Organics versus GMO: Why the debate?

& & | October 15, 2013 |
Credit: Lindsay Eyink, via Wikimedia Commons Credit: Lindsay Eyink, via Wikimedia Commons

Opponents of GM food understand that diminished understanding and lack of knowledge is the key to obstructing biotechnology.

American Medical Association

“[T]he GM debate is over. It is finished. We no longer need to discuss whether or not it is safe. … You are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM food.” So said Mark Lynas, the British environmentalist, who helped launch the anti-GMO movement in the 1990s.

Lynas went on to say that “people who want to stick with organic are entitled to—but they should not stand in the way of others who would use science to find more efficient ways to feed billions.”

We could not have put it more succinctly ourselves.

Organic activists are on the attack at the local level in a bid to influence global acceptance of genetic engineering. For years we’ve been asking why those leading the organic industry are so dead-set opposed to genetically modified organisms. GMOs are already cutting down drastically on pesticide use, fuel consumption and the amount of land devoted to agriculture. Aren’t these the stated goals of the organic movement? This 20-year-old technology will also soon lead to drastic reductions in agricultural water-use, and genetically engineered crops capable of pulling their own nitrogen from the earth’s atmosphere are already on the drawing board. Innovations like these will further reduce the amount of energy farmers use, along with the overall amount of energy humankind requires as it continues to produce more food on less land for more people.

And yet, a fierce either-or (and we must stress one-sided) debate ensues between a minority activists who want the entire world to “go organic”, and scientists and humanitarians who are using genetics and biotechnology to improve our food and medicine. If science makes the human race more efficient in the areas of transportation, communication and housing, then surely it can, and should, also help us in the vital arena of food production. Shouldn’t it? The world’s premier national and international academies of science have reached an unqualified consensus that GMO crops are good for the poor and hungry. Even the president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences stated recently, “Genetically-modified food represents a step forward in evolution.”

Crop biotechnology 2.0

While most people think only of commercial crops like Monsanto’s Roundup Ready canola or Bt corn when they hear mention of GM food, the three of us (two academics and a former organic inspector) are left to wonder why an entire discipline is being rejected by “organic” anti-GMO activists when this discipline holds such promise beyond the commercial realm. Commercial crops, which farmers can freely choose to grow, are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to debating the two competing philosophies of food production before us.

GMO crops that fix their own nitrogen would drastically reduce energy consumption on conventional farms by eliminating the natural gas used in synthesizing ammonium nitrate and the fuel burned in trucks that deliver that fertilizer to farms. Such technology could eliminate the current organic practice of planting legume cover crops, which are subsequently plowed down to trap nitrogen in the soil. This could cut an organic farmer’s fuel bill by as much as 50 percent! If only the organic industry would consider accepting GMO crops on a case-by-case basis, there could be the possibility of a more rational approach to the new technology of genetic engineering.

And what, we hasten to ask anti-GMO activists, about a life-saving GMO crop like Golden Rice? According to the World Health Organization, 250,000 to 500,000 children in the developing world go blind each year due to vitamin A deficiency, half of whom die within a year. 250 million preschool children, mainly in urban slums, suffer from this deficiency. In all, 2-3 million people die from vitamin A deficiency-related diseases every year.

Protestors rally against Monsanto. Credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans, via Wikimedia Commons

Protestors rally against Monsanto. (Credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans, via Wikimedia Commons)

Genetically modified Golden Rice was developed in response to this unfolding humanitarian disaster by Swiss scientist Dr. Ingo Potrykus and his colleagues in 1998. It contains beta-Carotene, and not only prevents blindness but also boosts the immune system and contributes to general good health. However, Greenpeace and its allies in the organic movement have successfully managed to block the introduction of this non-commercial GMO product based on the flimsy claim that it may pose “environmental and health risks.” As if 250 million children with vitamin A deficiency is not itself a “health risk.”

In response to this we quote Lord Walter Northbourne, one of the preeminent forefathers of the organic movement. In 1931 he wrote:

“If we waited for scientific proof of every impression before deciding to take any consequential action we might avoid a few mistakes, but we should also hardly ever decide to act at all. In practice, decisions about most things that really matter have to be taken on impressions, or on intuition, otherwise they would be far too late…. We have to live our lives in practice, and can very rarely wait for scientific verification of our hypotheses. If we did we should all soon be dead, for complete scientific verification is hardly ever possible. It is a regrettable fact that a demand for scientific proof is a weapon often used to delay the development of an idea.”

If such reasoning is good enough for the organic movement, then surely it’s good enough for the science of genetic engineering. But many organic activists remain adamantly opposed to this new and promising technology. Rather than even consider the possible benefits, commercial or humanitarian, of GM technology, they seek instead the following goals, by any means necessary:

To prevent organic farmers from ever using genetically-modified seed – on pain of facing certain de-certification not only of a crop, but of the field where such seed might have been used, and potentially of an entire farm where the indiscretion occurred, for as long as a decade or more.

To prevent all possibility, no matter how remote, of cross-pollination—they call it “contamination”— between an organic crop and a neighboring GMO crop through pollen drifting over a fence line in spite of the fact that minimal cross-pollination is regarded as a fact of life in agriculture. (Only pedigree seed growers are required to literally eliminate the possibility of it from ever occurring.)

And finally, the organic activists’ most ambitious undertaking: To ban the use of GMOs altogether by all farmers everywhere, regardless of the choices individual farmers might want to make on their own land.

Impossible you say? Here’s how the activists are already imposing these anti-scientific, and we believe anti-human, ends.

Welcome to the new normal

The three of us have been involved in public education on genetically engineered/modified crops and food for decades. Although the science has advanced a great deal over the years, the critics have not changed their position that GM crops and food represent a threat to people and the environment. But, having failed to convince federal, provincial and state authorities, the critics have turned their attention to local governments where they hope politicians might more easily be swayed by public persuasion.

In the arena of public opinion, first-hand experience has taught us that fear can be very effective in winning the public over. There is a great deal of pseudo-science available on the Internet designed to generate fear of GMOs. GM crops are produced, in part, with recombinant DNA technology. Few in the public, particularly politicians, are trained in this field of science, and so the failure to recognize the difference between the real science and the pseudo-science is to be expected. Indeed, just imagine if Einstein’s theory of relativity was for some strange reason at issue at the local level. Experts would be called upon to help explain things. But this was not the case, for example, when the Richmond City Council and the District of Saanich, both in the Canadian province of British Columbia, voted to ban or express their opposition to GM crops.

Robert Wager, an academic with almost three decades of experience in the field of recombinant DNA, first met with Richmond City’s Sustainability Manager in early 2012 as the city first began to research the issue. After a short presentation the question session began. Two hours later, after he had debunked a large number of widely held myths that were presented to council by anti-GM activists, it became clear that city officials had already absorbed a great deal of pseudo-science on GM crops and food. Indeed, documents that surfaced later prove that a group called GE-Free-BC had been petitioning the City of Richmond to ban GM crops since June of 2010, a year and a half prior to Wager being allowed to present.

At the subsequent Richmond public council meeting the usual fear stories were relayed as fact by many genuinely frightened attendees. Some expressed fears of the alleged health dangers posed by GM crop technology. They were sure of their “facts” having gleaned them from the Internet. Sadly, Wager was the only one at the meeting who conveyed the actual science of GMOs, according to world health and food safety experts. Despite the endorsement of GMOs by every food-safety authority in the world, it became evident that nothing could alleviate the fear in the room, and Wager soon realized a ban was imminent

The Richmond council cited two reasons to justify its ban: it stated that the transfer of GM pollen or seed to a neighboring organic field would threaten organic certification; alleged human/animal health issues associated with GM food were the second reason for the ban. Neither of these two reasons cited is supported by history or science.

In 19 years of monumental growth of both GM and organic agriculture there has not been one case of decertification of an organic crop caused by trace amounts of GM pollen or seed. A spokesperson for an organic food company admitted as much to council. History clearly demonstrates that GM crops do not represent any risk to organic farmers, except for what might be understood as an activist/bureaucratic risk whereby an organic farmer could face decertification of his crop, his field or even his entire farm as punishment from those who lead the organic industry. You heard right… the anti-GM activists who lead the organic industry are willing to go as far as to inflict hardship on organic farmers just to prove their point and ensure a tight lid is kept on the advancement of GM farming.

(Credit: John Serrao via The Conversation)

(Credit: John Serrao via The Conversation)

All of the alleged dangers of GM crops and food have been assessed by global experts and dismissed. Everyone from the European Union (EU) to the World Health Organization (WHO), National Academies of Science (NAS), Health Canada to the local Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) agree there is no evidence of harm from consuming food made with GM ingredients. And yet, this local council decided it knew better and proceeded full-steam ahead towards an outright ban.

