Swiss Chemical Company Rejects Monsanto’s

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Monsanto, in Bid for Syngenta, Reaches for a Business It Left Behind

Over the last two decades Monsanto has cast off its century-long history as a chemical company and refashioned itself as an agricultural life sciences company, led by its genetically engineered seeds.

But with its $45 billion bid to acquire the agricultural chemical giant Syngenta — a bid Syngenta rejected on Friday as inadequate — Monsanto appears to be trying to get back into a business it largely abandoned. That is a possible acknowledgment, some analysts say, that the biotech seeds might not be the engine to carry the company forward much longer.

“If you go back 10 years, they put all their marbles on biotechnology and they’ve done fantastically well there,” said William R. Young, managing director of ChemSpeak, a consulting firm following the chemical industry. “But going forward, maybe the growth is limited,” he said. Buying Syngenta “allows for some diversification in product line.”

Syngenta both announced and rejected Monsanto’s unsolicited bid on Friday, saying the offer undervalued Syngenta’s prospects and underestimated “the significant execution risks, including regulatory and public scrutiny at multiple levels in many countries.”

Monsanto offered to pay 449 Swiss francs, or about $490, for each share of Syngenta; 45 percent of the payment would be in cash. The offer represented a 35 percent premium to Syngenta’s closing price on Thursday.Monsanto, in its own statement, said it believed combining the two companies would create “an integrated global leader in agriculture with comprehensive and complementary product portfolios.” It said it was confident in its ability to obtain all necessary regulatory approvals.

The deal would create an agricultural behemoth, combining Monsanto, the world leader in seeds and genetically engineered traits (like herbicide resistance), with Syngenta, the largest producer of agricultural chemicals.

The two companies are in some sense mirror images of each other. They are similar in size, each with over $15 billion in annual revenue. But Monsanto gets most of its revenue from seeds and biotech traits; the rest comes mainly from the herbicide Roundup. Syngenta gets most of its revenue from chemicals, like weed control products, and less from seeds.

So far, investors have seen more potential in the seed business. Monsanto has had a market valuation more than 60 percent greater than Syngenta’s.

Source:  nytimes

Plants recognize their siblings

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover:

 

 

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover

The next time you venture into your garden armed with plants, consider who you place next to whom. It turns out that the docile garden plant isn’t as passive as widely assumed, at least not with strangers. Researchers at McMaster University have found that plants get fiercely competitive when forced to share their pot with strangers of the same species, but they’re accommodating when potted with their siblings.

The study appears today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

“The ability to recognize and favour kin is common in animals, but this is the first time it has been shown in plants” said Susan Dudley, associate professor of biology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. “When plants share their pots, they get competitive and start growing more roots, which allows them to grab water and mineral nutrients before their neighbours get them. It appears, though, that they only do this when sharing a pot with unrelated plants; when they share a pot with family they don’t increase their root growth. Because differences between groups of strangers and groups of siblings only occurred when they shared a pot, the root interactions may provide a cue for kin recognition.”

Though they lack cognition and memory, the study shows plants are capable of complex social behaviours such as altruism towards relatives, says Dudley. Like humans, the most interesting behaviours occur beneath the surface.

Dudley and her student, Amanda File, observed the behavior in sea rocket (Cakile edentula), a member of the mustard family native to beaches throughout North America, including the Great Lakes.

So should gardeners arrange their plants like they would plan the seating at a dinner party?

“Gardeners have known for a long time that some pairs of species get along better than others, and scientists are starting to catch up with why that happens,” says Dudley. “What I’ve found is that plants from the same mother may be more compatible with each other than with plants of the same species that had different mothers. The more we know about plants, the more complex their interactions seem to be, so it may be as hard to predict the outcome as when you mix different people at a party.”

 

Source: phys.org

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say:

 

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say

A highly concerning new study published in the journal Biomedical Research International reveals that despite the still relatively benign reputation of agrochemicals such as Roundup herbicide, many chemical formulations upon which the modern agricultural system depend are far more toxic than present regulatory tests performed on them reveal. Roundup herbicide, for instance, was found to be 125 times more toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate studied in isolation.

Titled, “Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles,” the study evaluated to what extent the active principle (AP) and the so-called ‘inert ingredients,’ i.e. adjuvants, in globally popular formulations account for the toxicity of 9 major pesticides: 3 herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides.

The Deceptive Semantics of Pesticide Formulations And Their Regulation

The paper describes how the agrochemical industry conceals the true toxicity of their chemical formulations by focusing on the health risks associated with only one so-called ‘active principle’ (AP) in their complex formulations, and sets the public up for mass poisoning through the determination of an ‘acceptable level of harm’ via the calculation of the so-called ‘acceptable daily intake (ADI)’ based on the toxicological risk profile of only a single ingredient:

“Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle (AP), which is the only one tested in the longest toxicological regulatory tests performed on mammals. This allows the calculation of the acceptable daily intake (ADI)—the level of exposure that is claimed to be safe for humans over the long term—and justifies the presence of residues of these pesticides at “admissible” levels in the environment and organisms. Only the AP and one metabolite are used as markers, but this does not exclude the presence of adjuvants, which are cell penetrants.”

