Experimental GMO Drug-Making Crops Grown with Little Oversight
Experimental GMO Drug-Making Crops Grown with Little Oversight
From a regulatory perspective, GM crops are considered to be “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts. This means, that they are essentially the same, with no meaningful differences for your health or the environment.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has (so far) not required labeling of GM foods because they are deemed to be “substantially equivalent” to non-GM foods. It is also due to substantial equivalence that no oversight or long-term safety testing has been required of GM crops.
Even experimental GM crops are being grown right alongside traditional crops, with little or no oversight and not enough protection to prevent cross contamination.
The term “experimental” GM crops is redundant, since all GM crops (not just those that have yet to be approved) are an experiment of unforeseen magnitude… but as far as the US government is concerned, even “experimental” GM crops are not getting the oversight necessary to prevent environmental catastrophe.
GM Corn Modified with Hepatitis B Vaccine Grown with Little Oversight
GM “pharmaceutical” corn that is being used in an experimental trial for hepatitis B vaccine is being grown in an environmentally sensitive area along California’s central coast, just 100 feet from a critical habitat for threatened wildlife species.
According to data obtained by Hearst Newspapers under Freedom of Information laws, already two “incidents” have been reported. SF Gate reported:1
“At a secret location among the vineyards of California’s Central Coast, a plot of genetically engineered corn is producing proteins for industrial and pharmaceutical uses, including an experimental vaccine for hepatitis B.
The altered corn is growing with federal approval 100 feet from a steelhead stream in San Luis Obispo County, in designated critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog.
Agriculture Department inspectors have reported two ‘incidents’ at the site, including conventional corn sprouting in a 50-foot fallow zone, but the findings did not rise to the level of a fine or even to a formal notice of noncompliance for the company that planted it, Applied Biotechnology Institute Inc.”
The founder and president of Applied Biotechnology, John Howard, had previously founded another biotech company that has been banned from GMO trials because of contaminations in the Midwest that required a half-million bushels of soybeans and 150 acres of corn to be destroyed.2
But this didn’t stop the US Department of Agriculture for allowing Applied Biotechnology to carry out their outdoor testing of GM plants with altered genes never-before grown on the face of the planet.
US Government Takes ‘Industry-Friendly’ Approach in Overseeing GM Trials
Data from Hearst revealed that the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is tasked with overseeing GMO trials, takes a decidedly “industry-friendly” approach. In one unusual case, APHIS gave Gebbers Farms of Washington an approximately $20,000 fine for growing GM apples less than 100 feet from conventional apple trees.
The farm had already been previously cited for the same, along with failure to keep proper records and keep animals away from the test plot.3 This fine was a rarity, and according to Hearst’s investigation, one of just two civil penalties issued since 2010, despite nearly 200 notices of non-compliance.
Issues uncovered by Hearst include paperwork violations, lost seeds, and GM plants growing where they’re not allowed. Monsanto alone, which conducted about one-quarter of the field trials in the US, has received 35 notices of non-compliance from 2010 to 2013.
They received one civil penalty in 2010, after experimental GM cotton was ginned, making its way into cottonseed meal and hulls that were consumed by livestock. Inspection reports revealed many problems with GM trials that show the challenges, and the impossibility, of keeping GM crops restrained to a designated area:4
- Heavy rains washed out test plots, increasing risks of GMO dispersal
- Wild pigs and cows have eaten GM crops, including GM sugarcane and GM corn, in one case after a gate was accidentally left open
- Government researchers planted GM barley in the wrong county and also moved GM soybeans across state lines without authorization
- An automobile plowed through a test plot of corn and was abandoned about a mile away (with GM corn found in the ditch)
Scotts Paid Largest Ever Penalty Assessed by APHIS
Lawncare giant Scotts paid the largest ever civil penalty assessed by APHIS in 2007… $500,000 for failing to comply with testing standards at test sites in 19 states.5 In 2003, Scotts’ GM bentgrass, which has lightweight pollen that’s easily spread by the wind, escaped a test plot in Oregon as well, and now they’re also testing GM grass seed in family lawns of employees.
