October 2, 2012
Dr. Peter Glidden, host of GCN’s “Fire Your MD Now,” joined Alex Sunday to break down the dangerous health effects of eating genetically modified foods.
Dr. Glidden shines light on the corporations fighting proposition 37, California’s GMO labeling measure, and purposes a better, alternative choice the government hopes to keep you in the dark about.
S. D. Wells
September 26, 2012
One year before Mitt Romney began working on the Bain & Company project to rebuild “Monsanto” and cast their new image and focus on agriculture biotechnology, Congress passed a bill banning PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), an odorless, tasteless, clear liquid known to cause cancer that was the “bread and butter” of Monsanto’s profits. Monsanto was already branded and plaguedwith the label of having created the “Agent Orange” contaminated dioxins used in Vietnam. Now Monsanto would need a big save, financially and reputation-wise, so they could fool the public with their new image and a new “frontier,” while secretly polluting and genetically modifying American agriculture with the new faceless poison known as Roundup.
Romney knew his first job at Bain was to propel an evil company that was on the brink of failure. He knew Monsanto’s previous reputation and about all the litigation. Romney also knew he would be rewarded financially in the biggest way if he could pull the whole thing off, and he did. Romney changed Monsanto’s image over the years, from a scandal ridden chemical giant to a seemingly “prestigious” Agri-business firm. (http://dprogram.net)
Fresh out of Harvard in 1977, Romney basically lead Monsanto down an unethical but highly lucrative path, helping sweep the PCB and dioxin scandals under the rug, since that negative public perception was crippling the company. Romney and Bain recommended to Monsanto that they focus the business on genetically engineered crops and RoundUp, the massively profitable weed killer. Monsanto finished developing and patenting the glyphosate molecule and has marketed Roundup ever since. (http://naturalsociety.com)
But it wasn’t a “pretty” road to this infamous success for Romney. Monsanto was still bombarded with an onslaught of litigation throughout Romney’s years at Bain, including a $180 million settlement covering the claims of over 50,000 troops that got cancer from hiking over and through Agent Orange in the burned up jungles of Vietnam. Agent Orange is on record to have contaminated a total of 10 million Vietnamese and American people, including children and babies. This was by far the largest chemical warfare operation in human history up until now, when Monsanto’s RoundUp laced GMO vegetables like corn and soy have begun a cancer inducing genocide which could easily surpass the damage done in the Vietnam jungles just 50 years ago. (http://naturalsociety.com)
Romney would later use his Monsanto “payback money” and power to become the “private equity king,” mowing down companies and robbing workers of their retirement savings. (http://dprogram.net) This is how Romney created jobs back then, and GMO is how he will create jobs and promote disease if he wins the presidency of the United States. Big Pharma, of course, is behind it all, because when people eat GM vegetables and get cancer, Big Pharma and the chemo scam make billions, if not trillions.
Romney has already chosen his biotech partners in crime
One of Mitt’s advisory co-chairs was a key speaker at the ‘Biotechnology Industry Organization‘ and said, “It is vital for the United States and other countries to support science-based standards and systems that will bring agricultural biotechnology products to the market to meet this demand.” It’s not hard to guess who will make up Romney’s cabinet if he wins. But the most disappointing part of the upcoming election isn’t the fact that Mitt Romney, the “Savior of Monsanto” is running for president, it’s the fact that Obama already supports GMO and has the former vice president of Monsanto running the FDA right now. America has everyone believing they have a choice, voting between good and bad, or good and not so good, but really, the choice is that you can vote yes for Obama GMO or yes for Romney GMO. President Obama and Mitt Romney both support human beings eating RoundUp pesticide regularly and without any labeling on the foods. Just to let you know. There’s definitely a “War on Cancer” in effect, but it’s a war to promote cancer, to make sure more people eat CANCER-CAUSING AGENTS, ones that are made by the same company that created the AGENT ORANGE nightmare. (http://www.naturalnews.com)
No matter what the TWO PARTY SYSTEM says, they support GMO
Back in 2008, Obama promised his supporters he would be on their side when it comes to knowing what they are eating, and in a campaign speech he stated, “We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified because Americans should know what they’re buying.”(http://spreadlibertynews.com)
Today, Monsanto (the seed police) and similar unethical chemical giants loom over ALL FARMERS AND ALL FOOD, and a global cancer epidemic is imminent. Monsanto survived its near collapse thanks to Mitt Romney, and Monsanto thrives today thanks to George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Soon, if enough Supreme Court Justices side with the biotech industry, the U.S. government will have complete reign over the food industry. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034847_Michael_Taylor_Monsanto_FDA.html)
Question: Why doesn’t either candidate for president mention nutrition at all? Shouldn’t we be praisingNutritional Science like we do NASA? Is the GMO shame too heavy? When the next bailout comes, will Monsanto get a big cut? After all, their lobbyists are like a “Super PAC” of ONE PERCENTERS. If only we could see how much their offshore accounts inflate after elections. Make no mistake, the current handful of “running” politicians want GMO to rule over all farms in the United States.
Don’t give in; you can set the precedent in November!
You have real choices. You can eat only organic food. You can write your “anti-GMO” congressmen like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, who support efforts to not only label GM food, but ban it altogether. You can help end this hostile takeover of the food supply. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J_YvtbSSqg) We, the organic people, can win this “election,” and the precedent can be set in California in November, and then eventually all over the United States. (http://www.naturalnews.com)
Vietnam may have been the largest chemical warfare operation in human history, but at least this time the people have a choice, because instead of being drafted and hiking through the toxic “cancer machine” in a war, humans can simply educate themselves about contaminated dioxins in genetically modified foods and not eat them. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfFSS1vLcXA&feature=related)
Sources for this article include:
Russia suspends import and use of American GM
corn after study revealed cancer risk
The European Food Safety Authority orders review in to the research, conducted at a French university
Russia’s decision could be followed by other nations
Experts at the University of Caen conducted an experiment running for the full lives of rats – two years
The findings found raised levels of breast cancer, liver and kidney damage
The same trials also found minuscule amounts of a commonly used weedkiller, Roundup
Both the GM corn and Roundup are the creation of US biotech company Monsanto
By SEAN POULTER
PUBLISHED: 16:15 GMT, 25 September 2012 | UPDATED: 06:57 GMT, 26 September 2012
Russia has suspended the import and use of an American GM corn following a study suggesting a link to breast cancer and organ damage.
Separately, the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA), has ordered its own review in to the research, which was conducted at a French university.
The decision by Russia could be followed by other nations in what would be a severe blow to the take-up of the controversial technology.
Cancer risk? A farmer shows two corncobs of genetically engineered corn by U.S. company Monsanto, right, and two normal corncobs from Germany, left
Historically, biotech companies have proved the safety of GM crops based on trials involving feeding rats for a period of 90 days.
However, experts at the University of Caen conducted an experiment running for the full lives of rats – two years.
The findings, which were peer reviewed by independent experts before being published in a respected scientific journal, found raised levels of breast cancer, liver and kidney damage.
The same trials also found evidence that consumption of minuscule amounts of a commonly used weedkiller, Roundup, was associated with a raised risk of cancer.
Both the GM corn, which carries the name NK603, and Roundup are the creation of US biotech company Monsanto.
The decision by the Russians to suspend authorisation for the American GM corn threatens to trigger a transatlantic commercial and diplomatic row.
Contentious: A combine harvests corn in a field near Coy, Arkansas. The decision by the Russians to suspend authorisation for the American GM corn threatens to trigger a transatlantic commercial and diplomatic row
Russia’s consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, said today that it has suspended the import and use of the Monsanto GM corn.
Rospotrebnadzor said the country’s Institute of Nutrition has been asked to assess the validity of the study.
It has also contacted the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health & Consumers to ask for the EU’s position on the corn’s safety.
Consumer scepticism in the UK and Europe means GM corn is not on supermarket shelves here, however it is fed to farm animals, including hens, pigs and dairy cows.
Important: In the USA, and much of Europe, corn is used to make an array of food products including cornflakes (picture posed by model)
Last week Monsanto said it did not think the French study would affect its license to export the NK603 to Europe but would wait to hear from EFSA.
The company said: ‘Based on our initial review, we do not believe the study presents information that would justify any change in EFSA’s views on the safety of genetically modified corn products or alter their approval status for genetically modified imports.’
The biotech industry and university researchers involved in GM research have mounted a major PR campaign over the last year to win over sceptical consumers.
In the past week, pro-GM scientists have been lining up to undermine the French experiments and criticise the way they were conducted.
However, a number of independent academics have praised the French team’s work, describing it as the most thorough and extensive feeding trials involving GM to date.
Mustafa Djamgoz, the Professor of Cancer Biology, at Imperial College, London, said the findings relating to eating GM corn were a ‘surprise’.
Prof Djamgoz, who describes himself as a neutral on GM, said: ‘The results are significant. The experiments are, more or less, the best of their kind to date.’
However, he said that it is now important to ensure they are repeated with more animals by independent laboratories to confirm the outcome.
‘We are not scaremongering here. More research, including a repetition of this particular study are warranted,’ he said.
The professor said it will take two to three years to get a definitive answer.
produce ‘engineered’ milk for human babies
Oct 2, 2012
The world of genetic engineering has fallen even further into the surreal with the announcement that New Zealand “scientists” have unveiled a genetically modified mutant cloned cow which they say produces a reduced-allergen milk for consumption by human babies. This is being reported by the BBC and elsewhere.
Horrifyingly, these Frankenscientists cloned a cow and then altered the embryo using RNA interference. After gestation, the mutant GMO cow was born without a tail! But these scientists say that’s no problem, and that the mutation of having no tail couldn’t possibly be related to anything they did with the cow’s DNA.
I’m not making this up. This is the insanity of the quack science world in which we now live.
Milk causes allergies primarily because of pasteurization
The entire project is a fool’s errand to begin with since the reason most humans are allergic to cow’s milk is because of pasteurization which destroys lactase enzymes. RAW MILK is far easier to digest, but of course raw milk has been all but criminalized in America, where the FDA along with Ventura County and LA County in California actually stage armed raids on raw milk distribution centers and throw people in jail. James Stewart, for example, remains in jail this very day for the “crime” of being involved in raw milk. Sign the petition HERE to demand freedom for James.
So while criminalizing fresh milk and pushing an inferior, dead, pasteurized milk that causes allergies in those who drink it, the corrupt food system in America is almost certain to embrace mutant genetically modified cloned cow’s milk and call it “safe” for infants!
Never mind the fact that the genetically altered milk produced by this cow had “double the concentrations of caseins,” as The Guardian is reporting.
Oh, and by the way, the milk being produced by this mutant, cloned, tail-less GMO cow is of course 100% driven by artificial hormones! As the BBC reports:
“It has not yet become pregnant and produced milk normally so the scientists used hormones to jump-start milk production.”
How to make a mutant GM cow and tell your friends you’re a mad scientist
This story gets even more disturbing. Take a look at how this cow was produced! According to The Guardian:
To make Daisy [the cow], scientists took a cow skin cell and genetically modified it to produce molecules that block the manufacture of BLG protein. The nucleus of this cell was then transferred into a cow egg that had its own nucleus removed.
