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ConAgra Anti-GMO Lawsuit Has Big Implications for Food Labeling

Posted on 02 September 2011 by admin

Product labeling is an area where loopholes and CSR seem to converge. It is precisely these loopholes that make it easy for companies to engage in a degree of greenwash but there is a thin line between ‘greenwash’ and ‘misleading the consumer.’  A recent lawsuit against ConAgra proves this point. The American food giant that owns several brands like Healthy Choice, Wesson, Slim Jim, & Banquet has been under attack for alleged false labeling.

The Food Safety News reports that its Wesson brand of cooking oil has been slapped with various lawsuits for claiming to be “all natural.” This deceptive marketing suit was brought against ConAgra in June by Millberg LLP. It could actually make food manufacturers think twice about bandying about the word ‘natural.’ Four Wesson varieties are implicated in the case: Canola Oil, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, and Best Blend, all of which have the  ”100% natural” claim on their labels.  However, the products include a number of genetically modified organisms (GMO).

The problem of course does not reside only with Wesson. There are thousands of processed food items that line grocery shelves that have the ‘natural’ label but are known to contain GMOs. 85% of US corn and 91% of soybean is genetically modified – both of these are common ingredients in processed food either by themselves or in the form of derivatives like soya lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch etc. 90% of Americans want full disclosure on their food products which may mean that every major food company needs to overhaul its labeling policies.

This is a very significant breakthrough for anti-GMO campaigners because it shows how much consumer choice actually affects companies. This is also a case for those companies and governments pushing forintroduction of GMO in their countries. India is currently in the midst of signing off on a bill that will enable the free production of GMO fruit and vegetables. This would be a potentially calamitous move due to the lack of labeling laws in India as well as the fact that the country by and large still follows a bulk-bin system of buying produce.

Con Agra might be able to wriggle its way out of the suit. Its recent disclosure report revealed that it spent $100,000 in the second quarter on lobbying government officials on agriculture programs, ethanol regulations, etc. According to the report it filed, the company lobbied the FDA, the Department of Agriculture and the Office of Management and Budget, apart from Congress. I wonder how much of this went towards GMO lobbying.

Food companies can no longer hide behind ambiguous labels like ‘natural’ because food essentially is natural! The label itself is an oxymoron. With the advent of the suit on Con Agra, it is necessary for other companies to question their methods of labeling and/or food sourcing so that they are not open to liabilities. Currently under US laws, GMOs are not required to be labelled but labeling a product ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ when it does contain GMO is misleading to the consumer. Surely that is illegal?

“ If they have to put the word ‘natural’ on a box to convince you, it probably isn’t “

- Eric Schlosser, author, Fast Food Nation

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Coming to a Sausage Near You – “Enviropig” – First GMO Pig Made for Human Consumption

Posted on 06 October 2010 by admin

We’ve been hearing about the dangers of genetically modified plants for some time, but a team of scientists at Canada’s University of Guelph have created what they have named the “Enviropig,” and they hope that its progeny will become the sausage in your next McMuffin. Enviropig looks, acts, and walks like a Yorkshire pig, but the scientists say it’s ‘greener’ in that it has less pollutants in its manure.

A pig’s manure is high in phytates, a form of phosphorus found in corn and other kinds of hog feed. The Enviropig was created by using a strain of E. coli bacteria and mouse genes to add an enzyme to pig saliva called phytase — which breaks down phytates, the pollutant in question. Phytates gather in the environment and cause ecological changes downstream such as algae blooms and pH changes in the soil.

Richard Moccia, Professor of Animal Science and Associate VP of Research at the University of Guelph, believes the animal is safe. “We have done extensive testing on the various internal organs and different meat cuts from the Enviropig, looked at the nutritional content and the amount of protein and fat and minerals and other things contained in the pig. They’re identical to a normal Yorkshire pig,” he says. “Certainly one of the goals of the technology is to produce a pig which could be consumed by humans and enter the food chain.

No one has consumed any Enviropig meat as of yet, even though it’s been around for over a decade. The University tested the animal for nearly ten years before applying for approval from the FDA and the Canadian Health Products and Food Branch. They expect to receive formal acceptance from the FDA in the next few years.

Larisa Rudenko of the FDA’s Animal Biotechnology Interdisciplinary Group knows of the public’s worries. “I think people are particularly concerned about genetic engineering right now,” she says, “and what I can tell the American public is that the FDA has a very rigorous process for assessing the safety of food from such animals, and that no food from a genetically engineered animal will go on the market unless the FDA has demonstrated that it’s safe.

The Director of the Center for Food Safety, Andrew Kimbrell, argues, “It’s a completely novel cell invasion technology where we are crossing the boundaries of nature as no other generation has before. And the question is whether that is safe, whether that is something that we should be doing ethically; those are very serious questions that we as a society need to be asking.” The Center for Food Safety believes that rather than change the pig, we should change our methods of pig farming.

According to some scientists, this is strictly because corn is not fully digestible in a pig’s stomach. The sensible way to eliminate high-phytate pig ‘byproducts’ is to feed the pigs what they’ve evolved to eat. Bill Jones of Buffalo Creek Farm said, “It made sense to allow a pig to eat a natural diet consisting mostly of things that people could not or would not eat, rather than feed it corn…What we have found is that if pigs are allowed to forage for natural food in the forest no antibiotics are necessary. The pigs don’t get sick…Pigs are omnivorous. They will eat grass and other leafy greens. They dig for roots and insects. In the Autumn they eat acorns and other nuts, and fruits such as persimmons.

The University of Guelph attacked the problem from the…ahem…other end. Moccia said that the Enviropig “is a technology to try to reduce the amount of phosphorous that leaves a pig farm. And if you can do that, you can also then reduce and control the amount of phosphorous that gets into the aquatic ecosystem. So really what we’re doing is using the genetic technologies in the pig to try to solve a phosphorous overloading problem into both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Translation: rather than feed the pig (and ourselves!) the food Nature created it to eat, we consider it a better investment to spend pennies on corn, and hundreds of thousands of dollars on the pig itself. At some point, the US government’s corn subsidy will, in fact, destroy the world, but until then, it’s certainly leading to some interesting innovations.

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Genetically Modified Corn Polluting Streams, Rivers and Lakes With Insecticides

Posted on 03 October 2010 by admin

There was recently a big uproar about the FDA’s decision to approve genetically modified salmon for human consumption without the need to do any chemical testing on the salmon first.

FDA won’t allow food to be labeled free of genetic modification: report


By Raw Story‘Extra labeling only confuses the consumer,’ biotech spokesman says

That the Food and Drug Administration is opposed to labeling foods that are genetically modified is no surprise anymore, but a report in theWashington Post indicates the FDA won’t even allow food producers to label their foods as being free of genetic modification.

In reporting that the FDA will likely not require the labeling of genetically modified salmon if it approves the food product for consumption, thePost‘s Lyndsey Layton notes that the federal agency “won’t let conventional food makers trumpet the fact that their products don’t contain genetically modified ingredients.”

The agency warned the dairy industry in 1994 that it could not use “Hormone Free” labeling on milk from cows that are not given engineered hormones, because all milk contains some hormones.

It has sent a flurry of enforcement letters to food makers, including B&G Foods, which was told it could not use the phrase “GMO-free” on its Polaner All Fruit strawberry spread label because GMO refers to genetically modified organisms and strawberries are produce, not organisms.

