A French farmer who can no longer perform his routine farming duties because of permanent pesticide injuries has had his day in court, literally, and the perpetrator of his injuries found guilty of chemical poisoning. The French court in Lyon ruled that Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller formula, which contains the active ingredient alachlor, caused Paul Francois to develop lifelong neurological damage that manifests as persistent memory loss, headaches, and stuttering during speech.
Reports indicate that the 47-year-old farmer sued Monsanto back in 2004 after inhaling the Lasso product while cleaning his sprayer tank equipment. Not long after, Francois began experiencing lasting symptoms that prevented him from working, which he says were directly linked to exposure to the chemical. Since Lasso’s packaging did not bear adequate warnings about the dangers of exposure, Francois alleged at the time that Monsanto was essentially negligent in providing adequate protection for its customers.
To the surprise of many, the French court agreed with the claims and evidence presented before it, declaring earlier this year that “Monsanto is responsible for Paul Francois’ suffering after he inhaled the Lasso product … and must entirely compensate him.” The court is said to be seeking expert opinion on how to gauge Francois’ losses in order to determine precisely how much Monsanto will be required to compensate him in the case.
“It is a historic decision in so far as it is the first time that a (pesticide) maker is found guilty of such a poisoning,” said Francois Lafforgue, Paul Francois’ lawyer, to Reuters earlier in the year.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to alachlor can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, spleen, and eyes, and may lead to the development of anemia and even cancer. The EPA apparently views alachlor as so dangerous, in fact, that the agency has set the maximum contaminant level goals (MCLG) for alachlor to zero in order to “prevent potential health problems.” (http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/alachlor.cfm)
In 2007, France officially banned Lasso from use in the country in accordance with a European Union (EU) directive enacted in 2006 prohibiting the chemical from further use on crops in any member countries. But despite all the evidence proving that alachlor can disrupt hormonal balance, induce reproductive or developmental problems, and cause cancer, the chemical is still being used on conventional crops throughout the U.S. to this very day. (http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_ChemReg.jsp?Rec_Id=PC35160)
“I am alive today, but part of the farming population is going to be sacrificed and is going to die because of (alachlor),” added Francois to Reuters.
Read more at http://www.realfarmacy.com/monsanto-found-guilty-of-chemical-poisoning-in-landmark-case1/#f5f3jg840OUVuQD1.99
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By Jim Webster
WASHINGTON — The drive to require labeling of food with biotech ingredients “is not going to go away,” former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan said today.
“People want to know,” she told the CropLife America 2013 National Food Policy Conference. “I’m not saying it’s a right to know or a need to know, but it’s not going to go away,” she said.
Merrigan pointed out that neither USDA nor the Food and Drug administration has allowed an organic producer to use a biotech-free label, although USDA’s National Organic Program bars biotechnology from production of organic food. “It’s schizophrenic to say you can’t have a GMO free claim,” she said in her first major public appearance since leaving office.
She said that Monsanto concurred with the USDA organic rule that prohibited biotech ingredients on the belief that it would provide an option for people who want to know. “If that logic still reigns, I’m curious why industry is not pressing to allow that ‘organic plus GMO free’ claim.”
She also suggested that food safety regulators should be more sensitive to the needs of small- and medium-scale producers and food processors. Food Safety Modernization Act regulations under development by FDA have “the potential to transform, disrupt, improve and potentially destroy some operations,” she said.”It’s really big. It could really change agriculture and certain parts of our industry more than you realize.”
“No one gets a pass on food safety, but sometimes I worry about the bureaucracy not always being as creative as they might be in achieving the same level of food safety” at small and medium size operations,” she said.
Asked why she left USDA, Merrigan did not answer directly but said there has been “a mass exodus of deputies across the federal government. We’re a big club. I do believe it’s the hardest job in the federal government. There’s a lot of pressure there.”
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Dr. Phil Howard updates his popular infographic on the organic food industry
The latest version of Who Owns Organics has been released by Dr. Phil Howard, an Assistant Professor at Michigan State. Dr. Howard teaches in the University’s Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies program. The latest update now includes the top 100 food processors in North America.
According to Dr. Howard, acquisitions and changes in the organic industry have been picking up this year. Hain Celestial has acquired Ella’s Kitchen, and Danone acquiring Happy Family just this month. And Hain Celestial’s CEO stated earlier this year that they intend to acquire several more firms in the range of $25 to $30 million.
Furthermore, notes Dr. Howard, Boulder Brands (which is not a top 100 firm, but is publicly traded, and owns the brands Earth Balance and Udi’s), announced this year that they plan to invest in more natural and organic food companies.
You can view a full-size version of the latest chart by clicking here
Food Safety News
By Michele Simon
Last month, the International Food Information Council Foundation released the third edition of its report: Food Biotechnology: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding. What sounds like a reasonable and helpful document is in fact the product of a well-oiled PR machine whose board of trustees includes executives from such food giants such as Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, and Mars.
In response to such tactics, I have authored a new report for Center for Food Safety that exposes the well-funded organizations and highly-sophisticated public relations strategies increasingly deployed to defend the food industry.
Best Public Relations Money Can Buy: A Guide to Food Industry Front Groups describes how Big Food and Big Ag hide behind friendly-sounding organizations such as: the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, the Center for Consumer Freedom, and the Alliance to Feed the Future. The idea is to fool the media, policymakers, and general public into trusting these sources, despite their corporate-funded PR agenda.
With growing concern over the negative impacts of our highly industrialized and overly processed food system, the food industry has a serious public relations problem on its hands. Instead of cleaning up its act, corporate lobbyists are trying to control the public discourse. As a result, industry spin is becoming more prevalent and aggressive.
For example, the same group cited above – the International Food Information Council – in addition to publishing industry friendly reports, also infiltrates professional conferences such as the annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the nation’s trade association for registered dieticians.
In 2011, IFIC moderated a panel at this event called, “How Risky is Our Food? Clarifying the Controversies of Chemical Risks,” in which the take-away message was not to worry about pesticides, and anybody who tells you otherwise is scaremongering and non-scientifically valid. At the 2012 conference last fall, IFIC was back again, with representatives on four separate panels, including dispelling any concerns about food additives.
In addition to IFIC, other front groups that have been around for some time include the notorious industry attack dog, Center for Consumer Freedom, which began in the 1990s with funding from tobacco giant Philip Morris.
In the recent controversy in New York City over limiting the size of sugary beverages, CCF took out full-page ads in major newspapers showing Mayor Michael Bloomberg dressed as a woman with the tagline, “New Yorkers need a Mayor, not a Nanny.” Name-calling and scaremongering are very effective tactics for distracting away from the issue at hand: a serious public health problem.
Big Soda also invented an entirely new front group to do its bidding called “New Yorkers for Beverage Choices,” which pretended to represent individuals, but in fact was funded by the American Beverage Association, the Washington DC-based lobbying arm of the soft drink industry. It’s a brilliant strategy when you realize that creating a group named “Coke and Pepsi Opposing Public Health in New York” just wouldn’t fly.
By relying on a front group such as the Center for Consumer Freedom to do its dirty work, well-known companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are able to keep their noses clean, and their valuable brand reputations intact.
This report is extremely timely because now more than ever new front groups are forming so quickly that it can be hard to keep up. And with deliberately confusing names such as Alliance to Feed the Future, Center for Food Integrity, and Global Harvest, it can be challenging to tell the good guys from the bad. I often have to remind people not to confuse the industry front group Center for Food Integrity with either the Center for Food Safety or the Food Integrity Campaign. Front groups position themselves cleverly to try and confuse media outlets, which too often just assume the information is coming from a reliable source.
The new report answers such questions as, “What is the Different Between Trade Groups and Front Groups?” (mostly that trade groups lobby, while front groups rely more on PR), “What are Common Front Group Tactics?” (scaremongering and buying science, for example) and “How Can We Fight Front Groups?” Most importantly, the report contains numerous examples of front groups, including recently formed groups created in response to heightened criticism and awareness, along with scientific “institutes” invented by such food giants such as Coca-Coca, Nestlé, and General Mills.
Junk food companies, the biotech industry, and big agribusiness are all on the defense because the nation is waking up to the myriad problems our industrialized food system has created, from public health epidemics to environmental disasters to horrific exploitation of humans and animals alike. It’s a testament to the food movement’s success that industry is responding with such sophisticated and well-funded public relations efforts.
But we can’t allow these disingenuous and deceptive tactics to undermine our good work. It’s imperative that reporters, policymakers, and the general public do their homework to learn exactly who is behind these industry front groups and not fall for their biased propaganda and public relations stunts. You can start by reading and sharing this report, which you can download HERE.
This article was originally published by the Center for Food Safety Blog March 14, 2013.
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Independent Science News
By Claire Robinson and Jonathan Latham, PhD
Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, has jested that instead of scientific peer review, its rival The Lancet had a system of throwing a pile of papers down the stairs and publishing those that reached the bottom. On another occasion, Smith was challenged to publish an issue of the BMJ exclusively comprising papers that had failed peer review and see if anybody noticed. He replied, “How do you know I haven’t already done it?”
