GMOs: The Best and Worst of 2015

By Jeff Kirkpatrick

An (updated) look at some of the GMO highlights from 2015 including some of the best articles, reports and books that were published during 2015, and some highlights from notable moments and events.

Some of the best and most notable articles:

One of the best articles this year is from Dr. Belinda Martineau. Dr. Martineau is a (former) genetics engineer who has first-hand experience in helping to develop the first FDA approved GMO food (the Flavr Savr™ Tomato was approved in 1994). In her own words, “Belinda Martineau, Ph.D., once a crop genetic engineer, is now, based on her experience in industry and academics, a skeptic wary of ag biotech’s uncertainties.”

The Absurdity of Claiming that ‘All GMOs are Safe,’” By Dr. Belinda  Martineau, Biotech Salon (Blog); June 16, 2015.

Excerpt:

But comparing the issues of climate change and genetically modified (GM; AKA genetically engineered, GE) foods in terms of “scientific consensus” is not a valid comparison.

Climate change is a phenomenon, a phenomenon being studied by many scientists, using many techniques, publishing many studies. Scientific consensus as to whether that particular phenomenon is real may be ascertained based on the resulting body of science.

GE food crops, on the other hand, are not a single phenomenon. They are the products of a technology. And it is not possible to ascertain whether all products–past, present and future–developed using a technology, any technology, are safe. And to make such a general claim is not scientific; it is absurd.

 

An important article by Jonathan R Latham, PhD was published several times on multiple sites this past year. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project and Editor of the Independent Science News website. He is also a member of the Expert Advisory Board on the new website GMO Science.

Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs,” by Jonathan R Latham, PhD, Independent Science News; August 31, 2015

Excerpt:

The Flawed Processes of GMO Risk Assessment

Some of my concerns with GMOs are “just” practical ones. I have read numerous GMO risk assessment applications. These are the documents that governments rely on to ‘prove’ their safety. Though these documents are quite long and quite complex, their length is misleading in that they primarily ask (and answer) trivial questions. Furthermore, the experiments described within them are often very inadequate and sloppily executed. Scientific controls are often missing, procedures and reagents are badly described, and the results are often ambiguous or uninterpretable. I do not believe that this ambiguity and apparent incompetence is accidental. It is common, for example, for multinational corporations, whose labs have the latest equipment, to use outdated methodologies.

… Aside from grave doubts about the quality and integrity of risk assessments, I also have specific science-based concerns over GMOs.

The True Purpose of GMOs

Science is not the only grounds on which GMOs should be judged. The commercial purpose of GMOs is not to feed the world or improve farming. Rather, they exist to gain intellectual property (i.e. patent rights) over seeds and plant breeding and to drive agriculture in directions that benefit agribusiness. This drive is occurring at the expense of farmers, consumers and the natural world. US Farmers, for example, have seen seed costs nearly quadruple and seed choices greatly narrow since the introduction of GMOs. The fight over GMOs is not of narrow importance. It affects us all.

 

Andrew Kimbrell (Executive director of the Center for Food Safety) discusses the ‘science denier’ charge often leveled at those who oppose GMOs by demonstrating who the real deniers of science are: Monsanto and its supporters, including the USDA

GMO Science Deniers: Monsanto and the USDA,” by Andrew Kimbrell, Huffington Post; May 20, 2015

Excerpt:

… That’s right: for decades, Monsanto and its enablers inside the USDA have denied the central tenets of evolutionary biology, namely natural selection and adaptation. And this denial of basic science by the company and our government threatens the future viability of American agriculture.

… In the United States, more than 50 percent of all our cropland is devoted to GE corn, soy and cotton. They are commodity crops that feed cars, animals in industrial meat production and are used for additives like high fructose corn syrup. Almost none directly feeds people. So rather than feeding the hungry, this technology is about chemical companies selling more chemicals, a lot more chemicals. So as noted, each year 115 million more pounds of Roundup are spread on our farmlands because of these altered crops.

… So it’s long past due that our government required real and rigorous science when regulating GE crops. It’s time for them to say “no” to these herbicide-promoting crops, and prevent the looming agronomic disaster they will inevitably bring with them.

In the meantime, the next time you read hear about “GMO science deniers” — think of 70 million acres of superweeds; think cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases caused by this growing use of herbicides; think Monsanto and its enablers at the USDA.

