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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Genetic Engineering' Category


15
Oct

Take Action: EPA Must Evaluate the Effects of Multiple Pesticide Ingredient Use and Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2019) EPA is requesting comment on its proposal to require data that will help it determine synergistic effects of some pesticides. EPA has received on a pressure on a number of fronts, including a report by the Center for Biological Diversity, a report by its own Inspector General, a letter from 35 Congressional Representatives, and research pointing to the unavoidability of synergistic effects—the chemical combinations that cause greater effects when mixed together than the sum of the individual chemical effects. Despite all of the evidence that synergism is the rule rather than the exception, EPA’s consideration focuses on a narrow range of cases in which pesticide product patents make claims of synergy. Tell EPA to always investigate synergy and to determine need for pesticides. One such product is Dow’s Enlist Duo, which combines glyphosate and 2,4-D in an attempt to overcome weed resistance. The focus on products and tank mixes where synergism is a selling point brings to light the fact that as a rule, EPA does not request efficacy data in registering pesticides not intended to protect public health. Thus, although required by law to weigh pesticide risks and benefits, EPA rarely has data to make […]

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13
Sep

Herbicide Drift from Agricultural Use Found to Harm Bird Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2019) A study on the use of the herbicide dicamba’s off-target effects finds broad impacts, in both geographic spread and the variety of affected species, with use of the weed killer on Arkansas cropland putting birds at risk in agricultural landscapes. Audubon of Arkansas is reporting results of its community science dicamba monitoring project, conducted under the direction of Bird Conservation Director Dan Scheiman, PhD, and launched in late spring 2019. The project monitored dicamba symptomology in species on municipal, state, and federal lands, where dicamba was not applied, but where its impacts were nonetheless detected. Arkansas Audubon “predicts that in a landscape full of GMO crops [genetically modified organisms] (on which dicamba is typically used), the atmospheric loading of volatile dicamba could be enough to cause landscape scale damage to our state natural areas, wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges, family farms, and the wildlife they harbor.” Dicamba herbicides are volatile compounds used to control broadleaf weeds — especially on fields of GMO soybean and cotton crops that have been genetically engineered for resistance to dicamba. These herbicides damage non-GMO crops and native plants well beyond intended application areas. (In 2017, more than 3 million acres of […]

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29
Aug

USDA “People’s Garden” Turned Over to Agrichemical Corporations to Promote Pesticides and GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2019) The Peoples Garden, located on the grounds on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the national mall, has been renamed and remodeled to highlight genetically engineered (GE) crops and farming techniques that directly counter the organic movement. The new exhibit, entitled “Voice of the Farmer,” is part of the “Trust in Food” initiative of Farm Journal magazine. This marks a continuation of trends in the Trump administration: pushing for GE/GMOs and pesticides. Since 2009, the USDA Peoples Garden has highlighted organic agriculture. It was originally envisioned by the Obama administration as a place where visitors could learn about what differentiates organic from conventional chemical-intensive food production, and the practices used in organic land management. The garden had several different exhibits: the Three Sisters Garden, the People’s Garden Apiary, three green roofs, a certified organic vegetable garden, a tool shed with a rain barrel and green roof, wildlife and pollinator friendly landscaping, and a bat house. With an emphasis on sustainable gardening practices such as cover cropping, storm water collection, and composting, the garden served as a headquarters for numerous Peoples Gardens founded between 2009 and 2016. The People’s Garden and other projects of the […]

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05
Aug

Remind USDA that Genetic Engineering Is NOT Acceptable in Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2019) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) appears to have forgotten the lesson learned 20 years ago when it was forced to ban genetic engineering (GE) in organic regulations. At a July 17 hearing called by the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research on “Assessing the Effectiveness of the National Organic Program,” Greg Ibach, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, stated, “There is the opportunity to open the discussion to consider whether it is appropriate for some of these new technologies, including gene editing, to be eligible to be used to enhance organic production.” In 1997, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a draft rule that would have allowed GE, irradiation, and sewage sludge (the “Big Three”) in organic production, which was met by the second largest number of comments the agency had ever received—well before the days of internet advocacy—overwhelmingly opposing the inclusion of the “Big Three.”  The prohibition of gene editing falls under the “excluded methods” provision of the organic regulations. The law prohibits “a variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions […]

