Posts tagged ‘GMO Crops’

Dr. Mercola Discusses New GMO Study ……………

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/22/superbugs-destr… Internationally renowned natural health physician and Mercola.com founder Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses new study on GMO.

in the 2nd video

Experts discuss the findings of the Roundup/GM cancer trial

The world’s best-selling weedkiller, and a genetically modified maize resistant to it, can cause tumours, multiple organ damage and lead to premature death, a new study has revealed. Its results are published in The Food & Chemical Toxicology Journal in New York. Here, experts discuss the significance of the findings.

 

Turning Crops, Animals And Even Babies Into Genetic Monsters – What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (filed under: “sick humanity”)……..

Michael Snyder
Activist Post
Tue, 03 Jul 2012 17:39 CDT

© Activist Post

The greatest environmental threat that we are facing is genetic modification. All over the globe, scientists are treating the fabric of life as if it was a playground where anything goes. Behind closed doors, scientists all over the planet are creating some of the most freakish and most bizarre monsters that you could possible imagine, and very few people seem concerned about it. But the truth is that messing with the building blocks of life is going to have some very serious consequences.

Scientists claim that they are making our crops stronger, more productive and less vulnerable to insects. Scientists claim that they can alter our animals so that they are more “useful” to us. Scientists claim that genetic modification is only going to “enhance” humanity. But what if something goes seriously wrong?

For example, what if we learn that eating genetically modified food is really, really bad for us? Well, at this point more than 70 percent of the processed foods sold in the United States contain at least one ingredient that has been genetically modified. It would be kind of hard to go back now. We have rushed ahead and have created hordes of freakish genetic monsters without ever seriously considering the consequences. Someday, future generations may look back on us and wonder how we could have ever been so incredibly foolish.

Frankenfood

We were promised that genetically modified crops would enable us to feed the world. Well, the world is still starving, but we sure have seen super weeds, super pests and super diseases all develop as a result of genetic modification.

A recent article by George Dvorskydiscussed how bollworms in China are now becoming resistant to the toxins grown inside Bt cotton….

As far as the real world mutated bollworms are concerned, they’re starting to take off in China. The researchers discovered that resistance-conferring mutations in cotton bollworm were three times more common in northern China than in areas of northwestern China where less Bt cotton has been grown.

A recent NPR articledetailed how we are seeing something similar happen in the United States. Rootworms are becoming resistant to the toxins grown inside Bt corn, and this is starting to cause major problems….

The scientists who called for caution now are saying ‘I told you so,’ because there are signs that a new strain of resistant rootworms is emerging. In eastern Iowa, northwestern Illinois, and parts of Minnesota and Nebraska, rows of Bt corn have toppled over, their roots eaten by rootworms. Entomologist Aaron Gassmann at Iowa State University, who authored the PLoS One paper, collected insects from some of these fields and found many with a greater-than-expected ability to tolerate Bt.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

But it is happening.

Meanwhile, we are also now learning that Bt corn may not be quite as “safe” for humans as we had been promised. The following is from a recent article by Dr. Mercola….

Last year, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of:

  • 93 percent of pregnant women tested
  • 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and
  • 67 percent of non-pregnant women

The study authors speculate that the Bt toxin was likely consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class – which makes sense when you consider that genetically engineered corn is present in the vast majority of all processed foods and drinks in the form of high fructose corn syrup. They also suggest that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn, which most livestock raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO, or so-called “factory farms”) are.

These shocking results raise the frightening possibility that eating Bt corn might actually turn your intestinal flora into a sort of ‘living pesticide factory’… essentially manufacturing Bt-toxin from within your digestive system on a continuing basis.

If this hypothesis is correct, is it then also possible that the Bt-toxin mightdamage the integrity of your digestive tract in the same way it damages insects? Remember, the toxin actually ruptures the stomach of insects, causing them to die. The biotech industry has insisted that the Bt-toxin doesn’t bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals (which would include humans). But again, there are peer-reviewed published research showing that Bt-toxin does bind with mouse small intestines and with intestinal tissue from rhesus monkeys.

Are you sure that the food that you are eating is safe? For much more on the dangers of eating genetically modified food, check out this article.

Turning Our Animals Into Monsters

Scientists all over the world seem to have no problem messing with our animals either.

Recently it was revealed that scientists in China have genetically modified 300 cows to produce milk that has many of the same qualities that human breast milk does.

So how did they do this? Well, they inserted human genes into the cows. So those cows are now essentially part human and part cow. Are you disturbed yet? You should be.

In a previous article, I detailed quite a few other examples of how they are turning our animals into genetic monsters….

  • Scientists in Japan have created a genetically modified mouse that tweets like a bird.
  • One U.S. corporation can now produce a very muscular “monster salmon” which can grow up to three times as fast as normal salmon do.
  • In Japan, scientists have discovered that they can grow rat organs inside of mice. The researchers hope to use the same technology to grow human organs inside of pigs.

Scientists are even creating “spider goats” and fluorescent cats now. And these are just the things that they are admitting to publicly.

Can you imagine what kind of bizarre monsters are being created in private?

Genetically Modified Humans?

Sadly, now even human babies are being genetically modified. Recently it was reported that scientists have created babies that have three parents. The following is from a recent Daily Mail article….

The world’s first genetically modified humans have been created, it was revealed last night.

The disclosure that 30 healthy babies were born after a series of experiments in the United States provoked another furious debate about ethics.

So far, two of the babies have been tested and have been found to contain genes from three ‘parents’.

Fifteen of the children were born in the past three years as a result of one experimental program at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St Barnabas in New Jersey.

The babies were born to women who had problems conceiving. Extra genes from a female donor were inserted into their eggs before they were fertilized in an attempt to enable them to conceive.

Genetic fingerprint tests on two one-year- old children confirm that they have inherited DNA from three adults –two women and one man.

The fact that the children have inherited the extra genes and incorporated them into their ‘germline’ means that they will, in turn, be able to pass them on to their own offspring.

The implications of this are staggering.

Will those babies be allowed to reproduce someday?

If so, that genetic material will get into the general population, and once that happens there will be no retrieving it.

But scientists are so excited that they are able to do some of these things that they never stop to ask whether they should be doing these things.

