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Tear-Free Onions?

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Foodfacts.com is eager to provide news on everything food-related. We recently discovered a slightly dated article on tear-free onions being created by Monsanto and had to share. We haven’t heard too much about this topic, so we figure this may be new to a few of our followers also. Check it out!

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St. Louis-based Monsanto has a plan to make sweet-onion farmers weep.

The seed company last week unveiled a tearless onion that it’s dubbed the “EverMild,” modeled after the famous Vidalia sweet onion from Georgia.

It’s far from the biotech firm’s first foray into produce, but company officials say it marks a new approach to vegetable science: a way of looking at it from a foodie’s perspective.

“Our focus has been more on what makes something a successful product for growers, things like [crop] yield or disease resistance,” explains Monsanto spokeswoman Danielle Stuart. “We’re looking at things with a more consumer-focused point of view now, at things that are more interesting to the consumer’s sensory experience.”
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Monsanto vice president David Stark envisions grape tomatoes as sweet as Skittles, honeydew melons with a creamy, sugary finish and onions that exude sweetness — whether blended into sorbet or paired with peanut butter. “The onion is just the first step in coming up with fruits and vegetables that taste phenomenal,” notes Stark.

Such overtures sound alarm bells in the head of Randy Wood, an owner of Sappington Farmers’ Market, a south-county purveyor of local and organic foods. Wood and other advocates of small-scale farming have long touted how much better — and sweeter — so-called sustainable foods taste because of minimal man-made intervention.

“Typically, organic and biodynamic methods of farming increase the fructose levels in fruits and vegetables,” says Wood. “For the sweetness to be achieved in a fashion other than through a natural process is concerning. But I’ll take the bait and say somebody has to educate me on the process by which they’re doing this.”

Monsanto says the onion is neither organic nor genetically modified. It took more than twelve years of cross-pollinating different plant breeds, and complex computer models, to arrive at the right proprietary blend of sweetness.

“The trait is a little bit tricky to develop because you can’t just eat onion after onion,” explains Scott Hendricks, a Monsanto breeder based in Madison, Wisconsin. “We can sample a few, but pretty soon you’ve ruined your palate for the rest of the day. So, we do rely on a lab screening technique that we’ve come up with to tell us which onions would match this profile.”

The first commercial batch of EverMilds — some 700,000 pounds — was raised by a farmer in Washington, home to another sweet onion, the Walla Walla. The EverMild is being rolled out only in St. Louis-area Schnucks this year, but Monsanto has no intentions of selling the seed to local farmers.

The EverMild is a “long-day” onion that grows best in a more northern climate. It is harvested in September and sold through March, thus positioned as a winter stand-in for the Vidalia, which is only available from April to September.
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Like the Vidalia, which, according to state and federal trademarks, can only carry the Vidalia label if grown in a thirteen-county region of Georgia, the trademarked EverMild will have its own intellectual property protections.

Hendricks, the Monsanto breeder, says farmers using EverMild seeds must conform to growing conditions set out by Monsanto, and samples from every yield must be tested and approved for sweetness in order to carry the EverMild label.

Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee and marketer for Vidalia growers, barely flinches at the prospect of competition. “We’ll always have companies that will try to emulate us, and you know what they say about imitation being the highest form of flattery,” says Brannen.

“We always welcome the competition, but a lot of this really is tried and true farming practice. We have a lot of third-generation farmers who’ve been doing this for a while and really know what they’re doing. I feel really secure.”

Monsanto is trying to seize on the fashionable concept of counting “food miles,” the environmental cost of delivering food from farm to fork. Company officials suggest consumers will feel better about buying a winter onion from a U.S. farmer than one shipped up from, say, South America.

It’s a bittersweet notion for hardcore foodies. “When the asparagus that you’ve been dreaming about for two or three months comes in, and the tender peas, the morels, when those first spring offerings arrive, they come with an excitement and a joy that, if you’ve had asparagus year-round, or tomatoes year-round, you lose,” observes Julie Ridlon, a caterer, personal chef and founder of several local farmers’ markets.