The reconstituted egg was grown in the lab until it formed what is called a blastocyst, a ball of around 100 cells, and then transplanted into the womb of a foster cow.
The cloning technique is not efficient. Of around 100 blastocysts the scientists implanted into cows, more than half of the pregnancies failed early on, and only one live calf, Daisy, was born.
And even that calf was a mutant calf, born without a tail, rendering the whole thing a horrifying example of genetic mutilation.
STOP the genetic mutilation of animals and humans
These outrageous experiments on animals are rightly called “genetic mutilation.” These animals are being mutilated. Ninety-nine percent of them DIE before they’re even born, and the ones that somehow manage to be born are mutants.
This research is a dangerous journey into the horrors of “unanticipated consequences.” And to think… these Frankenscientists want human babies to drink this milk! It must be great for babies!
So let me get this straight: It’s illegal in America to milk a cow, sell that fresh milk to a neighbor and have their baby drink fresh milk with all the digestive enzymes intact. But it’s perfectly acceptable in our world to engineer mutant cloned genetically modified cows to produce hormone-induced, artificially-engineered milk that will be fed en masse to human babies?
What’s wrong with this picture?
Humanity is risking a genetic apocalypse
This has got to stop, friends. The mad GMO scientists are operating in gross violation of natural law. They are playing genetic roulette with Mother Nature. They’re fumbling in the dark with dangerous tools, like children with suitcase nukes and a happy red button that seems inviting to just push and see what happens.
Our modern-day human civilization has neither the ethical foundation nor the wisdom to pursue such technologies. Altering the digital code for the expression of life is not something to be pursued under the crude selfishness of corporate greed, nor the wild fantasies of naive scientists who relish in playing “what if” experiments with all remaining life on our planet.
These experiments on animals — and crops — are worse than foolish. They are inherently evil… even demented. Just because we know how to alter DNA doesn’t mean we have the wisdom to understand the consequences of doing so. Yet in the race for the next biological profit machine — a cow, a crop, or even a pharmaceutical — caution is thrown out the window and replaced by pure mindless greed.
With the GM crops, the GM wheat that alters human liver function, the GM corn that causes cancer tumors, the GM cows and the GM seeds being carelessly strewn about, we are risking a genetic apocalypse that could destroy humanity in a cosmic blink of an eye.
No one knows what happens when the genetic engineering of mutant chimera animals get unleashed across the land. Nobody really knows the long-term effects of genetic pollution. Nobody even knows the long-term effects of humans eating GM crops!
So it’s all a grand, malicious, conceited genetic experiment being carried out on us all: our bodies, our children, our lands, our animals, our crops and our planet.
The GM “scientists” are risking EVERYTHING. And they do so blindly, while mutilating animals and calling it “progress.”
It is disgusting. It is an abomination. I pray for the sake of humanity that all genetic engineering activity in our planet is halted by any means necessary.
We are floating through space, my friends, on a blue ball of water inhabited by fools who call themselves “scientists.”
They risk everything. And there is no backup plan.
Spread the word. SHARE this story. STOP the genetic mutilation of animals. HALT GMO crops and save our planet from the risk of total disaster.
Undercover video investigating admitted presence of GMOs at Whole Foods stores is pulled from You Tube
October 2, 2012
A controversial video of an undercover investigation into the presence of GMO foods at the “organic” grocery leader Whole Foods Market has been pulled from You Tube just days after its release sparked a reaction throughout the health conscious blogosphere and alternative media.
A ‘sting’ video released by Organic Spies featuring covert footage alleges that Whole Foods wasdeceiving its customers by touting organic foods and a corporate ideal set against GMOs while simultaneously selling a large portion of products that contain widely prevalent GMO ingredients. On-camera statements of numerous Whole Foods employees in the Los Angeles area underscores the fact that its employees are ignorant of the presence of GMO foods on store shelves, leaving the average customer even more so in the dark.
Now that original video– linked here– which was posted 6 days ago and which had well over 100,000 views, was removed from You Tube, due to alleged violations of its Terms of Service. Typically, this indicates a 3rd party complaint, though You Tube no longer automatically informs users of the identities of parties who make claims against videos, so the role of Whole Foods here is not clear.
However, Whole Foods officially responded to the video in their blog, admitting that some products in their store indeed contain GMO ingredients. It promises, therefore, to better inform their employees of this fact:
“The YouTube video showing our store Team Members giving conflicting responses to a question about GMOs reminds us that while we try to keep all our 70,000 Team Members up-to-speed on the latest information, clearly we need to do more. Some products in our stores DO contain GMOs – just like any other food store in the country, due to the pervasiveness of GMOs…”
Whole Foods also emphasized their support for California’s Prop 37, which would mandate the labeling of GMOs, after coming under criticism for not donating financially to the ballot measure to counter the heavy lobbying against the measure by the biotech industry and their allies.
Whole Foods states that their officially policy does not allow financial backing for such political measures, yet its top executives have donated to numerous telling campaigns. So what gives?
Co-founder and CEO John Mackey donated to Mitt Romney, who helped promote Monsanto’s entry into biotechnology, while co-CEO Walter Robb donated to Barack Obama, who has appointed numerous Monsanto lobbyists to his administration, as well as Christie Vilsack, the wife of USDA chief Tom Vilsack, who as an Iowan politician, has bent over backward for biotech, GMOs, cloning and even the open-air growing of pharmaceutical crops. As head of agriculture, Vilsack served as a go between to negotiate acceptance of GM alfalfa (a major food crop for livestock), meeting with Monsanto and top emissaries of the organic market, namely Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield Farm and Organic Valley. The perceived caving of these organic players has drawn serious criticism throughout the Internet.
Evidence that major advocates for organic foods are ultimately serving the interests of genetic engineering is sad, particularly at a time when Monsanto and other biotech giants threaten to saturate the world market with dangerous GMO foods that remain unlabeled and yet have been found to contribute to cancerous tumors and other devastating health effects in lab rats fed Monsanto’s GM corn.
Here is a mirror of the pulled video, still up at the time of publishing:
Is there anything there not
trying to Genetically Modify
December 16, 2011: ISA virus confirmed in AquaBounty’s genetically-engineered salmon: A 2009 memo from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) entered into evidence at Canada’s federal Cohen Inquiry into the collapse of Fraser River sockeye Thursday reveals that salmon at the AquaBounty facility in Price Edward Island have tested positive for the Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) virus. Click here to watch Catherine Stewart of Living Oceans Society talk about what this means.
October 11, 2011 – Press Release : U.S. Rubber-Stamp of GM Fish Imminent? U.S. approval would trigger corporate plans to produce genetically modified salmon eggs in Canada, but Environment Canada remains silent
Canada and the US could soon approve a genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered, GE) Atlantic salmon – the first-ever GM food animal in the world. The small U.S. company AquaBounty has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve their plan to produce GM salmon eggs on PEI, to grow-out in Panama and sell to U.S. consumers. The company has plans to expand production across the world though they have not specified these plans to the U.S. FDA.
Write to the Minister of Environment instantly by clicking here: Halt any environmental assessment of GE fish! Why won’t Environment Canada even tell Canadians if it has started an assessment?
Write to the Minister of Health today, to stop the GM fish and the GM pig called "Enviropig". Health Canada is already considering a request to approve the GM pig (from the University of Guelph) for eating in Canada and the company AquaBounty says it will soon ask for approval for its GM salmon.
Organizations can still sign on to the statement opposing GE salmon!: No GE Research, Production, Consumption in, and Export from, Canada. We invite environmental, conservation, health, consumer, and public interest groups, industry associations, and aboriginal peoples’ organizations in Canada to sign the following statement of opposition to genetically engineered (GE) fish. Sign on here.
U.S. company AquaBounty is seeking approval for its genetically engineered Atlantic salmon. The company claims the salmon grow to market-size twice as fast as other farmed salmon. The salmon are engineered with a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genetic material from ocean pout (an eel-like creature).
A summary of AquaBounty’s environmental assessment released by the US Food and Drug Administration on September 3, 2010, revealed that the company is not requesting approval to produce the GE Atlantic salmon in the US but intends instead to produce all the GE salmon eggs on Prince Edward Island, then ship the eggs to Panama for growing-out and processing, for export into the US consumer market as “table-ready” fish. The company is assuming it will be granted approval by Environment Canada to produce GE salmon eggs on PEI. AquaBounty says it is now preparing to also ask Health Canada to approve the GE salmon for human consumption here.
House of Commons Motion: October 2011 – Mr. Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam) — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately: (a) provide greater regulatory clarity by identifying which government departments are responsible for the regulation of genetically modified salmon and other transgenic aquatic organisms; (b) prevent the introduction into the Canadian food system of genetically modified salmon destined for human consumption until further scientific studies are concluded by the relevant departments to determine the impact of genetically modified salmon on human health and on the health of marine species, ecosystems and habitats; and (c) direct the departments responsible for the regulation of genetically modified salmon to establish a practice of notifying the Canadian public of all requests and approvals and of any information and findings regarding genetically modified salmon and salmon eggs.
October 2010, Article,"Biotech Gets Fishy with GE Salmon" Common Ground Magazine, Lucy Sharratt, CBAN.
What is the GM Salmon?
The U.S. company AquaBounty is asking the U.S. to approve its genetically engineered (GE, also called genetically modified or GM) Atlantic salmon for human consumption and says it will soon ask for approval in Canada. The company claims its “AquAdvantage” salmon grow to market-size twice as fast as other farmed salmon. That’s because the Atlantic salmon are engineered with a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genetic material from ocean pout (an eel-like creature).
The GM Salmon is from Canada
AquaBounty is headquartered in the US but the GM salmon is based on a gene construct patented by two Canadian university professors. The company also has research facilities in Prince Edward Island where it grows GM fish for experimentation and testing. The company recently revealed that it is not actually asking for approval to grow the fish in the US but plans to produce all of the GM salmon eggs on PEI, ship the eggs to Panama for growing out and processing, and then sell “table-ready” GM salmon into the US consumer market.AquaBounty does not yet have permission from Environment Canada to commercially produce its GM salmon eggs at its PEI facility. Environment Canada refuses to disclose if the department is already assessing a request from AquaBounty.
No One Wants GM Fish
The aquaculture industry does not support the commercialization of GM fish and has stated that there is no market demand.
Will GM Salmon Be On Our Plate Soon?
AquaBounty said it is asking Health Canada to approve the GM salmon for eating in Canada. This process could happen quickly, especially if the US government approves the fish. Health Canada refuses to tell the public if they are already looking at a request to approve GM salmon for eating in Canada.
After 10 years, the US government could be close to approving the GM salmon. In late 2010, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the final stages of its process to approve the GM salmon, and made the preliminary conclusion that the GE salmon is safe for to eat and does not pose a risk to the environment. But FDA meetings in September 2010 did not conclude with a recommendation to approve the salmon. Instead, the FDA’s own committee members voiced serious concerns about the quality of the data and the risks.