Scientists all over the globe have also been creating creatures that are part-human and part-animal in an attempt to find cures for various diseases. In a previous article, I quoted a Daily Mail articlewhich discussed the “human-animal hybrid embryos” that are secretly being created in British labs….

Scientists have created more than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in British laboratories.

The hybrids have been produced secretively over the past three years by researchers looking into possible cures for a wide range of diseases.

The revelation comes just a day after a committee of scientists warned of a nightmare ‘Planet of the Apes’ scenario in which work on human-animal creations goes too far.

Who in the world decided that this would be a good idea?

This kind of mixing of animals and humans is even happening in the heartland of the United States. The following is from an article posted on MSNBC a number of years ago entitled “Scientists Create Animals That Are Part-Human“….

On a farm about six miles outside this gambling town, Jason Chamberlain looks over a flock of about 50 smelly sheep, many of them possessing partially human livers, hearts, brains and other organs.

What does being “part-human” mean?

Is there something fundamental that sets us apart from the animals?

If so, when is that line crossed?

It is absolutely amazing that more people are not upset about this stuff.

That same MSNBC article described some of the other things that scientists are doing with human genetic material….

In the past two years, scientists have created pigs with human blood, fused rabbit eggs with human DNA and injected human stem cells to make paralyzed mice walk.

Should science be able to do whatever it wants to with human DNA?Are we absolutely certain that all of these bizarre experiments will never have any very serious unintended consequences?Down in Missouri, scientists have been growing animals that are part pig and part humanwith the hope of being able to provide organs for human transplants.If you ever need an organ transplant, you might want to check where the organ is coming from. If you are not careful, doctors might implant an organ from a monster that is part-human and part-pig inside of you.

Another very disturbing scientific movement that is gaining a lot of momentum right now is transhumanism. The idea is that humans can be greatly “enhanced” using computers, microchips, nanobots, “micro-machines“, genetic engineering and other cutting edge technologies.

By merging humans and technology, those promoting transhumanism believe that humans can become much stronger and much more intelligent. They believe that aging, sickness, disease, disabilities, physical suffering and even death can eventually be totally eliminated.

But at some point would such “super humans” cease to be human?

And what would that mean for the rest of us?

These are very important questions.

Our world was created with incredible precision and with a natural balance between “the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees”. When we start messing with the basic building blocks of life, we open up “Pandora’s Box” and we might not like the consequences.

It is incredibly arrogant to think that we can turn our crops, our animals and even our babies into freakish genetic monsters and that everything will be just fine.

We are ripping nature to shreds and we are rapidly destroying the environment that has been entrusted to us.

In the end, I am afraid that we will pay a great price for our pride.

About the author

This article first appeared here at the American Dream. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog.

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Frankenfoods in Your “Natural” Foods Store: Whole Foods or Whole Hypocrisy?

http://www.sott.net

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 15:19 CDT
Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association

© smartlifeways.com

“The reality is that no grocery store in the United States, no matter what size or type of business, can claim they are GE-free. While we have been and will continue to be staunch supporters of non-GE foods, we are not going to mislead our customers with an inaccurate claim… We have advocated for mandatory labeling of GE foods since 1992…”

– Whole Foods Market Internal Company Memo 1/30/2011

“Whole Foods claim they support mandatory labeling of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Well, where are the labels on the vast array of non-organic foods in their stores that contain genetically engineered soybeans, corn, canola, cottonseed oil, or sugar beets? Where are the labels on their so-called “natural” meat, eggs, or dairy products, reared on GMO grains and animal drugs?”

– Protester in front of a San Francisco Whole Foods Market, April 11, 2011

After two decades of biotech bullying by Monsanto and Food Inc., a grassroots movement of organic consumers and farmers is rising up across the United States. Inspired by the success of their European counterparts in driving genetically engineered crops and foods off the market, not through an EU ban, but through mandatory labeling, several thousand protesters took to the streets on March 26, 2011 in 30 different cities, under the banner of “Rally for the Right to Know,” and “Millions Against Monsanto.”

At the same time, anti-GMO activists have stepped up the pace of grassroots lobbying, successfully pressuring state legislators in at least 14 states to introduce bills calling for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Reflecting widespread public concern over the health and environmental hazards of GMOs, recent polls by National Public Radio and MSNBC have found that more than 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling. Mandatory labeling of GMOs, of course, is bitterly opposed by Monsanto and the supermarket lobby, who understand, as a Monsanto executive admitted, “If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”

Angered by the Obama administration’s recent controversial approvals of GMO alfalfa, salmon, sugar beets, and corn, and the compromise or surrender of organic industry leaders, including Whole Foods, in agreeing to accept the “co-existence,” of GMO and organic crops and foods, organic consumers across the U.S. have decided to take matters into their own hands.

Spearheaded by the industry watchdog group, the Organic Consumers Association, and powerful alternative health consumer networks such as NaturalNews.com and Mercola.com, millions of health and environmental-minded consumers are starting to demand that the $60 billion “natural” products industry take GMO products off their shelves, or at least clearly label them, so that consumers can seek certified organic and other GMO-free alternatives.

In an interview at the Green Festival in San Francisco on April 9, Alexis Baden-Mayer, OCA Campaign Director, explained the strategy behind the Millions Against Monsanto Truth-in-Labeling Campaign.

“Over 90% of Americans want GE-tainted foods labeled. Why? So that we can avoid buying these foods. This is a major reason why millions of us are buying certified organic products, which preclude the use of GE ingredients, as well as toxic chemicals and animal drugs. Since the politicians in Washington apparently prefer to listen to Monsanto rather than their constituents, we need to put our efforts where we currently have the most power, in our local communities, especially at the retail grocery store level, where 50 million of us are regularly buying certified organic and so-called ‘natural’ foods.

“What most green consumers don’t understand yet, is that most of the so-called “natural” processed foods and animal products (which make up 2/3 of the sales of Whole Foods Market) that we are still buying are GMO-contaminated. Either they contain GMO ingredients like soy, corn, canola, cottonseed oil or sugar beet sweetener, or else the animals have been force-fed fed a steady diet of GMO grains and drugs.