 

Next, an article about GMOs from the perspective of a farmer:

We’ve Missed the Entire Point about GMO Food – A Farmer Explains Why,” by Forrest Pritchard, Huffington Post. September 22, 2015wordpress forrest pritchard farmer glyphosate brown

 

This past year seemed to be the ‘Year of Kevin Folta’ in some respects.kevin folta oh no

Yes, Kevin Folta. From his denials about not having anything to do with Monsanto to the Freedom of Information Act request by U.S. Right to Know which revealed he had received $25,000 from Monsanto in what was essentially an unrestricted grant. Several articles were written about this, including one which revealed Kevin Folta had taken on a the persona of a radio talk show host named Vern who interviewed Kevin after that money connection was made public. Yes – Kevin, as Vern, interviewed himself. What’s so odd about that? Surely all scientists do such things. (The audio file on the article included Kevin and Vern singing a duet together).

There were a number of articles about Kevin Folta this past year; these are just some of the highlights:

Food Industry Enlisted Academics in G.M.O. Lobbying War, Emails Show,” by Eric Lipton, published by: The New York Times; September 5, 2015

Monsanto’s scientist shill exposed,” by Claire Robinson (GMWatch), published by: The Ecologist; September 8, 2015

Monsanto’s Tobacco Files: University Scientists Caught Conspiring With Biotech Industry to Manipulate Public Opinion on GMOs,” by Dave Murphy (Food Democracy Now!), Ecowatch; September 12, 2015

To be fair, Kevin got plenty of chances to tell his side of the story,

Kevin M. Folta: A record of GMO honesty,” by Kevin Folta, Gainesville Sun; August 30, 2015 [Okay, that is REALLY the title of his article].

 

This topic expanded into a broader discussion about conflicts of interests regarding those who advocate for GMOs:

The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left out),” by Jonathan Latham, PhD, Independent Science News; September 8, 2015

Dirty Money, Dirty Science,” by Doug Gurian-Sherman, Food Tank; September 22, 2015 [Part one of a two part series]

Money Talks, Muffling Dissenters,” by Doug Gurian-Sherman, Food Tank; September 25, 2015 [Part two of a two part series].

 

Moving on…

Many people know (but many more do not know) that the regulatory process fails when it comes to GMOs:

Safety Assessments of GMOs are Non-Existent by Vishwanath Kulkarni, The Hindu Business Line; September 21, 2015 [Interview with Michael Hansen, senior scientist at the non-profit Consumer Union working on consumer-related policy issues]

Excerpt:

Hansen: This is something that is often forgotten and not explicitly shared in the media. There is a big myth that the [FDA] regulates and does safety assessment of GM foods. This is simply not true. The fact is that the FDA does not take a position on the safety of GM foods. A GM manufacturer simply self-reports the safety analysis of their product versus the non-GM counterpart, and the FDA simply sends them a standard letter, based on a “safety consultation”, to acknowledge the self-reported safety results. On the FDA website, you can see these standard “safety consultation” letters, representing over 101 consultations, which have been completed to date.

Ayyadurai: That typical [FDA] letter issued to the “Company” has a consistent paragraph, which clearly shows the self-reporting nature of this process for the GM product created by the company. Here is an exemplar paragraph from those letters:

“Based on the safety and nutritional assessment the Company has conducted, it is our understanding that the Company has concluded that food and feed from GM product are not materially different in safety, nutrition, composition, or other relevant characteristics from food and feed from apples currently on the market, and that GM product do not raise issues that would require premarket review or approval by FDA… It is the Company’s continuing responsibility to ensure that foods marketed by the firm are safe, wholesome, and otherwise in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.”

The FDA simply blesses the self-reporting results for the particular GM product, and the [FDA] does neither safety assessment testing nor verify the test results of the company.

 

Contrary to claims of the biotech industry and its supporters (who seem to view themselves as experts on everything while being properly informed about nothing), there is no consensus on GMO safety. Although this was well known (but denied by those science deniers) prior to 2015, this publication occurred last year:

No Scientific consensus on GMO safety,” by Angelika Hilbeck et al; Environmental Sciences Europe Bridging Science and Regulation at the Regional and European Level 201527:4; published January 24, 2015wordpress no consensus on gmo safety

Excerpt:

A broad community of independent scientific researchers and scholars challenges recent claims of a consensus over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the following joint statement, the claimed consensus is shown to be an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated through diverse fora. Irrespective of contradictory evidence in the refereed literature, as documented below, the claim that there is now a consensus on the safety of GMOs continues to be widely and often uncritically aired. For decades, the safety of GMOs has been a hotly controversial topic that has been much debated around the world. Published results are contradictory, in part due to the range of different research methods employed, an inadequacy of available procedures, and differences in the analysis and interpretation of data…

  1. There is no consensus on GM food safety

Regarding the safety of GM crops and foods for human and animal health, a comprehensive review of animal feeding studies of GM crops found ‘An equilibrium in the number [of] research groups suggesting, on the basis of their studies, that a number of varieties of GM products (mainly maize and soybeans) are as safe and nutritious as the respective conventional non-GM plant, and those raising still serious concerns’. The review also found that most studies concluding that GM foods were as safe and nutritious as those obtained by conventional breeding were ‘performed by biotechnology companies or associates, which are also responsible [for] commercializing these GM plants.’

