A study just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences), identifies a dramatic reduction in sperm count in bees exposed to two of Bayer AG’s most widely used pesticides—thiamethoxam and clothianidin.

greenpeace-stop-gmo-invasio.ashx_-300x200TND Guest Contributor: F. William Engdahl |

According to a report in the Washington Post, precisely 107 of the living Nobel Science Prize awardees have done just that. They foolishly signed a letter urging Greenpeace to stop opposing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The letter specifically asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of so-called “Golden Rice,” a genetically manipulated rice variety that allegedly “could reduce” vitamin A deficiencies in infants in the developing world. This demonstrates either that those 107 Nobel laureates are not truly intelligent or that they are yet another group of scientist prostitutes willing to whore their reputation for a few shekels from Monsanto & Co. Or both…

The not-so-noble Nobel scientists’ letter states, “We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular.” The letter is addressed, “To the Leaders of Greenpeace, the United Nations and Governments around the world.” Their letter closes with a gut-wrenching appeal, “How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a ‘crime againsthumanity‘? ” That’s heavy. It’s also bullshit.

There’s one flaw in the appeal of the 107 Nobel Science laureates. Their letter is scientific nonsense from beginning to end. Everything they write about GMO has scientifically and repeatedly been proved false. Let’s focus on their main argument about GMO beta-carotene “Golden Rice.”

Golden Rice failed

Some brief history is needed to grasp how idiotic are their claims about Golden Rice that it will mitigate Vitamin A Deficiency in poor countries of Asia and Africa, and save millions of childrens’ lives thereby.

The world of GMO is a creation of the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1985, the Rockefeller Foundation initiated the first large-scale research into the possibility of genetically engineering plants for commercial use. At the time they termed it a “major, long-term commitment to plant genetic engineering.” Rockefeller Foundation funds provided the essential catalyst for the worldwide scientific research and development which would lead to the creation of genetically modified plants, the “Gene Revolution.”

Over the following two decades, the Rockefellers’ tax-exempt foundation would spend well over $100 million directly, and several hundred million indirectly, to catalyze and propagate research on the development of genetic engineering and its application to transform world food production. Clearly, it was a very big issue in their strategic plans. Notably, the same Rockefeller Foundation funded Hitler’s eugenics research during much of the Third Reich until outbreak of the war in 1939 when it became embarrassing. After Nuremburg trials at the end of the war, an intimate Rockefeller associate and then-president of the American Eugenics Society, Frederick Osborn, announced, “Henceforth the new name of eugenics is genetics.”

Simply said, this eugenics–culling of the human breed as Prince Philip once so elegantly and chillingly put it–not feeding the world, is the true agenda of genetic manipulation. I refer skeptics or the curious to my book, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, (Saat der Zerstörung) for detailed sourced discussion of this entire grotesque “scientific” operation of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Reductio ad absurdum

The Rockefeller Foundation’s President during the 1930’s, Warren Weaver, a physicist, headed the foundation’s new biology program. The foundation’s largesse in giving funds to scientific research projects gained the foundation enormous influence over the direction of science during the Great Depression by the mere fact they had funds to dispense to leading scientific researchers at a time of acute scarcity. From 1932 to 1957, the Rockefeller Foundation had handed out an impressive $90 million in grants to support the creation of the new field of molecular biology. Molecular biology and the attendant work with genes was a Rockefeller Foundation creation in every sense of the word. The same Rockefeller Foundation and Rockefeller family have been passionately committed to global population reduction by any and all means since at least the 1920’s.

In 1982, a group of advisers from the Foundation urged its management to devote resources to apply molecular biology for plant breeding. In December 1984, the Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation approved funding for applying molecular biological techniques to the breeding of rice, the dietary staple of a majority of the planet’s population. This is the origin of the so-called Golden Rice that allegedly mitigates Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) according to the 107 Nobel laureates.

The GMO rice methodology went back to what was termed “reductionism” by René Descartes, and to the method of Charles Darwin, namely that living creatures were machines whose only goal was genetic replication—a matter of chemistry and statistics. The Rockefeller methodology was an extension of the belief that a complex life form cold be reduced to a basic building block or “elementary seed,” from which all traits of the life form could be deduced. It was of little interest to Weaver and others at the Rockefeller Foundation that scientific reductionism had been thoroughly refuted. As the internationally recognized biosafety expert, Professor Philip Regal put it, “…Weaver helped create a network of what would one day be called molecular biologists, that had little traditional knowledge of living organisms and of communities of organisms. It shared a faith in the theory of reductionism and in determinism…It learned to use optimistic terms of discourse that brought grants and status.”

The research monies were channeled through a new entity the Rockefeller Foundation created, the International Program on Rice Biotechnology (IPRB), into some of the world’s leading research labs. Over the next 17 years, the Foundation spent an impressive $105 million of its own money in developing and spreading genetically modified rice around the world. Furthermore, by 1989 it was spending an additional $54 million a year—amounting to more than $540 million over the following decade—on “training and capacity building” to disseminate the new developments in rice genetic modification. Their pet project was to develop a strain of GMO rice–named Golden Rice for the sickly orange color of the genetically inserted beta-carotene–that allegedly reduced vitamin A deficiency in infants.

The Philippines-based Rockefeller Foundation-created International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), with a gene bank containing more than one-fifth of the world’s rice varieties, became the prime vehicle to proliferate the Rockefeller Foundation’s new gene revolution in rice. IRRI had illegally seed-banked every significant rice variety known. In 1993, a Convention on Biological Diversity under the UN was agreed upon to control the theft of such seed resources of the developing world. Washington, however, made a tiny alteration in the original text. It demanded that all the genetic resources held by the CGIAR system (of which IRRI is part) remain outside the rules. That affected 40% of the world’s unique food crop germ-plasm held in gene banks. It meant that agribusiness companies like Monsanto or Syngenta were still free to steal and then patent them.

IRRI had been used by the backers of the Green Revolution to gather control of the irreplaceable seed treasure of Asia’s rice varieties, under the ruse that they would thereby be “protected.” Golden Rice became the symbol, the rallying flag, and the demonstration of the promise of genetic engineering, even though the promise was based on black lies and deliberate deception.

