Archive | August, 2009

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Monsanto completes sunflower business sale

Posted on 31 August 2009 by admin

Monsanto Co. said Monday it completed the divestiture of its global sunflower assets to rival Syngenta.

Switzerland-based Syngenta bought assets and assumed liabilities associated with Monsanto’s global hybrid sunflower seed business for $160 million.

Monsanto’s sunflower business recorded sales of $75 million in fiscal 2008.

Creve Coeur, Mo.-based Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON), led by Chairman, President and CEO Hugh Grant, develops insect- and herbicide-resistant crops and other agricultural products. It is one of the largest employers in St. Louis with 4,000 local employees. Its seeds and traits portfolio includes corn, cotton and soybeans.

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Food Prescription: The Lyme Induced Autism Foundation prescribes 100% Non-GMO diet

Posted on 31 August 2009 by admin

The Lyme Induced Autism Foundation (LIA) has joined with other leading health organizations to call on medical practitioners to prescribe diets free from all genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and urged individuals, especially those with autism, Lyme disease, and associated conditions, to avoid eating genetically modified (GM) foods. The LIA Foundation recognizes the unique health dangers posed by GMOs, especially for populations suffering from autism, Lyme disease, and other chronic disorders, and they have concluded, “There is an urgent need for independent research to evaluate the role that GM foods play in contributing to the prevalence or severity of autism, Lyme disease, and related conditions.”

The LIA Foundation calls for: 
• A moratorium on all genetically modified foods 
• Research to evaluate the role of GM foods on autism, Lyme disease, and related conditions 
• Physician and patient advocacy groups to advise patients on the role of GM foods in disease processes
• Health practitioners to distribute non-GMO educational materials (

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When Cocaine and Monsanto Roundup Collide, War on Drugs Becomes a Genetically-Modified War on Science

Posted on 31 August 2009 by admin

At the intersection of cocaine and Roundup in rural South America, Monsanto and the U.S. government are struggling to keep up appearances. That’s becoming more and more difficult as the unanticipated hazards of genetic modification become clearer.

Back in April, Argentinean embryologist Andrés Carrasco gave an interview with a Buenos Aires newspaper describing his recent findings suggesting the chemical glyphosate, a chemical herbicide widely used in agriculture as well as in U.S. anti-narcotic efforts, could cause defects in fetuses in much smaller doses than those to which peasants and farmers in his country were already being exposed. Loud calls for a ban on the substance were issued by Argentinean environmental lawyers, and the country’s Ministry of Defense banned the planting of glyphosate-resistant soya crops in its fields.

Then came the backlash. An article in an Argentinean paper recently reported that Carrasco was assaulted in a way he described as “violent” by four men associated with agricultural interests:

Two of the men were said to be members of an agrochemical industry body but refused to give their names. The other two claimed to be a lawyer and notary. They apparently interrogated Dr. Carrasco and demanded to see details of the experiments. They left a card Basílico, Andrada & Santurio, attorneys on behalf of Felipe Alejandro Noël.

It’s still unclear who these people are. But the interest in keeping such information quiet or discrediting Carrasco and his findings are strongest with Monsanto, the agricultural company who first patented a glyphosate product (sold as Roundup) and also created genetically-modified crops specifically to resist the herbicide.

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Protesters rally peacefully against herbicide application

Posted on 30 August 2009 by admin

The Pitchfork Rebellion founder involved in a 2008 police conflict puts Monsanto “on trial”

The Register-Guard
Appeared in print: Sunday, Aug 30, 2009

News Updates: Story

The Pitchfork Rebellion, organized to restrict or halt aerial herbicide spraying on Oregon’s forests, went to the local doorstep of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Saturday to lampoon what they said were the agency’s ties to pesticide manufacturer Monsanto.

Triangle Lake area resident Day Owen, a co-founder of the activist group, donned a jester’s hat to preside over mock trials of Monsanto and the state Department of Forestry before a crowd of more than 100 people.

