Thursday, February 26, 2015

Eat at Your Own Risk: Flawed FDA Risk Assessments Strengthen Arguments for Labeling GMOs

    Eat at Your Own Risk: Flawed FDA Risk Assessments Strengthen Arguments for Labeling GMOs
For the past two decades, developers of genetically engineered (GE) crops and their corporate allies have maintained that because their products are so obviously safe, there is no need to label them. Thanks to marketing campaignssquelched state initiatives and a flood of GE products on the market, the public has largely adopted this belief as well.

Would it shock the public to know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never formally approved any GE crop as safe for human consumption? Instead, these companies have been trusted to self-regulate with little scientific oversight and even less transparency in their methods.
This was quietly mentioned in December 2014, during a testimony given by Michael Landa, former director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition with the FDA, before the House Subcommittee on Health.

His testimony drew attention to a fact often overlooked in the ongoing debate around GE food safety: The FDA has exempted developers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from premarket reviews of their products, which would normally result in a formal assessment and either a rejection or approval of their safety for human consumption. Landa's testimony described the risk assessment process for GE crops, which continues to use a policy crafted in 1992, establishing that the FDA sees no essential difference between GE crops and their conventionally grown counterparts.
As a result, the FDA merely invites GE developers to voluntarily consult with the FDA on their products' safety.

According to an article written by William Freese and David Schubert on the FDA's risk assessment process:
Under voluntary consultation, the GE crop developer is encouraged, but not required, to consult with the FDA. The company submits data summaries of research it has conducted but not the full studies. That is, the FDA never sees the methodological details, but rather only limited data and the conclusions the company has drawn from its own research. As one might expect with a voluntary process, the FDA does not require the submission of data.
During his testimony, Landa offered assurance that:
The fact that participation in the process is voluntary should not mislead individuals to believe that the process does not provide for a rigorous food safety evaluation. It is not uncommon for FDA to request additional data and information or clarification about the data and information submitted by the developer.
Landa failed to mention that these requests are often refused or ignored, and when that happens the FDA continues its assessment without the additional data.

study conducted by David Gurian-Sherman found that when the FDA requested additional information to conduct a complete and thorough safety assessment 50 percent of the time GE food developers "did not comply with that request."

The study goes on to show that of the developer data summaries they reviewed and that were submitted to the FDA, there were "obvious errors that were not identified by FDA during its review process," and the summaries "often lacked sufficient detail, such as necessary statistical analyses needed for an adequate safety evaluation."

Even more concerning, Gurian-Sherman revealed that these submissions to the FDA often did not evaluate dangerous compounds such as toxicants in tomatoes or anti-nutrients in corn and, "allergenicity testing was not always performed using the best tests available."

Alarmingly, Gurian-Sherman's study also reports that upon the FDA's completion of a review of corporate-generated data summaries, the FDA does not generate its own safety assessment, but merely summarizes for the public the developers' food-safety analyses.

None of the GE crops currently in the market place have ever been FDA approved as safe. As Freese and Schubert point out:
Instead, at the end of the consultation, the FDA merely issues a short note summarizing the review process and a letter that conveys the crop developer's assurances that the GE crop is substantially equivalent to its conventional counterpart.
The implication is made that there exists a rigorously tested, well-regulated marketplace of GE food. However, these risk assessments, when they occur at all, are highly questionable, and the ubiquity with which the FDA has issued these summaries of corporate-driven analyses of their own products only casts further doubt on their credibility and significance.

What's the problem?

A problem arises when independent researchers appeal to these risk assessments of GE crops, and their subsequent FDA "approval" as testaments to their inherent safety. Further problems occur when independent studies are conducted on various aspects of GMO and GE crop safety, but often after the products are already on the market.

Too often, the independent nature of these studies is dubious to begin with. Alison Van Eenennaam's recent literature review, for example, received a great deal of media attention, and though touted as independent, was sponsored by the Kellogg Company which spent $1 million fighting GMO labeling initiatives in California andWashington State in 2013.

The literature reviewed by Van Eenennaam was a collection of animal feeding studies, conducted by six researchers all of whom work with AgroParisTech, which considers Monsanto a business partner and sponsor of its research.

Such conflicts of interest call into question the "independent" nature of a lot of research done in the field. The lack of regulatory oversight indicates that the marketplace is not a well-regulated one, nor is it transparent in its risk assessment methods. Neither of these issues necessarily evidence that GE crops themselves are dangerous for consumption.

There is, however, an important distinction to be made between the safety of consuming GE crops and the safety of consuming the pesticides used in their cultivation. The FDA is only concerned with the GE crops themselves, while pesticide use is under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency. Research on glyphosate-based pesticides is highly contested, with recent studies indicating glyphosate as potentially carcinogenic, potentially active in human cell-toxicity, and indicating its potential to damage DNA in humans and fish. A recent article in The Guardian indicates that there may be still further harmful side effects to these pesticides that remain unexamined. All of which only strengthen arguments in favor of thorough, independent safety assessments and labeling of GMO products in the marketplace.

Recommendations put forward in Gurian-Sherman's study are common sense: Congress should provide the FDA with legal authority for mandatory review and safety approval of GE crops. Additionally, the FDA should develop detailed safety standards and testing guidelines, and require developers to submit not summaries of data, but complete details about their testing methods, the actual data from safety tests and statistical analyses of those data. The FDA should then be prepared to reassess the safety of GE products if new safety concerns are recognized or new tests become available.

Landa made a point in his testimony to highlight that there is no need to label GE crops because they do not differ significantly from their conventional counterparts, and he sides with courts that have held that "consumer desire to know such information is not, by itself, sufficient to require such labeling." Perhaps if consumer desire to know is not sufficient in itself, these flawed, weak and blatantly toothless risk assessments provide a stronger basis to demand that GE food products be labeled until we have more thorough testing and review standards in place.

Besides, you can take it from Monsanto's director of corporate communications, Phil Angell, in his oft-quoted interview in The New York Times: "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food," he said. "Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job."

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission

Monday, February 23, 2015

Biotech Hiding Dangers of GMOs with Slick PR Campaigns

New report details GMO PR campaign to Deceive the American Public
by Ken Roseboro
Published Jan 30, 2015

Biotechnology companies using same PR firms as tobacco industry

U.S. Right to Know—a new nonprofit organization — recently released a new report on Big Food’s PR campaign to defend GMOs: how it manipulated the media, public opinion and politics with sleazy tactics, bought science, and PR spin.

Since 2012, the agrichemical and food industries have mounted a complex, multifaceted public relations, advertising, lobbying and political campaign in the United States, costing more than $100 million, to defend genetically engineered food and crops and the pesticides that accompany them. The purpose of this campaign is to deceive the public, to deflect efforts to enact GMO labeling that is already required in 64 countries, and ultimately, to extend their profit stream for as long as possible.

This campaign has greatly influenced how US media covers GMOs. The industry’s PR firm, Ketchum, even boasted that “positive media coverage has doubled” on GMOs.
The report, titled Seedy Business: What Big Food is Hiding with Its Slick PR Campaign on GMOs, outlines fifteen things that Big Food is hiding with its artful PR campaign on GMOs.
  • The FDA does not test whether GMOs are safe. It merely reviews information submitted by the agrichemical companies.
  • The agrichemical companies have a history of concealing health risks from the public. Companies that produce GMOs have hidden the truth about the dangers of their products from consumers and workers. So how can we trust them to tell us the truth about their GMOs?
  • What the agrichemical and tobacco industries have in common: PR firms, operatives, tactics. The agrichemical industry’s recent PR campaign is similar in some ways to the most infamous industry PR campaign ever—the tobacco industry’s effort to evade responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.
  • The agrichemical companies have employed repugnant PR tactics. These tactics include attacks on scientists and journalists, and brainwashing children.
  • Monsanto supported GMO labeling in the UK but opposes it in the USA. Although Monsanto is based in St. Louis, Missouri, Monsanto believes that British citizens deserve stronger consumer rights than Americans do.
  • The pesticide treadmill breeds profits, so it will likely intensify. It is in the financial interest of the agrichemical companies to promote the evolution and spread of superweeds and superpests, because these will spur the sale of pesticides.
  • GMO science is for sale. Science can be swayed, bought, or biased by the agrichemical industry in many ways, such as suppressing adverse findings, harming the careers of scientists who produce such findings, controlling the funding that shapes what research is conducted, the lack of independent US-based testing of health and environmental risks of GMOs, and tainting scientific reviews of GMOs by conflicts of interest.
The full report is available at

© Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report, February 2015
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Devastating Impacts of Glyphosate Use with GMO Seeds in Argentina

Thank you to the Institute of Science in Society for this article- 

Widespread GM soybean cultivation and accompanying pesticide spraying is wreaking havoc on the health of millions Dr Medardo Ávila-Vázquez

Dr Medardo Ávila-Vázquez, a paediatrician and neonatologist at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, National University of Córdoba, Argentina is the coordinator of the Physicians of Crop-Sprayed Towns, a University Network for Environment and Health that campaigns against agrochemical spraying and provides medical treatment to villages suffering from illnesses as a result of agrochemical exposure. Since noticing the health of his patients deteriorate and patterns of illness change, he has campaigned tirelessly for the protection of local people, particularly children who are some of the worst affected.

Toxic Agriculture and Crop-Sprayed Towns

Over the last 20 years, industrial agriculture in Argentina has expanded by almost 50 %, taking over regions intended for other productions, for family farming, and most of all, forests.

A ton of soy was priced at US$16o in 2001; in July 2012, it reached US$600. At an average yield of 3 to 4 tons (T) per hectare (ha) and production costs 200-250 US$/ha, the profit is enormous.

Of the 300 000 farmers nationwide, 80 000 are engaged in transgenic and chemical agriculture; of those, 20 000 account for 70 % of the production, and are basically corporations and agricultural conglomerates renting fields or trespassing on lands belonging to peasants and native peoples [1].

The prevailing monoculture agribusiness model comes in a technology package that includes direct sowing, transgenic seeds, and the application of pesticides. In order to sustain production, increasing amounts of agrochemicals are applied in an area where transgenic crops coexist with more than 12 million people.

We must recognize that the agrochemicals used are all poisonous: herbicides like glyphosate, 2,4-D ((2,4-Dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid) or Atrazine, are designed to kill plants, and endosulfan, chlorpyrifos, dimethoate, cypermethrin, imidacloprid, etc. are designed to kill insects and are the most widely used; they all have deleterious effects on human health and the environment. The use of these pesticides has been increasing exponentially since 1990: back then, 30 million litres* of poisons were used; during the 2012/2013 crop season more than 318 million litres were applied. On the same hectare where 2 or 3 litres of glyphosate were used per year, today 8 or 12 litres are used with 1.5 litres of 2,4-D in addition. In Santiago del Estero, Salta, and Chaco (north-western Argentina) up to 20 litres/ha/year of Round Up are used [2].

To grow 100 ha of GM soy today requires 14 working days for a single worker: one day for sowing, another for harvesting at the end, and the remaining 12 days in between for applying poisons over the same field.

Birth defects and increasing cancer

After 18 years of systematic sprayings, health teams in fumigated towns detect a change in the pattern of diseases in their populations: respiratory problems are much more common and are linked to the application of agricultural poisons, as is chronic dermatitis. Similarly, during fumigation, epileptic patients convulse much more frequently, and depression, immune and endocrine disorders are more frequent.
High rates of miscarriages are recorded (up to 23 % of women of reproductive age had at least one abortion in the past 5 years) and consultations for infertility in men and women have significantly increased. Herds of goats belonging to farmers and indigenous people in some areas record up to 100 % of abortions or premature deaths due to malformations linked to pesticide exposure. Increased thyroid disorders and diabetes are also detected in local people.

More and more children are born with defects in these areas, especially if the first months of pregnancy coincide with the time of spraying. Down’s syndrome, spina bifida, myelomeningocele (neural tube defect), congenital heart disease, etc. are diagnosed more frequently in those areas; in some towns and during some years, at triple the normal rates, and directly linked to increased pesticide applications around the towns [3, 4] (see Figure 1). Neural tube defects are among the most common developmental birth defects observed, which is consistent with lab studies and farm observations see [5] A Roundup of Roundup® Reveals Converging Pattern of Toxicity from Farm to Clinic to Laboratory StudiesSiS 65].
Crop-sprayed towns also show a change in the causes of death. According to data from the civil records offices to which we had access, over 30 % of deaths are from cancer, while nationwide, the percentage is less than 20 %. Cancer death rates have clearly increased in those areas, and this is a new phenomenon detected by our colleagues since 2000 [3, 4, 6]. Significantly, the date coincides with the expansion in the use of glyphosate and other agrochemicals massively applied in those areas. In May 2014, the Ministry of Health of the Province of Córdoba published data from its cancer registry, confirming that in the most intensive agricultural areas, deaths due to cancer exceed by 100 % those in the city, and by 70 % the provincial average [7].

The toxic agrochemicals affect everyone, but it is the poor people, the labourers, their wives and children, who are the least likely to be protected and to recover their health. Also, in the North of Córdoba and Santa Fe, most of the new ventures into toxic agriculture are owned by corporations and agricultural conglomerates that use air fumigation, delivering much higher doses of poison due to the climatic and biological conditions in the region; and mainly indigenous peoples and peasants suffer the consequences.

Figure 1 The rise in birth defects correlates with the rise in cultivation of GM glyphosate-tolerant soybeans in Chaco, Argentina. Birth defects per 10 000 live births from 1997-2008 have risen drastically (top), as has the hectares of land dedicated to GM soybean cultivation (bottom)

Scientific evidence

The clinical manifestations that physicians working in the crop-sprayed towns find in patients are consistent with the results of scientific research on the effects of various pesticides including glyphosate on experimental animals. Laboratory research by our scientists show how glyphosate acts on embryonic development to produce birth defects [8], and how this poison damages DNA molecules in the cell nucleus, promoting mutant cell lines that will cause cancer if they cannot be eliminated by the individual [9-11].

Also, a number of scientific papers worldwide show how exposure to toxic agrochemicals significantly increases the rate of birth defects, miscarriages, cancer, and hormonal disorders in people subjected to repeated sprayings [12-15].

The Systematic Reviews of Evidence-Based Medicine – representing the highest standard of critical analysis of scientific and medical information - supports the need to reduce exposure on the strength and consistency of the available evidence indicating that exposure to pesticides increases the risks to human health [16-18].

Despite all the complaints presented to the authorities, the use of toxic agrochemicals in our country is still continuously increasing. In 1990, according to data from the business chambers of toxic agrochemicals, 39 million litres of agrochemicals (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) were used; in 2013, the same chamber reports that its business nearly reached u$s3000 million with the sale of 318 million litres. Glyphosate is the most commonly used toxic agrochemical in Argentina, comprising 64 % of total sales, and 200 million litres of glyphosate were applied during the last crop season [2].
In usage studies conducted by agronomists from the Sociedad Rural Argentina (Rural Society, the main soy-business institution in the country) [19], in 2010 in the core area (main agricultural area), almost 10 litres of pesticides were applied per hectare per year, which in the study area is equivalent to 31 litres of agricultural poisons for each of the residents of the Department concerned (Gral. Lopez in Santa Fé). In Argentina, we estimate that 7 litres of pesticides are applied for each of the 40 million inhabitants per year, but in the productive areas of agribusiness, the toxic dose rises to between 30 to 45 litres per person per year, generating a cumulative load of chemical toxicity inevitably reflected in the hardest health indicators such as death rates.

Rethinking scientific postulations for bio-technology and safety

The model of agricultural production foisted on Argentina by international biotechnology companies has led to 858 % increase in the amount of pesticides used per year, resulting in a massive environmental and health impact in the region.

This 858 % increase in the use of toxic agrochemicals far exceeds the increase in cultivated areas. Between 1990 and 2010, the area growing cereals and oilseeds increased by 50 % from 20 million hectares to 30 million hectares, while the use on fruit and vegetable crops and regional crops such as vine, tobacco and sugar account for less than 15 % of total applied [2].

The premise that transgenic seeds use fewer toxic agrochemicals cannot be verified in Argentina. In 1996/7, the time when transgenic soybean began to be sown, 3 litres per ha per year of glyphosate were applied; currently the applied amount of glyphosate adds up to 12 litres per ha per year. This shows the failure of the toxic agricultural model to overcome the adaptation responses of nature, such as the emergence of resistance in plants and insects. The only recourse is to increase the poison applied, thereby selling more pesticides to farmers, and adding even more dangerous and toxic agrochemicals to the fumigating mixtures, or adding transgenic “events” so that plants secrete several Bt insecticidal toxins.

Another myth perpetrated by the biotech industry is that it increases crop yields. However, the number of independent scientific studies proving this a lie is accumulating. An increase in grain production (cereal and oilseed) is admitted, but these researches show that the increase in yields per hectare (ha) is related to the application of traditional agricultural techniques incorporated during the last 20 years, such as the increase in density of plants (less separation between plants in the furrow and between furrows), etc. [20, 21]. In Argentina the average yield in 1994 was 2.2 T per ha, and 3 T in 2010, an average increase of 30 % in crop yields [2], yet during this period we used 858 % more agricultural poisons.
Thus, the 858 % increase in the toxic agrochemicals is far in excess of the 50 % increase in cultivated areas, and the 30 % increase in crop yields per hectare.

The inefficiency of the biotechnology model is evident also in the environmental damage created by the massive clearing of the country; the increasing pollution that is observed along all surface watercourses in the region, such as the Suquia [22] and Paraná rivers in its entirety  ; in the levels of glyphosate collected in rainwater from soy-growing areas [23] exceeds by 10 times those detected in USA [24]; in the increasing rate of cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, mental disabilities, endocrine and immune disorders suffered by rural populations systematically exposed to increasing doses of toxic agrochemicals every year (see earlier); and in the growing load of pesticide residues in grains exported from Argentina, as has already been verified in Denmark and the Netherlands, where, as of 2015 the purchase of organic soybeans and corn to feed their livestock will be prioritized [25, 26].

Increasing pesticide residues in foods made with grains are a growing concern in Europe, and its danger has become evident especially after investigations by the French researcher Gilles-Eric Séralini [27]. Recently, glyphosate was detected in urine of students from the University of Berlin and other Europeans from 18 different countries, and was less high in those on organic diets; in cattle and rabbits similar results were obtained: higher levels of glyphosate in urine and tissues from those fed GM fodder [28]. The export market to Europe is poised to shrink as consumers reject GMOs and glyphosate tainted food.

To overcome the problems caused by the resistance of weeds and insects, the biotech industry (Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Dupont, etc.) is providing more of the same. New transgenic seeds are promoted, which are tolerant to glyphosate, glufosinate and 2,4-D [29]. Do we want yet higher levels of more and more dangerous herbicides in our food, when the existing burden on health is already intolerable?

Seeds are also promoted, which, in addition to tolerating several herbicides also produce several Bt toxins, such as Cry1A.105, Cry2Ab, Cry3Bb [30], offering, for now, protection against Lepidoptera and Coleoptera but damage many insects that are beneficial and useful for preserving ecological balance. The safety of these toxins to humans is open to question.

For 100 000 years our species was in contact with minimum amounts of these toxins, but now, thanks to biotechnology, we are exposed to massive amounts of these proteins. They have been found in human breast milk, in human blood and in the blood of the human umbilical cord, and we also know that they produce immune and allergic risks to people [31]. They may well turn out to be much more toxic when we start seeing the consequences of this new exposure within a few years.

Today we know that 40 % of the genes of the human genome are shared with plants and regulate our cellular activities as in the plants, we also know that 60 % of the genes of insects such as the fruit fly are in our genetic code [32]. In other words, we share with insects and plants many mechanisms of cellular metabolism. When we attack these mechanisms with a heavy arson of chemicals, to block or distort them, to kill plants or insects, we cannot ignore the fact that these toxic products can reach people, either through occupational exposure, residential exposure or by ingesting food or water contaminated with residues, and may well have adverse effects on them; we cannot presuppose that they are harmless.
*Note added by the editor: The amount of glyphosate used is commonly measured as kg/L in Argentina, as quoted by The Chamber of Agricultural Health and Fertilizers (CASAFE). We understand that this might mean either kilograms or litres, and refer to all formulations of herbicides and insecticides. The specific gravity of Roundup® Original Max is 1.36, so in the case of Roundup, 1 litre = 1.36 kg.


1. Centro de Investigación en Economía Política y Comunicación. Universidad Nacional de La Plata. Reportaje Ingeniero Agrónomo Alberto Lapolla. Entrelíneas de la Política Económica Nº13. Sep 2008.
2. University Network for Environment and Health - Physicians of Crop-Sprayed Towns. The use of toxic agrochemicals in Argentina is continuously increasing. Dic 10/2013
3. University Network for Environment and Health - Physicians of Crop-Sprayed Towns. Report from the First National Meeting of Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns. Oct 7/2011.
4. Argentina, Santa Fe: Estudio vincula fumigaciones con enfermedades en los pueblos. Argenpress. Ago 5/2013.
5. En los pueblos fumigados, el 30% de las muertes son por cáncer. Nueva Región
6. Cáncer en Córdoba: en el este provincial, la mortalidad más alta. May 29/2014. La Voz del Interiror:
7. Paganelli A, Gnazzo V, Acosta H, López SL, Carrasco AE. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signaling. Chem Res Toxicol 2010, 23, 1586-95. doi: 10.1021/tx1001749. Epub 2010 Aug 9.
8. Mañas F, Peralta L, Raviolo J, Ovando HG, Weyers A, Ugnia L, Cid MG, Larripa I, Gorla N. Genotoxicity of glyphosate assessed by the comet assay and cytogenetic tests. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol 2009, 28, 37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2009.02.001. Epub 2009 Feb 11.
9. Simoniello MF1, Kleinsorge EC, Scagnetti JA, Mastandrea C, Grigolato RA, Paonessa AM, Carballo MA. Biomarkers of cellular reaction to pesticide exposure in a rural population. Biomarkers 2010, 15, 52-60. doi: 10.3109/13547500903276378.
10. Lopez SL, Aiassa D, Stella Benıtez-Leite S, Lajmanovich R, Mañas F, Poletta G, Sanchez N, Simoniello MF, Carrasco AE. Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture: A Review of Their Effects on Humans and Animal Models. Advances in Molecular Toxicology, Vol. 6  Amsterdam: The Netherlands, 2012, pp. 41-75.
11. Schreinemachers DM. Birth malformations and other adverse perinatal outcomes in four U.S. Wheat-producing states. Environ Health Perspect.2003, 111, 1259-64.
12. Winchester PD, Huskins J, Ying J. Agrichemicals in surface water and birth defects in the United States. Acta Paediatr 2009, 98, 664-9.
13. Settimi L, Spinelli A, Lauria L, Miceli G, Pupp N, Angotzi G et al. 2008. Spontaneous abortion and maternal work in greenhouses. Am J Ind Med 51, 290-295
14. Clapp RW, Jacobs MM, Loechler EL. Environmental and occupational causes of cancer: new evidence 2005-2007 Rev Environ Health 2008, 23, 1-37.
15. Sanborn M. Bassil K. Vakil C. Kerr K. Systematic Review of Pesticide Health Effects. Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University. Ontario College of Family Physicians. 2012.
16.  Sanborn M, Kerr KJ, Sanin LH, Cole DC, Bassil KL, Vakil C. Non-cancer health effects of pesticides: systematic review and implications for family doctors. Can Fam Physician 2007, 53, 1712-20.
17. Bassil KL, Vakil C, Sanborn M, Cole DC, Kaur JS, Kerr KJ. Cancer health effects of pesticides: systematic review. Can Fam Physician 2007, 53, 1704-11.
18. El departamento G. López lidera el consumo de agroquímicos provincial.  Jun 28/2010. La Capital:
19. Dr. David Quist. Evaluando la contribución de los rasgos genéticamente modificados al rendimiento de los cultivos. GenØk – Centro de Bioseguridad, Noruega. publicado  oct 7/2011.
20. Gurian-Sherma D. Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops. Union of Concerned Scientists. USA. Mar 2009.
21. Bonansea RI, Amé MV, Wunderlin DA. Determination of priority pesticides in water samples combining SPE and SPME coupled to GC-MS. A case study: Suquía River basin (Argentina). Chemosphere 2013, 90, 1860-9. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.10.007.
22. Alonso LL, Ronco, AE, Marino DJ. C15 - NIVELES DE GLIFOSATO Y ATRAZINA EN AGUAS DE LLUVIA DE LA REGIÓN PAMPEANA. V° Congreso Argentino, Sociedad de Toxicología y Químics Ambiental. 2014
23. Chang FC, Simcik MF, Capel PD. Occurrence and fate of the herbicide glyphosate and its degradate aminomethylphosphonic acid in the atmosphere.  Environ Toxicol Chem 2011, 30, 548-55. doi: 10.1002/etc.431. Epub 2011 Jan 19.
24. GM soy linked to health damage in pigs - a Danish Dossier. GM Watch.
25. Kræft får ikke landbruget til at droppe sprøjtet soja. Politiken: nov.1/2011.
26. Séralini G-E, Clair E, Mesnage R, Gress S, Defarge N, Malatesta M, Hennequin D, de Vendômois J-S. Re-published: Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maizeEnvironmental Sciences Europe 2014, 26, 14
27. Krüger M, Schledorn P, Schrödl W, Hoppe HW, Lutz W, Shehata AA. Detection of Glyphosate Residues in Animals and Humans. J Environ Anal Toxicol 2014, 4:2
28. 2,4-D soy: waging war on peasants. 26th May 2014
29. Dow AgroSciences Expands Production of SmartStax® Hybrids for 2011., November 2011
30. Adams MD, Celniker SE, Holt RA, Evans CA, Gocayne JD, Amanatides PG, Scherer SE, Li PW, Hoskins RA, Galle RF. The genome sequence of Drosophila melanogaster. Science 2000, 287, 2185-95.
31. Aris A, Leblanc S. Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.Reprod Toxicol. 2011, 31,528-33. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2011.02.004. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Do We Save the Monarch Butterfly or Monsanto's Profits?

Ninety percent of our beautiful monarch butterflies have been wiped out, yet it is still has not been listed as an endangered species. Monsanto says doing so "makes for a great news headline" but will fail to "help solve the problem". 

Wrong! Listing them as endangered would make it illegal to destroy the monarch's habitat which Monsanto is now doing with its Roundup Ready soy and corn crops that cover over 150 million acres in the US.  Such crops are genetically engineered to withstand massive doses of Roundup (glyphosate) which kill the milkweed plants the monarch depends on for survival. 

Since the introduction of GM crops, pesticide use is up over 400 million pounds in our country. Glyphosate has proven to be much more toxic than originally thought and is now found in our air, rainwater, waterways, and in us- it has even been found in mother's breast milk. 

Genetically modified seeds are also coated with neonicotinoids which are killing bees. If we kill the pollinators we are killing ourselves. GMOs have to rely more and more on higher levels and more toxic types of pesticide because of the emergence of super weeds and super bugs. GMOs are not sustainable; they are poisoning us all.

RT: Monsanto monarch massacre: 970 million butterflies killed since 1990

Published time: February 10, 2015 10:52
Monarch butterfly (Reuters/Daniel Aguilar)
Monarch butterfly (Reuters/Daniel Aguilar)

The beautiful monarch butterfly, which is also a major pollinator, is being threatened by herbicides that eradicate milkweed, its primary food source. Now, a desperate rejuvenation program is under way to save the species from possible extinction.
A shocking statistic released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday summed up the plight of the monarch butterfly: Since 1990, about 970 million of the butterflies – 90 percent of the total population – have vanished across the United States.
The massacre provides a grim testimony to the delicate balance that exists between man and nature, and how the introduction of a single consumer product – in this case, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide – can wreak so much havoc. Sold to farmers and homeowners as an effective method for eliminating milkweed plants, Roundup Ready, introduced in the 1970s, is widely blamed for decimating the monarch butterflies’ only source of food in the Midwest.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto's Roundup Ready crop system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the Center for Food Safety, which last week released a report describing the effects of herbicide-resistant crops on monarch butterflies in North America.

“To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.”

The widespread death of the monarch butterfly has prompted some groups, like the Center for Biological Diversity, to demand the butterfly be placed on the endangered species list.

Dan Ashe, director of Fish and Wildlife Service, preferred to take a diplomatic approach to Monsanto’s hefty contribution to the problem, saying everyone is responsible for the plight of the monarch butterfly.

“We’ve all been responsible. We are the consumers of agricultural products. I eat corn. American farmers are not the enemy. Can they be part of the solution? Yes,” Ashe said.

“It’s not about this wonderful, mystical creature. It’s about us.”
Photo from
Photo from

Monsanto responded to the issue in a blog on its website by saying that listing monarch butterflies as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act “makes for a great news headline,” but ultimately fails to “help solve the problem.”

Rejuvenation efforts

The monarch migrates annually thousands of miles - and over the lifespan of many generations - from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada. To complete this migration, the butterfly is dependent upon the milkweed plant, which provides not only a major food source, but a larval host. However, as US farmland continues to eat up the remaining wild places, there appears to be little left to sustain the monarch.
In an effort to restore monarch numbers, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has teamed up with the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to start a milkweed replanting program.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said it will contribute $2 million this year to restoring more than 200,000 acres of monarch habitat, while also “supporting over 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens.”The service will also concentrate rejuvenation efforts on Interstate 35, a 1,568-mile (2,523 km) highway that extends from Texas to Minnesota, which closely follows the monarch’s migration path.

“We can save the monarch butterfly in North America, but only if we act quickly and together,” said Ashe.

The monarch butterfly is not the only pollinator species suffering from the agricultural use of pesticides. Wasps, beetles and especially honeybees have all experienced significant drops in their numbers over the years, which will have adverse effects on America’s crop supply if not soon addressed.

Monsanto controversy

Monsanto has run into controversy before over its glysophate-based Roundup Ready product. It is even being blamed by some for a sharp spike in suicide rates among Indian farmers, many of whom could not afford to continue buying the Ready Roundup seeds and herbicides.
The Indian farmers would not receive a loan “if they don’t go with the GMOs,” the head of the Council for Responsible Genetics, Sheldon Krimsky, told RT“And many of them felt coerced to take the GM seeds. The GM crops have not done as well in all regions of India... [That has led to] much greater indebtedness with the GM crops that did not perform as well.”

Monsanto denies that its seeds have contributed to the plight of Indian farmers.

“Despite claims by those who oppose GMO crops, research also demonstrates there is no link between Indian farmer suicides and the planting of GMO cotton,” the company said on its website.

However, since Monsanto controls about 95 percent of the cotton seed market in India, many small farmers are falling behind on their debt, leading them, critics claim, to desperate measures.

“Two hundred and eighty-four thousand farmers have committed suicide in India because of debt linked to seed and chemicals,” Vandana Shiva, an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author, said last year ahead of the March Against Monsanto global protests.

“Monsanto have claimed more than 1,500 climate resilient patents, and are hoping to use the climate crisis to make even bigger profits,” Shiva says claiming that “Monsanto wants super profits through total control over nature and humanity.” 
Last year, hundreds of thousands of people united around the world to raise awareness over the biotech giant Monsanto’s growing grip on the global food supply chain.

Activists on five continents around the globe, comprising 52 nations, joined the fight under the March against Monsanto umbrella.