The problem of underestimated toxicological risk is so severe that the researchers describe previous research which found unexpected toxicity in so-called ‘inert’ adjuvants that were up to 10,000 times more toxic than the so-called active principle glyphosate itself, revealing them to be a greater source for secondary side effects than the main ingredient itself. They also note that this ‘synergistic toxicity’ may explain the results of previous long-term animal research where glyphosate-based formulations showed toxicity in the parts-per-trillion range (.1 part per billion) that could not be explained by glyphosate alone.

Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD, commented on this phenomena in connection with the study recently on her blog: “Similar to the non-placebo-controlled trials on vaccines, adjuvants and preservatives are considered innocent bystanders in the consideration of risk profile.” According to Dr. Brogan, an understanding of “Toxicant synergy has exploded the simplistic notion of “the dose makes the poison.””

The Test Method and Results

In order to ascertain the toxicity of various chemical formulations and their ingredients, the researchers used embryonic (HEK293), placental (JEG3), and hepatic (HepG2) human cell lines, “because they are well characterized and validated as useful models to test toxicities of pesticides, corresponding to what is observed on fresh tissue or primary cells.”  They noted, “these cells lines are even in some instances less sensitive than primary cells, and therefore do not overestimate cellular toxicity.”

The researchers describe the their method of determining toxicity:

We assayed their mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase (SD) activity (MTT assay) after 24h pesticide exposure, which is one of the most accurate cytotoxicity assays for measuring the toxicity of pesticide adjuvants such as surfactants. Cytotoxicity was confirmed by the measurement of apoptosis and necrosis, respectively, by caspases 3/7 activation and adenylate kinase leakage after membrane alterations

The results of the study were clear. Except for one pesticide (Matin), “All formulations were cytotoxic and far more toxic than their APs [active principles].”

Key findings included:

  • On human cells, among the tested products, fungicides were the most toxic, being cytotoxic from doses 300–600 times lower than agricultural dilutions, followed by herbicides (except Matin) and then insecticides.
  • In all cell types, fungicides were the most toxic (mean LC50 12ppm).
  • The herbicide Roundup (LC50 63ppm) was next in toxicity to fungicides, twice as toxic as Starane, and more than 10 times as toxic as the 3 insecticides, which represent the less toxic group (mean LC50 720ppm).

Marijuana painkiller breakthrough

Marijuana painkiller breakthrough:

Marijuana painkiller breakthrough

Marijuana painkiller breakthrough

What is marijuana without the high? Still a very effective painkiller. And now, scientists believe they can harness the drug’s anesthetic action while doing away with its psychedelic effects. In a new paper published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, Professor Li Zhang and a team of scientists at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism report that THC can potentially be used as a side-effect-free painkiller. Is a new class of “non-psychotropic cannabinoids” on the way? Here’s a brief guide:

What is this breakthrough exactly?
Zhang and his team discovered that tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly known as THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, produces different effects by bonding to different receptors in the brain. Scientists have known for years that THC bonds with a certain receptor to produce the classic disorienting marijuana high. But now researchers have identified precisely where THC targets the nervous system to lessen anxiety and dull pain. Hence, the potential to satisfy medical marijuana’s desire for pure pain relief.

How’d they figure this out?
By experimenting on mice, naturally. Scientists blocked the pain-reducing receptors in the stoned rodents’ brains, then subjected them to a “tail-flick test” — hitting mices’ tails with “focused heat” — and counted how long it took for them to respond. The fact that the mice still felt pain, even when they were dosed with THC, “confirms that the drug’s pain-relief and psychotropic effects can be decoupled,” says Andy Coghlan at The New Scientist.

So… THC pain pills?
Quite possibly. “Soon,” says Annalee Newitz at IO9, “people whose stomachs are too tender for aspirin or ibuprofin may be swallowing THC pills to get rid of headaches.”

Could another result be THC pills that do nothing but get you high?
It’s the question recreational users will be pondering: “Is there a way to create a synthetic form of THC that does nothing but get you high, without all those pesky ‘medicinal’ side-effects?”

 

Source:  THEWEEK.Com

Monsanto Says its going Organic

 Monsanto Says its going Organic:
Monsanto Says its going Organic

Monsanto Says its going Organic

The company , whose name is synonymous with big Ag has revolutionized the way we grow food – for good or ill . Activists insulted by such practices mustache – spinning like suing farmers who grow back or licensed seed filling the world of super weeds resistant to Roundup. Then there is the reputation – despised by some of Monsanto held by others, as the largest provider of genetically modified crop commodities such as corn and soybeans edited with DNA from another location , nature designed to have qualities not just think .

It is not particularly surprising that the company is introducing new strains of familiar food crops, Monsanto invented and endowed by their Creator with powers and abilities beyond what you would normally see in the produce section . The lettuce is sweet and crunchy romaine and has the quality of fresh iceberg stay . Chilies come in miniature sizes , in one portion to reduce leftovers. Broccoli has three times the normal amount of glucoraphanin , a compound that helps increase the levels of antioxidants. Stark Department , division of world trade , came with them.

