Category Archives: #MarchAgainstMonsanto

Victory! Former Monsanto Vice President Finally Stepping Down as FDA “Food Czar”

taylor monsanto

Former Monsanto VP and FDA Deputy Commissioner of Foods Michael Taylor.

 

Was it a conflict of interest when former Monsanto Vice President Michael Taylor was named as the “Food Czar,” aka the Deputy Commissioner of Foods for then-new President Barack Obama’s FDA?

One thing’s for sure: it was an incredible betrayal to the millions of people who got behind Obama’s campaign in large part because he really seemed to “get it” like few other political candidates before him; as evidenced by his emphatic promise to label GMOs (that of course never came to fruition even though 90 percent-plus Americans routinely support mandatory labeling, a right afforded in over 60 countries across the world).

Now, after years of hand-wringing, frustration and anger from the general populace toward Taylor’s appointment, the “Monsanto Man” is finally set to step down, on (approximately) June 1 of this year according to a new article from the website Food & Water Watch.

“Our magnificently diverse food system is full of challenges and opportunities, and I plan to continue working toward its success, especially in settings where people lack regular accesses to sufficient, nutrition and safe food,” Taylor wrote in a letter to friends according to the article. “I suspect our paths will cross again.”

To the countless people who petitioned against the clear conflict of interest of hiring Taylor and other strongly pro-Monsanto people to be put in charge of the food system, his final comments sound like more of the same, like Taylor never quite got the message: “safe food” and “diverse food system” read like classic GM industry PR talking points. The U.S. food system remains heavily dominated by mostly genetically engineered commodity crops like corn and soy which are heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.

It is not known whether Taylor will rejoin the government or FDA at some point but as the above article mentions he has strong ties to Monsanto:

As a young lawyer at the firm of King & Spalding, he worked with Monsanto as a client before joining FDA. When he left government the first time after working for both FDA and USDA, he did a stint as vice president for public policy at Monsanto before doing additional academic and think tank work.

Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s acting commissioner, will take over Taylor’s duties according to the article, bringing a Western medicine-based background to the agency.

Ostroff has been with the FDA since 2013 as chief medical officer in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and was also the senior public health adviser to FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. He has “consulted for the World Bank and public health projects in South Asia and Latin America.” In addition, he will be working with new head of the FDA Robert Califf, who has extremely strong ties to Big Pharma.

What this could mean for Monsanto and GMOs remains to be seen, but with pro-Monsanto Congresspeople continuing to secretly push bills that would deny our right to mandatory labeling, it’s important to continue to follow these developments.

Check out the Food & Water Watch article on Taylor by clicking here, and you can also watch a segment on Taylor during which he was grilled by a French journalist about a “conflict of interest” by clicking on this link (his response is quite emblematic of the entire Monsanto-friendly era ushered in by Obama and other establishment members from both political parties, and its distinct lack of accountability).

Over 94% of Americans Want MANDATORY GMO Labeling, New Poll Shows

The mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs (genetically  modified organism) is a right afforded to residents of over 60 countries around the world.

But in the United States, the House of Representatives just voted to ban mandatory GMO labeling with with the passing of a misleading “Safe and Accurate” GMO labeling bill HR1599, dubbed the DARK Act by food freedom activists who want to know what’s really in their food.

The bill would actually do away with many important initiatives such as the Non-GMO Verfication Project and ban states from enacting their own citizen-driven plans to require mandatory labels, at a time when interest is ratcheting up for the GMO labeling movement.

The MSNBC poll results were not even close.

The MSNBC poll results were not even close. But are our “representatives” in the Senate listening?

Mandatory GMO Labeling Wins in a Slam Dunk

As has been noted several times on this blog and in articles from several different news outlets, whether the people want mandatory GMO labeling is not even up for debate anymore.

Nationwide polls have consistently shown that Americans want their Right to Know, and a recent MSNBC online poll was no different: a whopping 119,000+ out of 126,000 voters responded that GMO labeling should be mandatory, for a total of over 94% in favor of GMO labeling.

While GMO labeling measures have failed in states like California and Oregon in the recent past, those initiatives were tainted as Big Food companies along with Monsanto and the GMA badly outspent their opposition to the tune of tens of millions of dollars to confuse voters with misleading scare campaigns about the prices of groceries going up. Vermont has also passed a GMO labeling bill but is being sued by the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association to prevent it from going into effect, yet another assault on states’ rights on behalf of the chemical giants.

