Friday, March 16, 2012
Study ties GMO corn, soybeans to butterfly losses
By Josephine Marcotty
March 16, 2012
Herbicide-resistant crops can withstand Roundup, which kills monarchs’ preferred nesting plant
Genetically engineered corn and soybeans make it easy for farmers to eradicate weeds, including the long-lived and unruly milkweed.
But they might be putting the monarch butterfly in peril.
The rapid spread of herbicide-resistant crops has coincided with — and may explain — the dramatic decline in monarch numbers that has troubled some naturalists over the past decade, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University.
Between 1999 and 2010, the same period in which so-called GMO crops became the norm for farmers, the number of monarch eggs declined by an estimated 81 percent across the Midwest, the researchers say. That’s because milkweed — the host plant for the eggs and caterpillars produced by one of one of the most gaudy and widely recognized of all North American butterflies — has nearly disappeared from farm fields, they found.
France restores ban on GMO maize crops
By Sybille de La Hamaide
March 16, 2012
PARIS - France set a temporary new ban on the cultivation of Monsanto’s MON810 genetically modified maize on Friday, after a previous moratorium was annulled by the country’s top court in November.
France said that it was acting conservatively in advance of spring sowings.
“Because of the approach of sowing, the minister of Agriculture decided today to take a conservative measure to temporarily ban MON810 maize on national land in order to protect the environment,” Prime Minister Francois Fillon said in a statement.
France, by far the EU’s largest grain grower, invoked a so-called safeguard clause, reviving a ban put in place in 2008 and overturned by the country’s highest court in November on the basis that it was not sufficiently justified.
The government had immediately said it would “examine all ways” to maintain it despite the decision.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Monsanto’s Roundup threatens stability of global food supply
By Anthony Gucciardi
March 13, 2012
Monsanto’s reckless disregard for public health and the agricultural stability of the planet may be even more significant than previously thought. A shocking new report reveals how Monsanto’s Roundup is actually threatening the crop-yielding potential of the entire biosphere. The report reveals that glyphosate, which was developed by Monsanto in the early 1970s and is the active ingredient in its patented herbicide Roundup, may be irreversibly devastating the microbiodiversity of the soil - compromising the health of the entire planet, as a result.
New research published in the journal Current Microbiology highlights the extent to which glyphosate is altering, and in some cases destroying, the very microorganisms upon which the health of the soil, and - amazingly - the benefits of raw and fermented foods as a whole, depend. Concerningly, certain beneficial strains of bacteria used as food-starters in cultures for raw yogurt, such as Lactobacillus cremoris, have entirely disappeared from certain geographic regions where traditionally they were found in plenty. The study reports that the death and growth inhibition of selected food microorganisms was observed in concentrations of Roundup that are lower than are recommended in agricultural practice.
This means that farmers who are increasingly using larger and larger concentrations of Roundup and similar glyphosate-based herbicide formulations to countermand the increasingly resistant super weeds GM agriculture has spawned, are not only damaging the immediate health of the soil, but subsequent yields of indispensable food-starter microorganisms, as well as the microbes that ensure the overall fertility of the soil for producing crops well into the future.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Monsanto, Dow gene-modified crops to get faster U.S. reviews
By Jack Kaskey
March 9, 2012
Monsanto Co. and Dow Chemical Co. will get speedier government reviews for some of their newest genetically modified crops under a plan to cut approval times in half, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
Monsanto soybeans that tolerate applications of the herbicide dicamba and a Dow soybean engineered to tolerate 2,4-D are among a dozen petitions that will get the faster reviews, the USDA said on its website. The agency plans to decide whether to approve the crops in 13 to 16 months after public comment begins, down from a current average of 3 years.
The move to speed biotech approvals comes as seed-makers develop new technologies aimed at slowing the spread of so- called superweeds that are no longer killed by Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Half of the 12 plants designated for faster review by the USDA are herbicide-tolerant crops made by Monsanto, Dow, DuPont Co., Bayer AG (BAYN) and BASF AG.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Push to label genetically modified food gains traction
By Georgina Gustin
March 03, 2012
Thousands of products in the typical American grocery store, from cereals to corn chips, contain genetically modified ingredients. But the average shopper wouldn’t know it from their labels.
Many companies in the food and biotechnology industry, including Creve Coeur-based Monsanto Co., want to keep it that way. But they’ll have to fend off a growing push for labels on genetically modified products that’s gaining traction in Washington and state capitals.
At least 18 states are now considering laws that would make the labels mandatory, including Illinois and California, the country’s biggest market. Earlier this year, pro-labeling advocates marched from New York to Washington. Late last fall, about 500 groups, including some of the country’s biggest consumer organizations, banded together as the Just Label It campaign. Also last fall, the Washington-based Center for Food Safety filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, calling for the agency to require labels. As of this week, the petition had 850,000 signatures of support, the most ever for a federal food petition.
“Fifty countries have mandatory labeling. We’re one of the only developed countries that doesn’t. GMOs are labeled in China, Russia. Why would consumers in those countries have this information and we not have it here?” said Megan Westgate, executive director of the the Non-GMO Project, a group that verifies and labels products as free of genetically altered ingredients. “It feels like we’re at this tipping point where a lot more Americans are concerned about this.”