GMOs

Are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) a threat to organic agriculture? Are they dangerous when consumed? Do they lead to higher use of chemical herbicides and pesticides? And why aren’t GMOs labeled so we know which foods are made with them? We find and discuss the latest news on this critical issue.

Feel strongly about this controversial topic? Please let us know what you think, in comments over at our GMO Forum page.

Hazardous Harvest (GMOs)

GMO TomatoWhat GMOs mean to organic growers.

By Bill Kohlhaase for Planet Natural

When U.S. District Judge for New York Naomi Buchwald threw out a lawsuit in February filed by The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and dozens of other plaintiffs against the Monsanto Corporation, she struck a blow against organic growers, small farmers and concerned citizens across the country. The suit, filed in March of 2011 on behalf of organic farmers and seed growers by the Public Patent Foundation (PUBAT), was a preemptive measure designed to prohibit Monsanto from filing future lawsuit against growers whose fields may have inadvertently been contaminated by genetically-modified crops — known as GMOs — patented by Monsanto. This contamination can be caused by wind-carried seed, bird droppings, neighboring farmers losing seed in transport near a non-GMO field, or other unintended methods. Once Monsanto discovers its patented GMOs in a field where the plants volunteered even without the farmer’s knowledge, its legal team goes to work. (more…)

Grassroots GMO Triumph

Organic Farm WorkersProtecting farmland and economies from GMO contamination.

The recent loss of GMO labeling efforts in Oregon (barely) and Colorado (not so close) have been a set back for pro-labeling forces, a set-back that raises question of how concerned consumer groups can ever win against massive amounts of money and a flood of advertising.

The cover story of the Seattle Times PacificNW Sunday magazine this past week, “Seeding A Movement: Little San Juan County takes a stand against the GMO giants” written by Brian J. Cantwell, reminds us that there have been small but significant victories in the fight to halt the takeover of our food supplies by the corporate behemoths that patent genetically modified crops and related products. (more…)

USDA Approves Genetically Modified Potato

GMO PotatoesNew potato underscores complexity of GMO issue.

Potatoes genetically engineered to resist bruising and contain less of a suspected cancer causing agent were approved November 7 by the United States Department of Agriculture for commercial planting. A story in The New York Times says the potatoes were developed by the J. R Simplot Company of Boise, Idaho, the first company to provide potatoes to the McDonald’s hamburger chain beginning in the 1960s. Simplot continues to provide the international fast-food chain with potatoes.

The GMO potato raises a variety of questions and a host of issues when it comes to the engineering and the marketing of GMO crops. Is there ever a time when genetic engineering is okay? (more…)

GMO Vote Close Despite Millions Spent Against

Corporate MoneyOregon results mixed, Maui Imposes GMO Moratorium

NOTE: This post on the Oregon GMO Measure 92 was written the day after the election when the fate of the measure was too close to call. Since then, the Oregonian has declared that the measure lost narrowly. The vote count was so close, 50.4 percent against, 49.6 in favor, that some have questioned how the decision can be called with ballots still to be counted. The issues discussed here — the effect of a surge of corporate money used against the measure in the last days of the race as well as the larger issue of winning elections when vastly out spent by corporate and shadow money — are still worthy. We urge you to comment over at our GMO Forum

It’s the morning after voting on GMO ballot measures in Colorado and Oregon and the Oregon measure’s fate is still undecided in a close race. The labeling measure in Colorado was defeated by a two-to-one margin. (more…)

GMO Labeling On Oregon, Colorado Ballots

GMO Labeling in Oregon and CaliforniaWill money defeat common sense once again?

We’ve heard this story before. Anti-labeling forces in Colorado and Oregon are working from the same playbook that previously scuttled GMO labeling measures in Washington and California, spending vast sums of cash donated by the same corporate interests on misleading and false advertising. Sadly, they’re reaping the same results.

The Wall Street Journal reports on polls from both states. One, released in late October and commissioned by the Oregonian newspaper and NBC affiliate KGW, shows 42% respondents in support of the Oregon measure and 48% are against it. The reason? As the Journal reports:

Both supporters and opponents of Oregon’s Prop 92 have funneled millions into the campaign, making it one of the most expensive ballot measures in the state’s history. Among the largest donors against the measure are PepsiCo Inc., Coca-Cola Co., Kraft Foods and seed companies DuPont Co. and Monsanto Co. (more…)

Safe Food At Home

Eating DangerouslyEating Dangerously discusses the risks, the politics, and the practices that keep meals safe.

Your friendly, health conscious Planet Natural Blogger frequently champions one course to guarantee you’re putting the safest, organically grown food on your family’s table: grow your own. And almost immediately after making that declaration, I provide the caveat: it’s near impossible for us to grow anywhere close to the quantity and variety of food we need for our modern diets.

I’ll admit that this position is something of a cop-out. It leaves unaddressed all the issues connected with the food we buy. It leaves off at discussing just how bad highly processed foods can be for us, how destructive and careless the industry of big agriculture and corporate food is. What exactly does that leave us with? How do we find the healthy foods we want to serve our families and how do we handle it once we have it? (more…)

GMO Ballot Issues Focus Attacks

GMO LabelingAs Colorado and Oregon vote on GMO labeling, media continues to miss big picture.

It’s deja-vu all over again. As Colorado and Oregon prepare to vote on the latest round of GMO labeling initiatives, the press continues to let the pro-grocery, no-labeling forces set the agenda. Media accounts frequently take the arguments of initiative opponents without challenge. They focus on narrow, single-exclusion issues like the “chewing gum exemption” and other forms of smoke-blowing. And, they overwhelmingly report, there’s no proof genetically engineered food products are any different than naturally-bred hybrids. (more…)

“Natural” Foods and Genetically Engineered Crops

Grocery StoreConsumer Reports finds current labeling misleading; supports GMO label bills.

The respected pro-consumer publication Consumer Reports is touting two studies that both support the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. One study found that foods including breakfast cereals, snack chips and baby formula frequently contained GMOs, even if labeled “natural.” A second study polled a thousand Americans on their beliefs about food labels. It found that 64% of those polled believed that products labeled “natural” were free of GMOs, even though they’re not. (more…)

GMO Pesticide “Enlist Duo” Moves Forward, Hawaiian GMO Ban Stopped

Spraying WeedsDupont doubles down on spray resistant super weeds.

When the United States Department of Agriculture said in January that it was ready to grant approval to a new pesticide known as “Enlist Duo” developed by Dupont AgroSciences, the resulting outcry delayed the planned final approval which the USDA had promised in “a few months.” The outcry only became louder in April when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it too was ready to grant approval. Unless it’s been done in secret, no such blanket approval has been made. And that’s for good reason. (more…)

GMO Labeling and Barcode Apps

Barcode AppIt’s time for honest nutritional information on all food products.

News this week from the Aspen Ideas Fest that Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilask suggested some day consumers might have an app on their smart phones or a barcode reader that would reveal a trove of nutritional information about the products it scanned, including whether or not it contained genetically modified ingredients. (Video of his complete and wide-ranging discussion with former ag secretary Dan Glickman is here.)

In a follow-up interview, Vilsak said, “The F.D.A. and U.S.D.A. could help coordinate the compilation of information. That way you wouldn’t create a misimpression about the safety of a product, which could happen depending on how something was labeled.” Shoppers would use their phones or scanners at the store to read the codes that would reveal all the information gathered on their make-up and nutritional values. (more…)

Mulch Hits the Big Screen

Back To Eden FilmDocumentary film on master gardener Paul Gautschi’s got the spirit.

In the battle over what constitutes healthy food, it’s no longer surprising to see the documentary film as an effective weapon, most often deployed on the side against corporate agriculture and for public health and well-being. Films including Food Inc (watch it here), 2004’s Supersize Me, a month of nothing but McDonald’s, and most recently Fed Up which implicates a government-corporate collaboration to promote and reward refined sugar, are all convincing, visual arguments of the dangers of the commercial food culture.

Broadly about food, these films are specifically about processed foods, organic and locally raised farming, the health consequences of certain refined foods and fast-food diets. Related films include GMO/OMG , a study of the corporate takeover of farming through seed production, GMOs, and related pesticides. Now even documentaries championing organic gardening are getting into the act. (more…)

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