For more on the poll, check out this link. And be sure to take action against the DARK Act and GMO labeling ban, which now heads to the Senate, by clicking on this link, sharing this information, and calling your local Senator’s office.

Nick Meyer writes for March Against Monsanto and the health website AltHealthWORKS.com

Taxpayer Funded GM Cereal Crop Successfully Produces Fish Oil In Its Seeds

Fish oil supplements are some of the most popular on the market, especially since they’re a source of Omega 3s that many people aren’t getting enough of each day.

But now a British company is taking fish oil where it’s never been before: inside the seeds of a plant.

According to this article in The Independent, the crop was funded by the government and took place at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire next to a failed GM wheat trial conducted last month.

greener pro

Camelina. PHOTO/Greenerpro.com

Extra Genes Added to New GM Crop

The crop was genetically engineered with up to seven extra genes involved in the manufacturing of Omega 3 oils in water-based algaes, which are often eaten in wild fish.

The goal of the trial is to find alternative ways to feed farmed fish so that they end up with more of the Omega 3s in their diet, which usually come from anchovies, sand eels or other natural sources. But will these farmed fish actually be healthy when it’s all said and done? Currently large numbers of farmed fish are fed an unnatural diet of genetically modified corn and soy pellets, and live in unsanitary and unnatural conditions that can cause them to become extraordinarily unhealthy by the time they reach your plate. The new GM crop is an attempt to allow the fish farming system to stay on its current path. 

Up to 15 percent of the oil in the GM crops turned out to be of the Omega 3 variety according to researchers.

Researchers said that it was one of the most complex trials ever carried out; the question is whether consumers actually want it and what the unintended health effects may be down the line.

The crop grown was camelina, also known as “false flax.” For more on the trial check out the original article here.

For more on bizarre GMO experiments that were never authorized by the public including human genes in rice and much more, check out this article as well.

Shocking Charts Reveal Who Really Owns Monsanto Company

You can find out a lot of shocking things when you follow the money, as any good journalist would do.

Recently, the health website Natural Society did just that in regards to Monsanto and found some pretty shocking information on who really owns the company.

While CEO Hugh Grant and major shareholder Bill Gates get most of the scrutiny and negative attention, Natural Society found that the real owners of Monsanto stock are large institutions, with five of them holding the top spots.

 

monsanto shareholders

The top one is the Vanguard Group, Inc., with over $3 billion worth of stock, as shown in the chart below. 

ns mon

Among individuals, the top shareholder is actually William U. Parfet, a Michigan-based chairman of the board, CEO and president of MPI Research, Inc. which is an early stage drug development contract research laboratory, believe it or not.

He’s also on the board for a large medical services company called the Stryker Corporation, which raises the question: why is such a highly influential man within the drug and medical services industries the top shareholder for Monsanto?

For more on what all this could mean and to see the list of top individual shareholders, check out the original Natural Society article here.

Did you know that Monsanto is also considering a name change to escape the white hot spotlight cast on them by activists and movements like MAM? Read more in this article

 

Message of Solidarity from Maui, Ground Zero for Monsanto’s GMO Experiments

The island of Maui and its incredibly beautiful and biodiverse landscape has been under grave threat threat from Monsanto chemicals and GMO experiments in recent years.

Despite that, the people have persevered, gaining a GMO ban in Maui County that has unfortunately led to a legal battle instead of granting the results the people actually voted on.

gmo free maui

Photo via NaturalSociety.com.

Recently Elise Travis & Judith Carroll, “Citizens of Maui, Hawaii & People for Justice” submitted the following message of solidarity with MAM:

Aloha from Maui,

On May 23rd, 2015 Maui, Hawaii stands in solidarity with all of the global Protectors through out the World. Maui is Ground Zero for Monsanto’s toxic chemical testing of GMO seeds.

At this time we would like to send our prayers along with our message of Aloha to everyone participating in The March Against Monsanto. May our message of Aloha ‘aina and malama ‘aina touch the hearts and minds of the perpetrators who are poisoning our planet.

May this evolution restore and save our aina (land) as well as protecting & securing the safety of the World’s food supply.

The following is a message (prayer) from Lei’ohu Ryder (Lei’ohu Ryder is a spiritual leader, visionary, healer, singer/songwriter, and educator on Maui; editor’s note, MAM is a non-religious movement open to everyone):

Aloha ʻāina, mālama ʻāina! Remain rooted to aloha! We take a breath, we take the next step & hoʻolōkāhi i ka puʻuwai, unify in one heart! As we breathe in to our essence, a refreshing breath of change comes wafting upon our Maui miracle to usher in a new dawn of understanding, educating and awareness.