” Grocery stores are looking for in the produce aisle for something that appears, feels different ,” says Avery. ” And consumers are looking for the same thing. ‘ If the team is good , they will know very soon. Frescada lettuce, peppers and Beneforté BellaFina brands – cheerful broccoli registered trademark of a subsidiary all-but – anonymous Monsanto called Seminis – being launched in supermarkets in the U.S..

But here’s the twist : lettuce , peppers and broccoli – and a melon and onion, with a watermelon before following -are not genetically modified at all. Monsanto created all these vegetables using good old-fashioned crossbreeding , the same technology that farmers have been using to optimize crops for millennia. That does not mean they are low-tech , exactly . Stark Division is leveraging scientific knowledge accumulated Monsanto to create vegetables that have all the benefits of genetically modified organisms, without any of the ick factor Frankenfoods …

Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths

Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it’s really bad news:

 

 Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it's really bad news


Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it’s really bad news

So what is with all the dying bees? Scientists have been trying to discover this for years. Meanwhile, bees keep dropping like… well, you know.

Is it mites? Pesticides? Cell phone towers? What is really at the root? Turns out the real issue really scary, because it is more complex and pervasive than thought.

Quartz reports:

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

The researchers behind that study in PLOS ONE — Jeffery S. Pettis, Elinor M. Lichtenberg, Michael Andree, Jennie Stitzinger, Robyn Rose, Dennis vanEngelsdorp — collected pollen from hives on the east coast, including cranberry and watermelon crops, and fed it to healthy bees. Those bees had a serious decline in their ability to resist a parasite that causes Colony Collapse Disorder. The pollen they were fed had an average of nine different pesticides and fungicides, though one sample of pollen contained a deadly brew of 21 different chemicals. Further, the researchers discovered that bees that ate pollen with fungicides were three times more likely to be infected by the parasite.

The discovery means that fungicides, thought harmless to bees, is actually a significant part of Colony Collapse Disorder. And that likely means farmers need a whole new set of regulations about how to use fungicides. While neonicotinoids have been linked to mass bee deaths — the same type of chemical at the heart of the massive bumble bee die off in Oregon — this study opens up an entirely new finding that it is more than one group of pesticides, but a combination of many chemicals, which makes the problem far more complex.

And it is not just the types of chemicals used that need to be considered, but also spraying practices. The bees sampled by the authors foraged not from crops, but almost exclusively from weeds and wildflowers, which means bees are more widely exposed to pesticides than thought.

The authors write, “[M]ore attention must be paid to how honey bees are exposed to pesticides outside of the field in which they are placed. We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads. The insecticides esfenvalerate and phosmet were at a concentration higher than their median lethal dose in at least one pollen sample. While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to.”

While the overarching issue is simple — chemicals used on crops kill bees — the details of the problem are increasingly more complex, including what can be sprayed, where, how, and when to minimize the negative effects on bees and other pollinators while still assisting in crop production. Right now, scientists are still working on discovering the degree to which bees are affected and by what. It will still likely be a long time before solutions are uncovered and put into place. When economics come into play, an outright halt in spraying anything at all anywhere is simply impossible.

Quartz notes, “Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.”

Monsanto’s kills 1,500 Indian Farmers

Over 1,500 farmers in the Indian state of Chattisgarh committed suicide. The motive has been blamed on farmers being crippled by overwhelming debt in the face of crop failure:

over 1,500 farmers in the Indian state of Chattisgarh committed suicide. The motive has been blamed on farmers being crippled by overwhelming debt in the face of crop failure.

over 1,500 farmers in the Indian state of Chattisgarh committed suicide. The motive has been blamed on farmers being crippled by overwhelming debt in the face of crop failure.

While many may have been shocked by these deaths, farmer suicides in India, and increasingly across the world, are not new. Crop failure may have pushed farmers over the edge, but American companies have been leading them to the cliff for years. Bharatendu Prakash, from the Organic Farming Association of India, told the Press Association:

Farmers’ suicides are increasing due to a vicious circle created by money lenders. They lure farmers to take money but when the crops fail, they are left with no option other than death.

The article also quotes the UK’s Daily Mail, enlightening us further:

…The death of this respected farmer (Shankara Mandaukar) has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops. Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.

Oh yes, the promise of feeding the poor of every country via genetically-modified (GM) seeds. This approach to dealing with worldwide hunger and poverty is touted by the United Nations, NAFTA, and the US government. And as the Daily Mail article later notes, “pro-GM experts claim that it is rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and ‘agrarian distress’ that is the real reason for the horrific toll.” While poverty and drought have likely contributed somewhat to poor harvests, leading the farmers to stress about their family and land, the mass suicides might have more to do with the bank loans sometimes totaling $3,000 US that these farmers have to take out in order to buy Monsanto’s (the leader in GM) seeds. The way Monsanto approaches these farmers reminds me of 19th century snake oil salesman:

The salesmen tell farmers of the amazing yields other Vidarbha growers have enjoyed while using their products, plastering villages with posters detailing “True Stories of Farmers Who Have Sown Bt Cotton.” Old-fashioned cotton seeds pale in comparison to Monsanto’s patented wonder seeds, say the salesmen, as much as an average old steer is humbled by a fine Jersey cow.