The real truth

Indian biodiversity campaigner, Dr. Vandana Shiva, pointed out in a stinging critique of the Rockefeller Foundation Golden Rice promotion that, “the first deficiency of genetic engineering rice to produce Vitamin A is the eclipsing of alternative sources of vitamin A.” Shiva pointed out, “there are many alternatives…for Vitamin A supply. Vitamin A is provided by liver, egg yolk, chicken, meat, milk, butter. Beta-carotene, the Vitamin A precursor is pro- vided by dark green leafy vegetables, spinach, carrot, pumpkin, mango….”

Moreover, the quantity of rice which a person would have to consume daily to meet the full quota of Vitamin A was staggering, and not humanly possible. One estimate was that an average Asian would have to eat 9 kilograms of cooked rice daily, just to get the required minimum intake of Vitamin A. A typical daily ration in Asia of 300 grams rice would provide only 8% of his dailyrequirement.

Rockefeller Foundation’s President Gordon Conway sheepishly responded to these criticisms in a 2001 press release: “First it should be stated that we do not consider golden rice to be the solution to the vitamin A deficiency problem. Rather it provides an excellent complement to fruits, vegetables and animal products in diets, and to various fortified foods and vitamin supplements.” He added: “I agree with Dr. Shiva that the public relations uses of golden rice have gone too far.”

The curious and as yet unanswered question is who is truly behind this new attempt, after some 16 years of failure, to commercialize Golden Rice, and to make the utterly discredited GMO Golden Rice the focus of an alleged miracle in human life-saving nutrition? The Nobel signers’ claims are an utter scientific lie. What money is behind the effort to convince 107 Nobel Prize science laureates who clearly ought to know better–and if not should hand back their Nobel prize money–to sign their names to such a prominent piece of propaganda lies?

Is this an effort by Syngenta, now coming under the acquisition of ChemChina, to revive the failed Golden Rice project? Is it an attempt by Monsanto, soon to vanish under the eugenics umbrella of Bayer AG to do the same? Whatever the answer, and we will undoubtedly know soon, the signing of the Open Letter to Greenpeace, the United Nations and Governments of the World is at least proof that a Nobel Science Prize ain’t no proof ya got a brain…

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”/  This work was published at the New Eastern Outlook and is reprinted with permission.

Image Credit:  Russia-Insider.com

Image Credit: Russia-Insider.com

TND Guest Contributor:  F. William Engdahl 

The destructive global project known as GMO or Genetically Manipulated Organisms is incurring major defeats. The once-formidable muscle of Monsanto, Bayer AG, Syngenta, Dow-DuPont seems to be suffering from a rare form of political muscular dystrophy. In Russia, despite enormous pressure from the western GMO cartel on individual Duma members and Russian scientists, the Duma or state Parliament on June 24, passed the third and final reading of the bill that now bans totally all GMO crop cultivation and GMO animals. This was the very same ‘Black Friday,’ (for the GMO lobby), June 24, when EU member states rebelled and refused for a third time to approve a renewal of the license of the weed-killer glyphosate that is bound up with GMO crop cultivation. That was also the day the EU also realized that British voters had democratically voted to exit the European Union. For the globalists that be all in all June 24 will be remembered as their Black Friday.

On June 24 the Russian Duma took a final vote in the third reading of a bill introduced by the government in 2015 for a total ban on GMO crop cultivation and GMO animal breeding in the Russian Federation. Not only that but the Duma law gives the Russian Government authority to ban import of products containing GMOs in to Russia, if it is revealed that a specific GMO has a negative impact on human health or the environment. The new law also includes fines for violations. Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Tkachev, told the press on the occasion, “The Ministry of Agriculture is strongly against GMOs; Russian products will remain clean.”

Fake pro-GMO study

After the first draft of the GMO ban legislation was debated and sent for possible revisions in late 2015, on January 19 this year the pro-GMO lobby made a scientifically shabby attempt to derail the ban.

A new report claiming to be a comprehensive review of past studies on the health and safety of GMOs was picked up in a newswire in Russia’s TASS.ru under the headline, “Russian scientists have refuted the findings of studies on the hazards of GMOs.” Many other Russian papers ran the story uncritically. The article discussed what was said to be a scientific review published in the Critical Reviews in Biotechnology journal.

The “Russian scientists” on closer inspection turned out to be one, Alexander Y. Panchin, of the Institute for Information Transmission Problems (IITP) of the Russian Academy of Science. Panchin co-authored with a US researcher, Alexander Tuzhikov, who is listed as a Research Associate at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami specializing in, “Computer Science, Bioinformatics…” That would suggest he is a computer numbers cruncher.

Their “analysis” included only review of a mere seven published scientific articles; there was no original actual live experiments using rats as Prof. Gilles-Eric Seralini and others had done. Many of the selected studies were influenced by Monsanto or other GMO companies surreptitiously. In their abstract, Panchin and his US colleague Tuzhikov wrote, “We performed a statistical re-analysis and review of experimental data presented in some of

these studies and found that quite often in contradiction with the authors’ conclusions the data actually provides weak evidence of harm that cannot be differentiated from chance.” Now that’s about as scientifically rigorous as melting fudge.

The pro-GMO Academy of Sciences IITP report was followed by a personal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin from the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Fortov on January 26. Fortov told Putin of the “benefits” of GMOs. It seems the Russian President was underwhelmed by Fortov’s arguments.

Whoever financially backed what apparently was a well-funded attempt to kill the GMO ban in Russia must have reckoned that Russian scientists were either primitive and ignorant, easily influenced by bribes, or that Putin’s backing to ban GMO could be easily overturned. They miscalculated if so. An immediate reply from a group of Russian leading GMO research scientists, the All-National Association for Genetic Safety (OAGB), ripped the Panchin “review” to shreds.

Debunked

The scientists of the OAGB pointed out that the methodology employed by the two pro-GMO authors was fatally flawed: “Statistical analysis was conducted using the Bonferroni method, which…can show a lack of an effect which is present in reality…this method does not allow to identify the toxic effects of the objects, but on the contrary the method hides the toxic effects.” The OAGB scientists asked the GMO-friendly authors to justify on what basis they picked the specific seven articles out of dozens of articles on health effects of GMO, many alarming. Depending on your methodology one can lie in any way with statistics. Here Panchin and friend clearly did try just that.

