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Whether you like it or not, chances are Monsanto contaminated the food you ate today with chemicals and unlabeled GMOs. Monsanto controls much of the world's food supply at the expense of food democracy worldwide. This site is dedicated to empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto & it's enablers like the FDA, USDA, EPA, GMA, BIO, and the processed food companies that use Monsanto's products.
Posted: January 19th, 2013 | Filed under: Press | Tags: Afghans, agriculture, Andrew Kimbrell, animal feed, Bayer, bees, Bhopal, Bhutan, Big Island, biofuel, biopiracy, biotech, biotechnology, Center for Food Safety, Central Intelligence Agency, China, CIA, Dalai Lama, Dow, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Dupont, endosulfan, food, Gary Hooser, Global 500 Award, gmo, GMO Labeling, Green Revolution, Hawaiâ€˜i Island School Garden Network, Hawaiâ€˜i Public Seed Initiative, Hawaii, Hawaii SEED Tour, HI, International Center for Technology Assessment, International Forum of Globalization, Island, Kanu I Ka Pono New Century Public Charter School, Kapolei Salvation Army Ray Kroc Center, Kauaâ€˜i War Memorial Convention Hall, Kauai, Laura Thielen, Mahatma Gandhi, Makana, Monsanto, Nancy Redfeather, neem tree, Nuremberg Trials, Occupy GMO, pesticides, pollen, Right Livelihood Award, State Capitol, Syngenta, technology, The Garden Island, Union Carbide, United Nations, United Nations Environmental Program, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Walter Ritte |
By Laurie Cicotello, The Garden Island
LIHUâ€˜E â€” The Kauaâ€˜i War Memorial Convention Hall was standing room only as more than 1,100 people showed up Thursday night to hear a presentation by environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva.
â€œYour island is truth speaking to the world,â€ Shiva told the crowd to thunderous applause.
Joining Shiva as part of a three-day Hawaiâ€˜i SEED Tour was environmental attorney Andrew Kimbrell and Hawaiian rights activist Walter Ritte of Molokaâ€˜i.
â€œDr. Shiva is like the Dalai Lama of Agriculture,â€ Ritte said of the Indian philosopher, physicist, environmental activist and eco-feminist who has authored more than 20 books. As a leader in the International Forum of Globalization, Shiva fights for changes in the practices and paradigms of food, according to her biography.
Shiva met with residents of the Westside for dinner ahead of time to discuss a pending class action lawsuit over the continued experimental use of pesticides by biotech companies in the area.
Because of the experiments taking place with pesticides and genetically engineered seeds on the Westside of the island, Kauaâ€˜i is considered ground zero internationally in the fight to stop biotech companies such as Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer and Syngenta from creating more products and patenting more seeds.
Organizers are also working to have Hawaiâ€˜i become the first state to label foods containing genetically modified organisms.
In assisting grassroots organizations in the green movement worldwide, Shiva has been featured in several documentaries and received the Right Livelihood Award and the Global 500 Award of the United Nations Environmental Program. She has been called one of the five most powerful women in Asia.
Along with Shiva was Andrew Kimbrell, who became the executive director of the International Center for Technology Assessment in 1994 and the executive director of the Center for Food Safety in 1997. As one of the leading environmental attorneys in the nation, he has authored several books on the environment, technology in society and food issues. In 1994, Utne Reader named him as one of the worldâ€™s leading visionaries.
Sponsored by Hawaiâ€˜i SEED, The Center for Food Safety and Navdanya, the evening discussing the elimination of genetically modified organisms, along with the labeling of GMO products, was the culmination of a three-day long Hawaiâ€˜i SEED Tour that had Shiva, Kimbrell and Ritte speaking to a sold out audiences at the University of Hawaiâ€˜i at Manoa and at the Kapolei Salvation Army Ray Kroc Center, along with legislative briefings and presentations in the State Capitol by Kauaâ€˜i County Councilman Gary Hooser, Sen. Laura Thielen and others.
At the outset of the evening, vendors from around the island set up a seed giveaway featuring a local farming resource fair and silent auction to benefit Hawaiâ€˜i SEED.
