Category Archives: GMO’s

Mexico Announces Phase-Out and Ban on Glyphosate Herbicides

Sustainable Pulse – June 27, 2020

The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), Mexico’s Environment Ministry, has announced that glyphosate-based herbicides will be phased out of use in the country by 2024 to protect human health and the environment.

SEMARNAT announced late Thursday that it has created a roadmap for the gradual reduction of the use of glyphosate in Mexico until it reaches a total ban in 2024.

“Given the scientific evidence of glyphosate toxicity, demonstrating the impacts on human health and the environment, the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) has taken important steps to gradually reduce the use of this chemical until it achieves a total ban in 2024.

Dr. Adelita San Vicente Tello, Director General of the Primary Sector and Renewable Natural Resources at SEMARNAT, announced the news after participating in the conversation Why will Mexico join the ban on glyphosate? organized by the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s (UNAM) Academic Observatory of Society, Environment and Institutions.

Damián Marino, from the National University of La Plata, Argentina; Emmanuel González, of the Metropolitan Autonomous University, Xochimilco; Fernando Bejarano, of the Action Network on Pesticides and Alternatives in Mexico (Rapam), and Leticia López of the National Association of Rural Marketing Companies (ANEC), all supported the strong decision that SEMARNAT has made on this issue.

Glyphosate Box

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San Vicente Tello explained that the issue of pesticides has provoked a great struggle for several years, and now SEMARNAT, with Victor M. Toledo at the helm, is taking determined steps towards the transformation of the country’s agri-food system in order to make it “safer, healthier and more environmentally friendly”, as part of which it has identified the gradual reduction of glyphosate with alternative methods as critical.

Among the actions that have already been taken, she recalled that in November last year, under the precautionary principle for the prevention of environmental risks, SEMARNAT stopped the import of a thousand tons of glyphosate.

She also explained that the Committee on Health, Food, Environment and Competitiveness (GISAMAC) was also established in 2019 with the aim of having a national vision for major health and environmental problems. The Ministry recently gave its full support to the policy introduced by the Committee for the urgent attention of environmental issues for the benefit of the health and well-being of the Mexican population.

San Vicente Tello said that, together with the National Council of Science and Technology, she is analyzing alternatives to the use of glyphosate-herbicides for large-scale agricultural production, as there are many weed management experiences with methods that farmers themselves and indigenous communities have applied for thousands of years.

In addition, government education campaigns are being prepared with different medias, such as infographics and videos that will be translated into several languages and will include data and independent scientific sources on the effects of glyphosate-based herbicides on the environment and health, with the purpose of alerting the population to the risks involved from their use. During and after these campaigns the general public and specific communities can draw their own conclusions.

Finally, San Vicente Tello reiterated that in the face of this problem we all have to act, because “beyond productivity, there is human and environmental health”.

SOURCE

U.S. Court Overturns Dicamba Herbicide Registration

CBAN – June 2020

June 2020: A U.S. court overturned the registration of the herbicide dicamba, because of the “enormous and unprecedented” damage to neighbouring crops from pesticide drift. The court ruling means that three dicamba formulations – sold by Monsanto (Bayer), BASF, and Corteva (Dow-Dupont) – are now illegal, and their associated genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) dicamba-tolerant seeds are irrelevant. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) –  the regulator responsible for allowing registration – has responded by allowing U.S. farmers to use up their existing stocks of dicamba. In 2017, Monsanto (now Bayer) introduced a new dicamba formulation to be sold along with the company’s new GM dicamba-tolerant seeds. About two-thirds of the soybeans and three-quarters of the cotton planted by U.S. farmers is now dicamba-tolerant.

Herbicide Sales Increased 243% (1994-2017)

Health Canada information shows an increase in herbicide sales of 243% from 1994-2017. The first genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops were introduced in 1995.

Call to Re-think Genetically Engineered Herbicide-Tolerant Crops

August 2019: The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and Prevent Cancer Now (PCN) are calling for a review of the use of genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) herbicide-tolerant crops in Canada, in response to Monsanto’s request for government approval of GM corn MON 87429 that can withstand applications of four herbicides, including 2,4-D and dicamba.

