto event(s) on May 25th, there are more being planned for the Fourth of July, as well as some others that have yet to be publicly announced. And if none of these events work for you, start your own in your neighborhood, town, or city. Pass out informational flyers, share info on your social media pages, educate and rabble rouse your friends, family, and even co-workers. There’s much to be done and many ways to go about achieving these changes, please take part in whatever ways you can!
Articles you may find of interest:
50 Countries Label Genetically Engineered Foods – When Will Americans have the Right to Know and Choose?
Things are heating up in Baraboo, Wisconsin as a long awaited food rights trial approaches.
Raw milk drinkers are outraged that Wisconsin DATCP is bringing criminal charges against a farmer who serves a private buying club. Do citizens have a right to contract with a producer and grow food to their own standards? That is what is at stake in this case. – Kimberly Hartke, Publicist Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
Customers and Other Supporters to Attend Court with Farmer
Food rights activists from around North America will meet at the Sauk County Courthouse in this tiny town on May 20 to support Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger and food sovereignty. Hershberger, whose trial begins that day, is charged with four criminal misdemeanors that could land this husband and father in county jail for up to 30 months with fines of over $10,000…
The Wisconsin Department of Agricultural Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) targeted Hershberger for supplying a private buying club with fresh milk and other farm products.
DATCP has charged Hershberger with, among other things, operating a retail food establishment without a license. Hershberger repeatedly rejects this, citing that he provides foods only to paid members in a private buying club and is not subject to state food regulations.
There is more at stake here than just a farmer and his few customers — this is about the fundamental right of farmers and consumers to engage in peaceful, private, mutually consenting agreements for food, without additional oversight.
A little more than a year ago, food rights activists from around the country stood in support of Hershberger at a pre-trial hearing. They read and signed a “Declaration of Food Independence” that asserts inherent rights in food choice. This month after the trial each day, many of the same food rights activists plus others will gather at the Al Ringling Theater across the street from the courthouse and hear presentations by leaders in the food rights movement. Notable speakers include Virginia farmer Joel Salatin, Mountain Man show star Eustace Conway, and food rights organizer from Maine, Deborah Evans.
Hershberger, and other farmers around the country, are facing state or federal charges against them for providing fresh foods to wanting individuals. In recent months the FDA has conducted several long undercover sting operations and raids against peaceful farmers and buying clubs that have resulted in farms shutting down and consumers without access to the food they depend on.
This is a landmark precedent-setting case that could forever change food access rights. In addition, did you know that a Wisconsin judge who declared that we have no inherent right to the healthy foods of our choice retired and went to work for Monsanto?
Watch for more info and a recap on the battle:
For additional information on raw milk: http://www.westonaprice.org
See our running story:
GMOs: The Walking Dead of the Food Industry
Image source: www.nursedegree.net
Fluoride is promoted above good nutrition as a ‘therapeutic’ chemical necessary to prevent cavities, but it lowers IQ, calcifies the pineal gland and harms fertility, among a wide range of other adverse health effects.
There is no question remaining that fluoride lowers IQ, at least as far as high-quality epidemiological research published in peer-reviewed journals has shown.
Take the conclusion of this systematic review of the literature published in the journal Biological and Trace Elements Research in 2008, which looked at whether fluoride exposure has increased the risk of low intelligence quotient (IQ) in China over the past 20 years:
[C]hildren who live in a fluorosis area [high fluoride exposure] have five times higher odds of developing low IQ than those who live in a nonfluorosis area or a slight fluorosis area.
[See our IQ and Fluoride research page for seven first-hand study abstracts on this connection]
Arguably, those who do question this causal connection despite the research are already under fluoride’s powerful spell, since they don’t take sufficient care to reduce their exposure to this intellectually-disabling chemical. They’ve drank the fluoride-contaminated Kool-aid, and are unable to comprehend what is still obvious to those who have not.