The Panchin-Tuzhikov five page “review” singled out a now-famous article from 2012 by Prof. Gilles-Eric Seralini and his group at France’s Caen University for special attack. The Seralini group carried out the world’s first long-term two year GMO feeding study of rats fed Monsanto GMO corn treated with Monsanto Roundup weed-killer with glyphosate. That study revealed that the rats developed multiple cancer tumors, many died prematurely or had organ damage. Seralini found that the most cancer tumors appeared after the 90-day period where Monsanto studies had inexplicably stopped.

Russia bans US GMO soy and corn

The new law banning cultivation of GMO in Russia follows a separate Russian ban of import of US corn and soybeans this past February. Between 80-90% of all USA corn and soybeans today is GMO. On February 15, Russia’s state food safety regulator, Rosselkhoznadzor, announced a ban on all imports of US soybeans and corn because of what it determined were “microbial and GMO contamination.” According to the regulator, the corn imported from the US is often infected with dry rot of maize. In addition, according to the Russian watchdog, corn can be used for transgenic crops in Russia.

The GMO project if the truth were to be told by Monsanto, Bayer AG, Syngenta and others, has nothing to do with high-technology methods to increase yields to “feed the world.” It has nothing to do with using less herbicides or other toxic chemicals. It is a sick project of some ill minds to pollute the human gene pool with toxic waste in hopes of ultimate population control and ultimately, population reduction. Russia has just shown it’s possible to reject and that’s very good for Russia and for the world. Now it’s time for Americans and others to follow suit.

# # # #

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”  This work was published at the New Eastern Outlook and is reprinted with permission.

The EU is about to vote on whether to relicense the world’s most used pesticide, as debate continues to rage over whether it poses a risk of cancer. Full story, click below:

Monsanto’s popular weedkiller is mainly used on crops such as corn and soybeans, which are genetically modified to survive it. It also"probably causes cancer" in humans, says IARC. (Photo: Studioshots/Alamy)

Monsanto’s popular weedkiller is mainly used on crops such as corn and soybeans, which are genetically modified to survive it. It also”probably causes cancer” in humans, says IARC. (Photo: Studioshots/Alamy)

TND Guest Contributor: F. William Engdahl

In a tale of Brussels corruption almost too crass to believe, the Commission of the European Union is ready to approve a new license for a proven carcinogen, glyphosate, despite international warnings from WHO and independent scientists that it is toxic to humans and animals. Only huge protest has forced the EU to make a surprise postponement of its planned vote to re-approve.

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, postponed re-licensing of glyphosate this month not because of his taking a morally courageous stand by going against the corrupt EU Commission food safety advisory group, EFSA, and banning renewal of the license for the world’s most widely-used weed-killer, glyphosate. He’s fully ready to approve the substance. This, despite the fact that a scientific panel of the World Health Organization labeled glyphosate in 2015 as a probable human and animal carcinogen. He postponed only because four EU member states, unexpectedly, refused to approve renewal. Now Andriukaitis and the GMO weed-killer cartel are scheming to find a new way to ram the renewal through.

Glyphosate is a highly toxic chemical that is the major component of Monsanto’s Roundup weed-killer, the world’s most used weed-killer. In other combinations glyphosate is also sold by most every agrochemical company in the world including BASF, Syngenta, Dow Chemical, DuPont and China’s Zhejiang Wynca Chemical.

Originally developed in a form combined with ultra-toxic adjuvant chemicals by Monsanto chemist John Franz in the 1970’s, it soon became the most widely used weed-killer used in the USA and the EU. Today glyphosate is paired with glyphosate-resistant GMO plants such as Monsanto “Roundup Ready” (glyphosate-resistant) soybeans or corn. All GMO plants of Monsanto, for example, by contract, must use Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed-killer Roundup, as in “round up them ugly weeds pardna, an kill ‘em all!”

The problem as far as re-licensing glyphosate-based weed-killers is that in March 2015 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” based on epidemiological, animal, and in vitro studies.

IARC conducted an independent and extensive review of all the publicly available evidence linking glyphosate to cancer. IARC is specifically qualified to conduct such a review, and it has done so for forty years on behalf of the WHO. It has evaluated hundreds of chemicals, and is regarded as the authoritative body by governments around the world. Non-industry experts testify as to its integrity and scientific credibility.

As more evidence of the high toxicity of glyphosate in combination with other undisclosed additive boosting toxic chemicals, or adjuvants, comes to the light, attention by environmental and health organizations to the danger of a 15 year renewal of license in the EU for glyphosate is intense.

Were the EU to deny license to glyphosate, it would deal a death blow to the world’s leading herbicide and as well to Monsanto and the world’s GMO industry. That’s not just corporate profit, it’s geopolitical. Guess who is lobbying frantically in Brussels to win renewal?

ECPA

I’ll wager not many readers have heard of the European Crop Protection Association, or ECPA. Its website states it “represents the interests of the crop protection industry at European level. Our members include all major companies and national associations across Europe. We aim to bring everyone with an interest in crop protection together to share our knowledge and learn from each other. Together, we strive to be problem-solvers in a highly-challenging European environment.” Crop protection sounds kinda “goody, goody.” It isn’t.

Succinctly translated, the ECPA mission statement is bullshit. ECPA is a front lobby organization in Brussels for Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, Dupont, Syngenta, Bayer CropSciences, BASF Agro and others. When it was announced that four nations–France, Sweden, The Netherlands and Italy–all opposed renewal of the EU license for glyphosate, Jean-Charles Bocquet, director of ECPA said: “We are very upset that countries were influenced by significant political pressure from the environment committee of the European parliament, NGOs and the precautionary principle.”

That statement by the major agribusiness lobby, especially the statement that ECPA is “very upset that countries were influenced by…the precautionary principle,” is little short of astonishing honesty from one of the most corrupt lobby organizations in the EU.

The precautionary principle states that if there is even a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, then, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action, in this case, Monsanto and the agrochemical lobby. It’s even law in the EU. ECPA admits, it seems, that it has no use for precaution regarding human health or safety. Agribusiness domination “Über Alles.” Better sorry than safe?

EFSA Sheep Dips Monsanto

In November, 2015 the EU’s European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opened the way for the re-licensing of glyphosate. It ruled that “Glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans…” EFSA ruled against the WHO determination by relying on six agrochemical-industry-funded studies whose scientific details have never been published in full nor in scientifically independently peer-reviewed journals.