  1. There are no epidemiological studies investigating potential effects of GM food consumption on human health

It is often claimed that ‘trillions of GM meals’ have been eaten in the US with no ill effects. However, no epidemiological studies in human populations have been carried out to establish whether there are any health effects associated with GM food consumption. As GM foods and other products are not monitored or labelled after release in North America, a major producer and consumer of GM crops, it is scientifically impossible to trace, let alone study, patterns of consumption and their impacts. Therefore, claims that GM foods are safe for human health based on the experience of North American populations have no scientific basis.

  1. Claims that scientific and governmental bodies endorse GMO safety are exaggerated or inaccurate

 … Claims that there is a consensus among scientific and governmental bodies that GM foods are safe, or that they are no more risky than non-GM foods, are false. 

   … 5. List of several hundred studies does not show GM food safety

A frequently cited claim published on an Internet website that several hundred studies ‘document the general safety and nutritional wholesomeness of GM foods and feeds’ is misleading. Examination of the studies listed reveals that many do not provide evidence of GM food safety and, in fact, some provide evidence of a lack of safety.

 

This year, several authors took a look at the claims that GMOs are safe, including Sheldon Krimsky:

An Illusory Consensus behind GMO Health Assessment,” by Sheldon Krimsky, published by: Science, Technology, & Human Values; August 7, 2015. (32 pages)wordpress sheldon krimsky

 

Next, RC Jennings from Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK also took a look at this issue. Although some may not agree with all his views in this article, the effort he made placing this subject in a historical context makes it worthwhile:

Conflicting Values in the GM Food Crop Debate,” by RC Jennings, Clinical Research & Bioethics Volume 6 • Issue 5 • 1000236; Published date: September 15, 2015 (8 pages)

 

Best books published in 2015

One of the best and most important books to come out this year:
“Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public” – by Steven Druker. (2015)

book smaller2 Steven Druker

 

Another one of the best books published this past year:

“We’re Monsanto: Still Feeding the World, Lie after Lie – Book Two” by Brett Wilcox:

book we're monsanto- still feeding the world, lie after lie

wordpress brett wilcox book

 

Some of the best reports published in 2015

One of the best reports that was published this past year:

Seedy Business: What Big Food is Hiding with its Slick PR Campaign on GMOs,” by Gary Ruskin, USRTK (U.S. Right to Know); January, 2015 (63 pages).

blog seedy business 33%

 

Another one of the best reports that was published this past year:

Spinning Food – How Food Industry Front Groups and Covert Communications are Shaping the Story of Food,” by Kari Hamerschlag, (Friends of the Earth U.S.); Anna Lappé, (Real Food Media Project); and Stacy Malkan (US Right to Know) published by Friends of the Earth, June, 2015 (62 pages)

blog spinning food

 

Another very important report was published in August and then slightly revised in September:

Banishing Glyphosate,” by Dr. Eva Sirinathsinghji, Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, et al., Institute of Science in Society; August 2015. (80 pages) This report was updated on September 15, 2015 to include new information which the authors use to conclude that glyphosate is cancerous. They address the findings of the IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen  and evaluated additional studies that were left out by the IARC to reach their conclusion that glyphosate is indeed, cancerous.

blog banishing glyphosate

 

One of the most important reports that published this past year was about Hawaii:

Pesticides in Paradise: Hawai‘i’s Health & Environment at Risk,” by Bill Freese, Ashley Lukens, Ph.D. and Alexis Anjomshoaa (with Sharon Perrone as a contributing author), published by: the Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety; May 2015 (81 pages).

wordpress report pesiticides in paradise

 

The most important report published in 2015 about the decline of the Monarch Butterfly population:
Monarchs in Peril: Herbicide-Resistant Crops and the Decline of Monarch Butterflies in North America,” by Bill Freese and Martha Crouch, PhD, Center for Food Safety; February, 2015 (88 pages)

blog monarchs in peril

 

One of the most important reports about agricultural pesticides (in general) to be published this year:

Pesticides and our Health – a Growing Concern,” by M. Allsop, C. Huxdorff, P. Johnston, D. Santillo, and K.Thompson, Greenpeace Research Laboratories, School of Biosciences; May 12, 2015. (54 pages)

blog Pesticides and our Health

 