Read Entire Article

Intel Hub – The FDA is actively working with corporations such as Monsanto to essentially poison the food supply. The FDA is crawling with former Monsanto execs, the same company that brought us the infamous agent orange toxin and who controls the vast majority of the American food supply. We live in a country where our government BANS companies from labeling their products GMO free!

Bloomberg just ran an article that shows that consumer concern over the safety of genetically modified food is not unfounded.

According to the article scientist found that genetically modified corn, which was altered to cause the corn to produce an insecticide, is polluting the waters and streams near the corn fields were it is grown. Bloomberg reports that 85% of the corn grown in the U.S is genetically modified and the insecticides have been found in the waters up to 6 months after the corn was harvested meaning that the toxins produced by the corn enters the environment and stays there.

Apparently, while the scientists are concerned about the impact the toxins produced by the corn will have on the environment there is no concern over the health and safety of humans consuming the toxins either through direct consumption or as it comes up the food chain after the toxic corn is feed to livestock.

Toxin From Biotech Corn Detected in U.S. Streams, Study Finds

ept. 28 (Bloomberg) — An insecticide produced by genetically modified corn was found in streams in the U.S. Midwest, according to research by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.Samples at 217 stream sites in Indiana found the protein Cry1Ab, the toxin expressed by so-called Bt corn, in water at about a quarter of the locations, the Millbrook, New York-based institute said on its website, citing a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The insecticide enters waterways through runoff and when corn stalks, leaves and plant parts are washed into stream channels, …

These corn byproducts may alter the health of freshwater bodies, the institute said, adding that ultimately streams that originate in the Corn Belt drain into the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.

Corn is made to produce the Cry1Ab protein, which is toxic to the European corn borer, by adding a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt….

The study was conducted six months after the corn harvest, indicating that the insecticide can persist in the environment

More than 85 percent of U.S. corn in 2009 was genetically modified to repel pests, resist herbicide exposure or both…

Read the original story.

Grist Magazine gives us more information on the new report which you probably won’t find being discussed from any Corporate news sites.

Field of Screams — Transgenic crops’ built-in pesticide found to be contaminating waterways

One of the main arguments offered in support of the wide use of genetically engineered crops is that they reduce overall pesticide use. This is particularly the case with Monsanto’s “Bt” line of corn, soy, and cotton seeds, which are able to produce their own pesticide, a “natural” toxin from genes of the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. Ironically, commercial pesticide derived from Bt also happens to be one of the only chemical pesticides approved for use in organic agriculture, because it’s produced through a biological process.Biotechnology companies thus consider Bt seeds some of their most “eco-friendly” products. In theory, farmers don’t have to spray pesticide as much or as often on these crops, and therefore pesticide runoff into waterways is much less of a concern. Well, after years of denial, Monsanto finally admitted recently that superbugs, or pests that have evolved to be able to eat the Bt crops, are a real and growing concern…

The fun part? No one has any idea yet of the effects of long-term, low-dose exposure to Bt on fish and wildlife. Perhaps it’s high time somebody did a study on that since, as the researchers dryly observed, the presence of Bt toxin “may be a more common occurrence in watersheds draining maize-growing regions than previously recognized.” Apparently.

So. Not only do genetically engineered crops have worse yields than conventionally bred crops, cost more, lead to pesticide resistance, contaminate other plants with their transgenes, possibly cause allergies and even organ damage, but now we also learn that the plants themselves are possibly poisonous to the environment.

These kinds of genetically engineered seeds keep being touted as the only way we’re going to feed the world. Isn’t it about time we started investing in less toxic alternatives?

Read Entire Aticle

Moreover, while the scientists who performed this research seem “shocked” to have found the toxins in the water and persisting in the environment for months I some times wonder what decision making process these scientists and the FDA uses to come to decisions. For example a study published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology clearly showed that the insecticides penetrated the soil through the root system and persisted in the environment. Common sense would tell you once it enters the soil of course the runoff from rain will carry it into lakes and streams.

FEMS Microbiology Ecology

Abstract

The insecticidal toxin encoded by the cry1Ab gene from Bacillus thuringiensis was released in root exudates from transgenic Bt corn during 40 days of growth in soil amended to 0, 3, 6, 9, or 12% (v/v) with montmorillonite or kaolinite in a plant growth room and from plants grown to maturity in the field. The presence of the toxin in rhizosphere soil was determined by immunological and larvicidal assays. No toxin was detected in any soils from isogenic non-Bt corn or without plants. Persistence of the toxin was apparently the result of its binding on surface-active particles in the soils, which reduced the biodegradation of the toxin. The release of the toxin could enhance the control of insect pests or constitute a hazard to nontarget organisms, including the microbiota of soil, and increase the selection of toxin-resistant target insects.

Saxena, D. and Stotzky, G. (2000), Insecticidal toxin from Bacillus thuringiensis is released from roots of transgenic Bt corn in vitro and in situ. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 33: 35–39. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2000.tb00724.x Volume 33, Issue 1,pages 35–39, July 2000

Read Entire Study

All247News has printed a piece warning of the dangers of Montosa’s GMO corn.

GMO Corn May Turn Your Tummy Into a Poison Production Factory

August 22nd, 2010.
Michael Danielson

The biotechnology industries are quite proud of their pest-resistant, genetically modified (GMO) corn and other crops. When you hear the term ‘pest-resistant’, you might not think, at first, of what that truly means — that the modified plants are creating their own pesticide inside their cells. In short, the plants kill the bugs that eat them, so the bugs learn not to eat them. Of course, that means that humans who consume the pest-resistant GMO corn are consuming pesticide with every bite, but it’s pesticide from inside the corn, so you can’t wash it off. Biotech companies claim that the toxin that their GMO plants create isn’t dangerous to humans, but many studies show otherwise.

Mice fed the toxin suddenly became allergic to many compounds that previously didn’t bother them. Farm workers have had reactions to the genetically modified toxin, and the Federal Court of Canada has recognized that “People with compromised immune systems or pre-existing allergies may be particularly susceptible to the effects of [this toxin].”

When the same toxin that GMO plants create within their cells was sprayed over areas of Washington State, six people went to the emergency room and hundreds more reported flu-like or allergy-like symptoms — all provably related to the spray. Then ponder the fact that, inside the plant, the toxin is more than three thousand times as concentrated as it is in the natural commercial sprays, and you can start to grasp the danger.

That’s not even half of the danger associated with the pest-resistant corn, however. The toxin is consumed when the corn is eaten, but it’s also present in the pollen, which can be inhaled by anyone working near the corn field. One Filipino village was mysteriously stricken with a disease in which the entire village suffered headaches, vomiting, chest and stomach pain, fever, and more — for exactly the duration of time that a nearby GMO corn field was blooming. The sickness recurred every year that the same variety of corn was planted in that field, and vanished when the corn was replaced with a different breed. When the same breed of corn was planted near four other villages in the area, the same symptoms swept the villages, again only during pollination season.

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FDA rules won’t require labeling of genetically modified salmon

Posted on 18 September 2010 by admin

The Washington Post

By Lyndsey Layton

September 18, 2010

 

www.washingtonpost.com

 

 

As the Food and Drug Administration considers whether to approve genetically modified salmon, one thing seems certain: Shoppers staring at fillets in the seafood department will find it tough to pick out the conventional fish from the one created with genes from another species.

