Dicamba Facing Hurdles

Rec’d the following notice from a fellow GMO fighter. Hopefully an informed populace can throw Monsatan another curve ball:

Dear friends,

Monsanto is launching a super poison that kills plants in its path — except for Monsanto GMOs. It even flies through the air onto neighbouring land!

But in days we can shut it down.

After a massive outcry from 1,000 affected farmers, a key US state could now ban this poison. This will set a precedent to influence regulation around the world.

Monsanto is mounting an intense pressure campaign, and hoping to keep it to a local fight. But if one million of us sign this petition now, we’ll submit it to the official process to show that the whole world wants this toxic chemical out of our fields and off our food! Add your name:

Stand up to Monsanto

It’s no surprise farmers are up in arms. Dicamba spreads death with the wind, drifting onto their crops, trees, soil, and water. Farmers are now faced with a terrible choice — switch to Monsanto GMO seeds, or watch their crops die.

It’s a greedy, dangerous scheme that will make Monsanto billions and could destroy our food system.

But we can stop it. 17 US states opened Dicamba investigations and key Arkansas authorities just recommended a ban — now it is up for a vote. Regulators from the EU to Latin America are watching carefully. If one million of us face down Monsanto in Arkansas, and win a ban, we could stop this deadly poison in its tracks.

Stand up to Monsanto

For years, the Avaaz community has taken on the David vs Goliath fight to stop the corrupt and dangerous takeover of our food system. And we are winning. Last year, we helped stop Monsanto from opening a flagship GM factory in Argentina, and we stopped the EU from giving a new license to the pesticide glyphosate. Now, we can help win in Arkansas where the next fight begins.

With hope and determination,

Dalia, Nick, Danny, Allison, Diego, Camille and the rest of the Avaaz team

Sources:

Arkansas Defies Monsanto, Moves To Ban Rogue Weedkiller (NPR)
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/09/22/552803465/arkansas-defies-monsanto-moves-to-ban-rogue-weedkiller

This miracle weed killer was supposed to save farms. Instead, it’s devastating them. (Washington Post)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/this-miracle-weed-killer-was-supposed-to-save-farms-instead-its-devastating-them/2017/08/29/33a21a56-88e3-11e7-961d-2f373b3977ee_story.html

Arkansas one step from dicamba ban (AgriNews)
http://www.agrinews-pubs.com/news/arkansas-one-step-from-dicamba-ban/article_9a258824-25d7-5e73-a623-9831fb993ecf.html

Monsanto Fighting Arkansas Dicamba Ban (Arkansas Matters)
http://www.arkansasmatters.com/news/local-news/monsanto-fighting-arkansas-dicamba-ban/806920404

Arkansas one step from ban on controversial herbicide next summer (Reuters)
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-pesticides-arkansas/arkansas-one-step-from-ban-on-controversial-herbicide-next-summer-idUSKCN1BW33A

Avaaz is a 44-million-person global campaign network
that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Monsanto Busted Doing Their Own “Independent Reviews”

It came out several months ago when Monsanto was forced to release emails in the lawsuit for cancer deaths in California, that Monsanto definitely KNEW there were problems, and worked to both control the studies and cover up what they knew to be the truth about their cancer causing, genderbending, bee destroying, genetic aberrations.

Now that knowledge is becoming mainstream. And they can’t seem to afford to buy everyone off any longer. Not that they don’t have the vast majority of the US House and Senate working to do their bidding.

Here’s an excerpt from a heavily linked article at Bloomberg today. Please be sure to share it:

Monsanto Was Its Own Ghostwriter for Some Safety Reviews

Academic papers vindicating its Roundup herbicide were written with the help of its employees.
August 9, 2017, 3:00 AM CDT

Monsanto Co. started an agricultural revolution with its “Roundup Ready” seeds, genetically modified to resist the effects of its blockbuster herbicide called Roundup. That ability to kill weeds while leaving desirable crops intact helped the company turn Roundup’s active ingredient, the chemical glyphosate, into one of the world’s most-used crop chemicals. When that heavy use raised health concerns, Monsanto noted that the herbicide’s safety had repeatedly been vetted by outsiders. But now there’s new evidence that Monsanto’s claims of rigorous scientific review are suspect.

Dozens of internal Monsanto emails, released on Aug. 1 by plaintiffs’ lawyers who are suing the company, reveal how Monsanto worked with an outside consulting firm to induce the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology to publish a purported “independent” review of Roundup’s health effects that appears to be anything but. The review, published along with four subpapers in a September 2016 special supplement, was aimed at rebutting the 2015 assessment by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. That finding by the cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization led California last month to list glyphosate as a known human carcinogen. It has also spurred more than 1,000 lawsuits in state and federal courts by plaintiffs who claim they contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma from Roundup exposure.