“We need to clean up our act and walk our talk in the green and natural products sector. We need to tell natural food giants like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s that you can’t claim to support GMO labeling, and then proceed to sell billions of dollars of unlabeled GMO food in your stores, greenwashed as ‘natural.’ We’re protesting this week in front of Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s to make our views on GMOs absolutely clear. Like our banners say: ‘GMOs: Don’t buy them! Don’t sell them! Don’t grow them!’ Once we drive GMOs out of our organic and natural food stores, or at least force retailers to label them, we will then be able to turn our attention to conventional supermarkets and do the same thing.”

“But this means we’ve got to build a mass movement of Millions Against Monsanto. By World Food Day, October 16, we plan to mobilize a powerful and unprecedented coalition that can pressure, and if necessary boycott, industry leaders such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s…”

Across the U.S. and the world, people are fed up. Moving beyond ineffectual compromise and co-existence with a green-washed business-as-usual and politics-as-usual, more and more of us are drawing lines in the sand. Nuclear power, genetic engineering, dirty coal and other out-of-control technologies have revealed themselves for what they really are: deadly threats to our survival. Monsanto has deservedly become one of the most hated corporations on earth. It’s time to drive their evil products out of the marketplace, starting with the green or natural products sector, utilizing the most powerful tools at our disposal, public education, agitation, and Truth-in-Labeling. Get up. Stand up for your rights. Tell Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s to stop selling Monsanto’s unlabeled genetically modified organisms.

Join the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign here.

Comment: To learn more about the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) in ‘Natural’ food products read the following article:

The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?

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If You Find Problems with Genetically Modified Foods: Watch Out!

http://www.sott.net

Mon, 24 Jan 2011 19:17 CST
Print

Jeffrey M. Smith
Natural Food List

No GMO

© Unknown
Arpad Pusztai

Biologist Arpad Pusztai had more than 300 articles and 12 books to his credit and was the world’s top expert in his field. But when he accidentally discovered that genetically modified (GM) foods are dangerous, he became the biotech industry’s bad-boy poster child, setting an example for other scientists thinking about blowing the whistle.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Pusztai was awarded a $3 million grant by the UK government to design the system for safety testing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). His team included more than 20 scientists working at three facilities, including the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, the top nutritional research lab in the UK, and his employer for the previous 35 years. The results of Pusztai’s work were supposed to become the required testing protocols for all of Europe. But when he fed supposedly harmless GM potatoes to rats, things didn’t go as planned.

Within just 10 days, the animals developed potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partially atrophied livers, and damaged immune systems. Moreover, the cause was almost certainly side effects from the process of genetic engineering itself. In other words, the GM foods on the market, which are created from the same process, might have similar affects on humans.

With permission from his director, Pusztai was interviewed on TV and expressed his concerns about GM foods. He became a hero at his institute – for two days. Then came the phone calls from the pro-GMO prime minister’s office to the institute’s director. The next morning, Pusztai was fired. He was silenced with threats of a lawsuit, his team was dismantled, and the protocols never implemented. His Institute, the biotech industry, and the UK government, together launched a smear campaign to destroy Pusztai’s reputation.

Eventually, an invitation to speak before Parliament lifted his gag order and his research was published in the prestigious Lancet. No similar in-depth studies have yet tested the GM foods eaten every day by Americans.

Irina Ermakova

Irina Ermakova, a senior scientist at the Russian National Academy of Sciences, was shocked to discover that more than half of the baby rats in her experiment died within three weeks. She had fed the mothers GM soy flour purchased at a supermarket. The babies from mothers fed natural non-GMO soy, however, only suffered a 10% death rate. She repeated her experiment three times with similar results.

Dr. Ermakova reported her preliminary findings at a conference in October 2005, asking the scientific community to replicate her study. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Her boss told her to stop doing anymore GM food research. Samples were stolen from her lab, and a paper was even set fire on her desk. One of her colleagues tried to comfort her by saying, “Maybe the GM soy will solve the overpopulation problem.”

Of the mostly spurious criticisms leveled at Ermakova, one was significant enough to raise doubts about the cause of the deaths. She did not conduct a biochemical analysis of the feed. Without it, we don’t know if some rogue toxin had contaminated the soy flour. But more recent events suggest that whatever caused the high infant mortality was not unique to her one bag of GM flour. In November 2005, the supplier of rat food to the laboratory where Ermakova worked began using GM soy in the formulation. All the rats were now eating it. After two months, Ermakova asked other scientists about the infant mortality rate in their experiments. It had skyrocketed to over 55%.

It’s been four years since these findings were reported. No one has yet repeated Ermakova’s study, even though it would cost just a few thousand dollars.

Andrés Carrasco

Embryologist Andrés Carrasco told a leading Buenos Aires newspaper about the results of his research into Roundup, the herbicide sold in conjunction with Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops. Dr. Carrasco, who works in Argentina’s Ministry of Science, said his studies of amphibians suggest that the herbicide could cause defects in the brain, intestines, and hearts of fetuses. Moreover, the amount of Roundup used on GM soy fields was as much as 1,500 times greater than that which created the defects. Tragically, his research had been inspired by the experience of desperate peasant and indigenous communities who were suffering from exposure to toxic herbicides used on the GM soy fields throughout Argentina.

According to an article in Grain, the biotech industry “mounted an unprecedented attack on Carrasco, ridiculing his research and even issuing personal threats.” In addition, four men arrived unannounced at his laboratory and were extremely aggressive, attempting to interrogate Carrasco and obtain details of his study. “It was a violent, disproportionate, dirty reaction,” he said. “I hadn’t even discovered anything new, only confirmed conclusions that others had reached.”

Argentina’s Association of Environmental Lawyers filed a petition calling for a ban on Roundup, and the Ministry of Defense banned GM soy from its fields.

Judy Carman

Epidemiologist Judy Carman used to investigate outbreaks of disease for a state government in Australia. She knows that health problems associated with GM foods might be impossible to track or take decades to discover. Moreover, the superficial, short-term animal feeding studies usually do not evaluate “biochemistry, immunology, tissue pathology, gut function, liver function, and kidney function” and are too short to test for cancer or reproductive or child health. Dr. Carman has critiqued the GMO approval process on behalf of the Public Health Association of Australia and speaks openly about her concerns. As a result, she is repeatedly attacked. Pro-GM scientists threatened disciplinary action through her Vice-Chancellor, and circulated a defamatory letter to government and university officials.