“But,” adds Ridlon, “we all need onions through the winter. It’d be great if the onions could be grown in Missouri, and if they can’t be, well, Washington’s better than Peru.”
(Science Daily News)

GMO Labeling in California?

Foodfacts.com would like to keep followers updated on the latest news pertaining to GMO labeling, because it has become a major concern for many people. Check out the article below describing California’s next steps in achieving proper labeling for GMO products. Also, for more information on labeling go to Truth in Labeling Coalition.

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(Natural News) Advocates for truth in food labeling will be working diligently this fall to gather enough signatures to get an initiative placed on the 2012 California electoral ballot that, if passed, will mandate that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) be properly labeled within the state.

The measure also has the potential to set a new labeling standard for the rest of the US as well, which could eventually drive GMOs out of the marketplace altogether.

The biotechnology industry and its allies have pumped billions of dollars into lobbying efforts that have effectively prevented every proposal for GMO labeling from moving forward.

While numerous polls have found that at least 90 percent of Americans support the mandatory labeling of GMOs, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and various other federal agencies backed by special interests have repeatedly stood against it (http://www.naturalnews.com/029168_G…).

The Obama administration has also made it very clear that regulating genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) is not a primary concern for the US government, let alone any sort of proper labeling.

Just a few months ago, Obama’s USDA, for instance, willingly and openly deregulated GM alfalfa without an environmental impact report (EIR) or any proper safety studies (http://www.naturalnews.com/031196_G…).

And the administration has also been pushing very hard to get GMOs permitted for planting in national wildlife refuges, which is against the law (http://www.naturalnews.com/032726_G…).

Getting GMOs labeled continues to be an uphill battle — and it may seem like something that will never happen apart from a miracle — but like every other political effort that has ever been successful on a significant level, dedication and strategic planning by grassroots activists just might be the key to victory.

By simply getting a GMO labeling initiative on the California electoral ballot in 2012, half the battle will have already been won. The goal now, though, will be to gain enough signatures to get it on the ballot.

Organic Trade Association board members have ties to GMOs, thus the organization’s silence on the issue
Labeling of GMOs is something that most NaturalNews readers might assume is widely supported by the nation’s organic companies and groups. And this is largely the case except for a few, including the Organic Trade Association (OTA), whose ranks have been tainted by board members with ties to corporations that profit from the sale of GMOs.

OTA’s President Julia Sabin, for instance, is Vice President and General Manager for Smucker Natural Foods, Inc., which uses GM high fructose corn syrup and other GM ingredients in its various jellies and jams. Sabin personally profits from her company’s use of GM ingredients, and yet she holds the highest post at OTA, a group that is supposed to represent the interests of the organic food industry.

While OTA claims to support the labeling of GMOs, the group has never devoted any of its financial resources to actually making this a reality. So this key player in the organic industry has essentially done little to nothing to actually get GMOs labeled in the US, and yet claims at the same time to support GMO labeling.

Be sure to watch this short, informative video about various OTA board members’ connections to GMOs, and learn why OTA has taken a soft stance on GMO labeling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCK0…

After seeing the numerous connections to GMO interests, it will become clear why OTA essentially plays both sides of the fence by saying one thing and doing another.

Speaking about Oregon’s Measure 27 (2002), Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director of the Organic Consumers Association said “The first ballot initiative effort to require food companies to label products that contain genetically-modified (GM) ingredients. The Organic Trade Association ostensibly supported the measure, but didn’t chip in financially. The food and crop biotechnology industries raised a war chest to fight the ballot measure. Ironically, some of these companies already had stakes in organic and some had subsidiaries that were members of OTA.”

Baden-Mayer also stated that “General Mills (currently represented on the OTA board by Craig Weakly of Small Planet Foods), HJ Heinz Co. (invested in the Hain-Celestial Group), PepsiCo (Tropicana and Quaker produce a few organic products), and Kellogg’s (owns Kashi), joined a coalition of corporate giants — the Coalition Against the Costly Labeling Law — including chemical makers Monsanto and DuPont, agribusiness ConAgra, food processor Sara Lee, the pesticide lobbying group CropLife, and the junk food lobbying group the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), in spending some $5.5 million to defeat mandatory GMO labels.”

