GMOs in the News – November 2011
Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving – Mom
The good new is that the California Ballot initiative has been filed and we should be ready to start gathering signatures In early January. If you are in California, please join us – even a few hours a month – to help gather signatures from January thorough April. If you are not in California and want GMOs labeled – please donate! Even $5 will make a difference. And getting GMOs labeled in CA will get them labeled for everyone in the US. Companies are not going to have separate labels for one state.
Here’s the donation link: http://www.labelgmos.org/?recruiter_id=958
How much insecticide do Bt plants actually produce?
New publication shows inadequacies in risk assessment
TestBiotech (Munich), 21 November 2011
A new publication by an international research consortium has revealed several inadequacies in current approaches to risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. The publication deals with methods used for measurement in so-called Bt-plants. These plants produce an insecticidal protein (a so-called Bt toxin) that originates from soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis). One example is maize MON810 which is cultivated in some countries in the EU, many others can be imported and used in food and feed. Now for the first time, joint research involving four laboratories has shown that the results produced by industry and other institutions so far are not reliably reproducible and comparable because they are not determined and validated by standardized methods.
The actual content of these Bt toxins is highly relevant for assessing risks for the environment, and also for preventing resistance in pest insects. Without reliable data, the safety of these genetically engineered plants cannot be properly assessed.
András Székács from the Plant Protection Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences summarized relevant findings: “Our data emphasize the importance of standardized protocols among laboratories and provide compelling evidence that, currently, reproducibility and comparability of reported Bt toxin measurements is low. Hence, individual results of Bt toxin concentrations cannot be taken at face value as a definitive result without further validation. An outstanding example is the reporting of Bt concentrations in pollen of MON 810 maize, stemming from very few individual studies only.”
The content of Bt toxin in pollen is a pivotal question when it comes to environmental risk assessment and regulatory decision-making. The pollen can be taken up by various pollinating insects such as honey bees and wild bees, hoverflies and many more. It can also be ingested by butterfly caterpillars that feed on pollen-dusted plants. Toxic pollen is extremely rare in nature but has become wide-spread where genetically engineered Bt-plants are grown. Of similar importance is the Bt content in roots since it might affect important soil organisms and their food web. But also the Bt content in those parts of the plants that are used for food and feed is critical since open questions remain concerning their potential effects on health. Additionally, only very little research has investigated the impact of various environmental factors on the Bt toxin production in different Bt plant varieties and plant parts. Thus, reliable methods for measuring Bt concentrations in Bt plants that can be compared among studies are indispensable and urgently needed.
By Matt Spaeth on November 16, 2011
In Boulder, CO, the fight to keep GMOs off county lands is entering the final rounds. After months of deliberation, an agricultural policy group has recommended that GMOs be allowed on open space land and the people of Boulder county are making sure their leaders know they do not approve. Their message is being heard and the collective thorn is growing in Monsanto’s side. Will the county commissioners side with the corporations or the people?
The joint session of the Food and Agriculture Policy Council (FAPC) and the Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission (POSAC) saw a huge turnout Tuesday night at the Longmont Convention Center. The purpose of this meeting was to publicly present and receive comments on the current agricultural policy recommendations set forth by the members of the Cropland Policy Advisory Group (CPAG). The Boulder Cropland Policy encompasses many aspects of agriculture, but the main issue is whether to let farmers grow GMO crops on public open space land. While this group could not come to a consensus on the GMO issue, the majority of the members recommended that GMOs be allowed on open space land.
Boulder, known for its progressive stance on sustainability and the environment, naturally attracts more health-oriented people than the national average. Local surveys have shown that 71% of the people do not approve of GMOs being grown on county land. Proponents for both sides of the issue were in attendance, but the crowd’s reaction to the meeting’s proceedings made it overwhelmingly clear who was the majority. Concerned citizens arrived carrying posters and the applauses for non-GMO statements were so long and numerous, the facilitator requested they be withheld.
Each citizen was given three minutes to speak. The vast majority expressed their concerns about the safety of GMO crops, their associated chemical application, and possible contamination issues. They spoke out against the conflict of interest, political influence and corporate greed that has affected national GMO public policy.
Members of the Boulder GMKnow Group, a local non-GMO awareness group organized by Scott and Mary Smith, were not satisfied with the recommended agricultural policy and wrote their own. This new policy, called the Citizens Cropland Policy was read by 25 members in 3-minute intervals and is available for viewing and endorsement on their website.
The opposite camp showed up as well. Standing out like sore thumbs, the large men, wearing blazers and cowboy hats, stood mostly in the back of the room. Their arguments were that GMOs made it easier for them to make more money.
During the public comments, an unidentified man in red shirt, who expounded on the benefits of GMOs to the panel, was later questioned as to his affiliations by an elderly man in the crowd. The red-shirted man pushed the elderly man and told him to “sit down”. It was later revealed to the panel that the red-shirted man is a Monsanto employee.
Read more, great Monday Mania Posts here: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/2011/11/monday-mania-11282011/
Read more, great Real Food Wednesday posts here: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2011/11/real-food-wednesday-11302011.html
Read more, great Simple Lives Thursday posts here: http://gnowfglins.com/2011/11/30/simple-lives-thursday-72/