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Foot-in-Mouth Disease, GM Style


Will the biotech companies ever give up on trying to sell Europe their genetically modified crops?  Their latest PR man is the UK’s Minister for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Owen Paterson.  His website (very bland and uninformative apart from his list of engagements) says he is “a passionate supporter of localism, free enterprise and less interference in people’s lives”.  But he also loudly supports Monsanto et al, and wants all of Europe to grow and eat GM foods.  I would say that thoroughly destroys any localism, interferes in the most basic way with our lives, and any enterprise is freely handed to big corporations that already have far too much power over people.

Paterson has had environmentalists tearing their hair out since he became Minister.  As I wrote in Unnatural England, he’s promoted the destruction of buzzards and supports the killing of badgers.  He’s also greatly in favour of fracking for shale gas regardless of the damage it would do.  His statements on environmental matters display strongly-held views that are disastrous for the environment but kind to big business.  To that end he will only look at the facts as presented by companies such as Monsanto.

He failed to persuade Europe that neonicitinoid pesticides (as produced by Monsanto et al) are good for bees; he said that the scientific evidence linking the decline in bee numbers to neonicotinoids was faulty; and that Europe should see the results of Defra’s own field trials.  The UK Parliament’s environmental audit committee said the government was relying on ‘fundamentally flawed’ studies to push its case for preventing the Europe-wide precautionary ban of these pesticides.  It turned out these studies were not peer-reviewed or published in any reputable scientific journal, merely published on Defra’s own website – for which the EU Commission critisised the British government.

Paterson’s online information is remarkably devoid of detail: he went to school and university; his family had a background of farming and leather; he went into the leather business; he is married, with children; he became an MP, and so on.  No business interests or links of any kind are listed yet he is acting as cheerleader for the GM companies. And he made a small Freudian slip during his speech.  He used the word ‘we’, as in “We have not come up with any evidence of human health being threatened by these products.”  Just what Monsanto and Syngenta say.

On more than one occasion he has tried to persuade the public that we should all accept a diet of GM food and we stubbornly refuse to be converted.  But his speech  last week on the wonders of GM crops topped them all.  He said he was ‘certain’ that GM crops are safer than conventional varieties because “These products go through the most rigorous system.  It is extraordinarily closely regulated…”  Do I hear hollow laughter from all those independent researchers into GM foods?

He went on: “…you have the biggest field trial in human history when you think of the colossal volume of GM material that has been eaten in all those countries growing GM food.”  Sorry, Mr Paterson, but the biggest field trial in human history took place over millennia when the world was growing and eating organic food.  And perhaps he hadn’t read, or was ignoring, the very recent Friends of the Earth Europe-wide study that found weedkiller residues in over 40% of human urine samples (glyphosate, the biggest producer of which is Monsanto).

Mistake after mistake was recited as fact, and faithfully reported by most of the rightwing media – except for the Daily Mail.  Normally great supporters of all things Conservative, the Mail pulled his speech to pieces.

One of his most outrageous claims was this: “Over the last 15 years… every attempt to deploy Golden Rice (modified to boost Vitamin A) has been thwarted and in that time seven million children have gone blind or died.”  The Mail struck that down with this riposte: “Earlier this year, the International Rice Research Institute, which is working on the Golden Rice project, denied reports that it was available for commercial planting, saying it has yet to pass safety tests or prove it could reduce vitamin A deficiency.”

The Channel4’s FactCheck Blog had this to say: “(Paterson) can’t claim that by not providing the rice the blindness and deaths have occurred, as we don’t know what would have happened had the rice been provided.”  Health experts say the problem is a lack of Vitamin A, not Golden Rice – a problem solved by educating mothers how to feed their children on easily available foods containing Vitamin A.

Paterson claimed GM food was safer; “There is no substantiated case of any adverse impact on human health.”  The Mail pointed out that: “In May 2011, independent doctors in Canada reported that toxins implanted into GM crops to kill pests were reaching the bloodstreams of women and unborn babies.”

Paterson claimed that GM was good for the environment.  He said: “There is a very strong environmental case for GM. We can farm more efficiently, using new technology and using less land. It gives a wonderful opportunity to free up land for wilderness and forestry.”  And presumeably for pheasant shoots as well, that being another of Paterson’s passions.