An overview of twenty years of GMOs as a failure was also published this year:

Twenty Years of Failure – Why GM Crops Have Failed to Deliver on Their Promises,” Edited by Janet Cotter, Marco Contiero, Dirk Zimmermann and Justine Maillot; Greenpeace. November 2015 (40 pages)

wordpress 2twenty years of failure

 

Perhaps one of the most IMPORTANT reports this year on the subject of cross-contamination came from a German group called Testbiotech:

Escape of Genetically Engineered Organisms and Unintentional Transboundary Movements: Overview of Recent and Upcoming Cases and the new Risks from SynBio Organisms,” by Andreas Bauer-Panskus, Sylvia Hamberger, Mirjam Schumm & Christoph Then, published by: Testbiotech; September, 2015. (37 pages)

blog Escape of GE Organisms & Unintentional Transboundary Movements

 

The biotech industry has been saying for decades that GMOs are necessary to feed the world. However several extensive reports (and studies) have refuted that claim.

For example, in December 2015, a report from a Canadian group revised and updated a previous report that they published  a few years ago:

Do we need GM crops to feed the world?”  Published by: Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN); December 2015 (24 pages) [Report 6]

wordpress 2Do we need GM crops to feed the world

 

As an alternative to GM crops, agroecology has been recommended as a real solution to feeding a growing population.

Feeding the People: Agroecology for Nourishing the World and Transforming the Agri-Food System,” by Hans Rudolf Herren, et al, published by: IFOAM EU, October 29, 2015 (44 pages). [IFOAM EU = European Union Group of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements]

blog Feeding the People Agroecology for Nourishing the World and Transforming the Agri-Food System

 

The U.S. adopted the ‘substantial equivalence’ approach to GMOs several decades ago, instead of the more conservative ‘precautionary principle.’ In general, the substantial equivalence policy is that GMOs are ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) and until proven unsafe, they are allowed in the marketplace; whereas the precautionary principle in this context is the approach that says GMOs must be proven safe first before entering the marketplace.  One of the most important pieces that was published about the precautionary principle this past year was from India: [this is a pdf file]

The Precautionary Principle Requires to be Interpreted Critically and Pre-emptively for its Proper Application to the Unique Risks of GM crops,” By Aruna Rodrigues, Third World Network. March – April, 2015. (59 pages)   Lead Petitioner (Public Interest Writ (PIL) in India’s Supreme Court)wordpress report Aruna Rodrigues, The Precautionary Principle Requires to be Interpreted Critically and Pre-emptively for its Proper Application to the Unique Risks of GM crops

In her paper, two sections are worth highlighting:

wordpress aruna two

 

And this section:

wordpress aruna three

Best Blog about GMOs

My personal favorite blogger is also worth mentioning: Russ, who writes a blog known as Volatility.

I highly recommend that people take a look and see what he has already written and consider signing  up for email alerts for any upcoming articles.

 

Newsworthy moments (that hardly made the news, if at all)

There have been rumors that Patrick Moore is a lobbyist for Monsanto – he is not and never was. Patrick Moore has claimed that he was a co-founder of Greenpeace but left because he … oh it’s just too absurd; Greenpeace vehemently denies that Moore was a co-founder. That has not stopped Patrick, though: in a video he asserted that anti-GMO people would end up killing 8 million people because of their objections to GMO Golden Rice (which is not even viable)

worpress patrick moore

But Patrick is much more famous for saying in an interview that glyphosate was so safe you could drink it and that he was willing to prove it. The reporter happened to have some glyphosate and offered Moore a glass; instead of drinking it, he stormed out of the interview. All this makes for a great YouTube video clip.

See: “A GMO advocate claims Monsanto’s Roundup is safe to drink then refuses to drink it,”  – YouTube (00:45) published by Ban GMOs Now on June 15, 2016

wordpress patrick moore glyphosate  youtube drink

 In other news …

Millions of people marched against Monsanto, but the mainstream media United States didn’t report it. In fact, as I searched for the news, I found very little coverage at all, even internationally. Of the coverage I did find, much of it was the same story with the same quotes from the same protesters saying the same thing, and in many cases the articles ended with a reference to a written statement from Monsanto about what a great company they are and how safe their products are.

These are some of the stories I was able to find on a quick search, the most prominent news source from this list is RT News.