Carman was awarded a grant by the Western Australia government to conduct some of the few long-term animal feeding studies on GMOs. Apparently concerned about what she might find, GMO advocates wrote letters to the government demanding that the grant be withdrawn. One scientist tried to convince the Western Australia Agriculture minister that sufficient safety research had been conducted and he should therefore cancel the grant. As his evidence, however, he presented a report summarizing only 60 GMO animal feeding studies – an infinitesimal amount of research to justify exposing the entire population to GM foods.

A closer investigation, however, revealed that most of the 60 were not safety studies at all. They were production studies, measuring, for example, the animals’ carcass weight. Only 9 contained data applicable to human health. And 6 of the 9 showed adverse effects in animals that ate GM feed! Furthermore, there were several other studies with adverse findings that were mysteriously missing from the compilation. Carman points out that the report “does not support claims that GM crops are safe to eat. On the contrary, it provides evidence that GM crops may be harmful to health.”

When the Western Government refused to withdraw the grant, opponents successfully interfered with Carman’s relationship with the university where she was to do the research.

Terje Traavik

Prominent virologist Terje Traavik presented preliminary data at a February 2004 meeting at the UN Biosafety Protocol Conference, showing that:

1. Filipinos living next to a GM cornfield developed serious symptoms while the corn was pollinating;

2. Genetic material inserted into GM crops transferred to rat organs after a single meal; and

3. Key safety assumptions about genetically engineered viruses were overturned, calling into question the safety of using these viruses in vaccines.

The biotech industry mercilessly attacked Dr. Traavik. Their excuse? – he presented unpublished work. But presenting preliminary data at professional conferences is a long tradition in science, something that the biotech industry itself relied on in 1999 to try to counter the evidence that butterflies were endangered by GM corn.

Ironically, three years after attacking Traavik, the same biotech proponents sharply criticized a peer-reviewed publication for not citing unpublished data that had been presented at a conference. The paper shows how the runoff of GM Bt corn into streams can kill the “caddis fly,” which may seriously upset marine ecosystems. The study set off a storm of attacks against its author, ecologist Emma Rosi-Marshall, which Nature described in a September 2009 article as a “hail of abuse.”

Companies Prevent Studies on Their GM Crops

When Ohio State University plant ecologist Allison Snow discovered problematic side effects in GM sunflowers, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Dow AgroSciences blocked further research by withholding GM seeds and genes. After Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey found significant reductions in cancer-fighting isoflavones in Monsanto’s GM soybeans, the seed seller, Hartz, told them they could no longer provide samples. Research by a plant geneticist at a leading US university was also thwarted when two companies refused him GM corn. In fact, almost no independent studies are conducted that might find problems. According to a scathing opinion piece in an August 2009 Scientific American, “Agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers. . . . Only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal.”

A group of 24 corn insect scientists protested this restriction in a letter submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency. They warned that the inability to access GM seeds from biotech companies means there can be no truly independent research on the critical questions. The scientists, of course, withheld their identities for fear of reprisals from the companies.

Restricted access is not limited to the US. When a Japanese scientist wanted to conduct animal feeding studies on the GM soybeans under review in Japan, both the government and the bean’s maker DuPont refused to give him any samples. Hungarian Professor Bela Darvas discovered that Monsanto’s GM corn hurt endangered species in his country. Monsanto immediately shut off his supplies. Dr. Darvas later gave a speech on his preliminary findings and discovered that a false and incriminating report about his research was circulating. He traced it to a Monsanto public relations employee, who claimed it mysteriously appeared on her desk – so she faxed it out.

GMO Contamination: Don’t Ask and Definitely Don’t Tell

In 2005, a scientist had gathered seed samples from all over Turkey to evaluate the extent of contamination by GM varieties. According to the Turkish Daily News, just before her testing was complete, she was reassigned to another department and access to her lab was denied.

The unexpected transfer may have saved this Turkish scientist from an even worse fate, had she discovered and reported contamination. Ask Ignacio Chapela, a microbial ecologist from UC Berkeley. In 2001, he discovered that the indigenous corn varieties in Mexico – the source of the world’s genetic diversity for corn – had become contaminated through cross pollination with GM varieties. The government had a ban against GM corn to prevent just this possibility, but apparently US corn imported for food had been planted nonetheless.

Dr. Chapela submitted the finding to Nature, and as a courtesy that he later regretted, informed the Mexican government about the pending publication. He was called in to meet with a furious Director of the Commission of Biosafety and GMOs. Chapela’s confirmation of contamination would hinder introduction of GM corn. Therefore the government’s top biotech man demanded that he withdraw his article. According to Chapela, the official intimidated and threatened him, even implying, “We know where your children go to school.”

When a traumatized Chapela still did not back down, the Underminister for Agriculture later sent him a fax claiming that because of his scientific paper, Chapela would be held personally responsible for all damages caused to agriculture and to the economy in general.

The day Chapela’s paper was published, Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek began posting messages to a biotechnology listserve called AgBioWorld, distributed to more than 3,000 scientists. They falsely claimed that Chapela was biased, that his paper had not been peer-reviewed, that Chapela was “first and foremost an activist,” and his research was published in collusion with environmentalists. Soon, hundreds of other messages appeared, repeating or embellishing the accusations. The listserve launched a petition and besieged Nature with a worldwide campaign demanding retraction.

UC Berkeley also received letters from all over the world trying to convince them not to grant Chapela tenure. He had overwhelming support by his college and department, but the international biotech lobby was too much. Chapela’s tenure was denied. After he filed a lawsuit, the university eventually reversed its decision.

When investigators later analyzed the email characteristics sent by agitators Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek, the two turned out not to be the average citizens they claimed. According to the Guardian, both were fabricated names used by a public relations firm that worked for Monsanto. Some of Smetacek’s emails also had the internet protocol address of gatekeeper2.monsanto.com – the server owned by Monsanto.

Science and Debate is Silenced

The attacks on scientists have taken its toll. According to Dr. Chapela, there is a de facto ban on scientists “asking certain questions and finding certain results.” He says, “It’s very hard for us to publish in this field. People are scared.” He told Nature that young people “are not going into this field precisely because they are discouraged by what they see.”