Emceeing the Kauaâ€˜i event was Nancy Redfeather of Kawanui Farm on the Big Island, who in her work as a teacher and gardener has helped create 65 school gardens through her work as program director for the Hawaiâ€˜i Island School Garden Network and is the director of the Hawaiâ€˜i Public Seed Initiative.
Opening the evening at the Kauaâ€˜i War Memorial were students from Kanu I Ka Pono New Century Public Charter School, who greeted the audience with chant and poetry.
â€œThereâ€™s room for manâ€™s need, but not manâ€™s greed,â€ said one Kanu I Ka Pono student in her poem, paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi.
Up next was performer Makana, who played a modified version of his â€œWe Are the Manyâ€ anthem advising the crowd to â€œOccupy GMO.â€ He also performed a new song titled, â€œThe Story of the GMO,â€ which addresses the history of the anti-GMO movement and closed the evening with an untitled â€œSong for Vandana,â€ that he was inspired to write while listening to Shivaâ€™s presentation.
In introducing Dr. Shiva, Redfeather said Dr. Shiva has trained more than 650,000 farmers in India and is advising Bhutan on how to be come the first wholly organic country in the world.
â€œI was told you were a very small island with a very small population. It doesnâ€™t look like it when you stand in this hall,â€ she said.
She said that the myth was that spraying pesticides has lead to the rise of GMOs.
Dr. Shiva said farmers were told they would never have to spray again, â€œwe known through the practice in the rest of the world that in fact the spray increases and you talk about it. The GMOs are not a safe alternative to poisons. They are pushed by the poison industry to increase poison sales and monopolize the seed industry.â€
In discussing the 1984 Bhopal disaster, Dr. Shiva said 3,000 people died in a gas leak from a Union Carbide plant and more than 30,000 people have died since then. She said the disaster didnâ€™t stop after the explosion â€œas generations being born today are being born crippled.â€
She said Bhopal isnâ€™t the only poison tragedy in India. She said 1,000 people died in the past couple years in â€œthe endosulfan tragedy,â€ when thousands of people were sprayed with pesticides that went into water and wells.
Dr. Shiva said Indiaâ€™s Green Revolution started off with chemicals that were designed for killing people in times of war. After World War II, these companies then turned the chemicals into pesticides and now have become a biotech.
â€œThe explosive factories were redesigned to create fertilizer,â€ Dr. Shiva said, noting that the Oklahoma bombing, the Oslo bombing and every bombing in India were created using fertilizer bombs.
â€œWe delivered sacks and sacks of fertilizer to the Afghans and now they are making bombs,â€ she said of the Central Intelligence Agency providing fertilizer to the country. â€œA century of war making and destruction is behind this.â€
Her research for the United Nations also uncovered that nerve gas was being modified into modern day pesticides.
She addressed her plans to organize new Nuremberg Trials to go after the companies making nerve gas to kill people during World War II that are still making chemicals today.
â€œWe are going to organize new Nuremberg trials and bring together everyone that has been harmed in the name of agricultural progress,â€ she said.
Dr. Shiva went on to say she was at a conference where people were talking about making seed saving a crime. She said one of the big fights being faced is to prevent the criminalization of seed saving by farmers.
â€œHow could it be that the death industry can recreate itself as the life sciences industry?â€ she asked, adding that the companies position themselves as patient and diagnostician for a problem, with the problem being farmers saving seeds.
She said that growing up, her family used the neem tree for pest control, which causes bugs to reproduce slower. She said the neem tree is called the â€œvillage farmer,â€ and has more than 1,000 uses.
After Bhopal, Dr. Shiva delivered neem trees to the area and made posters that read, â€œNo more Bhopals. Plant a Neem.â€
She discussed other biopiracy cases such as basmati rice, which RiceTec patented and claimed to have invented along with how worldwide trade impacts the industry.
â€œEverything comes from China,â€ Dr. Shiva said of the U.S. being in a negative trade balance. â€œPatented seeds and GMO crops are the only things leaving. You have become the nerve center for this destruction.â€
In the end, though, Dr. Shiva said the biotech companies have left us with bug-resistant super pests and super wheats.
â€œThe GMO emperor has no clothes,â€ Dr. Shiva said. â€œWe have the clarity to speak truth. We do not recognize patents on life.â€
Monopolies and monocultures go together and have reduced to just eight commodities including animal feed, biofuel and human food last. She said it wastes communities by destroying them and imposes uniformity along with shipping them in trucks.
