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GMOs: Ban Them or Label Them?

By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, March 6, 2014

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's Genetic Engineering Page, and our Millions Against Monsanto Page.

Since the controversial introduction in the mid-nineties of genetically engineered (GE) food and crops, and the subsequent fast-tracking of those crops by the federal government—with no independent safety-testing or labeling required—there has been a lively debate among activists, both inside and outside the U.S., about how to drive these unhealthy and environmentally destructive “Frankenfoods” off the market.

Some campaigners have called for an outright ban of GE crops. In fact, several dozen nations, thousands of local governments in the EU, and six counties in the U.S. (in California, Washington and Hawaii) have created GMO-free zones by passing bans.

Other activists argue that strict mandatory labeling laws, similar to those in the EU, are all we need in order to rid the world of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Activists in this camp point out that very few products in countries that have mandatory GMO labeling laws contain GMOs, because once companies are required to label GMO ingredients, they reformulate their products to be GMO-free, rather than risk rejection by consumers.

Who’s right?

A review of two decades of anti-GMO campaigning in North America and Europe suggests that mandatory labeling and bans, or GMO-free zones, should be seen as complementary, rather than contradictory. And recent news about increased contamination of non-GMO crops by the growing number of USDA-approved GMO crops suggests that if we don’t implement labeling laws and bans sooner rather than later, we may run out of time to preserve organic and non-GMO farmers and their fields.

Bans and Mandatory Labeling Laws: Lessons from the EU

In the EU in the late-1990s, in what was the largest agricultural market in the world, anti-GMO campaigners, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, at first tried to establish a sweeping production and import ban on all GMOs. They were unsuccessful, largely because politicians and bureaucrats argued that an outright ban of GMOs in the EU would violate World Trade Organization agreements and bring on serious economic retaliation from the U.S. government.

Leading consumer, environmental and farm groups pushing for a ban were successful, however, in forcing EU authorities to adopt significant GMO safety-testing regulations.  All GMOs, under EU law, are considered "novel foods" and are subject to extensive, case-by-case, science-based food evaluation by European regulatory officials. These regulations, much to the chagrin of Monsanto and the Gene Giants, have kept most GMOs, with the exception of animal feeds, out of the country.

EU regulations also permit member nations to establish GMO-free zones.  As of 2012 there are 169 regions and 4,713 municipalities that have declared themselves GMO-free zones in the EU. In addition to these GMO-free zones in the EU, at least 26 nations, including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico, and Russia have banned GMOs entirely. Significant labeling and safety-testing procedures on GMOs have been put in place in approximately 60 countries.

Mandatory Labeling in the EU: The Crucial Blow to GMOs

Although EU grassroots forces failed to gain a continent-wide ban on the cultivation or import of GMOs, they were successful in pushing authorities to impose mandatory labeling of all genetically engineered foods, feeds and food ingredients in 1997. This, combined with strict pre-market safety-testing regulations, has marginalized or eliminated GMOs throughout the EU.

EU foods derived from animals raised on GMO feed, however—meat, eggs, and dairy products—do not have to be labeled in the EU. As a consequence, billions of dollars of GMO-tainted animal feeds, including corn, soybeans and canola, continue to be imported every year into the EU from the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Argentina. EU activists, in Germany and elsewhere, have now begun campaigning to eliminate this strategic loophole.

As the EU’s GMO food labeling law came into effect in 1997-98, activists switched gears, successfully pressuring many large supermarket chains, including Carrefour, Co-Op, Tesco, Waitrose  and Marks & Spencer, and food manufacturers, including Unilever and Nestlé, to pledge to remain GMO-free. Feeling the heat from grassroots campaigners and realizing that mandatory GMO labeling would be the “kiss of death” for their brand-name products and their reputations, every major EU supermarket, food manufacturing and restaurant chain, including U.S.-based multinationals such as General Mills, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Walmart, eliminated GMOs from their supply chains. As a consequence almost no GMO-derived foods, with the exception of meat and animal products, have been sold in EU retail stores or restaurants from 1997 until now.

With no real market for GMOs, EU farmers have refused to grow them. EU activists point out that if meat, eggs and dairy products derived from animals fed GMO grains had to be labeled, there would be no GMOs in Europe. Period.