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25
Jul

Public Soybean Field Research Damaged by Pesticide Drift

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2019) Professors are experiencing damage to their soybean field research as a result of dicamba drift from neighboring agricultural fields. Experts worry that continued drift will make it impossible to carry out public research integral to non-genetically engineered soybean production. These reports, recent studies of dicamba drift potential, and numerous lawsuits counter Monsanto/Bayer’s claims that dicamba poses no drift threat when used properly. Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, manufactures both dicamba and genetically engineered, herbicide-tolerant crops. Dicamba mimics natural plant hormones, auxins, to cause uncontrolled and abnormal growth in non-tolerant plants; soybeans are especially vulnerable. Pengyn Chen, PhD, a professor of soybean breeding and genetics at the University of Missouri’s Fisher Delta Research Center, reports that his soybeans leaves curled up into cups and grew fragile unusual side branches due to dicamba drift. Dr. Chen has seen damage for the past three years as dicamba use has increased around his research station. The nature of Dr. Chen’s work bars him from switching to dicamba resistant crops, a switch many farmers make to avoid the impacts of drift. Dr. Chen studies many varieties of soybeans, including obscure types that private companies ignore. His research aims to find […]

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16
Jul

Take Action: USDA Must Offer Basic Protection from Genetically Engineered Organisms

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2019) USDA’s proposed new rules on genetically engineered (GE) crops exempt almost all GE crops from regulation and allow the company that makes them to decide whether they are safe. The rules proposed by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) benefit companies like Monsanto/Bayer and Dow, but fail to protect farmers, consumers, and the environment. Please tell APHIS to abandon its proposal and support a regulatory system that is consistent with modern science. Tell USDA not to allow companies to approve their own GE crops. The rules would govern USDA’s role in the outdated and fatally flawed “Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.” The Framework fails to account for the unique risks of genetic engineering, using existing laws like the Plant Protection Act to address issues for which they were not designed. This proposal weakens the APHIS regulations even more. All genetically engineered (GE) organisms—plants, animals, or microorganisms—should be subjected to systematic assessments of human and environmental effects and indirect economic effects (such as contamination of organic or non-GE crops leading to rejection in foreign markets, spread of resistant pests, etc.) before being allowed on the market. These assessments must be made available to the public […]

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11
Jun

Unapproved, Roundup-Ready Wheat Found in Washington Farm Field

(Beyond Pesticides, June 11, 2019) Genetically engineered (GE) wheat developed to tolerate repeated applications of Bayer Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has been discovered in a farm field in Washington State. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has never approved a GE wheat variety for commercial production, making the incident a potential economic export risk. In the past, Asian and European countries have temporarily blocked purchases of U.S. wheat as a result of GE contamination. Organic and non-GE farmers are also at risk as any contamination with non-GE varieties can result in loss of certifications and price premiums. According to USDA, the discovery was made on an unplanted wheat field, though officials have refused to disclose where in the state the GE plants were found. In 2013, a similar situation played out in Oregon after a farmer noticed wheat plants persisting after an application of Roundup. The discovery led to a number of lawsuits against agrichemical company Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer Cropscience. At the time, Monsanto indicated that the incident was isolated, or potentially even the result of “sabotage.” An investigation by USDA was inconclusive, indicating the case “appears to be an isolated occurrence and that there is no […]

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12
Apr

Fish and Wildlife Service Sued for Failure to Disclose Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides and GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced on April 3 that it is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for its failure to release public records, despite multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, that would reveal on-the-ground impacts of FWS allowing use of neonicotinoids and genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges. Last August, in yet another rollback of protections for wildlife, the environment, and public health, the Trump administration reversed a 2014 FWS decision to ban the use of neonicotinoids and GE crops in National Wildlife Refuges. If successful, the CBE lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, would compel the agency to provide the requested documents. This would allow the public, largely through the work of NGO (non-governmental organization) watchdogs, such as CBD and Beyond Pesticides, to understand what harms are being caused on the nation’s protected public lands by the administration’s reversal of the 2014 ban. Hannah Connor, a CBD senior attorney, said, “The goal of the lawsuit is to get them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and produce the records that have been requested. . . . We aren’t asking them to […]