As Smith’s stories show, journal editors have a lot of power in science – power that provides opportunities for abuse. The life science industry knows this, and has increasingly moved to influence and control science publishing.
The strategy, often with the willing cooperation of publishers, is effective and sometimes blatant. In 2009, the scientific publishing giant Elsevier was found to have invented an entire medical journal, complete with editorial board, in order to publish papers promoting the products of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck. Merck provided the papers, Elsevier published them, and doctors read them, unaware that the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine was simply a stuffed dummy.
Fast forward to September 2012, when the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) published a study that caused an international storm (Séralini, et al. 2012). The study, led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen, France, suggested a Monsanto genetically modified (GM) maize, and the Roundup herbicide it is grown with, pose serious health risks. The two-year feeding study found that rats fed both suffered severe organ damage and increased rates of tumors and premature death. Both the herbicide (Roundup) and the GM maize are Monsanto products. Corinne Lepage, France’s former environment minister, called the study “a bomb”.
Subsequently, an orchestrated campaign was launched to discredit the study in the media and persuade the journal to retract it. Many of those who wrote letters to FCT (which is published by Elsevier) had conflicts of interest with the GM industry and its lobby groups, though these were not publicly disclosed.
The journal did not retract the study. But just a few months later, in early 2013 the FCT editorial board acquired a new “Associate Editor for biotechnology”, Richard E. Goodman. This was a new position, seemingly established especially for Goodman in the wake of the “Séralini affair”.
Richard E. Goodman is professor at the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, University of Nebraska. But he is also a former Monsanto employee, who worked for the company between 1997 and 2004. While at Monsanto he assessed the allergenicity of the company’s GM crops and published papers on its behalf on allergenicity and safety issues relating to GM food (Goodman and Leach 2004).
Goodman had no documented connection to the journal until February 2013. His fast-tracked appointment, directly onto the upper editorial board raises urgent questions. Does Monsanto now effectively decide which papers on biotechnology are published in FCT? And is this part of an attempt by Monsanto and the life science industry to seize control of science?
To equate one journal with “science” may seem like an exaggeration. But peer-reviewed publication, in the minds of most scientists, is science. Once a paper is published in an academic journal it enters the canon and stands with the discovery of plate tectonics or the structure of DNA. All other research, no matter how groundbreaking or true, is irrelevant. As a scientist once scathingly said of the “commercially confidential” industry safety data that underpin approvals of chemicals and GM foods, “If it isn’t published, it doesn’t exist.”
Goodman’s ILSI links
The industry affiliations of FCT’s new gatekeeper for biotechnology are not restricted to having worked directly for Monsanto. Goodman has an active and ongoing involvement with the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). ILSI is funded by the multinational GM and agrochemical companies, including Monsanto. It develops industry-friendly risk assessment methods for GM foods and chemical food contaminants and inserts them into government regulations.
ILSI describes itself as a public interest non-profit but its infiltration of regulatory agencies and influence on risk assessment policy has become highly controversial in North America and Europe. In 2005 US-based non-profits and trade unions wrote to the World Health Organization (WHO) protesting against ILSI’s influence on international health standards protecting food and water supplies. As a result, the WHO barred ILSI from taking part in WHO activities setting safety standards, because of its funding sources. And in Europe in 2012, Diana Banati, then head of the management board at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), had to resign over her undisclosed long-standing involvement with ILSI (Robinson et al. 2013).
Goodman’s appointment to FCT is surprising also for the fact that the journal already has expertise in GM food safety. Of the four senior editors, José L. Domingo is a professor of toxicology and environmental health and author of two comprehensive reviews of GM food safety studies (Domingo 2007; Domingo and Bordonaba 2011). Both reviews expressed skepticism of the thesis that GMOs are safe. Consequently, it is far from clear why FCT needs an “associate editor for biotechnology”, but it is clear why Monsanto would have an interest in ensuring that the “Séralini affair” is never repeated.
Editing the scientific record: The case of Paul Christou
FCT is not the only academic journal that appears to have been captured by commercial interests. After the initial campaign failed to get FCT to retract the Séralini study, the journal Transgenic Research published a heavy-handed critique of the study and of the researchers themselves (Arjo et al., 2013). The lead author of that critique was Paul Christou.
Christou and co-authors castigated the editor of FCT for publishing the study, calling it “a clear and egregious breach of the standards of scientific publishing”. They insisted that the journal editor retract the study “based on its clearly flawed data, its breaches of ethical standards, and the strong evidence for scientific misconduct and abuse of the peer-review process”. “Even a full retraction of the Séralini article” wrote Christou, “will not cleanse the Internet of the inflammatory images of tumorous rats.”
The same writers further implied that the Séralini study was “fraudulent”, that the researchers failed to analyse the data objectively, and that the treatment of the experimental animals was inhumane.
This is not the first time Christou has attacked scientific findings that have raised doubts about GM crops. In 2001 Ignacio Chapela and David Quist of the University of California, Berkeley, reported in the journal Nature that indigenous Mexican maize varieties had become contaminated with GM genes (Quist and Chapela, 2001). This issue was, and remains, highly controversial since Mexico is the genetic centre of origin for maize. In an exact parallel with the Séralini study, an internet campaign was waged against Chapela and Quist demanding that the journal retract the study. Then Christou, just as he was later to do with the Séralini study, attacked Chapela and Quist’s paper in an article in Transgenic Research. The title said it all: “No credible scientific evidence is presented to support claims that transgenic DNA was introgressed into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico” (Christou, 2002).
Responding to the campaign, Nature editor Philip Campbell asked Chapela and Quist for more data, which they provided, and arranged another round of peer review. Only one reviewer in the final group of three supported retraction, and no one had presented any data or analysis that contradicted Chapela and Quist’s main finding. Nevertheless, Nature asserted, “The evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper”. Some subsequent investigations, testing different samples, reported finding GM genes in native landraces of Mexican corn (Pineyro-Nelson et al. 2009), while others did not (Ortiz-Garcia et al. 2005).
Paul Christou, in contrast, probably did not have much trouble getting either of his critiques published in Transgenic Research. He is the journal’s editor-in-chief. And, like Goodman, Christou is connected to Monsanto. Monsanto bought the GM seed company Agracetus (Christou’s former employer) and Monsanto now holds patents for the production of GM crops on which Christou is named as the inventor. It is normal practice to declare inventor status on patents as a competing interest in scientific articles, but Christou did not disclose either conflict of interest – his editorship of the journal or his patent inventor status – in his critique of the Séralini study.
The Ermakova affair: Preemptive editing of the scientific record
Not only can journal editors prevent the publication of research showing problems with GM crops in their own journals – they can effectively prevent publication elsewhere. In 2007, the leading academic journal Nature Biotechnology featured an extraordinary attack on the work of Russian scientist, Irina Ermakova (Marshall, 2007). Her laboratory research had found decreased weight gain, increased mortality, and decreased fertility in rats fed GM Roundup-tolerant soy over several generations (Ermakova, 2006; Ermakova, 2009).
The editor of Nature Biotechnology, Andrew Marshall, contacted Ermakova, inviting her to answer questions about her findings, which she had only presented at conferences. He told her it was “an opportunity to present your own findings and conclusions in your own words, rather than a critique from one side”. Ermakova agreed.
The process that followed was as deceptive as it was irregular. The editor sent Ermakova a set of questions about her research, which she answered. In due course she was sent a proof of what she thought was to be ‘her’ article, with her byline as author.
However, the article that was finally published was very different. Ermakova’s byline had been removed and Marshall’s substituted. Each of Ermakova’s answers to the questions was followed by a lengthy critique by four pro-GM scientists (Marshall, 2007). The proof sent to Ermakova, now revealed as a ‘dummy proof’, had not included these critical comments. Consequently, she was denied the chance to address them in the same issue of the journal. And in the final article the editor had preserved the critics’ references but removed many of Ermakova’s, with the effect that her statements appeared unsubstantiated.
Nature Biotechnology’s treatment of Ermakova attracted condemnation from many scientists. It was also strongly criticized in some media outlets. Harvey Marcovitch, former editor of a scientific journal and now director of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), which sets ethical standards for academic journals, commented, “This is a type of publication which I have never encountered.” He said that while reading it he was struck by “some surprising things”. He was unwilling to speculate as to what exactly happened: “Either the editor was trying out a new form of experimentation, in which not everything went according to plan, or there was indeed a conspiracy or whatever one wants to call it.”
Dr Brian John of the Wales-based campaign group GM-Free Cymru was more blunt, calling the process “tabloid academic publishing involving deception, lies, duplicity and editorial malpractice”.
Amid the uproar, editor Marshall released his email correspondence with Ermakova on the internet. It showed that far from his having “solicited” the comments from the critics, as he had originally claimed, the four pro-GM scientists had themselves approached the journal proposing their “critique”, and even though none of them are toxicologists, Marshall had agreed. The self-selected critics judged Ermakova’s research – which they had never even seen in its complete form – “demonstrably flawed”.