Unfortunately, the scientific facts Wager presented had little effect, and fear and a lack of scientific understanding left the door open for the manipulation of the council. One example came from a councilor who claimed: “They put the genetic characteristics of the chemical into the food and then it goes into us!” But there is no such thing as “genetic characteristics” of chemicals. And yet, the two hundred people holding up anti-GMO signs during the meeting cheered the comment. The Richmond council subsequently decided to move forward with the ban at the next public meeting, a definite case of public policy based on fear from anti-GMO pseudo-science.

Suppressing scientific assessment

The debate played out in a different but also discouraging, way in Saanich. Public documents show that one particular council member, the chair of Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee (HSAC), was intent on getting a “non-support” resolution passed regardless of the science. The HSAC minutes of May 2011 call for advice on GMOs from The Peninsula Agricultural Commission (PAC).

As the issue was coming to a head, Wager learned that the PAC had been asked to develop an opinion on a proposed GM crop ban for Saanich (subsequently downgraded to a vote of non-support for GM crops). Naturally he contacted them immediately. Having dozens of GM-specific publications and extensive speaking experience on GM crops and food under his belt, and being a resident of the region, Wager offered to come before PAC at no charge. But he was turned down because the members of this commission claimed to already have enough experts lined up. One of these “experts” has zero publications in the field of GM crop technology; not surprisingly this “expert” recommended a ban of GM crops. The other was a local organic farmer with a long history of anti-GMO activity. Saanich council clearly did not seek balanced expert opinion on GM crop technology.

The minutes for the April 2012 PAC meeting show that there was no discussion or debate about whether to impose a ban; the issue had already been decided before the council meeting. “The Healthy Saanich Committee’s [HSAC] consensus was to support the concept of a ban on GE-GMO food crops in Saanich,” the minutes read. It was noted that this type of ban would be difficult to enforce [actually impossible, as it is under federal jurisdiction].  It was therefore decided to obtain information from other municipalities to see how a local ban could be achieved. The subsequent “debate” by the HSAC was clearly a sham, as the committee members had already decided their position on GMOs.

HSAC did go through the motions of holding a special meeting for public input on the GM crop issue in September. Wager again attended at his own expense. After sitting for over an hour listening to one speaker after another present fear stories, he was given the opportunity to present the real science to HSAC. But minutes into his presentation, the chair cut him off. Wager would later learn that the HSAC consensus had already been reached six months prior to this meeting—and the public meeting was an empty exercise.

Between that September HSAC meeting and the Saanich District Council meeting in November, when a final decision was scheduled to be made, Wager was assured he would get another opportunity to come before council. But one day before the District meeting, Wager was informed he would not be permitted to make any presentation.

After discussing this turn of events with Saanich Legislative Services (a non-political body that’s supposed to help citizens who live in Saanich), Wager discovered a possible avenue to provide further input. He respectfully requested that council refer the agenda item for the non-support declaration for GMOs back to Committee for further consideration at their next meeting. But the council rejected that request. Instead, the mayor himself weighed in, saying the council had to trust the HSAC in coming to its recommendation. To no one’s surprise, Saanich Council then voted to move ahead with the non-support declaration for GM crops, precisely as recommended by HSAC.

In Wager’s last correspondence with the HSAC in Saanich, the Chair admitted, “The committee felt strongly that the information you and others shared clearly demonstrated the inconsistent and contradictory opinions and findings with respect to GMOs.” And yet, the fact remains that this committee embraced pseudo-science-driven fear. The process cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered science-based, much less democratic. And remember, Wager lives, votes, and pays taxes in this region! And yet he was purposely ignored.

Organic farming contradictions

The contrast between the over-regulation of genetically modified foods and the lax regulation of organic foods is striking. At the same time as a concerted attack against GMOs is being waged at the local level, the organic industry in North America remains largely unregulated, running almost entirely on record-keeping and record-checking. Indeed, by the United States Department of Agriculture’s own admittance, “The number of results reported to the NOP [National Organic Program] in 2011 represents a sampling rate of less than 1 percent of certified operations.” Things go rapidly downhill from there because it turns out,  “The majority of results reported to the NOP in 2011 were received from certifying agents which are headquartered outside of the United States, where periodic residue testing is a requirement under international organic standards (e.g., the EU). In Canada meanwhile – one of America’s largest trading partners in organic products – there is no testing whatsoever to ensure organic products are genuine.

Credit: Alanthebox, via Wikimedia Commons

(Credit: Alanthebox, via Wikimedia Commons)

And while there has not been one death or even an illness linked to the consumption of foods made with genetically modified ingredients, thousands of people get sick and die every year because of contamination problems linked to slipshod organic farming practices at some farms.

Consider the news just over the past week. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Costco Wholesale Canada announced that Costco recalled its Kirkland Signature brand Organic Lean Ground Beef likely contaminated by E. coli.  And the largest processor of organic peanut butter shuttered its facilities over the weekend, the victim of a Salmonella outbreak that sickened 41 people in 20 states in 2012.

These are not isolated stories. Organic food is more dangerous than conventionally grown produce because organic farmers use animal manure as the major source of fertilizer for their food crops. Animal manure is the biggest reservoir of these nasty bacteria that are afflicting and killing so many people. Because of lack oversight, the organic industry has been plagued by contamination problems worldwide. When dealing with the potential dangers of un-composted feces, mere record-keeping and record-checking cannot possibly be expected to keep people safe. In one notorious recent case involving the finding of a novel strain of O104:H4 bacteria linked to an organic farm in Lower Saxony in Germany in 2011, 3,950 people were affected and 53 died.

Said simply. While manure used in organic farms can be deadly, the cumulative conclusion after more than 2000 studies of genetically modified foods is that GMOs pose no serious health or safety concerns. There is still no such thing as organic testing, neither in the field nor after harvest nor in any certified-organic processing facilities—and, most disturbingly, not on incoming shipments of certified-organic product from countries like China, Mexico or Argentina. These foreign shipments account for the majority of the certified-organic food being sold in North American grocery stores. Organic certification on this continent is all based on paperwork with no recourse to science.

As such, long before one considers the remote possibility that an organic crop might become “contaminated” (to the level of 0.01 percent or less by pollen drifting from a neighboring GMO field), there is a far more pressing consideration: Are prohibited synthetic fertilizers or pesticides being used fraudulently on organic farms? Aren’t these the things that the organic industry once claimed to eliminate or at least drastically-reduce our exposure to? Sadly, such a commonsensical consideration, alongside the much more troubling possibility that lethal pathogens might be entering the organic food chain through the improper composting of animal and plant waste, does not warrant concern from those who lead the organic industry. Shouldn’t a luxury food item be safer, or at least as safe, as its competition? Shouldn’t science be used to prove its worth? Instead, organic food turns out to barely exceed conventional food in purity and not at all in the nutritional department—no wonder, given the laxity of the organic certification system.

When it comes right down to it there nothing in GM technology that should offend organic growers. It is, in fact, an entirely “organic” procedure, and a very precise one at that. Organic farmers seem content to use seeds that are produced with nuclear and chemical mutagenesis which are very imprecise and hardly organic. They also use many inorganic substances such as copper, phosphorous and potassium with no apparent contradiction. And which is better—the broadcast spraying by organic farmers of a Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) microbial pesticide over entire fields with attendant drift into non-target areas, or the selective targeting of only those pests that actually attack the crop through the use of Bt corn and Bt cotton?

In the final analysis organic farming and GM technology would make a powerful team to improve our food production and nutrition on a large number of fronts. There is no reason why GM seeds cannot be grown organically. The benefits to organic farmers would soon become apparent and the real farmers in both camps could slough off the misinformation and fear mongering of the urban-based anti-GM activists. That’s the real promise of sustainability.

We conclude where we began, with the candid admission by one of the world’s most highly respected opponents to the science of genetic engineering that he was wrong. Mark Lynas stands in contrast to devout anti-GMO activists like Arpad Pusztai who remain steadfast in their baseless opposition to this new and promising field of science.

Pusztai was the lead scientist on the only remotely scientific attempt to prove that genetically modified food might be dangerous, and is still held up as a hero of sorts for the anti-GMO movement. The popular myth surrounding Pusztai is that he “was effectively silenced over his research and a campaign was set in motion to destroy his reputation.” But the fact of the matter is that Pusztai failed to use a control group in his study on rats, one of the most basic rules of the scientific process. He also fed his rats a strict diet consisting only of potatoes (GM potatoes of course), which any lab technician can tell you is a very poor diet for rats, low in protein, which is guaranteed to produce health problems. After all, as Paracelsus (the medieval founder of modern toxicology) so aptly put it, “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.”