Despite a growing public demand for more information about how food is produced, that won’t happen with the salmon because of idiosyncracies embedded in federal regulations.

The FDA says it cannot require a label on the genetically modified food once it determines that the altered fish is not “materially” different from other salmon – something agency scientists have said is true.

Perhaps more surprising, conventional food makers say the FDA has made it difficult for them to boast that their products do not contain genetically modified ingredients.

The labeling question has emerged as the FDA determines whether to approve the fish, an Atlantic salmon known as AquAdvantage that grows twice as fast as its natural counterpart. The decision carries great weight because, while genetically modified agriculture has been permitted for years and engineered crops are widely used in processed foods, this would be the first modified animal allowed for human consumption in the United States.The AquAdvantage salmon has been given a gene from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish, and a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon.

‘The public wants to know’

Consumer advocates say they worry about labeling for genetically engineered beef, pork and other fish, which are lining up behind the salmon for federal approval.

“The public wants to know and the public has a right to know,” said Marion Nestle, a professor in the Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health Department at New York University. “I think the agency has discretion, but it’s under enormous political pressure to approve [the salmon] without labeling.”

The debate will be taken up this week, with an advisory committee meeting Sunday and Monday on whether to allow the modified fish, and a separate panel meeting Tuesday on whether the fish should be labeled. The panels will offer recommendations to the FDA commissioner, who will decide both matters.

The biotechnology industry is opposed to mandatory labeling, saying it will only bewilder a public that is not well informed about genetic engineering.

“Extra labeling only confuses the consumer,” said David Edwards, director of animal biotechnology at the Biotechnology Industry Organization. “It differentiates products that are not different. As we stick more labels on products that don’t really tell us anything more, it makes it harder for consumers to make their choices.”

The FDA defends its approach, saying it is simply following the law, which prohibits misleading labels on food. And the fact that a food, in this case salmon, is produced through a different process, is not sufficient to require a label.

The controversy comes at a time when Americans seem to want to know more about their food – where it is grown, how it is produced and what it contains. Books criticizing industrial agriculture have become bestsellers, farmers markets are expanding and organic food is among the fastest-growing segments of the food industry.

The FDA itself is part of a new effort to improve nutrition information on processed foods.

In the European Union and Japan, it is nearly impossible to find genetically modified foods, largely because laws require labeling, said William K. Hallman, director of the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University. “No one wants to carry products with such a label,” he said. “The food companies figure that consumers won’t buy it.”

There is nothing to stop salmon producers or food makers in the United States from voluntarily labeling their products as genetically engineered – except a fear of rejection in the marketplace, Hallman said. “I don’t know of a single company that does that,” he said.

The FDA maintains it can only require labeling if a genetically engineered food is somehow different from the conventional version – if it has an unusual texture, taste, nutritional component or allergen, for example.

Although some consumer advocates maintain there are important differences, the agency’s scientists have already said they see no “biologically relevant” variations between the AquAdvantage salmon and traditional salmon.

Consumers could be certain of getting the non-modified version if they bought salmon labeled as “wild,” but most salmon consumed in this country is farmed.

Ever since the FDA approved the first genetically altered material for use in food in 1992, when Monsanto developed a synthetic hormone injected into cows to increase milk production, the agency has held that it cannot require food producers to label products as genetically engineered.

In the intervening years, the use of genetically engineered crops has skyrocketed; 93 percent of this year’s soybean crop is genetically engineered, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Byproducts of those crops – soy lecithin, for example – are found in thousands of processed foods from chocolate bars to breakfast cereal; none is labeled as containing genetically modified ingredients.

No ‘Hormone Free’ either

The labeling matter is further complicated because the FDA has maintained a tough stance for food makers who don’t use genetically engineered ingredients and want to promote their products as an alternative. The agency allows manufacturers to label their products as not genetically engineered as long as those labels are accurate and do not imply that the products are therefore more healthful.

The agency warned the dairy industry in 1994 that it could not use “Hormone Free” labeling on milk from cows that are not given engineered hormones, because all milk contains some hormones.

It has sent a flurry of enforcement letters to food makers, including B&G Foods, which was told it could not use the phrase “GMO-free” on its Polaner All Fruit strawberry spread label because GMO refers to genetically modified organisms and strawberries are produce, not organisms.

It told the maker of Spectrum Canola Oil that it could not use a label that included a red circle with a line through it and the words “GMO,” saying the symbol suggested that there was something wrong with genetically engineered food.

“This to me raises questions about whose interest the FDA is protecting,” said Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has introduced legislation that would require labeling for genetically engineered food. “They are clearly protecting industry and not the public.”

One state with a sizable salmon fishing industry – Alaska – passed a law in 2005 that requires labeling of any genetically engineered fish sold there.

“One side of the argument says let’s give consumers sovereignty over their food choices,” Hallman said. “The other says we’ve done the science on this and it’s no different, so if we put a label on it, we’re implying it’s somehow risky and that’s like government imposed false advertising.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/18/AR2010091803520.html?referrer=emailarticle

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GMO Seeds and Sugar Beets by Monsanto

Posted on 03 September 2010 by admin

India Monsanto farmer in a fieldIndia is in the midst of a flood of suicides among farmers. A new feature film written and directed by Anusha Rizwi and produced by Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan, called Peepli Live, takes a look at this grim topic.

The vast majority of people in India still farm for a living, but are caught between deep debt and the erratic nature of seasonal change.

Indian farmers are pressured into mortgaging their farms to purchase genetically modified seeds, pesticides, and fertilizer from American companies like Monsanto.

According to AlterNet:

“Since GM seeds are patented by Monsanto, their repeated use each year requires constant licensing fees that keep farmers impoverished. One bad yield due to drought or other reasons, plunges farmers so deep into debt that they resort to suicide. One study estimates that 150,000 farmers have killed themselves in the past ten years.”

Meanwhile, in the U.S., District Judge Jeffrey White, a federal judge in California, has banned the planting of genetically modified Roundup Ready sugar beets created by Monsanto. The beets are engineered to withstand Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.

White said he was “troubled by maintaining the status quo that consists of 95 percent of sugar beets being genetically engineered while [the USDA] conducts the environmental review that should have occurred before the sugar beets were deregulated.”

The ban does not affect crops already planted and harvested for sugar.

The St. Louis Business Journal reports:

“Environmental groups … filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in January 2008 to challenge the deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets by the USDA … Opponents say the beets promote superweeds, weeds that cannot easily be killed because they have developed a tolerance to weed killer. They also raise concerns about the contamination of conventional and organic crops.”

 

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
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I believe genetically modified plants and foods are one of the most significant  threats against humanity and life on this planet, for a number of reasons.

Biotechnology has changed the face of farming as we know it, and with each passing year, we move further away from the ancient farming practice of saving the best seeds for replanting the following season – a method that is both inexpensive and proven successful for optimal crop quality.

Now, the increased use of genetically modified seeds that must be purchased anew each year are starting to take its toll. A mere 15 years into commercial GM seed use, we’re now seeing GM crops contaminating conventional and organic crops; different GM varieties combining with each other in the wild, creating unintended GM hybrids; and farmers driven to desperate acts due to financial devastation.

Genetic Engineering May Sterilize Nature. Then What?

Consider this: Monsanto’s “suicide gene” has not only been inserted into certain food crops, rendering them sterile in order to force farmers to buy new seeds. This technology is now spreading to other industries, such as forestry.

