GM plants grow polio vaccines

October 2017

World-wide, polio is now a disease of the past in all but two countries. The battle has been waged with mass vaccination programmes reaching, for example, 95% of infants in Europe. Even in Pakistan and Afghanistan, polio's last stand, the annual incidence has been reducing dramatically year-on-year and is down to a few tens of cases. Indeed, conquering this virus has been one of the great success stories of modern medicine.

It's the bugs not the Bt

October 2017

Several varieties of 'Bt' insecticide are now widely generated by commercial GM crops.

These bacterial proteins are rarely directly toxic, but react with the gut lining of the target pest, creating a lesion in the gut wall. Death of the insect after 2 to 4 days, is a result of gut microbes leaking into the body.

Indeed, experiments have indicated that, for the majority of moth pest species, if their gut microbes have been destroyed by pre-treatment with antibiotics, Bt toxins are no longer able to kill them.

Putting this another way, death-by-Bt happens when the normally beneficial bugs in the healthy pests' gut move into the body where they become pathogenic.

Dicamba and dust

October 2017

The major herbicidal chemicals used by US farmers haven't really changed very much over the decades. Various forms of 'dicamba', first introduced in 1967, and 'glyphosate', first introduced in 1974 , feature in America's agricultural landscape as much today as they did a quarter of a century ago.

Both these herbicides have a low acute toxicity to animals (you'd need to eat an awful lot before you'd drop dead). However, their properties, modes of action and applications are very different.

Dicamba selectively kills broad-leafed weeds, but not grasses. In 1994, 90% of the 27.6 million pounds of dicamba formulation used in US fields was applied to maize.

Glyphosate kills all plant life. Until the late 1990s, glyphosate was used to clear the ground before a crop was planted, and in 1995 27.6 million pounds of glyphosate-based weedkiller was used in US fields. Since then, usage has increased some fifteen-fold due to widespread planting of GM glyphosate-tolerant soya and later several other similarly-engineered major crops.

In a bizarre twist of fate, glyphosate's popularity has led to a "battle between farmers" and even a farmer's murder, caused by dicamba.

Eating well keeps pests well

October 2017

GM crops which generate their own 'Bt' insecticides to kill their own pests are a key area of business expansion for the biotech industry. The biggest threat to these lucrative products is the emergence of Bt resistant pests.

Current wisdom in today's computer-dependent, gene-centric scientific world peopled with DNA-engineers, sees Bt resistant pests emerging due to a mistake in their DNA which accidentally produces a gene which accidentally interferes with the toxic effects of Bt and which they can pass on their offspring.

Based on the notion that pests would need two such 'resistance' genes to cope with Bt, the chance of it happening the field has been presumed slim, and the problem assumed to be a long-term one. Accordingly, biotech wise-guys, regulators and computer modelling came up with an anti-resistance strategy in which farmers plant non-GM 'refuge' crops beside the Bt ones to dilute out any chance mutant pests and their nuisance genes. As GM crops arriving on the market now come stacked with increasing varieties of Bt genes, the size of the 'refuge' crops has been allowed to dwindle.

And, is the wisdom working as it should?

Impossible bleeding burgers

September 2017
'Synbio', a.k.a. synthetic biology or synthia, began to look like becoming a reality in our food in 2014. Natural artificial additives such as stevia, vanilla and saffron look-alikes produced in vats of GM yeast were set to hit our plates [1].

The following year, 'Muufri' cowless milk emerged. Muufri has six key natural artificial cow's milk proteins produced in vats of GM yeast [2].

One year on, 'Soylent' meal alternatives became the must-have for the modern man who doesn't have time to shop, cook or sit down to eat. Soylent is "proudly made with GMOs" and doesn't even pretend to have any natural ingredients [3].

GMM contamination

September 2017


Many food and feed additives, produced once upon a time by chemical synthesis or extraction from natural sources, are now derived from fermentation of GM micro-organisms (GMMs).