Most damning is the fact that even with all the billions of dollars floating around in the organic industry, Pustzai‘s simple and inexpensive experiment has never been repeated.

Is this the best the anti-GMO organic movement can come up with as a reason to stand idly by and allow 2 million people or more to continue dying from vitamin A deficiency every year? Apparently the answer is yes. And we find that deplorable on all levels.

Robert Wager is a teacher in the Biology Department at Vancouver Island University. With almost three decades of experience in the field of recombinant DNA, he writes and speaks in defense of modern agriculture whenever the opportunity arises.

A co-founder and 15-year leader of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore is now an independent ecologist and activist based in Vancouver Canada. He is the author of Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist and today leads the Allow Golden Rice Now! campaign.

Mischa Popoff is a former organic farmer and Advanced Organic Farm and Process Inspector who worked on contract under the USDA’s National Organic Program. He is a policy analyst with The Heartland Institute, The Frontier Centre for Public Policy and Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, and is the author of Is it Organic?

  • First Officer

    Wow, what a tour de force. As you said, the Organic powers deliberately crafted their standards so as to have no common ground with GE. And then they cry foul when a single GM pollen grain floats by.

    • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

      You hit the nail on the head First Office! Organic activists set themselves up for this confrontation right from the start, and they have never looked back. It’s easier for them to fight a never-ending ideological battle against science rather than to pony up and provide anything measurable or substantive to the consumer under their certified-organic brand.

      As I have said elsewhere, genetic engineering is the “phantom menace” of the urban organic activist. And they like it that way. In fact, if they ever were to actually succeed in banning GMOs, they quite simply would not know what to do with themselves.

      • Loren Eaton

        ‘they quite simply would not know what to do with themselves.’
        Well, apparently the Euros are starting to focus on mutagenized crops.

        • First Officer

          And their eco-vandals have already done damage on that front.

    • Loren Eaton

      This industry thinks its entitled to enforce requirements on surrounding growers. That pollen grain is legal in the eyes of the law.

      • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

        That’s a remarkably insightful observation Loren. Organic activists aren’t content to have federal recognition, global trade, or the approval of the mainstream media. Nor are they content with sales in excels of $30-billion per annum! They want to crush their sworn enemies on the other side of the fence, and will stop at nothing to achieve complete domination over how we produce the food we eat.

        • BigBadWolf

          Organic activists, how dare you to produce clean, healthy food, endangering the profits of Monsanto and friends? Shame on you. The world should belong to Monsanto et al.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Very funny BigBadWolf. And while I certainly believe some organic farmers produce food that’s clean and healthy, sadly, the evidence shows that half of all certified-organic food is contaminated with prohibited pesticides. Hardly a firm position from which to launch attacks against one’s competition, now is it?

  • Natural Nurture

    I don’t see any divulgence of ties to industry or GMO listed. Or or lack of conflict of interest professed.
    Is Prof. Wager free and clear of the GMO consortium or is he like Wilson, Thomas and the hordes of other Monsanto alma mater— involved in the revolving doors of Business, Regulation, Law and Academia that have become liars for hire?
    LIke GMO labeling we have the right to now.
    Professor or paid provocateur?

    • Loren Eaton

      Can’t debate the science….point out the affiliations. Typical and lazy. Why don’t you stop waving your arms long enough to find his web page?

    • RobertWager

      No I have never personally received a dime from any Biotech company. It is very rude to accuse someone of lying with zero evidence of such. It is a pity so many people resort to such activities. Now lets discuss the facts in the article. Which fact(s) would you like to challenge?

      • Natural Nurture

        The only fact I can agree with you on, is that it is true GMO has had tons of scientific studies. TRUE…what was NOT SAID, and it was no accident of omission…but commission….the FACTs are that they were all SMALL STUDIES with short durations…that is in no way conclusive of GRAS. And there have been no human trials…so of course there is no proof that it is harmful to humans…do we really need to wait and see. Like we did with thalidomide, x-rays of the pelvises of gravid women, VIOXX, mammograms and on and on?

        Rats are mammals and are pretty good harbingers of harm to humans. Since the inception of GMOs in our diet in 1992 our incidences of health issues have risen to match the incursion of GMO food in our diet. The charts show rise in GMO and CHRONIC Disease in sync. Is that sheer coincidence do you think?

        The study that doesn’t get any attention is the one that has Monsanto’s stock prices dropping: the French study of six years that shows outrageous tumours and infertility issues along with others. We as a nation are already having fertility issues after a decade of GMO.

        If GMO are so good why would we not want to add information announcing GMO content on packaging so we can all run out and buy GMO foods.

        Robert what is your goal and why? If you are not a pen or liar for hire, then what is your payoff?

        Your cut and paste GMO diatribe is running rampant in media everywhere. True or not it sure gets better billing than Jeffrey Smith’s honest assessment of GMO. Why is that? Because Monsanto and their media empire publish what we are supposed to hear not what is necessarily the truth…like they did with rBGH when the science came out faulting it for health issues…the investigative reporters uncovering the story were boondoggled for months by lawyers stalling them…until they realized they were working for Monsanto at a Monsanto radio station…they quit and then reported their findings…Monsanto has now dumped it…to let some one else take the heat.

        GMO could be Bayer’s next big profit centre after the chemicals they sold to the Nazi’s for the gas chambers….GENICIDE by GMO? Hmmm interesting thought?

        Check the facts: http://action.responsibletechnology.org/p/salsa/web/common/public/content?content_item_KEY=11520

        • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

          I draw your attention to our quote from Lord Walter Northbourne, one of the founders of the organic movement, who said, “It is a regrettable fact that a demand for scientific proof is a weapon often used to delay the development of an idea.”

          • Natural Nurture

            Thanks Mischa, however that is not the Lord that speaks for me.

            When the health of the planet’s flora and fauna lays in the balance on the scales— with Monsanto’s thumb and FOOT on the scale. I think progression on a more restrained level is in order. What can I say…I was a late adopter of bell bottoms.

            The root of conservative is conservation…and that is what I am about…no hidden agenda…no hidden profits…just doing as President Barak Obama so eloquently suggests:

            “We must ask not only if it is profitable, but is it right?” —Barak Obama

            Doing what is right.

            For everyone.

            Not just for the 1% living on the backs of the 99%.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Yeah, but 99% of American and Canadian farmers choose to grow biotech crops.

          • Natural Nurture

            Choose and Choice are interesting words…and need context…

            Talk to the farmers and ask them about GMO choice….their choice.

            The back door bullies will shut you down if you don’ t buy their ‘PROTECTION’… with the best paid legal team as their enforcers….the choice they make is akin to the choice the jews had— “would you like to walk into gas chambers or die of ‘lead’ poisoning, in front of your children?”hor

            They will tell you that they had to go with Monsanto et al and choose their way or spend farming families savings plus mortgage their homes to pay the horendous legal fees to defend themselves form the pirañas of the GMO consortium.

            On the subject of CHOICE…

            no one on this forum has answered my question,

            including the professor of 30 years in frankenscience….

            Come on Mischa, Loren, and Robert et al —be good citizens and do the right thing…answer the damn question?

            “If GMO is Safe and GOOD for us and the GLOBE…if food volumes are up because of GMO crops why not label it?….announce it from the roof tops? and get us all on board?

            Instead of just a handful of quacks, eccentrics, shareholders and shills?

            Here is another question….why are farmers in the thousands in India drinking

            GLYPHOSATE/RoundUP cocktails, to get out from under their overwhelming debt due to bully boys, illiteracy and opportunists? They said yes when given a choice…but couldn’t read the fine print in the English contracts. Now you tell me how good GMO and Monsanto are at feeding the World’s poor and their orphaned children?

            Oh yeah and why are cattle that breaking to fields of BT Cotton— found DEAD after eating the GMO cotton? Was it something they ate? D’ya THINK!?

            Lets really talk about choice….farmers and consumers…and the guns to our head.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            With responses this long I suggest you take a stab at writing some articles yourself Mr. Natural Nurture.
            My response will be brief: There’s nothing “natural” about farming. Sure, it takes place IN nature, but the whole point is to coax food out of the soil, something which only rarely happens all on its own in the absence of farmers who’ve been making use of technology for the last 13,000 years.

          • Natural Nurture

            You are right again.
            But not all is spoken.
            There is that word ‘context’ again.

            Technology: of dragging a crooked roots through the soil to till it is a LONGGGGGGGGGG way from ‘shooting’ the DNA from one organism into another and crossing your fingers that the result will be advantageous to ALL…not just some.