Nature Biotechnology also failed to fully disclose the conflicts of interest of Ermakova’s critics. Bruce Chassy was lead author on two influential ILSI publications, which defined weak risk assessment methodologies for GM crops that were later inserted into the guidelines of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Vivian Moses was chairman of CropGen, a GM industry lobby group with Monsanto among its funders. L. Val Giddings, an industry consultant, was described in the article as formerly of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). Nature Biotechnology omitted to say that Giddings occupied a senior position at BIO – vice president for food and agriculture – and that BIO’s funders include the GM crop companies, Monsanto, Dow and DuPont. The last of the four critics, Alan McHughen, developed a GM flax called Triffid that in 2009 was found to have contaminated flax supplies coming into Europe from Canada. If these interests had been disclosed, readers might have judged the criticism of Ermakova differently.
Open source scientific publishing?
These examples show that the threat to scientific publishing from industry influence is real. The avenues for researchers to publish critical views in science are already few. This is especially true for the high-impact journals that the media notices and that therefore influence public discourse. Equally problematic is that few scientific institutions will support researchers whose findings contradict industry viewpoints, as Chapela found out when UC Berkeley tried to deny him tenure following the controversial maize study. Even fewer funding sources will give to such researchers. Consequently almost all funding of biosafety research finds its way into the hands of researchers with industry ties.
This directly affects the quality of the science produced. A recent literature review found that most studies concluding that GM foods are as safe as non-GM counterparts were performed by the developer companies or their associates (Domingo and Bordonaba, 2011). . It is no coincidence that Norway, a country without an agricultural industry lobby, hosts the only publicly funded institute in the world with a mission to conduct research on the environmental, health and social consequences of genetic engineering.
There are in principle ways within the existing system to mitigate or neutralize the influence of industry on the ability of scientists to publish independent and critical research. The first is transparency in publishing. Journal editors should adopt the COPE guidelines and publish all conflicts of interest among staff and editors.
Also in line with COPE’s stipulation, peer reviewers should be selected to avoid conflicts of interest. If this proves impossible due to the spread of patents and industry research funding, then care must be taken to select a balanced panel representing a plurality of views. FCT is a member of COPE, but does not publish information on editors’ conflicts of interest, and its appointment of Goodman over Domingo shows that it does not seek to avoid them.
There may in fact be a need to critically examine the entire concept of peer review. The limitations of all types of expert opinion – whether that of an individual expert or of an expert panel – are recognized in the field of evidence-based medicine. To address this problem, bodies such as the non-profit Cochrane Collaboration have developed systematic and transparent methodologies to review and evaluate data on the effectiveness of different medical interventions. The aim is to enable healthcare practitioners to make well-informed clinical decisions. The reviewing criteria are transparently set out in advance, so there is less scope for bias in evaluations of studies. When disagreements do occur, it is easy to pinpoint the reason and resolve the problem. Cochrane also implements rules to prevent conflicts of interest among its reviewers and editorial board.
The Cochrane approach is widely respected and the lessons learned in evidence-based medicine about conflicts of interest and resisting industry pressure are being applied to other fields, such as hazardous environmental exposures (Woodruff et al., 2011). There is no reason why scientific journals, including those publishing GMO research, cannot use similar methods to evaluate papers, so that less discretion is given to experts with conflicts of interest.
Implementing such policies presumes strong support among the scientific community for independent science. But this support may not exist outside of medical research.
FCT took on Goodman, a former Monsanto employee and well-known supporter of industry viewpoints, immediately following the publication of a controversial paper that was critical of Monsanto’s principal products. In doing so, FCT senior management bypassed the normal scientific editorial culture of gradual promotion from within.
Meanwhile, two other prominent academic journals have served as platforms for their editors to generate unsubstantiated and unscientific abuse without any repercussions for their editorial positions. Marshall remains editor of Nature Biotechnology. The fact that journal editors get away with such behavior suggests that support for independent research among scientists is generally lacking and that accountability within the scientific publishing world barely exists.
It seems unlikely that scientific journals will address unaided the defects in scientific publishing at FCT and elsewhere. To do so would require confronting the fundamental problem that academic science now largely makes its money from exploiting conflicts of interest. This has become the underlying business model of science. Universities offer ‘independent’ advice to governments while taking corporate money for ‘research’. Corporations offer that money to universities, not for the knowledge it generates, but primarily for the influence it buys.
These same incentives are reinforced at the personal level as well. Individual scientists occupy taxpayer-funded academic positions while benefitting from patents, stocks and industry consultancies. If journals and government agencies took action to eliminate conflicts of interest, the corporate money for science would dry up, because industry-funded scientists would lose influence.
But if scientific journals do not find a way to level the playing field for critical studies, the few scientists who are still able to carry out independent public interest research may need to find an alternative publishing model: public peer review, or ‘open-source science’. Such online collaborative approaches could even revitalize scientific publishing.
Unless radical reform is achieved, peer-reviewed publication, which many hold to be the defining characteristic of science, will have undergone a remarkable inversion. From its origin as a safeguard of quality and independence, it will have become a tool through which one vision, that of corporate science, came to assert ultimate control. Richard Goodman, FCT’s new Associate Editor for biotechnology, now has the opportunity to throw down the stairs only those papers marked “industry approved”.
Arjo G, et al. (2013). Plurality of opinion, scientific discourse and pseudoscience: an in depth analysis of the Séralini et al. study claiming that Roundup Ready corn or the herbicide Roundup cause cancer in rats. Transgenic Research 22: 2 255-267
Christou P (2002). No credible scientific evidence is presented to support claims that transgenic DNA was introgressed into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico. Transgenic Research 11: iii–v
Domingo JL (2007). Toxicity studies of genetically modified plants: a review of the published literature. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 47(8): 721-733
Domingo JL and JG Bordonaba (2011). A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants. Environ Int 37: 734–742.
Ermakova I (2006). Genetically modified soy leads to the decrease of weight and high mortality of rat pups of the first generation. Preliminary studies. Ecosinform. 2006;1:4–9.
Ermakova I (2009). [Influence of soy with gene EPSPS CP4 on the physiological state and reproductive function of rats in the first two generations] [Russian text]. Contemporary Problems in Science and Education 5:15–20.
Marshall A (2007). GM soybeans and health safety – a controversy reexamined. Nat Biotechnol 25: 981–987.
Ortiz-Garcia S, et al. (2005). Absence of detectable transgenes in local landraces of maize in Oaxaca, Mexico. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102: 18242.
Pineyro-Nelson A, et al. (2009). Transgenes in Mexican maize: molecular evidence and methodological considerations for GMO detection in landrace populations. Mol Ecol 18(4): 750-761.
Quist D and IH Chapela (2001). Transgenic DNA introgressed into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico. Nature 414(6863): 541-543.
Robinson, C, et al. (2013). Conflicts of interest at the European Food Safety Authority erode public confidence. J Epidemiol Community Health.doi:10.1136/jech-2012-202185.
Séralini GE, et al. (2012). Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food and Chemical Toxicology 50(11): 4221-4231.
Woodruff TJ, et al. (2011). An evidence-based medicine methodology to bridge the gap between clinical and environmental health sciences. Health Aff (Millwood) 30(5): 931-937.
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International Business Times
By Connor Adams Sheets
An amendment inserted into the 2013 Farm Bill passed by the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee Wednesday would revoke the ability of individual states’ lawmakers to pass GMO-labeling laws, food advocates warn.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, is the newest salvo in an ongoing battle between food advocates and companies like Monsanto that create and sell genetically modified and genetically engineered seeds, which grow into GMO crops and find their way into an estimated 70 percent of processed foods in American grocery stores.
The figurative jury is still out on whether or not genetically modified and genetically engineered foods have negative health impacts on humans, but supporters of GMO-labeling point to studies showing a range of potential risks, from kidney and liver damage to reproductive system issues.
But even if GMO foods are proven to be entirely healthy for human consumption, food advocates contend that the public has a right to know what is on their plates, and that in order for that to be possible, foods containing crops that were genetically engineered need to be labeled, just as the Food and Drug Administration requires that labels tell consumers how much caffeine is contained in a given food or beverage.
But King’s amendment, dubbed the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA), may put an end to efforts by state lawmakers in states like Vermont and Connecticut to enact state-level GMO-labeling laws. Here’s how King described the amendment in a Wednesday statement:
“The first King amendment prohibits states from enacting laws that place conditions on the means of production for agricultural goods that are sold within its own borders, but are produced in other states,” he wrote.
On its face, the language may sound fairly innocuous, and aimed squarely at protecting states’ rights. But critics are raising a red flag, suggesting that it is a veiled attempt to block state-level GMO labeling.
“The biotech industry knows that it’s only a matter of time before Washington State, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut and other states pass GMO labeling laws,” the group wrote. “Rather than fight this battle in every state, Monsanto is trying to manipulate Congress to pass a Farm Bill that will wipe out citizens’ rights to state laws intended to protect their health and safety.”
And this isn’t the first time this battle has been waged. When King first introduced the amendment last year in an attempt to attach it to the failed 2012 Farm Bill, Heather White, executive director of the Environmental Working Group, wrote that it would likely be interpreted as a way to preempt states’ efforts to pass laws to require GMO labeling on consumer products.