But fluoride’s toxicity is not specific to only one type of tissue, i.e. neurological, but extends throughout the human body, having been linked to at least 30 distinct health problems stretching from calcification of soft tissue and endocrine glands (such as the pineal) to hypothyroidism, from hair loss to cancer. [see Fluoride Toxicity citations here]
While lawmakers, regulators and the industry using it consider the public gullible enough to believe that the IQ-lowering effects of fluoride a worthwhile price to pay for ‘healthy’ and ‘attractive’ teeth (even though fluoride exposure leads to fluorosis, an irreversible spotting, often yellowing of the enamel of the teeth), a more serious health problem lurks beneath the propaganda that has converted an industrial byproduct and pollutant into a “therapeutic” water, salt and milk additive. That problem is fluoride’s infertility and abortifacient properties.
Back in 1994, a study was published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health that found exposure to high fluoride concentrations in drinking water is associated with decreased birth rates. The researchers had reviewed the biomedical literature for fluoride toxicity and found decreased fertility in most animal species studied. This lead them to question whether fluoride would also affect human birth rates. They reported their method and results as follows:
A U.S. database of drinking water systems was used to identify index counties with water systems reporting fluoride levels of at least 3 ppm. These and adjacent counties were grouped in 30 regions spread over 9 states. For each county, two conceptionally different exposure measures were defined, and the annual total fertility rate (TFR) for women in the age range 10-49 yr was calculated for the period 1970-1988. For each region separately, the annual TFR was regressed on the fluoride measure and sociodemographic covariables. Most regions showed an association of decreasing TFR with increasing fluoride levels. Meta-analysis of the region-specific results confirmed that the combined result was a negative TFR/fluoride association with a consensus combined p value of .0002-.0004, depending on the analytical scenario. There is no evidence that this outcome resulted from selection bias, inaccurate data, or improper analytical methods. However, the study is one that used population means rather than data on individual women. Whether or not the fluoride effect on the fertility rate found at the county level also applies to individual women remains to be investigated.
Another study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine in 1995 found that among fabrication workers fluoride compound exposure was associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion:
Risk of spontaneous abortion (SAB) was examined in relation to chemical and physical agents in a retrospective study of employees of 14 seminconductor manufacturers: After screening over 6,000 employees, 506 current and 385 former workers were eligible. If a woman had multiple eligible pregnancies, one was selected at random. Telephone interviews provided data on demographics and occupational and other exposures during the first trimester. Two groups of chemicals accounted for the 45% excess risk of SAB among fabrication-room (fab) workers: photoresist and developed solvents (PDS), including glycol ethers, and fluoride compounds used in etching. Women exposed to high levels of both these agents were at greater risk (RR = 3.21, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.29-5.96). In fab workers without these exposures, SAB rates were not elevated (adjusted relative risk [RR] = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.55-1.69). An association was seen with workplace stress, which was not limited to women exposed to PDS or fluoride, nor did stress explain the associations between these chemicals and SAB.
Considering these findings, now let us zoom down to the animal level of research, which is unequivocal as far as fluoride’s anti-fertility/contraceptive/abortifacient properties.