So you see, some of the very same organic companies represented by OTA are also tied to companies that use GMOs. Naturally, these companies are choosing to fight labeling laws that will hurt their bottom line. This is precisely why it will take grassroots support to get the California initiative on the 2012 ballot, and to successfully rally enough support to get it passed.

If you would like to learn more about how you can help gather signatures for the initiative this fall, and get this landmark GMO labeling law passed, visit: http://www.labelGMOs.org

At the site, you will also find access to useful information about organizing and educating people in your community about GMOs, volunteering to help the California campaign, and even starting an initiative to label GMOs in your own state if you do not live in California.

New Monsanto Facility Working on Corn Seed to Decrease Overall Growth Time

Foodfacts.com recently came across the following article regarding a breed of corn seen that will decrease cross-pollination time from 9 to 5 years. This will allow easier and more abundant production of genetically modified crops if the trial is successful. What does this mean for our food supply? There’s a great chance Monsanto and other major biotechnology companies are coming closer and closer to dominating most of our agriculture. Check out the article below!

OTHELLO — The kernels created at Monsanto’s new corn breeding facility four miles east of Othello could affect corn grown across North America.

The corn facility, which opened last month, is the beginning of the breeding process for seeds that farmers could be using within five years.

The Othello plant is the first of its kind for Monsanto in the United States because of its use of the double haploid breeding technique for corn seeds, said Brett Sowers, the global corn double haploid production lead for the global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products.

The 15,000-square-foot lab at 1485 W. Cunningham in Othello will provide a service for the company’s other research programs across the country, he said.

The double haploid breeding technique makes an inbred line of corn faster than would happen in nature, Sowers said. The technique uses a plant with only one copy of a chromosome in its cells instead of the normal two, a trait that occurs occasionally in nature, he said.

Employees in the lab will hand-select kernels to work with, Sowers said. Those kernels will be subjected to a chemical process that affects how chromosomes divide, causing the cells to double their chromosomes and create a double haploid plant.

The seedlings are then moved to the 10,000-square-foot greenhouse to recover, he said. They are later planted in an adjacent 48-acre field to grow, pollinate and produce seeds.

The created seeds will be the parents, the male and female plants, which still will need to be crossed into a combination that farmers use, he said.

They are still several years of further selection and testing away from a commercial product, Sowers said.

Corn is already planted in the field this year, Sowers said. The plants seem to be doing well so far, despite the earlier cool weather.
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The process gets to pure genetics quicker, Sowers said. What would normally take up to nine years of self-pollinating will take up to five years, which gets the new seed to farmers faster so the benefits are seen sooner.

In the seed industry, Sowers said, they are always working to create a higher yield and resistance to disease and insects. And nature is always working to overcome the resistance plants have.

That means creating a novel combination of genetics, he said.

“You are constantly looking for new or better combinations,” Sowers said.

A new seed may be used for about a decade before it is replaced with another seed, Sowers said.

Monsanto has invested about $4 million in the Othello plant since 2006, and anticipates additional improvements in the future, said Kathleen Manning, Monsanto media relations specialist.

The facility was built with room to expand by adding more office and lab space if needed, Sowers said.

Othello was chosen because of the availability of irrigation, good soil, the high yield potential and the arid environment, which means fewer insects and disease, Sowers said.

And the existing seed production facility, opened in 2003, was available to help with initial work, he said.

That facility, at 776 S. Booker Road in Othello, is where Monsanto produces and packages corn seeds for farmers to use on their fields, Manning said.

Monsanto set up a pilot for the breeding program in Othello in 2006 and a temporary facility in 2007 to work with the breeding materials.

The program was moved from Hawaii, where Monsanto was able to plant and test year-round until the company was confident it could develop the process to use on a commercial scale, he said. The breeding process already is used on wheat, canola, squash and cucumber.

With the permanent plant, Sowers said Monsanto added a fifth full-time employee. The number of seasonal employees has grown to 100 to 110 at the peak. During the winter months, the full-time employees will complete prep work for the next year and support work for other Monsanto plants, he said.

Othello City Administrator Ehman Sheldon said Othello should see some economic benefits from the new Monsanto plant with increased sales tax revenue and within the housing market.