“This impenetrable language simply means that states would be prevented from regulating just about any agricultural product in commerce,” White wrote, adding that, “This sweeping provision would severely undermine all states’ authority to set standards for environmental protection, food safety or animal welfare. It would apply to genetically engineered food labeling, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) regulation, antibiotics use in meat and other local and state food and farm regulations.”
And now food advocacy groups are motivating to oppose the amendment’s inclusion in the 2013 Farm Bill. More than 14,000 people have signed a MoveOn.org petition protesting the so-called King Amendment, and social media campaigns are gearing up much as they did when the original “Monsanto Protection Act” — which provided legal protections for companies engaged in the production of genetically engineered seeds — came into the public consciousness back in March.
Get ready for a major controversy over “Monsanto Protection Act 2.0,” as concerned citizens across the U.S. become aware of the King Amendment.
The post ‘Monsanto Protection Act 2.0′ Would Ban GMO-Labeling Laws At State Level appeared first on Cornucopia Institute.
[NOTE: The Cornucopia Institute is one of the plaintiffs in the Monsanto seed patent lawsuit.]
Local, organic food may be the top choice for some people, but others are fearing for its future.
“They have focused on creating transgenic seeds, which take the DNA from an unrelated species, generally it’s been a bacteria, and they bring that into the plant,” said Patterson.
Monsanto is the largest producer of genetically modified crops.
Patterson has organized a massive lawsuit against the company. The 83 plaintiffs in The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) v. Monsanto are made up of farmers, companies and agricultural organizations from across the United States and Canada. Two central Virginia-based companies, “Southern Exposure Seed Exchange” and “Countryside Organics” are also on the list.
Patterson and OSGATA say the patent on Monsanto’s seeds is a potential problem for organic farmers.
“We believe that they never should have been issued. That they have no utility. They’re destructive. They’re damaging,” said Patterson.
Patterson and others are concerned about what they call “transgenic trespassing,” when a neighboring farmer’s transgenic crops spread to an organic farmer’s field. He also says the patent protection leaves limited public research about the long-term health effects of transgenic food.
In the suit, OSGATA says:
“Not only do transgenic crops violate the property rights of farmers in the same as if a neighbor’s randy, fence-breaking bull impregnated your expensive purebred cattle, it violates the informed-consent health rights of consumers, because they have no way of knowing the long-term health impacts of even 1% of transgenic contamination in food.”
Patterson says many farmers who are victims of transgenic trespassing fear Monsanto will sue them for having its patent-protected seeds on their property.
Monsanto has sued farmers before, but the company says it does not act when trace amounts of their product unintentionally end up in a farmer’s field.
Thomas Helscher, Monsanto’s director of corporate affairs, sent the Newsplex this statement regarding the suit:
“The district court ruling dismissing the case (February, 2012) noted it was simply a transparent effort by Plaintiffs to create a controversy where none exists and further there was neither a history of behavior nor a reasonable likelihood that Monsanto would pursue patent infringement matters against the Plaintiffs. Farmers who have no interest in using Monsanto’s patented seed products have no rational basis to fear a lawsuit from Monsanto, and claims to the contrary, to quote from the district Court, are “groundless” and “baseless.” As was stated in the Court, it has been, and remains, Monsanto’s policy not to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patents are present in a farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means. Nothing presented at the appellate hearing (January, 2013) contradicts this or establishes the Plaintiffs’ hypothetical assertions.
We believe all farmers should have the opportunity to select the production method of their choice – whether organic, conventional or improved seeds developed using biotechnology. All three production systems co-exist and contribute to meeting the needs of consumers. Since the advent of biotech crops more than 15 years ago, both biotech and organic crop production have flourished. We have no reason to think that will not continue to be the case.”
A New York judge dismissed the case in February of 2012. OSGATA appealed in January of this year. They are currently waiting for a decision from the appeals court on the dismissal and say they expect it to come soon.
Earlier in the week, the U.S. Supreme Court settled a separate case involving Monsanto. The unanimous decision ruled farmers may not use patented seed for more than one planting. If they do, they are responsible for damages.
Neonicotinoid insecticides have adverse effects not only on bees but also on freshwater invertebrates. Exposure to low but constant concentrations of these substances — which are highly soluble in water — has lethal effects on these aquatic organisms.
At the end of April, the EU imposed a 2-year ban on the use of neurotoxic agents belonging to the neonicotinoid group. In Switzerland, the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) has followed suit, suspending the authorizations of three insecticides used on oilseed rape and maize fields. These measures have been taken in response to evidence that neonicotinoids are toxic to honeybees and are contributing to the decline of bee colonies.
Problems seen with constant exposure
An Eawag study published today in the journal PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science) now shows that at least one of the insecticides in this class also has toxic effects on freshwater invertebrates. In this study, native freshwater shrimps (gammarids) were exposed to pulsed high and to constant low concentrations of imidacloprid.
Peak concentrations typically occur when rain falls on farmland during or shortly after the application of insecticides; these soluble but persistent substances can then enter surface waters via runoff. Interestingly, pulses lasting no more than a day proved less harmful to the organisms than concentrations that were much lower but persisted for several days or weeks.
While organisms transferred to clean water after pulsed exposure recovered relatively rapidly, constant exposure led to starvation after 2 to 3 weeks. This was because the organisms’ mobility and feeding behaviour was impaired by the neurotoxin.
Failure of conventional toxicity testing
The slow starvation effect observed under constant exposure to low levels of neonicotinoids is not detected by conventional toxicity tests, as they are not carried out over a period of several weeks. In addition, the study indicated that seasonal and environmental factors can be crucial: the results of the experiments are significantly affected by organisms’ initial fitness and lipid reserves.
To eliminate these effects and to identify processes other than starvation that influence survival rates in aquatic organisms, the research team has also developed a mathematical model which makes it possible to predict harmful concentrations and exposure times.
The post Insecticides Lead to Starvation of Aquatic Organisms appeared first on Cornucopia Institute.
Selling seeds, selling out democracy: US State Department does biotech industry’s bidding
By Jacob Chamberlain
The U.S. State Department does the bidding of biotech giants like Monsanto around the world by “twisting the arms of countries” and engaging in vast public campaign schemes to push the sale of genetically modified seeds, according to a new report released Tuesday by Food & Water Watch.
The report, Biotech Ambassadors: How the U.S. State Department Promotes the Seed Industry’s Global Agenda, which pulls from over 900 State Department diplomatic cables (obtained via WikiLeaks), reveals an environment wherein US ambassadors act as sales representatives for the global biotech industry.
U.S. ambassadors and their staffs actively lobby foreign governments to adopt pro-biotechnology policies and laws, create “rigorous public relations campaigns to improve the image of biotechnology” and challenge “commonsense biotechnology safeguards and rules — including opposing genetically engineered (GE) food labeling laws.”
“It really goes beyond promoting the U.S.’s biotech industry and agriculture,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It really gets down to twisting the arms of countries and working to undermine local democratic movements that may be opposed to biotech crops, and pressuring foreign governments to also reduce the oversight of biotech crops.”
As FWW reports, the State Department has gone to great lengths to see that biotech companies’ desires are met:
- The U.S. State Department’s multifaceted efforts to promote the biotechnology industry overseas: The State Department targeted foreign reporters, hosted and coordinated pro-biotech conferences and public events and brought foreign opinion-makers to the United States on high-profile junkets to improve the image of agricultural biotechnology overseas and overcome widespread public opposition to GE crops and foods.
- The State Department’s coordinated campaign to promote biotech business interests: The State Department promoted not only pro-biotechnology policies but also the products of biotech companies. The strategy cables explicitly “protect the interests” of biotech exporters, “facilitate trade in agribiotech products” and encourage the cultivation of GE crops in more countries, especially in the developing world.
- The State Department’s determined advocacy to press the developing world to adopt biotech crops: The diplomatic cables document a coordinated effort to lobby countries in the developing world to pass legislation and implement regulations favored by the biotech seed industry. This study examines the State Department lobbying campaigns in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria to pass pro-biotech laws.
- The State Department’s efforts to force other nations to accept biotech crop and food imports: The State Department works with the U.S. Trade Representative to promote the export of biotech crops and to force nations that do not want these imports to accept U.S. biotech foods and crops.
“It’s not surprising that Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow want to maintain and expand their control of the $15 billion global biotech seed market, but it’s appalling that the State Department is complicit in supporting their goals despite public and government opposition in several countries,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of Organic Consumers Association. “American taxpayer’s money should not be spent advancing the goals of a few giant biotech companies.”
“The biotech agriculture model using costly seeds and agrichemicals forces farmers onto a debt treadmill that is neither economically nor environmentally viable,” said Ben Burkett, President of the National Family Farm Coalition. “An overwhelming number of farmers in the developing world reject biotech crops as a path to sustainable agricultural development or food sovereignty.”
“Thanks, Monsanto. And thanks, State Department. Not only are you selling seeds, you’re selling out democracy,” Hauter concludes.
