GE Free Comox Valley

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Monthly Archives: June 2013

CBAN: GMO action appeals & news :June2103

To: cban-e-news@cban.ca

Paraguay: Cost of GE Soy
Local farmers tell their stories of living with the devastating effects of soy cultivation in Paraguay. To support Friends of the Earth’s work in Paraguay: http://www.foe.co.uk/news/paraguay_soy_27076.html

Action Appeals

Farmers are working hard to make hay while the sun shines! Write your letter in solidarity now, to stop GM alfalfa from contaminating our hay! http://www.cban.ca/alfalfampletter

Sign the petition set up by the BC Girl Guide who wants GMO-Free Girl Guide Cookies! The business manager for the Girl Guide cookies said, “With the current world market for food products, it’s not a financially viable option. It would triple the cost of our cookies.” A similar campaign from a Girl Guide to remove palm oil in order to save Orangutan habitat was met with a similar answer. Change the food system, change the cookie! http://www.change.org/petitions/girl-guides-of-canada-take-all-gmo-ingredients-out-of-girl-guide-cookies

GM Alfalfa Campaign Progress Updates:

Your letters and petitions to your Members of Parliament are having an impact! Various sources tell us that many MPs are very aware and concerned about GM alfalfa and, in meetings with agriculture organizations MPs are raising this issue on their own and asking questions in order to educate themselves. MPs have heard a lot from constituents about this issue since the April 9 Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa and so your letters are a good action that continues this pressure. (If you have not already sent your letter, you can do this instantly from http://www.cban.ca/alfalfampletter )

Many of you have asked for help in responding your MP so CBAN has drafted some suggestions for responding to arguments: http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Crops-and-Foods-Not-on-the-Market/Alfalfa/Responding-to-MP-letters-on-GM-Alfalfa

Many thousands of signatures were presented in the House by MPs across the country in May and June including from the Yukon, Ontario, BC, Alberta. And many people also sat down to meet with their MPs! Parliament has closed for the summer break but not before over 1000 signatures were presented in the House of Commons by MP Craig Scott (Toronto-Danforth), thanks to Toronto activists and The Big Carrot!

Special Action Request: CBAN does not have the funds to send our report on GM alfalfa contamination to every MP – but you could send it! If people across the country mail the report to their own MP, this is even more influential! Please consider printing the report as well as the executive summary (easier for your MP to read and use) and send both documents in the mail or deliver them to the local office, with a covering letter about your concerns – or just a post-it note asking them to read it! You can look up their local office address using your postal code at http://www.parl.gc.ca You could also include a package of alfalfa seeds in your mailing to help make your point! Most health food stores sell alfalfa seeds for sprouting. Alfalfa seeds are tiny and having these seeds in their hands will help MPs understand that the issue of contamination is very serious – who can keep track of these tiny seeds? You can download the report and executive summary at http://www.cban.ca/alfalfaONreport (The report is about contamination in Ontario but this contamination will not stay in Ontario! and there’s no guarantee that Forage Genetics and Monsanto will only introduce GM alfalfa in Eastern Canada, as they say for the moment.)

The new Ontario Premier has agreed to sit down with Ontario farmers to hear their concerns about GM alfalfa! If you live in Ontario, now is a great time to write to Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is also the provincial Minister of Agriculture! You can write to Kathleen Wynne, Premier, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto ON M7A 1A1 or email premier@ontario.ca or call 416-325-1941

Thank you to everyone who is taking these and other actions. Thank you also for sending us your responses from MPs. We are still working to reply to all of you! Please stay tuned for important upcoming updates in this campaign. Thank you for your ongoing action and support!

City of North Vancouver votes for GE-Free!

On June 10, the City of North Vancouver became the 2nd Vancouver municipality, and 62nd municipality in BC, declare itself a GE Free zone! Congratulations GE Free BC and Ecourbia Network! The City Council also asked staff to review the potential for a ban on the sale of all GE crops, seeds and trees within the City boundaries. If that happened, North Van would also be the first municipality in Canada to introduce such a by-law. Check out the full update from CBAN member group GE Free BC: http://gefreebc.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/city-of-north-vancouver-votes-unaninmoulsy-to-become-a-ge-free-zone/

Landmark decision: Human genes are not patentable!

