The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved three new kinds of genetically engineered foods -- alfalfa, a type of corn, and sugar beets. And the FDA will likely soon approve GM salmon, which would become the first genetically modified animal to be sold in the U.S., but probably not the last. And the FDA and USDA will not require any of these products, or foods containing them, to be labeled as genetically engineered.
This despite the fact that over 95 percent of people polled say they think GM foods should require a label.
According to an editorial in the New York Times:
"Even more than questionable approvals, it's the unwillingness to label these products as such -- even the G.E. salmon will be sold without distinction -- that is demeaning and undemocratic, and the real reason is clear: producers and producer-friendly agencies correctly suspect that consumers will steer clear of G.E. products if they can identify them. Which may make them unprofitable. Where is the free market when we need it?"
Even more alarming, Dr. Don M. Huber, one of the senior scientists in the U.S., has alerted the federal government to a newly discovered organism related to GM crops may be causing plant death, and infertility and spontaneous abortion in animals fed GM crops.
Dr. Huber believes the appearance and prevalence of this unnamed new organism may be related to the nation's over-reliance on the weed killer known as Roundup, and to genetically engineered Roundup-Ready crops.
In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Huber called on the government to immediately stop deregulation of Roundup Ready crops. According to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, the letter read, in part:
"Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science! ... I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high-risk status. In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency."
And finally, in other alarming GM crop related news, Terry Redman, the West Australian Minister for Agriculture, wants to redefine the word "organic" to include genetically modified (GM) crops. Not that the difference between organic and GM crops will be a distinction for much longer anyway, according to current farming trends.
Some organic farmers, of course, have already unwillingly been growing GM crops in their fields. Steve Marsh, an Australian organic farmer, one year found his wheat and oats testing 70 percent positive for novel DNA thanks to cross-pollination from nearby farms.
Monsanto, of course, thinks the farmer should pay them for what amounts to the complete loss of his organic farm business -- no matter that the genes were most likely wind or bee-propagated, they say they were illegally in his plants, and he should pay them $400,000...
Lastly, are GM crops at least being tested for safety? Somewhere?
The answer is no, and we might never learn the true risks of GM crops during this generation, because the multinational companies that control the patents on GM seeds refuse to allow them to be used by independent scientists for safety testing. This is apparently just another legal perk of having a corporate patent on what has now become a major part of the American food chain.According to a recent CBS/NYT poll, 89 percent of respondents said they wanted to see GE foods labeled as such.
The danger posed by GM crops are no longer theoretical, research scientists have now uncovered a very real link between a previously unknown pathogen and either Roundup weed killer or Roundup Ready crop seeds.
GM crops have invaded our food supply, and more GM foods are in the pipeline, but with them come a long list of unanswered concerns besides the appearance of this new dangerous and deadly pathogen.
According to the above article in the NY Times:
"A majority of our foods already contain GMOs and there's little reason to think more isn't on the way. It seems our "regulators" are using us and the environment as guinea pigs, rather than demanding conclusive tests. And without labeling, we have no say in the matter whatsoever."
This quote sums up many of the multi-layered concerns that now exist regarding genetically modified (GM) foods. First off, they're impossible to keep from cross-pollinating with non-GM crops, thanks to bees and the wind, so even "organic" crops may become contaminated by GM pollen, thereby turning entire organic fields into GM fields overnight.
Crazy Patent Laws Prevent Independent Researchers from Studying GMO Hazards
Next, GM food health hazards have neither been studied beyond 30 days, nor are they currently being studied. This is because the corporations controlling the seeds restrict access to safety studies, citing the current patent laws.
GM foods are patented inventions that are protected under copyright and proprietary information laws. And the corporations controlling the seeds only allow them to be studied under very limited conditions, and rarely (if ever) do they permit them to be studied for safety by anyone but the USDA (who hasn't yet seen the need to conduct rigorous long-term studies).
Lastly, these GM foods now widely appear in our food supply -- unlabeled. I've gone on record saying that due to the amount of GM crops now grown in this country (over 90 percent of all corn is GM corn and over 95 percent all soy is GM soy) EVERY processed food you encounter at your local supermarket that does not bear the "USDA Organic" label is filled with GM components.
So you're eating GM foods, and you have been for the last decade, whether you knew it or not. You can thank Congress for this, and the USDA and Monsanto. What ultimate impact these GM foods will have on your health is still unknown, but increased disease, infertility and birth defects appear to be on the top of the list of most likely side effects.
Are GM Food Supporters Even Aware of the Dangers?
Even the staunchest supporter of GM foods must be alarmed when they hear about a new, previously undiscovered electron microscopic pathogen in the shape of a medium-sized virus that has been discovered which appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.
How can everyone NOT be concerned by this new discovery?
