Thursday, May 26, 2011
Plaintiffs hail dismissal of appeal in GM sugar beet case
By Caroline Scott-Thomas
May 26, 2011
A US court of appeals has said that Monsanto must produce further studies examining the environmental impact of its genetically modified (GM) sugar beets before they can be planted on a commercial scale.
The dismissal of Monsanto’s appeal from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been welcomed by plaintiffs in the suit, who have hailed it as a benchmark case meaning the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will have to prepare a thorough review of its sugar beets, which have been engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup-brand insecticide, before they can re-enter commercial production. The USDA has said it expects to complete an Environmental Impact Statement by mid-2012.
Center for Food Safety (CFS) attorney George Kimbrell said in a statement that the order, passed on Friday, “cements a critical legal benchmark in the battle for meaningful oversight of biotech crops and food.”
He said: “Because of this case, there will be public disclosure and debate on the harmful impacts of these pesticide-promoting crops, as well as legal protections for farmers threatened by contamination.”
Unlabelled clone meat allowed on shop shelves as food safety proposals are ripped up
By Sean Poulter
May 26, 2011
Food from the offspring of cloned animals, including meat and milk, has been approved for sale without labels.
The Food Standards Agency yesterday tore up proposals that would have required it to go through a safety assessment.
It comes despite research showing eight in ten shoppers oppose the cloning of farm livestock.
Unlabelled food produced using the offspring of clones, such as dairy products, meat pies and ready meals, can now go on sale without any threat of legal action.
But animal welfare groups say the cloning technique is cruel, with a high number of miscarriages, deformities and gigantism.
And consumer groups say labels are essential to give shoppers choice.
The FSA’s decision is in line with Government policy, which supports clone farming and clone food without labels.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
With no labeling, few realize they are eating genetically modified foods
By Monica Eng
May 24, 2011
When a team of activists wearing white hazmat suits showed up at a Chicago grocery store to protest the sale of genetically modified foods, they picked an unlikely target: Whole Foods Market.
Organic foods, by definition, can’t knowingly contain genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs. But genetically modified corn, soy and other crops have become such common ingredients in processed foods that even one of the nation’s top organic food retailers says it hasn’t been able to avoid stocking some products that contain them.
“No one would guess that there are genetically engineered foods right here in Whole Foods,” said Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, which organized the protest. The activists dramatically trashed a battery of well-known health food brands outside the store, including Tofutti, Kashi and Boca Burgers.
Though people have been modifying foodstuffs through selective breeding and other methods for centuries, genetically modified crops differ in that the plants grow from seeds in which DNA splicing has been used to place genes from another source into a plant. In this way, the crop can be made to withstand a weed-killing pesticide, for example, or incorporate a bacterial toxin that can repel pests.
Some consumers are concerned that such changes may pose health risks and say manufacturers should be required to prove GMOs are safe for human consumption before putting them on the market. They also say products containing genetically modified ingredients should be identified for the consumer; the U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations that does not require such labeling or testing.
California must label genetically engineered fish
By Jean Halloran
May 24, 2011
Today, Assembly Member Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), decided to postpone a vote on his bill, AB 88, The Consumer Right To Know Act, which would require the labeling of genetically engineered fish sold in California. Action on the bill, which did not have enough votes in the California Assembly to pass this week, will take place in January, awaiting FDA action. The FDA is deliberating whether or not it will approve, for the first time, genetically engineered (GE) animals into the food supply, labeled or not. Consumers Union has argued that GE fish should not be allowed into the food supply, and if it is, that it should be labeled. California residents who want to weigh in with their Assembly member can do so here.
Looming over consumers is the likelihood that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will approve the raising and selling of GE salmon–without labeling–in the very near future. The engineered fish grow to maturity twice as fast as normal salmon, thus potentially greatly increasing the profits of salmon farmers in countries such as Chile, but also threatening to contaminate wild salmon worldwide.
Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, opposed putting the salmon on the market at an FDA hearing last fall on the grounds that the agency’s safety assessment was woefully inadequate. One of the most critical issues for FDA to assess is the potential for the GE fish to cause increased allergic responses, since many people are already allergic to fish.
Unfortunately, FDA allowed Aquabounty, the company developing the GE salmon, to declare that there was no increase in allergy-causing potential based on data from exactly six engineered fish–even when the data from those fish suggested there might be a problem.
At the very least, California should require a label on the GE fish so there can be post-market monitoring — so if people who have never been allergic to fish before start having allergic responses to this salmon, there will be a way for them, and their doctors, and food retailers, and FDA, to link these responses to their cause.
Friday, May 20, 2011
States lead debate over modified food labeling
By Lyndsey Layton
May 20, 2011
In the absence of a federal law requiring labels for genetically modified food, 14 states are debating whether to mandate labeling for modified foods sold within their borders.
The discussions, taking place from Albany, N.Y., to Sacramento, come as federal regulators weigh approval of the first genetically modified animal, a salmon, for human consumption.
In four states — California, Oregon, Vermont and Alaska — lawmakers are considering legislation that would pertain only to fish. The other states, including New York, are grappling with measures that would require all foods made from genetically modified ingredients to disclose that information on the label.
“The fact that you see these measures popping up is kind of a response to the vacuum in Washington,” said Jared Huffman, a Democratic member of the California State Assembly and sponsor of a bill to require labeling for genetically modified salmon. His measure was debated Wednesday by a key appropriations committee but fell three votes short of the number needed for passage. The committee chairman, who supports the bill, called for a second vote to be held May 25. If approved, it will head to the full assembly.