Monsanto disclosed that it paid Intertek Group Plc’s consulting unit to develop the review supplement, entitled “An Independent Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate.” But that was the extent of Monsanto’s involvement, the main article said. “The Expert Panelists were engaged by, and acted as consultants to, Intertek, and were not directly contacted by the Monsanto Company,” according to the review’s Declaration of Interest statement. “Neither any Monsanto company employees nor any attorneys reviewed any of the Expert Panel’s manuscripts prior to submission to the journal.”

Monsanto’s internal emails tell a different story. The correspondence shows the company’s chief of regulatory science, William Heydens, and other Monsanto scientists were heavily involved in organizing, reviewing, and editing drafts submitted by the outside experts. At one point, Heydens even vetoed explicit requests by some of the panelists to tone down what one of them wrote was the review’s “inflammatory” criticisms of IARC.

“An extensive revision of the summary article is necessary,” wrote that panelist, John Acquavella, an epidemiologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, in a February 2016 email attached to his suggested edits of the draft. Alarmed, Ashley Roberts, the coordinator of the glyphosate papers for Intertek, forwarded Acquavella’s note and edits to Heydens at Monsanto, with the warning: “Please take a look at the latest from the epi(demiology) group!!!!”

Heydens reedited Acquavella’s edits, arguing in six different notes in the draft’s margin that statements Acquavella had found inflammatory were not and should not be changed, despite the author’s requests. In the published article, Heydens’s edits prevailed. In an interview, Acquavella says that he was satisfied with the review’s final tone. According to an invoice he sent Monsanto, he billed the company $20,700 for a single month’s work on the review, which took nearly a year to complete…..(read the rest here)

Monsanto Emails Show They Knowingly Colluded to Hide Glyphosate Causes Cancer

Should anyone still think that GMO’s and Round Up aren’t seriously harmful, they need to read this article and go through all the links showing the intentional obscuring and falsification of studies on this disgusting chemical.

Below is an excerpt from the article, and the link is the heading.

Emails between the EPA & Monsanto now revealed (The contents are sickening!)

We should be able to trust that the food we buy is safe, but when the people in charge of that are working to keep unsafe chemicals on the market – we have a huge problem!

Along with so many of you and fellow activists, we have been spreading the truth about GMOs and hazardous chemicals used in conjunction with them like Roundup (glyphosate). This weedkiller isn’t just used on GMOs but on 70 different food crops in the U.S. – it’s in practically everything Americans eat. So, if glyphosate is causing cancer and other diseases, I want to know about it and get it out of our food – don’t you?

Stating the obvious: Monsanto makes billions off of Roundup sales, so they don’t want anyone to question its safety. Some never-before-seen confidential documents just released in a court case against Monsanto give us a glimpse into how they are working to influence the EPA (who is in charge of determining whether they are allowed to sell Roundup anymore) and undermine any efforts to ban its use. These documents show what many of us have known and suspected for quite some time… Monsanto is manipulating scientific research and has gotten some EPA officials on their side who seem to be helping them cover-up the health dangers of Roundup so they can keep it on the market.

Keep in mind… Monsanto and the EPA both do NOT want the public to see these internal emails! Why do you think that is?

While Monsanto is being sued in California by dozens of people who claim Roundup caused their non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, Monsanto had to provide over 6 million pages of internal emails and documents to the court and attorneys, and marked the majority of them as “confidential” so they’d be hidden from the public. When the plaintiffs asked the court to make the records public, both Monsanto and the EPA objected. The judge didn’t agree with their objections and threatened to sanction Monsanto if they continued trying to seal documents and found it in the best interest of the public to release them for all of us to see,“even if Monsanto doesn’t like what they say”.

The public interest group U.S. Right To Know is publishing these documents in their entirety on their website here. This is just the beginning and more are coming out. 

Here’s what we have uncovered in these documents so far…

  • Monsanto was in private talks with a top official at the EPA, Jess Rowland, who was in charge of evaluating the cancer risk of glyphosate for the EPA. Rowland was allegedly helping them stop another federal agency from investigating whether glyphosate causes cancer and told a Monsanto employee, “If I can kill this I should get a medal”. Rowland also signed off on the mysteriously leaked and deleted EPA memo which found glyphosate “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”, which Monsanto touted as proof the EPA finds it safe.

  • Long-term EPA toxicologist Marion Copley accused EPA’s Rowland of playing “political conniving games with the science” and making decisions based on his “bonus” in favoring pesticide makers (such as Monsanto). Dr. Copley went on to allude that other EPA staff have conflicts of interest and may be taking bribes. She asserts that Anna Lowit (still at the EPA) intimidated staff to change their findings to favor the industry. Dr. Copley also stated, “It is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer.” 

  • A Monsanto employee proposed they could “ghost-write” portions of a scientific report and then just have hired scientists “sign their names so to speak”. The EPA would later use this report evaluate the safety of glyphosate. The reason they would do this is highly unethical – to make the report appear to have been prepared by independent scientists, when in reality Monsanto wrote it! This begs the question, how often do they do this? An email suggests they ghostwrote this report presented to EPA regulators in 2000, although no Monsanto employees are listed as authors.

