Just when I think things can’t possibly get any worse…

“Iowa State University researchers are putting flu vaccines into the genetic makeup of corn, which may someday allow pigs and humans to get a flu vaccination simply by eating corn or corn products.

“We’re trying to figure out which genes from the swine influenza virus to incorporate into corn so those genes, when expressed, would produce protein,” said Hank Harris, professor in animal science and one of the researchers on the project. “When the pig consumes that corn, it would serve as a vaccine.”

This collaborative effort project involves Mr. Harris and Brad Bosworth, an affiliate associate professor of animal science working with pigs, and Kan Wang, a professor in agronomy, who is developing the vaccine traits in the corn.

According to the researchers, the corn vaccine would also work in humans when they eat corn or even corn flakes, corn chips, tortillas or anything that contains corn, Mr. Harris said. The research is funded by a grant from Iowa State University’s Plant Sciences Institute, and is their Biopharmaceuticals and Bioindustrials Research Initiative. Read the rest of this entry »

For years, the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields.

That promise has proven to be empty, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields.

“The biotech industry has spent billions on research and public relations hype, but genetically engineered food and feed crops haven’t enabled American farmers to grow significantly more crops per acre of land,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, a biologist in the UCS Food and Environment Program and author of the report. “In comparison, traditional breeding continues to deliver better results.”

The report, “Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops,” is the first to closely evaluate the overall effect genetic engineering has had on crop yields in relation to other agricultural technologies. It reviewed two dozen academic studies of corn and soybeans, the two primary genetically engineered food and feed crops grown in the United States. Based on those studies, the UCS report concluded that genetically engineering herbicide-tolerant soybeans and herbicide-tolerant corn has not increased yields. Insect-resistant corn, meanwhile, has improved yields only marginally. The increase in yields for both crops over the last 13 years, the report found, was largely due to traditional breeding or improvements in agricultural practices. Read the rest of this entry »

A new study finds that a botanical drug could provide the key to new treatments for peanut allergies. Lead author Xiu-Min Li, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Center for Chinese Herbal Therapy for Allergy and Asthma at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and colleagues found Food Allergy Herbal Formula (FAHF-2) produced long-term protection following treatment against peanut-induced anaphylaxis in mice. FAHF-2 treatment protected peanut allergic mice from anaphylaxis for more than 36 weeks after treatment was discontinued. This is one-quarter of the mouse lifespan. These findings update previous research done by Dr. Li and her colleagues, where the same drug was shown to be effective for preventing anaphylactic reactions for up to four weeks following treatment.

“Food allergy is a serious and sometimes fatal condition for which there is no cure,” said Dr. Li. “Approximately 80% of fatal or near-fatal anaphylaxis cases are due to peanut allergy in this country. There is an urgent need for effective therapies to prevent and treat those who suffer from food allergies and FAHF-2 could prove to be a major advancement in this field.”

FAHF-2 has received investigational new drug approval of the Food and Drug Administration and currently human clinical trials are being conducted at Mount Sinai to evaluate the safety and early efficacy of FAHF-2 on multiple food allergies including peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish. “This study reinforces previous studies showing that this botanical drug has the potential to be developed into the first available and effective treatment for patients with peanut allergies and other food allergies,” said study co-author Hugh Sampson, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Sampson is also Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute and Dean for Translational Biomedical Science at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

http://www.mountsinai.org/?citype=News&ciid=02092009

monsanto-lobbbying-2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Lobbying Expenditures: $8,831,120

Monsanto CEO Letter to Annual Shareholders

“…In describing our financial results for fiscal 2008, it is very gratifying to repeat a message you have heard for what is now the past five fiscal years: We achieved new records in net sales and net income. …Along the way in 2008, we made several acquisitions that bolster our business across our key crops and complement the organic growth we continue to enjoy. We also garnered meaningful share gains in the United States and Argentina. And we obtained a number of key regulatory approvals for our game-changing technologies that will support our long-term growth. It is against this backdrop that we made the confident yet carefully considered commitment to more than double our 2007 gross profit by 2012 — raised from our previous forecasts…” Hugh Grant, Monsanto President and CEO

In keeping with its commitment to deliver innovations for agriculture, Monsanto Company announced on March 9 that it has completed regulatory submissions in the U.S. and Canada for the world’s first biotech drought-tolerant corn product developed together with Germany-based BASF. The company applied for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval of its drought-tolerant corn product following its submission to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last December.

Monsanto invests more than $2.6 million per day on leading agricultural research.

Money talks.

Sources:
http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.phplname=Monsanto+Co&year=2008
http://www.monsanto.com/investors/financial_reports/annual_report/2008/letter_to_shareholders.asp

http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/ticker/article.aspx?Feed=PR&Date=20090309&ID=9678216&Symbol=MON


HR 875, also being referred to as “Monsanto’s Dream Bill,  is a bill before the House that is says it will “protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.”  Sounds good at first glance but this bill is about more than protecting our food supply, it’s about controlling it.

Believe it or not, Monsanto wants one of their own employees, Mr. Michael Taylor, to be named as Food Safety Tsar in a proposed new Food Safety Administration. (http://www.lavidalocavore.org/showDiary.do?diaryId=1234). This is the man who forced genetically engineered rBGH on us (unlabeled, and without warning) when he was placed over “food safety” in the 90s. HR 875 would give him immense power over what is done on every single farm in the country.

This bill would make it a crime to run seed banks. It would also mandate 24 hour GPS tracking of farm animals and impose industrial standards upon small, private farmers.

Monsanto is already in the business of genetically modifying seeds so that they cannot reproduce. (See Monsanto, the bad seed). Monsanto already controls a huge percentage of the (genetically modified) food production for the entire world.