The post Revealed: How US State Department ‘Twists Arms’ on Monsanto’s Behalf appeared first on Cornucopia Institute.
Congress Should Prioritize Modern, “Healthy Farm” Practices When Farm Bill Debate Re-Starts This Month
Industrial Model of Agriculture Is a Dead End, Scientists Say
Union of Concerned Scientists
WASHINGTON — U.S. agriculture is at a crossroads: continue the polluting, soil-depleting industrialized farming methods of the past, or invest in modern practices of the future. A policy brief and interactive web feature released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shows how several key practices can produce the food we need today while protecting precious natural resources for the long term—benefiting American farmers, consumers and the environment.
“Industrial agriculture sounded good in the 1950s, but it’s not serving us well in the twenty-first century,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist with UCS’s Food and Environment Program and co-author of the policy brief. “To meet the environmental, resource, and production challenges of the future, scientists, policy makers and farmers must work together to invest in a more sustainable kind of agriculture.”
“The Healthy Farm: A Vision for U.S. Agriculture,” identifies and explains four key healthy farm practices that would modernize agriculture to meet today’s challenges:
• Operating farms as part of the natural landscape, preserving uncultivated areas that can harbor beneficial wildlife, actually reduce farmers’ costs and reduce water pollution;
• Growing and rotating a wider variety of crops, which can increase yields while reducing the need for chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers;
• Reintegrating livestock and crops, reducing the problem of manure waste and enhancing soil fertility; and
• Growing cover crops to prevent erosion, reduce weeds, capture and hold nutrients in the soil, and protect farmers against drought.
“The benefits of healthy farms make them a no-brainer,” said Margaret Mellon, senior scientist with UCS’s Food and Environment Program and co-author. “Backed by science, these practices are productive and profitable, and ultimately benefit farmers, consumers, rural economies, and the environment. It’s a win-win.”
Of particular interest as farmers in much of the country face a predicted second year of extraordinary drought, several healthy farm practices can actually protect crops against extreme weather. For example, when planted between growing seasons over a period of years, cover crops improve the soil’s water-holding capacity, reducing the need for irrigation and making cash crops less vulnerable to drought.
The policy brief comes as Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduces the Balancing Food, Farm, and Environment Act, legislation to consolidate and fund conservation programs in the Farm Bill. And with debate on the Farm Bill expected this month, UCS is calling on the House and Senate agriculture committees to prioritize research and incentives to support healthy farm practices.
“Some farmers are already adopting healthy farming practices, but with the right support, research, and incentives, many more could make the switch,” said Gurian-Sherman. “Congress should support healthy farming as an investment in the future.”
View UCS’s interactive web feature to bring the healthy farm vision to life.
By Jim Robbins
THE world’s worrisome decline in biodiversity is well known. Some experts say we are well on our way toward the sixth great extinction and that by 2100 half of all the world’s plant and animal species may disappear.
Yet one of the most important threats to biodiversity has received little attention — though it lies under our feet.
Scientists using new analytical techniques over the last decade have found that the world’s ocean of soil is one of our largest reservoirs of biodiversity. It contains almost one-third of all living organisms, according to the European Union’s Joint Research Center, but only about 1 percent of its micro-organisms have been identified, and the relationships among those myriad life-forms is poorly understood.
Soil is the foundation on which the house of terrestrial biodiversity is built. Without robust soil ecosystems, the world’s food web would be in trouble.
To understand more, scientists recently embarked on what they call the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative to assess what is known about soil life, pinpoint where it is endangered and determine the health of the essential ecosystem services that soil provides.
They are not just looking at soil in remote, far-off landscapes. One of the more intensive studies is taking place in New York’s Central Park.
The focus is on the life that resides in the soil — the microbes, fungi, nematodes, mites and even gophers that make up a complex web of interrelationships.
A teaspoon of soil may have billions of microbes divided among 5,000 different types, thousands of species of fungi and protozoa, nematodes, mites and a couple of termite species. How these and other pieces all fit together is still largely a mystery.
“There’s a teeming organization below ground, a factory, with soil animals and microbes, each with their own role,” said Diana H. Wall, a professor of biology at Colorado State University who has studied soil biodiversity in Antarctica and Kansas over the last two decades and who is the scientific chairwoman of the soil biodiversity initiative. “A leaf falls, and earthworms and termites are constantly ripping and tearing it apart, and microbes and fungi pass the nutrients on to plants.”
Forget the term “dumb as dirt.” The complex soil ecosystem is highly evolved and sophisticated. It processes organic waste into soil. It filters and cleans much of the water we drink and the air we breathe by retaining dust and pathogens. It plays a large role in how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere. Soil, with all of its organic matter, is second to the oceans as the largest carbon repository on the planet. Annual plowing, erosion and other mismanagement releases carbon in the form of carbon dioxide, and exacerbates climate change.
The last decade of research has overturned a key concept. For decades there was a saying among soil scientists — “everything is everywhere,” which meant that soil was largely the same across the globe. That has proved to be spectacularly untrue.
A 2003 study in the journal Ecosystems estimated that the biodiversity of nearly 5 percent of the nation’s soil was “in danger of substantial loss, or complete extinction, due to agriculture and urbanization,” though that was most likely a very conservative guess, since the planet’s soil was even more unexplored then than today, and study techniques were far less developed.
That means that species critical to some important functions could have already disappeared or be on their way out. That’s why the global soil assessment is a matter of some urgency.
There are numerous threats to soil life. Modern tillage agriculture is a big one, because it deprives soil life of organic matter it needs for food, allows it to dry out and adds pesticides, herbicides and synthetic nitrogen. Soil “sealing” from the asphalt and concrete of suburban sprawl destroys soil life, as do heavy machinery and pollution. Even long-ago insults like acid rain still take a toll on life in the soil by having made the soil more acidic.
THE problem is global. In nearly half of Africa, for example, overgrazing and intensive agriculture has destroyed topsoil and led to desertification.
Yet few things are more vital than healthy soil life. Our food supply begins in the soil. Wild plants need healthy soil to grow well, so other species can eat the leaves and seeds and fruit, and predators can eat the plant eaters.
Healthy soil can prevent human disease. Valley fever is found in the southwest United States and is caused by a fungus that becomes airborne when soil dries out and is inhaled. It is rapidly increasing. The soil system also plays what is thought to be a key, if poorly understood, role in the spread of cholera, fungal meningitis and other diseases, which live part of their life cycle in the soil.
Healthy soils also hold the cure for some diseases. Antibiotic compounds are the chemical weapons of competing soil microbes, and most of the antibiotics we use came from there. Scientists are searching soil in various places now for a new class of antibiotics to deal with antibiotic-resistant diseases. Who knows, the answer may lie underneath the fountains and sidewalks of Central Park.
New technologies that enable scientists to study the genes of soil microbes and to track microscopic amounts of carbon and nitrogen as they pass through the soil ecosystem have provided leaps in the understanding of soil ecology. But the more scientists learn, the more they realize how little they know.
Global warming will no doubt greatly compound the threats to soil biodiversity. Food security is a big concern. What will happen to crops as the earth gets warmer? Slight changes in temperatures and moisture can have profound impacts on soil, altering the composition of soil life and the types of plants that will grow. We may no longer be able, for example, to grow wheat in Kansas.
Some plants are expected to gradually migrate north to cooler climates as it warms, but others may not be able to adapt to new soil communities. “The world above ground and the world below are very tightly linked,” said Dr. Wall.
Scientists are also discovering that a healthy soil ecosystem may sustain plants naturally, without chemical inputs. “The greater the soil diversity, the fewer diseases that emerge in plants,” said Eric B. Nelson, who studies soil and disease ecology at Cornell. Insects are also deterred by plants grown in healthy soils, he said.
What can farmers and gardeners do to protect their soils? Practice no-till agriculture for one, Dr. Wall said, which means not plowing every year and allowing dead vegetation to decompose. Backyard gardeners can do the same. Avoiding synthetic chemicals is also important. Adding compost, especially worm compost, can help by making soil ecosystems more robust.
The topic is starting to get the attention it deserves. Dr. Wall was just awarded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, a distinguished prize that comes with $200,000 that she says plans to use for her research. “It’s showtime for soil biodiversity,” Dr. Wall said.
Consumers Union Hails Historic Vermont House Vote As Major Victory For Labeling Of Genetically Engineered Food
Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, commended the Vermont House of Representatives for today’s historic vote passing H-112, requiring the labeling of all genetically engineered (GE) food sold in that state, by an overwhelming margin of 99 to 42. The bill now moves to the Vermont Senate, which will take it up when the legislature returns January 2014. If the Senate passes the bill, Vermont will be the first in the nation to mandate GE labeling.
“Vermont’s historic vote today is a major victory for consumer demand for the labeling of genetically engineered food,” said Michael Hansen, PhD, a biologist and Senior Scientist at Consumers Union. “We commend the members of the Vermont House who voted for this bill, despite an onslaught of industry lobbying against it.”
The Vermont House is the first state legislative body to pass a bill to label GE food, although the state of Alaska passed legislation requiring labeling of GE fish. GE food is required to be labeled in 62 foreign countries, including all of the European Union, Japan, Korea, Australia, and India.