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11
Mar

Take Action: Call for Moratorium on the Release of RNAi Pesticides that Manipulate Genes

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2019)  We must stop the expanded commercialization of genetically engineered pesticides. The failure of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fully evaluate environmental impacts of gene-manipulating pesticides raises serious concerns in light of the agency’s ongoing failure to predict ecological effects of pesticides, such as the dramatic decline of pollinators. With the release of a 2019 peer-reviewed scientific article, Environmental Fate of RNA Interference Pesticides: Adsorption and Degradation of Double-Stranded RNA Molecules in Agricultural Soils, on the potential impact on soil and non-target microorganisms in soil, the study’s co-author, Kimberly Parker, PhD, remarked, “The ecological risk assessment of these emerging pesticides necessitates an understanding of the fate of dsRNA [double stranded RNA] molecules in receiving environments, among which agricultural soils are most important.” This technology, given that it is systemic to the plant and leaves traces in the soil, can cause widespread indiscriminate poisoning—as has been seen with bees, butterflies, birds, and the larger catastrophic decline of insect populations. Tell your members of Congress that the ecological effects of RNAi gene-manipulating pesticides raise serious questions—they have not been fully studied by EPA and, until they are, the agency should issue a moratorium on their release. Previously, […]

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08
Mar

Study Raises Ecological Concerns about EPA-Approved RNAi Pesticides that Turn Off Genes

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2019) Researchers from the U.S. and Switzerland have published their findings, a beginning assessment of how use of a new category of pesticides — dsRNA (double stranded RNA), which is less a traditional pesticide than a genetically based pesticide “technology” — might impact soils and non-target microorganisms in the soil. The co-authors (Kimberly M. Parker, PhD, et al.) note that, “The ecological risk assessment of these emerging pesticides necessitates an understanding of the fate of dsRNA molecules in receiving environments, among which agricultural soils are most important.” Their research appeared in late January 2019 in Environmental Science & Technology. Previously, technical hurdles in measuring dsRNA had stymied scientists’ ability to quantify the genetic material and its degradation products in soil, but these investigators were able to attach a radioactive atom to the molecule, “tagging” it so it could be followed through a series of simulated soil systems representative of those in the “real” world. Researchers were able to measure the presence of the material at concentrations as low as a few nanograms of dsRNA per gram of soil. The work of these researchers represents the beginning of understanding the ecological risks of these emerging dsRNA pesticides. They demonstrated […]

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08
Jan

USDA Capitulates to the Agrichemical Industry with Final GE Labeling Rule

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2019) At the end of December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized its rule regarding the disclosure of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in consumer foods. After years of local, state and federal pressure to implement a clear, concise labeling requirement for GE foods, advocates say USDA’s rule is a failure, and a capitulation to agrichemical corporations that promote GE farming systems. According to U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), speaking with the Portland Press Herald, the new rule is “an insult to consumers.” She said, “These labels should give people the facts of whether ingredients in their food have been genetically altered, plain and simple.” Rather than the plain and simple language urged by Rep Pingree and other GE labeling advocates, USDA determined to move forward with muddled verbiage that is certain to confuse consumers. GE products will not defined by a term Americans are familiar with, such as GE or GMO. Instead, the term USDA will require on product labels is “bioengineered.” USDA is allowing companies to choose one of the following methods to alert consumers to the presence of GE ingredients in their foods: Inclusion of a “bioengineered” or “derived from bioengineering” symbol alongside […]

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13
Dec

U.S. Asks World Trade Organization to Force Lower International Safety Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2018) The U.S. is pushing back against international standards that restrict pesticides by appealing to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to intervene. At issue are new EU maximum residue levels (MRLs) on food for the following pesticides: buprofezin, diflubenzuron, ethoxysulfurom, ioxynil, molinate, picoxystrobin and tepraloxydim. Advocates are concerned that a U.S. challenge to stronger EU standards could cause the WTO to force a weakening of standards internationally. Most significantly, EU proposed lowering its MRLs on imports. The EU said lower MRLs are needed to protect consumers, as research shows pesticides are shown to be carcinogenic, and that, contrary to chemical-industry claims, no level of allowable exposures can be assumed. Taking issue with the new MRLs – as with all other STCs mentioned above – the U.S. said new MRLs would cause barriers to trade, and therefore, must be rejected by the WTO. Advocates point to the introduction of GMOs as an example of the U.S. using the WTO to block standards that restrict potentially hazardous products. Recently, the U.S. has been involved in four of five new specific trade concerns (STCs) raised before WTO. As part of reviewing the current agreement of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary […]