Below is a video of a recent rally in Maui, ground zero for the movement for freedom from GMOs and farm chemical spraying:

Further reading: Third Annual March Against Monsanto Gains Massive International Support

German States Call for EU-Wide Ban on Monsanto’s Roundup

The Monsanto Company’s worst nightmare occurred earlier this spring when the World Health Organization declared the main component of its best-selling herbicide, Roundup, to be a “probable” carcinogen, and many of the trickle-down effects are just now starting to be felt across the world.

Recently, Germany’s state ministers decided to take action when it was announced that they had drafted a resolution for the for “the supply to and use (of glyphosate) by private persons to be banned for precautionary reasons.”

The news was reported on by the website EurActiv Germany and quoted in this article by GM Watch.

In this case, use of the harmful chemicals in places where children, pets and others live and play was cited as a key reason for the proposal.

german ban on glypho

The German parliament building.

“This pesticide should not be found in gardens, parks or on children’s playgrounds. I also do not think use in private gardens is appropriate,” said Lower Saxony’s Consumer Protection Minister Christian Meyer. Meyer is the current chairman of the Consumer Protection Minister Conference.

The call for a ban comes at a time when the clock is winding down on glyphosate’s status as being approved in the European Union. Approved status for glyhosate will expire at the end of 2015.

Glyphosate is still sprayed en masse on most crops in the United States, however, including Monsanto’s GMOs that are resistant to them. This is just one key point that will be discussed and otherwise broadcast by March Against Monsanto protesters across the world on May 23.

For more info on the 2015 March Against Monsanto and to see if there’s an event in your area, click on our events list here.

For more details on the proposed German ban read the full GMWatch article here.

Monsanto Pesticide-Producing Soybean Will Be Exempt from EPA Limits

The Monsanto Company has two major types of genetically modified crops with two different aims: one is genetically engineered in a lab to withstand large doses of chemical herbicides while the second actually produces insect-killing Bt toxins within the plant.

The latter type of food is not as widespread, in large part because consumers simply are not comfortable with the fact that they would be ingesting a food that has been artificially altered to produce its own insect-killing toxin.

For that reason, most Bt toxin-producing GMO crops (mostly corn) are used as animal feed and in processed foods. But how much toxicity are you getting in foods produced with these crops?

bt soybean gmo

The Bt soybean is not commercially available in America as they haven’t been approved, but a recent ruling by the EPA has activists concerned about a possible high level of toxicity in these GMO plants.

The EPA has officially ruled that Monsanto’s Bt soybean will be exempt from any pre-established safety level of measurable Bt pesticide proteins.

From this article on Agri-Pulse.com:

EPA granted an exemption from the requirement to establish a maximum permissible level for residues of the Bt protein, Cry2Ab2, in or on soybean, according to the final rule written by EPA’s Jack Housenger, director of the Office of Pesticide Programs.

The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday.

There are currently no Bt soybean varieties approved for commercial use in the U.S.

Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences both have Bt soybean varieties, which are primarily sold in South America. According to a Monsanto spokesperson, the federal register announcement is an experimental use permits the company is pursuing with the EPA.

Government collusion with and favoritism toward Monsanto are just two of the reasons why millions of protesters worldwide are expected to take to the streets on May 23, 2015. To find a list of marches near you check out the events link here.

Labor Icon Dolores Huerta Speaks Out in Favor of Mandatory GMO Labeling

Dolores Heurta, who protested alongside Cesar Chavez in the 60s and 70s to formalize rights for California’s farm workers, was in Washington, D.C. this week to speak out in favor of mandatory GMO labeling.

Huerta helped to acquire the first collective bargaining agreement between workers and an agricultural company in 1965 as noted in this article by E&E Publishing. She said that GMO labeling is a must for consumers who are starving for information on which foods contain the highly controversial ingredients. 

“It gives the average consumer the right to choose,” said Huerta, speaking at a conference at the National Press Club yesterday. Huerta also attended a meeting at the White House to press President Obama on the issue. Obama promised labels for GMOs during his presidential campaign but has yet to make good on the promise. 

huerta

Huerta added that her experiences protecting the rights and health of people in communities near farms from pesticide exposure has helped motivate her to speak out on the issue of GMOs and the need for labeling.