  • Way back in 1999, Monsanto buried the findings of their own scientist (Dr. James Parry) who found glyphosate is genotoxic and recommended further testing. Internal emails show that Monsanto employees questioned whether Parry had “ever worked with industry before”, “hoped that it didn’t cost too much” and that they should hire a different expert who would be “influential with regulators” and help them with “outreach” efforts. Ha! They only want to hire scientists who will make findings in their favor to deceive our regulators.

  • Monsanto knows other compounds in Roundup such as NNG and 1, 4 Dioxane are toxic and can cause cancer as they acknowledged this with each other in emails mentioned in court docs: “If you talk to Kerry [Liefer, an EPA employee], I wouldn’t push the NNG issue too hard — don’t want to draw attention to the toxicity of our product”.

  • In another 2015 email, a toxicologist at Monsanto hinted that Rowland would be retiring from the EPA and that he’d be useful for their “ongoing glyphosate defense”. This just further shows that Rowland was in Monsanto’s back pocket all along and is a key player in helping them achieve their mission.

They are feeding us lies and these secrets are poisoning us!

Most Americans are eating glyphosate every day… No matter how healthy we eat or how much we try to protect ourselves from it, this weedkiller is being used on most major conventional food crops and is so rampant in our environment that it is contaminating virtually all of our food. It’s been found in honey, cereals, meat, drinking water, breast milk, infant formula, chips, cookies… the list goes on. Our government agencies (FDA and EPA) know this and are allowing corporations to poison Americans for profit. It’s truly disgusting!

Monsanto is stooping to corruption to continue selling their poisons. Everything from seeking to keep their correspondence with the EPA secret, to intimidating scientists at the WHO International Agency on Cancer (IARC) who found Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate “probably carcinogenic”. A large body of peer reviewed research links glyphosate to cancer, reproductive problems, liver, kidney and skin cell damage, antibiotic-resistance, and more – but Monsanto doesn’t want the public to know the truth!

Glyphosate should be banned worldwide and consumers have the power to make this a reality. Here’s our ACTION PLAN:

  1. Choose to buy only certified organic food and products. This will hit Monsanto where it really hurts, their bottom line! Their best-selling products like Roundup and GMO seeds are banned on organic farms. If all farms were organic these products would bite the dust! This is voting with your dollars and is the most effective way to force change.
  2. Share this post with everyone you know! Expose their corruption. They should be shamed for this! Especially if you know anyone who is still eating non-organic food or using Roundup around their homes, make sure you get this information in their hands.
  3. Ask your favorite companies to test for glyphosate and get certified. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if the food you buy contains glyphosate? I have an exciting announcement! The Detox Project just launched a new “Glyphosate Residue Free Certification” program and will begin labeling products that have been tested and are free of glyphosate. I’ve partnered up with them to help spread the word – They are working with food manufacturers and grocery chains, so that soon we will see labels like this on some products – send this link to your favorite companies and ask them to go glyphosate free.

Everyone deserves to know exactly what they are eating and have access to safe, affordable food. My job will not be done until this is a reality. I’m so happy to have so many of you by my side and I know we can make this happen!

 


GMO Apples to Hit Shelves in Midwest Soon

So the Arctic apple will soon be on the shelves. This is the apple that won’t brown when you’ve sliced it. Potential effects on consumers? Who knows! Maybe it will even out tan lines, or cause dark skin to lighten, or just give you cancer or tumors or mess with your hormone levels. No one knows…and the “food police” do not care. They do however care if you want to buy raw milk across state lines. Then you’re engaged a criminal activity.

I don’t know if Trump will be helpful in the fight against GMO’s. He may be helpful on general food freedom issues, but my sense is that we are going to need to really work on his administration for right action on GMO’s.

Here is an article on this apple. Let people know it will be out there, please:

First GMO apple slices to go on sale in Midwest

A small amount of genetically modified sliced apples will go on sale in 10 Midwest stores this February and March.

 

Courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits
An Arctic brand Golden Delicious apple genetically modified to not brown when sliced. Packaged slices will be sold for the first time in the U.S. this February and March.

Courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits An Arctic brand Golden Delicious apple genetically modified to not brown when sliced. Packaged slices will be sold for the first time in the U.S. this February and March.

Courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits
The Arctic apple brand and a QR code will be the identifiers of genetically modified sliced apples when they go on sale next month in 10 Midwest stores.

Courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits The Arctic apple brand and a QR code will be the identifiers of genetically modified sliced apples when they go on sale next month in 10 Midwest stores.

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — The first genetically modified apples to be sold in the U.S. will debut in select Midwestern stores next month.

