Page 1, 2
One of the most massive GMO failures, spanning a decade, has been the deplorable collapse of the introduction of GM corn in the Philippines. The decimation of Filipino corn farmers came to world attention following the release of the film Ten Years of Failure, which follows the lives of farmers whose families fell into debt and poverty after the introduction of GM corn by the Philippine government in cooperation with the US government and Monsanto.17 Intent on avoiding a similar fate for Brazilian corn farmers, a Brazilian court banned the release of Bayer's GM corn. The ruling now establishes a new precedent that will make the approval of future GMOs in that country more difficult.18 And China's recent rejection of GMO corn importation has agrogiants further worried as one of their largest potential markets takes a step back to reevaluate the safety and environmental impact of GMOs.
An association between the rapid demise of bee populations and the neonicotinoid class of pesticides has already been proved in the scientific literature. European nations are now banning the use of neonicotinoids to protect domestic bee and other pollinator populations. Recent studies reveal that Monsanto's Roundup herbicide is likewise contributing to the decline of honeybee populations. During the first week of August 2014, Mexican beekeepers in the state of Yucatan won a victory to halt Monsanto's plans to plant thousands of acres of Roundup Ready soybeans. After a careful review of the science, a Mexican judge ruled that GMO soy agriculture is an economic threat and incompatible with the state's honey production, home to 25,000 families involved in producing 40% of Mexico's honey exports. The ruling is having a ripple effect across other Mexican states involved in honey production.19
Big Ag's only response to the failures of its genetic experimentation has been to increase the development of new GM seeds to compensate for the failures of the old ones. In addition to genetically engineering seeds to withstand ever higher levels of pesticides, new traits are being genetically engineered to withstand other toxic chemicals. In the US, millions of acres of farmland growing GM corn, cotton, and soy are experiencing invasions of super-weeds resistant to pesticide overuse. As pesticide use increases, soil quality is further depleted and yield per acre drops dramatically. The economic costs to farmers are becoming unsustainable as expenditures to fight pests and weeds increase and harvests diminish. A recent trend among farmers to revert to traditional or organic methods is gradually taking hold. This aligns well with the last UN Commission on Trade and Development report warning against corporate-dominated monoculture farming methods and promoting farm diversity and small-scale organic farming as the most sustainable way to feed the world's population.20
Aside from glyphosate, other pesticides are being genetically engineered into new lines of GM seeds. New varieties of GM cotton and soy are in Monsanto's pipeline and will likely pass with minimal review through the USDA and FDA. These new GM strains now include resistant genes to the pesticide dicamba. In addition to glyphosate's long list of human health risks, dicamba, a known neurotoxin, has been linked to adverse reproductive and mental development effects. Against strong public opposition, the US government will also likely approve Dow Agroscience's new Enlist corn and soy strains, a toxic cocktail of glyphosate and the herbicide 2-4 D, best known as a major toxic ingredient in Agent Orange that "has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage and birth and developmental effects."21 Agent Orange contamination has resulted in genetic abnormalities and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Its use as a bioweapon in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos is a sad reminder of the extremes that the US is willing to take at the cost of innocent lives to reach its foreign-policy objectives. And now, out of desperation to preserve agrochemical agriculture and the GM corporations' revenues, the US government will resurrect one of the most toxic agrochemicals known and introduce it into America's food supply.
American acceptance of GMOs has been based upon the unproven hypothesis of "substantial equivalence" for over two decades. This ruling by the USDA during the early years of the Clinton administration gave GM seed companies a free pass to avoid submitting evidence proving GM food safety. Since the ruling claims that GMOs are identical to non-GMOs, no compliance of safety regulations would apply. Therefore Big Ag firms do not have to worry over strict regulatory hurdles, which apply to other products such as pharmaceutical drugs, processed foods, pesticides, cosmetics, and chemical additives. However, a recent flurry of research is now showing that "substantial equivalence" is patently false. Alexandria University in Egypt, the Permaculture Research Institute, and the Norwegian Center for Biosafety each found GMO crops to be fundamentally different from their natural counterpart. In addition, new studies are also showing that nutrient levels in traditional and organically raised crops are substantially higher than GM varieties.
Aside from the scientific evidence and popular blowback condemning GMOs, the agrochemical industry is facing other challenges. If the US government cannot assume a leading role in the endeavor to save American agriculture from a major systemic collapse, nor support the agricultural sustainability and food security in other regions of the world, perhaps other nations will.
In recent months, Russia has assumed an international leadership role to confront the remaining uncertainties in the debate over GMO safety. Russia has already placed a 3-year moratorium ban on GMO imports. Prime Minister Medvedev is on record stating that Russia can be "self sufficient" with only organic farming. The government is now requesting that the UN General Assembly create an international GMO watchdog organization to monitor Big Agriculture's activities to influence other nations to accept GM seeds and support independent research into the long-term impacts of GMOs. Unlike the US, the Russian government values the voice of its people, with over 75% of Russians preferring organic produce.22 On the other hand, over 90% of Americans support GMO labeling, yet Washington prefers to protect corporate interests.
However, the most important initiative that Russia plans to undertake is the creation of an international and independent team of researchers from the US, UK, France, China, and Russia to conduct long-term studies to determine once and for all GMO risks to human health, and whether or not GMO crops might be used as genetically engineered bioweapons to destroy ecosystems and threaten the lives of populations. The project is being launched by a Russian NGO, Genetic Safety Public Association, after it noted that a 2004 meeting of the NATO Committee on the Challenges to Modern Society discussed the topic of GMOs' potential use as "genetic weapons." If properly funded, this would be the most thorough international effort, without support from Big Ag corporations, to provide transparent, publicly available data to settle the question over GM safety.23
In conclusion, the good news is that GMO propaganda is increasingly being exposed as fallacious. As time passes, more and more research will inevitably emerge to further damn Monsanto and the GM experiment. It is only a matter of time before the false promises of GMOs will be exposed as orchestrated by Big Ag and the US government to control the world's food supply.