Sheldon, who toured the facility several weeks ago, said it was fantastic.

“It’s a very promising effort by Monsanto,” he said.

(The News Tribune)

Organic Farmers Win Legal Battles Against GMO Companies

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As many Foodfacts.com followers know, GMO has been a major controversy for many years now. Organic farmers, and consumers alike have protested genetically modified pesticides, herbicides, and seeds plaguing their farm lands. For some that are unfamiliar with GMO farming, it’s important to know that once you use a product or plant a seed, the control is out of your hands. This has been one of the downfalls of genetically modified agriculture; and a constant struggle for organic farmers. These uncontrollable GM products have been crawling their way onto other properties and ridding the title of “organic”, which causes financial issues for farmers that must take control of these situations. Below is an article we came across featuring this same issue. However, it is the farmers that may have the last laugh.

(NaturalNews) Purveyors of conventional and genetically-modified (GM) crops — and the pesticides and herbicides that accompany them — are finally getting a taste of their own legal medicine. Minnesota’s Star Tribune has reported that the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that a large organic farm surrounded by chemical-laden conventional farms can seek damages for lost crops, as well as lost profits, caused by the illegal trespassing of pesticides and herbicides on its property.

Oluf and Debra Johnson’s 1,500-acre organic farm in Stearns County, Minn., has repeatedly been contaminated by nearby conventional and GMO farms since the couple started it in the 1990s. A local pesticide cooperative known as Paynesville Farmers Union (PFU), which is near the farm, has been cited at least four times for violating pesticide laws, and inadvertently causing damage to the Johnson’s farm.
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The first time it was realized that pesticides had drifted onto the Johnson’s farm in 1998, PFU apologized, but did not agree to pay for damages. As anyone with an understanding of organic practices knows, even a small bit of contamination can result in having to plow under that season’s crops, forget profits, and even lose the ability to grow organic crops in the same field for at least a couple years.

The Johnson’s let the first incident slide. But after the second, third, and fourth times, they decided that enough was enough. Following the second pesticide drift in 2002, the Johnson’s filed a complaint with the Minnesota Agriculture Department, which eventually ruled that PFU had illegally sprayed chemicals on windy days, which led to contamination of the Johnson’s organic crops.

PFU settled with the Johnson’s out of court, and the Johnson’s agreed to sell their tainted products as non-organics for a lower price, and pull the fields from production for three years in order to bring them back up to organic standards. But PFU’s inconsiderate spraying habits continued, with numerous additional incidents occurring in 2005, 2007, and 2008, according to the Star Tribune.
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After enduring much hardship, the Johnson’s finally ended up suing PFU in 2009 for negligence and trespass, only to receive denial from the district court that received the case. But after appealing, the Johnson’s received favor from the Appeals Court, which ruled that particulate matter, including pesticides, herbicides, and even GM particulates, that contaminates nearby fields is, in fact, considered illegal trespass, and is subject to the same laws concerning other forms of trespass.

In a similar case, a California-based organic farm recently won a $1 million lawsuit filed against a conventional farm whose pesticides spread through fog from several miles away, and contaminated its fields. Jacobs Farm / Del Cobo’s entire season’s herb crop had to be discarded as a result, and the court that presided over the case acknowledged and agreed that the polluters must be held responsible.

Precedent has now been set for organic farmers to sue biotechnology companies whose GMOs contaminate their crops
The stunning victories of both the Johnson’s and Jacob’s Farm / Del Cobo against their chemical-polluting neighbors is huge, in that it represents a new set legal precedent for holding conventional, factory farming operations responsible for the damage their systems cause to other farms. And with this new precedent set, many more organic farmers, for instance, can now begin suing GMO farmers for both chemical and genetic pollution that drifts onto their farms.