A small amount of Arctic brand sliced and packaged Golden Delicious, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Summerland, B.C., will be in 10 stores this February and March, said Neal Carter, the company’s founder and president. He would not identify the retailers, saying that’s up to them.

“We’re very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it at trade shows,” Carter said. “It’s a great product and the eating quality is excellent.”

Carter reduced the enzyme polyphenol oxidase to prevent browning when apples are sliced, bitten or bruised. The apples match the industry norm of not browning for three weeks after slicing but without using flavor-altering, chemical additives that the rest of the fresh-sliced apple industry uses.

Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji varieties have been approved by the USDA and Canada. An Arctic Gala could be approved in 2018. Only Goldens and Granny Smiths have been planted long enough to produce fruit in commercial quantities by next fall.

Midwestern retailers were chosen for the first sales this winter because they seemed like a good fit demographically and in presence and size, Carter said.

Asked if Midwest consumers may be more accepting of genetically modified apples than those on the East or West coasts, Carter said consumer research didn’t indicate that and that it wasn’t a consideration.

“We don’t want to skew our test marketing results by choosing stores that may be more friendly to genetic engineering,” he said.

About 500, 40-pound boxes of sliced apples will be sold in grab-and-go pouch bags, he said. The company expects to offer 6,000 boxes of apple slices from the 2017 fall crop.

A QR computer scan code on the packaging enables consumers to get information, including that the apple slices are genetically modified, but nothing directly on the packing identifies it. Okanagan Specialty Fruits will adhere to the new genetically engineered foods labeling act but it’s not clear what that requires, Carter said.

“We are selling it under the Arctic brand and we’ve had a lot of press and attention, so I assume most people will know what it is,” he said.

The company has reworked its logo, making a snowflake inside an apple outline more visible.

The first commercial test marketing will provide the company with consumer preferences on packaging and price and other information including purchase motivations. Survey data will be used to help the company decide its fall 2017 commercial launch strategy.

The company has orchards in British Columbia and 85,000 trees at an undisclosed location in Washington state. More than 300,000 trees will be planted this spring and 500,000 are being budded for planting in 2018. Those numbers may increase, as the company wants enough volume to compete nationally in the sliced apple business, Carter said.

The goal is 800 to 1,000 acres planted in the Northwest and nearly the same acreage in the eastern U.S. in addition to 600 to 800 acres in Canada by 2021, he has said. It will be a mix of company orchards and contract growers.

While supportive of the science, the Washington apple industry opposed approval of GMO apples because it believes negative public perception could damage apple sales. While expressing concerns about market disruption before USDA approval, the U.S. Apple Association is now neutral and stresses that all apples are safe, healthy and nutritious.

Senate Agrees on Dark Act

I thought this was a very good article. It seems a completely futile course of action to continue to talk to the furniture in DC, and because of that, I have not been encouraging people to continue to engage in unprofitable action. Does anyone remember that Obama promised to label GMO’s? I know some voted for the cretin on that promise. 8 years after the fact, and the only meaningful things that have happened are at the state level and in public awareness. Neither of which has had any effect on the District of Criminals regulatory or legislative actions.

Due to my desire to not send people on fruitless expeditions, one positive thing you can do is  use this Non GMO shopping guide. Other positive actions on this front include growing your own, buying from farmers that don’t use man-made chemicals and can tell you the breed of the product, and, if you live in a city or town, work to get urban farming and gardening ordinances in place. Or go guerilla grower. 🙂

Here is the best article I could find on the fed level GMO actions:

Senate Agrees on “DARK Act” GMO Labeling Bill

apples-GMO-DARK-Act-620x360-1By Derrick Broze

The U.S. Senate has announced a bipartisan deal which will prevent states from labeling genetically modified foods in favor of a federal labeling system. Here’s what you need to know…

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry agreed on a new bill aimed at labeling foods with genetically modified ingredients. The committee has been trying for several months to get a bill passed before Vermont’s labeling law goes into effect on July 1.

U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow released a statement, calling the bill “an important path forward that represents a true compromise. Since time is of the essence, we urge our colleagues to move swiftly to support this bill.” Roberts said if his colleagues do not act on the bill now Vermont’s law will cause confusion in the marketplace. The bill would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture two years to write the labeling rules.

The bipartisan proposal would immediately prohibit states and cities from passing labeling laws for genetically modified or engineered ingredients. Genetically modified or engineered seeds are engineered to have certain traits, such as resistance to herbicides. The majority of the United States’ corn and soybean crops are now GE, including a large portion that is used for animal feed.

The bill would also put the USDA in charge of establishing “a uniform national disclosure standard for human food that is or may be bioengineered.” Critics of a federal standard worry about the USDA being pressured by biotechnology companies that have a close relationship to U.S. regulatory agencies. The proposal would also require companies producing foods with GE ingredients to post a label, including text on package, a symbol, or a link to a website (QR code or similar technology). Smaller food manufacturers can use websites or telephone numbers to disclose ingredients.

