New Biotech website “GMO Answers” – It’s all how you ask the Questions

Written by on July 31, 2013 in Hazards, Issues & Diseases with 3 Comments
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World GMO production (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Five countries produce more than 95% of commercialized GMO’s
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The biotech industry recently launched a GMO Answers website as a place for consumers to get their information on genetic modification. The site is funded by the Council for Biotechnology Information with companies that include BASF, Dow Agro Sciences, DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta, America Farm Bureau Federation, America Soybean Association and the National Cotton Council. Many of these organizations are large producers of GMO crops using seeds from the patent holders.  It’s a bit disconcerting that three of these companies have control of 53% of all seeds grown globally according to a recent Center for Food Safety Report. These patents prevent the saving of seeds for future generations and prohibit any independent research done on the seeds without their permission.  We know from the Profile of Monsanto complied by Food and Water Watch that Monsanto has not always had the best social and environmental track record. So I dug in a bit to see what they were presenting in terms of content.

I reviewed their Core Principles: 

  • Respecting people around the world and their right to choose healthy food products that are best for themselves and their families;
  • Welcoming and answering questions on all GMO topics;
  • Making GMO information, research and data easy to access and evaluate and supporting safety testing of GM products; including allowing independent safety testing of our products through validated science-based methods;
  • Supporting farmers as they work to grow crops using precious resources more efficiently, with less impact on the environment and producing safe, nutritious food and feed products;
  • Respecting farmers’ rights to choose the seeds that are best for their farms, businesses and communities and providing seed choices that include non-GM seeds based on market demands.

In response to these values I offer up my own observations:


  • The right to choose healthy food includes the right to have transparent labeling in order to make informed decisions. Over 64 Countries have some kind of labeling or restrictions on GMO products.
  • Are they asking and responding to the right questions?
    • Why would food need a warning if it was safe to eat? – We are asking for a label not a warning.
    • Hasn’t the rise in obesity been linked directly to when GMOs were introduced into our diet? – Obesity is not the issue at hand. Labeling is.
    •  Does a “patent” allow a private company to own the seeds created? – Yes, that’s what a patent means. They own the ability to conduct exclusive testing and reproduction rights. .
  • Is the research being funded by the patent holders?  Anyone who buys GMO seeds is required to sign a technology stewardship agreement that says, in part, that they cannot perform research on the seed. Without express permission from the biotech patent-holder, scientists and farmers risk facing lawsuits for conducting any studies
  • According to the Wall Street Journal Insecticide sales are surging after years of decline, as American farmers plant more corn and a genetic modification designed to protect the crop from pests has started to lose its effectiveness. The sales are a boon for big pesticide makers, such as American Vanguard Corp. and Syngenta AG. It has sparked fresh concerns among environmental groups and some scientists that the resurgence of insecticides could expose both farmers and beneficial insects to potential harm. You can learn more by listening to this NPR story.
  • How easily can a farmer find Non GMO seeds when the percentage of commercialized GM crops in the U.S. is so staggeringly high: 94% of soy, 90% of cotton, 90% of canola, 95% of sugar beets, 88% of corn and more than 50% of Hawaiian papaya?

It will be interesting to see what sorts of questions are allowed and the answers that are given. It behooves us all to stay tuned in to this website and to monitor it for truth and transparency. This is obviously a marketing campaign to try to defeat our right to know what is in our food and how it is produced. Let’s be sure we are asking the right questions and that the answers are unbiased.

 

For additional information visit my previous Blogs: Sending you an SOS, The What How and Why on GMO’s, and Biotech in the News.

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  1. anon@dayrep.com' anonymous says:

    the corporations and Monsanto would welcome ‘labeling’ – it keeps them around in co-existence. labeling is not the final answer. stop tip toeing around the subject.

    Mendocino County, CA. San Juan, WA has banned GMO’s.
    but of course, a ban doesn’t profit the corporations and puppet
    ‘organic’ organizations.

    peace.

  2. anon@dayrep.com' anonymous says:

    “First, you have to trust them to believe that they will properly label foods. I have zero trust that they will properly label foods. So… no. Labeling is NOT good enough. They are giving a false sense of security (and appeasement) so that people will back down on a complete shutdown on GMO and GMO bans.”

  3. bruce@bcat.us' Sorgfelt says:

    I posed several questions, each starting with a statement. While they were all posted immediately, a day or two later, several of those were removed for violations of their rules. Unfortunately, other than an obvious one in which I asked if psychopathology of Monsanto leadership was involved, it was very difficult to track which ones were removed, because they didn’t repeat the text removed in the email they sent, and there does not seem to be any way of listing your own questions. Of the questions they kept, one launched into a discussion of proof of intestinal porosity caused by GMO food and Bt toxin in particular and undue statistical analysis of the results of an experiment that supposedly proved that point, but didn’t do so well under closer inspection. Some of my questions and comments were actually left in place, because they were such that they couldn’t refute them. I posed one question about a statement I’ve seen repeated that Monsanto employees would not have GMO food in their cafeteria and received a response from someone who had frequented their cafeterias and saw no evidence of that. One question I posed about Monsanto suing farmers whose crops are contaminated by cross-pollinaton and then sued seemed to be left unchallenged. So, while I did score some points on freedom of choice, I am doubtful that we will win any wars fighting on their turf. If you do attempt, make sure that you have rock solid proof and are able to win tautological arguments.

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