Owen’s wife, his daughter and neighbor Maya Gee also said they were personally affected after helicopters sprayed the Monsanto product Round-Up on forests near their farms in 2007. The women said they were sickened by their exposure to drifted spray, immediately suffering breathing problems and muscle weakness, followed by diarrhea, early and painful menstrual cycles, and muscle and joint pain lasting for months.

Owen accused the St. Louis-based multinational company of covering up evidence that the herbicide poses human health risks. According to Monsanto’s Web site, increased sales of Round-Up helped the corporation post record net sales of $11.4 billion in 2008.

Monsanto’s Web site also states that regulatory agencies around the world, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency, have concluded that glyphosate herbicides such as Round-Up “pose no unreasonable risks to human health and the environment when used according to label directions.”

Rally organizers set a nonviolent tone early in Saturday’s event, with Owen inviting attendees to walk in a circle around the building’s plaza to the song “We Are All in This Together.” Before beginning the music, he addressed several law enforcement officers monitoring the rally from inside the building, saying the song’s “we” included Eugene police and Homeland Security officers.

The last public encounter between Owen and those agencies did not end peacefully.

Owen was among several people arrested at a downtown Eugene anti-pesticide rally in May 2008, when a Eugene police officer used a Taser to apprehend a University of Oregon student later convicted of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Owen said he was slammed to the grand and knocked unconscious after he questioned a different Eugene officer about use of the Taser when the student, Ian Van Ornum, was already face down on the ground.

Owen, who was never charged with a crime, said he was also kicked in the knee by a Homeland Security officer assisting in his arrest. Owen has filed an excessive use of force complaint with Eugene’s police auditor.

Eugene police testified at Van Ornum’s trial that they had been summoned to the downtown protest by a Department of Homeland Security agent monitoring the May 2008 demonstration. The agent, Tom Keedy, testified that he was there because Owen, a featured speaker, had urged people attending a March 2008 rally at the federal courthouse to “commit acts of civil disobedience … in a peaceful, nonviolent revolution.”

Owen on Saturday disputed that reason, charging that the federal agency was monitoring him because of the title of his talk at the May 2008 rally: “The Need to Reform Homeland Security.” He also said top officials at Homeland Security don’t want him to publicize what he alleges are ties between Homeland Security and Monsanto, including what he says is the agency’s financing of the development of genetically engineered food by Monsanto.

He called Monsanto and clear-cutting timber companies “the real bioterrorists.”

Rally participants were invited to launch a boycott of all crops treated with Round-Up and to sign a petition calling for aerial spraying buffer zones around homes and schools.

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All about GMOs in foods

Posted on 30 August 2009 by admin

The Basics:

What’s a GMO?

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.

What foods are GM?

Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (91%), cotton (88%), canola (80-85%), corn (85%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (small amount), and tobacco (Quest® brand). About half of the sugar beets grown for sugar in 2008 were GM and current projections are that about 90% grown in 2009 will be GM.

What are other sources of GMOs?

Products derived from the above, including oils from all four, soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup among others. Also:

  • meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed (and the majority of the GM corn and soy is used for feed);
  • dairy products from cows injected with rbGH (a GM hormone);
  • food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet®) and rennet used to make hard cheeses; and
  • honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen.

The Health Dangers:

What are the potential dangers of eating GM foods?

There are a number of dangers that broadly fall into the categories of potential toxins, allergens, carcinogens, new diseases, antibiotic resistant diseases, and nutritional problems.

View all 65 health risks of GM foods, excerpted from Jeffrey Smith’s comprehensive book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. Other References

What combinations have been tried?

It is now possible for plants to be engineered with genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Scientists have worked on some interesting combinations:

  • Spider genes were inserted into goat DNA, in hopes that the goat milk would contain spider web protein for use in bulletproof vests.
  • Cow genes turned pigskins into cowhides.
  • Jellyfish genes lit up pigs’ noses in the dark.
  • Artic fish genes gave tomatoes and strawberries tolerance to frost.
  • Potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering.
  • Human genes were inserted into corn to produce spermicide.