Glyphosate gives way to dicamba and 2,4-D

As glyphosate-resistant weeds spread across North America and the herbicide glyphosate consequently loses its usefulness as a weedkiller, Monsanto (now Bayer) is replacing its GM glyphosate-tolerant soy with GM dicamba-tolerant soy. In the US, the new dicamba-tolerant varieties are increasing the use of the herbicide dicamba. Bayer says its new dicamba formula is less prone to herbicide drift but, across the US, neighbouring crops that are not dicamba-tolerant are being damaged. This is leading many farmers to buy GM dicamba-tolerant seeds as a strategy to protect their crops. Bayer estimates that U.S. farmers will plant about 50 million acres of dicamba-tolerant soybeans in 2019, 60% of all the soybeans planted in the country. Corteva (DowDuPont) says it will widely launch its 2,4-D-tolerant soy in Canada in 2020, with some sales in 2019. Click here for some background on 2,4-D- and dicamba-tolerant crops

Glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”

In 2015, the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that:

  • Glyphosate, the world’s most-used chemical ingredient for weed control, is a “probable human carcinogen” (March 2015)
  • 2,4-D, the second most-used herbicide in Canada, is a “possible human carcinogen” (June 2015)

SOURCE

Major Change To U.S. Biotech Regulations Will Exempt Some GM Crops From Government Oversight

Sciencemag.org – May 18, 2020 – Erik Stokstad

Many new varieties of genetically modified crops will be exempt from regulation in the United States under a new policy.
Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A major change to U.S. regulation of biotech will exempt some gene-edited plants from government oversight. The new policy, published in the Federal Register today, also calls for automatic approval of variations of established kinds of genetically modified (GM) crops, easing their path to market.

Industry groups are welcoming the new rule, whereas opponents are decrying the reduction of government oversight.

“The main good thing is that it will allow certain aspects of gene editing to move forward,” says Kent Bradford, a plant geneticist at the University of California, Davis. If researchers use gene editing to design a plant that could have been bred conventionally, the new plant will be exempt from regulation. But anything else—such as moving a gene between species or rewiring metabolism—will still require a regulatory review.

The gist of the shift is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will now focus on new traits themselves rather than the technology used to create them, a change of approach that plant scientists have long wanted. Several reviews by the National Academy of Sciences have concluded that the risk that GM plants will become weeds is generally low, and that molecular tools typically don’t pose new risks compared with traditional plant breeding techniques.

FULL ARTICLE

COMMENT FROM DR. RATH HEALTH FOUNDATION

COMMENT

Seemingly hidden under cover of the mainstream media’s ongoing preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic, the new U.S. biotech policy also calls for automatic regulatory approval of variations on certain types of GM crops. The goal appears to be to make it easier for biotech companies to get such crops onto the market. Predictably, therefore, industry groups are welcoming the new rules as they will inevitably profit from the reduction in U.S. government oversight.

Ultimately, of course, the main reason biotech companies are interested in GM crops is that their seeds can be patented. Patents on GM seeds, and the multibillion dollar potential profits and market control that may result from them, act as powerful incentives for biotech companies to find ways of forcing GM foods onto our dinner plates – regardless of the possible dangers to human health. This patent-based business model, with its focus on products that don’t exist in nature, is essentially the same as the one that is used by the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Not surprisingly, therefore, many pharmaceutical and chemical companies also now have biotech subsidiaries.

Major Change To U.S. Biotech Regulations Will Exempt Some GM Crops From Government Oversight

Dr. Rath Health Foundation – May 29, 2020

NEWS

A major change to the regulation of biotech in the United States will exempt some GM crops from government oversight.

COMMENT

Seemingly hidden under cover of the mainstream media’s ongoing preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic, the new U.S. biotech policy also calls for automatic regulatory approval of variations on certain types of GM crops. The goal appears to be to make it easier for biotech companies to get such crops onto the market. Predictably, therefore, industry groups are welcoming the new rules as they will inevitably profit from the reduction in U.S. government oversight.

Ultimately, of course, the main reason biotech companies are interested in GM crops is that their seeds can be patented. Patents on GM seeds, and the multibillion dollar potential profits and market control that may result from them, act as powerful incentives for biotech companies to find ways of forcing GM foods onto our dinner plates – regardless of the possible dangers to human health. This patent-based business model, with its focus on products that don’t exist in nature, is essentially the same as the one that is used by the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Not surprisingly, therefore, many pharmaceutical and chemical companies also now have biotech subsidiaries.

To read how insects are rapidly developing resistance to GM crops, read this article on our website.

Read article at Sciencemag.org

Bayer/Monsanto’s bioimperialism versus Cuba’s biosolidarity

International Journal of Socialist Renewal – May 14,2020 – Don Fitz

May 14, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Genetically engineered crops are a form of food imperialism. This technology allows mega-corporations like Bayer/Monsanto to patent seeds, lure farmers into buying them with visions of high yields and then destroy the ability of small farmers to survive.

Genetic engineering produces an artificial combination of plant traits that often results in foods with less nutritional value while introducing health problems to animals and humans who eat them. It increases costs of food production, pushing millions of farmers throughout the world into poverty and driving them off their land. 