Scientific American reported on this in January. Two paper industry giants are planning to replace the native pine in the forests of southwestern US with genetically engineered, sterile, eucalyptus. By making the trees unable to reproduce naturally, they propose there’s no need to worry about the GM eucalyptus turning into an invasive species…

Really?

Earlier this week I wrote about two GM varieties of canola spreading into the wild, and cross-breeding with each other, creating a third hybrid that is resistant to not one but two herbicides. Science has already discovered that the genome is more “intelligent” than previously thought, and by planting non-native trees that have been gene spliced to reduce proliferation does NOT make me rest easy.

On the contrary. I believe there are plenty of indications that the introduction of sterile plants of various kinds may allow this genetic ability to “turn off” reproductive capability to spread into other parts of nature, in ways that none of us can predict.

For an eye opening look at the genetic engineering now overtaking the forestry industry, I highly recommend watching the documentary film “A Silent Forest,” available in full on MEFEEDiA.com.

How are GM Crops Provoking Farmers to Commit Suicide?

According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, more than 182,900 Indian farmers took their own lives between 1997 and 2007. It estimates 46 Indian farmers commit suicide every day. That equates to roughly one suicide every 30 minutes!

Some will argue that natural events are to blame, such as lack of rain, but crop failures have occurred before, and it didn’t push thousands of farmers to end their lives by drinking pesticide.

No, the increased desperation can be traced directly back to the use of patented, and therefore expensive, seeds, and the unconscionable tactics of Monsanto.

Monsanto has been ruthless in their drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops. Over the past decade, millions of Indian farmers have been promised radically increased harvests and income if they switch from their traditional age tested farming methods to genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton seeds.

So, they borrow money to buy GM seeds, which need certain pesticides that were previously unnecessary, which requires even more money. When rain fall is sparse, the GM crops actually fare far worse than traditional crops – a fact that these farmers oftentimes don’t learn until it’s too late and they’re standing there with failed crops, spiraling debts, and no income.

And by next season, they have to do it all over again because the GM seeds cannot be saved and replanted. They must be purchased again.

In addition, GM crops have spawned:

  • Bt resistant pests
  • New pests
  • Superweeds

For example, the evolution of Bt resistant bollworms worldwide have now been confirmed and documented, and what used to be minor pests are now becoming major problems – such as mirid bugs, which have increased 12-fold since 1997 in China, and can be directly linked to the scale of China’s Bt cotton cultivation.

In addition, the promise that GM crops would reduce pesticide/herbicide use has turned out to be entirely false.

The use of Roundup herbicide has increased dramatically since the GM Roundup Ready crops were introduced. In the first 13 years, American farmers sprayed an additional 383 million pounds of herbicide due to these herbicide-tolerant crops. And now the repeated exposures have given Mother Nature all she needs to stage her comeback in the form of devastating superweeds.

Since 1996, when GM crops were first introduced, at least nine species of U.S. weeds have developed resistance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, which means farmers must use additional herbicides, some of them even more toxic than Roundup.

In the end, we’re left with all of the downsides and none of the intended benefits.

Bollywood Brings Indian Farmers’ Plight to the Big Screen

AlterNet.com reports on a new Indian film called Peepli Live that grapples with this topic:

“The story is set in an Indian village named Peepli where one young debt-burdened farmer named Natha is talked into taking his own life after he learns that his family will be financially compensated through a government program created to alleviate the loss of farmers taking their own lives.”

The film features Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan. An interview with him about the film and the plight of Indian farmers can be found here.

Hopefully this film is successful in raising awareness about the destructive power of this technology.

US Judge Halts Deregulation of Roundup Ready Sugar Beets – For Now…

Meanwhile, the US has been granted a temporary reprieve from yet another GM food.

The U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, a federal judge in California, recently banned the planting of Monsanto’s GM Roundup-resistant sugar beets. The ruling, which can be read here, does not affect any crop that has already been planted or harvested, however, so GM sugar will still reach the market place.

The GM sugar beet is called Genuity, and was introduced during the 2008-2009 season.

Although considered a victory, the judge’s ruling did not grant plaintiffs’ motion for a permanent injunction against GM sugar beet plantings.

The St Louis Business Journal recently reported:

“White ruled in September 2009 that the USDA will have to complete an Environmental Impact Statement for the sugar beets. The USDA has estimated that an EIS may be ready by 2012.

Monsanto has said in court papers that revoking regulators’ approval of sugar beets would cost the biotech giant and its customers approximately $2 billion in 2011 and 2012.”

Roundup Residue Causes Cell Damage

The increasing use of Roundup on crops engineered to survive being doused in the herbicide has its own set of health consequences.

Residues of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide found in GM food and feed has been linked to cell damage and even death, even at very low levels. Researchers have also found it causes membrane and DNA damage, and inhibits cell respiration.

So not only are you exposed to foods that contain built-in toxins, you’re also consuming larger amounts of toxic residues on the food, for the simple fact that more is now being used.

Pesticide and herbicide residues are very difficult to remove from grains, fruits and vegetables. Even meticulous washing cannot get rid of it all.

What Can You Do to Affect Change?

Did you know that genetically modified foods are so prevalent in the US that if you randomly pick an item off your grocery store’s shelves, you have a 75 percent chance of picking a food with GM ingredients?

It’s true. At least seven out of every 10 food items have been genetically modified, and there’s more to come.

The potential health ramifications of these world-wide experiments with our food supply are frightening to say the least. If you care about the health and future of your family, I strongly urge you to refuse to participate in this destructive trend.

How?

It’s actually simpler than you might think… By buying only non-GM foods.

Must-Have Guide to NON-GMO Foods

The True Food Shopping Guide is a great tool for helping you determine which brands and products contain GM ingredients. It lists 20 different food categories that include everything from baby food to chocolate.

Additionally, here are four simple steps to decrease your consumption of GM foods as much as possible:

  • Reduce or eliminate processed foods in your diet. The fact that 75 percent of processed foods contain GM ingredients is only one of the many reasons to stick to a whole foods diet.
  • Read produce and food labels. Conventionally raised soybeans and corn make up the largest portion of genetically modified crops. Ingredients made from these foods include high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), corn flour and meal, dextrin, starch, soy sauce, margarine, and tofu.
  • Buy organic produce. By definition, food that is certified organic must be free from all GM organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GM corn feed.
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FLUORIDE IN FOOD