The first GM Food Animal in the World?
The GM fish was in a race with the GM pig called “Enviropig” to become the first genetically engineered animal in our food system but the campaign led by the Canadian Biotechnology stopped the GM pig in March 2012. Will the GM salmon be the first GM food animal approved in the world?
Atlantic salmon are farmed in both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The escape of farmed fish from either marine net pens or hatcheries is serious, reoccurring pollution that threatens species. For example, mature escaped Atlantic salmon have been recorded in streams in B.C..
To try to avoid a full review of these risks, AquaBounty is only seeking permission to raise the fish in a land-based facility in a “remote highland area” of Panama – even though they say they want to raise the fish in the U.S. and other countries. The company also says that all the fish will be sterile females, but admits they can only guarantee 95% of the salmon will be unable to reproduce.
Any risk of GM Atlantic salmon escaping into the wild is unacceptable, especially when Atlantic salmon are already in danger of disappearing.
Also, GM salmon could put even more pressure on marine ecosystems. The fast-growing GM salmon could consume up to five times more food than other farmed salmon – because salmon are carnivorous they actually eat large amounts of wild-harvested fish like anchovies and sardines, caught just to feed them.
Health Risks and Bad Science
Critics have long warned that the process of genetic engineering itself could possibly result in increased allergenicity and AquaBounty’s own data point to this potential in their GM salmon.
Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist at Consumers Union US, says, “The FDA is relying on woefully inadequate data. There is sloppy science, small sample sizes, and questionable practices.” For example, the company used insensitive tests to try and measure the levels of growth hormone in the GM salmon and the levels of IGF-1, a hormone linked to a number of cancers.
January 15, 2011: PEI groups met with Premier Ghiz and the PEI Minister of the Environment and secured a pledge that the Premier will seek information from Environment Canada. Environment Canada is currently refusing to disclose any information about a possible risk assessment to allow the production of GE salmon eggs on PEI. Read the story: PEI groups meet with Premier and secure pledge on GE fish.
December 6, 2010 Press Release: Groups Oppose Genetically Engineered Salmon: Demand Immediate Disclosure from Environment Canada
Sixty fisheries and oceans conservation, environmental and social justice groups revealed today that Environment Canada refuses to confirm or deny if the department has already started a secret 120-day risk assessment to approve genetically engineered (GE, also called genetically modified or GM) salmon egg production on Prince Edward Island. The groups today also released a joint statement of “categorical objection” to the raising of GE fish and fish eggs. Click here to see the statement opposing GE fish and the list of 60 groups signed so far.
November 22, 2010: Press release: PEI Groups request Premier Ghiz to press Environment Canada for disclosure on GE Salmon
October 27, 2010: Newly Disclosed Government Documents Conclude GE Salmon Pose A Critical Threat To Marine Environments – Expert fisheries agencies prohibit growing engineered salmon in open-water net pens under the Endangered Species Act.
September 21, 2010 – Press Statement: Groups in the US and Canada urge the FDA to heed yesterday’s warnings by scientists regarding the safety of genetically engineered salmon and reject company’s request for approval — Yesterday the FDA’s Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee finished two days of public hearings in Maryland on the safety of genetically engineered (GE) salmon: "The committee could not avoid pointing to serious problems with the science. The FDA cannot approve the GE salmon after the committee has raised so many questions about its safety," said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. Many committee members raised serious concerns about the safety of the GE salmon and questions about the quality of the data used by the FDA to come to its initial conclusion that the GE fish is safe. The FDA will now consider the concerns raised by the committee before making a final decision to approve or reject the GE fish, or call for more studies. The FDA has agreed to a public comment period on an environmental assessment.
September 20, 2010 – Press Release: Critics slam “sloppy science” on GE Fish at FDA hearings: FDA overlooked evidence of allergy potential and accepted deficient data say groups
September 16, 2010 – Press Release: PEI Groups Denounce Plans for Local GE Salmon Production: PEI representative to attend US hearings on GE fish safety
September 8, 2010 – Press Release:As U.S. Decision on GE Fish Nears Final Stage, Company Reveals Plan to Produce GE Salmon Eggs in Canada
September 3, 2010: FDA releases documents for the first time prior to public meetings September 19-21:
August 27, 2010 – Joint Press Statement: Coalition Demands FDA Deny Approval of Controversial GE Fish: FDA Considers Approval of GE Salmon–the First GE Food Animal–Yet Fails to Inform the Public of Environmental and Economic Risks.
Canadian regulation: Canadian regulators are not prepared to evaluate GE fish properly. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) abandoned its work to develop regulations specific to GE fish. Because DFO could not figure out how to regulate GE fish (Transgenic Aquatic Organisms), they have passed the task to Environment Canada under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Health Canada will evaluate the safety of GE fish for human consumption under the existing Novel Foods regulations. Health Canada is still developing particular guidelines for evaluating safety under these existing regulations.
Status of Wild Atlantic Salmon
Populations of wild Atlantic Salmon have declined for years, with numbers of Atlantic salmon in Canada dropping from approximately 18 million in 1975 to 625,000 in 2008, according to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). While Atlantic salmon can be found in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Iceland Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, France, Spain, and the United States, many traditional salmon runs are now reduced or extinct. In 2009, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) listed all populations of wild Atlantic salmon as a “High Priority Candidate” in danger of disappearing from Canada. In years prior to this, Lake Ontario populations were listed as “Extirpated” and Inner Bay of Fundy (iBoF) populations as “Endangered”. Commercial fisheries for wild Atlantic salmon were closed in 1985. Recreational fisheries, First Nations and Labrador Resident fisheries of large Atlantic salmon are allowed but restricted in Canada.
Atlantic salmon are farmed in Atlantic Canada but also in the Pacific Ocean, primarily in Chile and along the West Coast of Canada and the U.S..
Background on the company AquaBounty
In 2004, AquaBounty Farms was renamed as AquaBounty Technologies Inc. Corporate Headquarters are based in Waltham, Massachusetts, while the AquaBounty Pacific subsidiary is located in San Diego, California. AquaBounty has a Canadian subsidiary based in St John’s, Newfoundland. AquaBounty maintains a research and development facility in Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island.
The original research conducted on antifreeze (promoter) proteins was patented by two University professors, Dr. Garth Fletcher from Memorial University Newfoundland and Dr. Choy Hew of the University of Toronto, as their “invention”. Dr. Fletcher became Co-Founder, Director, and Corporate Vice President of A/F Protein Inc., and President of A/F Protein Canada Inc – he is still Professor Emeritus at the Ocean Sciences Centre of Memorial University of Newfoundland.
In January 2010, the federal government granted public funds to AquaBounty for research that can be applied to their GE salmon. The company was given $2.9 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund to “improve the culture of reproductively sterile Atlantic salmon” with the objective of “the safe commercial launch of triploid salmon with Atlantic Canada identified as the source for associated commercial benefits, and worldwide distribution of the product.”
The genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) pig called “Enviropig” has been shut down thanks to CBAN and your action. Thanks to your support and actions we have stopped the GM Pig!
June 22, 2012 – Press Release:GM “Enviropigs” Meet Dead End: Remaining GM pigs euthanized at the University of Guelph
April 2, 2012 – Press Release: Genetically Modified Pig Shelved
The hog industry group Ontario Pork has stopped funding the GM pig research at the University of Guelph. The university has now closed down its active research and ended its breeding program of GM pigs. The pig was engineered with genetic material from a mouse to reduce phosphorous in its feces and could have become the first GM food animal approved in the world.
Lucy Sharrat, CBAN Coordinator and Paul Slomp, Youth Vice-President, National Farmers Union speak at a Press Conference April 2, 2012 breaking the news of the end of the GM pig. Click here to watch the Press Conference on YouTube.
April 3, 2012"I had the feeling in seven or eight or nine years that transgenic animals probably would be acceptable. But I was wrong. It’s time to stop the program until the rest of the world catches up" – Dr. Cecil Forsberg, "inventor" of Enviropig. Read the full New York Times article.
This victory comes at a critical moment
The first GM food animal could still be introduced in North America if we do not stop the small U.S. company AquaBounty from getting approval for its GM Atlantic salmon. Just like the GM pig, the GM salmon is designed to support factory farming. It is not wanted by consumers or the aquaculture industry. If a GM fish is introduced, it will also be harder for us to stop other GM foods, crops and animals.
There are key fights before us in Canada. We can still stop GM alfalfa – a crop that was introduced in the U.S. but not yet in Canada. We need to stop GM alfalfa to protect organic food and family farms that are at the frontlines of GM resistance in North America and are central to the economic revival of our farm sector.
Our victory over the GM “Enviropig” shows that Canadians are prepared to fight genetically engineered food, crops and animals – and we will win. We can stop genetic engineering. We are already succeeding.
Your actions worked!
You can help us build our movement – join us now! Donate today.
The goal of the GM Enviropig™ was to provide intensive livestock operations (factory farms) with a product to reduce the amount of polluting phosphorous they produce. Phosphorous from animal manure is a nutrient for plants that becomes a pollutant if there is too much of it for crops to absorb, and the excess runs off into streams and lakes.
There are already many solutions to this problem including reducing the number of pigs raised in one place, changing feed ingredients, trucking liquid manure longer distances, dry composting manure, or expanding the area of land for spreading manure. Additionally, there is already the cost-effective, simple technological fix of a phytase supplement that can be added to hog feed.
Click here to view CBAN outline the arguments against Enviropig.
Enviropig™ is genetically engineered to produce the enzymephytase in its salivary glands to enable more effective digestion of phytate, the from of phosphorus found in pig feed ingredients like corn and soybeans. Scientists inserted a transgene sequence that includes an E-coli bacteria phytase gene and a mouse promoter gene sequence.
In February 2010, Environment Canada granted approval to the University of Guelph for the reproduction and exportation of Enviropig™. Health Canada could approve Enviropig™ for human consumption at any time.
Click on the below questions to get information:
Article: "Enviropig™: A piggy you hope to never meet at the market", Common Ground magazine, by Lucy Sharratt, June 2010.
February 9, 2011 – Press Release : Rally to Stop University of Guelph’s Genetically Modified Pig: Students, Farmers and Consumers Join Together
October 7, 2010 – Lucy Sharratt, CBAN Coordinator, and Sean McGivern, Regional Coordinator of the National Farmers Union Ontario debated Rich Moccia VP Research, University of Guelph and Dr. Cecil Forsberg, University of Guelph "creator" of Enviropig.Check out the University of Guelph and CBAN: Answers to questions that we ran out of time to address at the debate "Enviropig: Helpful or Harmful?", hosted by the Critical Knowledge Collective at the University of Guelph.
Lucy Sharratt, CBAN Coordinator with Sean McGivern, Regional Coordinator of National Farmers Union Ontario debating Rich Moccia VP Research, University of Guelph and Dr. Cecil Forsberg, University of Guelph "creator" of Enviropig, October 7 2010, University of Guelph.