The Vermont bill will go into effect when two other states have passed similar legislation, or within two years from the date of signing. Labeling bills are also pending in Maine, Connecticut, and several other states. “All these states will be hard fought,” said Hansen.
A ballot initiative in California lost in November 2012 by a small margin, 51 to 49 percent. Industry opponents outspent supporters by roughly five to one. A similar GE labeling initiative will be on the ballot in WashingtonState in November 2013. A federal bill to require GE food labeling was recently introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR).
Interest in labeling bills has increased since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed the final steps of its approval process for GE salmon this year. If approved, the salmon would be the first GE animal on the U.S. market and the FDA has said that it does not intend to require labeling of it. Nearly 2 million people recently told the FDA that they oppose approval of GE salmon. H-112 would also require the labeling of GE salmon.
Consumers Union has long supported labeling of GE food and stricter regulatory oversight of GE crops.
# # #
British scientists say they have developed a new type of wheat which could increase productivity by 30%. The process was GMO-free.
The Cambridge-based National Institute of Agricultural Botany has combined an ancient ancestor of wheat with a modern variety to produce a new strain.
In early trials, the resulting crop seemed bigger and stronger than the current modern wheat varieties.
It will take at least five years of tests and regulatory approval before it is harvested by farmers.
Some farmers, however, are urging new initiatives between the food industry, scientists and government.
They believe the regulatory process needs to be speeded up to ensure that the global food security demands of the next few decades can be met, says the BBC’s Tom Heap.
One in five of all the calories consumed round the world come from wheat.
But despite steady improvement in the late 20th century, the last 15 years have seen little growth in the average wheat harvest from each acre in Britain.
Just last month, cereal maker Weetabix announced that it would have to scale back production of some of its products due to a poor wheat harvest in the UK.
Now British scientists think they may have found the answer to increasing productivity again.
Around 10,000 years ago wheat evolved from goat grass and other primitive grains.
The scientists used cross-pollination and seed embryo transfer technology to transfer some of the resilience of the ancient ancestor of wheat into modern British varieties.
The process required no genetic modification of the crops.
Wisconsin Farmer Vernon Hershberger Faces Jail for Feeding Community
Trial of Vernon Hershberger set for May 20-24 in Baraboo, WI
Customers and Other Supporters to Attend Court with Farmer
Food rights activists from around North America will meet in Baraboo, WI at the Sauk County Courthouse May 20th – 24th to support Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger and food sovereignty. Hershberger, whose trial begins May 20, is charged with four criminal misdemeanors that could land this husband and father in county jail for up to 30 months with fines of over $10,000.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), is spending tens of thousands of dollars to prevent Wisconsin citizens from having access to the foods of their choice. The method is to prosecute peaceful farmers like Hershberger, who have contracted directly with individuals actively seeking fresh farm foods, including raw milk and other raw dairy products.
Hershberger is specifically charged with providing raw milk for his members and is facing a week long jury trial with over 70 witnesses. The state will allege he was violating state dairy licensing regulations and defying DATCP orders.
At the center of this case is the billion dollar conventional dairy industry. Dairy is a global commodity, WI ranks 2nd in the nation behind California in milk production. Raw milk proponents have suggested that state regulators are acting under pressure from powerful dairy industry interests while milk is a potent competitor in the marketplace.
In a separate case in 2011, Wisconsin Judge Patrick J. Fiedler ruled …”no, plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of your choice… no right to contract with a farmer… no right to own a cow.” Three weeks later he resigned from the bench and joined a law firm that represents Monsanto – the developer of the first commercialized GMO product, BGH, a growth hormone injected into dairy cows to increase the animal’s milk production.
Hershberger’s supporters contend that everyone needs to get involved and needs to support our dedicated, ethical, organic family farmers and direct marketers. Furthermore, they are calling for development of local food sovereignty laws and an end to government bullying when citizens opt out of the commercial food supply system.
After the trial each day, members of Vernon Hershberger’s Grazin Acres food club are inviting the public to join them at the Al Ringling Theater across the street from the courthouse to hear presentations by leaders in the food rights movement. Notable speakers include Virginia farmer Joel Salatin, author, blogger, David Gumpert, California raw milk producer and activist Mark McAfee, founder of The Cornucopia Institute, Mark Kastel, constitutional scholar Michael Badnarik, and many more.
If you have the opportunity during the week of May 20-24, the open discussion of the facts surrounding the loss of the right to produce and consume the foods of one’s choice should prove both fruitful and educational.
For more information, visit: http://www.farmfoodfreedom.org/event/vernon-hershberger-trial
Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases
Anthony Samsel, Independent Scientist and Consultant
Stephanie Seneff, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT
Abstract: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise.
Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics.
Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport.
Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the “textbook example” of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.
The foodstuffs of the Western diet, primarily grown by industrial agriculture, are increasingly being produced using a two-part system of engineered plant seeds and toxic chemical application. Novel bacterial genes are incorporated through genetic engineering, and toxic chemical residues are readily taken up by the engineered plants. Research indicates that the new bacterial RNA and DNA present in genetically engineered plants, providing chemical herbicide resistance and other traits, have not yet fully understood biological effects. This paper however, will only examine the effects of the chemical glyphosate, the most popular herbicide on the planet.
Glyphosate (N-phosphonomethylglycine), the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup®, is the main herbicide in use today in the United States, and increasingly throughout the World, in agriculture and in lawn maintenance, especially now that the patent has expired. 80% of genetically modified crops, particularly corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets and most recently alfalfa, are specifically targeted towards the introduction of genes resistant to glyphosate, the so-called “Roundup Ready® feature” In humans, only small amounts (~2%) of ingested glyphosate are metabolized to aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), and the rest enters the blood stream and is eventually eliminated through the urine .
Studies have shown sharp increases in glyphosate contamination in streams in the Midwestern United States following the mid 1990s, pointing to its increasing role as the herbicide of choice in agriculture .
A now common practice of crop desiccation through herbicide administration shortly before the harvest assures an increased glyphosate presence in food sources as well [3–5]. The industry asserts that glyphosate is nearly nontoxic to mammals [6,7], and therefore it is not a problem if glyphosate is ingested in food sources. Acutely, it is claimed to be less toxic than aspirin [1,6]. As a consequence, measurement of its presence in food is practically nonexistent.
A vocal minority of experts believes that glyphosate may instead be much more toxic than is claimed, although the effects are only apparent after a considerable time lapse. Thus, while short-term studies in rodents have shown no apparent toxicity , studies involving life-long exposure in rodents have demonstrated liver and kidney dysfunction and a greatly increased risk of cancer, with shortened lifespan .
Glyphosate’s claimed mechanism of action in plants is the disruption of the shikimate pathway, which is involved with the synthesis of the essential aromatic amino acids, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan .
The currently accepted dogma is that glyphosate is not harmful to humans or to any mammals because the shikimate pathway is absent in all animals. However, this pathway is present in gut bacteria, which play an important and heretofore largely overlooked role in human physiology [11–14] through an integrated biosemiotic relationship with the human host. In addition to aiding digestion, the gut microbiota synthesize vitamins, detoxify xenobiotics, and participitate in immune system homeostasis and gastrointestinal tract permeability . Furthermore, dietary factors modulate the microbial composition of the gut .
The incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases such as juvenile onset Crohn’s disease has increased substantially in the last decade in Western Europe  and the United States . It is reasonable to suspect that glyphosate’s impact on gut bacteria may be contributing to these diseases and conditions.
However, the fact that female rats are highly susceptible to mammary tumors following chronic exposure to glyphosate  suggests that there may be something else going on. Our systematic search of the literature has led us to the realization that many of the health problems that appear to be associated with a Western diet could be explained by biological disruptions that have already been attributed to glyphosate.
These include digestive issues, obesity, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, liver diseases, and cancer, among others. While many other environmental toxins obviously also contribute to these diseases and conditions, we believe that glyphosate may be the most significant environmental toxin, mainly because it is pervasive and it is often handled carelessly due to its perceived nontoxicity. In this paper, we will develop the argument that the recent alarming increase in all of these health issues can be traced back to a combination of gut dysbiosis, impaired sulfate transport, and suppression of the activity of the various members of the cytochrome P450 (CYP) family of enzymes.
We have found clear evidence that glyphosate disrupts gut bacteria and suppresses the CYP enzyme class. The connection to sulfate transport is more indirect, but justifiable from basic principles of biophysics. In the remainder of this paper, we will first provide evidence from the literature that explains some of the ways in which glyphosate adversely affects plants, microbes, amphibians and mammals.
Section 3 will discuss the role that gut dysbiosis, arguably resulting from glyphosate exposure, plays in inflammatory bowel disease and its relationship to autism.
Section 4 argues that the excess synthesis of phenolic compounds associated with glyphosate exposure represents a strategy to compensate for impairments in the transport of free sulfate.
Section 5 will provide evidence that glyphosate inhibits CYP enzymes.