Posted on 10 August 2010 by admin

FLUORIDE IN FOOD
©1996 – 2009 PFPC
see also:
Part II
This table is for reference only and gives a general idea as to the high fluoride content in some foods and beverages.
BEVERAGES:
Juices
6.8mg/l Gerber’s White Grape Juice #3
0.98 – 1.20mg/l Minute Maid OJ #6,#7
3.0mg/l Gerber’s Graduate Berry Juice #6
0.78mg/l Dole Pineapple #7
>0.6mg/l Prune Juice #13
>0.6mg/l Cranberry Juice #13
>0.6mg/l Pear Juice #13
>0.6mg/l Red Grape Juice #13
>0.6mg/l Cherry Juice #13
>0.6mg/l Apple Grape Juice #13
>0.6mg/l Apple Juice #13
Soft Drinks
0.82 -0.98mg/l Coca Cola Classic #6,#7
1.12mg/l Diet Coke #8
0.29mg/l Snapple #7
0.73mg/l Sprite #8
0.85mg/l Hawaiian Punch #8
0.45mg/l Hansen’s Soda #7
0.37mg/l Capri Sun #7
0.79mg/l Publix Orange Juice #8
0.44mg/l Gatorix Punch Concent. #8
0.56mg/l Lipton Ice Tea #8
Tea
see also: Green Tea Article
(L=Leafs, P=Prepared)
UK TEAS
Iced Tea
180.16mg/kg Coarse Tea(L) #19
72.62-89.02mg/kg Green Tea(L) #19
71.11mg/kg Refined Green Tea(L) #19
30-340 mg/kg Black Tea(16 samples) #20
4.57mg/l Tea (P) #17
1.01-5.20mg/l De-caffeinated Teas(P) #21
2.58-3.69mg/l Milk Tea(fr.Brick Tea) #23
77mg/kg Pu’er Brick Tea (L) #24
441mg/kg Bianxiao Brick Tea(L) #24
6.0-6.9mg/kg Herbal Teas (L) #20
7.8mg per cup 1 Cup Black Tea (P) #16
15.6mg/L “Wisdom of the Ancients”
Instant Green Tea (P)
#37
2.95mg/L Dr. Oetker Black Tea (P) #38
3.99mg/L Apicha Black Tea (P) #38
Fruit & Vegetables
0.3 – 13mg/kg Potatoes #12
22mg/kg Potato Waste #30
0.2 – 70.0 mg/kg Spinach #12
14.0mg/kg Rice #12
14.0mg/kg Peas #12
8.2mg/kg Yams #4
2.10mg/kg Corn #4
17.7mg/kg Beets #4
0.205mg 1 Cup Cooked Kale #16
0.180mg 1 Cup Cooked Spinach #16
1mg 1 Medium Apple #33
125 – 250 mg/kg Alfalfa #36
Sugar & Substitutes
13.0 mg/kg Sugar #5
10.0ppm Fructooligosaccharides #5
12.0ppm Polydextrose #5
8.0ppm Sorbitol #5
Meat
9.0-14.0mg/kg Mech.De-bond Pork #11
2.0-3.0 mg/kg Hand De-boned Pork #11
14.0-42mg/kg Mech.De-boned Beef #11
2.0-4.0mg/kg Hand De-boned Beef #11
1.0mg/kg Chicken Skin #13
1.23mg/kg Cooked Veal #17
1.11mg One Big Mac #1
Dairy
0.72mg/l Lucerne 2%Milk #7
0.074mg 1 Cup Nonfat Milk #16
1.50mg/kg Butter #4
1.62mg/kg Cheese #4
Fish
61.0mg/kg Canned Sardines #1
61.73mg/kg Shrimp #19
3.36mg/kg Shellfish #17
4.57mg/kg Some Canned Fish #17
26.0mg/kg Mackerel #4
Water
SEE ALSO: F- in Mineral Waters
0.7-1.2mg/l Tap Water in fl.areas
0.21mg/l Gerolsteiner Wasser #9
8.5mg/l Vichy Water #10
0.05mg/l Reverse Osmosis Water #9
Cereals
SEE ALSO: Fluoride in Cereals
2.1mg/kg Kellogg’s Fruit Loops #6
1.02mg/kg Cooked Wheat Cereal #17
7.2mg/kg Wheat #4
9.6mg/kg Shredded Wheat #41
Infant Foods
See also: Formula/Soy
Unfluoridated Area
Fluoridated Area
Mixed Cereal 0.93ppm 3.85ppm #32
Oatmeal Cereal 0.98ppm 4.87ppm #32
Barley Cereal 1.99ppm 4.30ppm #32
Rice Cereal 2.11ppm 6.35ppm #32
0.01-8.38mg/kg 238 Infant Foods #29
1.08-2.68mg/l Soy-based Infant Formula #31
0.024-0.172mg/l Breastmilk
(area w/0.7ppm in tap water)
#22
Strained Meats
Chicken w/broth 5.29ppm Range 1.94-10.64ppm #32
Turkey w/broth 0.39ppm Range 0.34-0.43ppm #32
Other
250 – 765mg/kg Soil #39
44.0-220.0mg/kg Dolomite #5
0.66-6.8mg/kg 10 Table Salt Varieties #1
7.0mg/kg Sea Salt #1
1.36mg/kg Peanuts #4
3mg 1 Teaspoon Bone Meal #18
200 – 350 ppm Fluoridated salt #40
231 – 310 ppm “Himalaya Salt” #40
SEE ALSO: Salt Fluoridation
130.0-160mg/kg Gelatin #15
328 mg/kg Super Kelp Tablets #35
Dental Products
1920mg/kg Aquafresh For Kids #6
6,000-12,000ppm Topical Fluoride Gel #23
500-1,500ppm Most Toothpaste #23
12,300ppm Radent Prophy Paste #26
12,300ppm Topex Fluoride Foam #27
2000ppm School-based Oral Mouthrinse Program #28
60,000-120,000ppm Silver Fluoride Solutions #23
Permissable Cryolite Content Application
Federal Register
Cryolite (Sodiumfluoaluminate)=>Fluorine=54.3%
see also:
Pesticides
Proposed
Current
45mg/kg 7mg/kg Cabbage #14
95mg/kg 7mg/kg Citrus Fruits #14
35mg/kg 7mg/kg Collards #14
30mg/kg 7mg/kg Eggplant #14
180mg/kg 7mg/kg Lettuce, head #14
40mg/kg 7mg/kg Lettuce, leaf #14
10mg/kg 7mg/kg Peaches #14
55mg/kg none Raisins #14
30mg/kg 7mg/kg Tomatoes #14
45mg/kg 7mg/kg Tomato Paste #14
References
#1 – Siebert & Trautna, Dept Expt Dentistry, Univ Würzburg, Germany. “Z. Ernaehrungswiss. 24 (1985) pp. 54-66″. [Abstract:”Fluoride content of selected human food, pet food and related materials”, Fluoride 19(3):152-153 (1986)

#2 – Walters CB – Journal of Sci Food Agric 34:523-8(1983)

#3 -  Jan G. Stannard, et al. “Fluoride Levels and Fluoride Contamination of Fruit Juices,” Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, 16(1):38-40, (1991)

#4 -  Leading Edge Research Group

#5 -  Lab tests , courtesy Cathy J.Rookard, Director, ACIDD (Association for  Children and Infants with Digestive Disorders)

#6 -  Fluoride Risk Assessment Symposium in San Diego, June 19-21,1998;(local media conducted an analysis of fluoride content in some foods)

#7 -  Lab Tests, San Jose, California (non-fluoridated area)

#8 -  Lab Tests, Jupiter, Florida (non-fluoridated area)

#9 -  Label(Canada)

#10- Lantz O, Jouvin MH, De Vernejoul MC, Druet P – “Fluoride-induced chronic renal failure”  Am J Kidney Dis  10:2, 136-9 (1987)

#11 – Field RA, Kruggel WG, Riley ML – J. Animal Science 43 ,755 (1976)

#12 – Bredemann G – Biochemie und Physiologie des Fluors und der industriellen Fluor-Rauchschaeden. Berlin, (1956)

#13 – Journal of the American Dental Association (Heilman, et al.,July 1997)