Many NaturalNews readers will recall the numerous incidents involving lawsuits filed by Monsanto against non-GMO farms whose crops were inadvertently contaminated by GM material. In many of these cases, the defendants ended up becoming bankrupted by Monsanto, even though Monsanto’s patented materials were the trespassers at fault.
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Be sure to check out the extensive and very informative report compiled by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) entitled Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers for a complete history of Monsanto’s war against traditional American agriculture: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/…

But it appears that the tables are now turning. Instead of Monsanto winning against organic farmers, organic farmers can now achieve victory against Monsanto. In other words, farmers being infringed upon by the drifting of GM material into their fields now have a legal leg to stand on in the pursuit of justice against Monsanto and the other biotechnology giants whose “frankencrops” are responsible for causing widespread contamination of the American food supply.

Genetic traits are highly transmissible, whether it be through pollen transfer or seed spread, and organic and non-GMO farmers have every right to seek damages for illegal trespassing when such transmission takes place. It is expected that many more organic farms will step up and begin seeking justice and compensation for damage caused by crop chemicals, GM materials, and other harmful invaders.

For too long, Monsanto has been getting away with suing farmers whose crops have become contaminated by Monsanto’s patented genetic traits and chemical materials, and winning. Thankfully, the justice system seems to now recognize the severe error in this, and is now beginning to rightfully hold polluters and trespassers responsible. Monsanto, your days are numbered.

Navigating GMO Labels

Foodfacts.com likes to provide our followers with tips to enjoy their favorite foods. Here is an article we recently came across that can help you decipher GMO vs. non-GMO products in grocery stores:
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LOS ANGELES (KABC) — With so many concerns about our food supply, terms like “genetically modified,” “organic” or “GMO-free” can be confusing. What do those labels actually mean and which ones are the right choice for you and your family? Here’s what you need to know before you head to the grocery store.

With today’s labels, even the most scrutinizing shopper can get confused.

“Americans increasingly want to know more about their food before they eat or buy it. They want to know where it’s made, how it’s grown and what’s in it,” said Elisa Zied, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author.

“I think it’s very difficult for a consumer to understand what exactly it is that they’re considering buying,” said one grocery shopper.

Zied, who wrote “Nutrition at Your Fingertips,” helps decipher the lingo, starting with genetically modified (GMO) foods.

“If a food is genetically modified it means its genes are altered. DNA from one species is inserted into another species to create a unique genetic combination that doesn’t occur in nature,” said Zied. “At least 60 to 70 percent of processed foods that you’ll find in grocery stores contain at least one genetically engineered ingredient.”

Currently the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require specific labels for GMO foods, but you may see companies point out when they are not genetically modified, with “non-GMO” or “GMO-free” labels.

“Though you might not see it that often, a PLU sticker on produce can tell you a little something about the food,” said Zied.

Something to note: a five-digit number that starts with an “8″ is genetically modified, although it’s rarely used. But stickers starting with “9″s stand for organic and can be found on lots of produce.

What makes something organic?

“If a food is organic that means it was prepared without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizers and it’s also not been genetically modified or radiated,” said Zeid.

You will only see the official United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal on products that have 95 percent or more organic ingredients.

“If you see ‘made with organic ingredients,’ that means the product contains at least 70 percent organic ingredients,” Zied says.

Finally, when it comes to dairy, “rBGH” or “rBST” will signify things such as artificial hormones.

(Lori Corbin, ABC)

Meatless Mondays Better for the Environment?

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Foodfacts.com likes to share a variety of food and nutrition-related topics with our followers. As of recently, we’ve been hearing more about “meatless Mondays”, along with a campaign to help promote this new trend. Here is some more information pertaining to this subject:

If every American skipped meat and cheese one day a week, environmentally it would be the same as the country driving 91 billion fewer miles a year. That’s the figure calculated by the Environmental Working Group, which in a report out today urges the nation to eat less meat and cheese, both for health and the environment.

The call joins a growing movement advocating once-a-week meat-free meals, from an International Meatless Monday campaign and a European Veggie Days movement to decisions by some Catholic bishops to suggest a return to the no-meat Fridays of old.

The EWG report is the most recent in a long list calculating the greenhouse gases emitted in food production.

Lamb, which makes up only 1% of the meat Americans consume, came in highest, at 39.2 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents per pound of meat. Beef was second, at 27.

Cheese was third, at 13.5. That’s much higher than milk, because “it takes about 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese,” says Kari Hamerschlag, who wrote the report.