The November EFSA “determination” that glyphosate was not a probable carcinogen and hence safe, was based on a corrupt German government study which, in turn, was simply adopted from an agrochemical industry “study” by the Glyphosate Task Force. In short, a worthless Monsanto and agrochemical industry Glyphosate Task Force study of glyphosate was “sheep-dipped” to give it credibility via the German government, then passed on to an uncritical EFSA in Brussels who uncritically recommended the EU re-license glyphosate.

The term “sheep dip” and “sheep dipped” has dual meaning. Both are appropriate here. To sheep-dip a military or intelligence agent means to disguise him or her that they are not recognizable as agents but rather as civilians blended into the enemy society. The EU Commission has sheep-dipped or disguised its basis for declaring glyphosate safe.

Sheep dip also means to dip sheep in a highly poisonous liquid bath of chemicals to kill the animal’s external parasites such as itch mite, ticks and lice. The original sheep dip solution was based on organo-phosphorus compounds, from which chemical warfare agents were later developed. Organo-phosphorous compounds are very toxic to humans, as they travel easily through the skin. The EFSA and EU Commission are sheep dipping us with its glyphosate ruling.

The EU Commission and EU states divide responsibility for assessing the health and safety of different chemicals for use in the entire EU. The German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) was given responsibility for reviewing glyphosate in 2012 for all EU states. Germany submitted its glyphosate renewal assessment report (RAR) in January 2014, a huge document prepared for the Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety by its Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bfr).

It was that German Bfr report that EFSA relied on for its November, 2015 ruling. However, the Bfr refused to disclose the two key chronic toxicity studies that their decision was based on because, they stated, those studies would contain “commercially confidential” information. In addition, the German Bfr report recommended not only re-approval of glyphosate for EU use, but it also raised the allowed d1aily exposure or intake by a whoppin’ 66%, from 0.3 to 0.5 mg per kg body weight per day. No principle of precaution holds with those gents—damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead!

To add to the cesspool of corruption of the entire EU Commission and EFSA in what can only be called a criminal enterprise surrounding re-licensing of glyphosate, the German Bfr Pesticide Committee had employees from pesticide giants that profit from glyphosate, including two from BASF and one from Bayer Crop Sciences, as committee members. Bayer and BASF are both members of the European Crop Protection Association, ECPA. Until recently BASF also had a joint venture with Monsanto to spread GMO crops.

Perhaps most astonishing to those who naively trust bureaucracy in Germany to have scientific integrity when it comes to health and safety, the German Bfr did not draft its report from scratch. Instead Bfr used the work of the Glyphosate Task Force (GTF). GTF is a “consortium of companies joining resources and efforts in order to renew the European glyphosate registration with a joint submission.” Members of the GTF include Monsanto, Dow Agro Sciences and Syngenta among other agrochemical industry companies.

Monsanto and Syngenta sheep-dipped their safety assessment, published by their own Glyphosate Task Force, via the German government’s Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR)—the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment of the Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. The German Ministry duly gave its report to Brussels and the EFSA which took the Bfr report as its own report. The faceless EU Commissioner Andriukaitis then took EFSA-Bfr-Glyphosate Task Force (Monsanto & Co) report to justify his intent to re-license despite all evidence to the contrary. In June the glyphosate license that was given in 2002 expires.

EU Commissioner spits at science

The EFSA determination and its unquestioning acceptance by EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis was so egregious that it prompted an immediate protest letter from 96 prominent scientists, including most of the scientists of the WHO’s 2015 IARC study. The letter to Commissioner Andriukaitis declared that the basis of EFSA’s research was “not credible because it is not supported by the evidence. Accordingly, we urge you and the European Commission to disregard the flawed EFSA finding.” Among other “flaws” they argued, EFSA chose to completely dismiss seven positive animal studies showing an increase in cancerous tumors.

EU Commissioner Andriukaitis, in a morally irresponsible reply, wrote, “I am not able to accommodate your request to simply disregard the EFSA conclusion.”

Andriukaitis lied. He could well cite the evidence of the 96 scientists to call for an entirely scientifically independent assessment of glyphosate. Another faceless EU bureaucrat makes fundamental decisions regarding human life while apparently feeling no need to be responsible in a democratic way. It reminds very much of the Soviet faceless bureaucracy during the Stalin era. Andriukaitis, born in the Stalin Soviet era, would know about such things. During the 1940’s his entire family was deported to a Siberia forced labor camp where Andriukaitis was born in 1951 and lived there until he was seven.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

This work was published at the New Eastern Outlook and is reprinted with permission.

 

 

russia gmo banTND Guest Contributor:  F. William Engdahl |

Russia is making consequent its decision last fall to ban the commercial planting of Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO in its agriculture acreage. The latest decision, effective February 15, 2016 does not at all please Monsanto or the US Grain Cartel.

On February 15, a Russian national import ban on soybeans and corn imports from the United States took effect. The Russian food safety regulator Rosselkhoznadzor announced that the ban was because of GMO and of microbial contamination and the absence of effective US controls on soybean and corn exports to prevent export of quarantinable grains, also known as microbial contamination. The Russian food safety regulator added that corn imported from the US is often infected with dry rot of maize. In addition, he said, corn can be used for GMO crops in Russia. The potential damage from import and spread of quarantinable objects on the territory of Russia is estimated at $126 -189 million annually.

Striking the heart of the GMO cartel

The Russian decision is a huge blow to USA agribusiness. For decades, the US grain cartel companies–ADM, Cargill, Bunge–have dominated the global trade in soybeans and corn, the most widely used animal feed for cattle, pigs, chickens because of its high protein content.

Today, the contamination of national agriculture and the food chain in different countries, even those banning planting of GMO crops, typically comes in through a back door, namely, the free import of GMO contaminated corn and soybeans. I’ve been told by people in a position to know that EU agriculture policy is determined less by European farmer organizations, for example, than by the large US agribusiness lobby of Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Cargill and friends. Similarly, though until recently the Chinese government officially banned planting or licensing of GMO crops inside China’s commercial agriculture, GMO has inundated the country via a loophole that allows unrestricted import of GMO soybeans. Today more than 60% of all soybeans consumed in China or used for animal feed is GMO. The Russian decision, to my knowledge is the first blow to be struck against the powerful GMO agribusiness cartel. Thank US sanctions in effect that the crisis created the opportunity.