Farmers have traditionally used seeds year after year and rotated their crops in order to get the most benefit from the land. Monsanto’s seeds, on the other hand, have to be paid for every year in order to “re-license” the seeds, sinking them deeper into debt. And oh, yeah, most of these seeds are “Terminator” seeds, which means they don’t actually produce viable seeds of their own.  Farmers throughout the world are dealing with these issues.

GMO Food Deadly Synergistic Toxicity

New Research, GMO Food Far Worse Than We Think:

New Research: GMO Food Far Worse Than We Think

New Research: GMO Food Far Worse Than We Think

Disturbing new research published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology indicates that genetically modified (GM) crops with “stacked traits”  — that is, with multiple traits such as glyphosate-herbicide resistance and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) insecticidal toxins engineered together into the same plant, are likely far more dangerous to human health than previously believed, due to their synergistic toxicity. Resistance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, has been engineered into many GM plants, so that fields can be sprayed indiscriminately with herbicide without destroying the crops. While the GM glyphosate-resistant plants survive, they subsequently contain residues of glyphosate and its various metabolites (e.g. aminomethylphosphonic acid) that present a significant health threat to the public. In this latest study the glyphosate-containing herbicide Roundup was tested on human embryonic kidney cells at concentrations between 1 to 20,000 parts per million (ppm). It was found that concentrations as low as 50 ppm per million, which the authors noted were “far below agricultural dilutions,” induced cell death, with the 50% of the cells dying at 57.5 ppm. The researchers also found that the insecticidal toxin produced by GM plants known as Cry1Ab was capable of causing cell death at 100 ppm concentrations. Taken together the authors concluded:

In these results, we argue that modified Bt toxins are not inert on nontarget human cells, and that they can present combined side-effects with other residues of pesticides specific to GM plants.

These disturbing findings follow on the heels of recent revelations that Roundup is several orders of magnitude more toxic than previously believed. Only 5 days ago (Feb. 14) the journal Archives of Toxicology reported that Roundup is toxic to human DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications. This effect is likely due to the presence of the surfactant polyoxyethyleneamine within the Roundup formulation which may dramatically enhance the absorption of glyphosate into exposed human cells and tissue.

Monsanto’s has Millions of people against them

Millions Against Monsanto:
Millions Against Monsanto

Millions Against Monsanto

The Food Fight of Our Lives. Finally, public opinion around the biotech industry’s contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We’re fighting back.
 
 
 “If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” — Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994. “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.” — Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, quoted in the New York Times, October 25, 1998. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture, aided and abetted by indentured politicians and regulatory agencies, supermarket chains, giant food processors, and the so-called “natural” products industry. Finally, public opinion around the biotech industry’s contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We’re fighting back. This November, in a food fight that will largely determine the future of what we eat and what we grow, Monsanto will face its greatest challenge to date: a statewide citizens’ ballot initiative that will give Californians the opportunity to vote for their right to know whether the food they buy is contaminated with GMOs. A growing corps of food, health, and environmental activists – supported by the Millions against Monsanto and Occupy Monsanto Movements, and consumers and farmers across the nation – are boldly moving to implement mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods in California through a grassroots-powered citizens ballot initiative process that will bypass the agribusiness-dominated state legislature.  If passed, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act will require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients, and outlaw the routine industry practice of labeling GMO-tainted foods as “natural.” Passage of this initiative on November 6 will radically alter the balance of power in the marketplace, enabling millions of consumers to identify – and boycott – genetically engineered foods for the first time since 1994, when Monsanto’s first unlabeled, genetically-engineered dairy drug, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), was forced on the market, As Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director for the Organic Consumers Association, pointed out at an Occupy Wall Street teach-in in Washington DC in early April: “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act ballot initiative is a perfect example of how the grassroots 99% can mobilize to take back American democracy from the corporate bullies, the 1%. By aggressively utilizing one of the last remaining tools of direct democracy, the initiative process (available to voters not only in California and 23 other states, but in thousands of cities and counties across the nation), we can bypass corrupt politicians, make our own laws, and force corporations like Monsanto to bend to the will of the people, in this case granting us our fundamental right to know what’s in our food.”

