Monsanto greenwashing / Companies vow to avoid GM sugar
1.Monsanto's Greenwashing Ads on NPR
2.Non-GM soy acres almost double in Ohio
3.70+ Firms Vow to Avoid GM Sugar Beets
4.GM making kids sick
5.How common are GMOs in food?
6.Why Gene Patents Are Unlawful
1.Advertising Alert of the Week
Monsanto's Greenwashing Ads on NPR
If you listen to NPR [National Public Radio] stations that carry the program Marketplace, you've probably heard the 12 second ad that Monsanto has been running that says: Marketplace is supported by Monsan"to, committed to sustainable agriculture, creating hybrid and biotech seeds designed to increase crop yields and conserve natural resources. Learn more at ProduceMoreConserveMore.com."
Tell American Public Media, which produces the Marketplace program, to stop spreading Monsanto's lies.
Take action at
2.Ohio Farmers Looking At Old Crop to Help with New Economic Problems
WCPN, May 28 2009 [shortened]
The combination of rising costs of herbicides and falling food prices paid to farmers for many crops is causing some Ohio farmers to go back to basics... at least when it comes to soybeans. ideastream's Mhari Saito has our story about farmers returning to a crop they had once given up...
Jim Beuerlein: ...There's a big demand, so companies are paying farmers extra to grow that crop.
One of the biggest buyers of conventional soybeans in Ohio will surprise you. Honda Motor Company used to send its shipping containers home empty after delivering car parts. Employees in Marysville, Ohio decided to ship back soybeans in the containers. And why not? The US is the world's largest soybean grower. Joe Hanusik is plant manager at Honda subsidiary HAPI Ohio. He signed a record number of farmers this year to plant non genetically modified soybean seed.
Joe Hanusik: This year we are producing roughly 45 thousand acres of non GMO soybeans. Last year we were right around 25 thousand acres.
And that interest is spreading to seed companies. John Suber runs Ebberts Field Seeds in western Ohio. He says his company usually has booked all its seed orders by January. But he was surprised when he sold out of non genetically modified soybean seed early.
John Suber: Well we've had calls clear through February and March of people wanting them and we have upped acreage for next year's sales - doubled it - so we anticipate that demand continuing to grow.
Back at the Waddle's farm, Steve's son Mark is getting started on 200 acres of non genetically modified soybeans. The family figures they'll spend about $350 to $400 an acre.
Steve Waddle: You know the current bean price is $9...I just called this morning, it's $9.38. If I get a $2 premium that'll actually be all the profit I'll have. So that's why we're doing it: To try and get a little bit of extra money.
Waddle is considering this year’s foray into non genetically modified soybeans an experiment. He’s curious to see if he can control the weeds without too much extra work and still make money. He'll have to wait till September when the beans are harvested to find out for sure but he’s hoping it's a good bet.
3.More Than 70 Companies Vow to Avoid Genetically Modified Sugar Beets
David Gutierrez, staff writer
NaturalNews, May 27 2009
More than 70 companies have signed a pledge promising to avoid using sugar from genetically modified sugar beets "wherever possible."
Genetically modified sugar beets, engineered by the Monsanto Corporation to be resistant to its herbicide Roundup, were first harvested in fall 2008. By now, sugar from those beets has likely entered the food stream. Critics of genetic engineering have raised concerns that the modified beets could produce food allergies, threaten wildlife and spread herbicide resistance or other modified traits to closely related species, including chard or table beets.
"We need to avoid the all-too-common situation of finding out a product is harmful after it has been approved and widely distributed," said Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology, one of the organizations sponsoring the pledge. "Requiring that GM foods be labeled is the only protection consumers have if they want to avoid eating GM foods."
More than 73 food producers and retailers have agreed to "seek to avoid wherever possible using [genetically modified] beet sugar in our products." The signatories have also urged the sugar industry to avoid using the genetically modified beets altogether.
"The registry shows the food industry's increasing apprehension about the government's ability to adequately regulate food production technologies," said the Center for Food Safety, another pledge sponsor. The organization said that food companies have been made skittish by recent food scandals such as the contamination of high fructose corn syrup with mercury.
