A major change to the regulation of biotech in the United States will exempt some GM crops from government oversight.
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.
The United States of America allows the use of 85 pesticides that have been banned or are being phased out in the European Union, China or Brazil, according to a peer-reviewed study published today by the academic journal Environmental Health.
In 2016 the United States used 322 million pounds of pesticides that are banned in the E.U., accounting for more than one-quarter of all agricultural pesticide use in this country, according to the study. U.S. applicators also used 40 million pounds of pesticides that are banned or being phased out in China and 26 million pounds of pesticides that are banned or being phased out in Brazil.
“It’s appalling the U.S. lags so far behind these major agricultural powers in banning harmful pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity and author of the study. “The fact that we’re still using hundreds of millions of pounds of poisons other nations have wisely rejected as too risky spotlights our dangerously lax approach to phasing out hazardous pesticides.”
The study compared the approval status of more than 500 pesticides used in outdoor applications in the world’s four largest agricultural economies: the United States, European Union, China and Brazil.
The U.S. EPA continues to allow use of 85 pesticides for outdoor agricultural applications that are banned or in the process of being completely phased out elsewhere, including 72 in the E.U., 17 in Brazil and 11 in China.
The United States has banned only four pesticides still approved for use in the E.U., Brazil or China.
Pesticides approved in the United States but banned or being phased out in at least two of the three other nations in the study include: 2,4-DB, bensulide, chloropicrin, dichlobenil, dicrotophos, EPTC, norflurazon, oxytetracycline, paraquat, phorate, streptomycin, terbufos and tribufos.
The majority of pesticides banned in at least 2 of the 3 nations studied have not appreciably decreased in the United States over the past 25 years and almost all have stayed constant or increased over the past 10 years. Many have been implicated in acute pesticide poisonings in the United States, and some have been further restricted by individual states.
I once read an interview with legendary fiction writer Stephen King in which he told the interviewer that he simply reads the newspaper to get ideas for his novels, declaring that truth was far scarier than fiction. After reading about the latest development in the lawsuits against Monsanto, I’m inclined to agree with him.
As part of the 3rd cancer trial facing Monsanto (now owned by Bayer AG), new emails were released that showed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials may have colluded with Monsanto to help slow the release of the dangers of the pesticide from the public. According to the documents and testimony, Monsanto apparently asked the government agency to slow down their safety review of the company’s top-selling herbicide, RoundUp. According to the documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, not only did the government agree to slow the safety review, EPA officials also helped the company by giving them consistent updates.
In early 2015, the government agency seems to have started working in conjunction with Monsanto to stall toxicology tests on glyphosate (the main ingredient in RoundUp) conducted by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This isn’t the first time that the EPA may have thwarted efforts to keep the public safe from toxic glyphosate and other harmful pesticides. An earlier court case against Monsanto revealed evidence that the Environmental Protection Agency knew glyphosate was a probable carcinogen nearly thirty-five years ago but approved it for use anyway.
Even outside of the alleged collusion, there has been doubt as to whether the EPA has actually been doing enough to protect the public from the chemical that has been dubbed a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization.
That’s because a recent study called The Global Glyphosate Study, found that the so-called “safe” amounts of glyphosate set by the United States government agency aren’t actually safe at all. Instead the EPA’s “safe” levels were found to damage genetic material and cause harmful imbalances in the microbiome, according to the study authors: Italy’s Ramazzini Institute in partnership with the University of Bologna, the Genoa Hospital San Martino, the Italian National Institue of Health, Mount Sinai in New York and George Washington University.
The term “microbiome” refers to the total of all microbial life that live in a human being, which is largely made up of beneficial bacteria and other beneficial microbes. Every person and living thing has a unique microbiome, similar to a microbial fingerprint.
Finally, a federal court intervened and ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, yet even after the court order, the agency in its seeming egomania simply declared that it was reviewing the decision. The judge admonished the EPA for “having stalled on banning chlorpyrifos,” and ordered that all commercial registrations for chlorpyrifos be cancelled or revoked within 60 days.
Once again, the agency demonstrated a lack of integrity and decency, while abdicating its responsibility to the public in keeping them safe from brain-damaging pesticides like chlorpyrifos and probable carcinogen, glyphosate.
Why does the EPA seem hell-bent on allowing chemical corporations to run roughshod over the human right to health and safety, while the same corporations rack up billions in profits? The only answer I can think of is: cold, hard cash. Of course, I can’t prove it, but I can’t think of any other reason why the EPA would shirk its basic responsibility to Americans—a responsibility that couldn’t be any clearer than the name it sports: “Environmental Protection Agency.” After all, human beings constitute part of the environment that warrants protection.
It’s time the EPA was held accountable. Their current stall tactics and unwillingness to protect the public make them complicit in the deaths and suffering of countless people exposed to these toxic chemicals. Perhaps the agency should be named in the lawsuits alleging that glyphosate caused peoples’ cancer? It’s sad that the people who have alleged that Monsanto’s RoundUp caused their terminal cancer are forced to use their dying days to hold the company accountable, when there is a government agency that should have protected them in the first place.
US farmers have slashed the use of antibiotics in meat and milk by a third, new figures from the Food and Drug Administration reveal.
The amount of antibiotics sold to farmers dropped by almost three million kilograms between 2016 and 2017, according to the new data.
In 2017, the FDA banned the use of antibiotics to make animals grow quicker, a practice known as growth promotion. The new rules meant the drugs, formerly available over the counter, could only be obtained with a veterinarian’s order.
The new data is the first indication of the success of the ban in reducing antibiotic use in US agriculture, which is considered key to stemming the growing threat of superbugs which can infect humans.
The overuse of antibiotics in human medicine and in livestock has accelerated the rise of resistant bacteria, commonly known as superbugs. They can cause life-threatening infections as they are resistant to the drugs normally used to kill them. More than 153,000 people in the US died of superbug infections in 2010, a recent study found.
The European Union banned using antibiotics as growth promoters in 2001. But the practice was still legal in the US – one of the biggest producers of meat in the world – until more than a decade and a half later. READ MORE AT…
‘Modified’ is a first-person feature documentary that questions why genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not labeled on food products in the United States and Canada, despite being labeled in 64 countries around the world. Shot over a span of ten years, the film follows the ongoing struggle to label GMOs, exposing the cozy relationship between the biotech industry and governments. The film is anchored in the intimate story of the filmmaker’s relationship to her mom, a prolific gardener, seed saver, and food activist who battled cancer while the film production was underway. Interweaving the personal and the political, the film uses family archives, animations, and mouth-watering vignettes from the filmmaker’s award-winning PBS cooking show to create a moving account of family legacy, grassroots activism, and the journey for a more sustainable and transparent food system.