New Zealand Parliament member Sue Kedgley told a Royal Commission in 2001: “Personally I have been contacted by telephone and e-mail by a number of scientists who have serious concerns about aspects of the research that is taking place . . . and the increasingly close ties that are developing between science and commerce, but who are convinced that if they express these fears publicly, . . . or even if they asked the awkward and difficult questions, they will be eased out of their institution.”

University of Minnesota biologist Phil Regal testified before the same Commission, “I think the people who boost genetic engineering are going to have to do a mea culpa and ask for forgiveness, like the Pope did on the inquisition.” Sue Kedgley has a different idea. She recommends we “set up human clinical trials using volunteers of genetically engineered scientists and their families, because I think they are so convinced of the safety of the products that they are creating and I’m sure they would very readily volunteer to become part of a human clinical trial.”

Jeffrey M. Smith is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and the leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices. His first book, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating, is the world’s bestselling and #1 rated book on GMOs. His second, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, documents 65 health risks of the GM foods Americans eat every day.

Reader Note

To help you choose healthier, non-GMO brands, download the free Non-GMO Shopping Guide produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology.

To keep up with breaking news about food safety visit www.responsibletechnology.org, and to learn what actions others are taking go to the IRT’s Fan Page at www.facebook.com/responsibletechnology.

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Non GMO Month: An Interview with Jeffery Smith

Sun, 03 Oct 2010 15:53 CDT

Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, is leading the movement to eliminate genetically modified foods in the United States.

Here, Smith offers an update on this important mission to protect your health, and that of your children and grand-children.

Sources:

Video Transcript [PDF]

Dr. Mercola’s Comments

Together we CAN get GMOs banned from the US. Europe was able to do it over a decade ago without any government assistance. All they did was educate the consumers, and that was enough pressure on the food industry to drop their ploys.

If we band together as an effective army we will be able to do this. Please understand that the VAST majority of people in the US do not want GM foods, so this is an EASY battle to win. All we have to do is a bit of organizational work.

So let me tell you how we are going to achieve the removal of GMOs in the US.

October is Non-GMO Month, and you’ve been receiving a lot of important information about genetically engineered foods this week.

October 10th (10/10/10) is Non-GMO Day, so I’m pleased to bring back Jeffrey Smith, the real leader behind this movement to eliminate GM foods from the US market, for another interview.

This month, Jeffrey’s organization, Institute for Responsible Technology, is launching a plan to bring their message to the necessary numbers of people to create a tipping point that can effectively drive GM foods off the market. Nearly 400 retail stores selling natural products around the country are already actively promoting the information about choosing healthier non-GMO products.

I’m thrilled to be part of this movement, and I strongly urge you join us.

The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) has created a variety of tools that will make it easier for you to choose non-GM foods, and this is the way to eradicate GMO’s from your local store. If no one wants to buy them, stores can’t sell them, and will simply stop ordering them. Food manufacturers will have to adjust and quickly change their ingredients or risk losing their business.

It’s really that simple!

Remember, you as a consumer is still at the top of the food chain.

The Tipping Point is Near – The Time to Join is NOW!

In this interview, Jeffrey shares some of the history of his organization and what they’ve gone through over the last 15 years to get to this point, and why it’s so important that we all act now.

“In [the beginning of] 1999, the biotech industry… was still anticipating that they could replace 95 percent of all commercial seeds with genetically engineered seeds within five years… But a single high profile GMO food safety scandal erupted in middle of February 1999.

Dr. Arpad Pusztai… has been gagged and told that if he talked about what he knew, he would be sued. Well, by an order of parliament, his gag order was lifted and he could finally talk about how he discovered that genetically engineered foods were inherently unsafe and could create all sorts of damage – just from the process itself, irrespective of what gene you put in.

Seven hundred and fifty articles were written within a month, and within 10 weeks virtually every major food company committed to stop using GM ingredients in Europe because it had become a marketing liability.

They weren’t instructed to do that by the government. They were instructed to do that by consumers at the top of the food chain.”

How many Americans do we need to convince to avoid eating genetically modified foods to achieve the same victory in the US?

We believe it’s only about FIVE PERCENT of US shoppers!

So, changing the shopping habits of about 5.6 million households may be sufficient to eliminate GMOs in the US.

That is our goal!

We already have these numbers on our side. About 28 million Americans buy organic on a regular basis. Eighty-seven million Americans think GMOs are seriously unsafe. A hundred and fifty nine million Americans, the majority, say they would avoid GMOs if labeled!

Unfortunately, no labeling is required, making your commitment to avoid GM foods all that more complicated. But that’s where we come in.

How You Can Help Others to Avoid GMO Foods

Most people want to avoid GMO foods but it is virtually impossible to do so, since the government prevents GMO labeling.

However, Jeffery Smith has compiled a resource for you to avoid the government block of information. It is the free Non-GMO Shopping Guide. We realize that with the challenging economy it is very difficult for many to donate money to help this cause, so we are merely asking for your time and connections with your family and friends.

You can really help by making this message go viral. So if you are convinced that GMO foods should not be in the US, please send this information to everyone you know; post it on Facebook and Twitter…

You can also print out the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and give it to your friends and family.

If you feel more ambitious you can also order the Non-GMO Shopping Tips brochure in bulk, and bring them to the grocery stores in your area. Talk to the owner or manager and get permission to post them in their store.

Who Will You Share this Information With?

We have the tools right now to make a national movement quicker and more complete than any time in history. One important part of this message is that buying organic whenever you can is not enough to actually ban GM foods…

Instead, what is needed is the consensus that “I buy organic whenever I can, but if I don’t buy organic, I buy non-GMO.”

Remember, this also includes dairy from cows treated with rBGH, as it is a genetically engineered growth hormone, and the artificial sweetener aspartame, which is derived from GM microorganisms.

If those of you who already buy organic whenever possible also always avoid GM foods when you can’t get organic, then we can reach the tipping point.

You can help nurture this consumer mindset by bringing information to your local natural food store owner, so that she can share it will all of her customers as well. IRT has created a complete Retailer Campaign Kit for this purpose.

You can also share information with your child’s school, your health care providers, and food manufacturers. The IRT has created information kits for all of them, available here:

  • Heath care provider kit
  • Parents and Schools educational material
  • Manufacturers information kit

Please remember to share this with your friends and family, but do so lovingly. You don’t want to make yourself a pest and risk your relationship with them. But believe me, this is a MUCH easier sell than getting them to stop smoking or eating less sugar since most do not want GMOs anyway, and it doesn’t involve giving anything up.