He said there is no evidence of GM crops harming the environment but ignored, among other problems, ‘superweeds’ that are resistant to the herbicides designed to kill them.  Farmers across North America could have told him.  Farmers could tell him too of the dangers of feeding GM to their animals, but as the biotech companies dismiss such evidence, so too will their mouthpiece.  The Mail said the evidence showed real damage to the environment.  Following GM crop trials in the UK, where fields had been heavily sprayed with a powerful weedkiller, the result was that it not only wiped out weeds, but also wild plants and insects.

He insisted that GM crops produce higher yields than conventional crops.  He could ask Indian cotton farmers, the ones that haven’t committed suicide that is, after seeing their livelihoods ruined.  And the Mail pointed out that recently published research showed that “increases in crop yields have been much greater in countries which have not adopted GM.”

When asked by the Daily Mail he said (with some hesitation) that he would be happy to feed a GM tomato to his family, not that one tomato shared between his wife and three children would go that far.  But when the Mail contacted 17 government ministers, none of them would own to being comfortable with GM food.  They also found that all the restaurants in the Houses of Parliament have had a ‘no GM food’ policy for quite some years.  Customer choice rules, even in Westminster, despite government ministers wanting the public to eat the foods they refuse to.

This constant dishonest pressure on the public from people like Paterson to accept something they do not want must stop.  It is dishonest because their ‘facts’ are at the least unproven, and at worst, untrue.  Nor do they really care about feeding the world.  If they did, they’d stop the waste of so much food and ensure people had equal access to what the earth can provide.  This is all about giving the biotech companies control over the world’s food.

Why do I personally care so much about stopping GM food?  I live in a rural area of great natural beauty.  There is a strong organic presence here, in local growers, producers and shops.  The village is full of gardeners.  We grow our own vegetables and fruit.  And we love our environment.  My own garden is full of weeds.  I call them wild flowers.  They plant themselves, helped by the birds.  They grow happily among the ‘cultivated’ plants and they provide a rich environment for bees and all the other pollinating insects.  I don’t want this rich celebration of natural life turned into the kind of wasteland that comes from growing GM crops and the accompanying heavy use of pesticides and herbicides.

This garden, this land, is my home.  I value every tiny flower and fly.  This is their home too, and they are important.  If I’m honest, I have to admit they have a more important place in the cycle of natural life than I or any human does.  If anything has to disappear from this beloved countryside, it should be Owen Paterson.

Lesley is a lover of animals, campaigns and writes on war/peace, climate change and the environment. She is the former editor of Abolish War. Read other articles by Lesley.

– See more at: http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/06/foot-in-mouth-disease-gm-style/#sthash.8yWCpKZ4.dpuf

via Foot-in-Mouth Disease, GM Style | Dissident Voice.

Shock findings in new GMO study: Rats fed lifetime of GM corn grow horrifying tumors, 70% of females die early


Eating genetically modified corn (GM corn) and consuming trace levels of Monsanto‘s Roundup chemical fertilizer caused rats to develop horrifying tumors, widespread organ damage, and premature death. That’s the conclusion of a shocking new study that looked at the long-term effects of consuming Monsanto’s genetically modified corn.

The study has been deemed “the most thorough research ever published into the health effects of GM food crops and the herbicide Roundup on rats.” News of the horrifying findings is spreading like wildfire across the internet, with even the mainstream media seemingly in shock over the photos of rats with multiple grotesque tumors… tumors so large the rats even had difficulty breathing in some cases. GMOs may be the new thalidomide.

“Monsanto Roundup weedkiller and GM maize implicated in ‘shocking’ new cancer study” wrote The Grocery, a popular UK publication. (http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/topics/technology-and-supply-chain/monsant…)

It reported, “Scientists found that rats exposed to even the smallest amounts, developed mammary tumors and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females.”

The Daily Mail reported, “Fresh row over GM foods as French study claims rats fed the controversial crops suffered tumors.” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2205509/Fresh-fears-GM…)

It goes on to say: “The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The researchers said 50 percent of males and 70 percent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group.”