March 2010: The National Farmers Union of Ontario passed a resolution against Enviropig at their March 20, 2010 AGM:"THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NFU oppose the commercial production of the Enviropig in Canada and request that Ontario Pork and OMAFRA withdraw support for the Enviro Pig and U of Guelph shut down the project immediately. Further, that NFU-O request that these financial resources be redirected to research that fits the real needs of hog producers in Ontario and Canada." Read the full resolution here.
Livestock breeding in the hands of corporations, Article, Seedling, January 2008.
Become part of the campaign:sign up here to contribute your ideas and subscribe for updates on Enviropig™.
Report Exposes Unstudied Risks of Monsanto’s
Genetically Modified “SmartStax” Corn
EU Members State critiques and leaked industry documents uncover safety questions
Ottawa, June 28, 2011. German group Testbiotech today released a critical new report that exposes unstudied questions in confidential industry documents from Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences on their genetically modified (GM) eight-trait corn called “SmartStax”, approved in Canada in 2009.
The GM SmartStax corn produces six different insecticidal toxins and is tolerant to two herbicides. It was allowed onto the market in Canada without a safety evaluation from Health Canada.
Testbiotech gained access to some confidential science evaluations prepared by Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences and presented to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for risk assessment of the GM corn. The group also examined a series of critiques from EU Member States of the EFSA decision and industry documents. In September 2010, EFSA declared the GM corn safe for human and animal consumption. However, the Testbiotech report concludes that the investigations carried out by industry were inadequate for examining health risks.
“Unlike European regulators, Health Canada didn’t even pretend to assess the safety of this new GM corn. The department just presumed that Monsanto’s SmartStax corn is a harmless amalgam of eight previously approved GM traits,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “The new report exposes the depth of Health Canada’s ignorance on the safety of SmartStax corn. The significant human health and environmental risk questions raised by EU Members States were never asked by Health Canada.”
“The documents show alarming deficiencies in risk evaluations performed by both industry and EU regulators,” said Christoph Then of Testbiotech. “The documents reveal insufficient assessment of risks to human and animal health. For example, the corn was fed to poultry to test nutritional efficiency but there was no investigation of potential health risks.”
Today’s Testbiotech report also states that, “The industry dossiers not only have major defects in study design, they also lack independent quality controls.” In their report, Testbiotech raises the question of possible manipulation of data as one industry document states that, “…oversight ensured that the data were consistent with expectations.” The science submitted by industry is not peer-reviewed.
The data show a tenfold or even twentyfold variation in the content of the insecticidal toxins. The exact range of variation under changing environmental conditions was not determined, leaving questions about the genetic stability of the GM corn plants. There are no evaluated protocols to enable independent measurements of the content of the toxins.
“EFSA based its conclusion of safety to a large extent on data derived from the parental plants. But this approach is highly complicated since SmartStax has many insecticidal toxins, thus more interactions can to be expected. These interactions remain unstudied,” said Then. “Despite this limitation, the results of the risk assessment of parental plants alone show a wide range of uncertainties. For example, in one case even damage in kidneys is under discussion.”
“The critical comments from European countries provide important insights into the limitations of Monsanto’s data and the questions that Health Canada shrugged off,” said Sharratt. “Health Canada needs to immediately remove authorization for SmartStax and begin the human health risk assessment that it never bothered to perform,” said Sharratt.
Link to the report and the documents: http://www.testbiotech.de/node/515
September 20, 2012, Press Release : Unprecedented Safety Study Finds Harm from GM Corn The first GM animal feeding trial conducted over the lifetime of laboratory rats to test Monsanto’s GM corn NK603 and their herbicide Roundup found tumours, multiple organ damage and premature death. (Séralini, G.-E., et al. "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize." Food Chem. Toxicol. (2012) NK603 was approved in Canada in 2001 and is grown for animal feed and processed food ingredients. For more information click here.
Consumer Advisory: GM Sweet Corn
Write to your grocery store! Ask at your farmers’ market, roadside stand and grocery store.
Genetically modified (GM) sweet corn is now being grown by some farmers who are selling at roadside stands, at Farmers’ Markets, and through some grocery stores. This a new GM crop from Monsanto – the sweet corn is designed to be insect resistant (its toxic to insects!) and herbicide tolerant (its used with Roundup herbicide!).
Write to your grocery store and ask them if their fresh sweet corn supply is non-GM and ask them to make sure that all their sweet corn is non-GM for next year. The major grocery chains need to hear from you!
Buy organic sweet corn. Organic farming prohibits the use of genetic modification. Certified organic is your guarantee that your sweet corn is not genetically modified (and is also pesticide-free).
Ask your local farmer or manager at the farm stand or grocery store if the sweet corn they are selling is genetically modified (also called genetically engineered). Please send your responses to CBAN. Below is some information to help you get an answer. Please also write to your grocery store so your concerns go to head office!
Monsanto’s new GM sweet corn is engineered to be toxic to particular insects. The GM technology transforms the corn plant into a pesticide. In fact, the toxin, from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt, is expressed in every cell of the plant including the corn kernels. If certain insects, including the European corn borers, corn earworms, fall army worms and corn rootworm larvae, try to eat the corn, they will die. The Bt toxin attaches to receptors in the gut of some insects, rupturing the gut and killing the insect.
New Article!"GM Sweet Corn Kils Bugs But is it Also Tasty on the BBQ?" by Lucy Sharratt, CBAN Coordinator, September 2012, Common Ground Magazine
Ask at Your Store or Farmers’ Market
Below is some extra informationand a questionnaire to help you get an answer to your question.
Some farmers may be growing GM sweet corn but not be aware that it is GM.
Staff at the grocery store, or even the farm stand, will probably not be able to immediately answer your question and are very likely to be misinformed about GM foods.
GM corn is one of 4 GM crops grown in Canada: canola, soy, and white sugar beet (for sugar processing) are the others. The GM corn grown in Canada has been, until recently, all hard corn used for processed food ingredients and animal feed. The Canadian government does not label GM foods and does not keep statistics on how much GM is grown or where. CBAN researches and monitors GM foods for you: for more information please see http://www.cban.ca/gmfoods
For Farmers: Does your sweet corn have insect protection? Monsanto and Syngenta both have GM sweetcorn varieties engineered to be toxic to insects such as the European corn borer and corn earworm.
For Farmers: Is your sweet corn Roundup Ready? Monsanto’s new insect resistant sweetcorn is also herbicide resistant- it is resistant to Monsanto’s brand name herbicide.
For Farmers: What company did you buy your corn seed from? GM sweet corn is available from seed dealers but sometimes seed companies do not clearly label the seeds as GM. For example, US seed company Seedway sells GM sweetcorn as “Genetically Enhanced” hybrid sweet corn seed. The sweet corn varieties are also called “insect protected hybrids” – the corn is a hybrid but it is also genetically modified. (Seedway also sells organic and untreated sweet corn seed.)
CBAN has made a questionnaire that you can leave with your grocery store, produce or farm stand manager if necessary. Ask them to fill it out and get back to you.
You can also print “CBAN’s Quick Guide to GM Foods” to hand to them. (If you have this information from CBAN, you will most likely have more information than your grocery store manager.)
Please contact us:
If you find GM sweet corn, please inform CBAN of the location and of any details from your conversation with the farmer, farm stand manager or grocery store manager. Please send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 613 241 2267 ext 25. Fax 613 241 2506 Thank you for your action!
Stop "SmartStax" Eight-Trait GE Corn
June 28, 2011: German group Testbiotech released a critical new report that exposes unstudied questions in confidential industry documents from Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences on their genetically modified (GM) eight-trait corn called “SmartStax”, approved in Canada in 2009. The GM SmartStax corn produces six different insecticidal toxins and is tolerant to two herbicides. It was allowed onto the market in Canada without a safety evaluation from Health Canada.
Tell the Minister of Health its unacceptable that Health Canada did not assess the safety of ‘SmartStax’ before it was approved. Click here to send your instant email letter.
Background: Health Canada did not assess the safety of “SmartStax” GM corn. Health Canada does not classify “SmartStax” as a “Novel Food” because it has previously approved the eight single GM traits in “SmartStax”, individually in earlier crops. Health Canada says that combining eight GM traits together does not create any new risks and does not need any safety evaluation. Health Canada did not even bother to rubber-stamp “SmartStax” – it was approved for release by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, without Health Canada.
Summary: On July 15, 2009 Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences announced that they received approval to introduce their new eight-trait GM corn ‘SmartStax’ in Canada and the US. But Health Canada did not assess ‘SmartStax’ for human health safety and did not even bother to authorize it. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency authorized the environmental release of ‘SmartStax’ but never conducted an environmental risk assessment and actually substantially weakened its environmental stewardship rules for the crop. Because the eight traits were previously approved in separate crops, Canadian regulators do not see anything new in combining the eight together – despite the fact that the Codex international food safety guidelines that Canada helped to negotiate clearly state that stacked traits can lead to unintended effects and should be subject to a full safety assessment.
Read the CBAN article in Alive Magazine. February 2010.
CBAN Opinion: Stacked traits lack assessment, Western Producer, October 15, 2009.
Monsanto response: Stacked Traits good for growers, Western Producer, November 5, 2009.
Press Release: No Safety Assessment of GE Corn by Health Canada: Canada Ignores International Food Safety Guidelines. July 29, 2009.
Press Release: CFIA ’s Irresponsible Rubber-Stamping of New Genetically Engineered Corn No environmental risk assessment, and reduced environmental stewardship requirements for new Monsanto/Dow “SmartStax”. July 24, 2009.
Response to Health Canada: ‘SmartStax’ Genetic Corn Really Safe? Montreal Gazette, CBAN Opinion Letter, July 30, 2009.
Failure of Government Regulation
CBAN demands that:
Health Canada immediately request that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency rescind its authorization of the genetically modified (GM) eight-trait corn called ‘SmartStax’ (Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences)
Health Canada initiate a full food safety assessment of the GM corn as set out by the Codex Alimentarius Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Plants.
Health Canada request the Canadian Food Inspection Agency halt any further approvals of stacked trait products until Health Canada has reviewed its Novel Foods Regulations and initiated a system-wide review of the entire regulatory system for GM foods and crops ("Novel Foods" and "Plants with Novel Traits").
The UN Codex guidelines for GM food safety assessment state that “unintended effects in recombinant-DNA plants may also arise through the insertion of DNA sequences an/or may arise through subsequent conventional breeding of the recombinant-DNA plant.’’ (this is how stacked trait GE crops like ‘SmartStax’ are produced – through the conventional breeding or crossing of GM plants) and that such crops should go through a full safety assessment (para 14, CAC/GL 45-2003).