“‘March Against Monsanto’: Protest against GMO giant to roll in 38 countries this weekend,” by RT USA; May 23, 2015 [Embedded video (5:38) and two embedded audio files]

Excerpt:

The claim by biotech companies that GMOs are key to feeding the world’s growing population has been heavily contested. A recent report found that GMO “seed companies’ investment in improving yields in already high-yielding areas does little to improve food security; it mainly helps line the pockets of seed and chemical companies, large-scale growers and producers of corn ethanol.”

March Against Monsanto,” by the Organic Consumers Association; May 25, 2015

Global March Challenges Monsanto’s Dominance: Timeline,” by Staff RT News via Popular Resistance; May 26, 2015

World Rallies Against Monsanto Over Company’s Weedkillers, GMOs,” by Sputnik; May 24, 2015

Thousands worldwide march against Monsanto, GM crops,” by DNA-India; May 24,2015

Anti-GMO Rally,” by KLKNTV; May 23, 2015

Thousands worldwide march against Monsanto and GMOs,” by Juanjo Fernandez, Reuters (via MSN), May 23, 2015

March Against Monsanto Draws Thousands of Anti-GMO protesters in 400 Cities Across 40 countries,” By Windsor Genova, HNGN; May 24, 2015

Excerpt:

Demonstrators demand 10-year moratorium on the planting of Monsanto seeds.

Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of 400 cities across 40 countries in the third annual March Against Monsanto rally against genetically-modified organisms (GMO) on Saturday.

 

I decided to see what kind of news USA today was reporting around that time, and I was surprised to see that there was a story about a protest march … but then saw it was about a court case in Ohio that involved the acquittal of a police officer.

 

This left me reflecting on the kind of media coverage there is (or lack of it) about GMOs. We not only have a mass media blackout on the GMO issue, but we are also faced with a media that – when it does report on GMOs, it is generally positive and is often reported by those who fail to make the slightest effort to do proper research first. But things changed a little this year when the FDA approved the GE salmon. There were a lot more people speaking up and objecting to the FDA’s policy of not requiring that particular GM food to be labeled.

This past year we also saw a few famous people jump into the fire of anti-GMO activism. Naturally, some of them got attacked and criticized by the GMO advocates who spew about anti-GMO activists being anti-science, while at the same time hardly any of them recognize the absence of legitimate, independent, long-term chronic toxicity studies and epidemiological studies or double blind placebo controlled studies: you know, SCIENCE.

Typically when the people who advocate for GMOs make comments on various articles and elsewhere, they demonstrate a complete lack of comprehension of the many complex facets of the GMO issues, while simultaneously trying to portray themselves as geniuses in these subjects by putting everyone who doesn’t agree with them down. To demonstrate, here are some typical comments [the misspelled words are intact]:

1. “The crusade against GMOs is misguided and unscientific. Monsanto isn’t the devil. A generic GMO label would be meaningless. Organic isn’t any healthier for people or the environment. This is all well-documented information, but policitians gonna politic. Even Bernie.”

 2. “Stricter guidelines and regulations are fine, but just how does one label a process? I’m all for Bernie but this is frustrating. Everything is modified on a genetic level, it’s kinda what we do; we modify our entire world. Most of you likely support legalizing cannabis in one form or another. Do you realize the amount of genetic engeneering that goes into each and every strain of that plant? How about corn? Look up a picture on non modified corn and tell me you’d prefer that. Now, if you want to put higher reg’s on big corps (Through the FDA or some other means) to ensure trust and public safety; that’s great. But this seemingly general misunderstanding of how GMO’s work and/or what they are is getting old.”

wordpress Testbiotech difference between conventional breeding and genetic engineering[It ain’t rocket science]: Genetically engineered organisms and agriculture: The difference between conventional breeding and genetic engineering – By Testbiotech

 3. “Can you identify the difference between when a gene shows up naturally in DNA and when it is inserted? No. You can’t. They are the same molecules, just arranged differently. Just like every living thing in existence. The science on GMOS are out. They are safe. Period.”

See, if we rearrange a few molecules, it’s all the same thing because they are just molecules, and moving them from one place to another won’t matter, the “science on GMOS are out” – because: SCIENCE. So … if we rearrange some molecules of Ebola and HIV and insert them into this person’s corn, it should be okay, because, they are the same molecules, just arranged differently.

But these are the kinder types of comments. Gwyneth Paltrow had entire articles written up about her saying: “Paltrow is out of touch with science and reality” – and this was written by a person who has no real comprehension at all about the complexity of GMOs and who spews industry lies and spin right and left, including the “ENORMOUS COSTS TO CONSUMERS if GMO” food labels were to become law. Of course, the one industry funded study that politicians and GMO advocates always cite about that cost does not equate to actual science; especially when that study came to its conclusion by the same process one might use to get an answer from a Magic 8 Ball.