            So why are we not speaking the
            WHOLE TRUTH and
            NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH…

            What is the downside of letting the world know how great GMO is?
            Why are we not shouting it from the roof tops?

            the ‘some’ could be spelled ‘SUM’
            the SUM of Monsanto’s share price….

            What a shame NATURE can’t afford lobbyists, bullies, ghost writers and the most expensive legal counsel.

            When the natural loyalists do… then they get HUNG OUT TO DRY as one of the doctors of spin Ezra Levant has tryed to do to the leader of the NATURE OF THINGS—Saint David SUZUKI. The consortiums of evil can afford to do and say as they please as they hide behind the cover of LLC, incorporation and shell companies. The energy and chemical consortiums hide behind their liars for hire. Those Alfred Binets who can take truth down so many paths you can never find your way home or recognize it when you get there.

            At least Ezra Levant has let us know who he works for.

            Still no answers— just more hollow rhetoric…

            …why NOT LABEL GMO FOODS?

          • shanna

            Some of the anti-GMO marketers have been very clear that they see a mandated label as a first step, and it’s almost impossible to miss the fact that the mandatory label is meant to scare people.

          • Healthyeater

            As a consumer just now learning that such a thing as GMO’s exist, I feel betrayed by the fact that there were no labels. I unknowingly ate them. I have been skimming through these comments and keep seeing the farmer’s rights to choose GMO or not being discussed. Where was my choice?

          • Dominick Dickerson

            You have a choice, buy organic or non GMO project certified foods. How is it you people don’t understand? If you’ve committed to ignorance of the facts about genetic engineering as a lifestyle choice so be it. Why should the rest of us be a party to your continued ignorance?

          • BigBadWolf

            The mandatory label is simply intended to tell the people what a given food product happens to be, so they can choose whether to buy and consume the product or not. Why is Monsanto et al denying this right to people in North America? Are they afraid the GMO products will be rejected? After all, the GMOs appear on food labels in Europe. We live in a supposedly democratic society and should have this basic right to know what we consume. Why are Monsanto et al so afraid of the public’s right to know what is the content of the food they consume? This makes Monsanto appear to be a horrific and unscrupulous tyrant such as human history has never known.

          • Natural Nurture

            Mischa can you send a link with this stat…it is counter to my understanding.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Only about 1% of American and Canadian farmers are organic. And even some of them would like to be able to grow certain biotech crops. Anyway, that’s your statistic. No link; just the facts.

          • BigBadWolf

            The above is absolutely untrue. And I doubt very much that any of them, or at the very least those who are well informed, would ever aspire to growing biotech crops.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Proof?

          • BigBadWolf

            Where is the proof, Mr. Popoff? I doubt that 9% of American and Canadian farmers would be foolish enough to choose growing biotech crops. Talk is cheap, And the nerve of some people, especially those rewarded for their unsubstantiated verbal diarrhea, is without limit.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Sorry… proof of what exactly?

          • BigBadWolf

            That 99 percent of North American farmers would choose biotech farming if this were possible.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            I have yet to meet a fulltime farmer – organic or otherwise – that was opposed to GMOs. They all think it’s fine to grow them, and a surprising number of organic farmers want to grow them.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            I’m not sure what you’re saying. But I’ll say this: 100% of farmers will grow whatever makes economic sense.

          • BigBadWolf

            The above should have read 99%. Obviously, North American farmers should have the right to choose provided they understand what is involved and what the consequences of biotech farming would be.

          • BigBadWolf

            This is simply not true. On what basis are you stating this? There has never been before a group of spokesmen for an industry that had such a colossal nerve and were saying whatever suited them regardless whether it was true or not. Everlasting shame to you. I doubt that there is 9% of farmers that choose to grow biotech crops of their free will.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Have you ever farmed BigBadWolf? If so, where, and what methods did you use?

          • BigBadWolf

            No, I have never farmed in the country. However, I have cultivated an organic garden in my substantial suburban backyard.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Most people have no idea how much work farming is. You can do everything right, and still lose a crop. It’s like sailing must’ve been before the invention of the steam engine. You’re always subject to the whims of nature.
            Since you have gardened, you have some idea of what I’m talking about. I mean you no disrespect, but what exactly makes you think you can tell farmers how to run their farms?

        • Loren Eaton

          ‘True or not it sure gets better billing than Jeffrey Smith’s honest assessment of GMO. Why is that?’ Because Jeffrey Smith isn’t remotely qualified to assess GMO’s, honestly or otherwise. But in the bizarro world of anti-GM, working knowledge of biotech is reflexively labeled as bias. So I guess Jeffrey and Mercola are the next best thing.

          ‘GMO could be Bayer’s next big profit centre after the chemicals they sold to the Nazi’s for the gas chambers….GENICIDE by GMO? Hmmm interesting thought?’ Interesting? Yeah in a cheap shot kind of way.

          • Natural Nurture

            Cheap shot Loren?

            Millions of people’s health lie in the balance.

            We never spoke out about BAYER when they were supplying the toxins of death for the Nazis gas chambers. Should we continue to not question their motives? Should we turn a blind eye and allow more holocausts? On a global scale? Because science says OK? We said OK to Agent Orange, Thalidomide, DDT, Vioxx and worse, because we were told by the scientists that they did their homework and it was safe. I bet none of them drank the COOLAID…or Glyphosate…they weren’t ready for the big ROUNDup n the sky….they know to well the risks.

            Monsanto management never listened to the nay sayers on their GMO teams who spoke openly in-house about the harm. They were ignored and to keep their ethics walked.. if they weren’t summarily escorted out and laid bare as villains.

            The only people in my opinion who are really good at their job at Monsanto is their Doctors-of-Spin. Monsanto has the best.

            Thank God there are still scientists who have ethics and can’t be bought. There is HOPE.

            We have them in Canada too…like Dr. Shiv Chopra who fought to keep rBGH out of Canada. He resisted the push from his government bosses to approve an unstudied hormone: Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone which was slated to enter our diet via milk. For his sentience and doing his job despite the lobbyists distaste for him he was given a gold watch and the boot…Money talks:

            “Well, we’ll put it this way–they weren’t really direct in telling me that I really should approve it but the company Monsanto came in with two representatives one day and offered one to two million dollars at a meeting that I was in attendance at for this particular drug to be approved for marketing in Canada without met asking any further questions and without them having to provide any further data.” from CBC interview with Whistle Blowers Chopra and Haydon over the rBGH debacle.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Loren. Please allow me to clarify the historical link you’re attempting to make between military and agricultural technology.
            In 1917, a German Jew by the name of Fritz Haber figured out how to pull a limitless supply of nitrogen from the earth’s atmosphere through the ammonia synthesis process, a process that was immediately rejected by early organic activists who called themselves “biodynamic.”
            Haber also developed chlorine gas for warfare, and would later develop Zyklon B which, ironically, the Nazis used on his entire family. He managed to escape Germany, only to later die alone.
            This is the history I believe you’re trying to refer to. But Haber did business with BASF, not Bayer, just so you know.

          • Loren Eaton

            Actually, Mischa it was nutureboy who made the orginal reference, but thanks anyway.

        • RobertWager

          A couple points. The first commercial GM crop was 1996. Correlation is NOT causation. If it were then eating ice cream outside causes shark attacks. (both summer events).

          The French study was debunked around the world

          http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/gmf-agm/seralini-eng.php

          As for Jeffrey Smith having any ability to properly evaluate GM crops and food. Well he is/was a ballroom dance instructor. Enough said on that front.

          Why do you not believe the UN-FAO, the WHO, the FDA, the USDA, the AMA, the AAAS, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Commission, the National Academy of Science form every country in the world, Health Canada, The Food Standards Agency UK, the Food Standard Agency Australia/New Zealand etc

          • Natural Nurture

            Thanks for your interest in my education.

            You have told me about Mr. Smiths prowess on the dance floor, but failed to answer my questions…most importantly:

            WHY NOT LABEL FOOD WITH GMO

            if it is good of us and the World’s food supply?

            THE FDA is just one of many alleged food safety agencies. They create a new head of GMO crop safety. A new role and title was created and a new man selected to fill the role by happenstance or commission it was headed up by newly placed Michael R. Taylor who happened to be a head legal advisor for Monsanto.

            Now tell me, please, do you really think a fox can do a good job of guarding the chicken coop?

            The answers to question —“Do I not trust in the various food safety agencies alleged to safeguard our health?’— lay here:

            In a word: NO…

            …the following will outline why

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_R._Taylor

            How can a lawyer bounce back and forth and through revolving doors to enter top positions of every facet of food safety and be a former legal advisor and chief of public policy for Monsanto and be impartial?

            It boggles my mind and makes me wonder how that can happen and why?

            Just call me curious and maybe even a doubting Thomas.

            Oh yes, speaking of doubting Thomas.