Section 6 explains how obesity can arise from depletion of serum tryptophan due to its sequestering by macrophages responding to inflammation.
Section 7 shows how extreme tryptophan depletion can lead to impaired nutrient absorption and anorexia nervosa.
Section 8 provides a brief review of all the roles played by CYP enzymes in metabolism.
Section 9 discusses a likely consequence to glyphosate’s disruption of the CYP-analog enzyme, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS).
Section 10 shows how glyphosate’s effects could plausibly lead to brain-related disorders such as autism, dementia, depression, and Parkinson’s disease.
Section 11 mentions several other health factors that can potentially be linked to glyphosate, including reproductive issues and cancer.
Section 12 discusses the available evidence that glyphosate is contaminating our food supplies, especially in recent years. Following a discussion section, we sum up our findings with a brief conclusion.
To read the full study, click here.
Shareholders of Abbott Laboratories voted April 26 on whether the company should adopt a non-GMO policy for its products, which include one of the nation’s leading infant formula brands, Similac.
In the week prior to the vote, The Cornucopia Institute initiated a petition drive, in support of As You Sow, the shareholder activism group that filed the resolution, to collect signatures urging Abbott to remove GMOs from its infant formula. In just a week’s time, we collected nearly 15,000 signatures. Thank you to all who signed the petition.
Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow, presented these signatures at the Abbott shareholder meeting prior to the vote.
What was the outcome of the vote? A paltry 3.21% of Abbott Laboratories shareholders voted in favor of the non-GMO policy. “While this might appear to be a low vote, historically resolutions on GMOs take time to build momentum,” said Andrew Behar.
“At As You Sow we have seen first-year shareholder campaigns with low votes,” Behair explained, “and we know that with persistence these votes have increased over time and have led to lasting change. It is our task to continue to educate shareholders and management about the risks associated with company practices,” he said.
In other words: this campaign is far from over.
Nobody should be eating GMO foods, especially not babies. GMOs have not been adequately tested for safety, and results from a number of animal studies point to potential harm. What is especially troubling is that long-term safety tests are non-existent.
Given that 92% of soybeans used in processed foods comes from genetically engineered seed, soy-based infant formula is extremely likely to contain GMOs. And dairy-based formula contains soy oil, also likely derived from GMO soy. A sure way to avoid GMOs in infant formula is to buy organic—GMOs are prohibited in organic food.
Until infant formula makers like Abbott Laboratories stop using GMO ingredients, hundreds of thousands of newborns and infants will be unwitting participants in a huge, uncontrolled experiment with the health of the next generation. Cornucopia will continue the fight to make sure that all formula-fed babies are protected from the potential harm of GMOs.
Chinese Organic Food Scrutinized at Congressional Hearing
Washington, D.C. – The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats gathered information today regarding concerns being raised about imports of food from China that are entering the U.S.
“We don’t trust, for good reason, the Chinese to supply ingredients for our dog and cat food,” said hearing witness Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. “Why,” Kastel asked, “should we trust Chinese exporters for the food that we are feeding our children and families?”
Kastel added that the USDA and FDA are only inspecting 1%-2% of all the food that enters U.S. ports. And even with this small sample size, Kastel noted that a “disproportionate number of serious problems” are being found with Chinese exports, including “unapproved chemicals, dyes, pesticides and outright fraud (fake food).”
The Cornucopia Institute, based in Wisconsin, has been acting as an organic food and agriculture industry watchdog for the past decade. The farm policy group has been critical of fraud occurring with imports of organic commodities and finished products entering the U.S.
In February 2011, the USDA’s National Organic Program began informing the public of fraudulent organic certificates – the paperwork required for the formal sale of organic foods. Since then, the USDA has announced 22 fraudulent organic certificates, with nine of these from China.
“Because of the restricted nature of doing business in China,” Kastel told the Congressional Subcommitttee, “U.S. certifiers are unable to independently inspect farms and assure compliance to the USDA organic food and agriculture standards that are required for export to the U.S.”
“These imports should not be allowed to reach our shore until and unless we have a system in place to assure consumers they are getting what they pay for. Just like U.S. grown organic commodities, the safety of these products must be rigorously overseen by independent inspectors,” Kastel said. (The full testimony of Mark Kastel is available here.)
Patty Lovera, the Assistant Director of Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch also appeared before the House subcommittee. “The U.S. imports over a billion pounds of [organic and conventional] fruits and vegetables from China every year and over a billion pounds of fish and seafood,” Lovera said. “And for some products, like apple juice and garlic, China has replaced domestic production of crops that have traditionally been grown here.”
Food and Water Watch produced a Chinese Imports Backgrounder in 2009 assessing the extent of lax inspections and breadth of scandals surrounding food imports from China that have been linked to human illnesses from eating the unsafe food.
As Lovera noted, food fraud is occurring “despite very public efforts by the Chinese government to crack down on food safety problems.” The news from China, she observed, “is a steady stream of controversies ranging from adulteration with counterfeit ingredients like melamine in dairy products, to widespread outbreaks of animal diseases like avian flu, and high levels of pesticide residues. Just last week, news reports described a Chinese government campaign to break up a fake meat operation, leading to arrests of more than 900 people accused of passing off more than $1 million of rat meat as mutton.”
Subcommittee chair Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) also voiced criticisms of Chinese regulatory controls, saying “it is beyond their ability to do a good job.” Added Rohrabacher: “The record of Chinese food plant facilities is extremely poor.”
Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX), who said he buys organic food himself, expressed his concerns about mislabeling and referred to it as “Orwellian.” Stockman mentioned that “the safety of imported food is something the media should really be spotlighting.”
In addition to discussing food, the House Subcommittee also focused on fake, counterfeit drugs coming from China.
After the hearing, Cornucopia’s Kastel said that The Cornucopia Institute welcomes the increased scrutiny of how the USDA and FDA are assuring U.S. citizens that foreign organic imports are commensurate with U.S.-produced food.
“I hope that Congress will pressure our federal agencies to ensure that they do their job. And if they need additional resources to protect us from fraudulent and unsafe food imports, then I hope Congress will provide the necessary resources to get the job done.”
Food Safety News
By Dr. Charles Benbrook
There have been dramatic changes in the transgenic composition of GE corn and soybeans over the last five years, coupled with a substantial increase in reliance on pesticides and Bt toxins. Compared to the first five years of commercial use (1996-2000), today’s GE corn and soybeans in the U.S. require:
- About twice as much herbicide per acre, with glyphosate/Roundup accounting for essentially all the growth;
- In corn, two to six Bt toxins to deal with European corn borer and the corn rootworm complex;
- Delayed release, systemic seed treatments including at least two insecticides and two fungicides, one of which is a nicotinyl implicated in honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder;
- A return to corn soil insecticide use as a component of Bt-gene, resistance-management programs (eroding a portion of the reduction in insecticide use brought about by Bt corn);
- Significant and historically unprecedented increases in fungicide use on corn (11 percent of crop acres were treated in latest USDA pesticide use survey , no more than 1 percent was treated previously); and
- Approval and commercial planting in the U.S. of the first GE crop that will be consumed in significant quantities by humans in a largely unprocessed form – Bt and RR sweetcorn.
The move to stacked varieties expressing multiple traits, coupled with the above changes in the intensity of chemical use required to bring GE crops to harvest, raises new questions about new routes of exposure and about cumulative levels of exposure to GE proteins, potential allergens and pesticides, especially via drinking water, certain foods made from corn or soybeans, and, for infants, breast milk, cow’s milk, soymilk, and formula. It also raises new testing challenges arising from the likely presence of multiple transgenes, DNA fragments, promoters, regulatory sequences and chemicals from pesticides (active ingredients, metabolites, surfactants, adjuvants, etc).
These changes pose serious risk assessment challenges that are, for the most part, being ignored by the industry and regulatory authorities. New information is essential to convince regulators that they must invest substantially more public resources in the independent testing of GE crop safety. The two core goals for a new testing initiative should be to (a) resolve lingering uncertainty over the safety of the GE traits currently on the market, and (b) develop advanced testing methods and protocols for application in the testing of future GE food traits.
At a minimum, the following steps should be taken to explore key questions about today’s GE crops:
1. Quantification of the levels of pesticides and their metabolites/breakdown products associated with GE crops in key foods and human fluids (blood and urine), encompassing initially glyphosate, AMPA, nicotinyl seed treatments and Bt proteins. Top priority foods to test include whole wheat grain and flour, whole wheat bread, and soy-derived ingredients and foods. Essential liquids to test include cow’s milk, breast milk, soymilk and infant formula.
2. Development of methods to accurately quantify GE protein exposure levels in tissues and organs of concern in evaluating human health risks. The research would also be designed to track the breakdown products formed as GE proteins move through the digestive system. Methods would be developed to identify the form of novel proteins or other phytochemicals from GE foods, as well as the quantities passing from the GI tract into the bloodstream, from the blood to the kidneys and liver, and in the case of pregnant women, across the blood-brain barrier.
3. Methods must be developed to assess the impacts on fetal development following pre-natal exposure to GE proteins via maternal blood flows. Focus should be on epigenetic patterns of gene expression and the frequency of auto-immune diseases including food allergies, asthma and behavioral problems.