But Gwyneth was more than just ridiculed for wanting to know if the food she eats and feeds her children is genetically modified; again accusations about her being “science illiterate” and claims that “GMOs are safe” were repeated ad nauseam. And these people who spew this, have no concept, no basic understanding of the things that they accuse others of not having; it is projection  of the worst kind.

But then later Christie Brinkley  stepped up and spoke out, and oddly she wasn’t met with the same kind of intense backlash.wordpress christie brinkley

 

And then … the Hulk encountered Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant … wordpress hulk

After Grant gave a little message to America via CBS This Morning that … gee, the only real problem with Monsanto is that they just aren’t getting the ‘messaging’ done right, Mark Ruffalo, actor and activist (in recent movie roles he plays the character who turns into the Hulk) had a chance encounter at the television studio and he used that opportunity to tell Mr. Grant what he and millions of other people around the world really think of Monsanto: they are horrible. The 2 page article, “Mark Ruffalo: ‘Monsanto Chief is Horrible,’” by Mark Ruffalo, Ecowatch; December 4, 2015 was perfect. It was published in Ecowatch then in other places as well and each time it was published, it was posted on Facebook and shared. Yes – for a while Mark Ruffalo, aka the Hulk, was a true hero for millions.wordpress mark ruffalo monsanto horrible

 

Musician Neil Young also made quite an impression this past year. wordpress neil young

First he released an album, Neil Young + Promise of the Real: The Monsanto Years.

neil young album the monsanto years wordpress

 

A short ten minute documentary that Neil Young helped produce was also released later in 2015: SEEDING FEAR – The Story of Michael White vs Monsanto.

 

While we are grateful for these celebrities for speaking out on the most basic fundamental right to know about our food, it is still only a trickle against the mountain of lies, disinformation, spin and media blackout that we are facing.

 

So the big news this past year wasn’t new at all: it was continuance of the same old story …. until the Mighty Fish (the GE salmon) was approved by the FDA. Even CBS this morning jumped on the bandwagon by calling for labels and saying that people had a right to know.wordpress cbs this morning ge salmon label right to know

There was brief moment of outrage that genetically modified foods are not labeled because of the approval of this fish. Why the mainstream mass media has not been speaking out for the last two decades or more about other genetically modified brands is uncertain; perhaps the perception of a genetically modified plant versus a modified fish has a different kind of impact. But the other thing to bear in mind is that this outrage in late November was gone almost immediately. In early December, Monsanto’s CEO repeated myths and lies in front of the same “news” crew and the whole “right to know” claim had already evaporated into an apathetic attitude that these foods will never be labeled so we may just as well live with it and accept it.

In this context of media blackout along with this sense of apathy, general lack of awareness, and lack of information that people have in the population at-large,  perhaps it is time for the leaders of the GMO Free movement (or the anti-GMO movement, whatever name you use) to get together and really address the issue of the need for more publicity once and for all. Is it time to consider uniting in such a way that a PR firm can be hired to help break through the media blackout?

While there are marches every year, and an international tribunal to charge Monsanto with ecocide, the challenge of achieving mainstream media coverage (due to the lack of it) needs to be resolved. No matter how many people show up at those marches or how well the tribunal goes in October 2016 (since the outcome will not be legally enforceable), without mainstream media coverage it may just result in a lot of time, energy and effort which will have little effect on the general population, and by extension, the many (but not all) politicians who are currently nothing more than glorified prostitutes for the biotech industry.

Speaking of politicians ….

Some of the Worst events and people of 2015

Moving on to some of the worst things that happened this past year: the passage of the Dark Act on July 23,2015 in the House of Representatives is certainly on top of that list. The so-called ‘Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015’ sponsored by Mike Pompeo was an attempt to give the biotech industry everything they have dreamed about for decades while spitting in the face of millions of Americans who have the right to know what they are feeding themselves and their children.

Fortunately the bill did not pass through the Senate or get added on as a rider in the federal budget bill, but supporters – most notably Senator Stabenow – have vowed to take up this issue once again in January.

And this past year, there were new major GMO brands released into our world including  GMO apples and GMO potatoes. The potatoes have already entered the market, unlabeled of course. The GMO Arctic apple trees, whose apples are designed not to turn brown ,were approved and the apples will soon be harvested.  wordpress gmo apple

A journalist got her hands on some and fed them to her kids and wrote that there was nothing to fear, they are safe! The usual suspects, the shills and trolls showed up on the article to unleash the usual vomitous spew of lies and disinformation.