Here are the male studies
- Jeannett A Izquierdo-Vega, Manuel Sánchez-Gutiérrez, Luz María Del Razo. Decreased in vitro fertility in male rats exposed to fluoride-induced oxidative stress damage and mitochondrial transmembrane potential loss. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2008 Aug 1 ;230(3):352-7. Epub 2008 Mar 28. PMID: 18455746
- Zilong Sun, Ruiyan Niu, Bin Wang, Zhibin Jiao, Jinming Wang, Jianhai Zhang, Shaolin Wang, Jundong Wang. Fluoride-induced apoptosis and gene expression profiling in mice sperm in vivo. Arch Toxicol. 2011 Nov ;85(11):1441-52. Epub 2011 Feb 22. PMID: 21340527
- N J Chinoy, M V Rao, M V Narayana, E Neelakanta. Microdose vasal injection of sodium fluoride in the rat. Reprod Toxicol. 1991 ;5(6):505-12. PMID: 1839778
- R S Gupta, T I Khan, D Agrawal, J B S Kachhawa. The toxic effects of sodium fluoride on the reproductive system of male rats. Toxicol Ind Health. 2007 Oct;23(9):507-13. PMID: 18681235
- P Sreedhar Reddy, T Pushpalatha, P Sreenivasula Reddy. Suppression of male reproduction in rats after exposure to sodium fluoride during early stages of development. Naturwissenschaften. 2007 Jul;94(7):607-11. Epub 2007 Feb 22. PMID: 17318612
Here are the female studies
- Yongjiang Zhou, Hailing Zhang, Junlin He, Xuemei Chen, Yubing Ding, Yingxiong Wang Xueqing Liu. Effects of sodium fluoride on reproductive function in female rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Feb 28. Epub 2013 Feb 28. PMID: 23459146
- H H Messer, W D Armstrong, L Singer. Fertility impairment in mice on a low fluoride intake. Science. 1972 Sep 8 ;177(4052):893-4. PMID: 5054644
From the perspective of Life, interference with a biological systems’ primary imperative (that is, the ability to reproduce via a healthy germline (ova/sperm)) is the ultimate sin. However, from the perspective of managing large numbers of human bodies – billions of them all dependent on limited resources – “side effects” such as contraception and infertility associated with the use of chemicals like fluoride could be considered beneficial collateral effects. Another convenient side effect is its mind-numbing and pineal gland calcifying effects, rendering exposed populations more docile and easily to manage and control. Interestingly, “antidepressant” drugs like Prozac contain fluoride, hence its chemical name fluoxetine. Those who have experienced this drug’s effects know it can disassociate you from reality, or simply anesthetize your emotions in relation to it.
The reality is that a massive, international industrial, medical and governmental system supports water and food fluoridation, and it will take many years of hard work, from the grassroots up, to reduce our continuous exposure to fluoride-based compounds. Until then, we have two clear paths to mitigate the damage: 1) Reduce our exposure. 2) Consume a diet rich in compounds that mitigate fluoride toxicity. There are a number of natural compounds that have been experimentally confirmed to reduce fluoride toxicity. Twenty-six of these are listed on our Fluoride Toxicity research page. This is not an exhaustive list, and tens of thousands of natural compounds, from spices to vitamins, nutrients to minerals, are likely to confer the same types of protections identified in those studies. The point is that simple dietary steps, especially incorporating into our diet organically-produced (better yet biodynamic) foods, can go a long way to protecting us from fluoride and thousands of other xenobiotic compounds we are exposed to on a regular basis.
Learn more about the story of how Fluoride, a poison, was converted into a “therapeutic” compound via propaganda, watch Fluoridegate: An American Tragedy on GreenMedTV.
Sayer Ji is the founder and director of GreenMedInfo.com and an advisory board member at the National Health Federation, an international nonprofit, consumer-education, health-freedom organization. He co-authored the book Cancer Killers: The Cause Is The Cure, and is working on another one with Tania Melkonian titled EATomology: An Edible Philosophy of Food.
Do you remember last fall when Whole Foods got slandered by the organic, anti-GMO community for willingly selling products containing genetically modified ingredients? Well, it seems as though it’s had a change of heart.
As was reported by the Associated Press, Whole Foods markets has announced that by 2018, all of its North American stores will have products containing GMOs labeled as such. Regardless of Whole Foods being known as a “natural” and organic supermarket, it does indeed sell products that contain genetically modified ingredients, such as soy lecithin and modified cornstarch.
Its disposition to sell such products is what got them in trouble with passionate organic and non-GMO shoppers. Many were discouraged to discover that their trustworthy supermarket had essentially sold its soul to the devil by offering those potentially dangerous products.
A.C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods, mentioned that currently, the Inc. is experiencing an increasing demand for products that are made or grown without genetically engineered organisms. He also noted that products that are labeled as “Non-GMO” yield sale growths from fifteen to thirty percent.
