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. (more…)

Idaho State Rep Calls For U.S.-Wide GMO Labeling

National GMO Labeling SystemIs it part of a back door effort by GMO producers to get ahead of the push to label?

Idaho State Representative Steve Miller is calling for a national GMO labeling system for genetically engineered foods. Miller argues that a nationwide system would avoid a “patchwork” of labeling laws as states consider passing their own measures.

Miller’s call came after the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation expressed concerns that legislation introduced to ban GMO labeling state-wide would bring the wrong kind of attention to Idaho crops. The Bureau, on the record as pro-GMO, doesn’t want to make anti-labeling laws an issue. The passing of an “ag-gag” law in Idaho garnered heavy criticism — and a lawsuit — from consumers and humane treatment advocates. (more…)

GMO Warrior Vandana Shiva

Vandana ShivaThe controversial Indian activist fights the “seed dictatorship.

Every social and political movement has its hero. In the global anti-GMO movement it’s environmentalist Vandana Shiva, a woman who tirelessly attacks patent-protected seeds and corporate agriculture and champions returning the land and the future of seed to small, local farmers.

This stand and the following it’s garnered has, of course, made her one of the most feared anti-corporate activists on the planet. It’s also brought her a lot of controversy. There’s no doubt that she states her case in the strongest terms and occasionally plays loose with the facts. But her principles are solid and her conviction must be admired by friend and foe alike. (more…)

USDA Approves GMO Apples

GMO Arctic AppleWill genetically modified apples ruin the fruit’s healthy reputation?

We’ve previously addressed the controversy over genetically modified apples being developed, not by Monsanto, but by a specialty Northwest grower. The apples have been engineered to resist browning and bruising, making them more suitable, it’s claimed, to being served as slices. Surprisingly, a number of established apple growers have questioned the need for the GMO varieties that are set to be marketed under the name “Arctic.”

Now the Department of Agriculture has given approval for planting of the genetically modified apple. The company behind the apple, British Columbia-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits, expects small, test-market production in 2016 and larger sales of both trees and fruit coming after that. So far, the apple is available in two strains derived from Golden Delicious and Granny Smith, Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny. Fuji and Gala GMO varities are in the works. (more…)

Sales of Non- GMO Foods Push Market

Grocery ShoppingMore and more shoppers are buying foods free of GMOs. And that’s good for farmers.

The Wall Street Journal (behind a pay-wall) had a recent story about farmers choosing to raise non-GMO crops because the demand for them was growing exponentially. In fact, it appears that at least two boxed breakfast cereals will use the non-GMO label to help boost sales.

The Journal‘s article provided some evidence that critics of General Mills’ introduction of a GMO-free Cheerios are wrong. Those critics are suggesting that the move to offer a product without ingredients from genetically modified crops is akin to economic suicide. They claim that no one will want them and they’re too expensive to make. (more…)

GMO Battle 2015

GMO GrassGenetically modified grass (some plants) escape regulation.

From the looks of the “regulated letters of inquiry” page over at the United States Department of Agriculture’s “Animal and Plant Inspection Services,” the list of genetically modified plants looking to enter our environment and food supplies includes potatoes, pineapples, and sorghum (a sweetener with multiple uses). Then there’s the one we don’t consume: lawn grass. In certain ways, it might be the most frightening.

Why? Because it’s completely unregulated. It needs no prior approval from the USDA before it can be unleashed in America’s front yards. And it’s not alone. Among the other GE plants escaping oversight are a corn that promises less methane from the cows who eat it and an ornamental plant that glows in the dark. Yes, really (scroll down to “How We Make the Glowing Plant”). (more…)

The Year In GMOs

Reviewing GMOsEvidence that GMOs are harmful to our health, our environment, and our farming economy continues to grow.

Yes, 2014 was a frustrating, difficult year for those of us concerned about the effects of genetically modified crops on our health, our environment, and on the economics of food production. Defeats of the labeling initiative at the tail end of 2013 in Washington, the turn-down of a labeling initiative in Colorado, and a near-miss, no more than 800 some votes in Oregon, all seemed to point to the inevitability of our never knowing what kinds of food we’re putting on our tables. (more…)

GMOS and Pesticides: Votes, Heart Disease & Seed Diversity

GMO Crop HarverstOregon GMO recount, new Roundup study, heritage seeds threatened.

As the deadline for release of the recount in Oregon nears, we’re reminded that genetically engineered crops create a myriad of problems that aren’t often considered by GMO-labeling foes. Evidence of growing threats to organic farming, seed stocks, and to our health from the herbicides that genetically engineered crops are designed to resist continues to grow. Even liberty and democracy are at stake. Some recent news, a study, and an informative article addressing seed diversity and the dangers of monoculture farming all suggest how complex — and important — the GMO issue is. (more…)

GMO Vote, Leaf Mold, High-Tech Farming … And Pie!

High-Tech TractorShort-takes on natural gardening topics we’re following.

As we enter a new month, your (mostly) timely, inquisitive Planet Natural blogger takes a minute to catch up on a handful of issues.

–Oregon GMO Labeling Vote: The final vote count is in and Oregon Initiative 92 to label products that include genetically modified ingredients is so close that a recount, scheduled to start December 2, has been called. Initial reports from The Oregonian on the day after the election had the measure failing narrowly. That margin — 812 votes or 0.05% of the total — turned out to be closer than imagined and now the race is too close to call. This is encouraging news, no matter what the final tally shows. Corporate forces, as usual in these votes, vastly outspent the pro-labeling side and the closeness of the Oregon vote suggests that they’ll even have to spend more to spread their misinformation. (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…)

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