You may even want to share this information with your church or religious leaders. As Jeffrey says,

“There are certain religious groups that think the genetic engineering process itself violates God’s laws. So ‘GMO’ for them really means, ‘God Move Over’ and not ‘Genetically Modified Organism.'”

The Non-GMO Project

“Now the good thing about the natural products industry today is the Non-GMO Project movement,” Jeffrey says. “A couple of years ago, the leaders of the natural food industry got together and backed a new standard for making non-GMO claims, and they called it the Non-GMO Project.

Now there are thousands of products enrolled in the Non-GMO Project, and you’re going to start to see a little seal on packages, just like the organic seal.

You’re also going to see something called Non-GMO Project Verified, meaning that the claim that something is non-GMO is now backed by a third party verified system.

In the past, if an owner of a natural products store had a lot of things that contained GMOs and a lot of things that didn’t, they may be quite hesitant to start ringing the bell that GMOs were unhealthy. But now stores are becoming populated more and more and in some cases, completely, with products that are non-GMO verified.

Now you have store owners and managers and staff who are happy to shout from the rafters, our products are non-GMO and here is why.”

For example, Whole Foods has now entered all of their store brand labels, the 365 brand and anything else that has the Whole Foods name, into the Non-GMO Project. They are also participating in non-GMO month. They’ve taken a strong leadership position to try and push the non-GMO message.

Must-See Movies to Share!

The IRT has created a film called Hidden Dangers in Kid’s Meals, which is a powerful way for parents to get an initiation into the health dangers. It’s only 28 minutes long, which is ideal for local access TV.

You can simply bring the film to your local access TV station, and sometimes they’ll play it 10, 20, or even 30 times because they’re always looking for material and are open to support from the community.

There’s also a video called Your Milk on Drugs – Just Say No!, which exposes the dangers of GM bovine growth hormones. Any parent still feeding their child milk from cows injected with rBGH needs to see this film! They’ll never make the same mistake again…

Another powerful video you can share with your friends and family is Jeffrey’s Everything You Have to Know About Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods lecture.

Your Action Plan

I’ve already mentioned a number of different ways for you to get actively involved during Non-GMO Month. To recap, and add a few more suggestions, here is a list of Action Item for you to pick and choose from:

  1. Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Remember to look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content.
  2. Download the Non-GMO Shopping Tips brochure and keep it with you whenever you shop, or download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. You can also order the Non-GMO Shopping Tips brochure in bulk and give it to your family and friends.
  3. Urge food manufacturers to join the Non-GMO Project and become Non-GMO Project Verified. This is currently the only way for manufacturers to get around the fact that there’s no GM-labeling system.
  4. Urge your local food retailers to join the Non-GMO Project’s Supporting Retailer Program.
  5. If your budget allows support this urgent mission by generously donating to the Institute of Responsible Technology.
  6. Bring the film Hidden Dangers in Kid’s Meals to your local access TV station, or perhaps your child’s school, along with some educational material specifically designed for teachers and educators.
  7. Share Your Milk on Drugs – Just Say No!, and Jeffrey’s lecture, Everything You Have to Know About Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods with everyone you know. Post them to your Facebook page, or email the links to your network of friends and family.
  8. Join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

Together, We Control the Future of Our Food

Please join us in this important campaign. Do as much or as little as you can. Maybe you can’t make a donation to IRT, but you can distribute 20 Non-GMO shopping guides to your closest family and friends.

Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can reach the tipping point and push GMOs out of our food supply.

Together, we can protect the health of future generations and help accelerate the progress toward more sustainable agriculture in the United States.

Let’s do it!

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This Supermarket “Health Food” Killed These Baby Rats in Three Weeks

http://www.sott.net

Wed, 24 Nov 2010 13:26 CST
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Jeffrey Smith
Mercola

tomato,gm

© istockphoto/Nikolay Suslov

Arpad Pusztai

Biologist Arpad Pusztai had more than 300 articles and 12 books to his credit and was the world’s top expert in his field.

But when he accidentally discovered that genetically modified (GM) foods are dangerous, he became the biotech industry’s bad-boy poster child, setting an example for other scientists thinking about blowing the whistle.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Pusztai was awarded a $3 million grant by the UK government to design the system for safety testing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

His team included more than 20 scientists working at three facilities, including the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, the top nutritional research lab in the UK, and his employer for the previous 35 years.

The results of Pusztai’s work were supposed to become the required testing protocols for all of Europe. But when he fed supposedly harmless GM potatoes to rats, things didn’t go as planned.

Within just 10 days, the animals developed potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partially atrophied livers, and damaged immune systems. Moreover, the cause was almost certainly side effects from the process of genetic engineering itself. In other words, the GM foods on the market, which are created from the same process, might have similar affects on humans.

With permission from his director, Pusztai was interviewed on TV and expressed his concerns about GM foods. He became a hero at his institute — for two days.

Then came the phone calls from the pro-GMO prime minister’s office to the institute’s director. The next morning, Pusztai was fired. He was silenced with threats of a lawsuit, his team was dismantled, and the protocols never implemented. His Institute, the biotech industry, and the UK government, together launched a smear campaign to destroy Pusztai’s reputation.

Eventually, an invitation to speak before Parliament lifted his gag order and his research was published in the prestigious Lancet. No similar in-depth studies have yet tested the GM foods eaten every day by Americans.

Irina Ermakova

Irina Ermakova, a senior scientist at the Russian National Academy of Sciences, was shocked to discover that more than half of the baby rats in her experiment died within three weeks. She had fed the mothers GM soy flour purchased at a supermarket. The babies from mothers fed natural non-GMO soy, however, only suffered a 10% death rate. She repeated her experiment three times with similar results.

Dr. Ermakova reported her preliminary findings at a conference in October 2005, asking the scientific community to replicate her study. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Her boss told her to stop doing anymore GM food research. Samples were stolen from her lab, and a paper was even set fire on her desk. One of her colleagues tried to comfort her by saying, “Maybe the GM soy will solve the overpopulation problem.”

