genetically modified

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10 reasons why GM won't feed the world

Submitted by turbosprout on Wed, 2008-04-23 12:42

photo: picedit.blogspot.comphoto: picedit.blogspot.comIt's been a while since we've spoken out against GM food, so it was opportune that Katja from ABN recently sent us this brilliant article published on the Ecologist Online, detailing in condensed form all the short comings of Genetically Modified foods. Read the whole article by Mark Anslow, we've a (slightly) shorter version below.

1. Failure to deliver
Genetic modification, despite PR hype, consistently fails to live up to industry claims. Only two GM traits have ever made it to market: herbicide resistance and BT toxin expression. Other promises of genetic modification, such as the much vaunted "golden rice", have failed to materialise. In 2004, the Kenyan government admitted that Monsanto's GM sweet potatoes were no more resistant to feathery mottle virus than ordinary strains, and in fact produced lower yields. In January 2008, news that scientists had modified a carrot to cure osteoporosis by providing calcium had to be offset against the fact that you would need to eat 1.6 kilograms of these vegetables each day to meet your recommended calcium intake.

2. Costing the Earth
GM crops are costing farmers and governments more money than they are making. In a 2003 report by the Soil Association the cost to the US economy of GM crops was estimated at around $12 billion since 1999, on account of inflated farm subsidies, loss of export orders and various seed recalls. A study in Iowa found that

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greening it up – mon 17 mar 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-03-17 11:35

Look out for pro GM stories like this. An obvious threat to biotech multinationals like Monsanto is the organic movement that continues to sweep the world in direct opposition to the aggressive patent protected seed industry. So it isn’t unusual to see unremitting press in GM’s favour, but not in the vein of this latest article, which advocates that the future of food may depend on an unlikely marriage between organic farmers and genetic engineering (!). [boston.com] The suggestion that Bt is a ‘favourite’ insecticide of organic farmers is what had me sitting up. There may be no long-term studies of health effects to date, but there is literature about Btk and its negative effects on both humans and the environment that is more than convincing [nosprayzone] [quick facts about Bt] The Chinese cotton project sited in the article as so ‘hugely successful’ is a complete contradiction to a similar Bt cotton case in India that was an abysmal failure [mindfully.org] Notice too, how the article underhandedly undermines organic farming, suggesting it has ‘serious limitations’ – most of which refer to - you got it - pests and diseases… [Monsanto & GM in SA]

Netcare and Community Hospital Group stand accused of price fixing. In a fine example of how consumers in SA are being duped, a plea bargain submitted by the two accused to the Competition Tribunal would have allowed them to pay the tribunal R6-million for fixing prices of services rendered to the public by the CHG in 2003. This was after Netcare bought a 43.8 percent stake in CHG and adopted tariffs used by the largest private hospital group. The settlement offer has been refused. [IOL]

Tips for Tasneem. In her blog – sustainable home 4 all, Minister Tasneem Essop is encouraging all to submit their brilliant ideas on how to save electricity. If you can overlook being referred to as a 'citizen' this is a great opportunity. [sustainablehome4all]


le monde selon monsanto

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2008-03-14 10:18

Even if your French is as dodgy as mine, you may recognise some words in the phrase above. A new documentary on the world's most evil company was aired on ARTE TV in Europe a few days ago. It's called "The World According to Monsanto" and we found this clip on you tube (some English audio and some English subtitles).

"Made by French filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin, winner of the 'Albert Londres' award for journalists, the documentary paints a grim picture of the world's biggest and most invasive chemical and biotech multination that will leave you feeling angry."

US-based Monsanto provides 90 percent of the world's GM seeds -- and seems set on gaining complete control of the world's seed and food markets. By aggressively buying up seed companies, Monsanto will ensure that natural seeds are replaced with their genetically modified crops.

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public notice when gm sneaks

Submitted by turbosprout on Tue, 2008-01-08 10:56

On the 9th September 2001, while the Twin Towers were collapsing in a heap on television sets around the world, Labour Party aide, Jo Moore, penned a memo at 2.55pm UK time: "It is now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors expenses?".

Aside from terrorist attacks, natural disasters or world cup sporting events, other times of the year to ensure news does not get read includes Easter, Christmas and other public holidays.

Syngenta chose to publish their (obligatory) public notice to import genetically modified maize into the country on 16th Dec - the Day of Reconciliation. It's also roughly the time civil society NGO's wind up for the year, along with the rest of us consumers, and go and lay on the beach. Considering that there are only 30 days to object to the Registrar of Genetically Modified Organisisms (by 16th Jan) is this just inconsiderate timing or is their intention to place the notices so that minimal objections are received?

Actually two notices were published in the Sunday Times Business Times classified section, on separate pages probably so as not to draw undue attention to themselves.

They are both titled "PUBLIC NOTICE Commodity Clearance of Genetically Modified Maize" and should the Registrar of Genetically Modified Organisisms issue the permits it would entitle grain traders to import these particular types ("events") of GM Maize. Quantities are not mentioned in the notice so I assume that once the Registrar gives the nod, it is open hunting season and that the permits serve as a blanket authority to import any quantity the grain traders see fit. The grain will be


awareness and action!

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2007-12-06 11:21

The first step down the road of making a difference is awareness: if you don't know what's happening out there you can't act. At urban sprout we try to raise awareness in a few different ways - news and opinion articles, green guides, a directory of positive options and details of upcoming events. We've been sending out details of events in our newsletter for the last few months, but today we launch a green events calendar to make this information more visible.

So without further ado, here are some important happenings in the next few days you'll want to support:

Safeage talk: Learning from the South American experience

The most common belief about genetically engineered crops is that they are necessary to feed our burgeoning world population, but when big business takes over small scale family farming, it results in the concentration of land ownership, the destruction of peasant economies and indigenous crops, malnutrition, urban migration, increased poverty and crime.

Join Safeage and Javiera Rulli tonight at the Portobello Restaurant, Long Str, Cape Town as she explains the social and environmental situation of South America due to the expansion of Round Up Ready soy monocultures.

Clean-up of Black River

Black River testing: Pic: SA Mercury Assessment ProgramBlack River testing: Pic: SA Mercury Assessment ProgramCape Town's Black River is in dire need of a clean-up and this Saturday, 8 December, local citizen group What On Earth is Happening (WOE) will lead a massive campaign, backed by the City of Cape Town, celebrities, other environmental and corporate partners to clean up the Black River in one of its most polluted stretches close to where the N2 connects with the M5. This is a great opportunity to meet up with other like minded people and be part of a solution. Positive action is very empowering!

While You Were Sleeping screening: Uranium Road

If you're still sitting on the fence about nuclear power in South Africa and the PBMR this is the movie to see. Uranium Road lift's the lid on the closed world of nuclear in SA revealing secrets and greed. Uranium Road is a 53 minute documentary, based on the book by Dr David Fig.

Take a look at our calendar view of events here

And if you know of any upcoming green, organic, enviro events be sure to let us know


get answers to your GM questions

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2007-11-22 17:36

Alba, transgenic glowing bunny with jelly fish genes: Died age 4 instead of 12.Alba, transgenic glowing bunny with jelly fish genes: Died age 4 instead of 12.Although GM crops are proliferating at the rate of multiplying bunnies, there are still no scientific studies on the impact on human health over the long term, whilst adverse health effects have been documented in studies on rats, for example.

"We are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences", says Dr Suzanne Wuerthele, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist.

91% of Soya grown in the United States is genetically modified [USDA NASS Press Release, Jun 2007]. If you read the labels you'll find soya lecithin listed as an ingredient in a lot of processed foods (and you thought chocolate is only made from cacao and cows milk, right?). In South Africa the Free State University's GMO Testing Facility found Genetically Modified Organisms in 90% of the soya products that it tested. This even included most soya milk labelled "GMO-Free"!

Which brings me to what I actually wanted to say.

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biowatch loses appeal!!!

Submitted by turbosprout on Tue, 2007-11-06 17:18

Biowatch court case protest march - May 2004: pic: Benny GoolBiowatch court case protest march - May 2004: pic: Benny GoolA devastating blow has been dealt to Biowatch, the anti-GMO movement and civil society in general. The appeal by Biowatch against the costs order has been lost in a Pretoria High Court judgement earlier today. We don't have all the details yet as the traditional media have been a bit slow on the uptake, but expect to see a press release shortly on the Biowatch website.

How can justice be served when a small non-governmental civil society organisation has to fork out the legal costs for a giant multi-national, for a legal battle Biowatch won back in 2005? Is this the judiciary standing up for one of their own or something more sinister? It is completely nonsensical to me.

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biowatch appeal judgement expected today

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-11-06 09:32

pic:manataka.orgpic:manataka.orgFinally, the anticipated judgement in the Biowatch appeal against the order to pay Monsanto’s legal costs will be delivered this morning at 10am at the Pretoria High Court.

The outcome of this case has enormous consequences for the influence of genetically modified food in this country, and will set the standard for other environmental groups across the country that battle against monolithic giants like Monsanto in the future – will they be able to do so without fear of bankrupting themselves first?

We first reported on the appeal on 23 April 2007 – [high stakes on biowatch appeal] and [we’re still holding thumbs for biowatch] when we were rather mystified at the order by Judge Dunn for Biowatch to pay Monsanto South Africa’s legal costs, based on the premise that Monsanto was forced to come to court to protect its interests...


transgenic unpopular trees?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-10-25 17:41

I’m disturbed. It seems that scientists have now stuck a rabbit gene into poplar trees turning them into super trees that can suck up and destroy toxic chemicals from the air.

A philosophy professor at the University of Washington where the experiments are being performed reflects that "this is a real dilemma for the environmental community."

Essentially, I’m with those who worry about the unknowns. Yes, these are non-edible transgenic plants. But just because they’re not obviously entering our food chain doesn’t make them okay. We’re talking mutant trees here. And what about the effects these trees will have on the ecosystem in which they are planted? The trees are unique for being able to remove and destroy "several of the most widespread and dangerous pollutants", but it is this very versatility that could also cause problems – the rabbit enzyme’s flexibility could mean that it is able to affect the trees and other organisms in unforseen ways.

What is more disturbing is the subtle power


cool green blogs

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-09-11 12:04

who’s blogging about what on the green scene?

Helena Christensen dyes her hair green for the environment. The Danish model, who has created an eco-friendly line of clothing for label Monsoon, and runs her own boutique called Butnik (all those beautiful dresses, bags and tops are created in a non-electric factory in India) is apparently going to dye her hair green to draw attention to the environment and her eco-friendly lifestyle. [ecorazzi]

Picture frames from recycled tin ceilings. This definitely is a business idea for someone! They’re delicious to look at, and are fairly big, so that they can hold big photos up on the wall, and will create a wonderful eco-friendly presence in your house. [greatgreengoods]...


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