As a long-term two year independent laboratory rat experiment has demonstrated, a diet of GMO soybeans or GMO corn over a period of more than six months produces virulent tumors in the GMO-fed rats and excessive early mortality. Were we to eat a diet of McDonald GMO-contaminated hamburgers for a six month period, I shudder to imagine the human damage that would wreak. McDonalds hamburger patties, I was told by an insider in the grain trade, contains beef supplemented with up to 30% GMO soybeans. Today almost 100% of soybeans on the world market are GMO, most from Monsanto.

With this latest ban, the Russian authorities almost make complete their decision, announced September 2015, to rid the country of GMO for consumption by humans or animals.

That decision still left a gaping loophole by not also banning GMO soybeans and GMO corn. After this latest decision, now the only loophole remaining, which is still significant, to rid Russian agriculture entirely of GMO contamination, is to extend the GMO soybean and GMO corn import ban to all countries which cannot conclusively demonstrate their corn or soybeans are GMO free, using the same criteria used for US soybean and corn imports.

Today the USA is the world’s largest followed by Argentina and Brazil. The three countries produce 85% of all world soybeans. And almost all of that, aside from pockets of certified GMO-free acreage in Brazil, is GMO contaminated.

Then come India and China, each with around 5% of the world total. China recently changed its GMO policy and seems intent on the dubious policy of becoming a leading GMO soybean and maize producer with the $43 billion ChemChina takeover bid last month of Swiss GMO and pesticide giant, Syngenta.

Soybeans are high protein and are used in almost every industrial food product today from chocolate bars (lecithin) to the feed for KFC fried chicken, to soy drinks. Because of the power of the GMO lobby over the past two decades, almost all that soybean food is GMO. As well, the GMO comes into the food chain via so-called high protein “power feed,” a mix of soybeans and corn. Soybean meal and soybean hulls are widely used in animal feeds. This 44% – 48% protein meal is the most common source of protein in feed used in poultry, hog and dairy rations. Corn Gluten Meal, made from processing corn, has a 60% protein content and is used widely for poultry and dairy cattle feed in the USA, Canada and the EU.

Despite the fact that a majority of EU member countries, including Germany, have chosen to ban planting of GMO, a Brussels loophole permits ADM and Cargill unlimited import of soybeans or corn that is GMO. That way the food chain is contaminated via GMO in the animal diet.

Since near 93% of USA corn today and 94% of its soybeans are GMO today, a safe rule-of-thumb is the precautionary principle–ban it unless proven GMO-free, which is precisely what Russian authorities have done. The Precautionary Principle is simply that, if regulatory authorities are not 100% certain it is GMO-free, prohibit it.

The US-based agribusiness cartel, led by Cargill and Monsanto, ensured that the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Agriculture, written by a former Vice President of Cargill, Daniel Amstutz, prioritized the right of free trade above that of national food health and safety. The latest move by the Russian Federation authorities shows that a major food-producing nation, today surpassing the USA as world’s largest grain producer, in part thanks to the foolish US sanctions on Russia, is prioritizing the health and safety of its citizens above the corporate interests of agribusiness. That’s a healthy development.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

This work was published at the New Eastern Outlook and is reprinted with permission.

water

Almost everyone knows California is running out of water as it enters the fourth year of a grueling drought. The results are stark, as massive reservoirs turn into mud pits, and state inspectors fine residents for watering their lawns.

But in the state’s second most populous county, there’s a problem of a different sort.

The San Diego County Water Authority has so much water it doesn’t know what to do with it all. And its long-term prospects are even more promising.

Thanks to a variety of projects, San Diego area residents should be set for the rest of their lives. The agency says it will reduce its water purchases from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California by 66 percent over the next 15 years. It shrugs at Gov. Jerry Brown’s multibillion-dollar plan to send more water southward from the Delta by building two big tunnels under that estuary.

A $1 billion desalination facility that turns salty ocean water into fresh drinking water opened Monday in the northern San Diego County city of Carlsbad. Critics, most of them environmentalists, quickly seized on the comments of some investors — that the plant was so wrapped up in red tape, they were no longer sure it could turn a profit.One of the county’s ambitious projects is illustrative of what’s wrong with California — not because it will meet the water needs of most in this metropolitan area of 3.2 million people. It’s the bottom-line lesson that what ails the Golden State is not primarily a lack of rainfall, but politics. The drought is a manmade disaster.

“It required far more equity capital and development capital than we anticipated,” a financial backer of the Poseidon Resources Corp. facility told Bloomberg. “In hindsight was it a good investment? Probably not,” he said of the facility, which took 18 years from planning to opening.

Such negative news can be used by opponents of these facilities to call for more caution. Indeed, several environmental-related lawsuits were filed against this plant, so desalination has its share of opponents. And a nearly identical project in Huntington Beach is being held up by the California Coastal Commission, an environmentally oriented state agency that’s worried about the effect of the giant intake tubes on ocean plankton.

But a closer read of the story shows clearly the technology was never the problem. The problem was political and regulatory.

As Bloomberg explained, “Proposed in 1998, the project was beset by legal and regulatory challenges that held up construction until the end of 2012.” The investor was even more precise: “We realized there would be certain political risks, but not at this level.” It took longer to get approvals for this one desalination plant than it did to design, approve and complete most of the 60-year-old State Water Project — California’s enormous system of dams, aqueducts and pumping stations that brings northern California water to the more arid Southland.

The problem isn’t desalination. The problem is politics. A key player in the Poseidon project argues that unnecessary and duplicative approvals — four separate state agencies approved the project on their own, separate tracks — delayed things by at least a decade and added about 10 percent to the total project cost of $1 billion. When construction finally started in 2012, the plant went from a hole in the ground to a functioning facility in only three years.

The rest of the time involved getting state and local approvals. An environmentalist quoted by Bloomberg called for even more reviews and oversight.

“We learned a lot with Carlsbad, and that’s one of the reasons it’s only going to get harder for them,” said Marco Gonzalez, a suburban San Diego lawyer who represented local environmental groups including Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation in lawsuits against the project. “Carlsbad was the first of its kind and it was as much about lobbying as it was about science. If anything, we need heightened levels of review, not less.”