            Clarence Thomas was legal council for Monsanto too…and is now a Superior Court Justice who doesn’t recuse himself from Monsanto litigation….Hmmmn makes me just so damn curious.

            Now all of this would be moot if Monsanto had a history of doing everything above board, ethically and circumspect of fraud.

            BUT I THINK— WE BOTH KNOW THAT IS NOT THE CASE…

            Monsanto creds are shreds!

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_R._Taylor

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Thomas

          • RobertWager

            You reject the global food safety, world health and world science opinion. Fine. We have nothing to discuss. have a nice life.

          • shanna

            Labels cannot be justified based on curiosity.

          • BigBadWolf

            The issue is not curiosity. The issue is an inalienable right to know what you eat and be in a position to reject this product if deemed unsafe.

          • I Am Disgusted

            All your words are empty! There is no real evidence to what you’ve been saying! You are just focusing on the injustice you’ve been shown. You haven’t even focused on the issue of pesticide usage! When GM crops are used, it will evolve the weeds and pests it’s supposed to kill! After being exposed for a matter of time it will evolve by natural selection and eating the crop might pass on the resistant gene! Natural selection people! Now… Concerning Golden Rice. I admit some people are running around like chickens with government conspiracy on their lips, but some of us have done our research. The amount of beta carotene in Golden rice isn’t enough to stop vitamin a deficiency. Furthermore, when cooked Golden rice loses about 10% of it’s beta carotene. You’d think people who’ve done the “studies” would know this. You are the ignorant one in how all you do is attack your organic opposition. Very unprofessional and I am so unconvinced. I mean, do you even know who really did those 2000 ‘studies’? Don’t you think that Monsanto and other companies have motivation to lie on the studies? Where is their business if you don’t continue to blindly eat the GM food. GM soy has risen many new allergies to the public pallet. Many people are now allergic to GM food with near fatal experiences. Me included. So where are you, you GM food supporters you. Are you going to let the resistive trait of the corn to be given to the bacteria inside you? Are you ready for the consequences of being sick and your body not being able to protect itself because the GM chemicals have ruined you digestion and immune responses? Are you prepared to become allergic to non-GM food because the GM food has reduced your digestive enzymes and you are now so food sensitive you become allergic to bananas?!

            Choose…

            P.S. You’re outdated info betrays you. Where GM corn was in a nearby field, People in the village close by became violently ill.

            For more info see link
            http://www.responsibletechnology.org/health-risks

          • I Am Disgusted

            This comment is aimed at the writer of this article, not at Nature Nurture.

          • BigBadWolf

            I am retired academic who was also Canadian federal public servant. I am familiar with the rubber stamping of approvals at Health Canada. God help us if all of the authorities mentioned above imitated Health Canada, which is notorious for its cosy relationship with the chemical industry.

        • RobertWager

          I am going to guess you have never read this paper.

          Review

          Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding
          trials:

          Chelsea Snell, et al
          ab s t r a c t

          The
          aim of this systematic review was to collect data concerning the effects of
          diets containing GM maize, potato,
          soybean, rice, or triticale on animal health. Weexamined 12 long-term studies (of more than 90 days, up to 2 years in duration)
          and 12 multigenerational studies
          (from 2 to 5 generations). We referenced
          the 90-day studies on GM feed for which
          long-term or multigenerational study data were available.
          Many parameters have been examined using
          biochemical analyses, histological examination of specific organs, hematology and the detection of transgenic DNA. The statistical findings and methods have been
          considered from each study. Results from all the 24 studies do not suggest any health hazards and, in general, there were no statistically significant differences within parameters observed.
          However, some small differences were observed, though these fell within
          the normal variation range of the considered parameter and thus had no biological or toxicological significance. If required, a 90-day feeding study performed in rodents, according to the OECD Test
          Guideline, is generally considered sufficient in order to evaluate the health effects of GM feed. The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally
          equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed.

          Food and Chemical Toxicology 50 (2012) 1134–1148

        • McNamara

          The refusal of some foreign buyers to purchase U.S. wheat after an unapproved genetically modified strain was discovered growing in a farm field in Oregon is the latest demonstration that the issue of biotech food safety is far from settled.

          “When new biotech crops are developed, companies are not required to apply for FDA approval, but are encouraged to share testing data with FDA scientists. The agency signs off on such a “voluntary consultation” with a letter reminding the biotech company it is responsible for ensuring its GM food is safe.”

          “Our regulation … largely leaves the companies in charge of the safety testing protocols”

          http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/10/us-gmo-safety-analysis-idUSBRE95913720130610

          • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

            McNamara, Your comments, while welcomed, are both incorrect. The genetically modified wheat found in an Oregon field was indeed unapproved–because Monsanto did not seek regulatory approval. However, formal safety testing had been done and the FDA had determined it was safe for human consumption, so this minor incident in no way raises any safe or health issues.

            The quote about how the FDA approval process works is demonstrably incorrect. Here is how the system works: An applicant seeking approval for a GM crop must do an assessment and then–which is true for all foods and food ingredients in the USA– must self assert that the food is safe or make an petition for a new food or food ingredient. It’s up to the applicant how they want to do this. The FDA reviews the safety data in detail and often pushes back on quality of the studies. Only after the FDA is satisfied at the quality of the testing data will it issue a letter indicating that it has no further safety questions to pose to them. Absent that letter, the food can be recalled by FDA if it is put on the market.Note that the EU, FSANZ, Taiwan FDA, Korea FDA, Japan etc etc all have mandatory approval processes, some of which require even more data that required by the FDA, and they have approved the same crops as the FDA, so obviously the claim that corporations are in charge of the safety testing protocols is highly misleading at best–but in practice clearly wrong.

          • Natural Nurture

            The FDA and Monsanto are not in bed together…that is true….

            however they share the same BUNK BED…

            Monsanto’s head legal weasel: Michael R. Taylor’s position in the FDA’s TOP BUNK was created for him— as a REVOLVING DOOR MOVE to have MONSANTO’s CONTROL in the ROOM…how can you ignore that ELEPHANT?…a ROGUE ELEPHANT I might add…stomping all over the approval process until it is not recognizable. We should trust the head legal weasel of Monsanto [former / on hiatus or on sabbatical-who knows?]…. sitting on top of the HEN house, which we erroneously call the FDA? How can we? They are a corporate rubber stamp and protectorate of Monsanto; they are not a protector of health.

            The process is a sham plain and simple.

            There never has been any long term studies of GMO showing it to be safe for human consumption…the only long term study released shows GMO was horrifically harmful to rats, their health and their reproduction.

            Read the news about shrinking testicles and the disappearing males of America.

            I wonder what could be causing that?

            I wonder if it is is GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, agent orange, DDT, RoundUp/glyphosate, phthalates, or all of the above? A plot to reduce the population of the planet, more insidious than Bayer’s cyanide* pellets? The facts beg the question.

            They make the rules, write the law, appoint the superior court judge, they fill the jury box and laugh all the way to the bank while giving farmers the shank.

            Buying puppies for the orphanage doesn’t remove the veil of evil. How anybody can sit in the bleachers and cheer on the GMO consortium and their machinations is beyond me.

            *Zyklon B http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zyklon_B

      • First Officer

        Another case of SAS, Shill Accusation Syndrome. I wonder if we can get a grant to study this spreading condition?

      • BigBadWolf

        Robert Wager, why then are your letters to the editor so consistently biased in favor of GMOs and the chemical industry in general?

  • Sleuth 4 Health

    Fantastic article. Hard hitting and in your face. It could now branch out into several follow ups. For one: the unregulated organic industry needs to be fully exposed. I posted excerpts from this article on my blog and made some comments.

    • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

      Yes, follow ups. Good idea! You can see other things Patrick, Rob and I have collaborated on by going to my website: http://www.isitorganic.ca/news
      And we’ve got more coming.

      As for “the unregulated organic industry,” please allow me to clarify: the organic industry is regulated. The problem is that it’s only regulated on paper, with no testing. Just so you know.

      • Sleuth 4 Health

        And like you intimated… the anti-GMOers accuse the biotech industry of the same ‘unregulation’. What I meant by unregulation is … the fact that we can’t be sure something is truly organic other than what the label says. How do we know someone didn’t cheat? That point was well taken.

      • First Officer

        It’s like testing for the transmission of cold waves.

    • BigBadWolf

      No doubt, the “unregulated” organic industry is very inconvenient for GMO peddlers. So what about the truth about the GMO industry, otherwise known as “God’s gift to the Creation”: 1) The huge increase in the use of pesticides 2) the monstrous and unprecedented weeds and 3) toxic proteins. So what about the consumer swallowing all this RoundUp which cannot be washed off as can be done with at least some of the chemical residues on conventional crops? The consumption of RoundUp for breakfast doesn’t seem to be very appealing to those who have not been fooled.