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Scientist Warning of Health Hazards of Monsanto's Herbicide Receives Threats

Posted on 30 August 2009 by admin

The following article is from GRAIN, also found at Organic Consumers Association website;

“Scientist Warning of Health Hazards of Monsanto’s Herbicide Receives Threats”

GRAIN: Seeds of Information, July 2009

Straight to the Source

“I expected a reaction but not such a violent one”

“In April 2009 Andrés Carrasco, an Argentinian embryologist, gave an interview to the leading Buenos Aires newspaper Página 12, in which he described the alarming results of a research project he is leading into the impact of the herbicide glyphosate on the foetuses of amphibians. Dr Carrasco, who works in the Ministry of Science’s Conicet (National Council of Scientific and Technical Investigations), said that their results suggested that the herbicide could cause brain, intestinal and heart defects in the foetuses. Glyphosate is the herbicide used in the cultivation of Monsanto’s genetically modified soya, which now covers some 18 million hectares, about half of Argentina’s arable land. [1]

Carrasco said that the doses of herbicide used in their study were “much lower than the levels used in the fumigations”. Indeed, as some weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, many farmers are greatly increasing the concentration of the herbicide. According to Página 12, this means that, in practice, the herbicide applied in the fields is between 50 and 1,540 times stronger than that used by Carrasco. The results in the study are confirming what peasant and indigenous communities – the people most affected by the spraying – have been denouncing for over a decade. The study also has profound consequences for the USA’s anti-narcotics strategy in Colombia, because the planes spray glyphosate, reinforced with additional chemicals, on the coca fields (and the peasants living among them).

Three days after the interview, the Association of Environmental Lawyers filed a petition with the Argentine Supreme Court, calling for a ban on the use and sale of glyphosate until its impact on health and on the environment had been investigated. Five days later the Ministry of Defense banned the planting of soya in its fields. This sparked a strong reaction from the multinational biotechnology companies and their supporters. Fearful that their most famous product, a symbol of the dominant farming model, would be banned, they mounted an unprecedented attack on Carrasco, ridiculing his research and even issuing personal threats. He was accused of inventing his whole investigation, as his results have not yet been peer-reviewed and published in a prestigious scientific journal.

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Codex Alimentarius

Posted on 29 August 2009 by admin

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Egypt Bans GMOs?

Posted on 27 August 2009 by admin

Egypt has been enforcing some stringent food quality standards, and now they’re talking about banning all imports and exports of genetically modified foods (GMOs).

Over the summer, Egyptian officials rejected several import shipments of wheat, saying they were unfit for human consumption. Since then, the parliament has been pushing for stricter food standards. It looks like they got their wish.

Banning GMOs is tricky business. Even farms that raise GMO-free crops can’t necessarily avoid cross contamination from neighboring fields. Egypt’s Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza says they will determine food quality through testing and that “no agricultural products especially wheat, corn and soya bean would enter except after examining samples from the cargo.” He’s also calling for certification on imports and exports:

…it was necessary that all crops imported from abroad and exported from Egypt be accompanied by a certificate from the country of origin stating they are free of genetically modified materials.

Since Egypt is one of the world’s biggest wheat importers, could this ban send a message to farmers considering the switch to Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Wheat?

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Nearly 100 MORE Cancer lawsuits filed against monsanto

Posted on 26 August 2009 by admin

By Chris Dickerson -Putnam Bureau

WINFIELD – Three weeks after an original 50 were filed, nearly 100 more lawsuits have been filed alleging Monsanto and related companies are responsible for causing cancer.

Like the other 50 filed earlier this month, the 97 newest complaints filed Aug. 24 in Putnam Circuit Court say Monsanto and its successor companies caused cancer by exposing the plaintiffs to dioxins/furans contamination of the air and property in and around Nitro. The cases mention the “negligent and otherwise unlawful release of dioxin from defendants’ waste disposal practices on properties … located in and about Nitro, West Virginia.”

