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On The Heels of a Worldwide Protest Against Monsanto, the US Senate Votes NO to Labeling GMOs

By Theodora Filis

On the heels of a worldwide protest against biotech giant, Monsanto Company, the US Senate has just voted overwhelmingly, 71 to 27, against an amendment in the US Farm Bill that would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

A ballot initiative that would have required GMO labeling in the state of California was defeated after Monsanto and other companies benefiting from GMOs spent nearly $50 million on ads opposing it.

GMOs are widely used in processed foods, but shoppers hoping to avoid them now stand no change of doing so. The biotech industry and its supporters resist labeling, likening informational labels to warning stickers on cigarettes and liquor, saying such labels could “alarm” shoppers.

Link to US Senate Roll Call: To permit States to require that any food, beverage, or other edible product offered for sale have a label on indicating that the food, beverage, or other edible product contains a genetically engineered ingredient.

Monsanto and GM foods have suffered a series of bad publicity after a study published (September 2012) in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) Journal, reporting GM corn and Roundup brand products cause organ damage and increased rates of tumors and premature death in rats.

So it was no surprise, that in early 2013, Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto researcher with close ties to the biotech industry, joined the senior editorial staff of FCT, and given the specially created position of Associate Editor for Biotechnology.

Claire Robinson, Research Director at the science policy platform, Earth Open Source, said, “Goodman’s fast-tracked appointment straight onto FCT’s upper editorial board raises the question of whether Monsanto is now effectively deciding which papers on GM foods and crops should be published and which should not.”

This is just the latest in a long series of episodes in which people with interests in the agricultural biotech industry have attempted to control or prevent the publication of inconvenient research.

March against Monsanto is a March for Life and Freedom - 25th May 2013

Thousands throughout the world are to March Against Monsanto in a bid to protect food sovereignty and raise awareness of global environmental and ethical concerns.

The London part of the worldwide protest, the “March against Monsanto” on the 25th of May, is planned for 2:00pm in Parliament Square for a peaceful protest against Monsanto Company -- a leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed and of the herbicide glyphosate, which it markets under the Roundup brand.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the London event, in which, “tens of thousands” are to attend in an estimated 250 cities from 35 countries across the world.

The global movement "March Against Monsanto" was founded by Tami Monroe Canal who created the popular Facebook page, as she was inspired to start the movement to protect her two daughters. “I feel Monsanto threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity. I couldn't sit by idly, waiting for someone else to do something.”
The unknown health implications are just one part of the reason why GMOs are so vehemently opposed. There are also ethical, ecosystem and environmental considerations.

"We also need to debate how chemical industrial agriculture is connected to the ecological crisis… chemical industrial farming uses 10 units of energy to produce just one unit of food [and] responsible for 75% use of water, 75% disappearance of species diversity, 75% of land and soil degradation and 40% of all greenhouse-gas emissions, which are destabilizing the environment (figures: Global Exchange Rights of Nature Campaign)." March Against Monsanto in their May 19, 2013 press release.

Ending this article on a somewhat brighter note, Monsanto Company has been found guilty of chemical poisoning of a farmer in France. The French court in Lyon ruled that Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller formula, which contains the active ingredient alachlor, caused Paul Francois (French farmer) to develop lifelong neurological damage that manifests as persistent memory loss, headaches, and stuttering during speech.

Reports indicate that the 47-year-old farmer sued Monsanto back in 2004 after inhaling the Lasso product while cleaning his sprayer tank equipment. Not long after, Francois began experiencing lasting symptoms that prevented him from working, which he says were directly linked to exposure to the chemical. Since Lasso’s packaging did not bear adequate warnings about the dangers of exposure, Francois alleged at the time that Monsanto was essentially negligent in providing adequate protection for its customers.

To the surprise of many, the French court agreed with the claims and evidence presented before it, declaring earlier this year that “Monsanto is responsible for Paul Francois’ suffering after he inhaled the Lasso product … and must entirely compensate him.” The court is said to be seeking expert opinion on how to gauge Francois’ losses in order to determine precisely how much Monsanto will be required to compensate him in the case.


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