The US Department of Agriculture has exempted Scotts’ GM Kentucky bluegrass from regulation because of the way in which the seed was modified. It has been altered to withstand Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which will allow for even more use of this toxic chemicals (and no doubt even more problems with weed resistance). As noted by Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director for the Organic Consumers Association:6
“Scotts’ genetically modified grass could be dangerous to the environment because its Roundup resistance could be transferred to weeds, leading to greater use of Roundup or more toxic herbicides.”
Monsanto Settles GMO Wheat Contamination Claims
GM contamination is becoming an ever-present reality, especially for US farmers. Last year, more than a dozen class-action suits were filed against Monsanto after it was discovered its GM wheat had contaminated nearby fields. The discovery prompted Japan and South Korea to suspend imports of soft-white wheat from the US. Impacted farmers have now reached a settlement with Monsanto, although the terms weren’t disclosed.7
The Great Boycott Is Here
The insanity has gone far enough. It’s time to unite and fight back, which is why I encourage you to vote with your wallet and boycott every single product owned by members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), considering the fact that it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who are going to great lengths to violate some of your most basic rights.
This is just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo. This includes both natural and organic brands. You can start by using the list in the table below. The recent GM labeling victories in Vermont and Oregon clearly show that we have the power to incite great change. In this case, you can help change the food system by taking decisive action with your food dollars.
“We flood their Facebook pages, tarnish their brand names. We pressure financial institutions, pension funds and mutual funds to divest from Monsanto and the other GMA companies. Our motto for Monsanto and GMA products must become: Don’t buy them. Don’t sell them. Don’t grow them. And don’t let your financial institution, university, church, labor union or pension fund invest in them,” Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) writes.8
“As soon as the GMA files a lawsuit against Vermont, the Organic Consumers Association, joined by a growing coalition of public interest groups, will launch a boycott and divestment campaign directed against all of the 300 GMA companies and their thousands of brand name products—including foods, beverages, seeds, home and garden supplies, pet food, herbicides and pesticides.”
So far, between 2012 and 2014, Monsanto and the GMA have successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million! These funds were received from the 300+ members of the GMA, which include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, and processed food industries. Together, these industries are working in a symbiotic fashion to grow, subsidize, and manufacture foods that have been clearly linked to growing obesity and chronic disease epidemics. As noted by Ronnie Cummins:
“Until now the GMA colossus has ruled, not only in Washington DC, but in all 50 states. But now that Vermont has passed a trigger-free GMO labeling law, and Oregon is poised to do the same in November, the balance of power has shifted. Monsanto, the GMA and their allies are in panic mode. Because they know that when companies are forced to label or remove GMOs, and also are forced to drop the fraudulent practice of labeling GE-tainted foods as ‘natural’ or ‘all natural,’ in one state, they will have to do it in every state. Just as they’ve been forced to do in Europe, where mandatory GMO labeling has been in effect since 1997.”
Are You Supporting Those Who Have Repeatedly Taken a Stand Against Your Health and Right to Know?
To defeat the GMA lawsuit against Vermont, money must be raised for legal assistance to the state. We must also intensify any and all efforts to educate others and put pressure on the marketplace to quell the GMAs radical power grabs. To this end, please make a donation to the Organic Consumers Fund today.