Frank Mitloehner, who studies animal-environmental interactions at the University of California-Davis, disputes the numbers. Scientific life cycle assessments of meat production “haven’t been conducted,” he says.

The Environmental Protection Agency says only 3.4% of all greenhouse gases are the result of animal agriculture. “By changing the focus to eating habits, people think it doesn’t matter whether they drive a Hummer or a Prius, it’s whether they eat a burger or not.”

Hamerschlag says the group is not asking everyone to be vegetarians. “We’re just urging people to be more conscious about what they eat.”

Kay Johnson Smith of the Animal Agriculture Alliance in Arlington, Va., says there’s a “hidden animal-activist” agenda behind some of the groups.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, says dropping meat and cheese a day a week wouldn’t hurt: “I’m not a vegetarian myself, but people don’t need to eat as much meat as they’re eating.”

(By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY)

GMO Labeling

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Foodfacts.com likes to provide followers with consistent updates on GMO production. We recently came across this article that we think will help educate those unfamiliar with genetic modification; and also update others on the labeling issue still going on.

Silk Soymilk and some of its other beverages recently completed the verification process of the Non-GMO Project. Why the careful wording? Given the ubiquity of genetically modified organisms in some U.S. commodity crops — 93 percent of soybeans grown in the United State are genetically modified according to Craig Shiesley of Silk — no product is able to call itself completely free of GMOs. However, Silk and some other companies, such as Whole Foods with its 365 products, have sought to do is to get as close as possible, using a certification process from the non-profit Non-GMO Project, which holds products to a standard of 99.1 percent GMO free.

Shiesley, general manager of the Silk business, says the verification process for the company’s soymilk, coconut milk and almond milk took 12 to 14 months, a surprise for the company, which had always sourced non-GMO ingredients.

“The reason (the verification process) elevates this to another level if that it goes from verifying the ingredient to verifying the entire process,” Shiesley says. “For example, (it verifies) that there’s no cross contamination in the dehullers.”
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GMO in the food supply

Currently labeling for GMOs is not required in the United States, as it is in European Union countries and Japan. The percentage of U.S. processed foods that include at least one genetically engineered food is estimated at about 60 to 70 percent, according to a 2010 fact sheet from Colorado State University. Even foods labeled as natural, a term that has no legal meaning, may contain genetically engineered crops; however, USDA certified organic foods forbid GMOs.

Do GMOs matter?

The answer depends on whom you talk to. Companies such as Monsanto, DuPont and Bayer that supply genetically engineered seed, say the crops, often engineered to be resistant to herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup, are nutritionally identical to non-modified crops. The U.S Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration agree with this position. They say the engineering allows them to grow crops more efficiently and with fewer, less toxic pesticides.

Opponents say the effects on human health and the environment have not been fully tested. They fear genetic modification may be involved in an increase in food allergies and other problems, and they say weeds may become resistant to herbicides, requiring more toxic herbicides to kill them.

Labeling

In addition, they argue that a U.S. decision not to require products with GMOs to be labeled has kept consumers in the dark about how deeply genetically-engineered crops reach into the food chain. Surveys have shown that many consumers don’t know that they regularly consume genetically engineered foods. For retailers with a consciousness about food and how it’s produced, the lack of labeling means they have no way to verify GMOs in products unless the items are certified organic.
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Mark Retzloff, president and chairman of Alfalfa’s, says the grocery has worked hard to verify that the canola and other oils in its bulk dispensers are not from made from genetically modified seed crops. The store has verified that the dairy products it stocks are from cows not dosed with hormones. However, unless the product is certified organic or has the new Non-GMO label, the store can’t verify if cows have been fed genetically-modifed grain. He is particularly concerned about genetically modified alfalfa, which the U.S. approved for use earlier this year. While certified organic milk producers won’t use it, the possibility of contamination through the cross-pollination of organic and GMO crops, as has happened with corn and soy is concerning, he says. In addition, as the genetically engineered seed becomes available, farmers may have a hard time buying non-GMO seed.

“From my own experience at Aurora Dairy, we buy about 40,000 to 50,000 tons of alfalfa hay. It’s all organic. If we start having trouble doing that, it restricts our ability to produce organic milk,” he says, adding that milk is a gateway product into organics for many consumers.