The international Codex Alimentarius Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Plants clearly recommends safety assessments of stacked trait GE crops. The Guideline clearly states that unintended effects can arise not only from genetically engineered (GE) plants, but can also arise when those GE plants are crossed via conventional breeding (as in the case of stacked-trait crops such as ‘SmartStax’): “Unintended effects in recombinant-DNA plants may also arise through the insertion of DNA sequences an/ormay arise through subsequent conventional breeding of the recombinant-DNA plant” [bold added] (para 14, CAC/GL 45-2003). Furthermore, the Guidelines also state that such crops should go through a full safety assessment: “The assessment for unintended effects takes into account the agronomic/phenotypic characteristics of the plant that are typically observed by breeders in selecting new varieties for commercialization. These observations by breeders provide a first screen for plants that exhibit unintended traits. New varieties that pass this screen are subjected to safety assessment as described in Sections 4 and 5” [bold added] (para 17, CAC/GL 45-2003).
The small BC company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits is asking Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to approve a GM “non-browning” apple. The U.S. government could approve the GM apple soon. Contamination from GM apples threatens the future of our apples, and the farmers who grow them.
Press Release, August 14, 2012: GM Apple Jeopardizes Okanagan’s Reputation, say local groups
Write to your provincial agriculture minister and ask them to take action to protect the apple growers in your area from the GM apple.
Write or call your federal Member of Parliament. You can look up their contacts using your postal code at www.parl.gc.ca
Join the campaign! If you are in BC contact the Okanagan Greens to join the campaign. Elsewhere in Canada, contact CBAN. CBAN is working with Bee SAFE, GE Free BC,Okanagan Greens Society, True Food Foundation, and Vigilance OGM to stop the GM apple.
Tell the government that you don’t want to eat a GM apple!
Consumers don’t want the GM apple.
BC apple growers have already rejected the GM apple.
Contamination from GM apples is a risk to Canadian apple producers.
Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are using public funds to review a GM apple no one wants.
The government has not consulted with farmers and consumers and does not consider economic or social concerns before it approves a new GM crop.
The GM “non-browning” apple is engineered to keep from going brown after being cut. This apple is designed for fast food companies and food processing companies. The technology was developed in Australia and licensed by the small BC company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits asked for approval in the US in March 2010 and has just asked for approval in Canada. The GM apple has not yet been approved anywhere in the world.
The company wants approval to use of the GM trait in Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples but they say they want to also engineer Gala and Fuji apples.
69% of Canadians oppose the GM apple! See the consumer survey commissioned by the BC Fruit Growers Association and the Quebec Apple Producers Association, July 3, 2012.
How is the apple engineered?
The company has silenced a gene in the apple that controls browning by inserting a range of genetic sequences – Modified apple DNA is inserted along with genetic sequences from at least three different species:
A regulatory gene switch from a plant virus (Cauliflower Mosaic virus promoter: CaMV 35S);
A terminator sequence from a bacterium (Agrobacterium tumefaciens taken from its Nopaline synthase gene: nos);
An antibiotic resistance marker gene from a bacterium (Streptomyces kanamyceticus), here the nptII gene (which confers resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin).
What are apple growers saying?
In 2001, BC apple growers stopped the GM apple from being field tested in Canada. The federal government agricultural station in Summerland in the Okanagan valley, an important fruit growing area, was preparing to start field trials but BC growers who were concerned about contamination stopped these field trials from happening. As a consequence, the company has tested all their apple trees in the U.S.
In September 2011, CBAN and organizations from across BC organized a series of public events to discuss genetic engineering. At an event in Keremeos, Lee McFadyen of Mariposa Organic Farm and the Live Earth Organic Growers Association pointed out that there are already several varieties of apple that are slow to brown. On the GM apple, orchardist Andrea Turner of the Similkameen Okanagan Organic Producers Association said, “The tree fruit industry cannot afford anything silly like that”. Read the concerns of the Similkameen Okanagan Organic Treefruit Growers Association, BC.
The U.S. Apple Association "does not support the approval of this product" and says "Consumers like their apples and are not calling for these new “nonbrowning” cultivars."http://www.usapple.org/consumers/all-about-apples/consumer-updates-information
"Apples are healthy and nutritious they way they are. Browning is a natural process that results from exposure to oxygen. There are already naturally low-browning apples in the marketplace. In addition if you just put some vitamin C fortified apple juice on sliced or cut apples it will also prevent browning." – Mark Gedris, Director of Membership & Communications for U.S. Apple Association
July 27, 2012 – CBAN Letter to the Editor: GM Apple Not Simple, Published in the Western Producer
Taking the bite out of GM apples, by Lucy Sharratt, Common Ground magazine, July 2012
Apple Cravings, Harry Burton, Canadian Organic Growers, June 2012.
Background on Canadian "Public Consultation"
July 9, 2012 – Press Release: GM Apple Closer to U.S. Approval: Farce of Canadian public consultation exposed
Letter to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency from CBAN, Public Process Lacking on Genetically Engineered Foods: Request to halt regulatory evaluation of GE "non-browning" apple July 9, 2012.
The CFIA "public comment" period is over. Read CBAN’s comments on the GM apple to the CFIA here.
Share the video with your friends and family, screen the video at community events and film fests! You can request the file from us for screening. Click here to find out more information about the people behind the video.
Take Instant Action
Share the video with your friends and family on facebook, embed the video on your website, "Like" the video!
Screen the video at your local events, include it in your local film fests.
Get signatures on the petition.
Print and download the flyer about GM alfalfa.
Ask your local health food store to put up this attractive poster about GM alfalfa! The store could also collect signatures on the petition, screen the video or display alfalfa-related foods!
Order buttons for your community group or event. Contact us.
Donate today to support the campaign. Thank you for your support!
Send us your action ideas and share photos from your community. Contact us.
Even More Actions!
If your Member of Parliament is a Conservative: Click here for important action suggestions that could make a huge difference!
Farmers: you can send usyour testimonials about how alfalfa will impact your farm business. Email Lucy at email@example.com
Farmers: We need videos of you talking about how important alfalfa is to your farm – What is alfalfa? Why is GM alfalfa such a big threat?
Groups and Businesses: Your group can sign the No to GE Alfalfa campaign statement. Please encourage organizations, producer associations, companies and community groups to sign!
Retailers: Download and print this poster for your store!
Retailers: Coming soon: "GM Alfalfa Campaign Action Kit for Retailers". Let us know if you are interested in receiving one.
Summary: Alfalfa growers do not need or want GM alfalfa and have been trying to stop it for at least five years. Organic food and farming in the U.S. and Canada is under immediate threat from GM alfalfa. Conventional farmers will also lose their markets. The introduction of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) alfalfa would have serious negative impacts on many different types of farmers and farming systems, both conventional and organic. Because alfalfa is a perennial crop pollinated by bees, GM contamination is inevitable. GM alfalfa was actually approved in Canada in 2005 but still needs to go through one more step before it can be legally sold as seed in Canada.
Why is Alfalfa Important? Alfalfa (harvested as hay) is used as high-protein feed for animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry and pigs and is also used to build up nutrients in the soil, making it particularly important for organic farming. If introduced, GM alfalfa would ruin export markets for alfalfa products and threaten the future organic food and farming in the North America.
What are Farmers Saying about GM Alfalfa?
Conventional and organic farmers agree that GM alfalfa is not wanted or needed: What conventional alfalfa producers told the House of Commons Agriculture Committee, June 7, 2010
Harmony Organic Dairy Co-op says Stop GM Alfalfa
Before the U.S. decided to allow GM alfalfa plantings in early 2011, groups in Canada sent their comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to their Draft Environmental Impact Statement on alfalfa. Read the about on the predicted impacts of GM alfalfa and the experience of GM contamination in Canada:
National Organic Coalition (U.S. with Canadian signatories).
The Campaign So Far
Before the Federal election in Canada, May 2011: Conservative Members of Parliament purposefully delayed a vote (twice) on a motion for a moratorium on GM alfalfa at Agriculture Committee meetings. The Liberals, NDP and Bloc Members all supported the moratorium so if the Conservatives had allowed the vote, the motion would have been approved and the motion would have passed to the House of Commons for a vote. The motion was proposed by the Liberal members of the House of Commons Agriculture Committee after huge public pressure to support Bill C-474 which would have required an assessment of export market harm before any new GM seed was permitted.
In 2007 a judge ruled that the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval of GM alfalfa was illegal and ordered the Department to conduct an environmental risk assessment to look into farmer concerns about contamination. In December 2009, the USDA released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for comment (this is the first time it has conducted this type of analysis for any GM crop). Canadian groups sent in their comments (see above) but in January 2011, the U.S. approved plantings of GM alfalfa. Resistance continues in the U.S.
Join the Campaign
Invitation from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate:
The commercialization of genetically modified alfalfa — GM Alfalfa — planned by Monsanto and Forage Genetics International, would have a severe, negative impact on Canadian agriculture, markets, and our environment. A united effort by agriculture producer groups, consumer and environmental organizations, as well as concerned individuals, will prevent this from happening. A similar campaign stopped GM wheat in 2004.
This is your invitation to join together to put the brakes on GM Alfalfa.
We invite all organizations, producer associations, companies and community groups to endorse the "No to GM Alfalfa" campaign by signing on to the following statement (Your group’s name will be used in a list of groups that state opposition to GM Alfalfa):
We oppose the sale, trade and production of GMO Alfalfa in Canada.
We ask the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to reassess its approval for environmental release of GMO Alfalfa.
We want the public to understand the hazards, costs and market losses that would result if GMO Alfalfa were released into our environment.
Sign the statement here! or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) is a Member of CBAN. SOD is the umbrella group for the organic sector in Saskatchewan. In 2001 the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund Committee was established by SOD in order to protect organic farms and food from contamination by GMOs. The OAPF Committee provided support to the legal action against Monsanto and Bayer to bring about an injunction to stop the commercialization of GMO wheat, and to make the biotech companies liable for losses to organic farmers due to contamination of certified organic crops and fields by GMO canola. In 2004 Monsanto withdrew its application to have GMO wheat approved in Canada.
Monsanto GM Smartstax corn risks exposed
This year, we are eating from the first harvest of Monsanto’s eight-trait “SmartStax” genetically modified (GM) corn. Approved in 2009 and grown for the first time in North America last year, the new GM corn appears as processed food ingredients and feed for dairy and meat animals.
Canada’s approval of SmartStax corn exposed just how little Health Canada cares to investigate the potential risks of GM crops and foods – in the case of SmartStax, not at all. Now the process to approve SmartStax in Europe has identified many of the risk issues being ignored on both sides of the ocean. Confidential industry summaries of data as well as critiques by European experts show more studies must be done to determine any potential health and environmental risks.
No risk assessment in Canada
In July 2009, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences announced they had received approval in Canada and the US to introduce their new eight-trait GM corn SmartStax (it combines technologies from both companies). However, Health Canada did not actually assess SmartStax for human health safety. Because the individual eight GM traits were previously approved in separate crops, Canadian regulators decided there was nothing new in combining the eight together. Health Canada assumed the corn was a harmless amalgam of GM traits and did not even issue any paperwork to rubberstamp its approval.
In September 2010, the GMO Panel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded SmartStax “is unlikely to have adverse effects on human and animal health and the environment, in the context of its intended uses.” Unlike in Canada, the European Authority actually looked at some industry documents (summarizes of studies). The German non-governmental group Testbiotech published a report in June that examined these documents as well as critiques from regulators in European countries. Its report points to many safety questions still not being addressed in Europe – questions Health Canada should have asked but never did (Testbiotech, June 2011, “How industry and EFSA have been systematically undermining the risk assessment of ‘SmartStax” www.testbiotech.de/node/515)
More GM traits, more risks?