â€œFood is a waste system. It wastes the Earth, it wastes communities, it wastes potential, they ship it thousands of miles in trucks,â€ she said.
â€œBees usurp pollen, weeds steal sunshine â€¦ everyone is a thief in their world because they are the thieves,â€ Dr. Shiva said of what the biotech companies are telling the world, â€œThis is not about technology. This is about conquest. Thatâ€™s why every time a religion has conquered, they destroyed sacred shrines and put in churches.â€
She said people should live by the tenets of Gandhi, including satyagraha meaning fight for truth; swaraj meaning self-organized freedom; and swadeshi, meaning self-making as a rule of freedom; and the concept of lifting up everyone including the most vulnerable.
In the end, Dr. Shiva called on Kauaâ€˜iâ€™s residents to work on feeding themselves.
â€œYou have so much water and biodivesity here on the Garden Island that it should be a garden and in reality feeding itself.â€
Source: The Garden Island
Click here to watch Videos of Dr. Shiva, Walter Ritte, Andrew Kimbrell, and Makana
Posted: December 13th, 2012 | Filed under: Research | Tags: agriculture, best practice, biotech, biotechnology, Buffer Zone Control, Certification, coexistance, contamination, Creve Coeur, decontamination, drought, environment, Farmers, field management, Financial Risk, gmo, GMO Labeling, Groundwater, impact, Legislation, Market Rejection, Monsanto Company, Occupy Monsanto, oil, organic, Policy, pollen, Pollinator, protein, proxy, Remediation, Report, Reputation, SEC, seed, Seed Contamination, shareholder, shareowner proposal, Shareowners, Soil, Study, Technology Use Guide, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, value |
This proposal was submitted by Harrington Investments, Inc., 1001 2nd Street, Suite 325, Napa, CA 94559, as lead proponent of a filing group. The proposal has been carefully considered by the board of directors, which has concluded that its adoption would not be in the best interests of the company or its shareowners. For the reasons stated after the proposal, the board recommends a vote â€œAgainstâ€ the shareowner proposal.
The proposal and supporting statement are presented as received from the shareowner proponents in accordance with the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the board of directors and the company disclaim any responsibility for its content. We will furnish, orally or in writing as requested, the name, address and claimed share ownership position of the proponents of this shareowner proposal promptly upon written or oral request directed to the companyâ€™s Secretary.
Information regarding the inclusion of proposals in Monsantoâ€™s proxy statement can be found on page 77 under Shareowner Proposals for 2014 Annual Meeting.
The labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is an increasing matter of concern among state legislators across the United States;
Vermont, Alaska, Maine and Nebraska have passed laws requiring labeling of GMOs and at least fifteen states have offered legislation that would require similar labeling;
The biological and physical movement of material derived from genetically engineered crops is difficult and sometimes impossible to control or recall;
Many domestic and global food markets demand foods with zero or near-zero levels of material derived from genetically modified organisms;
Genetically modified crops have been found to contaminate conventional (non-GMO) and organic farms, threatening farmersâ€™ livelihoods, and affecting critical food supply, and imposing a significant financial burden on farmers seeking to satisfy markets for GMO-free products;
RESOLVED: The Monsanto board shall prepare a report, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, assessing any material financial risks or operational potential impacts on the Company with:
- Seed contamination, including costs of seed replacement, crop and production losses and clean up, decontamination and continued testing of affected seeds;
- Ongoing buffer zone control, including production acreage losses and on-going maintenance required to secure or maintain access to contamination-sensitive markets;
- Crop, production, and post-harvest losses and associated costs of market rejections, including temporary or permanent market losses resulting from GMO contamination;
- Loss of organic or other third-party certification due to GMO contamination and any costs associated with additional record-keeping, testing or surveillance required to regain certification or retain certification on impacted operations;
- Well water testing and/or groundwater cleanup contamination if found;
- Removal and destruction of contaminated GMO plants;
- Pollinator losses and related damages, e.g. to non-target organisms;
- Soil contamination and on-going related mitigation and remediation costs; and
- Damage to farmersâ€™ reputation, livelihood, and standing in the community.