In late February, Roberts introduced another bill which attempted to create a federal voluntary standard for labeling GE food. Roberts’ Senate Bill 2609, or the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act, would have blocked mandatory labeling efforts by states. In March, the bill failed to reach the 60 votes needed during a procedural vote, with 49 votes in favor and 48 votes against.

Roberts’ bill was similar to the controversial Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which passed the House in June 2015 but ultimately failed amid heavy opposition. To critics, the bill was known as the “DARK” (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act because the law was also aimed at nullifying GMO labeling measures, such as the bill passed in Vermont.

The latest bipartisan effort contains language that is identical to both of the previous bills. The bill would “amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national voluntary labeling standard for bioengineered foods.” It’s safe to say that this new bipartisan compromise is simply the latest version of the DARK Act and will likely live up to it’s name by keeping Americans in the dark regarding what is in their food.

The bipartisan proposal is supported by certain food industry groups that believe state bills like the one in Vermont will lead to increased costs for agriculture, food companies and consumers. “This bipartisan agreement ensures consumers across the nation can get clear, consistent information about their food and beverage ingredients and prevents a patchwork of confusing and costly state labeling laws,” Pamela Bailey, president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the largest food industry lobby group, told the Associated Press.

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, said the new bill deserves the name DARK Act because it will prevent consumers from have “clear, on-package labels” as required by the Vermont law.  “But this deal from Senators Stabenow and Roberts doesn’t even come close, and would instead require consumers to have smartphones and a cellphone signal to know what they are buying,” Hauter said in a statement. “This deal seems to be designed to ensure that big food processing companies and the biotechnology industry continue to profit by misleading consumers.”

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Senator Bernie Sanders both spoke against the new measure. Shumlin criticized the two-year delay, while Sanders said he would do “everything I can” to stop the bill. Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports that the bill “also allows companies to avoid the main thing consumers have demanded – a fast and easy way to determine if a food product they are purchasing was made using genetically engineered crops.”

The key argument seems to be that the new bill would not have as clear labels as Vermont’s law. Senator Stabenow, however, believes the opposite, claiming that the Vermont law would require GMO labeling of a cheese pizza but not a pepperoni pizza. “Throughout this process I worked to ensure that any agreement would recognize the scientific consensus that biotechnology is safe, while also making sure consumers have the right to know what is in their food,” the senator wrote.

The scientific consensus does lean towards the safety of GE foods, but that has not swayed critics and supporters of labeling. A recent report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine concluded GE foods do not pose a health or environmental risk. Critics of the report point to conflicts of interests between researchers with the National Academy of Sciences and biotechnology companies involved in the creation of GE crops.

The environmental watchdog organization Food and Water Watch released their own report, pointing to possible influence from the same organizations that stand to benefit from the growth of genetic engineering of foods. The report, Under the Influence: The National Research Council and GMOs, looks at “far-reaching ties” between the National Research Council, its parent organization the NAS, and biotechnology companies and agricultural corporations.

Americans who want to know what is in their food need to take control of their own food production and stop relying on large-scale, factory farming which increasingly relies on genetically engineered seeds. Only by taking back the power when it comes to our diets can we stop supporting the systems that are working against our health and freedom. It’s time to grow food, not lawns. It’s time to throw seed bombs everywhere. The revolution is growing and resistance is fertile.

Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter.

CRISPR- Genetically Editing Food, Animals and People-

Below is a fairly in depth article regarding this new technology that the USDA and certainly, the FDA will (and have) done nothing about in the regulatory arena. The USDA recently approved CRISPR edited mushrooms that are genetically altered to reduce browning. They don’t require any special studies or limitations because they are just doing in a few days what, according to other sources, might take a thousand years in nature.

CRISPR Is Going To Revolutionize Our Food System—And Start A New War Over GMOs

The gene-editing tool could create drought-resistant grain or allergy-free peanuts. Will a society on edge about genetically modified food embrace this newest innovation?

Adele Peters 03.15.16 6:00 AM

In five years, there might be a little CRISPR-edited corn in your breakfast cereal or CRISPR-edited wheat in your pasta. CRISPR’d tomatoes and CRISPR’d pork might follow. There’s already a little CRISPR in your yogurt.

It’s not hyperbolic to say that CRISPR-Cas9—new technology that makes it possible to quickly and easily edit DNA—is changing the future of food. The method could eventually be used to tweak almost anything we eat, selecting traits that can make agriculture more environmentally sustainable and productive, or the resulting food healthier.

A Molecular Scalpel

The technology is based on a natural process. Many bacteria have a hidden talent: In order to protect themselves from viruses, they cut the virus’s DNA. First, they save a fragment of an invading virus’s DNA in a pattern known as CRISPR (short for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” which describes how the segment looks). If the virus comes back, the bacteria can recognize and hone in on it. Then it uses an enzyme called Cas9 to make a cut in the DNA, disabling the virus.