The event was organized by the Environmental Working Group, which has long been a supporter of mandatory GMO labeling and a large-scale reduction of harmful farming chemicals that are used on GMO and “conventional” crops. 

The farming industry has long been in favor of using more harmful chemicals, Huerta said, with field managers even calling them “medicine” for crops during the 1970s.

The political climate surrounding such pesticides has changed drastically in recent years, however, as more and more studies have come out demonstrating their harmful effects including a recent one by the World Health Organization linking glyphosate, which is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, to cancer.

For more on the event and Huerta’s speech, check out the full article here.

Monsanto Hit with Class Action Lawsuit for False Advertising; Here’s How You Can Join

The negative press just keeps on coming for the Monsanto Company, as it was revealed earlier this week that the St. Louis-based GM seed giant is now facing a class action lawsuit in Los Angeles County.

According to this article from Nancy Swanson, the suit alleges Monsanto has used deception in promoting the active ingredient in its flagship Roundup weedkiller.

monsanto hit with class action lawsuit

Monsanto’s advertising of Roundup is being called into question.

Roundup was recently declared as a probably carcinogen by the World Health Organization, but the company has long denied such studies and continually insists that their product is safe.

In this case, the class action lawsuit takes aim at those claims. It alleges that Monsanto is guilty of false advertising over claims that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, targets an enzyme only found in plants and not in humans or animals.

The suit alleges that the claim is being made in order to support Monsanto’s contention that glyphosate is not harmful to humans; recent studies strongly contradict this however. 

Attorney T. Matthew Phillips had this to say in Swanson’s article:

We are not trying to prove that Roundup is harmful or carcinogenic, we are merely pointing out that Monsanto is lying about the enzymes that Roundup targets. Roundup kills the weeds in your backyard and the weeds in your stomach.”

The suit also includes the following:

Because it kills off our gut bacteria, glyphosate is linked to stomach and bowel problems, indigestion, ulcers, colitis, gluten intolerance, sleeplessness, lethargy, depression, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, allergies, obesity, diabetes, infertility, liver disease, renal failure, autism, Alzheimer’s, endocrine disruption, and the W.H.O. recently announced glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic’.”

It also notes that the enzyme targeted by glyphosate, EPSP synthase, is found in the microbiota in human intestines and therefore is actually found in both humans and animals after all.

For more info and to join the class action suit, you can click on this link.

Monsanto Levies Charges of “Junk Science” Against Top World Health Experts, EWG Calls for a Retraction

Monsanto has worked hard (and spent an absurd amount of money on PR) to defend its company’s image, but a spate of negative press in recent weeks is really starting to take its toll on the company.

Of course, it’s well deserved: the main ingredient company’s flagship Roundup weedkiller product was just declared a probable carcinogen by a panel of 17 of the top cancer experts according to the World Health Organization.

Monsanto has long painted its opponents as being “anti-science” in their attacks on their chemicals and GMOs, but now Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant has taken it upon himself to challenge some of the world’s top scientific experts on cancer over the report, which could be highly damaging to his company’s bottom line.

It’s unfortunate that junk science and this kind of mischief can create so much confusion for consumers,” Grant said recently.

The company is calling on the WHO to retract its report.

who monsanto report

 

In response the Environmental Working Group is calling on Monsanto to retract its remarks.

Mr. Grant and Monsanto should immediately retract these ridiculous comments and instead turn their attention to the potential risks their product poses to customers, farm workers and the millions of others who are exposed to glyphosate,” said Ken Cook, president and co-founder of EWG.

A good start would be to fund an independent testing program for glyphosate in air in the Midwest – including towns and cities – during the Roundup saturation-spray season. We’d be happy to help the company design and execute a plan to expand on the US Geological Survey work that found its weed-killer everywhere – air, water, even rainfall – in the areas where it is heavily used.”

Monsanto also has a long history of causing devastation in several American towns due to the effects of its chemicals (see the pictures here), as pointed out by the EWG in their press release.

Considering the history of the company for causing health and environmental devastation, it’s no wonder that people are skeptical of Mr. Grant’s remarks and motives.

While the WHO is currently standing by its report, this story will remain one to watch considering that Monsanto has had science retracted in the past.

One prime example to note is the case of French scientist Gilles-Éric Séralini, whose experiment showing tumors in lab rats was retracted by the journal Food and Toxciology but only after a former Monsanto employee was appointed to the journal’s editorial board.

The study was later republished in another peer reviewed journal, casting more suspicion over the health effects of Monsanto’s GMOs. Stay tuned, folks.