Whole Foods is currently putting its 365 brand products through Non-GMO verification. The products don’t currently carry the label. However, customers can go to Whole Food website and click to find Non-GMO certified products.

“It’s a significant focus of the company right now to work on verification,” says Ben Friedland, regional marketing coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Region.

Asked about the company’s position on GMOs, Friedland says: “We believe in farmers’ right to farm non-GMO crops and our customers’ right to choose whether they want GMOs. We work to provide opportunities for both our stakeholders,” Friedland says.

Shiesley of Silk says the Non-GMO verification is extremely valuable to his company. For the Silk products that are not organic — the company switched some of its Silk line from organic to natural in 2009, Shiesley says because the company wanted to source soybeans domestically — the non-GMO verification offers assurances.

Shiesley says he also believes the label will raise awareness.

“I hope we’re at a tipping point with consumer understanding toward Non-GMO,” he says. “Unlike organic labeling which went through legislation and took eight-plus years, the industry can self-regulate … I don’t think we can wait five years plus with this.”

He points to consumer awareness on trans-fat and many companies’ subsequent reformulations of their products as an example of how awareness can change push industry to make changes.

“We bring 40 million consumers along with us when we go to Non-GMO (labeling),” he says.

Carol Carlson, chair of Slow Food Boulder County approves of voluntary labeling, but would also like to see mandatory standards.

“I think GMO contamination is a huge concern for all of us,” she says. “Anything that can be done to bring awareness to what we’re eating and whether it contains GMOs is a very good thing.”

She also urges Boulder Countians who disapprove of GMOs to become involved in county policy on Boulder County Open Space agricultural land.

(DailyCamera)

Farmers Sue Monsanto

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Foodfacts.com recently came across this article about farmers in India fighting against major agribusiness, Monsanto. What are your thoughts? Check it out.

In India, Bt Cotton has become one of India’s biggest cash crops, accounting for over 90% of their cotton production. If you are not familiar with Bt cotton, it stands for bacillus thuringiensis cotton. Basically, BT is a GMO gene that is placed in the cotton plant to act as a pesticide.

The problem is, it damages the soil over time and usually farmers are left fighting another insect that the Bt doesn’t repel.

One company managed to corner the market on these GMO Cotton seeds in India and, you guessed it, that company is Monsanto. The creators of Agent Orange, the deadly cancer-causing chemical that was used in Vietnam, now has an international monopoly on the GMO and seed business.

In 2005 a decision, it was announced that Monsanto’s Bt cotton seeds would be allowed in India, after much lobbying by Monsanto. Since then, there has been an alarming suicide rate among farmers in India that is connected to the failure of the Monsanto GMO (genetically modified organism) cotton seeds.

Now an agrarian crisis has hit Maharashtra itself thanks to the Monsanto program. Farmers are buying 11 packets of 450 gm per hectare as per the company’s guide for the recommended “population method” but the sudden demand and ill-managed Indian sub agents have brought the company big trouble as 50% of the Bt cotton seeds failed to germinate even after its second sowing.
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The Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti farmer’s advocacy group has approached the local state Govt. of Maharashtra to arrange a high level probe of all complaints received from farmers of west Vidarbha where more than 10,000 cotton farmers have committed suicide since June 2005 after the introduction of the killer Bt cotton seeds in this region.

The Monsanto Bt cotton seed crisis heated up in early June when all Bt cotton seeds ordered by Maharashtra dealers sold out it to the adjourning Andhra farmers and there was no seed available to cater to the local market.

Monsanto sub-agents had failed to respond to a state govt. request, and then suddenly Bt cotton seeds were freely available in the market by the third week of June.

A source supply was immediately discovered and Yavatmal police raided the house of Nerendra Indurkar in the very small village of Munjala and reportedly caught him red handed packing local cotton seed in the pockets of branded Bt cotton. Police have sealed the advanced imported pocket packing machines and thousands of packets of Bt cotton seeds being sold on the premium.

