Posted by Dave on August 11, 2011
As if genetically engineered alfalfa, corn for ethanol, sugar beets, and most recently Kentucky bluegrass for lawns weren't enough, the Obama USDA is now poised to approve another unnecessary GMO crop, in lieu of independent scientific data and practice of precautionary principles.
Currently, Monsanto is seeking approval from the USDA of a drought resistant corn known as MON 87460, which Monsanto claims achieves better results under low-water conditions compared to other varieties. Even the USDA’s own assessment shows that MON 87460 is no more “drought-tolerant" than current corn varieties nor does it have the true long-term potential benefits to meet drought conditions that farming with organic corn can bring to farmers.
Unfortunately, like all GMO approval processes in the U.S., the USDA has relied heavily on Monsanto’s own corporate science and failed to get adequate independent, peer reviewed data regarding the safety of this new GMO drought corn or of Monsanto’s claims.
It would appear that the "science" used to rationalize the approval for yet another GMO crop is biased to the benefit of Monsanto, ignoring the needs of farmers, the environment and the health of the population. The USDA public comment for approval of MON ends tomorrow
British Scientists Find GMO Horizontal Gene Transfer
In what can only be a glaring scientific oversight, the USDA assessment readily admits that “horizontal gene transfer” of DNA is a common event in nature, but somehow diminishes the potential for the novel genetic components found in Monsanto’s GMO drought corn to be capable of such leaps. Current ag biotechnology relies on a crude insertion of GMO genes done in scattershot fashion, which are by their very creation designed to cross previously untraversable genetic barriers imposed by nature.
More alarming is the fact that scientists in England have found that “horizontal gene transfer” of one of the main GMO genetic components found in MON 87460 has already occurred. Just last year scientists at University of Bristol “identified a natural process they say that would allow synthetic genes to move across GM organisms and out into the wild.”
According to the USDA’s own assessment, Monsanto’s GMO drought corn “was developed through a plant pathogenic bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated transformation”. It is the same Agrobacterium tumefaciens that British researchers found that “‘transforms’ plant tissue at ‘plant wound’ sites and ‘clearly demonstrates that when placed together on damaged plant tissue, Agrobacterium readily transforms associated fungi’”.
It is hard to understand how scientists at the main U.S. government oversight agency could miss these facts in their own assessment of a new GMO crop, but like previous administrations, officials in the Obama administration appear more interested in fast-tracking Monsanto’s GMO technology.
Tell the USDA that they need to reject Monsanto’s studies of their own products and demand more independent peer reviewed data before it can approve any more GMO crops.
Monsanto’s Missing GMO Genes: Where did they GO?
On top of this, the current USDA assessment for Monsanto’s GMO drought corn readily admits that multiple GMO genetic components “did not get incorporated into the transformed plant”. Even as Monsanto attempts to diminish this alarming finding, the USDA also admits “a 22 base pair length of genomic DNA got deleted at the insert-to-plant DNA junction in MON 87460.”
Despite these disturbing scientific anomalies, which the USDA calls “minor genetic sequence modifications” the agency concludes there is no “biologically meaningful difference between MON 87460 and conventional corn.”
Do you believe them?
Bt toxin from GMO Corn Found in Pregnant Mothers
This past spring, further punctuating the point of gene trasference from plants to humans, Canadian scientists alarmingly discovered traces of the Bt toxin from GMO corn - engineered to release an insecticide - in 93% of blood samples taken from pregnant women and 80% umbilical cords tested.
This discovery comes in spite of promises by ag biotech companies such as Monsanto that this was not possible.
For any mother or parent such findings should bring about a sobering awakening that U.S. governmental regulatory agencies are not adequately doing their jobs and that more independent peer reviewed studies must be conducted before any more GMO crops are approved by the USDA or the Obama administration.
Click here to send in your public comment to tell the USDA that they need to reject Monsanto’s studies of their own products and demand more independent peer reviewed data before they can approve any more GMO crops.
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
1. “PLANT PEST RISK ASSESSMENT FOR MON 87460 CORN” U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
2. “Scientists Discover New Route for GM Contamination”, November 4, 2010 Farmers Guardian. http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/arable/arable-news/scientists-discover-new-route-for-gm-contamination/35425.article
3. “GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies”, May 20, 2011, UK Daily Mail.