Rat-Tumor-Monsanto-GMO-Cancer-Study-3-Wide

The study, led by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, was the first ever study to examine the long-term (lifetime) effects of eating GMOs. You may find yourself thinking it is absolutely astonishing that no such studies were ever conducted before GM corn was approved for widespread use by the USDA and FDA, but such is the power of corporate lobbying and corporate greed.

The study was published in The Food & Chemical Toxicology Journal and was just presented at a news conference in London.

indings from the study

Here are some of the shocking findings from the study:

• Up to 50% of males and 70% of females suffered premature death.

• Rats that drank trace amounts of Roundup (at levels legally allowed in the water supply) had a 200% to 300% increase in large tumors.

• Rats fed GM corn and traces of Roundup suffered severe organ damage including liver damage and kidney damage.

• The study fed these rats NK603, the Monsanto variety of GM corn that’s grown across North America and widely fed to animals and humans. This is the same corn that’s in your corn-based breakfast cereal, corn tortillas and corn snack chips.

The Daily Mail is reporting on some of the reaction to the findings:

France’s Jose Bove, vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s commission for agriculture and known as a fierce opponent of GM, called for an immediate suspension of all EU cultivation and import authorisations of GM crops. ‘This study finally shows we are right and that it is urgent to quickly review all GMO evaluation processes,’ he said in a statement. ‘National and European food security agencies must carry out new studies financed by public funding to guarantee healthy food for European consumers.’ (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2205509/Fresh-fears-GM…)

Read the study abstract

The study is entitled, “A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health.” Read the abstract here:

http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm

via Shock findings in new GMO study: Rats fed lifetime of GM corn grow horrifying tumors, 70% of females die early.

via Shock findings in new GMO study: Rats fed lifetime of GM corn grow horrifying tumors, 70% of females die early.

Irish Daily Mail Opinion Column Led to ‘Landmark’ Libel Case


Denis O’Brien (Credit: RTE, screenshot)

In what is being called a “landmark case,” the Irish Daily Mail must pay Denis O’Brien, who controls Irish media group Independent News and Media, €150,000 in damages for libeling him in a 2010 article. The article in question “criticised his appearance” in TV interviews about his role and experience in Haiti after the earthquake, Irish broadcaster RTE reported.

According to RTE reports, O’Brien said the Daily Mail “accused him of hypocrisy motivated by self interest” and a “PR exercise.”   The article, by Paul Drury, was titled “Moriarty about to report, no wonder O Brien is acting saintly in stricken Haiti.” It appears the article has been taken off the Mail’s website as iMediaEthics was unable to find the article online.

O’Brien’s libel case, which Irish Central described as a “landmark” case, was important for two reasons, RTE explained:

“It was the first major media defamation case to come before a jury at the High Court since the Defamation Act 2009 came into force.

“It is the first time a jury considered the new defence of honest opinion.”

There have been several high-profile libel lawsuits in Ireland in the past years, though, as iMediaEthics has written.  This “honest opinion” defense means, according to the website of Irish law firm Brophy Solicitors:

“The defence of honest opinion will be upheld in an action for defamation if it can be proven that the statement consisted of an opinion that was honestly held. The courts will distinguish between statements of fact and opinion when this defence is raised.”

During the trial The Daily Mail’s attorney Oisin Quinn said, according to Irish Central,

“The right to express opinion is vital to society. This case is about the simple truth of the right to express an opinion. We want you to stand up for the right of someone to express his view.”

The columnist, Drury, added during the trial:

“I was offering a legitimate piece of opinion on a matter of enormous public interest that affected and continues to affect every one in this country.”

According to RTE, in this case, the Mail lost because the jury found the opinion was wrong:

While the jury agreed the piece was based on the honest opinion of the writer, they decided it was not an opinion based on fact and was not in the public interest.”

During the trial, O’Brien noted he didn’t seek help from the Irish Press Council, RTE reported, adding:

“Mr O’Brien replied that the Press Council did not have any teeth and he rejected the suggestion that a right of reply was the way to deal with the issue.”

The Press Council’s Miriam Laffan confirmed to iMediaEthics that O’Brien didn’t use the press council and said in response that reported comment that “Although we have not seen a transcript of the trial we have no reason to believe that this is not correct.”