The report shall also discuss the impact of such a policy regarding such issues and related public policies on our customers and consumers, and shall be available by July 1, 2013.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS A VOTE â€œAGAINSTâ€ THE FOREGOING PROPOSAL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
Disclosure of material financial risks or operational impacts on the company is required by SEC reporting requirements and we take seriously our responsibility to identify, analyze and transparently report such risks or potential impacts. Existing processes and procedures are in place that are intended to ensure compliance with SEC disclosure requirements relating to the topics raised by the proponent. An additional report to restate such risks or impacts as suggested in the proposal would be redundant and provide no meaningful additional information to shareowners.
We are committed to the practice of product stewardship which includes careful attention to coexistence and identity preservation. More details are available on our website at https://www.monsanto.com/ourcommitments/Pages/product-stewardship.aspx  For example,
- Our Technology Use Guide, which is updated annually, distributed to our customers and posted on our website, provides information specifically about coexistence and identity preservation to our customers, including general instructions for management of mechanical mixing and pollen flow.
- We engage in robust, ongoing dialogue with the seed trade, agricultural value chain and academic community to address the complex subject areas encompassed by the shareowner proposal in a manner consistent with best industry practice. These are routinely discussed in these settings and are well known to the company individuals responsible for identifying and reporting material risks and potential impacts.
- Monsanto is a founding member of â€œExcellence Through Stewardship,â€ the agricultural biotechnology industryâ€™s global initiative for advancing best practices in stewardship and quality management. As a member, Monsanto is subject to regular global compliance audits to ensure best practices are being followed. See https://www.excellencethroughstewardship.org/  for more information about this initiative.
Constructive coexistence among diverse segments of agriculture is well established and practiced. It is commonplace to find different agricultural production methods working effectively side by side based on well established practices and a long, successful history in agriculture. Careful management of these production methods is in the interest of all concerned – our company, our customers, the value chain and consumers.
- Farmers and seed companies rely on standards and best practices in seed and grain production, harvest, handling and transportation to support production, distribution and trade of products from different agricultural systems. This is essential to preserve the identity of products to meet market specifications. Examples of identity preserved production include certified seed, specialty oil or protein crops, and crops that meet commercial contract specifications such as organic and non-genetically enhanced specifications.
- Based on historical experience generally accepted agricultural practices to manage production to meet quality specifications have been established. Among these practices are appropriate seed sourcing, field management, storage and handling practices. This array of agricultural planning tools and practices maintains product integrity and quality specifications.
A mosaic of agricultural production systems must be preserved to enable farmer choice and meet global productivity needs. Drought in several major agricultural production regions in 2011 and 2012 is a vivid reminder of the challenges facing agricultural production and food security. Monsanto believes farmers should have the freedom to choose the production method best suited for their environments, markets and needs, whether organic, non-GM conventional, or products improved through biotechnology. All of the agricultural systems can and do work effectively side by side and contribute to the varied needs of different farmers, markets and consumers and meeting the demands of a growing population.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS
A VOTE â€œAGAINSTâ€
THIS SHAREOWNER PROPOSAL
AND YOUR PROXY WILL BE SO VOTED IF THE PROPOSAL IS PRESENTED
UNLESS YOU SPECIFY OTHERWISE
 Information contained on this website is for informational purposes only and is not incorporated by reference into this proxy statement.
Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Posted: October 1st, 2012 | Filed under: Press | Tags: Atrazine, bacillus thuringiensis, bacteria, Belt Road, Big Island, Big Island Dairy, BT, Bt toxin, Cows, DNA, Dominic Yagong, Dominique Cellier, Dr. James Brubaker, Dr. Robert Kremer, Eden Peart, elephant grass, European Journal of Agronomy, FranÃ§ois Roullier, Genetic Roulette, Gilles-Eric SÃ©ralinis, Glyphosate, GM Corn, GM Crops, GM papaya, GMO Free Hawaii, grain, Hamakua, Hawaii, HI, Hilo, Honokaa People's Theater, Institute for Responsible Technology, JoÃ«l Spiroux de VendÃ´mois, kalo, Kauai, Kona Coffee, livestock, Loeffler Farms, Milk, Nancy Redfeather, Non-GMO, Ookala, papaya, Pepeâ€˜ekeo, Pioneer Hi-Bred, pollen, Puna, RoundUp, scientists, Scott Enright, Silage, Soil, Steve Whitesides, studies, sweet corn, Toxic, toxicity, University of Hawaii at Manoa |
By Alan D. McNarie, October 1, 2012 – The Big Island Chronicle
There’s a new crop growing in Oâ€˜okala and Pepeâ€˜ekeo on the North Hilo/Hamakua coastâ€”well, a new crop for the Big Island, anyway. Big Island Dairy, formerly Island Dairy, has planted field corn in Oâ€˜okala and Pepeâ€˜ekeâ€˜o to help feed its cows. The corn will be fed as ensilageâ€”â€œsilageâ€ as most farmers call it: green stalks that are cut, chopped and stored in a low-oxygen environment so that they ferment in a process similar to the making of sauerkraut. The silage is one solution to a problem that plagues all livestock farmers in Hawaiâ€˜i: the high cost of imported feed. Since the islands grow little grain, farmers are forced to rely on Matson and Young Brothers to bring in feed from outside, often at ruinous prices. The home-grown silage could be a major aid in the survival of one of the state’s only two remaining dairies.
But the new crop has still become a matter of concern for some local residents and farmers, because of one fact: Big Island Dairy is growing genetically modified corn.
The corn was already in the ground when the dairy was recently purchased by Steve Whitesides, who also runs Whitesides Dairy in Rupert, Idaho. But the reason that the GM varieties were planted, Whitesides says, is simple: â€œThe way crops grow there, if you don’t have something planted that can control the weeds, they can overtake it.â€
Whitesides didn’t specify what varieties of corn were being grown, but given that weed control is the object, the corn is probably one or more of Monsanto’s â€œRoundup Readyâ€ varieties. Monsanto has long touted both the GM corn and the herbicide Roundup, which is also makes, as safe. But in recent years, some studies have begun to challenge that assumption. And the company has drawn fire for its heavy-handed tactics in dealing with farmersâ€”it’s sued farmers, for instance, for patent infringement when pollen from GM crops drifted into non-GM farmer’s fields. The company has also been accused of tampering with science and with the agencies that regulate it.
GM crops have generated negative publicity in the islands, as well. Pioneer Hi-Bred, for instance, is currently battling lawsuits filed by two groups of plaintiffsâ€”one suit represents over 200 peopleâ€”who claim that the company has not controlled spray drift and pesticide-contaminated dust from its GM test crop sites on Kauai. Some farmers and residents in Puna are still smarting from the state’s oft-bungled handling of GM papayas, originally developed by Cornell and UH-Manoa to fight papaya ringspot virus; small farmers claimed that the state’s â€œquarantine zonesâ€ set up to create a â€œsea of GM papayas,â€ isolating and protecting a few fields of non-GMO papaya for the Japanese market, discriminated against small farmers in favor of a few large export companies; organic farmers complained that their papayas have been contaminated that pollen drift from GM fields, and the GM papayas, though resistant to ringspot, have proved especially vulnerable to a fungal disease, forcing some farmers to periodically abandon their fields anyway. Native Hawaiians have taken offense at attempts to create GM versions of their beloved kalo, and Kona Coffee farmers have resisted attempts to introduce GM coffee.
That resentment boiled to a head in Honokaâ€˜a on September 17, when a group called GMO-Free Hawaiâ€˜i sponsored a rally and reggae concert at the Honokaâ€˜a People’s theater. The main target was Monsantoâ€”the event was part of a world-wide â€œOccupy Monsanto Dayâ€â€”but Big Island Dairy got some attention, too. Councilman Dominic Yagong introduced Scott Enright, the state Agriculture Department official who said he’d been â€œCharged by the Governor to assist Big Island Dairy.â€
â€œHe [Whitesides] is looking for varieties that will do well here,â€ said Enright. â€œHe’s going to be doing his best to grow corn conventionally.â€
But that clearly wasn’t enough assurance for the crowd. GMO-Free Hawaiâ€˜i spokesperson Eden Peart noted that the Hamakua Agricultural Plan â€œprohibitsâ€ GM crops in the district (Actually, it doesn’t prohibit them outright, but it does call for a moratorium on those crops until their possible impacts could be better assessed.)