This is not to suggest that GM foods will disappear. Rather, we can expect an increase in a new volley of propaganda coming from private industry and the US government claiming GM industrial agriculture is an urgent solution to combat climate change and global warming, a global threat worrying national economies throughout the world. We can expect to hear more scientific denialism and junk science promulgated by the White House, the small gangs of scientific determinists funded by Big Ag and the pharmaceutical industry, and major media presstitutes. We can expect to hear ever wilder and more irrational claims about how GMO-based agriculture might reduce CO2 greenhouse pollution and save humanity. In fact this was Secretary of State John Kerry's recent drivel at the US-African Leaders Summit in August 2014, urging African nations to "concentrate on existing farmlands to make them more productive" rather than expanding and developing new lands for agriculture. Kerry, who has repeatedly proved to be a worthy successor to Monsanto's former mouthpiece Hillary Clinton, frequently regurgitates Monsanto propaganda during his foreign policy circus road shows. And expect new trade agreements, written by corporations such as Monsanto, to be rammed through the international community by the US and its allies that espouse the Washington Consensus to enforce international acceptance of GMOs.
In short, out of desperation to reach global food dominance, the agrochemical industry and the US government will be declaring a full food war against the peoples of the world.
1. Ritterman J. One little piggy had birth defects: is Monsanto's Roundup to blame? [online article]. Truthout.org. August 8, 2014.
2. Krüger M, Schrödl W, Pedersen I, Shehata AA. Detection of glyphosate in malformed piglets. J Environ Anal Toxicol. 2014;4:5. Available at http://omicsonline.org/open-access/detection-of-glyphosate-in-malformed-piglets-2161-0525.1000230.pdf.
3. Antoniou M, Fagan J, Robinson C. GMO myths and truths: an evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops. Earth Open Source. June 2012 p. 66
4. Roundup, an herbicide, could be linked to Parkinson's, cancer and other health issues, study shows. Reuters. April 25, 2013.
5. Wang G, Fan X-N, Tan Y-Y, Cheng Q, Chen S-D. Parkinsonism after chronic occupational exposure to glyphosate. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2011 Jul;17(6):486–487. Epub 2011 Mar 2.
6. Paganelli A, Gnazzo V, Acosta H, López SL, Carrasco AE. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signaling Chem Res Toxicol. 2010;23(10):1586–1595.
7. Jayasuman C, Gunatilake S, Senanayake P. Glyphosate, hard water and nephrotoxic metals: are they the culprits behind the epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology in Sri Lanka? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(2):2125–2147.
8. Aranda D. Cancer danger in the GMO fields. Página/12. June 23, 2014.
9. Male infertility [Web page]. American Pregnancy Association. http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility/maleinfertility.html.
10. Robinson C. Republication of the Seralini study: science speaks for itself [online article]. GMOSeralini.org. June 24, 2014 http://www.gmoseralini.org/republication-seralini-study-science-speaks.
11. Roseboro K. Biotech's assault on balanced journalism [online article]. Huffington Post. June 4, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-roseboro/biotechs-assault-on-balan_b_5432699.html.
12. Soja intacta: ABIOVE constata impasse na negociação com a Monsanto [press release]. ABIOVE. 30 July 2014. http://www.abiove.org.br/site/_FILES/Portugues/30072014-154637-30_07_2014_release_soja_intacta.pdf.
13. Guardian newspaper report admits widespread failure of GM Bt brinjal [online article]. GMWatch. June 5, 2014.
14. Fulton D. Brazilian farmers say GMO corn no longer resistant to bugs [online article]. Common Dreams. 30 July 14.
15. Bhargava PM. US is trying to control our food production. Hindustan Times. August 7, 2014. Available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/analysis/us-is-trying-to-control-our-food-production/article1-1249456.aspx.
16. Karnataka bans Mahyco's cotton seeds [online article]. Business Standard. March 28, 2014.
17. Ten years of failure: farmers deceived by GM corn [online article]. MASIPAG.org. October 16, 2013.
18. In historic ruling, Brazilian court prevents the release of transgenic corn from Bayer [online article]. Terra de Direitos. March 13, 2014.
19. Sweet victory for Mexico beekeepers as Monsanto loses GM permit. Guardian. August 8, 2014. Available at http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/aug/08/sweet-victory-beekeepers-monsanto-gm-soybeans.
20. Meyer N. UN report says small scale organic farming only way to feed the world [online article]. Technology Water. December 14, 2013 http://www.technologywater.com/post/69995394390/un-report-says-small-scale-organic-farming-only-way-to.
21. New wave of herbicide-tolerant crops awaiting likely U.S. approval [online press release]. eNews Park Forest. August 8, 2014. http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54647-new-wave-of-herbicide-tolerant-crops-awaiting-likely-u-s-approval.html.
22. World needs UN GMO watchdog – Russia [online article]. RT. June 5, 2014 http://rt.com/news/163852-russia-un-gmo-watchdog.
23. Sarich C. Russian activists conduct independent studies proving GMOs could be genetic weapons. Nat Soc. 2014.
Richard Gale is the executive producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former senior research analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries. Gary Null, PhD, is the host of the nation's longest-running public radio program on nutrition and natural health and a multi-award-winning director of progressive documentary films, including Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, which is available for free viewing at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUd9rRSLY4A#t=24.