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30
Nov

Multiple Pesticide Residues in Soil Raise Alarm

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2018) A study published this month in Science of the Total Environment reveals numerous pesticide residues persisting in soil, harming the viability of agricultural lands and increasing risk of off-site contamination. Funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission, researchers from the European Diverfarming project at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands suggest nations urgently reevaluate conventional land use and inputs including water, energy, fertilizers, machinery and pesticides. Researchers decrying the lack of soil protection policies endeavored to determine which pesticides had the highest soil persistence and toxicity to non-target species. Three hundred seventeen surface soil samples were analyzed from 11 European countries. Selected countries were those with the largest amounts of active agricultural land, characterizing six distinct cropping systems. Sampled soils purposefully represented different soil properties and were taken from crops with the highest pesticide use per hectare. Samples were then analyzed for the concentration of 76 pesticide residues. These 76 pesticides were selected as being most often applied on conventional crops. Eighty-three percent of samples contained varying degrees of pesticide residues, with 25 percent showing one pesticide residue and 58 percent showing mixtures of two or more. Only 17 percent of […]

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29
Nov

Release of GE Mosquitoes Canceled by Cayman Islands Officials

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2018) The British Cayman Islands will no longer fund the release of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes, as reports indicate that the program failed to achieve its intended goals.  The government is formally terminating its contract with the UK-based company Oxitec, which marketed GE mosquitoes as a sort of silver bullet for the management of diseases such as Zika, yellow fever, malaria, and dengue. Advocates opposed to the GE mosquito program are continuing to encourage a focus on education and source reduction as the best method to address mosquito-borne diseases. Oxitec first began introducing its line of GE mosquitoes earlier in the decade, at a variety of locations including India, Brazil, Malaysia, and the Florida Keys. Public opposition to the release has been consistently strong. In the Florida Keys, over 230,000 people signed a change.org petition opposing the release. In the Cayman Islands, residents launched a number of lawsuits. In each instance the company was granted free reign to initiate its program. GE mosquitoes aim to ‘gene drive’ mosquito populations out of existence, a process intended to propagate a particular set of genes in a species. The company developed GE mosquitoes in a laboratory, injecting a gene […]

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27
Nov

Continuing Pattern, Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler Ignores Science, Embraces Monsanto (Bayer), and Continues Dicamba Herbicide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2018) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignored the input of an expert weed scientist on the controversial herbicide dicamba, bending to Bayer’s Monsanto and the pesticide industry, according to emails obtained by the Arkansas Democrat and Chronicle (ADC) through a Freedom of Information Act request. The scandal centers on the recent re-approval of the pesticide, a highly volatile and drift-prone herbicide that has become a serious problem for many farmers and state regulators. As top-level EPA officials continue to work with industry to subvert their own agency’s scientific findings, more and more consumers are moving to organic products in order avoid the pesticide risks government regulators ask consumers to accept. Emails ADC received indicate that Jason Norsworthy, PhD, a weed scientist with the University of Arkansas, worked closely with Bayer’s Monsanto in conducting field trials this past summer, but found high volatility and drift of the company’s new dicamba-based herbicide XtendiMax. The product was developed in the face of widespread resistance to glyphosate-based herbicides in genetically engineered (GE) farm fields. However, recent accounts from farmers in the south and midwest indicate that, not only is the switch to dicamba unhelpful  in eliminating drift and reversing escalating weed resistance, its […]