Another article was published where the author encouraged readers “to take a bite” because these new GMO apples were “perfectly safe.”

I had to make a comment:

So .. which animal studies were conducted to prove these were safe before approval and before being grown? Oh – there weren’t any? And what about cross-contamination to non-GMO apple trees? Just curious, you know … once genetic pollution occurs, there is no going back. Also, just wondering; for decades now the biotech industry has said GMOs will feed the world. How is a non-browning apple going to contribute to that failed promise?

Obviously, some GMO advocates cannot make the distinction between declaring a GMO product as “safe” in an article versus independent long-term chronic toxicity studies that have been published in peer-reviewed journals, and whose findings have been validated (or not) by further studies. Saying that a GMO product is safe without proper scientific studies is nothing more than a form of disinformation and propaganda – it is not science. Those so-called “scientists” who advocate for GMOs who know that declaring a GMO product to be safe in this way (while not substantiating it with proper citations to legitimate scientific studies) AND who do nothing to counter these empty claims in the comment section of these articles are committing a grave ethical and moral scientific sin. Such advocates who should know better tend to make supportive comments in such articles about how yummy these apples are – without pointing out the inherent flaws in such safety assertions, and consequently lose all credibility as “experts” in the field.

Along with the apples came the GMO potatoes! These lovely products, like the GMO apples, use a different genetic modification called RNA interference (RNAi).   I wonder if the author who fed her kids those apples would have if she had read this study first:  “Off-target Effects of Plant Transgenic RNAi: Three Mechanisms Lead to Distinct Toxicological and Environmental Hazards – Draft Report,” By Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD, published by: The Bioscience Resource Project, May 2015 (24 pages). But then I think, would someone who feeds their kids a product that has not undergone long term chronic toxicity studies and declares them to be safe because her kids didn’t die – would such a person even read 24 page study first before feeding her kids those things? No. Probably not.

To paraphrase David Suzuki, at the very least, these products should be labeled so that consumers can make an informed choice about whether or not they want to engage in this experiment by eating GMO foods.

wordpress forrest gump gmo not safe

 

Special Awards for 2015: 

Republican representative Mike Pompeo  wins TWO awards this year; after review it was determined that ONE award wasn’t good enough. First, Pompeo receives the Most Hypocritical Award this year for his sponsorship of the Dark Act. On the one hand, he believed it was his sacred duty to restrict the right of people to know what they are eating, claiming in effect that it’s not up to the American people to decide what to know about the food they eat, it’s up to Congress. Yet at the same time he was declaring this nonsense, he addressed parents on his webpage about education and said, “No one knows what’s best for your children better than you – as a parent – do.”  Aside from the poor use of the English language, the obvious conclusion here is that no one knows better than a parent what is best for their child — except when it comes to being informed about the choices that parent makes about feeding those children – oh no. That decision is left up to Mike Pompeo and the supporters of the Dark Act.pompeo is evil liar

Pompeo wins another prize – beating Senators Stabenow and Roberts. Yes, Pompeo wins the Biotech Puppet of the Year Award. It’s not enough to just tell lie after lie after lie about GMOs, and about the people who object to them, and about the so-called consensus of safety, or even the lie about the increase in food prices if GMO labels happen, and more. No, all of this has to be told with a religious fanaticism of insane proportions that make him reek of the kind of poison pushing puppet he truly is. All the while, his lies have caused his mind to twist into delusions which have evolved so deeply that he now sees himself as some sort of self-appointed Messiah of the No Labels on GMOs campaign without realizing his strings are being pulled by the mighty masters behind the scene.

 

The biggest LIAR of the year has to go to Robb Fraley, chief technology officer of Monsanto who stated in an interview, “In the 20 years these products have been used commercially, there has not been a single food or feed safety problem associated with them.” wordpress 2robb fraley monsanto liar

It would be laughable if the U.S. media would have challenged him with actual facts, but that has never happened; the mainstream media is a complete failure on reporting this subject from an informed point of view.

 

Winner of the Most Misinformed Member of Congress this past year: Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA). During his little speech just prior to the vote in the House on the Dark Act, Newhouse made inflammatory comments about the motivations of those who oppose HR 1599 which enraged at least one congressman who called for a point of order. After the interruption of Newhouse’s spew occurred, Newhouse shifted gears and said that to be pro-biotech was to be pro-environment; that Golden Rice will prevent blindness and death around the world; that GM products and this biotechnology will save millions and millions of lives; and that – this is true, he said this: that HR 1599 will allow consumers to be aware of what they buying. But mostly he wins the award for the most misinformed Congressman of the year for saying that the USDA and the FDA “rigorously test every biotech crop for human safety for years before anything can be brought to market.” This is absolutely false. Again, this would be laughable were it not for the fact that Newhouse is one of the people who will have a vote on any related GMO issues. Please, people of Washington, vote him out of office.