Desalination is just one piece of an engineering puzzle that will keep water flowing in California. And even in the current environment — where policy makers prefer fining people for overusing water while they empty reservoirs to protect a small number of non-endangered fish — the water actually does keep flowing. Environmentalists have mucked up the process, delayed the construction of needed facilities and driven up the cost of water. They’ve brought havoc to some of the more agricultural-intensive parts of the Central Valley, where farmers are abandoning their fields because of a lack of available water.

But there’s still water. Conservation has helped, of course. Despite the lawsuits and unnecessary delays and costs, good planning still is the key. Even in a drought, a massive urban area in one of the nation’s most arid regions is awash in the wet stuff.

Republican legislators in particular have been beating the “water storage” drum since the beginning of the drought. They are right. The state no doubt needs to finish building a couple of proposed dam projects and beef up its system of underground water storage. That doesn’t mean every proposed dam project is a good one or that the state is an efficient builder. But water officials would do well to prepare more storage for the future. When it does rain again — and predictions of an El Niño year have so far fallen short in most of the state — there needs to be a place to store it for drought years.

But in the current environment of endless environmental reviews and lawsuits (under the controversial California Environmental Quality Act), this will take years to complete. It’s a great approach for the future, but my recent visit to two of the state’s bigger reservoirs (Folsom Lake, east of Sacramento; Lake Oroville in the northern Sacramento Valley) showed depressingly empty lakes. Storage capacity is a long-term, not short-term, solution.

As politicians fight to build more storage for the future, there are some obvious regulatory changes that can help today. A recent study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California offered a number of ways the state could jump-start its flagging water markets.

First, free water markets. Freer markets are the best way to direct all resources to their highest and best use. Water is no different. Sadly, the state’s regulatory regimen makes it nearly impossible to buy and sell water rights.

“California’s system for allocating water to its residents, businesses and ecosystems is weakened by flaws that hamper it from meeting the state’s needs, especially in times of scarcity,” according to the report, called Allocating California’s Water. “It is fragmented, inconsistent and lacking in transparency and clear lines of authority.” In other words, the bureaucracy impedes the efficient use of water at a time of scarcity, when such efficiency is of particular importance.

PPIC rightly notes that “calls for a complete overhaul of water rights have been on the rise, with some observers asserting that the seniority-based system (where early water users have a greater claim on water than later arrivals) is outdated and not up to the task of meeting California’s needs. In our view, less sweeping, more legally defensible pathways are available to improve water allocation.” That’s sensible, given that overhauling water rights can be a fancy term for taking away some people’s property rights.

One solution seemed particularly noteworthy: “Trading (buying and selling water rights) is an essential tool for enabling water right-holders to voluntarily reallocate water to reduce the economic and environmental costs of shortages. Although some trading occurred during this drought, the approval process is hampered by a complex and often opaque set of rules.”

These are basic market issues. Another one is pricing. When the price of, say, gasoline goes up, drivers tend to use less of it. That’s how the market allocates goods that are, at least temporarily, scarce. Unfortunately, California consumers — who have conserved far more water than the state demanded — actually face higher costs as they conserve more. The per-unit cost of the water goes up as you use less of it. That irony is the product of a government-controlled water monopoly.

The water agencies have many fixed costs (pipes, pumps, filtration, salaries, pensions, buildings) and when people use less water these users have to cover those inflexible costs. In a real free-market system, competition would force down infrastructure and personnel costs. But we all must pay whatever the local water monopoly charges, with pricing determined by politicians and regulators. In such a world, rates rarely go down.

There’s some effort to change the water-pricing structure, but in a way that has many taxpayer advocates troubled. California water agencies and city governments are pushing a statewide ballot initiative that would let them charge higher water rates to discourage water use. The agencies want to re-impose a tiered pricing system thrown out by a state appeals court, in which they charge higher rates to those who use higher levels of water.

That sounds like a market approach, but it’s more like a tax increase. The state constitution forbids governments from charging more than the actual cost of providing the service. In a monopoly situation, it’s nothing more than a mandated increase. Nevertheless, it at least touches on a key issue: pricing affects water usage. But there’s need for something else to be understood, that competition is the best way to keep rates reasonable.

Even many of the state’s Democratic leaders realize that CEQA, the act that opened the door to multiple lawsuits against the desalination plan, needs reform. There’s no clarity within the act, so developers like the people behind the new Poseidon plant in San Diego County can’t plan for costly litigation and years of delays.

CEQA is used not just by environmental groups. Labor unions leverage CEQA to file suits to exact wage concessions, and project competitors to crush innovation. Legislators are quick to make CEQA exemptions on their favored projects, but the law remains intact, and it slows and stops many necessary projects, including water projects.

Also needed: water recycling technologies. Opponents refer to them as “toilet to tap,” but scientific techniques can turn literal sewage into drinkable water. The San Diego City Council approved such a program last year, which promises to provide more than a third of the city’s water by 2035. Of course, city and water officials are spending a lot on public relations to assure public acceptance of something that sounds a bit icky. They call it Pure Water San Diego, and such projects promise good, clean water at competitive prices.

As the San Diego situation shows, California could easily meet its future water needs — even as the population continues to grow — by embracing technologies that already are working. Some regulatory changes and infrastructure investments will help, too. The big question is whether state officials can learn new lessons.

# # # #

Steven Greenhut is a senior contributor to Watchdog.org and the California columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune. 

Watchdog.org is an online news organization that publishes articles by independent journalists covering state-specific and local government activity. The program began in September 2009, a project of Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting new media journalism.  This article is reprinted with permission. TND full (1)

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rachelgmoTND Guest Contributor: Deirdre Fulton |

The U.S. agrichemical lobby targeted a Canadian teenager as part of its “increasingly nasty and divisive public relations war over GMOs,” according to new reporting from Global News.

Rachel Parent was 14 years old when her activism around labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food caught the eye of pro-GMO corporations and lobby groups.

According to emails and thousands of other pages of documents released in a freedom of information request by U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), a non-profit advocacy group funded by the Organic Consumers Association, these industry forces conspired to think of ways to discredit Parent and counter her message.

“It’s mostly scientists that they attack, but Rachel is a standout,” Gary Ruskin, the co-director of USRTK, told Global News. “The agrichemical industry is plainly quite threatened by this teenage schoolgirl, so that’s why they’re after her.”