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08
Nov

Study Confirms Chemical-Intensive Production Contaminates Organic with Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2018) Two months after publishing its first series of tests, part two of an Environmental Working Group (EWG) study finds residues of Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, in all General Mills’ Cheerios and PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats products sampled. Health advocates are expressing concern about the consequences of chronic glyphosate exposure, and say U.S. federal agencies must limit the herbicide’s use on oat-based breakfast foods regularly marketed to children. In addition, organic itself is under threat, as chemical-intensive management practices undermine the future of the growing organic movement. In this second round of testing, EWG scientists purchased products around San Francisco and Washington DC. 28 samples of conventional and 16 samples of organic oat products were collected. Approximately 300 grams of each General Mills and PepsiCo product were packaged and shipped to Anresco Laboratories, in San Francisco. Detected glyphosate residues were compared to EWG’s own health benchmark of 160 parts per billion (ppb). This benchmark is based on risks of lifetime exposure and what EWG scientists consider allowable and protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.  EWG’s results detected glyphosate residues in all 28 samples of conventionally grown oat products. The vast majority (all but two) […]

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13
Aug

Take Action: Tell USDA that Purposeful Mutagenesis Is Genetic Engineering

(Beyond Pesticides, August 13, 2018) Tell USDA to Follow the EU in Classifying New Mutagenesis Techniques as GMO. The Court of Justice of the European Union has highlighted the fact that failing to classify mutagenesis (purposeful changes in DNA) as genetic engineering is a backdoor way of allowing GMOs (genetically modified organisms) without labeling them as such. The court issued an opinion on July 25, saying, “Organisms obtained by mutagenesis are GMOs [genetically engineered organisms] and are, in principle, subject to the obligations laid down by the GMO directive.” Although the opinion does not apply to techniques that “have been conventionally used in a number of applications and have a long safety record,” the court says that member states may subject even those organisms to the obligations of the GMO or other directives. The court finds that the risks of new mutagenesis techniques, may yield results –and risks— similar to those of transgenesis (introducing genes from other organisms), and should thus be regulated as genetically engineered organisms. Tell USDA to classify mutagenesis techniques as GMO. This issue is one on which the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture requested comment during an informal comment period that ended July […]

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02
Aug

Weeds on Missouri Cropland Found To Be Resistant to Six Different Herbicides

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2018) Weed scientists from the University of Missouri (UM) have just published evidence of a water hemp population resistant to six different herbicides. The study is sending shock waves throughout the chemical-intensive agricultural community, particularly in light of the plant’s resistance to 2,4-D. In its reporting on the study, KTIC Rural Radio begged the question, “If we’re already seeing 2,4-D resistance now, what will happen when use of the herbicide becomes even more commonplace?” KTIC is referring to the impending commercialization of products like Enlist Duo, developed by DowDupont in an attempt to address widespread weed resistance to glyphosate. Enlist Duo is an herbicide containing both glyphosate and 2,4-D, and is intended to be sprayed only on crops genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate exposure to both chemicals. However, with growing reports like this, many farmers may begin to rethink their approach. In 2014, a farmer contacted UM indicating that water hemp was not responding to 2,4-D during a regular ‘burndown’ the farmer conducted before planting a new crop. (Chemical-intensive farmers will often use a synthetic herbicide to clear their field for new plantings.) The farmer had also used other herbicides, fomesafen and glyphosate, in this process […]

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26
Jul

Another Lawsuit Blames Monsanto for Crop Loss

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2018) A legal complaint filed by a Kansas farmer claims industry giant, Monsanto, knew its new dicamba-formulated product would harm other crops, but marketed and sold it anyway, damaging thousands of acres of crops. The lawsuit, filed by 4-R Farms based in Corning Kansas, lost over 200 acres of soybeans. This is the latest in a string of lawsuits Monsanto is facing. Farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, and elsewhere have been hit with crop losses as a result of the dicamba damage. Advocates  and victims of damage argue that Monsanto places profits ahead of possible damage to crops when it markets seeds resistant to a powerful weedkiller before making a less volatile herbicide available. This, according to the lawsuit filed in court. The petition, filed last week, could be the catalyst for a class action lawsuit of Kansas farmers against Monsanto, which faces a growing docket of legal challenges. The lawsuit also names chemical company BASF as a co-defendant. BASF is facing its own mounting pile of lawsuits over dicamba. The lawsuit requests unspecified damages and a trial by a federal jury in Topeka. Monsanto marketed its new line of dicamba products, Xtend, to go hand in hand with […]

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19
Jul

Scotts-Monsanto Genetically Engineered Experimental Bentgrass Threatens Oregon Environment, Waterways, and Seed Industry