Monsanto’s Protecting GMO Label

Monsanto Threatens to Sue, Requiring GMO Food to Be Labeled:

monsanto

Monsanto

 

The world’s most hated corporation is at it again, this time in Vermont.  Despite overwhelming public support and the support of a clear majority of Vermont’s Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes.  The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members supports passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote.  Instead, they’re calling for more public hearings on April 12, in the apparent hope that they can run out the clock until the legislative session ends in early May.  What happened to the formerly staunch legislative champions of Vermont’s “right to know” bill? They lost their nerve and abandoned their principles after Monsanto representative recently threatened a public official that the Biotech giant would sue Vermont if they dared to pass the bill. Several legislators have rather unconvincingly argued that the Vermont public has a “low appetite” for any bills, even very popular bills like this one, that might end up in court. Others expressed concern about Vermont being the first state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill and then having to “go it alone” against Monsanto in court.  What it really comes down to this: Elected officials are abandoning the public interest and public will in the face of corporate intimidation.  Monsanto has used lawsuits or threats of lawsuits for 20 years to force unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the public, and to intimidate farmers into buying their genetically engineered seeds and hormones. When Vermont became the first state in the nation in 1994 to require mandatory labels on milk and dairy products derived from cows injected with the controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, Monsanto’s minions sued in Federal Court and won on a judge’s decision that dairy corporations have the first amendment “right” to remain silent on whether or not they are injecting their cows with rBGH – even though rBGH has been linked to severe health damage in cows and increased cancer risk for humans, and is banned in much of the industrialized world, including Europe and Canada.  Monsanto wields tremendous influence in Washington, DC and most state capitals. The company’s stranglehold over politicians and regulatory officials is what has prompted activists in California to bypass the legislature and collect 850,000 signatures to place a citizens’ Initiative on the ballot in November 2012. The 2012 California Right to Know Act will force mandatory labeling of GMOs and to ban the routine practice of labeling GMO-tainted food as “natural.”  All of Monsanto’s fear mongering and intimidation tactics were blatantly on display in the House Agriculture Committee hearings March 15-16.  During the hearings the Vermont legislature was deluged with calls, letters, and e-mails urging passage of a GMO labeling bill – more than on any other bill since the fight over Civil Unions in 1999-2000. The legislature heard from pro-labeling witnesses such as Dr. Michael Hansen, an expert on genetic engineering from the Consumers Union, who shredded industry claims that GMO’s are safe and that consumers don’t need to know if their food is contaminated with them.

Monsanto’s causing Birth Defects

Round Up

Round Up

Industry regulators have known for years that Roundup, the world’s best-selling herbicide produced by U.S. company Monsanto, causes birth defects, according to a new report released Tuesday.  The report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?” found regulators knew as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals.  But despite such warnings, and although the European Commission has known that glyphosate causes malformations since at least 2002, the information was not made public.  Instead regulators misled the public about glyphosate’s safety, according to the report, and as recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the German government body dealing with the glyphosate review, told the European Commission that there was no evidence glyphosate causes birth defects.  The report comes months after researchers found that genetically-modified crops used in conjunction Roundup contain a pathogen that may cause animal miscarriages. After observing the newly discovered organism back in February, Don Huber, a emeritus professor at Purdue University, wrote an open letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting a moratorium on deregulating crops genetically altered to be immune to Roundup, which are commonly called Roundup Ready crops.  In the letter, Huber also commented on the herbicide itself, saying: “It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders.”
Although glyphosate was originally due to be reviewed in 2012, the Commission decided late last year not to bring the review forward, instead delaying it until 2015. The chemical will not be reviewed under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030.

GMO Monsanto kills butterfly’s

Study ties GMO corn, soybeans to butterfly losses:

monsanto kills

Monsanto kills

Genetically engineered corn and soybeans make it easy for farmers to eradicate weeds, including the long-lived and unruly milkweed.  But they might be putting the monarch butterfly in peril.  The rapid spread of herbicide-resistant crops has coincided with — and may explain — the dramatic decline in monarch numbers that has troubled some naturalists over the past decade, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University.  Between 1999 and 2010, the same period in which so-called GMO crops became the norm for farmers, the number of monarch eggs declined by an estimated 81 percent across the Midwest, the researchers say. That’s because milkweed — the host plant for the eggs and caterpillars produced by one of one of the most gaudy and widely recognized of all North American butterflies — has nearly disappeared from farm fields, they found.  It is one of the clearest examples yet of unintended consequences from the widespread use of genetically modified seeds, said John Pleasants, a monarch researcher from Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.  “When we put something out there, we don’t know always what the consequences are,” he said.  Pleasants and Karen Oberhauser, of the University of Minnesota, published their findings online last week in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity.  “It is quite an extraordinary paper,” said Chip Taylor, an insect ecologist at the University of Kansas and the director of research at Monarch Watch, a conservation group. He noted that Oberhauser and Pleasants were able to tie the loss of habitat to a decline in numbers across the country.  But the evidence they present — estimates of the number of milkweed plants across the Corn Belt and a decade’s worth of butterfly egg counts by an army of volunteer citizens — is indirect, say others.  “It does not resolve the debate,” said Leslie Ries, a University of Maryland professor who studies monarchs.  The orange and black butterflies migrate every year to the mountains of Mexico, where they collect in fluttering clouds in trees, an extraordinary event that has inspired festivals and tourism.  But for reasons that are not well understood, the number of butterflies that make it to Mexico — half of which comes from the Midwest — has been on the decline. This year, according to a report released Thursday, the butterflies occupied seven acres of trees in their refuge west of Mexico City — 28 percent less than last year and a fraction of the 45 acres they occupied in 1996, a peak year.  Experts said last year’s drought probably had a serious effect on the insects. Others say damage to the wintering grounds from logging and development are also playing a part, and that the number that make it to Mexico does not necessarily reflect the health of the species.  But some scientists have for years wondered whether the use of genetically modified crops is affecting the spring and summer reproduction in this country.  Earlier studies suggested that monarch caterpillars would die if they ate milkweed dusted with pollen from another kind of engineered seed known as BT corn. It contains a gene that produces a toxin that kills corn-eating pests.  That theory was disproved, but it led scientists to take a hard look at milkweed plants in corn and soybean fields, said Pleasants. “Surprisingly, monarchs use those milkweeds more heavily than milkweed outside [farm fields],” he said. The butterflies lay nearly four times as many eggs on farm field plants as on those in pastures or on roadsides, the researchers said.  More important, they also found “that milkweed in the fields was disappearing,” he said. That’s because more farmers are using a new kind of genetically modified seed developed by Monsanto, Roundup-ready corn and soybeans, that contain a gene allowing the plants to withstand Roundup, or glyphosate. That allows farmers to spray their fields without harming the crop.  Monsanto, which did not respond to a request for comment, says on its website the seeds help farmers increase yield. Today, it’s used by 94 percent of soybean farmers and 72 percent of corn farmers, according to federal data.  Assessing the effect on milkweed plants both in and out of farm fields, was difficult, researchers said — never mind the challenge of counting butterfly eggs.  Pleasants said he used data on the change in milkweed density in Iowa, and extrapolated those numbers to landscape use data across the Midwest. That showed an estimated 58 percent decline in milkweed plants throughout the Corn Belt, primarily on agricultural lands.  Oberhauser supplied data she has been collecting for years through the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. Every week during the monarch breeding season, volunteers across the country go to the same patches of non-agricultural milkweed in their communities and count all the eggs they can find. That showed two things: Butterflies were not flocking to breed on plants outside agricultural fields; those numbers remained the same. And overall production, measured in eggs, declined 81 percent between 1999 and 2010.  Taylor said the new study should help make the case that increasing monarch habitat along roads in pastures, gardens and on conservation lands must become a national priority because the milkweed will never come back to farm fields, he said.  “The scale of the loss of habitat is so big that unless we compensate for it in some way, the population will decline to the point where it will disappear,” he said.

Monsanto’s Purchases Blackwater

Monsanto Now Owns Blackwater:

Monsanto's, Blackwater

Monsanto's, Blackwater

A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation (Blackwater’s Black Ops, 9/15/2010) revealed that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (now called Xe Services) clandestine intelligence services was sold to the multinational Monsanto. Blackwater was renamed in 2009 after becoming famous in the world with numerous reports of abuses in Iraq, including massacres of civilians. It remains the largest private contractor of the U.S. Department of State “security services,” that practices state terrorism by giving the government the opportunity to deny it.  Many military and former CIA officers work for Blackwater or related companies created to divert attention from their bad reputation and make more profit selling their nefarious services-ranging from information and intelligence to infiltration, political lobbying and paramilitary training – for other governments, banks and multinational corporations. According to Scahill, business with multinationals, like Monsanto, Chevron, and financial giants such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, are channeled through two companies owned by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater: Total Intelligence Solutions and Terrorism Research Center. These officers and directors share Blackwater.  One of them, Cofer Black, known for his brutality as one of the directors of the CIA, was the one who made contact with Monsanto in 2008 as director of Total Intelligence, entering into the contract with the company to spy on and infiltrate organizations of animal rights activists, anti-GM and other dirty activities of the Biotech giant.  Contacted by Scahill, the Monsanto executive Kevin Wilson declined to comment, but later confirmed to The Nation that they had hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and 2009, according to Monsanto only to keep track of “public disclosure” of its opponents. He also said that Total Intelligence was a “totally separate entity from Blackwater.”  However, Scahill has copies of emails from Cofer Black after the meeting with Wilson for Monsanto, where he explains to other former CIA agents, using their Blackwater e-mails, that the discussion with Wilson was that Total Intelligence had become “Monsanto’s intelligence arm,” spying on activists and other actions, including “our people to legally integrate these groups.” Total Intelligence Monsanto paid $ 127,000 in 2008 and $ 105,000 in 2009.  No wonder that a company engaged in the “science of death” as Monsanto, which has been dedicated from the outset to produce toxic poisons spilling from Agent Orange to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), pesticides, hormones and genetically modified seeds, is associated with another company of thugs.  Almost simultaneously with the publication of this article in The Nation, the Via Campesina reported the purchase of 500,000 shares of Monsanto, for more than $23 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which with this action completed the outing of the mask of “philanthropy.” Another association that is not surprising.  It is a marriage between the two most brutal monopolies in the history of industrialism: Bill Gates controls more than 90 percent of the market share of proprietary computing and Monsanto about 90 percent of the global transgenic seed market and most global commercial seed. There does not exist in any other industrial sector monopolies so vast, whose very existence is a negation of the vaunted principle of “market competition” of capitalism. Both Gates and Monsanto are very aggressive in defending their ill-gotten monopolies.  Although Bill Gates might try to say that the Foundation is not linked to his business, all it proves is the opposite: most of their donations end up favoring the commercial investments of the tycoon, not really “donating” anything, but instead of paying taxes to the state coffers, he invests his profits in where it is favorable to him economically, including propaganda from their supposed good intentions. On the contrary, their “donations” finance projects as destructive as geoengineering or replacement of natural community medicines for high-tech patented medicines in the poorest areas of the world. What a coincidence, former Secretary of Health Julio Frenk and Ernesto Zedillo are advisers of the Foundation.  Like Monsanto, Gates is also engaged in trying to destroy rural farming worldwide, mainly through the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” (AGRA). It works as a Trojan horse to deprive poor African farmers of their traditional seeds, replacing them with the seeds of their companies first, finally by genetically modified (GM). To this end, the Foundation hired Robert Horsch in 2006, the director of Monsanto. Now Gates, airing major profits, went straight to the source.  Blackwater, Monsanto and Gates are three sides of the same figure: the war machine on the planet and most people who inhabit it, are peasants, indigenous communities, people who want to share information and knowledge or any other who does not want to be in the aegis of profit and the destructiveness of capitalism.