For more information on HR 875 go to:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-875

While reading through the bill, keep in mind, Rep Rosa Delauro (who introduced this bill) is married to Stanley Greenberg, President of Greenberg-Quinlan Research, Inc., a public issues research and polling firm. “Greenberg has worked with corporate clients including BP, Boeing, Monsanto, Comverse, and United HealthCare.” (http://www.greenbergresearch.com/index.php?ID=403).  A little conflict of interest?

Take one minute and voice your concerns! Go to:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-875 and click on “Ways To Take Action.”
You can also call, email, fax your representatives! Contact your members at 202-224-3121 and ask them to oppose HR 875 and S 425. While you are at it ask them if they personally have read the legislation and what their position is? Let them know you’re holding them accountable.

Scientists have grown genetically-engineered purple tomatoes in an unusual endeavour to promote healthy food.

The tomatoes include two genes taken from the snapdragon flower (Antirrhinum majus) to enable them to express a compound called anthocyanin, the purple pigment found in high levels in fruit such as blackberries and cranberries.

Previous research has found that anthocyanins offer protection against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and degenerative diseases, and may also hinder inflammation, obesity and diabetes.

The study is published online on Sunday by Nature Biotechnology, a journal of the London-based Nature Publishing Group.

Researcher Cathie Martin from the John Innes Centre, a biotechnology institute in Norwich, eastern England, said the point behind the purple toms was to boost the healthiness of diets. Read the rest of this entry »

In a recent poll, 53% of Americans said that they would not eat GM foods – a significant disparity between what consumers in the US want from their food system and what that food system is actually delivering. It also demonstrates a lack of consumer knowledge about the proportion of food in America that contains GM. The majority of this 53% will already be unwittingly consuming GM food every day against their wishes, because GM food is currently not labelled in the US, despite the fact that 87% of Americans believe that it should be.

The US Government’s opposition to telling American consumers that some of their food is GM stems from the greatest coup by the GM companies, which was to ensure no GM food had to be tested for safety. The concept of “substantial equivalence” means that if a GM crop looks like its non-GM equivalent and grows like it, then it is assumed to be the same, and no safety testing is needed before people eat it. GM maize may have added virus and antibiotic resistance genes, and a gene that makes it express an insecticide in every leaf, stem and root – but to the US government it looks and grows like maize, so it is safe to eat.

This has meant that GM foods don’t have to be labelled, and has resulted in widespread ignorance among consumers about the presence of GM in their food. Keeping consumers in the dark has prevented them from making real choices about the food they eat. Without labels the principles of supply and demand are no longer in effect as consumers can’t send a message to farmers and manufacturers about what they do, and don’t, want to eat. Read the rest of this entry »

The FDA is alerting consumers that seven Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products are being recalled by the Taiwanese company, King Car Food Industrial Co. Ltd., due to possible contamination with melamine. King Car Food Industrial Co. used a non-dairy creamer manufactured by Shandong Duqing Inc., China, which was found to be contaminated with melamine.

The recalled products are:

Mr. Brown Mandheling Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Arabica Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Caramel Macchiato Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown French Vanilla Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Mandhling Blend instant Coffee (2-in-1)
Mr. Brown Milk Tea (3-in-1)

The FDA recommends that consumers not consume any of the above Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products. The FDA also recommends that retailers and foodservice operators remove the products from sale or service. Read the rest of this entry »

Behold the featherless chicken, created by Scientists at the genetics faculty at the Rehovot Agronomy Institute near Tel Aviv, Israel. The idea behind the development of this naked bird is that it will create a more ‘convenient’ and energy efficient chicken that can live in crowded environments like factory farms. Not growing feathers saves energy that can be used to grow meat.

Think there’s no way this sad version of a chicken could end up as your next meal? Think again. This past week the FDA opened the way for genetically engineered chickens, salmon, cows, and other fish and animals to move from the laboratory to your dinner table, unveiling an approval process that would classify the modified creatures as drugs. No labels will be required.

“There is no special labeling requirement simply because the animal itself was engineered,” says Randall Lutter, a deputy commissioner for policy.

FDA regulates GE animals under the “new animal drug” provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), FDA’s regulations for new animal drugs. Companies are not required to alert consumers when antibiotics, hormones, or other drugs are used in raising the animals.

The decision does not affect cloned animals or their offspring, which earlier this year were declared safe as a food source by the FDA.

Many experts fear that the proposed regulations do not go far enough to protect and reassure the public. In particular, they argue that the approval process would be highly secretive to protect the commercial interests of the companies involved and that the new rules do not place sufficient weight on the environmental impact of what many consider to be Frankenstein animals. Read the rest of this entry »

The Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth announced that 20 of America’s leading food producers and retailers have stated that they will not use cloned animals in their food.

The companies include Kraft Foods; General Mills; Gerber/Nestle; Campbell Soup Company; Gossner Foods; Smithfield Foods; Ben & Jerry’s; Amy’s Kitchen; California Pizza Kitchen restaurants; Hain Celestial; Cloverland, Oberweis, Prairie, Byrne, Plainview, and Clover-Stornetta Dairies; and grocers PCC Natural Markets, Albertsons, SUPERVALU, and Harris Teeter.

The move by these companies represents a growing industry trend of responding to consumer demand for better food safety, environmental, and animal welfare standards.

“This rejection of food from clones sends a strong message to biotech firms that their products may not find a market,” says Lisa Bunin, PhD, Campaigns Coordinator at the Center for Food Safety.

“American consumers don’t want to eat food from clones or their offspring, and these companies have realistically anticipated low market acceptance for this new and untested technology.” This sentiment is echoed by General Mills in their letter to the Center which identified “consumer acceptance” as an important consideration with respect to the potential use of ingredients from clones in their products. Read the rest of this entry »