Tom Stearns of High Mowing Organic Seeds, another sponsor, noted that genetically modified crops are also a risky investment, as products containing them may not be allowed in certain countries.
"Overseas markets have already rejected other GM products, so the economic future of many of our nation's farmers is being needlessly risked," he said.
A full list of companies that have pledged to avoid the beets can be found athttp://www.seedsofdeception.com/includes/services/nongm_sugar_beet_registry_disp lay.cfm
Sources for this story include: www.foodnavigator-usa.com
4.US mother claims GM and other foods making kids sick
MADGE, Digest No #78, Friday 29th May 2009
A conservative US mother, Robyn O’Brien, who thought food allergies were ridiculous changed her mind when her child had a violent reaction to egg. She has done a lot of research on the issue and has come up with conclusions surprisingly similar to MADGE. That is that the new foods in our diet could be making kids sick.
"Because 70% of our immune system is found in our digestive tracts, the foods that we eat and the chemicals that they contain can have a significant impact on our health."
She details a massive increase in ill-health in US children. "Today, it is estimated that 20% of American children have allergies."
In the last twenty years, we have seen an epidemic increase in allergies, asthma, ADHD and autism, including a:
400% increase in food allergies
300% increase in asthma, with a 56% increase in asthma deaths
400% increase in ADHD
and between a 1,500 and 6,000% increase in autism.
The male/female ratio for food allergies is 2:1 and the male/female ratio for asthma is 3:1.”
Hear Robyn O'Brien her discuss her views in this radio interview. She thinks that Australia has strong labelling and protection of kids from GM, unfortunately that is not the case.
This article from the New York Times is critical of her. The main criticism is that leading researchers and the largest allergy groups do not support her. It dismisses her claims of links between biotechnology companies and research, although it does mention that there is little hard data on food allergies.
MADGE'S Madeleine Love has said there are clear links between the biotechnology companies and 'leading' allergy researchers and groups. Most allergy groups have partnerships or strategic alliances with biotechnology companies. The identification of allergens can require highly sophisticated technology, and many allergy therapies are derived through recombinant (GM) technologies.
To establish the links for individual researchers it is a simple matter of tracing their research and employer history to find previous funding sources. Some 'leading researchers' work directly for the GM Biotech companies on novel GM crop proteins. Others are currently on the 'out' side of the biotech companies’ revolving door but may later decide to work for them.There is an example of a 'leading researcher' who has been a previous employee of Monsanto for many years, apparently at an independent university, yet still receiving funding from Monsanto. Madeleine has reported some of the links in this MADGE press release.
5.How common are genetically modified organisms (GMO's) in food?
Food Democracy, 23 May 2009:
According to the USDA, in 2007, 91% of soy, 87% of cotton, and 73% of corn grown in the U.S. were GMO. Starting in 2008, virtually all of the U.S. sugar beet crop is GMO, and it is estimated that over 75% of canola [oilseed rape] grown is GMO. There are also commercially produced GM varieties of squash and Hawaiian Papaya. As a result, it is estimated that GMOs are now present in more than 80% of packaged products in the average U.S. or Canadian grocery store.
*50 Harmful Effects of Genetically Modified Food
*GMO FAQ's: http://www.nongmoproject.org/about/gmo-faqs/
6.Why Gene Patents Are Unlawful
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Blog of Rights, 22 May 2009
Last week the ACLU http://www.aclu.org/ and the Public Patent Foundation http://www.pubpat.org/ filed a lawsuithttp://www.aclu.org/freespeech/gen/brca.html challenging the U.S. government's practice of granting patents on human genes - specifically, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are associated with breast and ovarian cancer. In the last 20 or so years the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has issued patents on thousands of human genes link - the segments of DNA that we all have in our cells - giving private corporations, individuals, and universities the exclusive rights to those genetic sequences and their usage.
