By Dr. Mercola
In March, Hungary introduced a new regulation that states seeds must be checked for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before they are introduced to the market. However, some genetically engineered seeds made it to the farmers without their being aware of it.
As a result, almost 1,000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically engineered seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary. The deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said that the GE maize has been ploughed under, and pollen has not spread from the maize.
"Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. The checks will continue despite the fact that seed traders are obliged to make sure that their products are GMO free,” Bognar said.
Nature Strikes Back
The United States, meanwhile, is beginning to see the consequences of widely planted genetically engineered crops. In the mid-'90s, Monsanto introduced seeds genetically engineered to withstand its Roundup brand of herbicide. Today, these "Roundup Ready" crops are planted all across the U.S. -- 94 percent of soybeans and more than 70 percent of corn and cotton contain the Roundup-resistant gene.
But when the land is dosed with a single herbicide for years on end, the ecosystems adapt. Roundup-defying "superweeds" are getting out of control, in addition to "superpests" that are assisted by bacteria that have learned how to break down certain insecticides and render them ineffective. And the problem is only accelerating, because the resistant weeds and insects are driving out their non-resistant counterparts.
According to Mother Jones:
"These weeds adapt faster and more vigorously than their weed cousins, choking fields and clogging irrigation ditches so badly water can't pass through."
The news that Hungary recently destroyed nearly 1,000 acres of corn crops because they were found to be mistakenly grown with genetically modified (GM) seeds should be a major wake-up call to anyone in the United States and elsewhere who believes GM crops are harmless. The discovery that the farmland was planted with GM seeds came when the season was already underway, so the harvest has been completely lost for this year.
What would prompt the Hungarian government to take such a drastic step?
Perhaps it is the fact that GM crops simply cannot be contained, and inevitably will contaminate the environment with GM DNA. Or it could be that they do not want superweeds, triggered by the overuse of Roundup herbicide on GM Roundup Ready crops, overtaking their farmland the way they are now doing in the United States. Then again, it could be the unknown threats to human health -- and the fact that new research shows toxins from GM crops are now appearing in human blood -- that made them think twice.
Either way, they are clearly well educated about the dangers of GM foods, which is a lesson the U.S. government still needs to learn.
Why Rogue Planting of GM Seeds is a Very Big Deal
Genetically modified corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets have made their way into approximately 80 percent of current U.S. processed grocery store items, now that up to 90 percent of several U.S.-grown crops are grown with genetically engineered seed. So if you live in the United States, you have most certainly already been exposed to GM foods -- most likely a lot of them. So it may make you angry, or at least curious, to know that in Hungary, the government just destroyed crops that were grown with GM seeds and plowed the corn under so the pollen could not spread.
You see, GM seeds are banned in Hungary, as they are in several other European countries, such as Germany and Ireland. These countries have chosen NOT to allow their people to be used as guinea pigs in a massive experiment on the food supply, which is essentially what the introduction of GM crops is. Although Monsanto, the world leader in GM seeds, insists that GM foods are no different from conventionally grown varieties, the research in existence begs to differ.
Here is just a sampling of the unsavory findings associated with GM foods:
|GM peas caused lung damage in mice
||Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce
|GM potatoes may cause cancer in rats
||Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells
|Bacteria in your gut can take up DNA from GM food
||The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning
|GM foods lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, specifically the kidney, liver, heart and spleen
||Several U.S. farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties
|Bt corn caused a wide variety of immune responses in mice, commonly associated with diseases such as arthritis, Lou Gehrig's disease, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease
||Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products
GM Crops Have Already Overtaken U.S. Farmland
There are movements underway around the globe pressuring governments for a moratorium on untested GM seeds and foods, yet the United States is giving Monsanto free reign, aiding and abetting their agenda -- even though most Americans do not want GMOs.
But the U.S. government is plowing ahead, and allowing virtually all of Monsanto's GM crops and related chemicals to call the United States their home, despite minimal testing and widespread concern. Most recently, the USDA approved planting of GM alfalfa, the fourth-largest crop in the United States, without restriction, despite massive opposition and serious concerns that its potential to cross-pollinate and transfer genetic material is very high, if not guaranteed.
Because it's a natural forage for pastured (organically raised grass-fed) animals, contamination would be disastrous for organic dairy- and cattle farmers, as federal organic standards forbid them from using GM crops (not to mention Monsanto's history of suing both conventional and organic farmers for patent infringement should their crops be cross-contaminated). This could essentially make true "organic" food, which by definition should be GM-free, a virtual impossibility.
If you're wondering why the United States leads the world in GM crop acreage, it's because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the FDA are heavily influenced by Monsanto, which spends millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government for favorable legislation that supports the spread of their toxic products every year. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government - and this was a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the USDA, and the U.S. Trade Representative all have a special set of revolving doors leading straight to Monsanto, which has allowed this transnational giant to gain phenomenal authority and influence.
Monsanto's 'Superweeds' Gallop through the Midwest
One of the consequences of this cozy relationship is now surfacing as superweeds make their way across the Midwest. Massive acreage of soybeans, cotton, and corn grown in the United States contain the GM Roundup Ready gene -- and all of these crops receive numerous applications of Monsanto's Roundup each and every year.
But Roundup is proving to be no match for Mother Nature. It's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping.
As Mother Jones reported:
" ... In what is surely the least surprising, most-anticipated major development in the history of US agriculture, farmers are discovering that when you spend years dousing land [with] a single herbicide, ecosystems adapt. Roundup Ready crops, meet Roundup-defying weeds.
... The USDA openly acknowledges the superweed problem and even delivered a pretty good explainer on it in its environmental impact statement on Roundup Ready alfalfa. Yet it keeps deregulating or choosing not to regulate at all new Roundup Ready crops, all of them quite widely planted.
This year alone, the agency has green-lighted Roundup Ready versions of alfalfa (a major cow feed); sugar beets (source of half of US sugar), and most recently, Kentucky bluegrass (popular lawn turf). These dubious USDA decisions will likely bring millions more acres-including lawns, parks, and golf courses near you-under the Roundup Ready domain."
On a slightly brighter note, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally looking into the damaging effects of glyphosate (the key ingredient in Roundup) on humans and the environment and plans to make a decision regarding its future by 2015. At that time, Roundup could either continue to be used as it is now, be required to have some modifications to its use or be banned from use entirely in the United States.
Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. As stated on LabelitWA.org:
"Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn't required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn't have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.
Doesn't it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.
I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers."
Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn't have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let's not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.
- No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
- If you live in Washington State, please sign the I-522 petition. You can also volunteer to help gather signatures across the state.
- For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.