A few years ago, researchers figured out how to use the same method to edit any kind of DNA. By using guide RNA—the same type of molecule that bacteria use to find and fight a virus, but that can also easily be made in the lab from DNA in a few steps—scientists realized that they could target any spot in the genome of a plant or animal and make a deletion or paste something else in.

“I think a good analogy is a molecular scalpel,” says Jennifer Doudna, the University of California-Berkeley professor who was first to publish a paper about using CRISPR for gene editing in 2012 (Doudna and her colleagues are currently embroiled in a bitter legal battle with MIT researchers over the patent for the technology). “It’s a way that scientists can make very precise changes in the DNA and cells of organisms—down to the level of a single letter in the DNA code out of 3 billion base pairs in the human genome.”
“If editing a single gene might have taken years with older techniques, now it can happen in a matter of days with a single grad student.”

If editing a single gene might have taken weeks, months, or even years with older techniques, now it can happen in a matter of days with a single grad student. Old techniques—such as using a “gene gun” to shoot DNA into plant cells to make something like the earliest GMO soybeans—took far longer to reach a desired result; researchers would have to grow plants to see which ones happened to end up with the traits they wanted. More recent gene-editing tools, such as TALENs and zinc fingers, made it possible to directly target a particular gene for the first time but are more time-consuming than CRISPR in their design and construction.

CRISPR is comparatively easy, because all it requires is ordering some products that are widely available and synthesizing RNA, a simple process in a lab. “This is what I call the democratization of gene editing,” says Rodolphe Barrangou, one of the first researchers to realize how bacteria were naturally using CRISPR. “There were gene-editing technologies that existed before . . . but it was difficult, it was expensive, it was time-consuming, it wasn’t trivial. What CRISPR really has done is enable that gene-editing revolution that we’re witnessing.”

Since the beginning of last year, researchers have published more than 16,000 studies using CRISPR: editing mouse genes to repair genetic disease, designing better biofuels, figuring out which genes are responsible for certain traits and illnesses, and even—controversially—genetically editing human embryos.

But put the deep moral quandaries about human gene editing aside for a minute. In the world of farming, researchers are using CRISPR to work on some foods that might have been too complicated or expensive to genetically engineer in the past, along with the bigger crops that already have GMO versions.
A New Solution For Our Food Supply

At DuPont, researchers are working on CRISPR/Cas9-edited versions of commodity crops such as corn, soybeans, canola, rice, and wheat, which they expect to have on the market in 5 to 10 years. The plants have new traits like drought resistance and higher yields—both critical features for farmers trying to deal with a changing climate and the fact that the world population is growing faster than our food supply.
“The plants have new traits like drought resistance and higher yields—both critical features for farmers trying to deal with a changing climate.”

“When you think about the fact that your average biotech crop takes 10 to 17 years, that’s a really remarkable speed compared to where the market is today,” says Rachel Haurwitz, cofounder of Berkeley-based Caribou Biosciences, which partnered with DuPont to provide Caribou’s version of CRISPR. “I find that really, really exciting.”

The technique can also be used to remove allergens in peanuts, or make food more nutritious, all while using genes that naturally occur in the plant.

It might also save the modern banana. The Cavendish banana, the only type of banana sold in most grocery stores—because it is grown around the world as a monoculture crop—is on the verge of extinction because of a fungal disease. While some researchers are racing to test less-common varieties of bananas to try to find an alternative, a Korean researcher hopes to use CRISPR to snip out the receptor that the fungus uses, so it would no longer have an effect.

CRISPR may also keep livestock healthier without relying on antibiotics, which are overused in animals and leading to antibiotic resistance that is killing humans. “You can actually harness CRISPR systems as antimicrobials, and they provide a great alternative to classic antibiotics,” says Barrangou. “You can program them to selectively target one or more organisms of interest. Whereas most classical antibiotics are very broad-spectrum—when you consume them they wipe out the good guys and the bad guys indiscriminately—CRISPR is opening new doors for programmable antibiotics whereby you could selectively eradicate a pathogenic species.”

Some researchers are also experimenting with directly editing livestock genes to help protect animals from disease. One pig disease costs farmers $600 million a year; in 2015, researchers created a gene-edited version of pigs that couldn’t catch the illness. Twenty percent of all animals raised for food are lost to disease, which is a massive sustainability problem as well as a cause of animal suffering. Gene editing could potentially help change that in a way that traditional breeding hasn’t been able to.

Other meat might be gene edited to be healthier. The same Korean researchers working on the Cavendish banana have also created a variety of pig that is extra-muscly, so it can produce leaner cuts of pork. “We could do this through breeding,” lead researcher Jin-Soo Kim, of Seoul National University, told Nature. “But then it would take decades.”