The patents on the BRCA genes http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/gen/39556res20090512.html#02 are particularly broad and offensive. The PTO has granted Myriad Genetics, a private biotechnology company based in Utah, patents on both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic sequences, on any mutations along those genes, on any methods for locating mutations on the genes, without further specification on the type of methods, and on correlations between genetic mutations and susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer.
The lawsuit charges, as critics of gene patents have argued for years, that gene patents stifle biomedical research and interfere with patients' access to genetic testing. The lawsuit argues that the patents on the BRCA genes are unconstitutional and invalid given the long-standing legal precedent that "products of nature" and "laws of nature" are not patentable. The suit also makes the novel argument that the practice of patenting genes, their correlations with disease, and the thought of comparing two genes violates the First Amendment and interferes with scientific freedom.
To be clear, the patent claims being challenged do in fact include claims on the genes themselves. For example, the text of Patent 5,747,282, Claim 1 reads:
What is claimed is:
1. An isolated DNA coding for a BRCA1 polypeptide, said polypeptide having the amino acid sequence set forth in SEQ ID NO:2.
Translation: Claim 1 covers the BRCA1 genetic sequence, specifically the wild-type, or what is considered typical, sequence. Because the PTO grants patents on the genes themselves, it essentially gives patent holders a monopoly over the patented genes and all of the information contained within them. Anyone who uses a patented gene without permission of the patent holder is committing patent infringement and can be sued by the patent holder. Thus patent holders have the right to prevent other researchers from testing, studying or even looking at the genes. If the PTO simply granted patents on particular methods of examining and testing genes, then other scientists and laboratories could develop alternative methods, and research and testing could advance at a much faster pace. This lawsuit is not challenging any patent claims over specific genetic tests.
This suit is the first to challenge the patentability of human genes in the United States. The PTO has justifiedhttp://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/notices/utilexmguide.pdf these patents by holding that "DNA compounds having naturally occurring sequences are eligible for patenting when isolated from their natural state and purified." Yet, "isolated and purified" simply means that the gene has been excised from the natural chromosome; it otherwise has not been engineered or transformed.
Patent law has long held that products of nature and laws of nature are not patentable subject matter. Proponents of gene patents often cite Diamond v. Chakrabarty http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1979/1979_79_136/, a divided five to four U.S. Supreme Court decision issued in 1980. In that case, the court upheld patenting of a genetically modified bacterium that was genetically engineered to ingest oil for use in oil spill cleanups. However, Chakrabarty actually reaffirmed the principle advanced in this case: "The laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas have been held not patentable. Thus, a new mineral discovered in the earth or a new plant found in the wild is not patentable subject matter." While the identification of human genes and their associations with disease are important contributions to scientific progress, genes and their correlations nonetheless remain products and laws of nature.
More recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has signaled its disapproval of patents on medical correlations. In the 2006 LabCorp v. Metabolite http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2005/2005_04_607, some of the current justices said that, had the case been heard by the court rather than dismissed as improvidently granted, they would have ruled that such correlation claims are invalid for being unpatentable.
Gene patents also raise constitutional questions. The Patent Clause in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to award patents "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Human genes are not inventions, and awarding patents on them does not promote the progress of science. Instead, gene patents slow scientific advancement, because there is no way to invent around a gene - the gene is the basis for all subsequent research. Furthermore, gene patents implicate the First Amendment. By granting monopolies on the very thought that there is a relationship between specific genetic mutations and diseases, the government has restricted scientific freedom of inquiry.
The patents on the BRCA genes have serious implications because mutations along these genes are responsible for most cases of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. Genetic tests can detect these mutations and tell women if they are at increased risk of cancer, which in turn informs their decisions about screening, prevention and treatment options. In addition, this case could have far-reaching effects beyond the BRCA genes because it challenges the fundamental notion of gene patenting. Twenty percent of human genes have been patented http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/gen/39556res20090512.html#04, including genes associated with Alzheimer's disease, muscular dystrophy, colon cancer, and asthma.
To read the complaint, plaintiff statements, and much more about the case, visit http://www.aclu.org/brca.