How much disease is Roundup causing?

December 2014
Photo of sign which says hazardous pesticides in use
Pesticide warning sign. CC photo by the justified sinner on Flickr
"We have dispersed hundreds of millions of tonnes of (chemical pollutants and GMOs) in the ecosystem. Most are stable and toxic and penetrate every form of life. For instance, results show that there is no human breast milk on the planet that is free from insecticides (such as DDT) and plasticizers. There is no fetus without several hundred pollutants attached to its genes. There is no Member of the European Parliament measured without at least fifty pollutants in his blood." (G. E. Séralini's team)

This toxic mix from our environment and food now includes artificial DNA, analogues of viral DNA such as the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus gene promoter (CaMV), novel proteins, analogue 'Bt' insecticides, and increased levels of agrichemicals associated with GMOs.

Within the last 20 years there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with a marked decrease in life expectancy. The onset of serious illness is appearing in increasingly younger cohorts.

Following on from the data presented last year by Dr. Nancy Swanson describing disturbingly parallel annual increases of chronic diseases and glyphosate use [1], her investigation has now been expanded and published.

Fast fat GM eucalyptus trees

December 2014
Photo of eucalyptus trees
Eucalyptus trees. CC Photo by Victor Camilo on Flickr
An application to plant transgenic eucalyptus trees in Brazil is underway. If successful, this will mean vast monocultures of GM trees spreading across the country. Eucalyptus is not a food, but its products and presence have huge impacts on humans.
Details about the artificial DNA construct in the trees are sparse, but the gene is based on one found in a tiny fast-growing weed. The novel enzyme generated by the gene seems to disrupt the cellulose (woody material) around plant cells and induce faster cell division and growth rate. As a result, the GM eucalyptus has a thicker trunk and is big enough to harvest in only five-and-a-half years, instead of the seven years needed for current commercial conventional varieties.
The primary purpose of all that extra eucalyptus wood is to produce paper, but other uses are being explored such as bioplastics and renewable fuels; one particular suggestion has been pellets for export to the UK to co-fire with coal in our power stations. 

Elusive GM safety evidence

December 2014

A review of the scientific evidence on the relationship between GM crops and animal health has just been published. This carefully constructed search for a robust body of studies concluded that the task was "impossible" to do "properly" because of the fragmented nature of the approach to testing and the gaps in the presentation of the methodology and data.

The studies had all been peer-reviewed and published. Notably, reports submitted to regulatory authorities were omitted due to insufficient detail.

Fast fat animals

December 2014

A 2014 review of the "Prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered feedstuffs on livestock populations" seems to have come up with an animal version of the trillions of GM meals which 'prove' safety [1].

The stated purpose of the study is three fold.

GM feed 'prevalence' is described in a "summary of the suppliers of GE and non-GE feed in global trade".

Echoing GMO-friendly propaganda

November 2014

CC photo Wiki Commons
An interesting revelation on how GM 'solutions' are spun to the public, governments, retailers and industry bodies is worth taking note of.

A spike in commodity food prices in 2007-8 led to a 'food crisis' and hunger-fuelled riots in many areas.

Crises are known to be transformative of perceptions and actions: they can also, it seems, be harnessed to manipulate those perceptions and actions.

German Roundup ban

November 2014

Crop spraying. CC photo by Tim Parkinson on Flickr
In 2014, Germany, as Rapporteur Member State for the introduction of glyphosate herbicide into Europe, carried out a routine re-assessment of the chemical and pronounced it safe.

With global sales of the most-used glyphosate-containing herbicide, Monsanto's 'Roundup', reaching $5.46 billion in 2012 and expected to reach $8.79 billion by 2019, it would take some courage for Europe to declare the chemical unsafe. Add to this that glyphosate-tolerance is the most common GM trait being added into crops of all kinds: removing glyphosate from the GM equation at this stage would spell disaster for agriculture in the Americas and elsewhere. 

Germany is not only being politically correct in pronouncing glyphosate safe: the chemical, in pure form, isn't at all bad as these things go. It's easy to pander to big business and avoid offending the US by generating a positive risk assessment for glyhphosate. 

However, the reality of this cynical political posturing to uphold trade has recently become evident.

Independent scientists have repeatedly warned that the risk assessment of glyphosate has been applied out of context and is, simply, wrong.

America: one vast outdoor GMO experiment

November 2014

Prairie road through canola. CC photo by Jeff Franklin on Flickr
In 2010, a US specialist in plant populations found GM canola thriving widely along North Dakota roadsides. It was genetically transformed to resist proprietary herbicides and had been sprouting for generations. Recently, she gave an update:
“It's still there, and it's always going to be there. When you're driving down the road, and the only thing standing is herbicide-resistant canola, biodiversity has taken a hit.”

Commercial strains of herbicide-resistant canola growing where they shouldn't be are easy to spot. But the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the body responsible for promoting and protecting US agriculture, has approved nearly 20,000 field trial permits covering some 100,000 plantings of experimental GM crops.

Are these crops already joining the roadside GM canola which is "always going to be there"?