Many shoppers are undoubtedly jovial over Whole Foods’ decision to please the consumer, and label its products containing GMOs. This is an outstanding example of what a free market is all about and why it is unnecessary for the government to intervene when it comes to the food industry.
If shoppers are angered about a company’s products (Whole Foods selling GMOs), then it is up to the shoppers to protest and not help the company thrive. Because Whole Foods shoppers stopped giving their business to their market that had disappointed so many, it realized it needed to turn around if it wanted to continue to pull in successful trades.
Not only is this decision by Whole Foods proving to be a success for organic, anti-GMO consumers, but it’s also a success for free market advocates.
Maryland Looks to Undo Raw Milk Ban
Published on Mar 6, 2013
Liz Reitzig of the Raw Milk Freedom Riders gives Mike an update on raw milk legislation in Maryland that would undo the current raw milk ban.
The Dept. of Brain Washing, that fits the role quite well. So which czar in D.C. do they answer to?
By Tom Laskawy
It’s been a good week if you enjoy a little GMO schadenfreude. The FDA has reportedly bowed to public pressure to extend the comment period on its approval of genetically engineered salmon, and Illinois, Maryland, and Iowa are the latest states to buck GMOs by introducing labeling bills into state legislature.
Even the Supreme Court has an opportunity to take Monsanto down a peg. On Feb. 19, the court will hear arguments in a patent infringement case between an Indiana farmer and Monsanto (I covered it in detail here). If Monsanto prevails, it’ll move a few more paces towards agricultural monopoly; if it loses, the company will take a couple steps back. It’s encouraging that the Supreme Court chose to hear the case over the solicitor general’s urging to dismiss it, but Monsanto could have an inside man: As in other Monsanto-related cases, former Monsanto-lawyer-turned-Supreme-Court-Justice Clarence Thomas has no plans to recuse himself.
But GMOs took the biggest punch this week from academia: Tom Philpott highlights a USDA-funded study [PDF] by University of Wisconsin scientists who found that several types of GMO seeds (including Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready varieties) actually produce a lower yield than conventional seeds. Only one seed — a corn that produces its own pesticide to combat the corn borer — offers any significant yield benefit. In other words, planting most genetically modified seeds results in less harvest per acre than planting non-genetically modified seeds.
The researchers looked at 20 years of data from test plots in Wisconsin from 1990-2010, both on research plots and on plots in participating farmers’ fields. Philpott flags a key point from the study:
Then there’s the question of so-called “stacked-trait” crops — that is, say, corn engineered to contain multiple added genes — for example, Monsanto’s “Smart Stax” product, which contains both herbicide-tolerant and pesticide-expressing genes. The authors detected what they call “gene interaction” in these crops — genes inserted into them interact with each other in ways that affect yield, often negatively. If multiple genes added to a variety didn’t interact, “the [yield] effect of stacked genes would be equal to the sum of the corresponding single gene effects,” the authors write. Instead, the stacked-trait crops were all over the map. “We found strong evidence of gene interactions among transgenic traits when they are stacked,” they write. Most of those effects were negative — i.e., yield was reduced.
This matters because stacked-trait crops are a favored approach to combat the superweeds and bugs that are part and parcel of years of GMO crops. But the more you stack, the worse your yield. The scientists also found evidence of a “yield penalty” that comes simply from the act of manipulating plant genes.
In short, the more one meddles with plant genes, the worse yields get; when you change multiple genes at once, yields drop even further. This should give pause to those who see GMO seeds as the means to address more complex problems like drought tolerance, nutritional value, or plant productivity. These are traits involving dozens, if not hundreds, of genes. This study suggests genetic manipulation of food crops at such a scale is a losing game.
A few years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a report with a similar conclusion, but this is one of the first rigorous attempts to establish through controlled experiments the yield benefit (or penalty) of GM seeds. The UW scientists do note that they determined that GM seeds do provide farmers with lower “yield risk”; essentially, that farmers are less likely to face catastrophic crop losses when using GMO seeds. But there are other conventional techniques that researchers have concluded can support yield, reduce environmental harm, and increase farmer income without having to pay big bucks to biotech companies.
