Media Silence Deafening as 2,4 D Herbicide-Tolerant GMO Crops Cleared for Planting in UN's "International Year of Soils"
The recent February 13th issue of Science magazine opens with an editorial titled "Give Soils Their Due" abridged in relevant part:
"We are not paying enough attention to the world's soils, a 'nearly forgotten resource' and our 'silent ally,' 33% of which are in a state of degradation. We can't breathe, eat, drink, or be healthy without sustainably managing soils. So in recognizing 2015 as the International Year of Soils, the United Nations (UN) is focusing global attention on the increasing pressures on soils and their ripple effect on other global challenges.
...Exploration of soil's unique habitats reveals numerous microbes and invertebrates that contribute to life-sustaining services such as cleansing water, regulating pests, and cycling nutrients ... we must improve the functioning of soil biota as part of our long-term commitment to a sustainable future.
...The water we drink depends on maintaining soils that store, filter and cleanse water. Although the soil-clean air-clean water-human health linkage has led to air and water regulations, they do not address the cause of the impacts: the mismanagement of soil."
Clearly, the Earth's soil is a living membrane crucial for long-term human and ecological health. Just as clearly, the pesticide-intensive model of industrial agriculture which saturates crops and soil in pesticides, and pollutes surrounding water and ecosystems, is a primary reason soil biota are in bad shape. One would thus expect that more agricultural scientists and scientific journalists would be sounding the alarm about the pesticide industry's new 2,4 D herbicide-tolerant GMO crops recently rubber-stamped by industry-friendly regulators for planting this spring. Blasting more toxic herbicide in ever greater volume on GMO crops, along with skyrocketing use of systemic insecticides and fungicides, is not the direction American agriculture should be going in the "International Year of Soils."
Yet just four pages later appears the Orwellian article "Agricultural researchers rattled by demands for documents, Group opposed to GM foods asks a dozen scientists to hand over letters, emails in probe of academic-industry ties," that paints a reasonable request for transparency in the public interest as an attack on science. The recently formed US Right to Know group filed freedom of information requests to highlight collusion between industry and agricultural scientists on the dole. Unfortunately the article, like most mainstream pro-GMO media, fails to acknowledge that many agricultural scientists are working directly for the pesticide industry, and are in part responsible not only for the regulatory approval and planting of 2,4 D GMO crops in this "International Year of Soils," but also the deafening silence that this is even happening in most mainstream media coverage about GMOs.
As US Right to Know states in their recent essay "Seedy Business:"
"Since 2012, the agrichemical and food industries have mounted a complex, multifaceted public relations, advertising, lobbying and political campaign in the United States, costing more than $100 million, to defend genetically engineered food and crops and the pesticides that accompany them. The purpose of this campaign is to deceive the public, to deflect efforts to win the right to know what is in our food via labeling that is already required in 64 countries, and ultimately, to extend their profit stream for as long as possible...
#12: GMO science is for sale. Science can be swayed, bought or biased by the agrichemical industry in many ways, such as suppressing adverse findings, harming the careers of scientists who produce such findings, controlling the funding that shapes what research is conducted, the lack of independent U.S.-based testing of health and environmental risks of GMOs, and tainting scientific reviews of GMOs by conflicts of interest."
Interestingly in 2009, Scientific American printed an editorial similarly entitled "A Seedy Practice" (and changed the name on what is now viewed online), that states in relevant part:
"Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers...
And perhaps most important, they cannot examine whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended environmental side effects...
But only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. In a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering."
This "seedy business" is not limited to GMO research and reporting. The New York Times reported on Feb. 25 about a recent inquiry by democratic lawmakers in congress into industry funding for climate change critics.
"Democratic lawmakers in Washington are demanding information about funding for scientists who publicly dispute widely held views on the causes and risks of climate change
Prominent members of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate have sent letters to universities, companies and trade groups asking for information about funding to the scientists.
The letters came after evidence emerged over the weekend that Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, had failed to disclose the industry funding for his academic work. The documents also included correspondence between Dr. Soon and the companies who funded his work in which he referred to his papers and testimony as 'deliverables.'"
Similarly, Tim Schwab at Food and Water Watch (FWW) recently explored "The Corporate Hijacking of America's Land Grant Universities" introducing a longer FWW report "Public Research, Private Gain."
"These universities are responsible for elevating agriculture to the realm of science, offering the common citizen access to higher education, and pursuing research that helps farmers improve their fields and fatten their hens. The program was a major success, providing invaluable research that was freely shared with farmers, which revolutionized American agriculture. Unfortunately, today these public institutions are increasingly serving private interests, not the public good. Hundreds of millions of dollars are now flowing from corporate agribusiness into the land-grant university to sponsor buildings, endow professorships and pay for research. One land-grant university, South Dakota State, is headed by a man who sits on Monsanto's board of directors."
The agchemical GMO industry (Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF) have infiltrated every level of agricultural science in the US, and have pulled the wool over our media, political and scientific elites- gaming our food and agricultural systems in plain light of day. Unfortunately, prominent journalists and scientists are running interference, bamboozled and blind to their own bias focusing on irrational elements and straw men in the anti-GMO movement, while celebrating commercially insignificant or nonexistent applications of GE agriculture and ignoring the plain facts in US soil. GMO potatoes that produce marginally healthier deep fat fries, or GMO apples that don't brown, are red herring distractions: GMOs are about pesticide companies engineering herbicide-tolerant food crops so they can sell more weed killer. Next-generation herbicide-tolerant 2,4 D GMO food crops, not GMO apples or GMO anything else, are on our plates for dinner and should be focused on as Exhibit A when discussing GMOs.
Over 99% of GMO crops in US soil are engineered to tolerate heavy herbicide use and/or produce insecticide, which like overdosing antibiotics in factory farms has rapidly created resistance in target weed and insect populations, which are now saturated with ever more toxic pesticides, including neonicotinoid insecticides banned in the EU due to their killing power on non-target wildlife. (see former EPA Senior Scientist Dr. Ray Seidler's "Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered Crops.") In fact the same pesticide industry making 2,4 D GMO crops is also attempting to whipsaw US and EU trade negotiations to undercut EU bans on many toxic pesticides that are still allowed in the US. The New York Times gets this right with a great article and eye opening chart, "A Pesticide Banned or Not Underscores Trans-Atlantic Trade Sensitivities." It's past time that mainstream media cut through the flak of GMO pesticide industry propaganda, and connect the dots that GMOs = pesticide companies engineering food crops to sell more volume of more kinds of more toxic weed killer.
We have to transform our agricultural policies and dietary choices and eat more sustainably, which requires that citizens are properly informed and empowered to make wise choices. Journalists and scientists need to wake up to the influence and track record of the GMO pesticide industry, and stand up for the public interest. The pesticide and junk food industries are desperately trying to force the DARK (Pompeo) Act through Congress that would pre-empt citizens' rights to enact mandatory GMO labeling, and are counting on cowed scientists and clueless journalists to help them do it. The devastating impact of GMO crops engineered for heavy pesticide use on soil biota, and thus human and ecological health, is unquestioned yet still largely unheard. But shining a bright light on 2,4 D GMO crops in this International Year of Soils may yet preserve our right to know if our food is engineered to be saturated in toxic herbicide, just like citizens in 64 other countries already have.
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