Second Discovery of GMO Wheat Reveals ‘Failed Policy’ That Threatens Farmers

USDA says genetically engineered wheat discovered on Montana farm

by Andrea Germanos, CommonDreams staff writer

“Coexistence between genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered crops is a failed policy that fundamentally cannot work,” stated Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety. (Photo:  luke chan/flickr/cc)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday revealed that it was opening an investigation into the appearance of unapproved genetically engineered wheat in Montana.

It marks the second time the USDA is issuing notice of a discovery of rogue genetically engineered (or GMO) wheat. There is no commercially-approved GMO wheat.

According to a statement issued by the USDA, the discovery of the Roundup-resistant GMO wheat was made in July at Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Montana. That location was the site of Monsanto-led GMO wheat trials, approved by the USDA, from 2000 to 2003.

The agency stated that the GMO wheat found at the Montana site is different from the rogue GMO wheat spotted in 2013 on an 80-acre Oregon farm which was not the site of trial tests. That discovery sparked international backlash, with Japan and South Korea suspending some imports of U.S. wheat and the European Union calling for more testing of U.S. wheat. It also sparked a class action lawsuit by U.S. wheat farmers against Monsanto, charging that the GMO wheat finding caused them economic damage.

In the same announcement issued Friday, the USDA states that it is ending the investigation into the Oregon GMO wheat discovery, stating that it “appears to be an isolated incident,” and that the Oregon wheat is “significantly different” from the Montana wheat.

It states that there is no evidence that there is now GMO wheat in commerce and that it is unclear how the GMO wheat ended up on the Oregon farm.

Watchdog group Center for Food Safety, however, charges that the new discovery poses a threat to farmers and should be a call to stop open-air field trials.

“Once again, USDA and the biotech industry have put farmers and the food supply at risk,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “Coexistence between genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered crops is a failed policy that fundamentally cannot work. Genetic contamination is a serious threat to farmers across the country.”

“USDA cannot keep treating these as isolated incidents; contamination is the inevitable outcome of GMO crop technology,” he added. “USDA should, at a minimum, immediately place a moratorium on open-air field testing of genetically engineered crops.”


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Advocacy: Stop the Approval of GMO Apples

The USDA is poised to approve the first genetically modified apple.

Tell the USDA to say no to GMO apples.

If approved, these genetically engineered apples could end up everywhere from school lunches to grocery stores, posing risks to our health, our environment and apple farmers across the United States.

This new GMO Arctic Apple® was engineered for purely cosmetic reasons — it lacks the enzymes that cause apples to brown when cut. However, browning in apples can be prevented naturally by applying lemon juice or another source of vitamin C, making this new risky genetically engineered apple unnecessary.

Thanks to the help of thousands of people like you, McDonald’s and Gerber recently confirmed to Friends of the Earth that they have no plans to sell the GMO Arctic Apple® — wisely siding with consumers and apple growers that are rejecting this risky, unnecessary, unlabeled apple.

Tell the USDA that the GMO Arctic Apple® should not be approved.

The GMO Arctic Apple® is a problem masquerading as a solution. Without natural browning, apples may look fresh when they are actually decaying. Scientists believe apples’ natural browning enzyme may help to fight diseases and pests, meaning that farmers may have to increase their pesticide use on these new GMO apples. Apples already carry some of the highest levels of toxic pesticide residues, many of them linked to hormone disruption, reproductive harm and even ADHD.

Like other GMOs, it won’t be labeled and won’t have undergone independent safety testing — regulators will rely on the company’s sole assessment that the apple is safe for human consumption.

Worse yet, this GMO apple was genetically engineered via a new, virtually untested experimental technique called RNA interference, which many scientists are concerned may have negative, unintended impacts on human health and the environment.

Current Status of the “Monsanto Rider”

A while ago, I wrote to Senator Reid regarding the “Monsanto Rider” that allows Monsanto’s genitically-engineered crops to stay in the ground while judicial review of their “de-regulated” status is underway.  Here’s my response from Senator Reid:

Dear Ms. Rock:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about policies affecting genetically engineered crops during the appropriations process. I appreciate hearing from you regarding this important issue.