However the alleged culprit, Nerendra Indurkar, was allowed to go without any interrogation. Officials at Monsanto were called and facts were shared but they denied any link with this bogus Bt cotton seed supply racket.

Now that the stage has been set and a timeline has been created, here enters the Monsanto official….

When news of a Monsanto senior official’s arrival from Mumbai reached the nearby village of Munjala, cotton farmers of the village Karanji, about 140 K.m. from Nagpur, located the Monsanto official and took him to their field where a complete failure of ‘Paras Sudarshan’ Bt cotton seed was shown to him.

When the Monsanto representative failed to admit the lapse, he was severely beaten up by the farmers. It was reported that even a local agriculture officer did not come to his rescue. This, from accounts in daily papers in Vidarbha and the Marathwada region of Maharashtra where more than 4 million hectares under Bt cotton cultivation are reporting the flood of bogus seed supplied local agents of American cotton seed MNC giant Monsanto.

At this point, although the situation was reported, the administration has failed to take any action of this serious issue. So, Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prathiraj Chavan to order a judicial enquiry into the supply racket of bogus BT. cotton seed in Maharashtra, and also to start criminal action against the culprit, Tiwari added.

Monsanto has done a lot of horrible things without any remorse — the agent orange they made doesn’t just affect the person who comes into contact with it; it goes on to affect their children, and their children’s children. Many hard-working farmers have lost everything, including their lives, due to Monsanto.

I imagine many who read this will grin when they read what happened to the Monsanto official. Did some kind of justice get served by the Indian farmers out in that farm field? Well maybe, but violence is never the answer. Then again, try to explain that to the India farmers.

(Planetsave)

Heart-Healthy Seaweed

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Foodfacts.com likes to stay current with the latest research pertaining to foods and nutrition. We think our followers would be interested in this article surrounding research that shows seaweed has heart-healthy benefits. Check it out!

ScienceDaily (July 21, 2011) — In an article that may bring smiles to the faces of vegetarians who consume no dairy products and vegans, who consume no animal-based foods, scientists have identified seaweed as a rich new potential source of heart-healthy food ingredients. Seaweed and other “macroalgae” could rival milk products as sources of these so-called “bioactive peptides,” they conclude in an article in ACS’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Maria Hayes and colleagues Ciarán Fitzgerald, Eimear Gallagher and Deniz Tasdemir note increased interest in using bioactive peptides, now obtained mainly from milk products, as ingredients in so-called functional foods. Those foods not only provide nutrition, but have a medicine-like effect in treating or preventing certain diseases. Seaweeds are a rich but neglected alternative source, they state, noting that people in East Asian and other cultures have eaten seaweed for centuries: Nori in Japan, dulse in coastal Europe, and limu palahalaha in native Hawaiian cuisine.

Their review of almost 100 scientific studies concluded that that some seaweed proteins work just like the bioactive peptides in milk products to reduce blood pressure almost like the popular ACE inhibitor drugs. “The variety of macroalga species and the environments in which they are found and their ease of cultivation make macroalgae a relatively untapped source of new bioactive compounds, and more efforts are needed to fully exploit their potential for use and delivery to consumers in food products,” Hayes and her colleagues conclude.

What is Polysorbate 80?

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Here at Foodfacts.com, we like to keep viewers aware of possible health implications from a variety of products and ingredients. Today we feature Polysorbate 80.creamsicle

Polysorbate 80, also known as polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate, is a common food additive used as an emulsifier in a wide variety of products, mostly different ice creams. What it does is help make frozen treats smoother and more resistant to melting. Why do we classify this ingredient as controversial? Many studies have been done showing possible links to infertility, bladder cancer, negative interactions with Crohn’s disease, and in some cases anaphylactic shock. turkey-hill

Most humans in US and Canada consume approximately 0.1g of polysorbate 80 in their foods each day. In addition to foods, polysorbate 80 is now also an additive in H1N1 flu shots, and other vaccinations. With the increasing incidence of influenza in recent years, polysorbate 80 consumption is expected to rise even more.

Although polysorbate 80 is currently deemed safe for consumption, it’s wise for consumers to make their own judgments over these different types of additives. Check back to Foodfacts.com to see what other products contain this ingredient!