SmartStax corn is the first GM crop that has more than three GM traits “stacked” together. SmartStax produces six different insecticidal toxins (Bt toxins) and is tolerant to two herbicides. SmartStax is also known as MON 89034 x 1507 x MON 88017 x 59122, which represents the four GM events or parental lines bred together to make SmartStax. The possible implications of such complexity were entirely overlooked by Health Canada.
Canadian regulation is essentially based on the view that moving genes around is not inherently risky. Instead of examining the process of genetic engineering, Canada evaluates the end product using, in part, the widely discredited concept of “substantial equivalence.” Substantial equivalence allows for a comparison of a GM organism with its “equivalent” already out in the environment with a “history of safe use.” Health Canada’s approval of SmartStax is an extreme application of substantial equivalence. The European Food Safety Authority chose a similar approach. As Christoph Then of Testbiotech explains, “EFSA based its approval of SmartStax to a large extent on data derived from the parental plants. But this approach is highly complicated since SmartStax has many insecticidal toxins, thus more interactions can to be expected. These interactions remain unstudied.” (June 28, 2011, CBAN press release: “Report Exposes Unstudied Risks of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified “SmartStax” Corn: EU Member State Critiques and Leaked Industry Documents Uncover Safety Questions.”)
While insect resistant crops are engineered using genes from the naturally occurring soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), the risks posed by Bt toxins cannot be assessed by comparing them with the Bt toxins that occur naturally. As the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health states, “concerning all Bt toxins, a history of safe use cannot be argued on the basis of the safety of Bt sprays applied in organic farming. The inserted genes are truncated and arranged with expression modulating DNA parts originating from different organisms and permanently expressed compared to a tight timely Bt spraying schedule.”
Additionally, the Bt toxin Cry1A.105 in SmartStax was artificially synthesized and as stated by Austria, “There is no safe use of the new recombinant protein expressed by an artificially arranged insert such as Cry1A.105.”
In their comments on the EFSA SmartStax decision, regulators from Austria summarized: “A stacked organism has to be regarded as a new event, even if no new modifications are introduced.” This view is consistent with EU regulations and with United Nations Codex guidelines that Canada helped negotiate. Austrian experts take this view because “The gene-cassette combination is new and only minor conclusions could be drawn from the assessment of the parental lines, since unexpected effects (e.g. synergistic effects of the newly introduced proteins) cannot automatically be excluded.”
First resistance to Bt corn toxin found
August 5 – Purdue University researchers are reporting the first documented case of in-field resistance by corn rootworm to Bt corn in Iowa.
According to reports, the discovery followed multiple complaints about high damage to Bt corn with the Cry3Bb1 toxin in northeastern Iowa.
Christian Krupke, Purdue University entomologist, was quoted as saying hybrids with this toxin include "those formerly labeled as Yieldgard RW and VT3 hybrids. This toxin is also one of the proteins found in SmartStax hybrids."
"The good news is that the study tested the other major toxins deployed in North America against this pest, Cry34/35 (found in Herculex hybrids targeting rootworms and also in SmartStax hybrids), and no enhanced survival was found."
The article says entomologists must now determin how these insects are able to survive toxin exposure by discovering what combination of physiological and behavioral traits are occurring. In the meantime they’re telling producers to scout their Bt corn for any signs of rootworm survival.
$$IT ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY$$
The Anticipated Value of SmartStax™ for US Corn Growers
Michele C. Marra, Nicholas E. Piggott, and Barry K. Goodwin
North Carolina State University
This study provides an estimate of the anticipated value of SmartStax™ corn hybrids in the years after full commercialization. SmartStax™ hybrids have an eight-trait stack of above-ground and below-ground insect-resistance traits and tolerance to two broad spectrum herbicides. Survey data, expert opinion, and public data sources were used to estimate the value of SmartStax™ hybrids to growers. We consider the effects of varying spatial and temporal pest pressure, differing target insects, the current hybrid mix, the anticipated actions of competing seed companies, and geographical location on SmartStax™ adoption and value. We estimate the total value of SmartStax™ hybrids to growers, including the non-pecuniary value, to be $760.98 million per year in the Corn Belt. We then discuss the role that SmartStax™ is expected to play in enhancing crop insurance programs.
Key words: biotechnology, crop insurance, non-pecuniary, partial budget, SmartStax.
Since the late 1990s, agricultural biotechnology companies (Monsanto Company [Monsanto]; Dow AgroSciences, Inc. [Dow]; E.I. DuPont de Nemours Company, including its subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. [Pioneer]; Syngenta Corporation [Syngenta]; Bayer Crop Science; and others) have been fiercely battling each other for market share. Recently, however, these companies have begun to cross-license their biotechnology traits to each other in some situations. For example, Monsanto licensed its Roundup Ready® traits to Syngenta for inclusion in some of their corn hybrids. The latest and most comprehensive of these recent collaborations involves the new corn hybrids that combine Monsanto, Dow, and Bayer Crop Science traits and germplasm—SmartStax™.
SmartStax™ is an eight-trait stack of technologies that offers three yield-protection components. First, multiple modes of action for above-ground insect protection are offered in SmartStax via inclusion of YieldGard® VT-Pro™ and Herculex® I. Second, SmartStax offers multiple modes of action for below-ground insect protection through inclusion of the YieldGard® VT Rootworm® and Herculex® Rootworm traits. Finally, SmartStax offers dual herbicide tolerance for weed control through inclusion of the Roundup Ready Corn 2® (glyphosate tolerance) trait from Monsanto and the Liberty-Link® (glufosinate tolerance) trait from Dow.1 The inclusion of all these traits in a single corn plant will result in increased pesticide durability and more complete control of the pests targeted by these traits, implying a higher yield and a much smaller required refuge area. Indeed, in July 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a smaller required refuge area for SmartStax, lowering it from 20% to 5% of planted corn acreage on a farm in the Corn Belt and from 50% to 20% in the Cotton Belt (PR newswire-First Call, 2009). These hybrids became available commercially in 2010, with an initial launch of about 3-4 million acres.2 Full commercialization (i.e., when supply constraints no longer exist and adoption has reached its expected maximum) is expected to begin with the 2014 crop year.
The purpose of this article is to assess the anticipated value of the SmartStax corn hybrids at full commercialization. We estimate the anticipated value to growers, taking account of the benefits that affect utility directly and those that affect utility indirectly through profit. Then, using projections based on farm-level assessments, we assess the value of SmartStax to the innovators. Finally, we discuss the potential implications of SmartStax adoption for the crop insurance industry. This study is unique in the evaluation of a new crop biotechnology in that we consider the effects of varying spatial and temporal pest pressure, differing target insects, the current hybrid mix, the anticipated actions of competing seed companies, and geographical location on SmartStax adoption and value. Also, the calculation of the non-pecuniary benefits to growers takes account of any potential correlation between the various non-pecuniary characteristics’ values.
A survey of 501 US corn growers was conducted in Spring 2009 that focused on the growers’ current insect-control practices, including insecticide applications and choice of brand/trait combinations, and how those practices might change with the introduction and adoption of SmartStax hybrids.3 To be eligible, respondents were required to be growing at least 250 acres of corn in 2009 and to be planting at least some of their corn acreage to insect-traited hybrids. Growers were surveyed in the three main agronomic zones in the US Corn Belt; the Western Corn Belt (WCB), the Central Corn Belt (CCB), and the Eastern Corn Belt (ECB). Figure 1 illustrates the geographies of the three zones. The sample was stratified so that total corn acreage represented by the survey respondents is 71,326, or 0.9%, of total WCB corn acres in 2008 (7.9 million acres); 146,946, or 0.8%, of total CCB corn acres in 2008 (18.4 million acres); and 78,362, or 0.8%, of total ECB corn acres in 2008 (9.8 million acres) (USDA NASS, 2009).
Figure 1. The geographies of the three zones: Western Corn Belt (WCB), the Central Corn Belt (CCB), and the Eastern Corn Belt (ECB).
The Anticipated Value of SmartStax for Growers
Change in Profit
A partial budgeting framework is employed to determine the value of SmartStax for growers, incorporating information derived from the survey and from other sources. Partial budgeting analysis provides a measure of the net change in profit resulting from a particular change in a farming operation. In a partial budgeting framework, only those items of value that change with the anticipated change in a farming operation are considered. This reduces the data requirements of the analysis while maintaining the underlying assumption of profit maximization if the change is scale-neutral (Piggott & Marra, 2007; Swinkels, Hogeveen, Zadoks, 2005; Tigner, 2006). The change in profit per acre for each grower in their respective agronomic zone is given by the sum of any additional gross revenue and cost reductions less the sum of any reduced gross revenue and cost increases as a result of the introduction of SmartStax. Finally, utilizing the change in profit for each agronomic zone, the total change in profit per acre from switching to SmartStax across all zones can be derived by calculating an estimated per-acre average of these changes in profits in each agronomic zone and then multiplying each per-acre average by the total number of acres in that zone and summing across zones. More formally this approach can be written as
ΔΠzss is the total change in profit from switching to SmartStax across all zones,
Az is the total number of corn acres in zone z,
is the estimated average change in profit per acre in agronomic zone z, calculated as , and
Δπgz is the estimated change in profit from switching to SmartStax for grower glocated in zone z.
The expected increased revenue per acre in zone z is calculated as
↑ΔRzT = Pcorn ●
Abz Θzb→SS ΔYbz
↑ΔRzT is the expected increase revenue per acre in zone z,
Pcorn is the price of corn in dollars per bushel,
Abz = wbz ● Az is the estimated acreage of brand/trait combination b in zone zcalculated as the product of the estimated share of brand/trait combination b in zone z using the sample acreage of brand/trait combination b for grower g (i.e., , where Agbz is the number of acres grower g planted to brand/trait combination b in zone z,
Θzb→SS is the estimated proportion Θ of acres switching from brand/trait combination b to SmartStax (SS) in zone z, and
ΔYbz is the estimated change in yield from switching from brand/trait combination b to SmartStax (SS) in zone z.
Survey respondents were asked to report the various brand/trait combinations they were planting in 2009 and their acres planted to each on their continuous corn acreage and separately on their first-year corn acreage. Conventional corn acres were assumed to be the remainder corn acres after all reported traited corn acres are subtracted from the grower’s reported total corn acres. Table 1 presents the average shares of total corn acres planted by the survey respondents to each brand/trait combination by agronomic zone in 2009. Survey respondents reported that Monsanto’s YieldGard VT Triple hybrids made up the largest share of 2009 total planted, insect-traited acres in the survey, with approximately one-half the insect-traited acres being planted to these hybrids in the CCB and ECB agronomic zones. These hybrids also represent the largest share of insect-traited acres in the WCB agronomic zone, but the share there is about 10 percentage points smaller than the shares in the other two zones. The brand/trait combination with the second largest share on insect-traited acres varies by agronomic zone, with YieldGard Corn Borer Roundup Ready hybrids taking second place in the WCB agronomic zone (13.8%), and Herculex Xtra coming in second in the CCB (8.2%) and the ECB (13.1%) zones. Single-trait, Roundup Ready corn hybrids made up 15% of planted corn acres in the WCB, 12.2% in the CCB, and 13.2% in the ECB. Non-traited planted corn acres ranged from 10.7% in the CCB to 12.1% in the WCB.