Agricultural corporations get control of enormous quantities of land in Africa, Latin America and Asia, which they use to control the world’s food supply and reap super-profits from the cheap labor of those who work for them, sometimes people who once owned the same land. These crops can be developed in open-field testing, which allows the novel pollen to contaminate wild relatives of the engineered crops.

Agro-industries that dominate this process have the resources to lobby two sections of governments. They tell one government agency that their plants do not need to pass safety tests because they are “substantively equivalent” to already existing plants. Yet, out of the other side of their mouths, corporate lawyers argue that, far from being equivalent to existing plants, their engineered ones are so novel as to deserve patents, which allow companies to sue farmers who save seeds for planting during the next season.

As a resident of St. Louis, a veritable plantation of Monsanto (now Bayer), I have participated in and organized dozens of demonstrations at the company’s world headquarters, as well as forums and conferences. It is necessary to compare the use of biotechnology by food corporations with that of Cuba to decide if they are the same or fundamentally different.

Medicine in Cuba 

John Kirk’s Health Care without Borders: Understanding Cuban Medical Internationalism (2015) provides a wealth of information regarding Cuba’s early use of biotechnology in medicine. It is a poor country suffering effects of a blockade by the US which interferes with its access to materials, equipment, technologies, finance, and even exchange of information. This makes it remarkable that Cuba’s research institutes have produced so many important medications. 

Even a partial list is impressive. The use of Heberprot B to treat diabetes has reduced amputations by 80 percent. Cuba is the only country to create an effective vaccine against type-B bacterial meningitis, and it developed the first synthetic vaccine for Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), which causes almost half of pediatric meningitis infections. It has also produced the vaccine Racotumomab against advanced lung cancer and has begun clinical tests for Itolizumab to fight severe psoriasis.

By far the best known efforts of Cuban biotechnology followed an outbreak of dengue fever in 1981 when its researchers found that it could combat the disease with Interferon Alpha 2B. The same drug became vitally important decades later as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Interferons are signaling proteins that can respond to infections by strengthening anti-viral defenses. In this way, they decrease complications which could cause death. Cuba’s interferons have also shown their usefulness and safety in treating viral diseases including Hepatitis B and C, shingles and HIV-AIDS.

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Toxic Agriculture and the Gates Foundation

Counter Punch – Mar 2, 2020 – Colin Todhunter

Chemical fertilizer plant, San Joaquin Valley. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was launched in 2000 and has $46.8 billion in assets (December 2018). It is the largest charitable foundation in the world and distributes more aid for global health than any government. One of the foundation’s stated goals is to globally enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty.

The Gates Foundation is a major funder of the CGIAR system (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) – a global partnership whose stated aim is to strive for a food-secured future. Its research is aimed at reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition and ensuring sustainable management of natural resources.

In 2016, the Gates Foundation was accused of dangerously and unaccountably distorting the direction of international development. The charges were laid out in a report by Global Justice Now: ‘Gated Development – Is the Gates Foundation always a force for good?‘ According to the report, the foundation’s strategy is based on deepening the role of multinational companies in the Global South.

On release of the report, Polly Jones, the head of campaigns and policy at Global Justice Now, said:

“The Gates Foundation has rapidly become the most influential actor in the world of global health and agricultural policies, but there’s no oversight or accountability in how that influence is managed.”

She added that this concentration of power and influence is even more problematic when you consider that the philanthropic vision of the Gates Foundation seems to be largely based on the values of ‘corporate America’:

“The foundation is relentlessly promoting big business-based initiatives such as industrial agriculture, private health care and education. But these are all potentially exacerbating the problems of poverty and lack of access to basic resources that the foundation is supposed to be alleviating.”

The report’s author, Mark Curtis, outlines the foundation’s promotion of industrial agriculture across Africa, which would undermine existing sustainable, small-scale farming that is providing the vast majority of food across the continent.

Curtis describes how the foundation is working with US agri-commodity trader Cargill in an $8 million project to “develop the soya value chain” in southern Africa. Cargill is the biggest global player in the production of and trade in soya with heavy investments in South America where GM soya monocrops (and associated agrochemicals) have displaced rural populations and caused health problems and environmental damage.

According to Curtis, the Gates-funded project will likely enable Cargill to capture a hitherto untapped African soya market and eventually introduce GM soya onto the continent. The Gates foundation is also supporting projects involving other chemical and seed corporations, including DuPont, Syngenta and Bayer. It is effectively promoting a model of industrial agriculture, the increasing use of agrochemicals and patented seeds, the privatisation of extension services and a very large focus on genetically modified crops.

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