Friday, April 27, 2012
GM Soy linked to health damage in pigs — a Danish Dossier
By GM-Free Cymru (Wales)
April 27, 2012
A Danish farming newspaper has caused quite a stir by devoting a sizeable part of its 13 April edition to the discoveries by pig farmer Ib Borup Pedersen that GM soy has a damaging effect both on his animals and on his farming profitability. On the front page of the paper there was a lead story under the headline “Pig farmer reaps gains from GMO-free soy”. On a sidebar the paper referred to Mr Pedersen’s contention that DDT and Thalidomide were minor problems when set alongside GMOs and Glyphosate. In an Editorial Comment on page 2, the paper argued that it would be grossly irresponsible for the authorities to ignore or ridicule the discoveries made by the farmer in his pig farming operations, and it congratulated the authorities for commissioning a new study designed to determine whether stomach lesions and other effects might be associated with GM soy; in the study 100 animals will be fed with non-GM soy and 100 with GM soy in their diets.
Farmers, scientists protest USDA approval Of Dow’s ‘Agent Orange Corn’
By Ashley Portero
International Business Times
April 27, 2012
When Margot McMillen was introduced to the Monsanto Co.’s Roundup Ready crops in the mid-1990s, she suspected the seeds, genetically engineered to be immune to powerful herbicides, were too good to be true.
“The idea was you could spray a field with Roundup and you could kill everything on the field, and then your crop would come up and be resistant to the poison. Then you could have a harvest without worrying about the weeds,” said McMillen, an organic farmer in Missouri who produces vegetables and meat for the restaurant trade.
The question of herbicide resistance was one raised by farmers from the beginning, according to McMillen. Constant use of glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup — designed to kill bugs, weeds, and all plant life other than the genetically modified crops engineered to resist it — has led to the emergence of resistant weeds that can no longer be controlled by Roundup, the herbicide of choice for the past decade.
That’s why McMillen, along with a host of consumer and environmental groups, is concerned now that the Dow AgroSciences unit of the Dow Chemical Co. is on the cusp of winning regulatory approval for corn that is genetically engineered to be resistant to 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, or 2,4-D, an old and robust herbicide that was an active ingredient in the Agent Orange defoliant used during the Vietnam War.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
When Bill Gates pushes high-tech agriculture, who benefits?
By Eric Reguly
Globe and Mail
April 26, 2012
Microsoft chairman’s recipe for boosting world food output may fatten Big Ag’s bottom line, but not small farmers
When Bill Gates speaks, the world tends to listen. The second-richest man on the planet is treated like a god when he opens his mouth. He’s still chairman of Microsoft. The billions of dollars of donations he has made through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have captured the attention of the World Health Organization and set the agenda for vaccine development and inoculation over the past decade. Now, through sheer wealth-driven clout, his plan to reduce world hunger has found a rapt audience in the United Nations’ food agencies.
Gates descended on Rome, home of three UN food agencies, in February like a rumpled angel. In a speech at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (disclosure: my wife is an employee), and at a related media event, two themes emerged: technology and big business.
His talk was peppered with phrases and references to “yield,” “global productivity target” and “digital agriculture.” He mentioned some of the biggest food processing corporations, among them Procter & Gamble and Nestlé, and seemed enthusiastic about their potential role in the food development chain. “I’m a huge believer in the private sector and drawing them in,” he told the dazzled crowd.
But I was left wondering whether Gates’s agenda would contribute to the public good or the good of big business. Philanthrocapitalism, as it has been dubbed, has a dark side. Relying on genetically modified (GM) crops and chemicals to push up output per acre may help Monsanto (which was one of the stocks in the Gates Foundation’s investment portfolio), Syngenta and other tech-driven food biggies, but won’t necessarily support those who need the most help-poor smallholder farmers and underdeveloped countries. Making them part of Big Ag’s global supply chain might not help either.
Mutant corn created to fend off Agent Orange chemical
By Chris Nuttall-Smith
The Globe and Mail
April 26, 2012
Now that overuse has rendered Roundup, the powerful agricultural herbicide sprayed on genetically modified crops like corn and soy beans, useless against new strains of superweeds, a US chemical company is hoping to market one of the active ingredients in Agent Orange in its place.
Dow AgroSciences has submitted for U.S. regulatory approval a new strain of corn that’s genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D, The New York Times reported. The chemical was one of the active ingredients in Agent Orange, the militarized defoliant cocktail that was used to on Vietnamese jungles during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange cause widespread cancers and deformation in people who were exposed to it.
According to the Times, however, “Most experts agree that the harm from Agent Orange was caused primarily by its other ingredient, 2,4,5-T, which was taken off the market long ago. By contrast, 2,4-D, first approved in the late 1940s, is considered safe enough for use in many home lawn care products.”
Yet Dow’s new genetically engineered corn is nonetheless drawing plenty of resistance, and not just from the usual anti-GMO sources; one of the most vocal opposition groups, called Save Our Crops Coalition, is composed of other farmers and vegetable processors who say that have no problem at all with GMO crops. They’re worried that drifting 2,4-D spray will hurt other crops that haven’t been engineered to resist it but are planted in adjacent fields.
In New U.S. “Bioeconomy”, Industry Trumps Environment
By Carey L. Biron
IPS (Inter Press Service)
April 26, 2012
WASHINGTON - The White House on Thursday announced the formulation of the National Bioeconomy Blueprint, aimed at shoring up the U.S. commitment to bioscience-related research.
But critics warn that the new programme focuses too much on economic concerns, placing too little emphasis on either social issues or on the environment itself.
“We’re disappointed to see what finally came out,” Eric Hoffman, a Washington-based campaigner with Friends of the Earth, an international NGO, told IPS. “This report largely seems to be an endorsement for the biotechnology industry to rush ahead without any real oversight.”
The biotechnology industry “says that it has been calling for this type of legislation for long time,” Hoffman notes. “That makes sense, given that the industry stands to gain the most from the types of policies laid out in the Blueprint.”