Of the mostly spurious criticisms leveled at Ermakova, one was significant enough to raise doubts about the cause of the deaths. She did not conduct a biochemical analysis of the feed. Without it, we don’t know if some rogue toxin had contaminated the soy flour. But more recent events suggest that whatever caused the high infant mortality was not unique to her one bag of GM flour.

In November 2005, the supplier of rat food to the laboratory where Ermakova worked began using GM soy in the formulation. All the rats were now eating it. After two months, Ermakova asked other scientists about the infant mortality rate in their experiments. It had skyrocketed to over 55 percent.

It’s been four years since these findings were reported. No one has yet repeated Ermakova’s study, even though it would cost just a few thousand dollars.

Andrés Carrasco

Embryologist Andrés Carrasco told a leading Buenos Aires newspaper about the results of his research into Roundup, the herbicide sold in conjunction with Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops.

Dr. Carrasco, who works in Argentina’s Ministry of Science, said his studies of amphibians suggest that the herbicide could cause defects in the brain, intestines, and hearts of fetuses. Moreover, the amount of Roundup used on GM soy fields was as much as 1,500 times greater than that which created the defects.

Tragically, his research had been inspired by the experience of desperate peasant and indigenous communities who were suffering from exposure to toxic herbicides used on the GM soy fields throughout Argentina.

According to an article in Grain, the biotech industry “mounted an unprecedented attack on Carrasco, ridiculing his research and even issuing personal threats.” In addition, four men arrived unannounced at his laboratory and were extremely aggressive, attempting to interrogate Carrasco and obtain details of his study. “It was a violent, disproportionate, dirty reaction,” he said. “I hadn’t even discovered anything new, only confirmed conclusions that others had reached.”

Argentina’s Association of Environmental Lawyers filed a petition calling for a ban on Roundup, and the Ministry of Defense banned GM soy from its fields.

Judy Carman

Epidemiologist Judy Carman used to investigate outbreaks of disease for a state government in Australia. She knows that health problems associated with GM foods might be impossible to track or take decades to discover. Moreover, the superficial, short-term animal feeding studies usually do not evaluate “biochemistry, immunology, tissue pathology, gut function, liver function, and kidney function” and are too short to test for cancer or reproductive or child health.

Dr. Carman has critiqued the GMO approval process on behalf of the Public Health Association of Australia and speaks openly about her concerns. As a result, she is repeatedly attacked. Pro-GM scientists threatened disciplinary action through her Vice-Chancellor, and circulated a defamatory letter to government and university officials.

Carman was awarded a grant by the Western Australia government to conduct some of the few long-term animal feeding studies on GMOs. Apparently concerned about what she might find, GMO advocates wrote letters to the government demanding that the grant be withdrawn. One scientist tried to convince the Western Australia Agriculture minister that sufficient safety research had been conducted and he should therefore cancel the grant.

As his evidence, however, he presented a report summarizing only 60 GMO animal feeding studies — an infinitesimal amount of research to justify exposing the entire population to GM foods.

A closer investigation, however, revealed that most of the 60 were not safety studies at all. They were production studies, measuring, for example, the animals’ carcass weight. Only 9 contained data applicable to human health. And 6 of the 9 showed adverse effects in animals that ate GM feed!

Furthermore, there were several other studies with adverse findings that were mysteriously missing from the compilation. Carman points out that the report “does not support claims that GM crops are safe to eat. On the contrary, it provides evidence that GM crops may be harmful to health.”

When the Western Government refused to withdraw the grant, opponents successfully interfered with Carman’s relationship with the university where she was to do the research.

Terje Traavik

Prominent virologist Terje Traavik presented preliminary data at a February 2004 meeting at the UN Biosafety Protocol Conference, showing that:

  1. Filipinos living next to a GM cornfield developed serious symptoms while the corn was pollinating;
  2. Genetic material inserted into GM crops transferred to rat organs after a single meal; and
  3. Key safety assumptions about genetically engineered viruses were overturned, calling into question the safety of using these viruses in vaccines.

The biotech industry mercilessly attacked Dr. Traavik. Their excuse? — he presented unpublished work. But presenting preliminary data at professional conferences is a long tradition in science, something that the biotech industry itself relied on in 1999 to try to counter the evidence that butterflies were endangered by GM corn.

Ironically, three years after attacking Traavik, the same biotech proponents sharply criticized a peer-reviewed publication for not citing unpublished data that had been presented at a conference. The paper shows how the runoff of GM Bt corn into streams can kill the “caddis fly,” which may seriously upset marine ecosystems. The study set off a storm of attacks against its author, ecologist Emma Rosi-Marshall, which Nature described in a September 2009 article as a “hail of abuse.”

Companies Prevent Studies on Their GM Crops

When Ohio State University plant ecologist Allison Snow discovered problematic side effects in GM sunflowers, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Dow AgroSciences blocked further research by withholding GM seeds and genes.

After Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey found significant reductions in cancer-fighting isoflavones in Monsanto’s GM soybeans, the seed seller, Hartz, told them they could no longer provide samples.

Research by a plant geneticist at a leading US university was also thwarted when two companies refused him GM corn. In fact, almost no independent studies are conducted that might find problems. According to a scathing opinion piece in an August 2009 Scientific American,

“Agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers … Only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal.”

A group of 24 corn insect scientists protested this restriction in a letter submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency. They warned that the inability to access GM seeds from biotech companies means there can be no truly independent research on the critical questions. The scientists, of course, withheld their identities for fear of reprisals from the companies.

Restricted access is not limited to the US. When a Japanese scientist wanted to conduct animal feeding studies on the GM soybeans under review in Japan, both the government and the bean’s maker DuPont refused to give him any samples. Hungarian Professor Bela Darvas discovered that Monsanto’s GM corn hurt endangered species in his country. Monsanto immediately shut off his supplies.

Dr. Darvas later gave a speech on his preliminary findings and discovered that a false and incriminating report about his research was circulating. He traced it to a Monsanto public relations employee, who claimed it mysteriously appeared on her desk — so she faxed it out.

GMO Contamination: Don’t Ask and Definitely Don’t Tell

In 2005, a scientist had gathered seed samples from all over Turkey to evaluate the extent of contamination by GM varieties. According to the Turkish Daily News, just before her testing was complete, she was reassigned to another department and access to her lab was denied.

The unexpected transfer may have saved this Turkish scientist from an even worse fate, had she discovered and reported contamination.