Not that we should expect biotech companies to just roll over: With five such companies controlling nearly 60 percent of the global seed business, it may be impossible for farmers to find sufficient conventional seed. (Learn how the seed business became so consolidated in the Center for Food Safety’s new report “Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers.”)
But we should take what we can get. Between Supreme Court justices who may be fed up with the company’s aggressive intellectual property tactics and farmers who could get fed up with its ineffective intellectual property, Monsanto’s stumbles could mean a few sure steps forward for food growers and eaters.
Tom Laskawy is a founder and executive director of the Food & Environment Reporting Network and a contributing writer at Grist covering food and agricultural policy. His writing has also appeared in The American Prospect, Slate, The New York Times, and The New Republic. Follow him on Twitter.
By CBC News
High-intensity sweetener changes metabolic responses
Diet pop and other artificially sweetened products may cause us to eat and drink even more calories and increase our risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, researchers are learning.
Former McGill University researcher Dana Small specializes in the neuropsychology of flavour and feeding at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Small said there’s mounting evidence that artificial sweeteners have a couple of problematic effects. Sugar substitutes such as sucralose and aspartame are more intensely sweet than sugar and may rewire taste receptors so less sweet, healthier foods aren’t as enjoyable, shifting preferences to higher calorie, sweeter foods, she said.
Small and some other researchers believe artificial sweeteners interfere with brain chemistry and hormones that regulate appetite and satiety. For millennia, sweet taste signalled the arrival of calories. But that’s no longer the case with artificial sweeteners.
“The sweet taste is no longer signalling energy and so the body adapts,” Small said in an interview with CBC News. “It’s no longer going to release insulin when it senses sweet because sweet now is not such a good predictor of the arrival of energy.”
Susan Swithers, a psychology professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., studies behavioural neuroscience. “Exposure to high-intensity sweeteners could change the way that sweet tastes are processed,” she says.
“A number of epidemiological studies show that people who do consume high intensity sweeteners show differences in metabolic responses, have an increased risk for things like Type 2 diabetes and also have an increased risk for overweight and obesity.”
This week, researchers in France who followed the drinking habits of 66,000 women for 14 years reported that both regular and diet pop increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but the risk was higher among diet drinkers — 15 per cent higher for consumption of as little as 500 ml per week and 59 per cent higher for those having 1.5 litres per week.
Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers said the women’s age and body size were taken into account but eating habits may have changed over time and factors besides consumption of artificially sweetened drinks couldn’t be ruled out.
Scientists in the U.S. have also found this association.
More difficult to manage weight
No longer being able to rely on the body’s built-in and subconscious process for regulating eating makes it more difficult for people to manage their own weights, Small and Swithers agreed.
“They might actually have to read labels, pay attention to how many calories are in things because they’ve lost this easy process,” Swithers said.
Last month, Nicola Kettlitz, president of Coca-Cola Canada, told CBC News that artificial sweeteners are safe and approved by Health Canada, adding aspartame has been used for 30 years.
“If you have to pick an evil, I’d pick the diet pop over the regular pop,” said Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa. “But ideally it shouldn’t be either.”
Small said she tells everyone she knows not to use artificial sweeteners. “It’s better to use a small amount of regular sugar than it is to use artificial sweeteners in your foods.”
At a food court in Toronto, patrons recognized that diet drinks aren’t ideal.
“It’s good for people who are watching their weight,” said Withya Ganeshalingam, who was sipping a diet Sprite, which she considers a “free drink” because of the zero calories.
“I feel like it kind of goes back and forth, this one’s bad, this one is better for you,” said Jason Costa. “Regular is what I do if I am going to drink it.”
With files from CBC’s Kelly Crowe and Pauline Dakin
Republished with permission