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2018) A variety of bentgrass, genetically engineered by Scotts Miracle-Gro and Monsanto to tolerate the glyphosate herbicide Roundup, escaped from an experimental field planting in Eastern Oregon 15 years ago, and continues to plague area farmers. Bentgrass is prized by those who maintain golf course greens because of its fine texture and habit of spreading in even, horizontal mats. But the genetically engineered (GE) version has become a giant annoyance for farmers and other growers who battle its spread through the irrigation systems of Malheur County in eastern Oregon. The escape of this GE version of Agrostis stolonifera is especially alarming in Oregon, the grass seed capital of the world. The GE grass showed up after crossing the Snake River from where it had been planted in seed fields in Idaho, despite the fact that the USDA had not approved its release into the seed market. By 2010, farmers and others found it spreading in mats across most of the irrigation canals and ditches that snake across Malheur County. It is now found in Jefferson County, Oregon, and Canyon County, Idaho, as well. The growth habit of the perennial grass is what greenskeepers love, but its persistent […]

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04
Jun

Take Action: Tell USDA We Need Honest, Transparent, Informative GE/GMO Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2018) As the deadline approaches for regulations on labeling genetically engineered (GE or GMO —genetically modified organism) food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a rule that fails in every important respect: It allows information to be conveyed by QR codes, whose use requires a cell phone (with camera function) and a reliable broadband connection. It allows GE food to be identified as “bioengineered” OR by a smiley-faced symbol containing the letters “be.” It does not cover highly processed GE foods, like vegetable oils or sugar, and does not include newer genetic engineering techniques, such as CRISPR (a gene editing tool). Implementation is delayed. USDA is accepting comments through Regulations.gov. For quick copy and paste, use the text below to comment at regulations.gov. Add a personal message at the beginning about why this is important to you, if possible. Tell USDA We Need Honest, Transparent, Informative GE/GMO Labeling Suggested Comments: As a consumer, I have a right to know whether my food is produced using genetic engineering. As USDA finalizes labeling regulations, please ensure that labels are honest, transparent, and informative by adopting the following policies: Reject package labeling with unreliable “QR codes” and other […]

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11
May

USDA Proposed Rule for GE Labeling Criticized as Misleading

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2018) Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its long-awaited proposal for disclosing the presence of genetically engineering (GE) in foods. Much to the disappointment of health, environmental, and consumer advocates, the draft rule appears as an attempt mask or to promote GE products, rather than caution consumers. Concerned individuals can send comments to USDA on the proposed rule through regulations.gov until July 3rd. USDA’s proposal will move forward with wholly insufficient disclosure requirements that the Department’s own study had indicated are discriminatory, according to analysts. Rather than use the phrase “genetically modified,” or “genetically engineered,” or include the acronyms “GE” or “GMO,” USDA is using the term “bioengineered.” The symbols proposed by USDA are a happy, smiling sun that would read either “bioengineered” or “may be bioengineered food.” Of course, such a symbol suggests to consumers that these foods are a positive, rather than concerning addition to a food product. However, USDA is also giving the option of simply including the words “bioengineered food,” “contains a bioengineered food ingredient,” or even leaving that language out and directing consumers to a QR code. A lawsuit by the Center for Food Safety forced USDA […]

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13
Feb

Court Ruling Stops Trump Administration from Withholding Documents in GE Salmon Case

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2018) Arguments by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to withhold from public and court review key documents revealing how it approved the first genetically engineered (GE) salmon were rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, documents detailing how the agency reviewed and approved the GE animal will have to be produced for court review in the ongoing case challenging its controversial approval. Thousands of pages of government documents pertaining to the 2015 approval of GE salmon for human consumption were being withheld even after plaintiffs challenging the approval demanded that FDA provide all the information the agency considered in its decision. The case, Institute for Fisheries Resources v. Burwell, Case No. 3:16-cv-01574-VC, brought by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice on behalf the Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Kennebec Reborn, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, Cascadia Wildlands, Ecology Action Center, Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, Food and Water Watch, and the Quinault Indian Nation, was filed in 2016 after FDA approved its first-ever GE food animal, an Atlantic salmon engineered to grow quickly. The lawsuit challenges FDA’s claim that […]

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