EU rules require that such additives in the final product must be pure. This means that the GMM itself (alive or dead) or any artificial DNA inserted into it must have been removed.

Accordingly, no special labelling is required for GMM-derived additives. Also, there is no regulatory control system in place for the products of GMMs. It is assumed the company marketing the additive will verify the absence of the GMM and its novel DNA in the final substance.

Besides use as food processing aids and as a means of conferring artificial qualities on food products, GMM-derived additives include 'health' promoting substances, such as vitamins.

In 2014, EU regulators were notified that a German official enforcement laboratory had detected live GM bacteria in a consignment of 'riboflavin' feed additive from China.

GM pesticides cause more insect damage

September 2017



With such vast monocultures of GM corn being grown in America, most of which now self-infuse with the same or similar 'Bt' insecticides to kill the same or similar moth infestation, you might expect the pests to be reducing in abundance under the biotech-inspired onslaught.

Indeed, although no investigation has been made into the cause, earworm populations in American fields have been declining.  Long-term field monitoring from 1996 when the first Bt crops were entering the US landscape to 2016 found the pest reduced by up to 86%.

This should be good news for farmers, but counter-intuitively, over the same period, tests on sweetcorn sentinel plants [1] indicated an increase or no change in damage to both GM and non-GM plants.

Crop diversity disaster

September 2017

"It is agronomically, ecologically, nutritionally, and economically risky and unsustainable to rely almost exclusively on a handful of major crops to provide food for the world's (future population)" (Dempewolf).

The 'agronomic' problem is the need for crop diversification to achieve adaptation and resilience of our food production systems in the face of climate change.

The 'ecological' problem is that monocultures are an unbalanced hole in the ecosystem which can generate disease and spread toxins.

The 'nutritional' problem is that a diverse and varied diet is vital for our nutrition and health.

The 'economic' problem stems from all of the above.

India's cotton-picking lessons

September 2017
"The mantra is to let 'the market' intervene: a euphemism for letting powerful corporations take control; the same corporations that benefit from massive taxpayer subsidies, manipulate markets, write trade agreements and institute a regime of intellectual property rights thereby indicating that the 'free' market only exists in the warped delusions of those who churn out clichés about letting the market decide" (Tod Hunter)
 After 15 years of growing ‘Bt’ GM cotton in India, there are 'Lessons to Be Learnt' [1].

Scotland's food industry at risk

September 2017
Scotland's renewed vulnerability to GM-by-force has been highlighted by our Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.

Scottish produce has an excellent reputation around the world.  Food and Drink export is one of the standout success stories in our economy in terms of jobs and growth.  Earlier this year, the Scottish Government launched ‘Ambition 2030': an ambitious plan to target export markets for growth over the next 3 years that, if successful, will more than double the current turnover of our country's food and drink sector.  The outcome will make Scotland a model of responsible, profitable growth.

In 2015, Scotland requested exemption from EU consents for the cultivation of GM crops. This 'opt-out' is extremely important for our £5.5 billion food and drink industry.

After Brexit, Scotland's 'opt-out' will no longer be in force and we'll be at the mercy of whatever GM whim Westminster chooses to impose on us.

GM sugarcane

July 2017

Brazil has been a major supplier of non-GM soya to Europe. While huge tracts are planted with GM soya, the country has a very large land area and is confident it can keep GM and non-GM separate.

Last year, saw reductions in several GM-growing areas around the world: two countries (Romania and Burkino Faso) discontinued GM agriculture, India dropped GM cotton cultivation due to pest problems, one of China's biggest provinces implemented a 5-year ban on growing, processing and selling GM crops, Chinese GM cotton planting dropped 24%, while Argentina moved to crop diversification and away from GM. However, globally, the hectares planted to GM crops continue to edge upwards because the reductions have been offset by continuing increases in North and South America where 90% of GM plantings take place.

In Brazil there has been a rise in GM crop area, most of which will be soya, accompanied by reports of the deforestation of nearly 2 million acres of the Brazilian Amazon, the first in a decade.