U.S. diplomats work directly for Monsanto

Leaked documents reveal US diplomats actually work for Monsanto:

Monsanto's

Monsanto's

Biotech giant Monsanto has been genetically modifying the world’s food supply and subsequently breeding environmental devastation for years, but leaked documents now reveal that Monsanto has also deeply infiltrated the United States government. With leaked reports revealing how U.S. diplomats are actually working for Monsanto to push their agenda along with other key government officials, Monsanto’s grasp on international politics has never been clearer.  Amazingly, the information reveals that the massive corporation is also intensely involved in the passing and regulations concerning the very GM ingredients they are responsible for. In fact, the information released by WikiLeaks reveals just how much power Monsanto has thanks to key positions within the United States government and elsewhere. Not only was it exposed that the U.S. is threatening nations who oppose Monsanto with military-style trade wars, but that many U.S. diplomats actually work directly for Monsanto.  What the leaked documents reveal — Military style trade wars, government corruption.  In 2007 it was requested that specific nations in the European Union be punished for not supporting the expansion of Monsanto’s GMO crops. The request for such measures to be taken was made by Craig Stapleton, the United States ambassador to France and partner to George W. Bush. Despite mounting evidence linking Monsanto’s GM corn to organ damage and environmental devastation, the ambassador plainly calls for ‘target retaliation’ against those not supporting the GM crop. In the leaked documents, Stapleton states:  “Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices.”  The undying support of key players within the U.S. towards Monsanto is undeniably made clear not only in this release, but in the legislative decisions taken by organizations such as the FDA and USDA. Legislative decisions such as allowing Monsanto’s synthetic hormone Posilac (rBGH) to be injected into U.S. cows despite being banned in 27 countries. How did Monsanto pull this off?  The Biotech juggernaut managed to infiltrate the FDA positions responsible for the approval of rBGH, going as far as instating the company’s own Margaret Miller as Deputy Director of Human Safety and Consultative Services. After assuming this position, Miller reviewed her own report on the safety and effectiveness of rBGH.  Many US diplomats pawns of Monsanto’s GM agenda.  While it may be shocking to you if you are not familiar with the corrupt influence of Monsanto, the cables also show that many US diplomats are pushing GMO crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative. Interestingly enough, the U.S. focused their efforts toward advisers to the pope specifically, due to the fact that many Catholic figureheads have openly voiced their opposition to GM foods. With this kind of political influence, is it any wonder that many food staples are now predominantly GM? Nearly 93% of U.S. soybeans are heavily modified conservatively, with many other staple crops coming in at similar numbers.  U.S. diplomats have unique opportunities to spread honest and intellectual campaigns that can serve to better mankind and end suffering, however they are instead spreading the roots of Monsanto deeper and deeper into international territory. As a substitute for the betterment of mankind, these paid-off diplomats are now spreading environment desecration and health destruction.  As if there wasn’t already enough information to reveal Monsanto’s corruption, the biotech giant also spends enormous amount of money lobbying government each year. Monsanto spent an astonishing $2 million lobbying the federal government in the 3rd quarter of 2011 alone, according to mainstream sources. Why so much cash? The government lobbying focuses on issues like regulations for GM crops and patent reforms. This ‘legal’ form of persuasion is the reason government agencies like the USDA and FDA let Monsanto roam freely.  Satisfying government officials’ financial vested interest is all that matters when dealing with corrupt mega-corporations like Monsanto. As long as these financial ties continue to exist, Monsanto will continue to reign over the food supply and continue to wreak devastation to the environment, ecosystem, and humankind.

Monsanto’s Poisons France!