Ask Ignacio Chapela, a microbial ecologist from UC Berkeley. In 2001, he discovered that the indigenous corn varieties in Mexico — the source of the world’s genetic diversity for corn – had become contaminated through cross pollination with GM varieties.

The government had a ban against GM corn to prevent just this possibility, but apparently US corn imported for food had been planted nonetheless.

Dr. Chapela submitted the finding to Nature, and as a courtesy that he later regretted, informed the Mexican government about the pending publication. He was called in to meet with a furious Director of the Commission of Biosafety and GMOs. Chapela’s confirmation of contamination would hinder introduction of GM corn. Therefore the government’s top biotech man demanded that he withdraw his article. According to Chapela, the official intimidated and threatened him, even implying, “We know where your children go to school.”

When a traumatized Chapela still did not back down, the Underminister for Agriculture later sent him a fax claiming that because of his scientific paper, Chapela would be held personally responsible for all damages caused to agriculture and to the economy in general.

The day Chapela’s paper was published, Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek began posting messages to a biotechnology listserve called AgBioWorld, distributed to more than 3,000 scientists. They falsely claimed that Chapela was biased, that his paper had not been peer-reviewed, that Chapela was “first and foremost an activist,” and his research was published in collusion with environmentalists. Soon, hundreds of other messages appeared, repeating or embellishing the accusations. The listserve launched a petition and besieged Nature with a worldwide campaign demanding retraction.

UC Berkeley also received letters from all over the world trying to convince them not to grant Chapela tenure. He had overwhelming support by his college and department, but the international biotech lobby was too much. Chapela’s tenure was denied. After he filed a lawsuit, the university eventually reversed its decision.

When investigators later analyzed the email characteristics sent by agitators Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek, the two turned out not to be the average citizens they claimed. According to the Guardian, both were fabricated names used by a public relations firm that worked for Monsanto. Some of Smetacek’s emails also had the internet protocol address of gatekeeper2.monsanto.com — the server owned by Monsanto.

Science and Debate is Silenced

The attacks on scientists have taken its toll. According to Dr. Chapela, there is a de facto ban on scientists “asking certain questions and finding certain results.” He says, “It’s very hard for us to publish in this field. People are scared.” He told Nature that young people “are not going into this field precisely because they are discouraged by what they see.”

New Zealand Parliament member Sue Kedgley told a Royal Commission in 2001: “Personally I have been contacted by telephone and e-mail by a number of scientists who have serious concerns about aspects of the research that is taking place … and the increasingly close ties that are developing between science and commerce, but who are convinced that if they express these fears publicly … or even if they asked the awkward and difficult questions, they will be eased out of their institution.”

University of Minnesota biologist Phil Regal testified before the same Commission, “I think the people who boost genetic engineering are going to have to do a mea culpa and ask for forgiveness, like the Pope did on the inquisition.” Sue Kedgley has a different idea. She recommends we “set up human clinical trials using volunteers of genetically engineered scientists and their families, because I think they are so convinced of the safety of the products that they are creating and I’m sure they would very readily volunteer to become part of a human clinical trial.”

To learn more about the health dangers of GMOs, and what you can do to help end the genetic engineering of our food supply, visit www.ResponsibleTechnology.org.

U.S. Farmers Realize Disadvantages of Genetically Engineered Seed

http://www.sott.net

Tiffany Kaiser
DailyTech
Wed, 06 Oct 2010 00:04 CDT

© teeth.com.pk
An anti Monsanto sign in a crop field
Seed farmers throughout the United States are complaining that biotech seeds (which are genetically altered seeds) are becoming much too expensive, resistant to weed killer, and can contaminate conventional seed crops. However, they still continue to use the seeds. But with anti-competitive practices being investigated on biotech seed companies, seed farmers may change their minds.

“The technology has really been hyped up a lot,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, author of a 2009 study for the Union of Concerned Scientists, which concluded that yield increases have come mainly from conventional plant breeding. “Even on a shoestring, conventional breeding outperforms genetic engineering“.

Genetically altered seed is used by a majority of U.S. farmers because weeds at one time were much easier to kill with herbicides such as Roundup. Also, these biotech crops, like corn, contained genes that allowed them to “manufacture” their own insecticide meaning farmers did not have to pay money and spend time killing insects with store-bought insecticides. In addition, biotech seed companies like Monsanto have created a monopoly in the seed business, buying smaller seed businesses and selling nothing but their genetically engineered seed. Traditional seed has even become hard to find because most “crop improvements” produced by conventional plant breeding are only sold together with biotech traits.

But with rising costs and recent resistance to herbicides, biotech seed has become less favorable and farmers are taking notice. For instance, last year, the price of biotech soybean seeds rose 24 percent while corn seed rose 32 percent. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the anti-competitive practices of Monsanto, and Monsanto is countering by saying it plans on offering more seed options at lower prices next year.

“There just isn’t competition out there,” said Craig Griffieon, a farmer in Ankeny, Iowa.

Biotech crops have grown resistant to herbicides mainly in cotton fields in the Southern United States where giant ragweed and horsetails are affecting thousands of acres. But the problem is spreading toward the Midwest now as well.

As far as genetic contamination of traditional crops that are grown near biotech crops goes, farmers have testified that biotech crops have lowered the value of their conventional crops.

“If you’ve got your conventional seed right next to your neighbor’s [biotech] seeds, the pollen flies,” said John Schmitt, a farmer from Quincy, Illinois who had to sell a third of his conventional corn for much lower prices due to genetic contamination. “It’s nature.”

A majority of farmers still use biotech seed also because they believe that biotech seed yields more crop at harvest, but even Monsanto doesn’t argue that most of the increase in crop yields is due to traditional plant breeding. Conventional seeds produce just as well as biotech seeds, but as noted before, conventional seed is becoming harder to find.

While biotech seed is used more so than conventional, farmers are slowly getting the picture by realizing that there aren’t many benefits to genetically altered seed as opposed to conventional seed. According to the latest statistics, the amount of farms using biotech seeds only rose one percent last year, from 85 percent to 86 percent. This is the smallest increase since 2001. In Illinois specifically, the percentage of acres using biotech corn seed decreased from 84 percent to 82 percent, where soybeans reduced as well from 90 percent to 89 percent.

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