    • BigBadWolf

      Attacking the organic industry is the most vile and disgusting thing I ever heard. Sleuth 4 Health, you don’t give a damn about health–only about making money from GMOs even though it might mean that farmers may be driven to suicide as happened in India. You make me feel like throwing up!

      • First Officer

        “Attacking the organic industry is the most vile and disgusting thing I ever heard.”

        You really gotta get out more often. Few things are more disgusting and vile than anti-gmo attacks on Golden Rice while millions sicken from and nearly a million die from VAD each and every year.

      • First Officer

        Do you have statistics compared to the number of Indian farmers?

        Well, here they are:

        http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ifpridp00808.pdf

    • BigBadWolf

      This attack below the belt against the organic industry–God damn you, it is regulated–is both grossly unfair and clearly show whom we are dealing with: a bunch of unscrupulous thugs whose ambition is to conquer the world and enslave everyone, in addition to poisoning their food.

      • First Officer

        It’s no secret that Organic food has been at the root of a number food-borne epidemics of late. It’s also no secret that they will use a more toxic compound over a safer one simply because the safer one is synthetic or artificial. It’s also no secret that because they eschew synthetic fertilizers, they must, as some point, incorporate significantly more land to gather the necessary fixed nitrogen as compared to conventional farming.

        And, just what are the steps to go from GMO seeds to enslaving everyone? How could that possibly happen? All i’ve every seen from comments such as yours is that, “if they control the seeds, they control everything”, or words to that effect, wiht no concrete elaboration on just that could happen, especially if countries would simply revoke the patents and /or nationize the businesses if something like that was actually happening.

        So, i ask you, how could that happen?

      • First Officer

        “God Damn you”. Any particular god you had in mind?

  • Rob Wallbridge

    Please provide a citation for this claim: ” According to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who eat organic and “natural” foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria known as 0157: H7.”

    Never mind, I’ll do it for you: it is lifted, word for word, from a 1998 article by Dennis Avery. At the time, it was categorically denied by the CDC:
    “The CDC, in response to the Avery article and the cascade of secondary news reports based upon it, has stated that there exists no basis in any data to support the comparative risk of conventional versus organic farming practices for microbial food safety.” (source: http://bit.ly/19JMdRy)

    I have issued repeated challenges to prominent critics of organic food, some of the authors of this piece included, to produce evidence of higher food safety risks from organic food. That they are forced to plagiarize 15-year-old debunked disinformation speaks volumes.

    For a more fact-based analysis of this topic, please see here: http://bit.ly/173yPeA

    Popoff’s claims about the level of regulation and oversight of the organic industry have also been routinely and widely discredited. For a first-hand account and reasonable discussion on this topic, visit: http://bit.ly/188SZkg

    It’s unfortunate that a well-written defense of GMOs had to be tainted by a misinformed and inaccurate attack on organic production. Readers of this website deserve much better.

  • Rob Wallbridge

    It’s unfortunate that this generally well-written defense of GMOs is tainted by a misinformed and inaccurate attack on organic food and farming. Why not just let each system stand on its own merits?

    Even worse is the use of outright fabrications – like this:

    “According to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who eat organic and “natural” foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria known as 0157: H7″

    The unacknowledged source of this statement is a 1998 article written by Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute. However, the CDC itself repudiated this assertion shortly afterwards:

    “The CDC, in response to the Avery article and the cascade of secondary news reports based upon it, has stated that there exists no basis in any data to support the comparative risk of conventional versus organic farming practices for microbial food safety.” (source: http://bit.ly/19JMdRy)

    I have repeatedly asked many prominent critics of organic farming, including the authors of this article, to provide proof of the claim that organic food poses a greater health risk. It speaks volumes that they best they can do is to plagiarize a 15-year-old piece of debunked disinformation.

    For a fact-based description of this food safety risks posed by organic farming, please visit: http://bit.ly/173yPeA

    In addition, for a more complete and in-depth discussion of the organic certification process, view my guest post on the Biofortified blog at http://bit.ly/188SZkg

    • Natural Nurture

      Thank you Rob…there is hope that sanity prevails and so might the flora and fauna and the human species…if the truth only surfaces! THANK YOU!

    • Rene Arizona Craig

      High Five!!

  • Natural Nurture

    So the question on everyone’s lips is why….
    if GMO is so good for us, our cows and pigs and the wholesome us of the PLANET….why not label it and tell the world….

    ______________________________________________________________THIS JUST IN:

    The next question is how can this money laundering take place and still be supported by GMO advocates:

    The stakes couldn’t be higher – Monsanto is now teamed up with junk food companies and their front group – the Grocery Manufacturers Association – to hide campaign donations.

    Yesterday, the Washington state Attorney General’s complaint against the Grocery Manufacturers Association became public and it contains a bombshell! The complaint is full of revelations of how the lobbying front group conspired with its 300 plus members, which include Monsanto and DuPont, to illegally launder campaign donations in Washington state to defeat GMO labeling.

    The lawsuit reveals that since December of last year, GMA leadership has held at least 5 secret meetings to plot how to illegally hide member donations from Washington state campaign disclosure laws. The scheme was so devious that the GMA set up a special “Defense of Brands Strategic Account” slush fund to defeat GMO labeling in order to shield brands such as Pepsi, Kraft, Kellogg’s, Coke, General Mills and Starbucks from consumer backlash!

    Already, the opposition has raised more than $17 million to defeat GMO labeling, with the GMA chipping in $7.2 million to defeat Yes on 522.

    • First Officer

      What, no links to substantiate your libelous claims?

      • Natural Nurture

        Sorry First Officer….missed the spot this was supposed to end up…you asked for a link to the alleged libellous claims..and in error I posted it below…here is the link vs. the pasted copy of the Attorney General’s Press Statement all ready posted.

        LINK: http://www.atg.wa.gov/searchresults.aspx?qs=GMA+suit

        So before you call your solicitor to charge me with libel…please read the above link.

        If there is anything else I can do to help please let me know. Just a thought a quick Google Search will bring up a whole lot more of the behaviours of the infamous group of GMO supporters, lobbyists and paid shills posing as casual posters to forums on ‘how great Monsanto art’

    • EcoGnat

      Link please.

      • Natural Nurture

        EcoGNAT here are 125 links for your delectation and understanding of the reason that trust is an issue when we are told to believe GMO is safe or at least GRAS

        Washington state sues lobbyists* over campaign against GMO labeling

        *Grocery Manufacturers Association | GMA

        http://www.reuters.com/search?blob=Grocery+Manufacturers+Association+%7C+GMA

        RPT-Food giants pour millions into defeating Washington GMO label …

        … The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents more than 300 food and beverage companies, has put roughly $11 million into fighting the measure …

        Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:00am EDT

        Food giants pour millions into defeating Washington GMO label …

        … The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents more than 300 food and beverage companies, has put roughly $11 million into fighting the measure …

        Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:16pm EDT

        Food giants pour millions into defeating Washington GMO label …

        … The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents more than 300 food and beverage companies, has put roughly $11 million into fighting the measure …

        Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:52pm EDT

        Washington state sues lobbyists over campaign against GMO labeling

        … State Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleges that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding …

  • Rob Dobbs

    I am surprised that an ecologist and biology teacher (professor?) do not even discuss the dangers of monoculture, as implementation of GMO technologies is inherently reliant on the creation of monocultures. Health risks on the micro-level are insignificant in comparison. Like it or not, we will not always be able to out-engineer Mother Nature, and when you lack genetic diversity the scale of potential damage from an as-yet unknown blight or disease increases greatly. The Irish Potato Famine is a not-so-distant example of the dangers of monoculture. Sure, more Irishmen were fed in the short term, but the long-term risk proved unsustainable. Just some food for thought (sorry for the pun).

    • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

      With all due respect, GMOs have nothing necessarily to do with monoculture, and in fact can increase gene diversity. Many conventional farmers also have various crops planted in various rotations. Your argument as it applies to GMOs propaganda and not science.

      • Rob Dobbs

        They “can” increase genetic diversity, but that does not mean they will if monoculture is more profitable in the short term.

    • EcoGnat

      Don’t worry, there would be no famine – you don’t make scientific sense.. If the corn crop fails, then corn or cereals would be imported. Besides the US is a diversity of multiple grains. It’s funny when you compare today’s technology with the potate famine of a island.