CRISPR can also be used in its natural form—and it already is. When Barrangou first began studying CRISPR in bacteria, he realized that it could be harnessed to help prevent food waste in dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. It’s not uncommon in the dairy industry for viruses to attack the cultures that are used for fermentation, and that can lead to the loss of thousands or even millions of gallons of milk in a single instance. By selecting variants of the cultures that naturally get vaccinated against viruses, the industry can prevent that from happening.

“If people eat yogurt and people eat cheese, there’s a 50% chance, give or take, that people have been consuming dairy products that were manufactured using CRISPR-enhanced bacteria,” he says. The industry has used the natural form of CRISPR for more than a decade. It can also be used in other fermentation processes, such as pickling or making kimchi, soy sauce, or wine.

There’s potential for CRISPR to be used much more widely. But it isn’t clear yet if the technology can avoid the Monsanto problem—the public distaste for eating anything genetically edited. Public support for GMO food is still very low, despite the fact that the majority of scientists believe it’s safe. In a 2015 survey, most Americans said that genetically engineered food should be labeled—and that they probably wouldn’t buy it. More than half of those surveyed said they think it’s unsafe.

It’s possible CRISPR-edited food might not be seen the same way. In some cases—when the technology is simply used to delete a gene in a plant, rather than adding in anything from another species—the USDA doesn’t consider CRISPR’d food a GMO. The plant looks genetically identical to something that could have been created through cross-breeding or evolution.

Even adding a gene could sometimes end up being the same as a traditionally bred crop. “I think it’s exciting to think, for example, about some of the gene variants that are known to exist in wild strains of particular crops of interest, and the ability to use CRISPR to insert those naturally occurring wild variants into elite crops in a very rapid way, in a very precise way,” says Haurwitz. “It gets you the same product as if you had spent years and years breeding the wild strain with your commercial strain. At the end of the day, it’s the very same product, but it could get to consumers substantially faster by using CRISPR.”

Cibus, a San Diego-based startup making CRISPR-edited flax, position their products as a non-GMO food. “DNA ‘spelling changes’ occur naturally in all plants and are the basis behind the diversity we see in plants as we walk in our local parks or in the forest,” says Greg Gocal, senior vice president of research and development at Cibus. “During domestication events that selected the world’s crop plants, genetic diversity was lost. Breeders have been working for decades to augment crop diversity using mutation breeding. However, this is random. . . . Non-transgenic breeding, which includes technologies such as precision gene editing, can also restore lost genetic diversity.”

Even in Europe, where regulation has been stricter, there are early indications that CRISPR’d foods may not be regulated. In Sweden, authorities recently said that CRISPR-edited plants (as long as they don’t contain foreign DNA) shouldn’t be defined as GMOs under EU legislation.

EU law says that it must be possible to detect a GMO food—and because CRISPR-edited foods are identical to those that are not GMOs, they can’t be detected. It also says that the changes that occur must not be more “uncertain” than something that could occur with techniques like breeding. “The changes are identical to those that could occur with techniques that are not considered to produce GMOs,” says Stefan Jansson, head of the department of plant physiology at Umeå University.
“”Since most politicians consider it to be political suicide to express their opinions about GMOs, maybe they now dare to stand up.””

While the Swedish ruling could be overturned by the EU Commission, Jansson believes there’s increasing support for biotech food. “It is clear that there are very many, in addition to us in the scientific community, who are deeply concerned that the lack of access to efficient plant breeding is a serious threat to the possibilities to make food production sustainable,” he says. “Since most politicians consider it to be political suicide to express their opinions about GMOs, maybe they now dare to stand up.”

In an analysis of the psychology behind why people dislike GMOs, researchers pointed to transgenesis—the mixing of species—as one problem. People tend to see inserting a fish gene into a tomato as fundamentally unnatural. But if CRISPR is used to insert genes from the same plant (or just to take a gene away), it’s possible that might shift attitudes.

It’s also possible that it won’t. “Given the fact that CRISPR can be viewed as tampering with a organism’s essence, I’m afraid that biotechnologists might face an opposition similar to the GMO case,” says Stefaan Blancke, co-author of the paper on the psychology of GMO opposition.

“There probably are some critics who are going to be more accepting because of CRISPR,” says Paul Thompson, a bioethicist and professor at Michigan State University. “But the vast majority are focused on broader philosophical issues. . . . You’ve got this community of critics who in some respects don’t really care that much about what the details are. There’s been this kind of creation of a lot of—I don’t want to be dismissive, but I’ll use the word mythology—about GMOs. And I’m constantly talking to people that I like and respect in the sustainable agriculture community who are just quite, at least from my perspective, misinformed about what GMOs actually are and what they actually do.”

One of the few scientists to speak out about GMOs argues that CRISPR is fundamentally no different than earlier technology, and that CRISPR-edited foods should be regulated before they go on the market. “Is it more exact than the use of a gene gun, where it’s literally scattershot? Sure,” says Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union, the organization that publishes Consumer Reports. “It’s more exact, but there can still be off-target effects.”
“”We’ve never been against the use of any technology. We just think that before these technologies come out on the market—whether it’s CRISPR or anything else—there should be required safety assessments.””