â€œIf there’s still GMO grown here, blowing pollen in the wind, that is a concern for us,â€ she said, and announced that protestors would be demonstrating along the Belt Road beside one of the dairy’s O’okala fields on Friday, September 21.
Yagong, in whose district the corn is growing, told Big Island Chronicle he shared some of the community’s concerns about GMOs with Whitesides.
Yagong had already approached Whitesides about the issue. In addition to the kalo and coffee controversies, he told the Chronicle, he had â€œShared that in the leasing of [county owned] Hamakua lands, one of the conditions for leasing was no planting of GMO crops on county lands.â€ Yagong noted that the county’s farm lands and Island Dairy’s Oâ€˜okala corn fields were â€œpractically neighbors.â€ Yagong said Whitesides would â€œstrongly consider the community’s recommendationsâ€ but â€œfell short of saying that they wouldn’t grow GMO corn.â€
Whitesides’ response to the Chronicle was similar. He made no commitment to replace the GMO corn with conventional varieties. But he did say his company planned to experiment with conventional varieties to â€œsee if they could be grown at a cost that would still keep the dairy’s output competitive with mainland milk. â€œ
He noted that 80 t0 90 percent of all corn grown in the U.S., now, was genetically modified. Even if his company did continue to grow GM corn, he said, â€œThe product that’s coming over here from the mainland is GMO, so what’s the difference?â€
How much of a difference genetically modified corn makes is very much a matter of debate. Dr. James Brubaker, the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s acknowledged authority on corn, maintains that the GM corn is perfectly safe; that the only difference between it an conventional corn was â€œA little piece of DNA which is very benign and only affects weeds.â€ He compared GMO opponents to the Creationist movement. â€œThis is the scientific ignorance that we do face in the state of Hawaiâ€˜i,â€ he told BIC. â€œWe don’t come equipped with a realistic appraisal of the achievements of science, so we’re frightened of anything scientific.â€ He noted that around a thousand scientific papers a year are devoted to GMOs, and that nearly a billion acres of GM corn had been raised: â€œWe know that these are incredibly safe.â€
The problem is that not all of science is in agreement with Brubaker’s assessmentâ€”and that scientific papers critical of GMOs find an instant and persistent world-wide audience. The Web is awash with stories and blogs citing those articles, but often with no direct documentation or links, and often at Web sites that make no pretense of being unbiasedâ€”sites with names like treehugger.com and naturalnews.com. A site called responsibletechnology.org,, for instance, which proclaims itself â€œthe most comprehensive source of GMO health risk information on the Web,â€ ran an article entitled â€œ65 Health Risks from GMO food,â€ with factoids such as â€œMore than 20 farmers in North America report that pigs fed GM corn varieties had low conception rates, false pregnancies or gave birth to bags of water.â€ But the story gives no links or sources for any of its allegations.
Many of those factoids flying around the Web, however, are based on actual scientific articles that do seem to raise some basis for concern. In 2009, for instance, the International Journal of Biological Sciences published an article entitled â€œA Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health â€œ by JoÃ«l Spiroux de VendÃ´mois, FranÃ§ois Roullier, Dominique Cellier, Gilles-Eric SÃ©ralinis, four well-credentialed scientists from French universities. The study fed three varieties of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, including one of the Roundup Ready varieties and two containing genes from a bacteria, bacillus thuringiensis (BT), that is used as a natural insecticide. The French scientists found that rats fed the corn suffered from various symptoms, including higher liver and kidney toxicity levels and enlarged spleens and hearts.
â€œOur data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity,â€ concluded the article, which called for longer term studies of the three varieties.
But Brubaker said that there were already studies out refuting the French study. â€œ[With] almost any report of that sort, you can be assured there will be immediately responding research studies to validate or invalidate it,â€ he noted.