Frankenfoods Fight Heats Up in the U.S. 

In the U.S., the battle against GE foods and crops has been markedly more difficult. Since 1994, government regulatory agencies have refused to require labels on GMOs, or to require independent safety testing beyond the obviously biased research carried out by Monsanto and other genetic engineering companies themselves.

Despite government and industry opposition, and limited funding, a growing number of pro-organic and anti-GMO campaigners carried out a variety of public education, marketplace pressure and boycotts between 1994 and 2012 designed to either ban or label GMOs. Although GMO labeling bills, which according to numerous polls are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans, were introduced in Congress over and over again during the past two decades, none have gathered more than nominal support from lawmakers And media coverage, at least until the California GMO labeling ballot initiative in 2012 (Proposition 37) and the Washington State ballot initiative in 2013 (I-522), has been generally sparse, with reporters routinely spouting industry propaganda that GMOs are safe, environmentally sustainable and necessary to feed a growing global population.

But the tide is beginning to turn. More farmers are rejecting GMO seeds, more consumers are demanding non-GMO foods, or at the least, labels on GMO foods. And the media is beginning to give the anti-GMO movement if not its fair share, at least substantially more ink than we’ve seen in decades.

Farmers Sound the Alarm about GMO Contamination

Between 1994-2012, the number of acres in the U.S. planted in GMO crops has grown significantly. Today, 169 million acres—almost half of all cultivated U.S. farmlands—are now growing GMO crops.

But despite the proliferation of GMO crops, we’re now seeing increased demand for non-GMO seeds. This is partly because farmers are growing frustrated with having to buy more and more pesticides and herbicides for GMO crops, as weeds and pests grow increasingly resistant to products like Monsanto’s Roundup.

But it’s also because organic and non-GMO farmers are speaking out about contamination of their crops by nearby GMO crops. Just this week, a new survey published by Food & Water Watch revealed that a third of U.S. organic farmers report problems with contamination from nearby GMO crops, and over half of the farmers surveyed said they’ve had grain shipments rejected because of contamination.

Consumers Demand non-GMO

Increasing demand for non-GMO crops also stems from consumers’ heightened concerns about health, which in turn is increasing demand for non-GMO and organic crops and foods. The turning point in the anti-GMO Movement in the U.S. came in 2012-13 when organic and anti-GE organizations, led by the Organic Consumers Association, Food Democracy Now, Center for Food Safety, Alliance for Natural Health and others, joined by a number of organic and natural health companies including Mercola.com, Dr. Bronner’s Soaps, Nature’s Path, Lundberg Family Farms, Natural News, and Nutiva, decided to bypass the federal government and launch high-profile, multi-million dollar state ballot initiative campaigns for mandatory labeling of GMOs in California and Washington State.

Although anti-GMO campaigners narrowly lost 51%-49% in both states, large genetic engineering and food corporations were forced to spend over $70 million ($12 million of which was illegally laundered by the Grocery Manufacturers Association in Washington). In addition GMA members, most of whom are high-profile food manufacturers, seriously damaged their brands and reputations by carrying out a misleading, dirty tricks advertising campaign that flooded the airwaves in California and Washington and antagonized millions of consumers—many of whom began boycotting their products and assailing their Facebook pages. 

By 2012, thanks to the massive media coverage of the California GMO labeling initiative, organic foods and products reached $35 billion in sales, representing almost 5 percent of all grocery store sales, with non-GMO “natural” food sales reaching another $15 billion.

This growth in sales has not gone unnoticed by food manufacturers and retailers. Although 75-80 percent of all non-organic processed foods contain GMOs, General Mills, Kraft General Foods, Chipotle, Ben and Jerry’s and Whole Foods Market, responding to public concern and marketplace pressure, are now moving to eliminate GMOs from some or all of their brand name products.

Push for GMO Labeling Laws Continues

In the meantime, grassroots activists continue to push for mandatory labeling laws. In 2012-13, they lobbied legislators in 30 states, achieving partial success in Maine and Connecticut. In 2014 Vermont, Oregon and several others states appear poised to pass GMO labeling laws, while voters in five Oregon and California counties will attempt to pass GMO bans.

