Booted Out of Germany - the Ignorance that Could Destroy Your Health
Posted By Dr. Mercola | March 20 2012 |
By Dr. Mercola
In Germany, massive resistance to genetically engineered (GE) foods, both among politicians and the general public, has caused chemical giant BASF to close its German biotech division.
European opponents of GE foods are jubilant.
A reported 75 percent of Germans oppose genetically engineered foods, and few politicians are in favor of genetic technology.
Over there, opposed to the US, it's actually politicallyrisky to support it!
This explains why BASF is moving its genetically modified (GM) plant science headquarters from Germany to Raleigh, North Carolina...
According to Farmers Weeklyi:
"BASF will transfer some GM crop development to the US but stop work on crops targeted at the European market—four varieties of potato and one of wheat.
The decision, which involves a net loss of 140 highly skilled jobs in Europe, also signals the end of GM crop development for European farmers.
Bayer CropScience, BASF's German competitor, is working on GM cotton and rice in Ghent, Belgium—but not for European markets.
"There is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe—[by] the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians," said Stefan Marcinowski, a member of BASF's board of directors.
"Therefore, it does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market." The company instead plans to focus on plant biotechnology markets in the Americas and Asia."
Majority of Common Crops Grown in United States are Genetically Engineered!
Folks, this is exactly why we must demand labeling for genetically engineered foods in the US! The general lack of awareness about genetically engineered foods has allowed biotech giants like Monsanto to dominate large portions of the market in the U.S., and the lack of labeling has greatly helped keep people in the dark about what's really in their food.
"Acceptance" of genetically engineered foods is actually NOT high in the US. It only appears that way because Monsanto has managed to infiltrate the very agencies tasked with regulating them, and are doing everything in their power to prevent any action that might impede their market growth. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of Americans polled say they would avoid buying foods with genetically engineered ingredients, if they knew which foods contained them—which of course is KEY to getting rid of them. It's important to realize that at this point, the vast majority of common food crops grown in the US are already genetically engineeredii, including:
- 94 percent of all soybeans
- 93 percent of canolaiii
- 93 percent of cottonseed oiliv
- 72 percent of all corn
- Approximately 25 percent of all milk and yoghurt contain genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)v
(Between 2008 and 2009, 95 percent of all sugarbeet acres were also planted with Roundup Ready technology. However, in early 2010, a court ruled to prohibit further planting, cultivation, processing, or other use of Genuity® Roundup Ready® sugarbeets until an environmental impact statement has been completed. The EIS is not anticipated to be completed until 2013, so the future of GE sugarbeets still remains to be seen.)
What all of this means is that virtually every processed food you encounter at your local supermarket that does not bear the "100% USDA Organic" label is likely to contain at least one GE component—corn (most commonly in the form of corn syrup), canola or cottonseed oil, and any kind of soy or soy derivative, and potentially anything containing sugar from sugarbeet too...
Germany Still Worries about Contamination from Genetically Engineered Imports
Last year, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) also deregulated genetically engineered alfalfa in the U.S., which is a perennial crop commonly used in cattle feed. This will undoubtedly end up contaminating even organic animal products as alfalfa is a perennial crop that can easily spread and end up in organic alfalfa fields...
In the video above, Germany expresses similar concerns, stating there's already a huge problem with contaminated animal products. Milk, meat, and eggs get contaminated by imported feed containing genetically engineered components. While GE feed is not allowed, the GE content is oftentimes not reported on the label, and therefore ends up being used unwittingly. There, they have realized that coexistence does not work. It cannot work, because gene technology completely takes over. This then makes it impossible to grow organics... a fact that American regulators have still refused to acknowledge or accept.
Most of Europe Breaking Free of Biotech Threat
Last year, Mexico denied Monsanto's request to expand a pilot planting project in the northern part of the country for fear that the genetically modified variety might cross-contaminate with other native species, which are crucial to Mexico. As explained by GMwatch.orgvi:
"Diversity is important because each strain has not only a distinct look and flavor, but also certain characteristics that make it more likely to survive in given conditions. If only one type of corn existed, it would not be able to be grown in all parts of Mexico, as each part has differing temperature and rainfall."
A couple of months later, in March of last year, Hungary introduced a new regulation stating all seeds must be tested for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before being accepted into the Hungarian market. When GE seeds were found to have been inadvertently planted, it led to the destruction of nearly 1,000 acres of maize, to prevent cross-contamination to other fields.
But cross-contamination and destruction of biodiversity is not the only threat posed by genetically engineered crops. Both the altered plant itself and the herbicides used on them have been shown to pose profound risks to environmental, animal, and human health.
GE-Triggered Superweeds and Superpests
When the land is doused with a single herbicide for years on end, the ecosystem adapts. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, and has been used in massive quantities on all Roundup-ready crops since their inception. As a result, glyphosate-resistant "superweeds" are getting out of control, driving out their non-resistant counterparts.
An estimated 130 different types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states and 15 million acres are now resistant to the herbicide, and thesesuperweeds are spreading at a rapid pace. Extremely hardy Roundup-resistant weeds are now boosting costs and cutting crop yields for farmers across the United States. Compounding the problem is that farmers are resorting to ever higher amounts of herbicides and more toxic varieties in an effort to keep these superweeds in check, but all that does is create ever increasing resistance.