      • Rob Dobbs

        Those are all grand statements, but I don’t really see much in the way of scientific discussion of the potential long term effects of GMO’s. I am not trying to prove anything, only to raise questions that I don’t see being raised. Biotech identifies itself as an “industry,” and its practitioners resemble engineers, not scientists. Their focus (and the source of their livelihood) is on solving discrete problems in the short term, and not on examining the bigger questions purely for the sake of knowledge.

        In that regard, have you really made any economic analysis of massive importation of corn, or of “converting” our present use to another grain? Neither sounds particularly feasible, either economically or practically.

        • EcoGnat

          There are professional experts and academics who assess such risks, and I do not see them yelping against GMO.

          All I see is a bunch of special interest groups, unemployed people with infinite time for their pet cause, and ideological leftists who have become horridly conservative and rightwing opposing any progress made by mankind, good or bad.

          It is the same ideological crowds who are against wind turbines because they are bigoted against the private sector, and want state ownership of power production.

          Risk averse perfectionists and ideological fear-mongers seem to not get it that their bigotry cause prices to rise and the poor getting poor, and the hungry getting starved.

          If mankind had this ultra-reactionary attitude, then airplanes would have never been invented because it can be driven into buildings, or cars would not be invented as it is the largest killers of innocents all over the world.

          And no, you are wrong. Any sort of disaster, large or small, resulting from the work done by GM companies will immediately hit them and make billions of dollars of equity go worthless overnight. If you think shareholders and management don’t care is because you have never invested in a company (production unit) – which makes me wonder why.

          • Natural Nurture

            >EconGnat

            Independent experts?
            or professional experts?…

            watch that word PROFESSIONAL…
            it is most accurate in its definition
            in the case of Monsanto….
            PAID EXPERTS.

          • BigBadWolf

            EcoGnat, there is a difference between risk assessment, finding such risk acceptable, and the production of appropriate equipment. On the other hand, there is something verging on the criminal, in forcing an insufficiently and dishonestly tested product which might well prove an unmitigated calamity to mankind, all for the sake of profit obtained in a dishonest manner..

      • Healthyeater

        Wouldn’t that make food more expensive if had to be imported?

        • EcoGnat

          What makes you think imported food is more expensive? It is generally the other way around. Why are tomatos imported from California and peaches from Chile, and persimmons from China?

          Why would Arizona grow its own rice when it can get that from Asia at half the price?

          Where did you learn such voodoo economics/ nationalist nonsense? In leftist indoctrination camp?

          • Healthyeater

            Sorry, it was an honest question. I feel that character assasination get both parties no where. I am a consumer, not an economics guru. It just seems to me that whenever I want to buy something imported, the price tag is always higher. For instance, Red Bhutan rice from Thailand, or vanilla beans from Madagascar, or Coke from Mexico made with real sugar. That was my reference point, the grocery store. Like I said, it really was an honest question, not a statement or a point being made, or threat to your statements. Thank you for answering my question, although, I would prefer facts and less insults. =)

          • First Officer

            Healthyeater, It is true that an imported item has the added cost of transport and packing for long distance transport to overcome before it can be cheaper. But, as it turns out in food production, that is very often dwarfed by the cost over overcoming less than favorable conditions in growing many foods locally.

  • tacotruck

    There are alot of statements made in this article that are not entirely true and written just slightly biased…..

    • Natural Nurture

      Thanks Tacotruck….nice to see there is integrity left in the world!

    • BigBadWolf

      I would agree with the above assessment, except the bias is not slight–it is tremendous!

  • David

    I would love to know where you found the quote by the AMA at the beginning of the article. Thanks.

  • Natural Nurture

    An update on the state of GMO affairs
    in the WASHINGTON STATE
    GMO LABELLING BILL I-522

    And the folly of money laundering to hide the identity of the GMO lobby, supporters, junk food purveyors and High Fructose Corn Syrup buyers like Pepsi, Coke et al.

    posted Oct 30, 2013 at 1:36 PM
    The following is a release from

    the Washington State Attorney General’s office:

    The Attorney General’s Office today provided the following update regarding the Grocery Manufacturers Association against I-522 and its compliance with state campaign finance laws. Initiative 522 is a measure before Washington voters on the Nov. 5 ballot, requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, seeds and seed products in this state.

    The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is a trade association, based in Washington DC, representing more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies. The GMA’s political committee is the largest single donor to the No on 522 campaign, contributing more than $11 million to date.

    The original lawsuit

    Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit against the GMA in Thurston County Superior Court on Oct. 16. That suit alleged that the GMA violated the state’s campaign disclosure laws when it collected and contributed more than $7 million to the No on 522 campaign while shielding the identities of the companies donating that money.

  • Natural Nurture

    Monsanto “Learned its Lesson” from Successful EU Refusal of GE Products

    In a 2010 article in the International Journal of Communication, titled “Monsanto Discovers New Social Media,” Wilhelm Peekhaus writes:

    “Monsanto learned some time ago about the value of the Internet in influencing the message being disseminated publicly about genetically engineered crops. The company’s director of communications, Philip Angell, admitted to The Wall Street Journal that ‘maybe we weren’t aggressive enough. …When you fight a forest fire, sometimes you have to light another fire.’

    [NN: It would appear to me that this site is a perfect example of just this process]

    Monsanto executives identified the Internet as the medium that had facilitated the rapid and expansive uptake of European protest against its products.

    Jay Byrne, former Monsanto director of Internet outreach, counseled colleagues beyond the company to ‘think of the Internet as a weapon on the table. Either you pick it up or your competitor does, but somebody is going to get killed.’”

    [NN: Some on this site surely have picked up Jay's clarion call and the baton...or sword for GMO... the internet weapon...to spread mythinformation and malfeasance....the real question: who is getting killed...by whom and by what...??]

    [NN: Interesting that Monsanto should do a 180° twist once they understood Europe would have nothing of their GMO…check out this little ditty of spin the bottle again: SORRY THIS SITE’s Image insertion is brocken….have a gander at this:
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/13/california-gmo-labeling.aspx

  • Noone special

    This is all rediculous. Plants can naturally take nitrogen from the air already. This slam on people who simply want a natural way of life instead of ingesting “safe” lab created food that has been shown to cause cancer and tumors in rats and possibly part of the rise of food allergies.

    • Jon Entine

      No study has shown that GMOs cause cancer and tumors in fats or increase allergies–none in a mainstream journal. Zero. There was a flawed study that has been retracted and will soon be expunged from the databases. You are fear mongering. BTW, no modern food is “natural”–it’s all been modified..almost all our grains and fruits are the result of lab research, like it or not.

      • BigBadWolf

        The study mentioned, with rats displaying huge tumours, was impeccable. However, it is not a secret that the article was rejected under the pressure of Monsanto. Jon Entine, you don’t want to understand that GMO have no precedent and that Monsanto is prepared to fight the truth about GMO come hell or high water. The attempt to combine animal and plant genes is unprecedented and irresponsible.We are walking on a very dangerous ground, as the well-being of the human race as a whole is at stake and this is far from being an exaggeration.

        • McNamara

          well said

  • Justin Morgan

    Organic food is classified based on whether pesticides and other chemicals are used in production of that food. The nutrient profile of the food being grown depends on the soil and air quality. That’s why organic food is more expensive, it’s harder to grow as you can’t do it in massive fields and douse it all in chemical. It sustains health just fine… probably better because you’re ingesting fewer chemicals.

    GMO foods aren’t inherently bad. However, the methods they use to add new genes into the plants genome isn’t a “cut and paste” affair as they’d have you believe. We don’t understand DNA and genes as well as we think we do. Very very few genes are one-gene-one-effect. Genes act together in ways we are just beginning to understand. If we add one gene in that is completely foreign to an organism, it’s very very hard to tell exactly what effect it has. It may demonstrate the trait we want it to, but it may be doing something else that is unseen to the eye.

    Once the GMO plants are out there, it is almost impossible to take it back if we do discover it is causing negative effects. Seeds scatter, you know? We can’t take it back. We owe it to ourselves and the world to properly investigate – like several year long studies – not a few weeks on a few animals, which is what is out there, and fyi, these studies frequently have shown negative effects on the digestive tract. A lot of these studies are swept away and not made public.

    It is also interesting to note that the way a lot of GMOs are declared as “safe” is by research done by the company that is hoping to sell the product. Does that seem right? Of course they want it to be declared safe! A lot of these studies have been reviewed by outsiders to the company and the methods used to gather the “safe” results are questionable.

    So yeah, GMO is not necessarily a bad thing. But we need to make sure we know what we’re doing as we can’t go back.

  • Justin Morgan

    Mischa Popoff, Patrick Moore & Robert Wager… Are any of you receiving any sort of sponsorship from companies that use GMO’s? There has never been a problem of having not enough food… The problem is not having enough money to buy the food…

    • R. Swivler

      Check out Dr. Patrick Moore on Wiki. He runs pr for industry and is one of the “man isn’t responsible for climate change” shills. I guess being a Greenpeace warrior wasn’t giving him the income he’d wished for.

