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"More Details on the Strange Organism That Could Destroy Monsanto"

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on May 10, 2011 - 9:30am

Last week Food Democracy launched an exclusive 20 minute video interview with Dr. Don Huber about the problems that a team of scientists have recently discovered linking Monsanto's flagship products, Roundup Ready corn and soybeans and herbicide Roundup that these genetically modified (GMO) seeds are engineered to tolerate, with alarming rates of infertility and spontaneous abortions in animal livestock and a rise in crop diseases appearing in Midwestern fields.

Dr. Huber, an internationally recognized plant pathologist and expert on glyphosate, the main chemical component of Roundup, became famous earlier this year when a private letter he wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack warning him of the major problem with Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops was leaked on the Internet.

Having seen Dr. Huber speak publicly about these problems with a group of more than 200 commodity farmers, many of whom grew GMO crops and had experienced problems in their fields, in Des Moines, Iowa, on February 4th of this year, Food Democracy Now! decided to investigate further.

The release of the interview culminated three months of intense research, speaking with farmers, veterinarians and scientists involved in this groundbreaking and emerging science. Scientists and veterinarians have linked nutrient deficiencies created by Roundup's mode of action on plant mineral uptake and the discovery of a new organism previously unknown to science, with the rise in livestock infertility problems and a sharp increase in two major crop diseases that are impacting America's production agriculture farmer that uses Roundup Ready corn and soybeans.

Following years of anecdotal evidence by family farmers experiencing rising rates of infertility in their animal livestock herds - with spontaneous abortion rates of 45% of cattle and dairy herds - a team of scientists discovered that the origins of the problem lie in the GMO feed that farmers were feeding their animals and ultimately led to the discovery of the new organism, which can only be seen under an electron microscope and has not yet been classified taxonomically.

As a senior scientist, with more than 40 years working with military and professional agencies evaluating natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks, Dr. Huber had hoped to warn Secretary Vilsack and the Obama administration prior to the approval of Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa. Despite Dr. Huber's dire warning, which he stated should be "treated as an emergency", the USDA went ahead and approved Monsanto's GMO alfalfa on January 27th, only 10 days after receiving his letter.

When news of Dr. Huber's letter leaked publicly in the latter part of February, it set off another firestorm of criticism of the administration and a desperate misiniformation campaign by seed and chemical giant Monsanto who immediately denied any problems with their genetically engineered seeds, which form the foundation of livestock feed in the U.S. and around the world.

Today more than 93% of the soybeans and 80% of the corn grown in the U.S. contain Monsanto's Roundup Ready GMO genes, making them one of the most widely adopted technologies in agriculture today and results in more than 80% of the processed food in the U.S. containing GMOs.

As news of the letter spread on the internet, a group of pro-biotech forces set out to smear Dr. Huber's reputation online. But already, the video interview conducted by Food Democracy Now! has helped debunked some of the more ludicrous claims against Dr. Huber.

Last week, in an article titled, "Mystery Science: The Organism That Could Bring Down Monsanto," BNET CBS Interactive Business Network reporter Melanie Warner wrote:

Now, that scientist — Don Huber — has written a follow-up letter to the USDA and appears in a videotaped interview where he presents an even scarier picture of the damage he claims Monsanto’s herbicide chemical glyphosate (the main ingredient in Roundup) is doing to both plants and the animals who eat them.

In the 20-minute interview, which was conducted by Food Democracy Now’s Dave Murphy, Huber makes a strong case for his own credibility, appearing as a droll, erudite Midwestern scientist with deep connections to corn and soybean growers and livestock farmers. Although Huber’s findings have not yet been verified by outside scientists or published in a peer reviewed journal, the severity of his claims is such that the USDA ought to give them immediate attention.

Now that the mainstream media can see Dr. Huber speak for himself, his message is having a broader impact.

Warner goes on to detail Dr. Huber's main criticisms against the chemical Roundup and the problems that farmers using it and Monsanto's GMO seeds are experiencing in their fields and among their herds:

 

Huber’s issue is not with genetic engineering per se, but with the huge amounts of glyphosate (185 million pounds in 2007) in herbicide now used on America’s farms. Use of glyphosate has soared due to widespread use of Monsanto’s soy and corn seeds, which are genetically modified to survive its effects.

The problem with glyphosate, Huber says, is that it effectively... weaken[s] its defenses and makes it more susceptible to pathogens, such as the one his team discovered. The scientists have taken to calling the bug “the electron microscope (EM) organism,” since it can only be seen with an electron microscope.

A big part of the problem, Huber says, lies with the way glyphosate prevents plants from absorbing vital nutrients, particularly the mineral manganese. In the Food Democracy Now! interview, Huber says some studies have shown that Roundup Ready soybeans and corn have up to 50% less manganese than conventional varieties. Huber claims that the double whammy of weakened defenses and the new EM organism have contributed to “unexplained epidemics” of disease on farms — sudden death syndrome of soybean crops and Goss’ Wilt on corn.

Already, less than a week from the interview's release, Food Democracy Now! has received word that the video has been viewed by top USDA officials. In addition, the extended video has been viewed more than 7,000 times in more than 50 countries and Food Democracy Now! has heard reports that members of the EU parliament are finding it to be a highly educational tool, especially in light of Dr. Huber's second letter, addessed to top EU officials detailing his and the other scientist's findings.

Only time will tell, if the Obama administration is wise enough to investigate the emerging science linking the world's most widely used chemical herbicide with this serious threat to America's mainstream production agricultural farmers and our nation's food supply.

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