Hansen points to the fact that Doudna and other researchers have called for caution in the use of CRISPR in humans—because of potential unknowns—and thinks that the same caution should be applied to food. “We’ve never been against the use of any technology,” he says. “We just think that before these technologies come out on the market—whether it’s CRISPR or anything else—there should be required safety assessments, and those crops should be labeled.”

For now, however, the technology is moving ahead, and most researchers think that’s a good thing. “I think there’s real potential from a technology perspective,” says Haurwitz. “But I think that potential can only be realized if we the industry do a good job of communicating to the rest of the world how beneficial it will be for growers, for consumers . . . for everyone involved in the food value chain.”

Monsanto Announces New Poison For Your Consumption

Monsanto, arguably one of the ten most hated corporations in the world, is going to release a more deadly genetically modified strain for everyone to get sick and or die from. Sometimes I become speechless. The loathing and disgust I feel over altering things that are food and turning them into tertiary or quaternary things that can be swallowed is causing me to feel a little speechless right at the moment. Does their logo have a plant in a coffin?

Here’s an article about their recent bragging:

Monsanto announces new technology to make its GM crops more pest resistant

 The entrance sign is seen at the headquarters of Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri © Juliette Michel
Monsanto says it has developed breakthrough technology to help make its crops more resistant to bugs and pests. The new techniques will help target insects that have developed resistance to previously genetically modified crops.

The research was conducted by scientists at Harvard University in conjunction with Monsanto. The aim was to try and speed up the process of generating proteins, which have properties that can kill pests.

The team was using PACE (phage-assisted continuous evolution) technology, which is able to eliminate insects that have grown resistant to prior agricultural solutions. The PACE method is 100 times faster than other methods in trying to identify protein with insect killing properties, according to the research team.

“Scientific breakthroughs like PACE technology are key to continue bringing solutions to farmers to help them get more out of every acre,” Tom Adams, vice president of biotechnology at Monsanto said in a press release.

“The remarkable progress that’s been made in applying PACE to agriculture biotechnology is a huge testament to the success that comes when parties work together and collaborate to advance science in a way that can bring long-term benefits to global agriculture.”

The importance of the technique means that the proteins are able to be developed at faster than the insects and pests are able to become resistant.

“It’s a breakthrough in a way we can handle resistance in the future,” Tom Malvar, the head of insect control discovery at Monsanto said, according to the Agriculture journal. “This technology is not limited to insect control. We envision this having broad applications,” he added.

In November, a report by Greenpeace slammed the genetically modified (GM) crop industry, for failing to tackle problems regarding superbugs caused by insects becoming resistant to previously genetically modified crops.

“GM crops can only increase yield by reducing losses to pests in years of high infestation, and this effect is not permanent as pesticide-producing crops lead to resistant ‘superbugs’. GM crop yields have often failed to isolate the effects of GM technology from other factors, or to compare like-for-like farms,” the report stated.

GM corn and soyabeans have given smaller yields in recent years in the US due to pests and weeds becoming resistant to weedkillers used to protect the plants.

In March, the US Department of Agriculture announced its intention to end regulation of Monsanto’s GM corn that is engineered to resist the company’s herbicide, meaning that farmers will now be able to plant the corn strains without permits.

However, the move was slammed by critics, with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, a nonprofit advocating pro-family farm policies, saying the unregulated process could lead to environmental damage.

“Without a coordinated and thorough evaluation of the full technology package, and a meaningful analysis of impacts, adding yet another new crop/herbicide package will continue adding to the existing harmful effects on herbicides on ecological systems, human health, and farmers’ livelihoods through herbicide drift and non-target crop losses; the widespread increase in herbicide-resistant weeds; and environmental and public health impacts,” the group said in a statement.

In November, protesters took to the streets in hundreds of cities around the world for the 2015 Million Mask March, which saw activists storm the doors of Monsanto in Washington, DC. In May, activists from over 400 cities spoke out against GMOs and Monsanto’s monopoly over the food supply.

Activists accuse the agricultural corporation of selling toxic chemicals, which are bad for people’s health, water supplies, vital crop pollinators and the environment in general. The giant is also criticized for its attitude towards food safety regulations and staunch opposition to GMO labeling. Small farmers blame Monsanto for monopolizing the seed market.

In January, Seattle announced its intention to sue Monsanto over allegations the company polluted the Lower Duwamish River and city drainage pipes, becoming the sixth city to file a lawsuit against the bio-tech giant.

“Long after the dangers of PCBs were widely known, Monsanto continued its practice of protecting its business interests at our expense,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a statement. “The City intends to hold Monsanto accountable for the damage its product wreaked on our environment.”

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