Frantically trying to head off the inevitable, the GMA and a powerful coalition of genetic engineering, industrial agriculture, restaurant, supermarket and junk food manufacturers have begun lobbying Congress to take away states’ rights to pass laws requiring GMO food labels. The GMA has also lobbied the FDA and Congress to allow the obviously fraudulent, though routine, industry practice of labeling or marketing GE-tainted foods as “natural.”

At the state level the GE Lobby, Big Food and the Farm Bureau are sponsoring bills to take away the right of counties and municipalities to pass laws banning GMOs or restricting hazardous industrial agriculture practices.

On the international front, genetic engineering, pharmaceutical and Big Food companies are attempting to subvert GMO labels or bans by “fast-tracking,” with no public input or discussion, transnational trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). These so-called Free Trade agreements would allow multinational corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer and Dupont to sue local, state or even national governments that interfere with their profits, by passing laws regulating or banning GMOs or other controversial agricultural practices.

Although these profoundly pro-corporate and anti-consumer and anti-environmental trade agreements in theory can stop GMO labeling laws and bans from coming into effect, in political terms they are perceived by the majority of the body politic and even many state and local officials as highly authoritarian and anti-democratic. Similarly TPP and TAFTA are correctly perceived by many national political, environmental and labor leaders as undermining national sovereignty, sustainability and economic justice.

Why Both Labeling and Bans Are Necessary

Once GMOs foods are labeled, informed consumers will move to protect themselves and their families by not buying them. Once enough consumers shun GMO-tainted and labeled foods, stores will stop selling them and food manufacturers will stop putting GMO food ingredients in their products. However as the EU experience shows, labeling must eventually be comprehensive, with a requirement for meat, eggs and dairy products to be labeled if the animals have been fed GMO feed.

But food labeling alone cannot protect the environment, or non-GMO and organic farmers from GE drift and seed contamination. This is why county and regional bans on GMO cultivation and the creation of regional GMO-free zones are important. More than 80 percent of farmers surveyed by Food & Water Watch said they were “concerned” about contamination, while 60 percent said they were “very concerned.” Farmers said a lax U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been excessively influenced by the biotech industry.

The Food & Water Watch report comes just as the USDA has extended its public comment period on “coexistence” between GMO and non-GMO agriculture.

In the U.S. the largest food fight in history will soon intensify. Throwing gasoline on the fire, GE companies are arrogantly and foolhardily attempting to introduce genetically engineered fish, apples and “Agent Orange” (2,4 D) herbicide-resistant corn and soy on the market, just at the time when human health and environmental concerns are escalating. These new Frankenfoods and crops will survive in the marketplace only if there are no mandatory labeling laws and no legitimate safety testing.

But this “no labels” scenario is unlikely to continue. State legislative battles in Vermont, Oregon, and other states will likely reach critical mass in 2014, forcing industry and the federal government to finally adopt EU-type regulations and practices on GMOs. Once labeling is in place (including labels on meat, fish dairy, and eggs) genetic engineering companies, led by Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Syngenta, Bayer, and BASF will have no choice but to abandon GMOs and gene-splicing, in favor of less controversial hybrid seed/cross-breeding practices (which do not require labels) such as “marker assisted breeding.”

If industry and government on the other hand dig in their heels, stomping on consumer, state, municipal and community rights, telling us to “shut up and eat your Frankenfoods,” America’s food revolution may turn into a full-scale rebellion.

America’s organic consumers and natural health advocates invite you to join us in this decisive battle to drive GMOs off the market and make the great transition to healthy and sustainable food and farming. Click here to
make a donation to this cause, the Food Fight of Our Lives.


Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association.

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Fracking and the Conspiracy behind it!

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American mercenaries arrived in Kiev to fight on the side of the extremists

Published: March 6, 2014 (Translated)

In the Ukrainian capital is increasing the number of armed militants. According to some information, in Kiev on the eve of the return of three hundred professional mercenaries from other States. In this case, means the arrival of American mercenaries, members of a private security organization Academi, which previously was known as Blackwater. In fact, it's an army of mercenaries, numbering more than 20,000 fighters.