The same goes for crops genetically engineered to control certain pests, such as the Bt cotton sold under the trade name "Bollgard" in India. It was designed to control the Bollworm, but today, the insect has become resistant to the Bt cotton.
Bt crops appear particularly prone to create "super pests" as they contain added genes for Bt toxins that allow the plants to produce their own insecticides. (This Bt toxin, by the way, has now been found circulating in the blood of pregnant women and fetuses.) Because the plants release the toxin continuously, pests can evolve resistance to it. Making matters worse, other beneficial insects like bees and Monarch butterflies may be negatively impacted by the massive use of toxic chemicals.
Potential Health Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods
Last but certainly not least are the many potential hazards to animal and human health. Although Monsanto, the world leader in GE seeds, insists that genetically engineered foods are no different from conventional varieties, the research tells of a different reality. Here is just a sampling of the unsavory findings associated with GM foods:
GM peas caused lung damage in mice Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce GM potatoes may cause cancer in rats Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells Bacteria in your gut can take up DNA from GM food The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning GM foods lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, specifically the kidney, liver, heart and spleen Several U.S. farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties Bt corn caused a wide variety of immune responses in mice, commonly associated with diseases such as arthritis, Lou Gehrig's disease, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products
Why We MUST Insist on Mandatory Labeling of GM Foods
Mandatory labeling may be the only way to stop the proliferation of genetically engineered foods in the U.S. because while biotech giants like BASF and Monsanto are being driven out of most parts of Europe, many U.S. states are actually passing legislation thatprotects the use of genetically engineered seeds and allows for unabated expansion! At present, no less than 14 states have passed such legislation. Michigan's Senate Bill 777vii, if passed, would make that 15. The Michigan bill would prevent anti-GMO laws, and would remove "any authority local governments may have to adopt and enforce ordinances that prohibit or regulate the labeling, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, use, or planting of agricultural, vegetable, flower or forest tree seeds."
While legislation like this sounds like crazy nonsense to most people, such bills are essentially bought and paid for through the millions of dollars Monsanto and other biotech companies spend lobbying the U.S. government each year. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government -- a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter.
As mentioned earlier, their efforts of persuasion are clearly made infinitely easier by the fact that an ever growing list of former Monsanto employees are now in positions of power within the federal government.
Proof Positive that GMO Labeling WILL Change the Food Industry
Many don't fully appreciate the strategy of seeking to have genetically engineered foods labeled in California. The belief is that large companies would refuse to have dual labeling; one for California and another for the rest of the country. It would be very expensive and a logistical nightmare. So rather than have two labels, they would simply not carry the product, especially if the new label would be the equivalent of a skull and crossbones. This is why we are so committed to this initiative as victory here will likely eliminate genetically engineered foods from the US.
Powerful confirmation of this belief occurred in early 2012 when both Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo Inc. chose to alter one of their soda ingredients as a result of California's labeling requirements for carcinogensviii:
"Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are changing the way they make the caramel coloring used in their sodas as a result of a California law that mandates drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens bear a cancer warning label. The companies said the changes will be expanded nationally to streamline their manufacturing processes. They've already been made for drinks sold in California."
This is a PERFECT example of the national impact a California GMO labeling mandate can, and no doubt WILL, have. While California is the only state requiring the label to state that the product contains the offending ingredient, these companies are switching their formula for the entire U.S. market, rather than have two different labels. According to USA Today:
"A representative for Coca-Cola, Diana Garza Ciarlante, said the company directed its caramel suppliers to modify their manufacturing processes to reduce the levels of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, which can be formed during the cooking process and as a result may be found in trace amounts in many foods. "While we believe that there is no public health risk that justifies any such change, we did ask our caramel suppliers to take this step so that our products would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning," Garza-Giarlante said in an email."
Learn More about Genetically Modified (GM) Foods
Due to lack of labeling, many Americans are still unfamiliar with what genetically engineered foods are. We have a plan to change that, and I urge you to participate and to continue learning more about GM foods and helping your friends and family do the same.
Please, print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. You can also download a free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
Your BEST strategy, however, is to simply buy USDA 100% Organic products whenever possible, (as these do not permit GM ingredients) or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers. The majority of the GMO's you're exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you're not inadvertently consuming something laced with GM ingredients. When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.
To learn more about GM foods, I highly recommend the following films and lectures:
Important Action Item: Support California's Ballot Initiative to Label GMO's!
In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to "immediately" require GM labeling if elected. So far, nothing of the sort has transpired.
Fortunately, 24 U.S. states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has been busy organizing just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. The proposed law will be on the 2012 ballot. Michigan and Washington are also starting similar campaignsxi.
Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide. A coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals has submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General. Now, they need 800,000 signatures to get the Act on this year's ballot.
I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S. states, so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!
- Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods.
- Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
- For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- Look for in-depth coverage of the issue at the Institute for Responsible Technology, subscribe to Spilling the Beans, and check out their Facebook or Twitter.
- i Farmers Weekly January 17, 2012
- ii Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S., USDA
- iii http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food#cite_note-20
- iv http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food#cite_note-20
- v Truefoodnow.org February 25, 2010
- vi GMwatch.org
- vii The Michigan Citizen
- viii USA Today March 8, 2012
- ix http://gmolabeling.webs.com/
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