Table 1. All (continuous and first year) corn brand/trait penetration in 2009 by agronomic zone (share of total planted corn acres).
Monsanto and university field trial data from 2005 through 2008 involving 523 experiments (each with multiple observations) along with expert opinion from Monsanto agronomists and the SmartStax pricing lead were used to determine the expected change in yield associated with switching to SmartStax from each brand/trait combination. The estimated average change in yield from switching one acre of a particular brand/trait combination to SmartStax is shown in Table 2. The estimated yield gain when switching from the triple stacks (YieldGard VT Triple and Herculex Xtra) ranges from six bushels per acre for YieldGard VT Triple in the CCB to eight bushels per acre for Herculex Xtra and Agrisure 3000 GT in all agronomic zones. The yield gain for the double stacks (YieldGard Corn Borer/ Roundup Ready and Herculex Corn Borer/ Roundup Ready) and other traited brands is expected to be 11 bushels per acre, and the yield gain from switching the Roundup Ready hybrids to SmartStax is projected to be 16 bushels per acre across all agronomic zones. Growers planting the non-traited hybrids are not expected to switch to SmartStax, so their assumed yield gain is zero. The price of corn is taken to be the planting-time base price offered by the USDA Risk Management Agency for the 2009 crop insurance revenue products, which is $4.04 per bushel. The corn price is varied in the sensitivity analysis at the end of this section.
Table 2. Estimated yield gain from switching to SmartStax™.
Table 3 shows the projected share of each brand/trait combination that is expected to switch to SmartStax in the first year of full commercialization (i.e., with no supply constraints). It is expected that all acres of both the triple stack and double stack YieldGard corn hybrids will switch to SmartStax because these traited hybrids are scheduled to be phased out by the time full commercialization of SmartStax hybrids is achieved (Monsanto Corn Pricing Lead, personal communication, August 2009). The Dow hybrids, Herculex Xtra and Herculex CBRR, are projected to undergo a switch to SmartStax by 20% and 10%, respectively—much less than the YieldGard hybrids. This lower projected adoption of SmartStax by Herculex users results from the fact that Dow is assumed to be planning to keep their triple and double stack products on the market throughout the full commercialization of SmartStax. Seventy-five percent of Roundup Ready acres are expected to switch to SmartStax. This high percentage is due to the smaller refuge requirement (5%) for SmartStax compared to other insect-traited hybrids (20%). Forty percent of other insect-traited acres are expected to be switched to SmartStax by 2014, while non-traited acres are not expected to be converted to SmartStax because we assume the growers planting them are either organic growers, are planting non-traited hybrids to obtain a premium for doing so, or they just do not care to adopt any traited hybrids. As a result of calculations using data from Tables 1–3 and Equation 2, the expected increased gross revenue after full commercialization of SmartStax is estimated to be $26.10 per acre in the WCB, $23.07 in the CCB, and $23.47 in the ECB.
Table 3. Proportion of acres currently in brand/trait combination projected to switch to SmartStax.
Reduced costs in this study are the insect-control cost savings, if any, brought about by changing acreage from current brand/trait combinations to SmartStax hybrids. These per acre cost savings in zone z are determined as
↓ΔCzinsectcontrol is the insect-control cost per acre savings in zone z,
wrgz is the proportion of acres in rotation r planted by grower g in zone z (i.e.,Argz /Agz), where the numerator is number of acres in rotation r planted by grower g in zone z and the denominator is grower g’s total planted acres in zone z,
Cirgzinsectcontrol is the per-acre insect-control cost for insect i (i = 1 if corn rootworm, i = 2 if black and/or Western bean cutworm, or i =3 for fall armyworm and/or corn earworm) in rotation r (r = 1 if continuous corn or r = 2 for first year corn) for grower g in zone z,
wirgzspray is the proportion of acres that are typically sprayed for insect i in rotation r by grower g in zone z (i.e., Airgzspray /Argz ), where the numerator is the number of acres sprayed for insect i in rotation r by grower g in zone z and the denominator is the number of acres planted in rotation r by grower g in zone z, and
Θirgzspray is the probability that insect i in rotation r will be treated in any one year by grower g in zone z.
The survey respondents were asked to estimate their per-acre insecticide-control costs—including the cost of the insecticide(s) and the application cost—for controlling corn rootworm, black and/or western bean cutworm, and fall armyworm and/or corn earworm on both their continuous corn acres and their first-year corn acres. The average insect-control costs are presented in Table 4 as reported by survey respondents by agronomic zone and rotation.4 In all cases, the cost of controlling corn rootworm is reported to be higher in continuous corn rotation than the control costs in first-year corn rotations. This cost difference ranges from $0.59 per acre in the ECB to $3.44 per acre in the CCB. In the WCB, CCB, and ECB for continuous corn, fall armyworm/corn earworm control is most expensive; however, corn rootworm control is most expensive in first-year corn in the ECB. Control costs range from $10.29 per acre for corn rootworm in first-year corn in the WCB to $19.00 per acre for fall armyworm/corn earworm in the CCB.
Table 4. Insect control costs by target insect, rotation, and agronomic zone ($/acre).
Table 5 contains the reported typical proportions of acres treated for each insect type by agronomic zone and rotation. By far, areas threatened by the fall armyworm/corn earworm pest complex have the highest proportion of acres treated except for cutworm control in the ECB. The proportion of acres treated for corn rootworm ranges from 0.067 in the WCB in first-year corn to 0.178 in the ECB in continuous corn. The proportion of acres treated for black and/or western bean cutworm ranges from 0.200 in the ECB on continuous corn acres to 0.307 on first-year corn acres in the ECB. For the fall armyworm/corn earworm complex, the proportion of acres treated ranges from a low of 0.159 in the ECB on continuous corn to a high of 0.520 in the WCB on continuous corn.
Table 5. Typical proportion of acres treated by target insect, rotation, and agronomic zone.
Source: Survey data.
Respondents were asked to estimate the number of years out of five that they typically treat for each insect type on continuous and first-year acres. The relative frequencies are reported in Table 6. Corn rootworm is treated more frequently than the other insects in continuous corn in comparison to first-year corn in all agronomic zones. Treatment for the cutworm complex and the fall armyworm/corn earworm complex are reported to be much less frequent, with cutworm being treated more frequently than the fall armyworm/corn earworm complex.
Table 6. Probability of controlling target insect in any one year by rotation and zone.
Insect control costs, weighted by the typical proportion of acres treated and the frequency of treatment (the expression in parentheses in Equation 3), are shown in Table 7. These are the reduced costs from switching to SmartStax and are estimated to be $11.03 per acre in the WCB, $8.86 per acre in the CCB, and $5.68 per acre in the ECB. Adding the increased gross revenue to the reduced costs gives the net addition to gross revenue, which is $37.13 per acre in the WCB, $31.93 per acre in the CCB, and $29.15 per acre in the ECB.
Table 7. Insecticide application costs saved (weighted by proportion of acres treated and probability of treating; $/acre).
The expected increased cost from switching to SmartStax is the additional trait cost the grower will pay if he/she switches brand/trait combination b to SmartStax in zone z.5 That is,
ΔC sgbz ● wgbz
↑ΔCztrait is the increased cost per acre of switching to SmartStax in zone z,
Θz(b→SS) is the estimated proportion Θ of acres switching from brand/trait combination b to SmartStax (SS) in zone z,
ΔC sgbz is the difference between SmartStax and the current brand/trait price per acre for brand/trait combination b in zone z, and
wgbz is the proportion of acres grower g has planted to brand/trait combinationb, (i.e., wgbz = (Agbz / Abgz) = [Agbz / Agbz]), where the numerator is growerg’s acres planted to brand/trait combination b in zone z and the denominator is grower g’s total planted brand/trait combination corn acres in zone z.
The typical projected differences in seed prices for each brand/trait combination relative to the expected price of SmartStax seed in each agronomic zone were based on Monsanto market research, combined with the expert opinion of Monsanto’s Corn Pricing Lead (personal communication, August 2009) and are shown in Table 8. Using the information from Tables 1, 3, and 8 and Equation 4, the increased costs are calculated to be $20.69 per acre for the WCB zone, $19.96 per acre for the CCB zone, and $20.45 per acre for the ECB zone. These increased costs—because they are the additional cost of the SmartStax traits relative to the traits growers are planting now—also measure the increased gross revenue to the innovators but do not reflect their R&D costs or the cost of producing the seed.
Table 8. Incremental cost of brand/trait combination relative to projected SmartStax seed cost ($/acre).
No reductions in revenue are expected from switching to SmartStax. One component of reduced revenue could be the foregone price premium available in the marketplace for either conventional or organic field corn. However, we assume here that growers of conventional corn will not switch to SmartStax and, therefore, any price premium for conventional or organic field corn is not relevant. Since there is no reduced revenue, increased cost is equal to the net addition to cost component of the partial budget. Based on the data and assumptions described above, the net change in profit from the introduction of SmartStax in the first year of full commercialization is estimated to average $16.44 per acre for the WCB, $11.98 per acre for the CCB, and $8.70 per acre in the ECB.
Net Addition to Profit
The product of total planted corn acres in each agronomic zone in 2008 (USDA NASS, 2009) and the net change in profit estimates above gives estimates of the total net additions to profit (total on-farm benefit) of $128.94 million per year in the WCB, $205.61 million per year in the CCB, and $65.43 million per year in the ECB, for a grand total anticipated pecuniary benefit per year across all agronomic zones of $399.98 million. This estimate may be conservative for several reasons. First, we assume that none of the acres currently planted to Agrisure 3000 GT (triple-stack hybrids sold by Syngenta) or conventional hybrids will switch to SmartStax. Second, we assume that Dow will continue to market their double- and triple-stack hybrids and that a significant percentage of growers will continue to use them. And third, we assume that all producers who currently do not plant any insect-traited acres will not adopt SmartStax. The estimate could turn out to be an overstatement if a series of unusually good growing conditions exists throughout much of the Corn Belt in a particular period, so that the yield protection offered by the SmartStax trait combination is not fully utilized, if the incremental cost of the SmartStax trait combination is higher than the projections in Table 8, or if the price of corn falls below $4.04/bushel.