Soldiers in hotspots-private traders, international conventions dealing with literally everything from grocery shopping, to piloting military aircraft. Those who are in this business for a long time, knows that customers can be considered mercenaries, any task that is not restricted. As an employee of a private security Corporation tells Nick Ellis, mercenaries are reporting that they have a job, which will be paid so much. The work can be legal or illegal, if it holds, the contractor will immediately go to the appointed place. Importantly, always be prepared to advance to any point.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince earned his first billion dollars in Iraq. The military company granted protection to the head of the civil administration of Paul Bremer. In case the company went successfully, while soldiers staged a gunfight in Baghdad on the area of Bryansk. As a result of the shooting deaths of 17 people. During the long proceedings Eric Prince found a connection with the administration of George W. Bush, the military had to sell the company. However, it is not closed and there is today, only the name has changed, now this is the organization he. There are suspicions that the company Blackwater has a shadow, an armed group of mercenaries, it does not make any statements nor the American Government, or to someone else. There is also a suspicion that the mercenaries that companies operate on the principle of "first shoot and kill, and then you can ask questions.

Only abated the passion associated with the military actions in Iraq, as the conflict in Afghanistan. A new round of scandal triggered the shocking footage from Parties that staged the mercenaries they had supervisees from Afghanistan, forced them to drink alcohol, which is prohibited by the Muslim religion, to have sexual intercourse with each other. Although the founders of a private military organizations were United Kingdom, now in this business rule is owned by American soldiers of fortune. There are no mercenaries for the geographical scope, they do their work around the world. The Americans were preparing a Syrian military rebel Georgian special forces. Colleagues from Europe are trying to keep up with the mercenaries of the United States.

It is worth noting that the use of mercenaries is not a cheap treat. Budget of Ukraine, where the prorehe, however, such expenditures do not pull. The money in the country, but they have the oligarchs, which appointed governors of the eastern regions. Billionaire Taruta appointed head of Donetsk oblast, but it didn't. Those who do not agree with the policy the Administration stormed Maidana, but they sent a well-equipped military weapons, tasks and goals which are understandable and clear.

Related: See - Russia, Ukraine feud over sniper carnage

"This much is known: Snipers firing powerful rifles from rooftops and windows shot scores of people in the heart of Kiev. Some victims were opposition protesters, but many were civilian bystanders clearly not involved in the clashes. Among the dead were medics, as well as police officers. A majority of the more than 100 people who died in the violence were shot by snipers; hundreds were also injured by the gunfire and other street fighting.

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov signaled that investigators may be turning their attention away from Ukrainian responsibility.

"I can say only one thing: the key factor in this uprising, that spilled blood in Kiev and that turned the country upside down and shocked it, was a third force," Avakov was quoted as saying by Interfax. "And this force was not Ukrainian."

Same old Crap, follow the money; Gee I wonder if this has anything to do with what is going on in the Ukraine-

Ukraine Economy Hangs on Investments From Exxon to Shell

Shell and Chevron Corp. (CVX) signed agreements last year to drill unexplored shale formations in Ukraine, offering the chance to upgrade the country’s energy infrastructure and boost domestic production, thus reducing the amount of gas imported from Russia. Before the crisis erupted last year, Exxon, the largest U.S. oil company, was also close to signing a pact to explore the Black Sea.

...

Aug 2012

Exxon, Shell-led group win $10 billion Ukraine gas project

(Reuters) - Ukraine has picked a consortium led by ExxonMobil (XOM.N) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) to develop its Skifska gas field in the Black Sea, it said on Wednesday, as it seeks to wean itself off increasingly expensive Russian gas imports.

The project, whose total costs have been estimated by the government at $10-12 billion, is part of the former Soviet republic's plan to ease its dependence on gas imported from Russia, which amounted to some 40 billion cubic meters last year and accounted for nearly two thirds of the country's consumption.

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Will defend every inch of territory, China warns neighbours

Times of India
PTI | Mar 8, 2014, 05.57PM IST

BEIJING: In a stern message to its neighbours, China on Saturday said it is determined to defend "every inch" of its territory and there was "no room for compromise" with Japan over territorial or historical disputes.

"We will not take anything that is not ours, but we will defend every inch of territory that belongs to us," Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told mediapersons in his annual press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing National People's Congress (NPC) session.

There was no direct reference to India in his press conference, while he launched a frontal attack on Japan and made strong comments about smaller maritime neighbours who contest China's claims over the South China Sea.