#14 – Federal Register: August 7, 1997(Volume 62, #152) (PF-750;FRL-5727-3)

#15 – Kumpulainen, J.,Koivistoinen,P.:Residue Reviews 68 p. 37 (1977)

#16 – BabyCenter Editorial Team w/ Medical Advisory Board (http://www.babycenter.com/refcap/674.html#3)

#17 – Dabeka WD, McKenzie AD – “Survey  of lead, cadmium, fluoride, nickel, and cobalt in food composites and estimation of dietary   intakes of these elements by Canadians in 1986-1988”  Journal of AOAC International  78 :4,  897 -909  (1995)

#18 – Label, Kal-Mart Meal Powder

#19 – Asanami S, Tanabe Y, Koga H, Takaesu Y – “Fluoride Contents in Tea and Sakura Shrimp In Relation To Other Inorganic Constituents” Shikwa Gakuho,  89(8):1407-12 (1989)

#20 – Nabrzyski M, Garjewska R – “Aluminum and Fluoride in Hospital Daily Diets and in Teas” Z Lebensm Unters Forsch 201 (4):307-10 (1995)

#21 – Chan JT, Koh SH – “Fluoride content in caffeinated, decaffeinated and herbal teas” Caries Res 30(1):88-92 (1996)

#22 – Latifah R,Razak IA – “Fluoride levels in mother’s milk” J Pedod 13(2):149-54 (1989)

#23 -Gotjamanos T, Afonso F – “Unacceptably high levels of fluoride in commercial preparations of silver fluoride”  Dent J 42(1):52-3 (1997)

#24 – Cao J, Zhao Y, Liu JW -  “Safety evaluation and fluorine concentration of Pu’er brick tea and Bianxiao brick tea” Food Chem Toxicol 36(12):1061-3 (1998)

#25 – Cao J, Zhao Y, Liu J – “Brick tea consumption as the cause of dental  fluorosis among children from Mongol, Kazak and Yugu  populations in China” Food Chem Toxicol 35(8):827-33 (1997)

#26 – http://www.pascaldental.com/Fluoride.htm

#27 – http://www.sultandental.com/PGflfoam.htm

#28 – Oxford County Board of Health, Community Dental Services at (519)539-6121/ 1- 800-755-0394http://www.ocl.net/oxf/ocbh/dnt-rins.html

#29 – Heilmann JR, Kiritsy MC, Levy SM, Wefel JS – “Fluoride Concentrations of Infant Foods” JADA 857 (1997)

#30 – Federal Register: March 12, 1997; Volume 62, Number 48, Page 11437-11441

#31 – Silva M, Reynolds EC – “Fluoride Content of Infant Formulae in Australia” Aust Dent J 41(1):37-42 (1996)

#32 – Singer L, Ophaug R – “Total Fluoride Intake Of Infants” Pediatrics 63, p.460 (1979)

#33 -Waldbott GL, Burgstahler AW, McKinney HL – “Fluoridation:The Great Dilemma” Coronado Press (1978)

#35 -Trautner, K et al – “Die Bewertung der Fluoridzufuhr mit der Nahrung. Studien zur Bioverfuegbarkeit” Dtsch. Zahnaerztl.Z.38:50-53 (1983)

#36 – Milhaud G, Riviere F, Enriquez B – “Experimental study of fluorosis in lambs” Ann Rech Vet 6(4):369-77 (1985)

#37 – PFPC 2004 – Norwest Labs, Langley, British Columbia, Canada

#38 – Buzalaf MAR, Bastos JRM, Granjeiro JM, Levy FM, Cardoso VE da S, Rodrigues MHC – “Fluoride content of several brands of teas and juices found in Brazil and risk of dental fluorosis” Rev Fac Odontol Bauru 10(4):263-267 (2002)

#39 – Bundesamt für Umwelt, Wald und Landschaft  (2000)

#40 – PFPC – Salt Fluoridation (2003)

#41 – PFPC – Fluoride in Cereals (2001)

Lettuce……………….. 8ppm
Parsley………………. 7.8ppm
Stinging Nettle……… 7.8ppm
Spinach……………….. 5.7ppm
Dill, garden Dill… …..5.3ppm
Allspice………………..5ppm
Clover Pepper………..5ppm
Jamaica pepper………5ppm
Pimenta………………. 5ppm
Bitter melon, Sorosi 4.8ppm
Rhubarb………………. 4ppm
Pistachio……………… 3.8ppm
Black Currant……….. 2.8ppm
Coconut……………….. 2.7ppm
Cauliflower………….. 2.5ppm
Cabbage,
Red cabbage
White Cabbage………..2.5 ppm
Apple
(Malus domestica BORKH.)… 2.1ppm
Ben Nut, Drumstick Tree, Horseradish Tree…. 4ppm
Black bean, Garden bean,
Green bean String bean……… 2ppm
Ginger………. 2ppm
Cloudberry… 1.9ppm
Carrot………. 1.8ppm
Red Currant, White Currant.. 1.8ppm
Brazilnut………………………. 1.7ppm
Tomato (Miller)…….1.7ppm
Pecan………………….1.6ppm
Black Walnut…………1.6ppm
Dog Rose, Dobbrier, Rose…. 1.5ppm
Rown Berry………. 1.5ppm
Cashew………1.4ppm
Shagbark Hickory…… 1.3ppm
Almond………….1.3ppm
English filbert …..1.2ppm
Butternut…… 1.1ppm
Bell pepper, Cheery Pepper,
Cone Pepper, Green Pepper,
Paprika, Sweet Pepper…… 1ppm
Pea…….. 1ppm
Mandarin, Tangerine…..1ppm
Gooseberry….1ppm
Peach ….1ppm
Onion…. 1ppm
Strawberry…. 1ppm

Source: Jim Duke, U.S. Agricultural Research Service 1992 http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/

More:
http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/wat/wq/BCguidelines/fluoride/fluoridetoo-14.html#P1425_142839

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Fluoride from Municipal Water Supplies is Toxic to Fish

Posted on 09 August 2010 by admin

Water Fluoridation Impacts the Environment

Fluoride pollution from aluminum smelters has long been known to cause problems such as damage to plants and risk to livestock grazing grasses exposed to the chemical. But there are not many highly publicized studies that look at the ecological impact of fluoridating municipal water supplies. Past research, however, shows that the practice hailed by the CDC as one of the greatest public health advances of the 20th century for humans may be causing damage to the environment.

An excerpt from a research review by Edward Groth III, a former staff member of the Environmental Studies Board of the National Research Council, sets the stage:

“To date, except for instances of gross spillage of fluoride into the air or water, fluoride has received relatively little attention as a contaminant of the ecosystem. In the case of water pollution especially, there have been many other pollutants which have been present in massive amounts, and which have had a very significant impact. It is easy to understand how a pollutant like fluoride, which is usually present at fairly low levels, and which has more subtle, insidious effects, when it has effects at all, has been given relatively low priority, both in terms of research attention and regulatory control. It is possible that fluoride may have had some adverse effects on aquatic life, but that such damage has been masked by the far more severe effects of untreated sewage, industrial effluents, pesticides, and other major pollutants. As controls on these more easily recognized pollution problems are becoming more effective and widespread, attention can turn to less prominent pollutants such as fluoride, whose impacts may be more easily detected as water quality improves in respect to other parameters.”

