If you believe, as I do, that genetically-engineered/modified food crops are threatening the planet’s entire agricultural food supply, our health, and creating a monstrous multinational super-control of all agriculture, food products, available seed, these new stories are hideous, and may prove unstoppable and irreversible. I’m sorry that this turned out to be so long, but it is crucial to know what’s happening as you read this, and as the wags repeat: I didn’t have time to write anything shorter; nor does the world have the time. Time’s a tickin’.
On March 3, Business Week reported that Obama’s USDA announced that it would begin to fast-track the applications for Monsanto and Dow Chemical genetically engineered crops, reducing the process from an average of three years to either thirteen or sixteen months. Written from a business standpoint, as in: ‘Watch those stocks rise in value!’, the verbiage is nonetheless startling, as the piece implies that the crops will be approved. They’re right, they will:
“The move to speed biotech approvals comes as seed-makers develop new technologies aimed at slowing the spread of so- called superweeds that are no longer killed by Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Half of the 12 plants designated for faster review by the USDA are herbicide-tolerant crops made by Monsanto, Dow, DuPont Co., Bayer AG (BAYN) and BASF AG.
“Farmers needs technology right now to help them with issues such as weed resistance,” Kenda Resler-Friend, a spokeswoman for Midland, Michigan-based Dow, said today in a telephone interview. “The USDA realizes that the longer farmers have to wait, the longer the weeds are going to get a head start.”
Well, sure; these geniuses couldn’t imagine that species would adapt to their RoundUp Ready crops; that would imply they might believe in science, wouldn’t it? For instance, could Monsanto have guessed that after a few years of planting their Bt-modified corn (Bacillus thuringiensis) farmers in Iowa would begin to notice that some of those pesky rootworms that the corn was meant to forestall began to appear in a mutant strain? (Sorry, Robert Dumas, that I can’t link to your great reportage on this).
Critics of RoundUp Ready crops predicted that farmers might over-spray with the glyphophates, and indeed they did; not only spraying more times per season over the years, but also with abandon onto buffer zones outside the crop areas. That created some of those Unitended Consequences we hear of: drifting RoundUp hit nearby farms, including organic ones, killing sensitive crops. Another study has found that in addition to earlier studies blaming Bt corn in part for the dramatic decrease in Monarch butterflies, that over-use is killing those beauties’ food source, different varieties of milkweed.
Some scientists consider Monarchs to be an Indicator Species, so, in my lay opinion, that’s not a good development, though that link doesn’t mention that possibly important fact.
As you read, please remember how many GMO industry insiders are now in Obama’s cabinet, and one of his appointees to the Supreme Court (Elena Kagan), like his pressure on Tom Vilsack to to issue a blanket okey-dokey for GMO alfalfa in 2011.
Please understand that glyphosphates were supposed to be less toxic (or in Orwellian industry-speak, ‘benign’, and soooo preferable to the hideous 2,2-D, or dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, which is one of the main constituents of the defoliant Agent Orange used so widely in Viet Nam, and producing such deadly results for residents there, and to our own vets.
Now Obama’s USDA is on the verge of approving the Agent Orange-resistant corn, and recently extended the comment period, though in other cases, they have discounted the vast preponderance of public comments against approving GM crops.
Via ecowatch.com, the Center for Food Safety, a leading organization in the fight against GM crops:
“Dow’s ‘Agent Orange’ corn will trigger a large increase in 2,4-D useand our exposure to this toxic herbicideyet USDA has not assessed how much, nor analyzed the serious harm to human health, the environment, or neighboring farms,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “This novel corn will foster resistant weeds that require more toxic pesticides to kill, followed by more resistance and more pesticidesa chemical arms race in which the only winners are pesticide/biotechnology firms.”
“Many studies show that 2,4 D exposure is associated with various forms of cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, nerve damage, hormone disruption and birth defects,” said Dr. Amy Dean, an internal medicine physician and president-elect of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. “Because it poses significant health risk, exposure should not be increased, but significantly reduced to protect the public’s health.”
From ecowatch.org itself:
“2,4-D drift and runoff also pose serious risk for environmental harm. Because it is such a potent plant-killer, 2,4-D can harm animals by killing the plants they depend on for habitat and food. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Marine Fisheries Service have found that 2,4-D is likely having adverse impacts on several endangered species, even now. 2,4-D is currently used to control weeds primarily in cereal grains and lawns. Its use in corn has been extremely limited. USDA’s approval of 2,4-D resistant GE corn will increase the overall use of this toxic herbicide, worsening these impacts and likely placing many other species at risk.