Other ways you can help is by refusing to invest in GMA member companies—even if indirectly through retirement and mutual funds. With enough pressure, we can pressure institutional investors like Fidelity, Vanguard, and State Street to dump the stocks they have in these companies. Moreover, we need to boycott ALL of the 300 companies who are still members of the GMA. Combined, they produce more than 6,000 brand name products, and all of these products are on the boycott list. This includes:
|Home and garden supplies||Pet foods||Herbicides and pesticides for home and professional use|
This may seem as a monstrously difficult task… but if we work together and individually make an effort, collectively we can do it. There are 400 million Americans, and each person makes multiple purchasing and investment decisions each and every day of the year. Every action you take from here on counts. Pro-organic consumer groups will also launch programs placing emphasis on boycotting “Traitor Brands,” meaning natural and organic brands that are actually owned by members of the pro-GMO GMA. As noted by Cummins:
“Health-conscious and green-minded consumers often inadvertently support the GMA when they buy brands like Honest Tea, Kashi, Odwalla and others whose parent companies, all members of the GMA, have donated millions to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California (Prop 37) and Washington State (I-522).”
While I cannot list all of them here, some of the 50 “natural” and/or organic Traitor Brands targeted by this boycott include those listed below. The reason for not focusing the boycott on the conventional parent companies is because pro-organic health-conscious consumers rarely buy Coca-Cola, Diet Pepsi, or sugary breakfast cereals to begin with. The only way to really put pressure on these parent companies is by avoiding the brands they market to organic consumers; the brands you actually typically buy.
“Let’s be clear. Junk Food and beverage companies who are members of the GMA are gobbling up organic and ‘natural’ brands because they recognize the huge profit potential in the fast-growing organic and natural markets. They want our business. If we stop buying their brands, they know there’s a good chance we’ll find alternative brands. And we might never look back,” Cummins writes.
|Natural/Organic Traitor Brand||Owned By/Parent company|
|Sweet Leaf tea||Nestle|
|Green and Black’s||Kraft/Mondelez|
|Cascadian Farm||General Mills|
|Muir Glen||General Mills|
|Pam organic cooking sprays||ConAgra|
|Wolfgang Puck organic soups||Campbells|
|Santa Cruz Organic||Smuckers|
|Earthgrain bread||Bimbo Bakeries|
Nine Additional Ways to Take Your Power Back
In addition to not buying Traitor Brand foods or beverages (even if they’re certified organic), here are nine ways you can take power back from the corporate bullies that make up the Grocery Manufacturers Association:
- Stop buying all non-organic processed foods. Instead, build your diet around whole, unprocessed foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from coconut oil, avocados, organic pastured meat, dairy and eggs, and raw nuts
- Buy most of your foods from your local farmer’s market and/or organic farm
- Cook most or all your meals at home using whole, organic ingredients
- Frequent restaurants that serve organic, cooked-from-scratch, local food. Many restaurants, especially chain restaurants (Chipotlé is a rare exception), use processed foods made by GMA members for their meals
- Buy only heirloom, open-pollinated, and/or organic seeds for your garden. This includes both decorative plants and edibles
- Boycott all lawn and garden chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) unless they are “OMRI Approved,” which means they are allowed in organic production. If you use a lawn service, make sure they’re using OMRI Approved products as well
- Become an avid label reader. If a GMA member company owns the product, no matter what it is, don’t buy it
- Download the Buycott app for your smartphone, which allows you to scan products to find out if they’re part of the boycott before you buy them
- Join the Organic Consumers Association’s new campaign, “Buy Organic Brands that Support Your Right to Know”
To learn more about this boycott, and the traitor brands that are included, please visit TheBoycottList.org. I also encourage you to donate to the Organic Consumers Fund. Your donation will help fight the GMA lawsuit in Vermont, and also help win the GMO labeling ballot initiative in Oregon in November.
I recently named the GMA “the most evil corporation on the planet,” considering the fact that it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who are going to great lengths to violate some of your most basic rights—just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo.
The insanity has gone far enough. It’s time to unite and fight back, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. To learn more about this boycott, and the traitor brands that are included, please visit TheBoycottList.org. I also encourage you to donate to the Organic Consumers Fund. Your donation will help fight the GMA lawsuit in Vermont, and also help win the GMO labeling ballot initiative in Oregon in November.