At the Source

Ninety percent of artificially fluoridated water supplies in the U.S. do not purchase pharmaceutical grade fluoride but instead purchase fluosilicic acid, a waste product mainly of the phosphate fertilizer industry.

The fluosilicic acid is extracted from wet scrubbers, according to Michael Connett, Research Director of the Fluoride Action Network, an international coalition of scientists, medical professionals, environmentalists, and others working for fluoride awareness. Connett describes wet scrubbers as pollution management tools that were devised to capture the fluoride gases produced during phosphate fertilizer production. The designated hazardous waste, which is too toxic to be dumped in rivers or soil, is recovered from the scrubbers, packaged unrefined, and sent out to municipalities across the U.S. ready to be applied to local drinking water.

In a Canadian Broadcasting Company piece from 1967 called “Air of Death,” the severe toxicity of the waste from the fertilizer industry and the need for pollution control is clear.

“Farmers noticed it first… Something mysterious burned the peppers, burned the fruit, dwarfed and shriveled the grains, damaged everything that grew. Something in the air destroyed the crops. Anyone could see it… They noticed it first in 1961. Again in ‘62. Worse each year. Plants that didn’t burn, were dwarfed. Grain yields cut in half…Finally, a greater disaster revealed the source of the trouble. A plume from a silver stack, once the symbol of Dunville’s progress, spreading for miles around poison – fluorine. It was identified by veterinarians. There was no doubt. What happened to the cattle was unmistakable, and it broke the farmers’ hearts. Fluorosis – swollen joints, falling teeth, pain until cattle lie down and die. Hundreds of them. The cause – fluorine poisoning from the air.”

Following incidents such as the one detailed above, the phosphate fertilizer industry has drastically cleaned up in large part due to stringent Environmental Protection Agency regulations. And large amounts of fluoride are no longer finding their way into our air, water, and soil. Much smaller amounts of fluoride from the phosphate fertilizer industry, however, are still finding their way into the environment and stricter limits on these lower levels of the waste have yet to be set.

Industrial Waste in the Water

The risk to the environment from fluoride comes as the sewage effluent from municipalities enters rivers and streams after processing.

Groth, who has a PhD in biological sciences, says aside from some waste still coming from industry, another significant source of fluoride water pollution is domestic sewage.

In his 1975 review of the environmental impact of fluoride Groth explained that most of the fluoridated water used in urban areas is returned through sewage systems to the aquatic environment. Groth described a number of studies that related environmental fluoride concentrations to specific sources. One such study measured tributaries of the East Gallatin River above the town of Bozeman, Montana, as containing 0.1 ppm (parts per million) fluoride or less, while the river below the city’s sewage outfall (the only fluoride source in the area) was found to have concentrations of 0.3 to 0.8 ppm. This clearly illustrates that fluoride added to municipal water supplies finds its way to our rivers through our sewage systems and raises background levels of the chemical.

Groth also mentions a study of fluoride input to Narragansett Bay, in Rhode Island, which showed that “36 percent of the fluoride entering the bay was due to fluoridation of water supplies in five communities on rivers feeding into the estuary. In midsummer, pollution from these sources was enough to double the fluoride content of the rivers.”

Fluoridated Fish

In a 1994 research review, Impact of Artificial Fluoridation on Salmon Species in the Northwest USA and British Columbia, Canada, researchers Richard G. Foulkes and Anne C. Anderson reviewed the literature to find that concentrations of fluoride lower than 1.5 ppm, the level “permissible” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has both lethal and adverse effects on salmon.

The EPA allowed a “permissible level” of 1.5 ppm for fluoride discharged into fresh water. But the researchers suggest a level of 0.2 ppm is required to remove the risk to aquatic species. British Columbia’s “recommended guideline” is actually 0.2 ppm, but it does not have legislation to back it up.

The research review covers a field study, which demonstrated that relatively low level fluoride contamination from an aluminum smelter 1.6 km above the John Day Dam caused inhibition of migration in the salmon, which led to high salmon loss at on the Columbia River from 1982-1986. In 1982, the average daily discharge of fluoride caused a fluoride concentration of 0.5 ppm at the dam and a migration time of more than 150 hours leading to a 55% loss of the salmon. In 1983, the concentration was reduced to 0.17 ppm and the migration time to less than 28 hours with a loss of 11%. In 1985, the concentration was 0.2 ppm with a salmon loss of 5%. This study clearly shows that even lower levels of fluoride, the same levels that are discharged from artificial fluoridation of municipal water supplies, can cause a large loss of the salmon population

Other studies reviewed by Foulkes and Anderson support the findings that fluoride levels below 1.5 ppm have lethal and other adverse effects on aquatic species. One study shows delayed hatching of rainbow trout at 1.5 ppm; another shows brown mussels died at 1.4 ppm; yet another shows that levels below 0.1 ppm were lethal to the water flea.

The researchers argue that these studies provide evidence that the “safe” level of fluoride in the fresh water habitat of salmon species is not 1.5 ppm but, 0.2 ppm. They also make the point that the decline in salmon stocks, especially Chinook and Coho, is a major economic problem for both commercial and sport fisheries and that fluoride pollution, even at relatively low levels, plays a role in this problem. The researchers argue that “until evidence to the contrary based on impartially, conducted field studies, is available, the “critical level” of fluoride, in fresh water, to protect salmon species in the US Northwest and British Columbia, should be 0.2 ppm.”  They say this would require, among other actions, the cessation of deliberate metering of fluoride waste into community water supplies.

source: DC Bureau

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Genetic modification: glow-in-the-dark lifesavers or mutant freaks?

Posted on 07 August 2010 by admin

As Home Office statistics reveal a 10% rise in the use of genetically modified animals for research, scientists appear to be divided about their usefulness

genetic-modified-piglets-glow

The genetically modified piglet glows in the dark as the result of jellyfish genes introduced into its cells at the University of Missouri. Photograph: Rex Features

At first glance, the creation of a chicken that glows in the dark seems a disturbing and unnecessary one. With a jellyfish gene inserted into its DNA, a hen modified this way acquires the power to fluoresce in a bright green hue when illuminated with blue light – an unsettling ability, to say the least. After all, who needs poultry that can shine a light on itself? More important, why go to the trouble of mixing the DNA of two such dissimilar creatures in the first place?

It is an important question that has recently been reflected in headlines that followed the release of Home Office figures which show there was a dramatic rise in the creation of genetically modified animals in laboratories in 2009. In total, 1.5m experiments on GM animals were carried out, a rise of 143,000 from the previous year. At the same time, there was a corresponding decrease in experiments on “natural” animals.

In other words, more and more scientists are now relying on the use of GM animals, as opposed to unmodified ones, for their research. But what gives the insertion of a piece of DNA from one living being into another such an advantage for scientists? After all, inserting invertebrate genes into mammals, and vice versa, is not easy. It also makes the public uncomfortable and raises the hackles of animal rights organisations. Yet it has become the standard route for researchers. Why?

Consider that glowing poultry. Fluorescent chickens were developed by scientists at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute, the zoological research organisation responsible for the creation of Dolly the sheep. As we have noted, the technique involves putting jellyfish genes into the DNA of a chick so that it makes a green, fluorescent protein. “The protein itself does not affect the chicken in any way but it is a very useful tool for looking at the very early embryos,” says Roslin researcher Professor Helen Sang.