There have also been scientific studies that questioned the safety of Roundup itselfâ€”and scientists who’ve gone public about their concerns. One of them is Dr. Robert Kremer of the University of Missouriâ€”Monsanto’s home stateâ€”who has done extensive studies of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, since 1997. Glyphosate doesn’t kill weeds directly; it inhibits their ability to absorb certain nutrients, making them fatally susceptible to naturally occurring bacteria and fungi. As it turns out, Kremer discovered, glyphosate also makes crops more susceptible to diseases such as fusarium and to the toxins they produce, which can also affect animals and humans who consume those crops. And it can be toxic to some beneficial bacteria, including the ones that live in the roots of soybeans and other legumes and â€œfixâ€ nitrogen in the soilâ€”a vital function for maintaining soil fertility. Glyphosate, Kremer concluded, â€œis altering the whole soil biology.â€
Kremer is not alone. In a 2009 article in the European Journal of Agronomy, Don Huber, emeritus professor of plant pathology at Purdue University, and Purdue botanist G. S. Johal, warned that widespread glyphosate use could â€œsignificantly increase the severity of various plant diseases, impair plant defense to pathogens and diseases, and immobilize soil and plant nutrients rendering them unavailable for plant use.â€ Huber has also approached the USDA with concerns about a previously unknown microorganism that has appeared in GM-based animal feeds and appears to be linked to an epidemic of livestock infertility and miscarriages.
An interviewer at the Web site nongmoreport.com asked Kremer if glyphosate was environmentally benign.
â€œAbsolutely not,â€ he replied. â€œGlyphosate is the single most important agronomic factor predisposing some plants to both disease and toxins. These toxins can produce a serious impact on the health of animals and humansâ€¦. Toxins produced can infect the roots and head of the plant and be transferred to the rest of the plant. The toxin levels in straw can be high enough to make cattle and pigs infertile.â€
Huber was among the many scientists, including agronomists, plant pathologists, veterinarians, nutritionists, pediatricians and medical doctors, featured in the documentary â€œGenetic Roulette,â€ which screened at the Honokaâ€˜a rally before the musicians came on. Those researchers raised a host of apparent human and animal health problems, from infertility to cancer. The scientists also brought up problems in humans exposed to the GM crops/and or Roundup.
Some of the scientists also talked about pressure exerted on them, up to and including firing, by Monsanto, public officials and their peers. One Oregon researcher, for instance, talked about releasing a study critical of GMOs, then getting a call from the former president of her university, questioning whether she â€œbelongedâ€ at the school.
Caught in the crossfire of these scientific barrages and counter-barrages are companies like Big Island Dairy, who just want to give their corn a fighting chance against weeds such as elephant grass, which can quickly grow much higher than the corn.
â€œThe weeds that we have are entirely different for the middle of IA, and they grow much more aggressively,â€ notes Brubaker, who also points out that some of those weeds themselves contain toxins that can harm cattle.
There are, in fact, non-GM varieties of corn bred specifically for Hawaiiâ€”Brubaker himself developed some of themâ€”and it is possible to raise non-GM corn on the North Hilo/Hamakua Coast. Brubaker notes that Loeffler Farms, for instance, grows one of his conventional sweet corn varieties on that coast. But according to Brubaker, even the conventional corn may require chemical assistance from pesticides such as Atrazine, which have their own environmental consequences; they may get into groundwater if improperly applied, so they must be applied by a state-certified specialistâ€”an additional cost for the farmer.
How the GM corn could affect those existing sweet corn crops is another issue. Corn for silage is cut green, but after the corn has tasseledâ€”which means that pollen from it could get to other plants.
â€œThat corn can cross with people’s sweet corn, and do people want those genes in their corn? Probably not,â€ local natural farming advocate Nancy Redfeather told BIC. She noted that bees carrying pollen could travel up to seven miles a day.
But aside from the dairy, GM corn is already on Hawaiâ€˜i Island, in thousands of food products imported daily. If you drink non-organic milk, whether it’s from the mainland or it’s from local cows fed with imported feed, you’re probably drinking milk from cows that have eaten GMOs. The only possible change would be if Island Dairy managed to grow conventional corn.
That’s the outcome Yagong hopes for. He notes that the number of dairies in the state has now shrunk from 24 to two, and he thinks it’s important to support the two that remain.
â€œI think that would make a lot of people very, very happy and may even distinguish his product further if they knew that the milk was GMO free and fed from conventional corn,â€ he says.
Source: Big Island Chronicle