This renewed environmental destruction may portend something more ominous than just more GM soya.

Regulators in Brazil have approved the commercial use of GM sugarcane.

A GM cure for toxic maize

July 2017

Each year, some 16 million tons of maize are lost globally to contamination by 'aflatoxins' after infection by some species of Aspergillus fungus.

In the US alone, wastage due to aflatoxins is estimated to cost agriculture $270 million per annum. Added to this is the expense of essential regulation for safety, because some forms of aflatoxin are the most potent toxins on the planet.

The substance produced by Aspergillus isn't, in itself, harmful. Ironically, when it reaches the liver, the main organ of detoxification, aflatoxins are transformed into derivatives which are toxic at levels of very few parts per billion. At very high doses, aflatoxins can cause acute liver damage and death. More usually however, their effects are chronic. They have been linked to birth defects, impaired immune system and, in the young, stunted growth.

Aflatoxins also have the sinister ability to target DNA and, in particular, attack a specific gene which protects against cancer. The result is liver cancer.

GM trees on the march

July 2017

GM trees are coming on in leaps and bounds.  The fruit of the Arctic Apple-tree is making its appearance in American Midwest stores [1], but the big GM tree event is 'short-rotation woody crops'.

Short-rotation woody crops are fast growing trees which can be harvested in just a few years for industrial purposes such as paper and biofuels.  Eucalyptus, which escaped from its native Australia when Captain Cook arrived there, has become one such major crop since the 19th Century.  Because different species are adaptable to many local climates, plantations are now found on every continent.  The next wave, just beginning to gain momentum, is GM eucalyptus.

Convenient GM 'Arctic' apples

July 2017

Consumers in the US Midwest may now be finding a new convenience product in their grocery stores: convenient 10oz packs of conveniently sliced apples which conveniently don't turn brown and are a convenient snack.

The apples carry an inconvenient label consisting of a humanly indecipherable barcode which consumers will inconveniently have to scan with their smartphone to find out what in God's name they're buying.

Stirring the pot

July 2017

People use catering establishments a lot in the UK. A recent survey by Beyond GM found that 87% of respondents frequented table service restaurants, around half used pubs, coffee-shops and take-aways, while a third or so ate food in hotels, from street stalls and home deliveries, and a smaller proportion regularly used workplace or school cafeterias.

Local catering is clearly a booming business and, as one respondent said, this puts them "at the forefront" in setting and maintaining food quality standards.

Let's campaign

July 2017

Now that you have a newly-elected representative in Government, just burning with enthusiasm to serve you, it's a good time to speak out.

The Great Brexit Bungle could have many outcomes damaging to the quality of your food and your long-term health. All the existing EU food laws on GMOs might remain intact. However, it seems more likely we'll find ourselves with the GM products of US light-touch regulation on our plate and not a label in sight. Or, we could end up in a limbo into which any country will be able to dump surplus GM stuff no one else wants.

Impossible Roundup

June 2017

While the European Commission (EC) maintains that there is "no reason to doubt" the safety of glyphosate (the world's best selling herbicide and key ingredient of Monsanto's 'Roundup'), and that nothing stands in the way of glyphosate's re-approval, Member States are nevertheless steadily eliminating it.

Glyphosate causes crop disease

June 2017

In 2003, during a 5-year study of crop disease, the first alarm was raised that wheat appeared to be worse affected by 'fusarium head blight' in fields where glyphosate herbicide had been applied just before planting. Laboratory studies at the time also indicated that fusarium grows faster when glyphosate-based weedkillers are added to the medium they're growing in.

Fusarium head blight is a devastating fungal disease which destroys a fifth of wheat harvests in Europe alone. This fungus produces 'mycotoxins' (poisons) known to cause cancer of the liver and kidney, disorders of the blood and lung, vomiting, and damage to the immune system. Anything which promotes fusarium is a serious business.

GM lessons, for free, forever

June 2017

Meet Robert. Robert is an on-off-on-off student at Cornell University, New York State, with a "passion for science".