Among other things, the news outlet reports that University of Florida professor Kevin Folta—whom Ruskin describes as “one of the principal attack dogs of the agrichemical industry”—was hired by public relations firm Ketchum to make a video about Parent.

According to Global News:

The video discussed Parent’s activism, her belief that all GMO food products should be labelled, and addressed her apparent lack of scientific knowledge.

“So when I think about answering Rachel Parent, who’s the activist child – well, young woman – who’s running the website ‘Kids Right to Know…The things I just adore about Rachel is that she’s clearly very articulate, clearly intelligent,” Folta said in the video.

“The problem that I have is when Rachel starts to let non-scientific thinking really kind of cloud her final decision-making process.”

Parent said she finds the tone of the video “almost degrading.”

A poll commissioned by a coalition of consumer and environmental groups showed earlier this month that nearly 90 percent of Americans want mandatory labeling on GMO foods.

For more, see the Global News video below:

This work was published at Common Dreams and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

The WTO is aiming to strengthen a ‘corporate-driven free trade regime’ while ignoring solutions that would protect small-scale farmers and increase food security, says La Via Campesina

A farmer cultivates crops in Tanzania. (Photo: World Bank/flickr/cc)

A farmer cultivates crops in Tanzania. (Photo: World Bank/flickr/cc)

TND Guest Contributor: Nadia Prupis |

The World Trade Organization (WTO) kicked off its 10th ministerial conference in Kenya on Tuesday to develop a new free trade agreement, as grassroots activists rallied worldwide against measures they say would undermine the rights of small-scale farmers in developing countries.

It is the first time the WTO has met in Africa, where free trade and globalization have left a legacy of poverty, unemployment, and other institutional crises in numerous countries. The four-day ministerial conference (MC10) will center around a set of trade barriers between wealthy and developing nations. The talks are starting where a previous round of negotiations left off in 2001 in Doha, Qatar—although a few of the WTO’s 162 members, including the U.S. and the European Union (EU), are pushing for the organization to craft an entirely new set of rules rather than iron out the old ones.

On the ground in Nairobi, La Via Campesina, an Indigenous and peasant-run food sovereignty movement, said the WTO is aiming to strengthen a “corporate-driven free trade regime” while ignoring solutions that would protect small-scale farmers and increase food security worldwide.

One particularly contentious issue at MC10 involves whether to allow developing nations the power to raise tariffs on imported goods in order to protect their own farmers’ livelihoods. Western leaders are now claiming that certain countries, such as China and India, have made so much economic progress in the intervening 14 years since the Doha talks that their tariff privileges should be revoked.
“WTO led by U.S. and EU and their [corporate] interests affects the sovereignty of the African countries.”
—La Via Campesina

But developing nations counter that the WTO has long favored rich countries with preferential agricultural subsidies, allowing the U.S. and others to benefit from global trade deals while farmers in Africa and Asiacontinue to struggle.

Via Campesina charged that hosting MC10 in Kenya is an attempt by the WTO to whitewash its own contributions to many African countries’ economic destruction.

“After many years of ignoring African challenges posed by global trading system, the WTO—one of the principal instruments of global economic governance—comes to the continent to seek legitimacy,” Via Campesina said in a statement Wednesday. “WTO led by U.S. and EU and their [corporate] interests affects the sovereignty of the African countries. It undermines countries’ constitutions by imposing rules which compromises their policy space, human rights and deny FOOD SOVEREIGNTY.”

Indeed, as All Africa‘s Aggrey Mutambo reports, it is uncertain whether the WTO’s agenda “represents the interests of tens of millions of impoverished farmers and even if it did whether the rich countries are interested in solving other people’s problems.”

Mutambo writes:

Making it easy for poor countries to add value to agricultural products would have ensured that farmers are paid more and jobs are created.

[….] Yesterday, activists under the umbrella of Social Movement Working Group against WTO charged that Kenya and Africa as a whole should pull out of the WTO because they have been getting a raw deal.

“Seeking to push issues like Trade Facilitation will not address the skewed nature of the WTO agreements as they will only serve to facilitate the multinationals to continue dominating the fragile Kenyan market at the expense of local entrepreneurs,” the activists said in a statement last evening.

Farmers in India’s North Karnataka region also staged demonstrations warning that the WTO’s new proposals would continue favoring corporations at the expense of social and economic justice. According to The Hindu:

The Nairobi meeting was aimed at speeding up the implementation of various anti-farmer policies. Successive governments had failed to address the problems of farmers, who were reeling under crop and financial losses and committing suicides, alleged the protesters.

John Hilary, executive director of social and economic justice advocacy group War on Want,explained the disastrous effects of the WTO’s previous negotiations and deals for an op-ed in The Independent on Tuesday:

The WTO’s first summit after the launch of the Doha Round collapsed in acrimonious failure. The next was marked by pitched battles in the streets of Hong Kong as riot police fought Asian farmers desperately trying to save their livelihoods from the WTO’s free trade agenda.

[….] It was the WTO’s poisonous cocktail of trade expansion and market deregulation that led to the economic crisis of 2008. Years of export-led growth resulted in a crisis of overproduction that could only be sustained with mountains of debt.

Economist Yash Tandon, CEO of the Southern & Eastern Trade Information and Negotiations Institute, told Voice of America on Wednesday, “The WTO is asymmetrical, unequal and the power is held by the Western countries in league with the secretariat of the WTO, which is totally biased against us [Africa]. So in that kind of climate where they are pushing for what they call free trade, it’s totally unbalanced against us.”

Loosening financial restrictions for wealthy nations faces stiff opposition from grassroots groups—but the matter is not so simple. As Global Justice Now policy and campaigns head Polly Jones warned on Tuesday, “an impasse at the WTO risks increasing mega-regional trade deals” like the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

According to Hilary, the only solution to “breaking the cycle of economic and ecological crisis” is to shut down the WTO altogether. “For the planet to survive, the WTO must die,” he wrote.

Photo: Creative Commons

Photo: Creative Commons

TND Guest Contributor: F. William Engdahl

After more than three decades of researching and writing on themes of mankind’s inclination to abuse and harm our fellow human beings, I rarely receive something so shocking I have difficulty to write about it. A recent decision of the United States Government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to permit commercialization of the first-ever GMO animal for human consumption, despite an unprecedented 2 million opposing citizen petitions, and despite opposition of 40 members of Congress, more than 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations, salmon and fishing groups and even supermarket chains, is such an instance. It astonishes me.

On November 19, 2015 the FDA approved the commercialization of a genetically modified animal for the first time anywhere in the world. Hello, GMO salmon! Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the House of Frankenstein. Please read on, as you likely will not believe the level of malicious insanity at President Obama’s FDA today.

The original House of Frankenstein Hollywood film of the 1940’s was based on a novel by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. It dealt with a fictional human cloning by a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who makes an experiment in human cloning in which he creates an unexpected monster, cloned with the brain of a convicted murderer.

‘sound science and comprehensive review…’

The 2015 version of the House of Frankenstein deals with a far more criminal and grotesque creation, the genetic manipulation of salmon. In their press release of November 19, the Washington FDA declared that, “Based on sound science and a comprehensive review, the US Food and Drug Administration is taking several important steps today regarding food from genetically engineered (GE) plants and animals, including the first approval for a genetically engineered animal intended for food, AquAdvantage Salmon.”

The FDA statement continues, “The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty Technologies regarding AquAdvantage Salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat,” said Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

What is this thing called AquAdvantage Salmon? It’s a genetically modified hybridization between GMO Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and closely related wild brown trout (Salmo trutta). The inventors took a growth-hormone gene from the Chinook salmon and a piece of DNA from the brown ocean trout. Both combine to create a fish that grows year-round, allegedly cutting feed costs and the time it takes to reach marketable size.

The FDA claims that the GMO Salmon hybrid does not require to be labeled that it is a GMO hybrid. They state, “the FDA can only require additional labeling of foods derived from GE {GMO-w.e.} sources if there is a material difference – such as a different nutritional profile – between the GE product and its non-GE counterpart. In the case of the AquAdvantage Salmon, the FDA did not find any such differences.”

Then in one of the most incredible statements of a statement filled with lies and misleading half-truths, the FDA concludes that the “FDA has determined that the approval of the AquAdvantage Salmon application would not have a significant environmental impact because of the multiple and redundant measures being taken to contain the fish and prevent their escape and establishment in the environment.”

The truth about GMO Salmon

In May, 2013 a group of scientists in Canada published the results of their study of the possible dangers of AquaBounty Technologies’ GMO salmon in the proceedings of the Royal Society of Canada. Their conclusions, were they taken seriously in Washington would have shut the door on FDA approval once and for all. They were totally ignored by the FDA who relied instead on evidence presented them by AquaBounty Technologies.

The Canadian scientists concluded that, “Interspecific hybridization is a route for transgenes from genetically modified (GMO) animals to invade wild populations, yet the ecological effects and potential risks that may emerge from such hybridization areunknown…” Interspecific hybridization is a term for creating a hybrid by mating two different plant or animal species. The well-established “precautionary principle” at this point would tell the FDA, “Whoa, boy! We haven’t a clue what happens if we let this genie out of the bottle.” Instead, they said, “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead with GMO salmon. We don’t give a shit what the potential human or animal consequences are.”

The 2013 Canadian study continues, “In stream mesocosms designed to more closely emulate natural conditions, transgenic hybrids appeared to express competitive dominance and suppressed the growth of transgenic and non-transgenic (wild-type) salmon by 82 and 54 per cent, respectively.”

The study concludes that, “Ultimately, we suggest that hybridization of transgenic fishes with closely related species represents potential ecological risks for wild populations and a possible route for introgression of a transgene, however low the likelihood, into a new species in nature (emphasis added)…complex competitive interactions associated with transgenesis and hybridization could have substantial ecological consequences for wild Atlantic salmon should they ever come into contact in nature.

Frankenstein salmon escaping to nature

As noted in the official FDA statement, they dismiss the risk of GMO hybrid salmon escaping into nature because of what the FDA claims are stringent controls in the breeding farm the company has in…Panama.

To my knowledge, Panama is not especially known for its rigorous animal safety standards. Even if it were, however, the FDA chose to ignore the fact that AquaBounty’s GMO salmon facility in Panama had been repeatedly fined by Panamian authorities for repeated environmental violations. Those included a security lapse that led to ‘lost’ salmon in Panama, and the fact that AquaBounty out-sourced the “strict security” of its main Panama facility to an unknown independent contractor in 2013 to maintain security of the facility and other day-to-day practices. In summer of 2014 the independent contractor died, leaving management of the facility in limbo for weeks, pending signing of a new lease with new operators.

If that were not enough ground to deny the safety claims of AquaBounty, the fact that the company plans to sell its GMO hybrid salmon eggs to fish farmers worldwide, ought to have been grounds to deny license. If the GMO salmon eggs are sold worldwide to salmon farmers, marketed as cost-reducing, fast-growth eggs, the eggs will undoubtedly end up being sold to conventional open net-pens, the standard system for the global salmon aquaculture industry, and, significantly, a form of confinement from which millions of farmed salmon have escaped in the past.

In making its safety assessment the FDA simply violated standard scientific safety tests. They included no in-depth analysis of hazardous weaknesses in AquaBounty’s salmon-confinement system and no examination of the consequences should the company’s GMO salmon escape. Also absent was a formal “uncertainty analysis.” Anne R. Kapuscinski, an environmental studies professor at Dartmouth College and co-author of a book about risk-assessment science applied to genetically modified fish, called the FDA’s environmental assessment “not even close to approaching the standards of state-of-the-art riskassessment.”

The FDA scientific evaluation that led to approval was more than deficient in what they claimed was “sound science and comprehensive review.”

The FDA has done a neat trick. The review of GMO hybrid salmon from AquaBounty as well as a row of other such animal GMO applications waiting future FDA approval is being made under the category of “new animal drugs.” (sic!). That allows the FDA to bypass normal substantive input from other agencies—like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, or the Environmental Protection Agency—that have actual expertise in areas such as fisheries and ecological risk. Because of concerns over trade secrets, the process also mostly takes place in the dark.

The reader should decide if the FDA is guilty of simply sloppy procedure or of deliberate malign action. If this decision is allowed to stand, and GMO animal products appear on our supermarket shelves unlabeled, as the FDA has ruled, the future of our food is truly become a House of Frankenstein.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

This work was published at the New Eastern Outlook and is reprinted with permission.