Laffan also provided iMediaEthics with a press release from the Press Council of Ireland and the Press Ombudsman in response to O’Brien’s comments. The press release was signed by the council’s chairman Dáithí O’Ceallaigh and noted that while the council and ombudsman usually stay out of court cases, he wanted to “emphasise” certain things. He wrote:

“I have received a number of requests for a response to recent statements about the Council and the Office of the Press Ombudsman which appear to be based on a lack of knowledge of the record of these institutions, and a lack of awareness of its effectiveness and relevance in the matter of disputes concerning the press.”

O’Ceallaigh went on to measure the “public confidence” in the council’s Code of Practice and regulation through “an independent system which editors do not control” by noting that “in the five years since it was established, it has received almost 2,000 complaints.”  He added that “Nothing in our procedures prevents anyone having recourse to the courts.”

The Daily Mail may appeal the case, according to RTE.

iMediaEthics wrote last year when O’Brien claimed Independent Newspapers — the company he owns 21.6% of — had “biased campaigns” against him in order to “discredit” him.  Shortly after O’Brien’s claims were made in a letter to the company, Independent News and Media’s CEO resigned.

iMediaEthics has written to the Daily Mail’s solicitors asking if it will appeal and why the article isn’t online anymore. We’ve also reached out to O’Brien’s solicitors asking:

Was the Mail required to take the article off its website because of the settlement?

Is the Mail required to publish an apology or correction?

I’ve seen reports describing this as a significant case because of its use of ‘honest opinion’ defense and because it was a jury trial? Is this accurate?

RTE reported that the Mail said O’Brien “refused a right of reply and looked for damages immediately after publication.” Two questions:

When did O’Brien seek damages or pursue legal action? Was the ‘right of reply’ offered after the column was published? (Link: http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/0208/366807-obrien-says-he-pays-significant-taxes-in-ireland/)

That same RTE article reported O’Brien opted against pursuing any options with the Irish Press Council. Is this accurate?  Why specifically did O’Brien decide not to use the council?

We’ll update with any responses.

Hat Tip: the Journal

via Irish Daily Mail Opinion Column Led to ‘Landmark’ Libel Case.

via Irish Daily Mail Opinion Column Led to ‘Landmark’ Libel Case.

Uruguay plans selling cannabis cigarettes to ‘stamp out black market drugs trade’


The Uruguayan Government has reportedly planned to start selling cannabis cigarettes to people in bid to stamp out black market drugs trade.

Smokers will be able to purchase up to 40g (1.4oz) per month, enough for 20 cannabis cigarettes.

uruguay marijuana cigarettes legalAccording to the Daily Mail, the drug will be regulated by the state and sold at the market price, currently around 21.60 pounds.

Cannabis smokers will be given cards with a bar code allowing them to buy up to the legal limit per month, the report said.

According to the paper, the move comes as the government hopes to eliminate the black market in cannabis through the radical proposal.

President Jose Mujica had earlier announced plans to grow up to 150 hectares of cannabis for sale to users.

The Uruguayan Government has reportedly planned to start selling cannabis cigarettes to people in bid to stamp out black market drugs trade.

Smokers will be able to purchase up to 40g (1.4oz) per month, enough for 20 cannabis cigarettes.

According to the Daily Mail, the drug will be regulated by the state and sold at the market price, currently around 21.60 pounds.

Cannabis smokers will be given cards with a bar code allowing them to buy up to the legal limit per month, the report said.

According to the paper, the move comes as the government hopes to eliminate the black market in cannabis through the radical proposal.

President Jose Mujica had earlier announced plans to grow up to 150 hectares of cannabis for sale to users.

“We are losing the battle against drugs and crime in South America. Somebody has to be the first,” he had said.

According to the paper, the Uruguayan government estimates there are around 18,500 people who use cannabis every day in the country. (ANI)

By By ANI

Source: news.yahoo.com

via Uruguay plans selling cannabis cigarettes to ‘stamp out black market drugs trade’ | Cannabis N.I..

via Uruguay plans selling cannabis cigarettes to ‘stamp out black market drugs trade’ | Cannabis N.I..

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