Monsanto found liable for weedkiller poisoning in France:

monsanto

monsanto

Update: Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher says the company does not think there is “sufficient data” to demonstrate a link between the use of Lasso herbicide and the symptoms Francois reported.  “We do not agree any injury was accidentally caused nor did the company intentionally permit injury,” Helscher said, saying Monsanto is planning to appeal the verdict. “Lasso herbicide was… successfully used by farmers on millions of hectares around the world.”

A protest against Monsanto, unrelated to Francois’s case, takes place at the company’s headquarters in France in January. (Robert Pratta – Reuters) French farmer Paul Francois says he suffered all three neurological problems after inhaling a weedkiller made by biotech giant Monsanto in 2004. On Monday, a French court found Monsanto legally responsible for poisoning Francois and ordered the company to compensate him “entirely,” Agence France-Presse reports.  The decision could affect more than just Francois; it marks the first time a farmer has successfully sued the company over claims of the health problems caused by pesticides.  Francois, who is 47, told Reuters that he was pleased with the decision but said many other farmers have already been affected. “I am alive today, but part of the farming population is going to be sacrificed and is going to die because of this,” he told Reuters.  Monsanto’s lawyer had argued that poisoning couldn’t be proved because Francois’s symptoms didn’t appear until months after the inhalation.  Since 1996, 200 farmers have reported health problems to the agricultural branch of the French social security system that potentially are a result of pesticides.  But prior cases by farmers against Monsanto have been less successful, as they tried to argue about health problems accumulated over time.  “It’s like lying on a bed of thorns and trying to say which one cut you,” a farmer who recovered from prostate cancer and asked not to be named told Reuters.  Francois’s suit accuses Monsanto of not providing adequate health warnings on the label of the weedkiller, Lasso, as well as keeping the product on the French market even though it had been banned in Canada, Britain and Belgium.  The world’s largest pesticide producer said it has not decided whether to appeal the verdict.  Monsanto has been at the center of dozens of protests over the years, most often over health problems possibly associated with genetically modified foods it has produced, including soybean, corn, rice and eggplant.  Last month, a two-year-old appointment of a former Monsanto vice president to the Food and Drug Administration sparked an online petition for his removal.

Monsanto wars other Nations!

 

Leaked: America to Start ‘Trade Wars’ with Nations Opposed to Monsanto, GMO Crops

euro-coins-and-banknotes

euro-coins-and-banknotes

The United States is threatening nations who oppose Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) crops with military-style trade wars, according to information obtained and released by the organization WikiLeaks.  Nations like France, which have moved to ban one of Monsanto’s GM corn varieties, were requested to be ‘penalized’ by the United States for opposing Monsanto and genetically modified foods.  The information reveals just how deep Monsanto’s roots have penetrated key positions within the United States government, with the cables reporting that many U.S. diplomats work directly for Monsanto.  The WikiLeaks cable reveals that in late 2007, the United States ambassador to France and business partner to George W. Bush, Craig Stapleton, requested that the European Union along with particular nations that did not support GMO crops be penalized. Stapleton, who co-owned the Dallas/Fort Worth-based Texas Rangers baseball team with Bush in the 1990s, stated:

Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices.

The Leaked Political Agenda Behind Monsanto’s GMO Crops

The ambassador plainly calls for ‘target retaliation’ against nations who are against using Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, admittedly linked to organ damage and environmental devastation.  Amazingly, this is not an isolated case. In similar newly released cables, United States diplomats are found to have pushed GMO crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative.  Furthermore, the U.S. specifically targeted advisers to the Pope, due to the fact that many Catholic bishops and figureheads have openly denounced GMO crops. In fact, the Vatican has openly declared Monsanto’s GMO crops as a ‘new form of slavery’.

‘A Martino deputy told us recently that the cardinal had co-operated with embassy Vatican on biotech over the past two years in part to compensate for his vocal disapproval of the Iraq war and its aftermath – to keep relations with the USG [US government] smooth. According to our source, Martino no longer feels the need to take this approach,’ says the cable.

Perhaps the most shocking piece of information exposed by the cables is the fact that these U.S. diplomats are actually working directly for biotech corporations like Monsanto. The cables also highlight the relationship between the U.S. and Spain in their conquest to persuade other nations to allow for the expansion of GMO crops. Not only did the Spanish government secretly correspond with the U.S. government on the subject, but the U.S. government actually knew beforehand how Spain would vote before the Spanish biotech commission reported their decision regarding GMO crops. The cable states:

‘In response to recent urgent requests by [Spanish rural affairs ministry] state secretary Josep Puxeu and Monsanto, post requests renewed US government support of Spain’s science-based agricultural biotechnology position through high-level US government intervention.’

Monsanto has undoubtedly infiltrated the United States government in order to push their health-endangering agenda, and this has been known long before the release of these WikiLeaks cables. The U.S. is the only place where Monsanto’s synthetic hormone Posilac is still used in roughly 1/3 of all cows, with 27 nations banning the substance over legitimate health concerns. Despite Monsanto’s best attempts at incognito political corruption, nothing can stop the grassroots anti-Monsanto movement that is taking over cities and nations alike.