4. In light of novel combinations of exposures, including combinations of glyphosate, AMPA, a nicotinyl insecticide and Bt proteins, short-term cell assays should be used to test for toxic potential of each of these singly and in various combinations. The results can be used to target subsequent, long-term testing.
5. An appropriate, government agency or international organization should fund long-term toxicology and cancer feeding studies in at least two species of laboratory animals on a cross-section of the major traits now in GE varieties. Trials should cover the most widely planted Bt endotoxins alone, the EPSPS gene conferring resistance to glyphosate alone and these two traits in combination. At the conclusion of a first round of testing, the research team should issue recommendations for the design and conduct of future cancer feeding trials applied to GE food traits and render judgments regarding the need for additional testing.
A new FDA report could mean more of your favorite cheeses will be unavailable in the United States
By Baylen Linnekin
Earlier this month reports emerged that the FDA had detained a U.S.-bound shipment of mimolette, a French cheese.
Mimolette, which has been imported into the U.S. for decades, is beloved and is unusual because its rind contains microscopic cheese mites. The FDA also recently held up a shipment of another such French cheese, Salers.
The FDA’s complaints about the cheeses that reached U.S. shores in these cases? That they contain cheese mites.
If this FDA crackdown on a set of rather obscure, mitey artisanal cheeses that conform to traditional standards sounds like a small, targeted regulatory intervention involving cheeses you’ve never heard of, consider that this agency crackdown is but one small part of the FDA’s larger, very concerted international and domestic attack on artisanal cheeses—especially those made with raw milk.
Take a joint U.S.-Canadian government draft report, Quantitative Assessment of the Risk of Listeriosis from Soft-Ripened Cheese Consumption in the United States and Canada, which has cheese buyers and sellers alike scared about the future of artisanal cheese in North America.
Both the U.S. and Canadian governments currently require soft and semi-soft cheeses sold across state (or provincial) borders to be aged for at least 60 days.
The report acknowledges, though, that “cheeses made from raw milk that have not been aged for 60 days” are legal in Canada in the province of Québec. The intrastate sale of raw milk and/or raw milk cheeses is legal in some sense in more than three-dozen states, according to this Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund map.
The report doesn’t just touch on raw-milk cheeses. Its focus is laserlike. Indeed, by my count the words “raw” and “unpasteurized” appear more than 230 times in the 175-page report.
Both supporters and opponents of raw-milk cheeses view the report as a giant step toward increased restrictions on artisanal cheeses made with unpasteurized milk.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), whose members only “use pasteurized milk in cheese production,” notes the report will help the FDA in its ongoing “reevaluation of the current 60-day aging requirements for cheese made from raw milk.”
The report is a likely “prelude to increased regulations,” food law attorney Jason Foscolo, who represents many artisanal food producers, told me in a recent email.
But are increased regulations necessary? Critics of the study, including Foscolo, note the science doesn’t support that approach.
Indeed, much of the science contained in the report appears at least as soft as the raw-milk cheeses the report claims may be problematic.
The American Cheese Society, which represents artisanal producers, claims in comments it filed with the FDA that the draft report contains several “inaccurate and misleading” statements that could spur “increased regulatory efforts beyond those justified by empirical evidence.”
Jill Erber, who owns Cheesetique, with two locations in Northern Virginia, echoes the ACS comments.
Erber, who Reason magazine’s Katherine Mangu-Ward interviewed for a 2009 column on the harm that punitive American cheese tariffs do to U.S. businesses and consumers, read the draft report and notes several shortcomings with the data.
Using that data, she calculated in an email to me that the chances of a person in a high-risk group (e.g., a pregnant woman) being sickened by pasteurized cheese are the same as the likelihood of someone from the general population being sickened by unpasteurized cheese—in both cases a scant 1 in 55 million.
Erber notes that means “1/6 of the entire country could eat camembert at the same time and ONE person would get really sick.”
Those microscopic odds are also reflected in real-world numbers.
Erber points out the report notes just “725 reported illnesses in the entire world over a 25 year period,” a startlingly small number given worldwide cheese consumption.
Even the IDFA admits soft and semi-soft cheeses like Camembert—whether from pasteurized milk or not—pose little to no risk.
“The last outbreak in the United States was in 2006,” notes the IDFA.
The draft report itself acknowledges a few of its many limitations. For example, it observes that like “all risk assessments, [its] results rely on inferences from limited data and on extrapolations.”
It also indicates another key shortcoming—that experts have little idea where and when contamination happens due to “a lack of information about the non-milk contamination sources.”
For the FDA, though, these extrapolations, information gaps, and a few rare exceptions may be just the excuse the agency needs to craft a harmful new set of rules.
“[R]egulators suggest they want to see raw milk cheeses like camembert and brie either subject to unprecedented testing, processing similar to pasteurization, or else banned completely,” writes journalist David Gumpert, author of the book The Raw Milk Revolution, in a recent Food Safety News column.
The one potential bright spot both Erber and Gumpert note in the report is the indication that aging cheeses may simply allow Listeria more time to grow in those cheeses.
“[O]ne reassuring finding is that aging raw milk cheese for 60 days has no apparent effect on the presence of Listeria—and may do more harm than good,” writes Erber. “My only hope is that this information will be used to support eliminating this requirement.”
If not more regulations, then what?
“We believe that the best way to prevent food-borne illness in cheese is to obtain our cheeses made by farmers and cheesemakers who work closely with the herd from which they are getting milk, and regularly test the milk for signs of food-borne illness,” says Carolyn Stromberg, owner of Washington, DC’s Righteous Cheese, in an email to me.
The post The Government’s Looming Crackdown on Raw Milk Cheese appeared first on Cornucopia Institute.
Attorneys at Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit on behalf of CFS, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and seven other U.S. food safety, agriculture, public health, and environmental groups to compel FDA to respond to the groups’ three year-old petition which calls for immediate withdrawal of FDA’s approval of arsenic-containing compounds as feed additives for food animals. Filed the same day Consumer Reports released an alarming study on antibiotic resistance in turkey, the lawsuit highlights yet another gaping hole in FDA oversight of animal feed additives.
Arsenic is commonly added to poultry feed for the FDA-approved purposes of inducing faster weight gain on less feed, and creating the perceived appearance of a healthy color in meat from chickens, turkeys, and hogs. Yet new studies increasingly link these practices to serious human health problems. Today’s lawsuit seeks to force FDA to fulfill its mandate to better protect the public from arsenic.
The 2009 Petition presented abundant science to FDA that organic arsenic compounds—like those added to animal feed—are directly toxic to animals and humans, but also that they convert to cancer-causing, inorganic arsenic inside of chickens, in manure-treated soil and in humans. Additional testing since submission of the 2009 Petition demonstrates even greater cause for public concern and therefore greater urgency meriting FDA’s prompt attention.
“FDA could easily and immediately fix the problem,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior staff attorney with Center for Food Safety, “but instead puts its head in the sand. We can only conclude the FDA is catering to the companies that continue to sell products containing arsenic that ends up in our food supply.”
“FDA leadership is asleep at the switch, if not turning a blind eye to public health,” said David Wallinga, MD, a physician with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “Seven years ago, IATP blew the whistle on FDA’s indifference to arsenic being needlessly fed to chickens and turkeys. More than a decade ago, we sounded the alarm on how FDA let the routine feeding of drugs to chickens and turkeys help ensure that Americans would eat meat often contaminated with bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics. We are filing suit because nothing much has changed.”
First approved as animal feed additives in the 1940s, arsenic-containing compounds remain legal for use in U.S. chicken, turkey, and swine production. They were never approved as safe for animal feed in the European Union, Japan, and many other countries.
Substantial evidence confirming the serious public health risks of using arsenic as a feed additive was provided as part of the 2009 Petition to the FDA.
Since 2009, this evidence has continued to grow, yet FDA still fails to respond to the 2009 Petition:
- In 2011, FDA reported its own study concluded that that organic arsenic could transform into the toxic carcinogen inorganic arsenic, and that levels of inorganic arsenic in chicken livers were substantially higher for chickens treated with the arsenical Roxarsone than for chickens not treated with Roxarsone.
- Also in 2011, Alpharma (a division of Pfizer) announced it would voluntarily suspend—not revoke—sale of Roxarsone within 30 days following the release of FDA’s study. At this time, FDA commented that Roxarsone raised concerns of “completely avoidable exposure to a carcinogen.”
- In 2012, Maryland’s Governor signed H.B. 167, banning use, sale, or distribution of Roxarsone or any other feed additive that contains arsenic, or histostat.
While these efforts are a step in the right direction, they are far from the comprehensive approach that is necessary under the law to protect public health. For example, without an FDA ban in place, Alpharma is free to begin marketing Roxarsone at any time.
Read IATP’s 2006 report, Playing Chicken: Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat.
A copy of the complaint can be found HERE.
Organizations participating in the lawsuit include:
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Environmental Health
Center for Food Safety
Food Animal Concerns Trust
Food and Water Watch
Health Care Without Harm
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility