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 here and 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. (more…)

Reality Check: Campbell’s Supports GMO Labeling

Campbell's Soup CanHas the Campbell Soup Company switched sides on genetically modified ingredients? Not completely.

Campbell’s Soup announcement that it now supports mandatory labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms was greeted with much fanfare when it was made January 7. National Public Radio’s “The Salt,” comparing the battle over GMOs to trench warfare or World War I ran a headline that suggested Campbells had gone over to the other side. Bloomberg Business called the move “breaking ranks.” In the war over GMOs, Campbell’s suddenly appears to be a traitor. (more…)

Companies Spend Big to Fight GMO Labeling

Kellog's Frosted FlakesMedia claims that both sides do it ignores huge disparities.

Data recently collected from the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Secretary of the U.S. Senate by the Environmental Working Group, a consumer-oriented health and environment advocacy group, puts the lie to press accounts that both sides in the GMO labeling battle are investing huge amounts to further their interests.

From the EWG report:

Big food and biotechnology companies and trade associations have reported spending $51.6 million over the first half of this year, some or all of which went to lobby for legislation that would block state and federal agencies from requiring food companies to label products that contain GMO ingredients, according to new analysis by EWG. (more…)

GMO Fight Gets Personal

MonsantoIs Monsanto buying biotech scientists to support its genetically modified industry?

Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by U.S. Right To Know, a food industry watchdog that emphasizes consumers’ right to information about the food they and their families eat has revealed the close — and may we say it? — shameless ties between Monsanto and the academics that serve as spokespeople for the pro-GMO industry.

A blockbuster story in The New York Times that looked into the emails Right To Know dug up between industry employees and researchers finds incidents of these scientists being given generous grants for travel and other “biotechnology outreach” as well as continuous research grant money. (more…)

Labeling News: Antibiotics and GMOs

Chicken FarmBig chicken takes on “non-human” antibiotics, Congress takes on food labels.

Chicken producers, answering demands from buyers, have been reducing their use of antibiotics in their flocks, often with much accompanying fanfare. But there’s usually a caveat. These declarations are usually limited to antibiotics “important to human medicine.” In other words, chickens are still getting other classes of antibiotics not used by humans.

Perdue Farms, one of the top three chicken raisers in the United States, has begun running ads claiming that two brands of their poultry use “no antibiotics ever.” In an announcement earlier this month, Perdue stated that the percentage of their chickens receiving “animal-only” antibiotics had dropped from 60% to 42% in the last year. This means that over half their chickens meet the no antibiotics pledge. (more…)

Vote Set On Limiting Right-To-Know GMO Bill

Monsanto's Dark ActDARK Act seeks to stop states and other jurisdictions from labeling genetically engineered food products.

The House of Representatives is set to vote as early as today (Thursday, July 23) on Kansas Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo’s House Resolution 1599 titled “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.” Opponents who have labeled the bill as the “Denying Americans The-Right-To-Know” or DARK Act say the legislation is an attempt to preempt state, county and city laws regulating the labeling and growing of genetically modified crops. (more…)

GMO Wheat Fails Trials in Great Britain

GMO Wheat FieldEngineered to repel aphids, the genetically modified wheat was instead attacked by the pests in field tests.

The first press reports in 2012 were positively glowing. Scientists in the United Kingdom had developed a GMO wheat using peppermint genes that repelled aphids. Not only would the wheat suffer less damage from the pests, it would reduce the amount of pesticides normally used on it. “Whiffy Wheat” as it was called was said to be the first in a new generation of genetically engineered crops, GMOs that were environmentally friendly and more naturally produced. (more…)

USDA Develops Voluntary GMO-Free Label

Inspecting Food LabelIs the USDA’s GMO-free certification program an attempt to kill comprehensive genetically modified labeling initiatives?

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced last month that the Department of Agriculture will create a voluntary certification program for food products that claim to be free of genetically modified ingredients. A USDA “Process Verified” label will be awarded to products that request and meet certification.

Whether or not the certified products will carry a “non-GMO” label is unclear at this point. (more…)

GMO Eggplant Forced On Developing Countries

Genetically Modified EggplantGenetically engineered Bt brinjal, thought to ward off pests, is an apparent failure. But that doesn’t stop its promotion.

The introduction of genetically modified eggplant or “brinjal” as its called in Bangladesh, India, and other places in the East, has been hard to follow here in the U.S. What has emerged in the U.S. media is mostly cheer leading based on the claims that the GMO brinjal will increase yields and fight malnourishment. This message is applied to the larger one: it’s foolish and against science to resist GMOs when they improve human lives.

If only it were true. (more…)

Businesses Responding To Consumers Demands For Safe Foods

Safe Food ChoicesOrganic Sales Up, Antibiotics, GMOs Out, and Other Healthy Eating News.

Businesses from giant chicken suppliers to fast food chains and super markets seem to be hearing demands from consumers for healthy, humanly raised, and safe foods. Encouraging news on the sales of organic produce plus announcements from major restaurant chains and the corporations that supply them suggests that consumer concerns about pesticides, GMOs, and antibiotics in their food is having more than a ripple effect in the industry. (more…)

Roundup Linked To Cancer, Monsanto Throws Hissy-Fit

Roundup and CancerWorld Health Organization review of pesticide used on GMOs attacked.

Monsanto came out swinging after the the World Health Organization said that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is “probably” carcinogenic. The review, conducted by WHO’s International Agency for Research In Cancer, found that glyphosate increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma as well as DNA and chromosomal damage.

Monsanto’s emphatic press release of March 20 attacking the very consideration of that probability was followed by a string of media stories that gave full airing to the corporation’s complaints. At the same time, some reporters — Alice G. Walton at Forbes and Mark Bittmann at The New York Times  — began to question what they were hearing from the chem-ag giant. (more…)

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