American farmers are also rightly concerned that the introduction of 2,4-D resistant corn will threaten their crops2,4-D drift is responsible for more episodes of crop injury than any other herbicide. “In my experience, 2,4-D is an herbicide that can and does drift considerable distances to damage neighboring crops,” said Indiana farmer Troy Roush. “We can expect greatly increased use of 2,4-D with Dow’s new corn, and that could wreak havoc with soybeans, tomatoes, and other crops my neighbors and I grow.”
The advent of Dow’s 2,4-D resistant corn is a clear indication that first-generation genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant cropsMonsanto’s Roundup Ready (RR) varietiesare rapidly failing. RR crops, which comprise 84 percent of world biotech plantings, have triggered massive use of glyphosate (Roundup’s active ingredient) and an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds. These resistant “superweeds” are regarded as one of the major challenges facing American agriculture.”
To petition the USDA to say NO to Agent Orange Corn, click here. Tell your friends and pets and barnyard friends to sign, too.
The USDA seems to rely on the industry’s in-house studies that claim their genetic ‘modifications’ are safe, and love to point to ‘bio-fortified crops’ in which they tinker for a plant’s production of Vitamin A or Omega-3, all of which misses the point of healthy eating in general, and how dangerous mono-crop cultivation is in the long run for soil organisms, drought tolerance, increased need for herbicides and pesticides all the things we were supposed to have learned after the Dust Bowl, including the importance of windbreaks that have now been decimated in the interest of tilling every goddam acre possible. No nitrogen-fixing cover crops grown for tilling back into the earth for agribusiness, no sir! Short-term profit is King, no matter what detriment to health and sustainability; nopers!
Drought. Shoot; that brings me to another grim story. The news we don’t hear is that globally, potable water insecurity is becoming an increasingly understood matter, and when I read recently that even Secretary Clinton took notice of a new global report on decreasing safe water availability as a national security matter, I started grumbling out loud that these idiots wouldn’t look at climate change as a prod to global cooperation, but would look to fucking with the plants themselves. Er like corn, since it’s importance to the goofy notion of it as a biofuel, and its importance in cheap sweeties in the form of corn syrup. And Tada! I read the next day about this sweet deal Obama approved, and RT calls ‘Monsanto plans massive biotech experiment in the US’, which isn’t really a plan, but a Done Deal as of March 15, 2012:
“The US government has for the first time signed off on a large-scale experiment involving genetically modified crops, which will lead to biotech big shot Monsanto introducing an engineered corn seed across America from South Dakota to Texas.
The Monsanto Corporation has been given the go-ahead to test out a man-made corn variant that they claim can thrive in dry, unfavorable conditions. With much of the American south and southwest experiencing abnormally arid conditions, the freak-seed could revitalize a chunk of the nation’s agriculture.
More likely, however, is that a success will mean revitalization in terms of Monsanto’s profits and not much more.
The piece talks about the many lawsuits against farmers whose crops are adulterated by drifting pollen and seed, and Monsanto, Dow, et.al. sue them for patent infringement (insult to injury, especially when they are organic farmers), Monsanto buying out entire native seed companies and small farming concerns unable to compete, then:
“Last month Jim Gerritsen, president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, issued a statement saying he and others were serious about saving farms from being forced to close due to corporate muscling. “Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers stops here,” said Gerritsen. “Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and organic crops ends now. Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace to decide what kind of food they will feed their families and we are taking this action on their behalf to protect that right to choose.”
Around 300,000 organic farmers are currently awaiting a court decision to see if a US District Court will hear a lawsuit against Monsanto that, if successful, will keep the company from continuing to sue small-time agriculturists.* Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto tackled 144 organic farms with lawsuits and investigated roughly 500 plantations annually during that span with their so-called “seed police.” Gerritsen and others want to see to it that Monsanto can’t do that anymore, but if they are denied a day in court and the new corn crop prevails, it could soon be the final curtain call for many of America’s independent farmers.
Governmental approval of the modified crop marks the first time that the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has okayed a product that has been genetically engineered to resist a weather condition such as a drought, rather than a pest or herbicide. Acting on concerns that Washington has been overly encouraging to Monsanto as they force farms into foreclosure, US-based non-profit group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility went after the White House recently for ignoring Freedom of Information Act requests. Members of PEER suspect that if they can come into possession of certain correspondence, they can link the Obama administration to key lobbyists for Monsanto”
*The 300,000 organic farmers lost their suit last month, tragically. The report from Farm and Ranch Freedom is here (I don’t know what to make of Huber’s claims about a new pathogen on the site, though I read a hell of a lot about, even at Monsanto’s site).
This is the brilliant and dedicated Indian scientist Dr.Vandana Shiva speaking on Occupy our food supply!
You can find a video of an Occupy Our Food Supply event on March 13 in NYC here; I’ve just gotta go with this one: