GMOs in the news Dude! GMO Extreme!
ITCHY GREEN T H U M B
money covers the cost of complications that can result from consuming too much Vitamin A, like birth defects, liver abnormalities, central nervous system disorders, and lower bone mineral density associated with osteoporosis. Any complication from the genetic modification itself is a bonus.
BRETT BAKKER verything you know about GMO? Well, now you may as well think of that as “GMO-Lite.” The next step in what is euphemistically called progress is Synthetic Biology. Rather than merely cutting and pasting genes found in nature, “synbio” is creating DNA in the lab. Read that again please: creating, as in artificially constructing DNA in a lab, the artificial synthesis of genetic sequences. Thus far, synbio products found in the marketplace include vanilla, saffron, “natural” dish and laundry detergents and everyone’s favorite-for-no-reason-I-can-understand, stevia. Some of these are being marketed as “natural” and “sustainable.” Expect coconut oils, ginseng, cocoa butter, and patchouli to follow. Currently, synbio is pretty far under the radar. The Non-GMO Project checks for it in their verification process (of course, those people are darn good!) but to date it’s barely been addressed in other forms of certification, including organic, biodynamic and the like. Lucky for me, I won’t be in any danger of using the synbio patchouli because as an ex-hippie I overdosed on the horrid stuff long ago.
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No GMO in Zhong Guo? China has hardly been a bastion for the pure food movement (remember tainted pet food, tainted baby foods, nonorganic soy labeled organic, etc.?) but US exports of alfalfa have recently been turned away by Chinese authorities who cited GMO presence as the reason. No word on what has sparked the increase in scrutiny, but reportedly a previous 5% tolerance has now been replaced by a .01% threshold. I could make some unadvisable joke here about the wisdom of Capitalism vs. Communism but I’ll let it pass. Elementary, My Dear Watson! A recent analysis cited in Environment International (“A Journal of Environmental Science, Risk & Health”) finds that out of forty-seven “pub-
M A N D AT O R Y N O T V O L U N TA R Y
THE FIGHT CONTINUES BY ELEANOR BRAVO, FOOD AND WATER WATCH epresentative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is expected to re-introduce HR 4432, or what we call the "Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act" any day now. If the DARK Act passes, the fight for mandatory GMO labeling is over.
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act sponsored by Pompeo will make labeling genetically engineered (GMO) foods voluntary, which would then become the national standard. This bill would enshrine in federal law a failed policy that has kept consumers in the dark about what they are eating for two decades. The bill would also allow GMOs to be misleadingly labeled as “natural.” But most importantly, this bill would strip away consumers’ right to know by preempting state efforts to require labeling of GMO foods. Pompeo’s act rests on the false tenet that there is a broad scientific consensus that GMO foods are safe. This is not the case, since the approval process relies on studies conducted by the companies seeking to sell new GMO crops rather than on any independent review. Simply making the current voluntary review system mandatory, as the DARK Act would, does nothing to address the inadequacy of the pre-market review system. For over a decade the FDA has allowed companies to voluntarily label GMO foods and none have chosen to do so.
B E E S + S E E D S F E S T I VA L A N D MARCH AGAINST
MONSANTO! BY CHRIS PERKINS n Saturday, May 23, people all over New Mexico and the world will gather as part of a Global March Against Monsanto. The intention of this march is to raise public awareness and bring increasing political pressure to bear regarding Monsanto’s corporate farming and business practices and to fight for labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered and/or modified materials.
The march in Albuquerque begins at the Downtown Growers’ Market and ends at Tiguex Park in Old Town at The Bees + Seeds Festival.
Mary Alice Cooper, MD
“NATURAL” is predictably
lished” studies for GMO crops approved by government regulators, thirty-eight of these papers are nowhere to be found. If that’s not bad enough, thirty-five studies (your typical feed-it-to-the-rats deal) were performed after the crops had already been deemed safe to eat. And half of those were published nine years after the actual studies were conducted. To quote Sherlock Holmes (okay, okay, actually his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” Go Bananas (Part II) A few months back, I reported here on tests that featured plantain-like GMO cooking bananas with elevated Vitamin A levels being fed to humans for study. It’s now been revealed that the test subjects are twelve students from Iowa State U who each get a cool ninehundred bucks for their participation. Let’s hope that
GMO Hide and Seek Consumer Reports (CR)—long a bastion of dedicated reviewers telling which toasters are the best deal (really, though, they rock)—recently completed GMO testing in eighty food products containing corn and soy. The project’s results were not too surprising. CR’s GMO threshold for “not GMO” was (for some unknown reason) .9% or less. Most organic or NonGMO Project Verified products passed the test, as it should be. The products that make no natural, organic, or non-GMO claim at all were found—as expected—to contain high levels of GMO. This includes products that may have “natural” or even “organic” in the company name (for the record, there is no regulation here. Through a federal loophole, a company could legally call itself Joe’s Organic Foods and not sell an ounce of certified organic food). The term “natural” is predictably meaningless. I mean, crude oil and uranium are natural, too, but that doesn’t mean I want either in my Fruit Loops or whatever. Close to 95% of products that made non-verified nonGMO claims (no third party certification in other words) were found legit but not all. You can read the report for yourself (www.bit.ly/CR-GMO) but I’ll say no more except be especially wary of tortilla chips.
AgroSciences and Syngenta. In 2013 alone, the GMA spent $14.3 million lobbying against country-of-origin Americans want mandatory labeling of GMO foods. A labeling, GMO labeling, any regulation of food market2013 New York Times poll found that 93 percent of ing to children, and other regulations respondents were in favor of a mandatoaffecting the food and beverage indusry label for genetically engineered food. ORGANIC TOO! try. The GMA and its member compaSince the Food and Drug Administration nies have poured over $80 million has failed to respond to the more than a into political action committees to million Americans who have asked the help block GMO labeling ballot iniagency to label GMOs, the momentum tiatives in California, Washington, on this issue has shifted to the states. Oregon, and Colorado over the past Since 2013, over 25 states have introthree years. The passage of the duced legislation to label GMO foods, Pompeo bill would ensure that the and these bills have passed in ConGMA and its member companies connecticut, Maine, and Vermont. tinue to profit by denying consumers basic information about how the food they feed their Mandatory labeling of GMOs is not a novel idea. families is produced. Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are among at least 60 ACTION countries that require some labeling on GMO foods. Nor is mandatory labeling an expensive proposition for the We OPPOSE the Pompeo bill and we urge you to United States. A study commissioned by Consumers Union SUPPORT HR 913, introduced by Representative reviewed research on mandatory GMO labeling and estiDeFazio (D-OR) or S 511, introduced by Senator Boxer mated that the median cost of labeling per person per year (D-CA), which would balance the needs of companies is $2.30, less than a penny a day. for a single labeling standard with the overwhelming demand by consumers for the mandatory labeling of The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is GMOs in food. responsible for this bill as well as other efforts to remove transparency from food labels. This trade organization TAKE ACTION! Tell Your Representative: Don’t represents the world’s biggest food and beverage compaSupport Big Food’s Bill to Kill GMO Labeling Laws: nies as well as agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow http://orgcns.org/1ou6KBk
threat to organic farming and loss of native March Against Monsanto plants. It is causing dependency on a centralized Monsanto is the largest producer food system. In aggregate, this is a recipe for of genetically engineered seeds global famine,” warns long-time activist and and, with its subsidiaries, owns member of the Gateway Greens, Daniel close to two-thirds of the world’s S AV E T H E Romano. seed supply. Its Roundup herbiD AT E cide’s active ingredient glyphosate “We’ve run the first 20 years of the GMO has been linked to a variety of experiment and now know that in fact GMOs human health disorders including require more herbicides over time. With even autism and Parkinson’s disease. more toxic compounds like 2,4-D and Dicamba Organizers of the March Against Monsanto also want to raise awareness about the links being approved for use on GMO crops, consumers to honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder, declines in should be able to make informed decisions about what other pollinator populations caused by agricultural food they’re buying,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, Enchemicals, and the health and environmental safety vironmental Working Group’s senior policy analyst. issues of GMO foods. Currently, approximately half of Bees + Seeds Festival all farmland in the US is utilized for growing GMOs. Pack a picnic and bring your family to celebrate pollinaThe March Against Monsanto and the Bees + Seeds tors, seeds, farmers, and the healthy local foods that Festival provides an educational and community nourish us. The event will feature classes on beekeeping, action opportunity in a family-friendly environment gardening, a kids corner, a seed exchange, the Seed that has many activities for children and adults. An Broadcast Truck, information tables, Seed Blossoms Art, estimated 428 cities spanning 38 countries and 6 con- Conchita’s Creations Food Truck, live entertainment, and tinents will be participating in the Global March special guest speakers. Against Monsanto in a peaceful, non-violent, inforWatch for more details in the May Co-op Connection mational protest. newsletter. Stay up-to-date on the event by following “Monsanto is bankrupting farmers, causing soil infer- GMO-Free NM on Facebook: tility, monocropping, loss of biodiversity, and beehive www.facebook.com/gmofreenm, collapse. Furthermore, their practices pose a very real or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
La Montañita Co-op's monthly newsletter from April 2015