These individual cases, filed by Stuart Calwell and The Calwell Firm of Charleston, are not part of an ongoing class action involving thousands of current and former Nitro residents alleging Monsanto polluted the area with dioxin. The class action case specifies no specific damages, and the class-action plaintiffs seek medical monitoring.

The plaintiffs in the 147 new cases, also represented by Calwell, are residents and former residents of Nitro or one or more of several surrounding communities of the now defunct chemical plant located near Nitro. They lived, worked or attended school in Nitro. Some of the plaintiffs are deceased, and those suits are filed by family members.

Monsanto owned and operated the plant from 1934 to 2000. From 1949 to 1970, the company produced an herbicide that was heavily contaminated with dibenzo dioxins and dibenzo furans. The complaints say the company disposed of the dioxin-contaminated waste in a way which caused dioxins to escape into the air.

The plaintiffs say their property and soil was contaminated.

“During the years that Old Monsanto was operating it’s trichlorophenol plant, it adopted an unlawful practice of disposing of dioxin waste materials by a continuous process of open ‘pit’ burning,” the complaints state. “This practice was largely denied by Old Monsanto whose representatives characterized the practice as an ‘incineration process’ when asked by regulatory authorities.

“Old Monsanto and its successors … failed to adequately control the dioxin contaminated soils and other dioxin contaminated waste materials both on and off the plant site. Dioxins/furans continued to be re-deposited and re-distributed from the plant site and the off-site dumps so as to continue the process of air and property contamination.”

The complaints say the defendants knew of the dangers.

The defendants “should have known of the highly toxic properties of dioxin and that dioxin was and is a known promoter of cancer and that dioxin was and is a known human carcinogen,” the complaints state. The defendants “knew that the area around the Monsanto plant was populated with permanent residents who would likely live out their lives in the area contaminated.”

The complaints also detail the history of Monsanto and the company’s knowledge regarding dioxin. The Nitro plant produced herbicides, rubber products and other chemicals, including Agent Orange.

Dioxin has been linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, endometriosis, infertility and suppressed immune functions.

The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for medical bills past and future, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life. They also seek punitive damages for the “willful, wanton and reckless” actions of the defendants “evidencing a callous disregard for the health and wellbeing of the residents of the Nitro area.”

Putnam Circuit Court case numbers 09-C-243 through 09-C-282 and 09-C-315 through 09-C-411

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Clove cigarette ban curbs freedom, helps big tobacco keep selling

Posted on 23 August 2009 by admin

Once again, the U.S. government is attempting to mandate healthy habits, this time by banning flavored and clove cigarettes.

As of September 22, it won’t be illegal to possess flavored cigarettes, but it will be illegal to sell them. As a result, clove cigarettes, which have been imported from Indonesia and sold in the U.S. since 1968, and cigarettes flavors like cherry and chocolate mocha are about to become a controlled substance.

Ostensibly, this portion of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law on June 22, will prevent yummy-sounding cigarette flavors like cherry and chocolate mocha from tempting young people into smoking.

In fact, this law—which passed handily in both houses of congress—will have little impact on teen smoking and a great deal of impact on adults’ freedom of choice (or perhaps I should say freedom of vice.)

Pay no attention to the cigarette company behind the curtain

The act, which was sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and championed by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA)), benefited from an unusual ally.

Philip-Morris—the tobacco giant who controls fully half of the U.S. cigarette market share—had its tarry hands all over the passage of this legislation.

At first blush, it seems strange that the company would join forces with the likes of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids )—which champions itself as an organization “working to expose Big Tobacco’s lies”—to achieve what Obama calls “a victory for health care reform.”

A closer look, however, reveals that Philip-Morris has nothing to lose with this legislation and everything to gain.

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