The crucial point is that chicks are extremely useful for studying embryo development because their growth takes place inside an egg which can be kept in an incubator and studied fairly easily. By contrast, a mammal foetus gestates inside the uterus of its mother, making it far harder for researchers to monitor physiological changes. Thus the chick provides us with a key model for understanding the development of early embryos for all vertebrates, including humans. But the technique had been pushed to its limits by scientists – until the arrival of the GM mutant. This allows scientists to tinker with the way in which an embryo develops and so reveal processes that were previously obscured.

“You can take a sample of cells from a green embryo and then put them into a normal embryo,” says Sang. “You can then watch and see what organ that group of cells develops into because that tissue will have a green fluorescence. For example, if this part of the chick embryo develops into stem cells, that tells us whether other animals, including humans, have stem cells in that part of their embryos and will therefore provide us with important basic biological insights.” In other words, stem-cell science can get a boost from the glowing green chicken.

In fact, the chicken turns out to be a popular target for modification. Roslin scientists are also working on a strain that can express therapeutic proteins in the whites of eggs. In particular, they are working on whites in which the hen expresses antibodies that can block viruses which cause enteric – ie gut – diseases. Thus it may be possible one day to cook omelettes that could prevent us succumbing to disease, though most scientists envisage a slightly different route in which GM egg whites are dried out before their antibodies are removed and administered separately.

But what geneticists have not developed, insists Sang, is the featherless chicken, illustrated on the right. This animal is often held up as the ultimate GM horror, created so that farmers will be saved the effort of having to pluck feathers before poultry are sold to supermarkets. In fact, the partly featherless chicken is a species containing a natural mutation called naked neck which is becoming popular in hot countries, such as Israel, where the animals can be kept cool without a full feather covering .

Nevertheless, there are other criticisms of the use of GM animals, as the watchdog group GeneWatch has pointed out. Its director Helen Wallace says the rise in the use of GM animals reveals a disturbing trend: the “genetification” of biology. “There are undoubtedly some legitimate uses of GM animals but this blanket rise is worrying and bears little relation to reality,” she says. Wallace points to the widespread creation of animals – mice in particular – that have been genetically altered so they succumb to human conditions such as obesity and cancer. These mutants are then used to test drugs that could counter these ailments in humans.

“The trouble with this approach is that it stresses the use of medical intervention for ailments that also have clear environmental causes,” says Wallace. “Too much food and exposure to pollutants are also clear causes of cancer and obesity, but these are being ignored because of our obsession with genetics. In fact, in many conditions, genes have only a small role to play in the causation of the disease, yet we have become fixated on trying to tackle them, to the detriment of other, more fruitful approaches.”

This point is acknowledged – partially – by genetic engineers. “We do concentrate a lot on genetic approaches to disease, but that is because we geneticists are only now catching up with other sciences,” says Luke Alphey, head of Oxitec, an Oxford University spin-off genetics company. “For the first time, we have got the tools to do this sort of thing. And in any case, a disease is generally a combination of genetic and environmental causes. So the more we learn about genetic influences the more we will know about their environmental influences as well.”

Alphey and his colleagues are working on techniques to prevent mosquitoes from spreading dengue fever, a severe, sometimes fatal viral illness that affects between 50 to 100 million people a year. “We have created a strain of genetically modified male mosquitoes of theAedes aegypti species, the one responsible for spreading dengue fever,” he says. “These males produce offspring that do not develop fully. So they block the appearance of new A. aegypti mosquitoes. Released into the wild, which we hope to do in a few years, these GM mosquitoes should eradicate A. aegypti populations and halt new dengue fever cases. If the technique works, we will have demonstrated just how powerful and useful this technology can be.”

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Obama’s USDA to deceive Americans over GMO crops

Posted on 02 June 2010 by admin

(NaturalNews) The Obama administration’s Department of Agriculture (USDA) is attempting to downplay the risks of genetically modified alfalfa, a crop previously banned by numerous federal courts.

In 2007, a federal court rejected the Bush USDA’s approval of alfalfa plants genetically engineered for resistance to the Monsanto herbicide Roundup. The court ruled that the USDA had not properly considered the risks posed by the crop. These risks included the possibility that the genetically modified (GM) crops could swap genetic material with related species, thus contaminating neighboring fields or producing non-agricultural “super weeds.”

Monsanto continues to appeal the decision, even though the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against it twice. The case is now pending consideration by the Supreme Court.

Alfalfa is the first perennial crop to be genetically modified. Because it does not die after a year but can regenerate itself from even its roots, the risk of genetic contamination is higher than even that from GM annual crops, which have already been documented to spread beyond the fields they are planted in.

“Widespread [GM] contamination of organic alfalfa is inevitable if the Obama Administration successfully distorts science and ignores public opinion and allows Monsanto’s GM Roundup Ready alfalfa to be planted across the U.S.,” said Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association.

After Obama appointed former Monsanto executive Tom Vilsack to head the USDA, the agency released a new draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that continues to play down these risks.

Yet even the Monsanto-friendly EIS acknowledges that “acute toxicity … was observed” in mice that consumed GM alfalfa. It also admits that residues of Roundup (glyphosate) herbicide are toxic.

“Based on upper estimates of exposure… infants consuming fruit and all age groups consuming vegetables may be at risk of adverse effects associated with acute exposure to glyphosate residues,” the statement reads.

Since the introduction of Roundup Ready GM crops 13 years ago, herbicide use has increased by 383 million pounds.

Sources for this story include: www.huffingtonpost.com/ronnie-cummi….

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/028911_USDA_GM_crops.html#ixzz1auSCnGw1

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USA vs World Over GMO Food Labels

Posted on 13 April 2010 by admin

If you are going to “do the Codex”, you better already be in Paris.  Next week, you will be in Xian, China and you will finish out April in Izmir, Turkey.  In May, it’s back around the world to Quebec City, Canada.

Yesterday in Paris, the Codex Committee on General Principals got underway for a week.  Next Monday, the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues begins its week of work in Xian.   Then the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food finishes up the last week of April in Izmir.

And, on May 3, the Codex Committee on Food Labeling will gather in Quebec.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is attached to both the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations and the World Health Organizations. Codex fulfills important functions when it comes to world food safety.

In Quebec, delegates from the 180 Codex countries are going to replay a familiar debate over whether or not genetically modified food should be so labeled.

Since Bill Clinton was President, the United States has favored a voluntary labeling strategy.  Labeling of GM food would be required only if important end characteristics required it, such as the potential for allergies or nutritional changes.

Mandatory labeling for GM foods is favored by the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.  The impasse has left Canada mediating between the camps and hosting a lot of meetings on the issue.

In Paris this week, the Codex Committee on General Principals is considering a revised Code of Ethics for International Trade in Foods, risk analysis policies, and a definition for what constitutes a “competent authority.”

The agenda for the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues in Xian beginning on April 19 is a long one.  The committee will set Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for certain foods and animal feeds including certain fruits and vegetables.

The Codex Committee on Contaminates in Foods on April 26 in Izmir will begin taking up a draft code for reducing ethyl carbonate in stone fruit distillates.  It is also scheduled to take up maximum levels for Melamine in food and feed.

But, it’s the Codex Committee on Food Labeling that is likely to get the most attention.   While GM food is becoming increasing common around the world, so too have requirements for consumer-friendly labeling.

That makes the U.S. goal of getting Codex to drop its work on GM food labeling all the more difficult.

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