      As far as the article, got to say that a lead with “the debate is over” always sends up a red flag for me. While GMO stuff hasn’t been proven to cause any human damage (who would fund the study?), the independent reports of the need for greater and greater quantities of herbicides necessary to knock out the super weeds — would likely cause some problems for humans, but then, it’s not the GMO crops, just what they have brought about.

      Similar to the problems with tracking — maybe a mechanically okay process, but the millions of gallons of water expended and poisoned in the process is going to cause more and more problems in the future.

    • BigBadWolf

      I am retired Canadian academic who has never heard of Mischa Popoff and Patrick Moore, but I do know that Robert Wager is associated with a B.C. university and writes predictable letters to the editor.

      • BigBadWolf

        I just remembered who Dr. Patrick Moore is and that at one time he was associated with Greenpeace. He still calls himself an environmentalist. However, this world doesn’t need “environmentalists” of his ilk. What we call ourselves and what we really are–these are two very different things!

  • BigBadWolf

    GMOs are not cutting pesticide use. On the contrary they result in huge, ever growing use of pesticides, particularly RoundUp. They also result in monstrous weeds that are difficult to eradicate. Whoever has written otherwise should be thoroughly ashamed. No doubt there is a connection to Monsanto. And what about the toxic proteins in GMOs, as indicated by independent scientists with no ties to Monsanto? What about consumers swallowing all this RoundUp. Never mind organic, even when consuming conventionally grown food, it is possible to remove at least some of the toxic residues. One cannot remove any toxic residues from GMOs because they are an integral part of cell.

    • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

      GMOs have not resulted in monstrous weeds or increased use of toxic pesticides. Mutated weeds are the result of farmers not properly rotating their crop or using other kinds of management oversight. They predate GMOs, and are in issue in all kinds of farming environments, organic and conventional. Nothing unique about GMOs leads to this weed problem. Here is a good primer on it from Purdue University: http://www.ctic.purdue.edu/media/users/lvollmer/pdf/biotech%20chapter%205.pdf

      As for the claim that GMOs have led to an increase in pesticides, that’s not accurate. Some GMOs, such as Bt crops, have sharply reduced pesticide use since they incorporate a natural pesticide–Bt–that organic farmers use. They are harmless to humans–one reason why organic farmers use them–and by being engineered into the crops that cut random spraying that impacts benign insects and wildlife.

      Herbicide resistant GE crops, such as Roundup, which are used with glyphosate, were designed to replace crops that required that use of very toxic pesticides. Glpyhosate is one of the mildest pesticides on the market, used in home gardens around the world. Its not carcinogenic and profiles at about 1/100the the toxicity of the pesticides it has mostly replaced. As the percentage of GMO crops has increased, the use of comparatively mild pesticides has increased somewhat, but the overall toxicity impact levels has dropped substantially– in other words, humans and animals are fare safer in terms of being potentially impacted negatively by the use of chemicals (and after all, organic farmers use chemicals all the time, so everyone knows the real issue is toxicity, not bulk volume).

      A well known expert in this field, Steve Savage, discusses the nuances of this issue at the independent website Biorfortified.
      http://www.biofortified.org/2013/01/the-muddled-debate-about-pesticides-and-gm-crops/

      • BigBadWolf

        Thierry Vrain, PhD, retired scientist formerly employed by Agriculture Canada, writes and I quote: “I refute the claims of the biotechnology companies that their engineered crops yield more, that they require less pesticide applications, that they have no impact on the environment, and that they are safe to eat. The scientific literature is full of studies showing that engineered corn and soya contain toxic or allergenic proteins.” Other independent scientists mention the huge weeds the cultivation of GMOs produces, due to the application of Glyphosate which is the active ingredient of RoundUp, rather than another chemical as you imply. You are obviously not a specialist in this field. And for you to say that Glyphosate is one of the mildest pesticides on the market shows that your knowledge of this herbicide is very weak.

        • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

          Vrain may be a PhD but he is considered a joke in the mainstream science community–a crank activist and not someone who puts much faith in empirical research. He stands virtually alone…and he was never an expert on glyphosate. I’ll stick to mainstream science. If you care–it appears you are so ideological and rigid as to reject mainstream science–I suggest you read some independent data on glyphosate. Here are some US EPA links (and spare us the sarcastic conspiracy theory mongering):

          -http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/reregistration/glyphosate/
          –http://www.epa.gov/safewater/pdfs/factsheets/soc/tech/glyphosa.pdf
          –http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/0178fact.pdf

          • BigBadWolf

            If Vrain, who is far from standing alone, is considered a joke in the mainstream science community than the so-called mainstream science community happens to be nothing but meek followers of Monsanto and I wouldn’t trust them as far as I can throw–and I don’t throw very far. As to glyphosate I cite its evaluation by the reputable community of scientists and not Vrain’s alone. The EPA, similarly to the Canadian PMRA, it is too much in the industry’s corner and has too much to do with too small resources to be taken seriously.

  • Rene Arizona Craig

    You claim we cannot understand the science behind GMOs therefore, why haven’t you tried to explain the benefits or at least dispute the scientific findings of not three but 150 respected researchers and doctors? They published their results of a scientific study that claimed that GMOS cause a subject to become sterile, develop cancers and tumors and even die from exposure to roundup and other chemicals you have designed these products to accept. Our bodies were not meant to ingest fake foods and chemicals. Go Organic or pay the price. Where is the money going to be in the next few years? The best Organic Foods. The best Organic Fast Food Resturants. Rethink Healthy and please read the true defintion of Nutritious. For Gods sake. Why fix something that was not broken to start with? Agenda 21 !!!

  • Rene Arizona Craig

    I see my comment was removed that is unfortuante. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-30/chipotle-profit-rises-30-as-more-diners-visit-restaurant.html Go Organic or pay the price

  • Libran Scale

    Unfortunately for me, a student in highschool, I’m researching this debate in all its entirety, but I can’t find any real information. What I do know is that this is an extremely biased page with little fact or scientific proof. Also, I am all for the use of GMO’s because some of this is a brilliant idea like more crops and less fallouts, but what about what’s really happening right now. Monsanto is a pesticide company that invests its time in GMO seeds and foods, but what about the sideline fact they don’t willingly churn out? Plants grow in “blocks,” from block A to the final one makes a plant, and Round-up, the worlds leading pesticide, is meant to stop weeds from growing at whatever block they are on, but the company has found a problem, it kills crops as well. They trouble shot that problem by putting out plants with animal DNA in them. Even though that was absolutely brilliant, the plants absorb that pesticide and causes health issues. That’s what the activists are throwing out there, but they are chastised because they look ridiculous. Well, if you hadn’t noticed, it has gotten your attention. It isn’t all lies, although I’m sure there are some fallacies on both sides, we can’t just throw it all away. France has banned USA made GMO corn because of these certain issues, and I believe we should look into it a little bit more than an untrained eye.

    sincerely, a Libran Scale.

    • Jon Entine

      I think you need to do a lot more research. Almost all of the statements above are inaccurate. Feel free to search the pages of the Genetic Literacy Project for fact based information.

      • Moe Lestar

        Sure, lets read the ‘facts’ from a proponent of GMO. That will result in accurate information and nothing biased at all.

  • Papa Joe

    GMO’s Mess up your metabolic functions and in about 10 to 15 years we are going to see serious consequences.
    I agree, the world needs to be fed. But with food produced on a more local basis. And that is where learning from people with more experience in home and local crop production.
    That is where the Peace Corp can make a huge difference.
    And as for the “E coli” scare you’ll find that these incidents happened on large corporate sponsored farms.
    The point is this, if you want to feed the world, teach the world better farming techniques.
    Breeding new strains is one thing, Modifying I another thing all together.
    Our Government has been pushing and promoting Fructose(corn syrup) since the Nixon administration . Independent research has proof that corn syrup IS a type of poison to the human metabolism. Can we really trust the federal pro-bottom liners to really look after our interests?

  • Adele Yap

    Again, we are answering problems the wrong way. Like when our source of water is questionable, we bottle drinking water, instead of cleaning the water source.
    If we truly want to solve malnutrition, the answer is not GMO, but to make food available for all. The Earth is abundant, and poverty is man-made. Right now, we have the science and technology that can plant seeds as designed by Nature, and grow food abundantly. One way is by vertical farming. And all this can be organic.
    We have space shuttles, the Internet, our computers as small as our palms! Why, then, can’t hunger be solved? Because we are in the monetary system. People can be paid, even scientists, to push for GMO because it is a big business.