There have been frequent border incursions by Chinese troops into Indian territory and China also claims Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet, part of the dispute over the 4,000-km Line of Actual Control between the two countries.

"We will never bully smaller countries, yet we will not accept unreasonable denunciation from smaller countries," he said regarding China's neighbourhood diplomacy, especially in the South China Sea.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei question China's claims of sovereignty over a host of islands in the South China Sea which in recent months has escalated with the US lending its voice to their demands.

Wang said that the general situation in China's neighbourhood remains "stable and positive."

He said that China would like to carry out equal-footed consultation and negotiation, and properly handle its territorial and maritime disputes with some countries by peaceful means on the basis of historical facts and the international law.

"There will not be any change to this position," he said. "We will more actively practise our neighbourhood diplomacy guideline of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness."

He said China would also allow more of its neighbours and peoples to benefit from the reform and opening up of the world's second largest economy.

"We are also willing to listen to the voices from our neighbouring countries and respond to the doubts about China's neighbourhood diplomacy," Wang added.

Referring to Sino-Japanese relations damaged by the raging dispute over the islands in the East China Sea, Wang said, "On the two issues of principle, history and territory, there is no room for compromise."

The minister's remarks highlight the mounting tension between China and Japan over territorial and historical rows.

Relations between the two East Asian giants have hit a new low since Japan's "purchase" of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in September 2012.

The dispute with Tokyo is particularly tense given historical animosities between the two nations over Japan's invasion of China during the World War II.

Wang said that if Japan insists on overturning the history of its past aggression, the international community would not tolerate or condone it.

Also in a loaded message for China's ally North Korea, Wang said China will not allow war or instability on the Korean Peninsula.

"The Korean Peninsula is right on China's doorstep. We have a red line, that is, we will not allow war or instability on the Korean Peninsula," Wang said.

"I believe this is also fully in the interest of the south and north of the peninsula and in the common interest of the whole region," Wang added.

The minister also called for an early resumption of the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Describing the nuclear issue as the "crux of the matter," Wang said, "First, we need climb the slope of denuclearization. Only with denuclearization can the Korean Peninsula have genuine and lasting peace."

About China's rocky ties with the US, Wang said that mutual respect is the foundation for a new model of major-country relationship between the two nations.

At the heart of the new model is no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, Wang reiterated.

"This is a positive strategic outlook the two countries showed to the world, and a solemn commitment made to the international community," Wang added.

"Our experiences and lessons of these 35 years come down to one point: we need to respect each other," Wang said.

"In our view, the Asia-Pacific region should be the testing ground of our commitment to build a new model of relations, rather than a competitive arena," he said about US military push into Asia-Pacific.

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Iraq death toll tops 700 in February – UN

Over 700 people were killed in violence in Iraq this February with the capital city of Baghdad worst affected by the wave of violence.

Iraq has been hit by a surge of violence over the last year, the worst since 2008. The Iraq government put the total of dead in February at 790, while the UN said that 703 people perished in the bloodshed.

The UN figure excludes the province of Anbar, where government forces are still trying to oust a militant group that seized control of the city of Fallujah in Anbar Province. So far the violence in the Fallujah has seen over 370,000 people flee their homes.

The number of deaths in February is significantly less than January when more than 1,000 people – mostly civilians – were killed in the most deadly month since April 2008.

Read More

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America's Great Indian Nations - Full Documentary

"This documentary profiles six of the major Native American tribes that were defeated and subdued as part of the settling of the United States. With reenactments, clarifying maps, artwork, and landscape scenery, this program features the Iroquois, a confederacy comprised of several Indian tribes: the Seminoles in Florida, who welcomed escaped slaves and fought three major wars with the United States before meeting their ultimate defeat; the Shawnee, fierce Ohio Algonquians who allied with the French against the British; the Navajo, a farming people who today are the largest remaining Native American tribe; the Cheyenne, a nomadic Plains Indian tribe that depended on the American bison for sustenance; and the Lakota Sioux, the dominant Sioux tribe comprised of the bands called Oglala, Brule, Hunkpapa, and Minneconjou." (From IMDB)

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A synopsis of facts from yours truly the FBI

Very interesting documents on the death of Hitler that may interest some of you...

Four men who met Hitler and his party when they landed from two submarines in Argentina approximately two and one-half weeks after the fall of Berlin


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