Results of varying corn prices and the trait price differences are presented inTable 9. The corn price varies from $3.00 per bushel to $5.00 per bushel, and the SmartStax trait price differences were increased by 10% and lowered by 10% for each trait/brand combination compared with the projected price differences in the base case. The first thing to notice about Table 9 is that the anticipated change in profit per acre remains positive throughout so that even if corn prices are $3.00 per bushel and the SmartStax hybrids are priced 10% higher than projected, the technology remains profitable in all agronomic zones, albeit marginally so in the ECB ($0.62/acre). As global incomes begin to rise again as the global recession eases and the demand for protein (meats) and fuel (gasoline blended with ethanol)—and therefore corn—rebounds, the change in profit per acre for SmartStax hybrids is projected to increase to $22.64 in the WCB, $17.46 in the CCB, and $14.28 in the ECB, given currently projected trait pricing and assuming the change in demand for corn increases the average corn price to $5.00 per bushel.
Table 9. Sensitivity analysis: Per-acre net addition to profit by corn price and trait price.
The interval elasticities of the percent change in the net addition to profit from a 1% change in corn price are 1.43 in the WCB, 1.64 in the CCB, and 2.03 in the ECB. The interval elasticities with respect to a 1% change in trait price differences are lower, at 1.12 in the WCB, 1.43 in the CCB, and 1.90 in the ECB. Each elasticity increases moving eastward across the Corn Belt, implying that the net addition to profit is most sensitive to corn price changes and trait pricing changes as one moves eastward in the Corn Belt.
Change in Non-Pecuniary Benefits
Non-pecuniary characteristics are those characteristics embedded in a good for which no individual markets exist. Therefore, we must elicit the values of these characteristics some other way. In this study, we chose to ask producers to place values on these characteristics in a stated-preference format. Stated-preference techniques have been used to estimate these types of values for some time and have become a widely accepted elicitation format. We use a random-rotated, open-ended question format. This format has been shown to result in values that are not significantly different from values elicited from the dichotomous choice format (Loomis, Brown, Lucero, & Peterson, 1997). The open-ended question format also has been shown to be acceptable or preferred to other question formats if respondents are familiar with the characteristics or goods they are valuing or if the distribution of the reported values is important to the study objectives (Champ, Boyle, & Brown, 2003). Both criteria are met in this study.
Biotech corn insect traits have been commercially available since 1996 and have been adopted extensively across the Corn Belt.6 Further to this point, all respondents in the survey were required to have planted at least some insect-traited corn hybrids on their farm in 2009 and so should be familiar with their performance and their non-pecuniary characteristics. Open-ended questions result in a continuum of responses and so response distributions can be characterized easily. For example, in our study the distribution of the responses to each valuation question and to the overall non-pecuniary valuation question is positively skewed (see Figure 2 for the estimated probability density function [pdf] for the overall valuation question, for example), which implies that the median is the best measure of central tendency to use in describing the distribution. We randomly rotate the order of the non-pecuniary characteristics questions and also the order of the set of questions that apply to the insect-treated and non-insect-treated acres in order to eliminate any order effects on the stated values (Payne, Schkade, Desvousges, & Aultman, 2000).
Figure 2. Empirical probability functions of overall non-pecuniary value by zone.
The non-pecuniary characteristics of SmartStax hybrids include operator and worker safety, environmental improvement, convenience, yield risk reduction, and the option of being able to use two herbicides to control weeds by spraying over the top of the growing plants. They are similar qualitatively to those of other biotech innovations that have been valued in the past (e.g., Alston, Hyde, Marra, & Mitchell, 2003; Marra & Piggott, 2006; Piggott & Marra, 2007) except for the option of using two different herbicides to control weeds over the top. Table 10shows descriptive statistics of the response distributions of the valuation questions asked in the survey by agronomic zone and by whether the responses refer to insect-traited corn acres or non-insect-treated corn acres. Because the distribution of each characteristic considered separately and the distribution of the package of characteristics considered as a whole are negatively skewed, we consider the median of each as the more informative indicator of the distribution’s central tendency.
Table 10. Non pecuniary values and descriptive statistics ($/acre/year).
Convenience and yield risk reduction are the most highly valued characteristics in the set of non-pecuniary characteristics. As expected, the median values of these characteristics are highest in the CCB on insect-traited acres with each median value equal to $5.00 per acre per year. The median convenience value ranges from $1.75 per acre per year on non-insect-traited acres in the WCB to $5.00 per acre in the CCB on insect-traited acres. The value of yield risk reduction ranges from $2.00 per acre per year in the WCB on non-insect-traited acres to $5.00 per acre in the CCB and ECB regardless of whether the comparison of SmartStax to currently planted hybrids is on insect-traited acres or non-insect-traited acres.
Looking at the values of the separate characteristics gives a comparison of therelative values, but does not consider any possible interactions among the characteristics in the respondents’ preference functions (Johnston, Swallow, Allen, & Smith, 2002). Therefore, we use the respondents’ reported overall value in our calculation of the non-pecuniary benefits because it should reflect any potential interactions among the separate characteristics. The median value of the package of characteristics is consistently $10.00 per acre per year across all zones and whether valued on insect-traited or non-insect-traited acres. Therefore, the total value by zone of the non-pecuniary characteristics is equal to $79 million in the WCB, $184 million in the CCB, and $98 million in the ECB for an estimated total value of $361 million per year. The sum of the anticipated net pecuniary and non-pecuniary benefits of SmartStax when compared with currently planted hybrids is estimated to be $760.98 million per year in the Corn Belt.
This study provides a comprehensive and detailed estimate of the anticipated net increase in value to adopters of SmartStax hybrids in 2014, the first full year of commercialization. The estimates are based on grower survey data, field trial data, and expert opinion. The net addition to profit for the SmartStax hybrids totals $399.98 million per year. When combined with the anticipated additional non-pecuniary value of SmartStax of $361 million per year, the total anticipated value of SmartStax is estimated to be $760.98 million per year in the US Corn Belt.
After extensive underwriting and actuarial reviews, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) Board of Directors approved the Biotech Yield Endorsement (BYE) for the federal crop insurance program on September 12, 2007, for implementation in the 2008 crop year. This public insurance program was revolutionary in that, for the first time, the US federal government formally recognized the yield risk-reducing and yield-increasing benefits of biotechnology and further quantified these benefits in terms of reduced crop insurance premium rates. In its first two years, the program has saved US corn farmers and taxpayers in excess of $100 million through lower premium rates and reduced crop insurance subsidies.
Tangible evidence of the benefits associated with reduced yield risks and increased corn yields is obvious in the BYE crop insurance discounts and the resultant benefits that have accrued to US taxpayers and farmers. SmartStax will further enhance these benefits because the technology will be available on additional acres due to the reduced refuge, thereby providing the benefits of reduced risk across a wider portion of the growers’ acreage. This is true even if the insurance premium discounts are not increased to account for this lower risk because insurance premiums and terms of coverage are adjusted over time to reflect higher yields and lower production risk. In the immediate term, crop insurance providers and taxpayers will enjoy benefits in that indemnity payments should fall in response to adoption of SmartStax. In many areas, the crop insurance program has claims that exceed indemnities and any measures such as adoption of biotechnology that reduce risk will lower expected indemnities and improve the actuarial performance of the program.
An additional, complementary value of SmartStax hybrids is the timing of their commercialization and the recent announcement by the Risk Management Agency on November 4, 2008, of a Whole-Farm and Enterprise-Unit Pilot Program.7 This new pilot program offers producers who insure at the whole-farm or enterprise unit level an increase in premium subsidies. A whole-farm unit insures all of a grower’s acres of at least two insurable crops in a county. An enterprise unit is comprised of all of a grower’s acres of one insurable crop in a county. This new program, combined with SmartStax’s anticipated increased homogeneity in crop health, should lead to more grower confidence to insure their corn on a whole-farm or enterprise unit basis, rather than on a smaller unit basis, because of a lower likelihood of spot losses. Insuring these SmartStax acres under this unit structure will mean further savings to the SmartStax adopter because of this program’s premium discounts and the reduction in producer paid premiums.
It is clear that the additional value produced by SmartStax hybrids will be substantial. Sensitivity analysis shows that the additional profit from SmartStax is anticipated to remain significantly positive under a range of corn prices and relative SmartStax seed prices. SmartStax is expected to provide additional value for adopting growers, innovators, the Risk Management Agency, and taxpayers. Further study of the ex-post value of SmartStax hybrids should be made to confirm the projections from this study.
1 For simplicity, all trademark information is assumed in the rest of the article.
2 Although 3-4 million acres are a relatively small portion of total US corn acreage (2.4-3.2% of total US corn acres planted in 2009, as reported by the US Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistical Services [USDA-NASS, 2009]), this is the largest launch in history of a crop biotechnology.
3 The survey instrument was developed by the authors and the computer-assisted telephone survey was conducted by Market Probe, Inc.
4 Numbers of observations are relatively low for all insect-control costs in the WCB and for the fall armyworm/corn earworm control costs across all rotations and agronomic zones. However, all means are statistically significant at the 5% level.
5 Note that seed-cost changes can differ from trait-cost changes, depending on the cost of the germplasm the grower chooses to plant.
Alston, J.M., Hyde, J., Marra, M.C., & Mitchell, P.D. (2003). An ex-ante analysis of the benefits from the adoption of corn rootworm resistant, transgenic corn technology. AgBioForum, 5(3), 71-84. Available on the World Wide Web:http://www.agbioforum.org.
Johnston, R.J., Swallow, S.K., Allen, C.W., & Smith, L.A. (2002). Designing multidimensional environmental programs: Assessing tradeoffs and substitution in watershed management plans. Water Resources Research, 38(7), 1-13.
Marra, M.C., & Piggott, N.E. (2006). The value of non-pecuniary characteristics of crop biotechnologies: A new look at the evidence. In R. Just, J. Alston, & D. Zilberman (Eds.), Regulating agricultural biotechnology: Economics and policy(Chapter 8, pp. 145-178). New York: Springer Publishers.
Piggott, N.E., & Marra, M.C. (2007). The net gain to cotton farmers of a natural refuge plan for Bollgard II® cotton. AgBioforum, 10(1), 1-10. Available on the World Wide Web: http://www.agbioforum.org.
PR Newswire-First Call (2009, July 20). Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences complete U.S. and Canadian regulatory authorizations for SmartStax corn; Plans set to launch seed platform on 3 million- to 4 million-plus acres (Press Release). New York: Author. Available on the World Wide Web:http://monsanto.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=729.
Swinkels, J.M., Hogeveen, H., & Zadoks, R.N. (2005). A partial budget model to estimate economic benefits of lactational treatment of subclinicalStaphylococcus aureus mastitis. Journal of Dairy Science, 88, 4273-4287.
Tigner, R. (2006). Partial budgeting: A tool to analyze farm business changes(Ag Decision Maker File C1-50). Ames: Iowa State University Extension. Available on the World Wide Web:http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/wholefarm/html/c1-50.html.
US Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistical Services (USDA NASS). (2009, June 30). Acreage. Available on the World Wide Web:http://jan.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/Acre/Acre-06-30-2009.pdf.
This study was funded by Monsanto Company and the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station. We would like to acknowledge the extremely helpful input of Brian Naber, Holly Butka, Bob Jasper, and Tim Hennessy during the course of this study. We take responsibility for all remaining errors.