Topics on the show included…
Study reveals signs of toxicity of GE maize approved for human consumption
Christoph Then | July 26, 2008
“Laboratory rats, fed with a genetically engineered (GE) maize produced by Monsanto, have shown signs of toxicity in kidney and liver, according to a new study.(1) This is the first time that a GE product which has been cleared for use as food for humans and animals has shown signs of toxic effects on internal organs.
The study, published today in the journal “Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology”, analysed results of safety tests submitted by Monsanto to the European Commission when the company was seeking authorisation to market its GE Maize variety MON863 in the EU. (2)
The data shows that MON863 has significant health risks associated with it; nonetheless, the European Commission granted licences to market the maize for consumption by both humans and animals. (3)
Monsanto patent fight ensnares Missouri farm town
Alan Scher Zagier | July 10, 2008
Soybean farmer David Brumback calls himself a loyal customer of Monsanto Co. His product of choice: genetically engineered seeds resistant to pesticides and weed killers.
So when the biotech giant named Brumback and more than 100 other local farmers in a subpoena seeking five years of sales records, his first reaction was befuddlement. Then anger.
“With Monsanto, you’re guilty until you’re proven innocent,” he said.
Note to show: After two failed recording attempts due to technical difficulties (hence the “take three” mentioned during the show’s intro boilerplate), we were finally able to get a recording to stick. As such, we were a bit more tired than usual and a bit less spontaneous. We’ll be back next week more energetic than ever–and without any technical difficulties, hopefully. Ahh, the joys of technology. — M.
Human-pig hybrid embryos given go ahead
Roger Highfield | July 1, 2008
A licence to create human-pig embryos to study heart disease has been issued by the fertility watchdog.
This marks the third animal-human hybrid embryo licence to be issued by Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the first since the Commons voted in favour of this controversial research last month.
An HFEA spokesman said it had approved an application from the Clinical Sciences Research Institute, University of Warwick, for the creation of hybrid embryos. The centre has been offered a 12 month licence with effect from today, July 1.
GM Foods: The U.S. Fights Mandatory Labeling in An Untested Human Experiment
Dr. Gregory Damato, Ph.D. | June 30, 2008
The U.S. and several other nations recently attended a Codex meeting in Calgary, Canada to discuss food labeling. The Codex Alimentarius Commission implements the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Program, the purpose of which is to protect the health of consumers and to ensure fair practices in the food trade. The Codex Alimentarius (Latin, meaning Food Law or Code) is a collection of internationally adopted food standards presented in a uniform manner. One of the principle reasons for this forum was to discuss the necessity, or lack of necessity as the U.S. sees it, to set up mandatory labeling of GM (genetically modified) and GE (genetically engineered) foods for consumers. South Africa (SA) and many African countries are strong dissenting voices of the U.S. policy that all GM/GE foods are considered equal to non-GM/GE foods and are in fact deemed safe under a 1992 George H. W. Bush Executive Order.
Genetically modified crops ‘may be answer to global food crisis’
Laura Clout | June 19, 2008
Britain may have to accept the cultivation of genetically-modified crops to help combat the global food crisis, a Government minister has said.
Scientists find bugs that eat waste and excrete petrol
Silicon Valley is experimenting with bacteria that have been genetically altered to provide ‘renewable petroleum’
Chris Ayres | June 14, 2008
“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”
He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.
Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls “renewable petroleum”. After that, he grins, “it’s a brave new world”.
Biotech giants demand a high price for saving the planet
Companies accused of ‘profiteering’ as they attempt to patent crop genes
Geoffrey Lean | June 8, 2008
Giant biotech companies are privatising the world’s protection against climate change by filing hundreds of monopoly patents on genes that help crops resist it, a new investigation has concluded.
The study – by the authoritative Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group), based in Ottawa, Canada – has found that nine firms have filed at least 532 patents around the world on about 55 different genes offering protection against heat, drought and floods. If granted, the companies would be given control of crucial natural raw material needed to maintain food supplies in an increasingly hungry world.
Family seed business takes on Goliath of genetic modification
Marian Scott | May 25, 2008
Heather Meek leafs through the seed catalogue she wrote on the family computer, on winter nights after the kids went to bed.
There are Kahnawake Mohawk beans and Painted Mountain corn; Tante Alice cucumber and 40 varieties of heritage tomatoes.
Selling seeds is more than just an extra source of income on this organic farm an hour northwest of Montreal.
For Meek and partner Frederic Sauriol, propagating local varieties is part of a David and Goliath struggle by small farmers against big seed companies.
At stake, they believe, is no less than control of the world’s food supply.
Biodiversity: Privatisation Making Seeds Themselves Infertile
Julio Godoy | May 22, 2008
Seeds were once for ever. After harvest, a few from the crop would be planted for the following year, and so it went on.
Now, biochemical industry giants are making seeds themselves infertile. You sow them this year, and that’s it. For next year’s crop, you need brand new seeds — you would have to buy them, of course.
Twenty-five years ago, there were at least 7,000 seed growers worldwide, and none of them controlled more than one percent of the global market. Today, after a takeover spree, 10 major biochemical multinationals, including Monsanto, DuPont-Pioneer, Syngenta, Bayer Cropsciencie, BASF, and Dow Agrosciences, control more than 50 percent of the seeds market.
Frightening food for thought
John Griffin | May 23, 2008
Content conquers craft in Marie-Monique Robin’s devastating exposé Le Monde selon Monsanto (The World According to Monsanto).
The French journalist’s documentary format is pedestrian – lots of phone calls, talking heads, cheesy mock-dramatic background music. But her seriously researched critique of the international chemical “life sciences” giant Monsanto will freeze the blood in your veins.
U.S. rice farmers want class action against Bayer
Carey Gillam | May 23, 2008
Germany’s Bayer AG (BAYG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) is battling to keep thousands of U.S. rice farmers from becoming part of a massive class-action lawsuit over the contamination of commercial rice supplies by a Bayer biotech rice not approved for human consumption.
In hearings this week in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri, lawyers representing rice farmers said about 7,000 long-grain producers in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas should be allowed to seek unspecified damages against Bayer for contamination that was uncovered in August 2006.
There is more than meets the eye about the world food crisis
Eric Walberg | May 19, 2008
Food protests and riots have swept more than 20 countries in the past few months, including Egypt.
On 2 April, World Bank President Robert Zoellick told a meeting in Washington that there are 33 countries where price hikes could cause widespread social unrest. The UN World Food Programme called the crisis the silent tsunami, with wheat prices almost doubling in the past year alone, and stocks falling to the lowest level since the perilous post-WWII days. One billion people live on less than $1 a day. Some 850 million are starving. Meanwhile, world food production increased a mere 1 per cent in 2006, and, with increasing amounts of output going to biofuels, per capita consumption is declining.
The most commonly stated reasons include rising fuel costs, global warming, deterioration of soils, and increased demand in China and India. So is it all just a case of hard luck and poor planning?