 

wordpress stupid it burns

The USDA and the FDA do not do any testing whatsoever – much less safety tests, and certainly not for years, and absolutely not rigorously. The law does NOT even require that GMO brands undergo safety studies at all. And when the illusion of safety is placed upon a brand, it is because the FDA has accepted the word of the biotech company who claims they are safe. That is the “rigorous years-long safety human study”: Monsanto tells the FDA “Oh yeah, sure, this stuff is safe” and the FDA says, “Okay, if you say so!”

wordpress 2 fda gmo safe

 

 

Lipstick on a Pig Award

lipstick on a pig small

For the Lipstick on a Pig Award, it is a tie split between Senator Stabenow and Senator Roberts (Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry) who declared they would not use the term GMO prior to the Senate hearing on October 21, 2015, but instead they would use the term biotechnology. “We don’t call it GMO; we call it biotechnology for a purpose. We are trying to prove to the American people that their food is safe,”  Roberts said. (Here’s a helpful hint Senator Roberts: you don’t prove GMOs are ‘safe’ by giving them a different name).

Later, during the hearing itself, Senator Stabenow said that she believed that “Biotechnology is proven to be safe.” (A little after the 19:00 mark)

Well no matter what you call it, it doesn’t change the facts: GMOs are in the marketplace unlabeled and there are no federal requirements  prior to the release of them in the marketplace to undergo long-term chronic toxicity studies that are then independently verified by more studies. There are no requirements for post-marketing studies to determine adverse events either in the environment or on human health – or for that matter, the sociological and socioeconomic impact of those products on the society in general.

Oh, and just one small point: biotechnology is a field of study, just like biology, astronomy, zoology, and so on (there are least 600 named fields of study with the use of the ‘ology.’ You see, ‘ology’ means a subject of study; a branch of knowledge). So using a term that represents an entire field of study in place of the term used universally for products is illogical and stupid. To further that level of stupidity, Stabenow declares that the entire field of study known as biotechnology is ‘safe.’ This is also incredibly illogical and stupid.  Biotechnology is neither safe nor unsafe; it is a branch of knowledge. Now the by-products of that field of study are called (in this context) genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

And no rational, intelligent and honest person can make a sweeping generalization that all GMOs in the past present and future were, are, or will be safe (in other words, those trolls and shills who spew this nonsense, do not meet the criteria for rationality, intelligence, and honesty). This is certainly true with medications – you don’t hear people making sweeping generalization about medications because everyone knows each one is unique and concluding that all medications are safe because one or more safe is absurd. So it’s very odd and disturbing that the people who are making laws in this country apply that irrational, pseudoscientific illogic to GMOs. They clearly have no understanding of even the most fundamental aspects of this complex subject whatsoever. To really understand GMOs and their application in real-world conditions means moving out of one’s political box or even science box, and undertaking an inter-disciplinary approach that incorporates not just extensive research about the political and scientific aspects, but the sociological implications, the socioeconomic impact, the ethical issues, and more.

Until certain members of Congress are willing to commit themselves to the seriousness of this issue by spending time doing actual research, they would be well-advised to stop spreading myths  and lies and putting lipstick on pigs while preventing Americans the right to know what they are eating and feeding their children.

The end -? or More to report?

There were many other articles, studies and reports that came out this year and there were many other events as well; there were more liars and hypocrites as well. Not every event and publication can be reported here, it would be impractical to try. But I hope that this expanded second edition does help to mention some things that were left out in the first edition.

Remember, let’s all ramp up our activism a notch or ten for this next year. The remnants of the Dark Act will be re-visited again in January, and we must continue to fight for what is right, not just for ourselves and our families, but for future generations as well.

Again, I call on the major leaders of the anti-GMO movement to find a way to address the mainstream media blackout in a way that can enable the country, and by extension, the world, to benefit by having those forces of suppression weakened so that, in the words of Steven Druker, “Truth ultimately triumphs.”

सत्यमेव जयते – Satyameva Jayate (Truth Ultimately Triumphs)

 


 

 

सत्यमेव जयते – Satyameva Jayate

(Truth Ultimately Triumphs)

Re-posting is encouraged, provided the URL of the original is posted with attribution to the original author(s) and all links are preserved. 

Copyright © Jeff Kirkpatrick 2016-2017 Ban GMOs Now All rights reserved.