Dr. Huber describes this dangerous new creature as a "micro-fungal like organism", the first such micro-fungus ever seen or identified. He also says there's "strong evidence that this infectious agent promotes diseases of both plants and mammals, which is very rare."
So now we have our first ever confirmed new species to come out of America's misguided GM food experiment, that is not only the first of its kind ever seen by scientists, but also most likely the first of its kind to ever exist on this planet. And what a surprise, it appears to be very dangerous!
Again, according to Dr. Huber:
"(this new organism) deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure."
Is Dr. Huber Being an Alarmist?
This new micro-fungal organism is associated with something called Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in soy and is also found in a large variety of livestock given GM feed who experience both spontaneous abortions and infertility.
According to Dr. Huber:
"I have studied plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem."
"The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%."
"For example, 450 of 1,000 pregnant heifers fed wheatlege experienced spontaneous abortions. Over the same period, another 1,000 heifers from the same herd that were raised on hay had no abortions. High concentrations of the pathogen were confirmed on the wheatlege, which likely had been under weed management using glyphosate (Roundup)."
Dr. Huber goes on to say that this information could lead to the collapse of the US soy and corn export markets, and could also lead to disruptions in both domestic food supply and animal feed supply. He has written to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, and urged his immediately reply to the issue with both resources to study the problem presented by this new pathogen and leadership to address this new threat facing our nation's food supply.
Why the US Department of Agriculture Secretary is Unlikely to Act on this Danger
Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, now the Secretary of Agriculture, was an appointment that took place despite a massive public outcry.
- Vilsack has been a strong supporter of genetically engineered crops, including bio-pharmaceutical corn.
- The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, named Vilsack Governor of the Year. He was also the founder and former chair of the Governor's Biotechnology Partnership.
- When Vilsack created the Iowa Values Fund, his first poster child of economic development potential was Trans Ova and their pursuit of cloning dairy cows.
- The undemocratic and highly unpopular 2005 seed pre-emption bill was Vilsack's brainchild. The law strips local government's right to regulate genetically engineered seed (including where GE can be grown, maintaining GE-free buffers or banning GE corn locally).
- Vilsack is an ardent supporter of corn and soy-based biofuels, which use as much or more fossil fuel energy to produce them as they generate, while driving up world food prices and literally starving the poor.
- Overall, Vilsack's record is one of aiding and abetting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and promoting animal cloning.
So getting your hopes up that Dr. Huber's letter will find a friendly audience in Secretary Vilsack is likely a naïve proposition.
GM Crops Already Caused Mass Suicides in India in the 1990s
According to another source article above, GM crops are already responsible for the deaths of 200,000 Indian farmers. So says Dr Vandana Shiva, physicist, philosopher, activist and winner of last year's Sydney Peace Prize.
According to Dr. Shiva, there is a typical pattern to this "mass suicide". Farmers, who have been stricken by drought and poverty, become so enraptured by Monsanto's promises of wealth if they switch to their GM crops, begin taking on debt to convert to the company's GM seeds (which are hundreds of times more expensive than traditional seed).
The GM seeds are touted as resisting Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, as well as being single-season seeds that must be purchased every planting season.
This transaction creates an ongoing contract where the farmer is perennially bound to continue purchasing both Roundup and GM seeds from Monsanto. This new economic structure, which replaces the "heirloom seed" economy where the farmers saved their seeds year after year, creates an environment where debt piles up on top of debt, because Monsanto's promises of increased yields are a myth.
Eventually the debt becomes insurmountable and:"One day, rather than spray pesticide on the soil, the farmer swallows a cupful himself, leaving his family landless, foodless, destitute."
The FDA is also Under Monsanto Influence
Public health officials like the West Australian Minister For Agriculture and the American deputy FDA commissioner Michael Taylor are examples of a breed of public officials who are unofficially doing the private bidding of the multi-national GM food corporations at the expense of public health and safety.
According to Jeffrey Smith, the leading spokesperson on the dangers of GM foods:
"If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist."
But Michael Taylor's mission to allow GM foods into the world food supply pales in comparison to the new mission of the GM food conglomerates -- to have GM foods included as part of "organic" crop labeling.
Because consumers are getting wise to their tricks and are flocking more and more to organic counterparts of GM options, the GM food companies are now lobbying to have GM crops included under the organic banner.
Will the GM food conglomerates succeed in this mission?
Based on their previous success of getting virtually untested GM foods into the food supply, having GM foods remain in the food supply unchallenged by government regulators, and introducing new GM strains of alfalfa, corn and salmon that look likely to very soon receive approval to join the US food supply, it's a fairly safe bet that one day soon you will read in your local newspaper that GM foods have been reclassified as organic.
And when that happens, there will be no "Non-GM" food left in our food supply.