I took note of your concerns regarding Section 735 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 (H.R. 933), better known as the “Monsanto rider.” This provision allows genetically engineered crops that have been de-regulated by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to stay in the ground, notwithstanding pending legal challenges. Specifically, the provision instructs the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for continued cultivation of crops or plants while a judicial review of their non-regulated status is underway. Since H.R. 933 simply extended prior provisions and spending levels, the Monsanto rider was unfortunately included in the funding resolution. This was signed into law on Tuesday, March 26, 2013, but it will expire on September 30th.

As you may know, the Senate is currently negotiating with the House of Representatives on a Continuing Resolution for appropriations to fund the federal government. However, you will be pleased to know that the Senate version of the Continuing Resolution explicitly prevents the extension of the so-called Monstano rider. As Congress continues work on legislation to provide funding for the 2014 Fiscal Year, I will be sure to keep your opposition to this provision in mind.

My best wishes to you.

Sincerely,

HARRY REID

United States Senator

HR:vb

Pesticide Use Spikes as GMO Failure Cripples Corn Belt

Midwest farmers douse their fields in chemicals as insects grow resistant to Bt Corn

– Sarah Lazare, staff writer


Pesticides Poured on Illinois Cornfield (Photo: Fig and Sage)

Pesticide use is skyrocketing across the Midwestern U.S. corn belt, as biotech companies like Syngenta and AMVAC Chemical watch their pesticide sales spike 50 to 100 percent over the past two years, NPR reported Tuesday.

The culprit? Bt corn—a type of genetically engineered corn with insecticide built into its genes.

Variations of this corn strain—peddled across the world by large multinationals including Monstanto and Syngenta—are giving rise to Bt resistant insects and worms, studies show.

NPR reports that resistant ‘pests’ are decimating entire cornfields across Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Yet, now that the targeted insect killings are not working, big agribusiness is simply throwing pesticides at the problem instead of moving away from GMOs.

This is despite warnings last year from the Environmental Protection Agency that unrestrained use of Bt corn will off-set the balance of the ecosystem.

Monsanto denies the severity of the damage wrought by Bt corn, assuring customers that many farmers ‘have great success.’

Environmental groups have long warned that Bt corn is a danger to non-‘pest’ insects. In a 2004 briefing, Greenpeace showed that the effects of non-targeted insect killings ripple throughout the ecosystem.

Critics charge that the modified corn—which is spread by big agribusiness, pushed to small farmers, and crossbred with non GMO strains—undermines food diversity and security and devastates small-scale, sustainable farmers and peasants.

The revelation comes after scientists recently warned that pollution runoff from Midwestern farms, carried to the ocean by the Mississippi, is slated to create the largest ocean dead zone recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, choking marine life that crosses its path.


(Photo: Digital Journal)

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Bayer’s Toxic Clothianidin is Killing the Bees

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Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags! It’s not just the State and Defense departments that are reeling this month from leaked documents. The Environmental Protection Agency now has some explaining to do, too. In place of dodgy dealings with foreign leaders, this case involves the German agrichemical giant Bayer; a pesticide with an unpronounceable name, clothianidin; and an insect species crucial to food production (as well as a food producer itself), the honeybee.

There’s a great article on “Grist” that walks you through the significance of using genetically modified seeds to grow genetically hostile crops that are potentially at the root of colony collapse disorder.  Here’s an excerpt:

Suppliers sell seeds pre-treated with it. Like other members of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides, clothianidin gets “taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen and nectar,” according to Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), which leaked the document along with Beyond Pesticides. That effect makes it highly toxic to a crop’s pests — and also harmful to pollen-hoarding honeybees, which have experienced mysterious annual massive die-offs (known as “colony collapse disorder”) here in the United States at least since 2006. The colony-collapse phenomenon is complex and still not completely understood. While there appears to be no single cause for the annual die-offs, mounting evidence points to pesticides, and specifically neonicotinoids (derived from nicotine), as a key factor.”

“The document [PDF], leaked to Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald, reveals that EPA scientists have essentially rejected the findings of a study conducted on behalf of Bayer that the agency had used to justify the registration of clothianidin … asked l if the scientists’ opinion would inspire the agency to remove clothianidin from the market … [a spokesman] who asked not to be named but who communicated on the record on behalf of the agency, replied that clothianidin would retain its registration and be available for use in the spring.”

 

Think about that a minute and let it sink in.  What are we going to do when the bees are no more, they no longer pollinate our crops, and food supplies begin to dwindle?  Learn more and read Tom Philpott’s full article at Grist: http://grist.org/article/food-2010-12-10-leaked-documents-show-epa-allowed-bee-toxic-pesticide/