As a freshman, Robert was "deeply unaware of our current GMO agriculture paradigm" and of his university's connection to it (see below).

During an off-student period, Robert participated in three unique seasons of agroecological crop production, and witnessed its "incredible results". Inevitably, this made him aware of the other end of the agricultural spectrum: GM food ruled by giant corporations. He also recognised that GM commodity monocultures fed to factory-farmed animals are one of the most destructive forces to our environment and health that our planet's ever seen.

With this new perspective on 'conventional' agriculture, Robert eagerly sat in on a Cornell University course entitled "The GMO Debate".

Glyphosate-free food labels

June 2017

A US consumer survey in 2013 found that 71% of Americans were worried about pesticides in their food, and almost three out of four would like to eat food with fewer pesticides.

By 2014, a similar survey found pesticides had become a concern for 85% of American consumers, more than any other food-related issue. Pesticides are even higher on the list of concerns than GMOs, even although the two are inextricably bound together [1].

The US GMO non-labelling act

June 2017

For years, the biotech industry has been able to rely on the fact that America remains one of the few industrialised countries whose regulators haven't demanded clear labelling of GM foods.

Big Food has been happy to hide behind this and ignore consumer concerns.

But, as consumer frustration mounts over the denial of their right to know what they're eating, things are starting to change.

GMOs, human rights and the environment

June 2017

The advisory opinion of the International Monsanto Tribunal, referred to in GM-Free Scotland articles earlier this year [1,2], has been published.

Six questions were addressed by the Tribunal, and its opinions were based exclusively on legal considerations, grounded in international human rights and humanitarian laws (see below).

Pesticides' catastrophic impacts

May 2017

In March this year, the United Nation (UN) special rapporteurs on the right to food and on toxics presented a scathing report on pesticides.

It pointed to the "catastrophic impacts (of pesticides) on the environment, human health and society as a whole", including an estimated 200,000 deaths a year from acute poisoning alone, plus untold suffering from chronic pesticide exposure now linked to "cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility".

The billion dollar bug

May 2017

In 1868 western corn rootworm (WCR) was observed in Kansas to be a harmless chewing insect from Central America found in low populations on the Western Great Plains.

*Note the naturally low numbers, and the suggestion that these beetles can naturally travel long distances. 

When centre-pivot irrigation with it's quarter mile watering radius (so efficient it's now sucking the plains dry) was introduced in the 1950s, maize monoculture madness gripped American farmers. Across the land, prairies were converted to horizon-scale corn fields.

To the WCR, which fed exclusively on corn and lay their eggs there, this became an 80-million acre banquet-plus-nursery.

Science-free wildlife death traps

May 2017

Documents from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in early 2017 show that almost 100% of GM corn is pre-treated with neonicotinoid insecticides. In addition, although the EPA has concluded that neonicotinoid seed treatments have no economic benefit to soya growers, incomplete data indicate that over 50% of soya beans are also coated with the insecticide.

Neonicotinoids, of which there are several brands and classes on the market, are used as seed coatings. They end up throughout the mature plant, its flowers, pollen and nectar, and 95% of the coatings spread through the wider environment including soil water and dust in the air. UK trials have found that at least one neonictinoid accumulates in the soil with increasing toxicity over several years.

Across America, tens of millions of acres of land are planted with corn or soya (often year about), each producing its own fresh wave of neonicotinoids.

Say stop to gene drives

May 2017

Our regulators are charged with ensuring the safety of an appalling array of invented substances and devices entering the market on a daily basis. These include nanoparticles, GMOs, rare metals, radiation, novel chemicals and all manner of devices.

This presents them with an appalling array of risk-related factors to consider, including exposure (who, when, how much), accidental-, off-label-, illegal-, or malicious-uses, disposal, recall, negative outcomes, diversity of harm, etc. Add to this, the need to monitor and react to any problems arising from new products.

GM and seed coatings - the hidden insecticides

May 2017

In the short-term, 'Bt' crop growers certainly enjoy biotech industry promises: reduced labour and less expense for battling their worst insect pests [1].

Indeed, there have been several studies demonstrating a significant reduction in the amount of chemical insecticides farmers have to spray on GM crops which provide their own Bt insecticide. These findings aren't wrong. But for the consumer, they conceal some inconvenient truths.

Toxins in time

May 2017

Usefully for those companies trying to push their chemicals onto the market, some aspects of routine toxicological assessment seem to be stuck in the 16th Century.

A recent study of one of the shortcomings of modern toxicology starts by pointing out that its central paradigm, "the dose makes the poison", dates back to the revolutionary thinking of Paracelsus (see below). It goes on to demonstrate that the dose sometimes makes the poison, but not always, and in the real-world probably rarely.

The curious case of the useless rice

April 2017

Much has been made of the philanthropic nature of GM 'golden' rice. The idea is that, as a public research project, locally-adapted varieties of the vitamin A enhanced rice will be made available free of charge to subsistence farmers in developing countries as part of a co-ordinated humanitarian effort. In this way, the yellow-coloured self-supplementing rice will be grown sustainably by those who need it most, and the widespread ill-health and blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency (VAD) will be consigned to history.

Bt insecticide risks in the agricultural landscape

April 2017

As the biotech industry and regulators cling to the notion that 'Bt' insecticide is toxic only to the target pests and is easily digested by mammals just like any other protein, science is throwing a few flies in their ointment.

GM crop plants have been created which generate one or several artificial versions of 'Bt' insecticides. These proteins, in their natural forms, are produced by soil bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis.

It's disturbing to read in a recent scientific paper that:
"Bt toxins can be transferred via the food web and accumulate in organisms to different degrees".

Ever expanding miracle grass

April 2017

... the sorcerer's apprentice recited the magic words, and the golf course grew bigger and bigger, engulfing the world with its ever-expanding miracle grass that never dies ... 

Unfortunately, this isn't a fairy-tale. The 'ever-expanding grass' for golf courses is Scotts Miracle-Gro creeping bentgrass genetically transformed never to die when sprayed with glyphosate herbicide; the 'magic words' were what Scotts and its partner, Monsanto, said to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow the GM grass to be field-tested without any environmental impact assessment; and it is, indeed, growing 'bigger and bigger', because although the novel grass never made it to any golf course turf-managers, it is nevertheless rampaging across the Oregon landscape and beyond.

Enogen contamination concerns

April 2017

In 2011, the first GM maize created solely for industrial purposes was approved for cultivation by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

'Enogen' maize has incorporated a bacterial enzyme, 'alpha-amylase', which digests starch to produce sugar. Conveniently, this enzyme can be used at the high temperatures. This makes it useful for the production of ethanolic fuel to make American cars greener.

Up until the introduction of Enogen, the first stage of converting maize to ethanol was to mix in liquid amylase under carefully controlled conditions. Now, as little 15% of Enogen maize in the feed-stock is enough to efficiently decompose all the starch present* without further ado.

Inacta soya concerns

April 2017

EU soya consumers now face the fun prospect of another novel additive in their food. 'Intacta' soya is the first to incorporate a gene for a 'Bt' insecticide in addition to the usual GM ability to accumulate glyphosate herbicide.

The Bt toxin in Intacta is 'Cry1Ac' protein already widely deployed in other commercial GM crops. Besides the existing doubts about the safety assessment of Cry1Ac (such as the use of the bacterial version in tests instead of the structurally, functionally and environmentally different plant-generated version), Intacta presents additional serious concerns.

As all trained kitchen staff know, soya is a recognised human allergen. Cry1Ac is, not only a potential allergen, but is an adjuvant, able to boost immune reactions. Putting two allergens together in one food, or in the dust from animal feed, doesn't sound sensible.

Food safety after Brexit

April 2017

No doubt some GM-Free Scotland readers voted against Brexit due to concerns about the food quality free-for-all it might lead to.

Echoing such doubts, Angus Roberson, Scottish National Party MP for Moray, reminded Parliament that
"The European Union, which we are still part of, has among the highest food safety standards anywhere in the world. The United States on the other hand, is keen to have health systems that are fully open to private competition and it wants to export genetically modified organisms ... ". 
Brexit will remove our current protection from substandard food imports, especially from America.

Noise to drown out the science

March 2017

US law-makers have been urged by one outspoken anti-regulation journal editor to recognise that "a healthy economy with people employed is the cornerstone of a healthy population". That population, however, is "fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health" (Berry).

What the food industry does pay attention to is its own financial health, and any law-makers who try to make food healthier (so as to maintain that healthy population) are not good for its bottom line.

Science is fundamental to food quality, but industry and its lobbyists have worked out all sorts of creative ways to undermine inconvenient facts emerging from the lab.

Creating noise is the favoured tactic.

Fluttering into oblivion

March 2017

In 1995, the population of America's iconic and wonderfully colourful Monarch butterflies reached an all-time high. The following year, GM crops hit US fields with monocultures of GM 'Roundup Ready' plants doused with glyphosate herbicide and monocultures of GM insecticidal plants. These commodities mushroomed within a few years to cover a great deal of the 400 million or so acres of America's cropland.

Apart from the brief rally in the 2010-2011 season, Monarch numbers have declined steadily ever since that peak. Even optimistic estimates put the total loss at more than 80%, and the most recent tally recorded a further drop of 27% from last year's count.

Undefended maize

March 2017

The Green Revolution has been an exercise in creating extremes. We now have extreme uniformity in our staple crops and in our agricultural practices, with an extreme dependence on agrichemicals, and a globalised crop market (you can't get much bigger than that).

This has led to an extreme reduction in our crop gene pool, unstoppable pest problems, and a problem-solving mind-set limited to more-of-the-same single high-tech solutions to 'key' difficulties.

We now have food from crops which have been intensively bred for extreme yield with scant attention to whole nutritional value, taste or pest resistance.

In this one-size-fits-all agricultural system, the answer to poor soil is to add chemicals, and the answer to pests is to kill them with chemicals.

All maize is wormy now

March 2017

If you've been following the GM issue for a while, cast your mind back to 2006. A long-standing, respected British science journal gave its "Outstanding Paper Award for Excellence" to a study which could be better described as a pro-GM PR initiative dressed up as science.

To assess what influenced consumer purchasing decisions, the study offered 'Bt' insecticide-generating GM sweet corn for sale in a Canadian farm shop beside conventional sweet corn. One of the more blatant exercises in propaganda used during this 'study' was the descriptors attached to the two types of sweet corn: the conventional one was labelled 'wormy' followed by a list of the pesticides sprayed on it; the GM one was labelled 'quality' with the 'Bt' (insecticide!) part kept separate.

Fast forward ten years and check out how these two sweet corns would truthfully be labelled today. The wormy one is still wormy and still sprayed with multiple pesticides. And the quality one?

GM plants in the shade

March 2017

Up until now, genetic engineers have successfully provided us with crops full of weedkillers which may be toxic to humans too, and crops full of insecticides which may be toxic to humans too, and crops full of multiple varieties of both which are even more likely to be toxic to humans.  However, the claimed extra GM crop yield needed to feed the world has been elusive.

The basis of all the food supply for all animals (including humans) is the ability of plants to photosynthesise, that is, to use the energy in sunlight to build sugars using carbon dioxide gas from the air and water from the soil.

Biotech scientists trying to boost crop yields have focused on 'improving' photosynthesis, but the biochemical pathways involved are dynamically regulated in the plant and are highly complex, too complex so far for meaningful human intervention.

A new approach aimed at 'improving' photosynthesis indirectly, and funded by the Gates Foundation, has been quick to announce a successful proof-of-concept field-trial in the scientific and popular press.

Ban Glyphosate EU Citizens' Initiative

March 2017


Besides the obvious negative environmental impacts of the world's most widely-used herbicide, readers of GM-free Scotland will probably agree that,"expanding scientific evidence demonstrates that glyphosate is also a serious threat to human health" [1,2,3]. Also, because "EU Regulation 1107/2009 prohibits the use of pesticides when there is sufficient evidence in laboratory animals that these substances can cause cancer, based on IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) criteria ... EU approval for glyphosate must be withdrawn."

Metallic rice

February 2017

Global mapping shows an "unequivocal overlap" of poverty, micronutrient deficiency and rice consumption.

Estimates suggest some 15% of the world's population suffer from iron-deficiency anaemia, and a similar number from zinc-deficiency. These have serious consequences for health and energy, immune- and nervous-system function, gene regulation and child development, and for productivity.

Part of the problem is that rice doesn't have enough iron and zinc in it for people with little else to eat. From the biotech scientist's point of view, this is the rice's fault. The answer is therefore to insert artificial genes which drive an unnatural accumulation of iron and zinc in the rice plants.

Missing the signs of GM disease

February 2017
Indian shepherd. Photo Creative Commons
What would happen if, after 12 years of eating a food in its conventional form, and being in your own estimation quite healthy, you ate the same food in a GM form with added bacterial insecticide for four years, and became sick?

What if you noticed during the following four years that up to 20% of the people around you died or became sick with the same symptoms?

You might expect government health departments to be checking the GM food for possible GM-related toxins and checking out the sick and the dead for possible chronic GM-related reactions. You might expect a focus on the health of the organs which deal with toxins, the liver and kidneys, and effects on the organ most exposed to the questionable food, the gut.

If the response of the Indian government to the plight of shepherds and farmers whose livestock were grazed on 'Bt' insecticidal cotton is anything to go by, you can expect ...

Roundup Ready crops - designed to poison

February 2017
 
Despite the biotech lobby's best efforts to suppress the bad news, adverse findings continue to flow from Gilles-Eric Séralini's life-long study of rats fed Roundup herbicidal formulation (active ingredient glyphosate) and the Roundup-resistant GM maize it's sprayed on [1,2].
 
This study found signs of anatomical pathologies plus blood- and urine-biochemistry indicative of liver and kidney dysfunction after exposure to Roundup.
 
Molecular profiling, the latest thing in tissue analysis, has been applied to the livers of the Roundup-fed rats. The results confirm the evidence of glyphosate-induced liver disease first observed in the 1980s and since backed up by a growing body of evidence.

The Glyphosate dodge

February 2017


OUR QUESTION:

If you're wondering why glyphosate herbicide is still legally present in your food and in GM animal feed when the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found it "probably carcinogenic to humans", some light was shed on this by the evidence heard during the 'Monsanto Tribunal' held in October 2016 (see below).

The IARC looked at experiments on mice fed glyphosate. In one life-time study, they saw significant increases in kidney tumours, and in another they saw increases in blood vessel cancer. They also noted increases in malignant lymphoma (blood cell cancer) in a further three mouse studies, but these were only mentioned, not included in the final report, because they were non-peer reviewed industry studies whose details couldn't be ascertained.

An IARC classification of 'probably carcinogenic' was unwelcome because it's only one short step away from "presumed carcinogen" which would, under EU law, trigger an automatic ban unless exposure levels were "negligible" (and this doesn't mean 'below permitted levels').

The GM fish oil business

February 2017

Global materials-supply company, Cargill, is entering the GM race. With its existing well-honed expertise in farmer services [1], agricultural commodity and processing, animal feed and nutrition, transportation and logistics (not to mention sustainability consulting, and financial and risk management), the Company is aiming to supply us with farmed fish raised on GM plant-based 'fish' oil in less than five years.

The team assembled to achieve this includes German chemical company BASF which has been working on transforming canola (oilseed rape) with look-alike algal genes for 20 years, plus GM compliant farmers in Montana with whom Cargill has a close relationship, and a newly-purchased Norwegian fish feed company.

The GM Glyphosate game

February 2017

In the last five years, concerns surrounding glyphosate-based herbicides have been the subject of some 90 articles here on GM-Free Scotland, one-fifth of the total.

These herbicidal formulations have been, and continue to be, the lynch-pin of GM crops, the vast majority of which have been engineered to survive spraying with glyphosate. They have, therefore, been central to the profitability of GM and to the biotech industry's control of agriculture.

A recent pest-protection consultant review of the history and future of this herbicide describes the predicament which this particular GM-based agriculture has got us into.

NK603 maize is not equivalent

January 2017
Photo: Creative Commons

It has long been a refrain in GM-free Scotland articles that the 'safety testing' of GM foods is too crude, too limited and too old-fashioned to tell us anything except that eating it won't make anyone drop dead. Science has many more sophisticated and more meaningful testing techniques at its disposal, if only there was the will to develop them for routine use.

At the end of 2016, however, the ball finally got rolling.

Pakistan cotton crisis

January 2017

Photo credit  Håkan Löndahl on Flickr
Pakistan's economy is in trouble, mainly due to a major setback in its agriculture and textile industry. At the heart of the problem is a massive 27.8% drop in cotton production.

A multitude of factors has been implicated this decline.

February 2016 saw international cotton prices touch a six-year low.

GMO MON810 maize gut rot

January 2017
Image © Greenpeace
In the late 1990s, Scotland sparked an anti-GM storm when scientists Arpad Pusztai and Stanley Ewen at Aberdeen University reported adverse effects on laboratory rats fed GM potatoes.

It's not to the credit of scientists that these preliminary, short term (10-day), small-scale (6 animals per treatment) findings were not followed up.  Instead, Pusztai was silenced, and the science of GM safety-testing was effectively stifled for years. 

Florida GM mosquitoes will not be released

January 2017
Photo Creative commons
The first ever mass release of GM mosquitoes in the U.S. will NOT go ahead.

Not wanting to be used as lab rats forced to swallow, breath and be bitten by biotech mozzies in their own homes, the Florida community chosen to be the subjects of this reckless, real-life experiment complained very loudly.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which had fast-tracked approval of the trial release of Oxitec's self-destruct GM mosquitoes, simply hadn't done its homework.  There have been no impact assessments on people, nor on threatened and endangered species, nor on the environment, nor even on the Zika virus and Dengue virus the high-tech decimation of the mosquito population is supposed to achieve [1].

Any future applications for GM mosquito release will require an 'Environmental Assessment' and a 'Finding of No Significant Impact'.

US court notes GMO concerns

January 2017
Photo: Creative Commons
A US court has ruled that Federal law doesn't prevent States and Counties from passing their own local laws to regulate or ban commercial growing of GM crops.

Most importantly, the court acknowledged that growing GM raises "several well-documented concerns", including economic impacts due to gene pollution, and environmental impacts from increased use of pesticides, superweeeds, pest-resistance, and reduced biodiversity.

This is significant because GM crops and life-destroying chemicals are inseparable. 

NFU admits farmers must grow what consumers want

January 2017
Photo: Creative Commons
The Vice President of the National Farmers Union (NFU), who "thinks GM is the way forward" and that science, not "popular appeal", should be directing what farmers can and can't grow, has finally admitted he has to be "mindful of markets". He's noticed that he has to "grow what consumers want to eat" or what he grows won't sell.

Attendees at a meeting of United Oilseeds (co-operative specialist oilseeds merchant) were warned:
"If the UK takes a pro-GM attitude, where are our exports going to go? If we start to develop a different policy to the rest of the EU, those issues (product marketability) will raise their heads and we need to be very, very careful".
Add to this that there is a need for regulators "to recognise that agriculture is not just like any other industry" and that "some level of self sufficiency, some level of food security, is a political objective. Our home agriculture needs to thrive".