In a unanimous landmark decision, the US Supreme Court has ruled that naturally occurring genes and DNA sequences are facts of nature and therefore not patentable! Synthetic molecules known as complementary DNA, or cDNA may be patentable however. For 30 years, the U.S. Patent Office has issued patents on thousands of human genes, including genes associated with colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, and many other diseases. Companies controlling gene patents had the right to stop all other scientists from examining, studying, testing, and researching our genes. No longer! http://www.aclu.org/blog/womens-rights-free-speech-technology-and-liberty/victory-supreme-court-decides-our-genes-belong

Second US State Votes for Mandatory Labelling

On June 12, the Senate in the US state of Maine passed a bill for mandatory labelling of GM foods – unanimously! Additional votes are needed before final approval. The bill is triggered after 5 contiguous states have similar laws. This is the second state law as, on June 3, Connecticut passed a similar bill. http://www.pressherald.co m/maine-senate-unanimously-endorses-labels-for-genertically-modified-foods_2013-06-12.html

US Senate Vote for GM Fish Labelling

The first recorded vote on GE food labeling in the US Senate Appropriations Committee passed 15-14. It was a bipartisan amendment to the US Fiscal Year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill that would require the mandatory labeling of GM salmon, if it passes on the Senate floor in the coming weeks. “The tide is shifting in states across the nation and on Capitol Hill in favor of labeling genetically engineered foods,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety in the US.

New Study: GM Crops not providing higher yields

A new wide-ranging study has found no yield increase in the US from GM corn and canola compared to non-GM in Western Europe. “The American choices in biotechnology are causing it to fall behind Europe in productivity and sustainability.” http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14735903.2013.806408#.UcG74z5gaYn

Commentary on New Health Study: Pigs fed GM Grains

Consumers Union in the US provides a good summary of the importance of the new long-term health study on feeding GM grains to pigs http://consumersunion.org/news/consumers-union-statement-on-new-long-term-study-of-feeding-ge-grains-to-pigs/ CBAN has posted documents relating documents and a link to the study here: http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/Human-Health-Risks

Michael Hansen of Consumers Union in the US says the following about the study, “This is something that needs to be followed up. It’s consistent with other findings. The critics of this study want to assume GE is safe and then try to tear down any study showing otherwise … This is an ideological position, not a good scientific one.” Here is a good reflection on the industry backlash: “the shrill has found itself on the other foot.” http://grist.org/food/look-whos-squealing-now-gmo-lovers-freak-over-new-study-of-sick-pigs/ and specific responses to the expected attack from the industry. http://gmojudycarman.org/a-specific-reply-to-mark-lynas/

Glyphosate Health Impacts

A short new video provides testimonials about the impact of GM soy production on the health of families in rural Paraguay. “Crying with tears in my eyes I ask them ‘Don’t spray any more poison’ but they laugh at me which makes me angry. Where will we get the money to cure all our children?” GM Roundup Ready (glyphosate) and other herbicide tolerant soy crops are designed to be sprayed with pesticides. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GbS2uLXZh0

Test results show that there may be widespread presence of the herbicide glyphosate in the general population. Tests reveal that people across Europe are contaminated with glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide formula). The unprecedented tests, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe, found the herbicide in 44% of volunteers in 18 European countries. Governments do not track glyphosate levels in people, and the Canadian government does not track how much glyphosate (or GM seed) is used. http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2013-06-first-of-its-kind-testing-shows-pesticide-found-in-people#sthash.oBK3hFFY.dpuf

Monsanto “Wins” World Food Prize

Monsanto’s man and two other GE researchers were awarded the “World Food Prize”, on June 19 (despite the fact that GE has yet to help feed the world – herbicide tolerant and insect resistant crops are grown mostly in North and South America for processed food and animal feed, for example.) One of the three winners was Robert Fraley who has spent his entire career at Monsanto – he was hired in 1981 as one of the company’s first molecular biologists, led the company’s intense drive to sell GM crops in the 1990s, and is now the company’s chief technology officer. Monsanto has donated $5 million to the World Food Prize. The winners were announced at the U.S. State Department. http://blog.ucsusa.org/the-world-food-prize-sells-out-to-monsanto-163?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheEquation+%28The+Equation+-+UCS+Blog%29

“The reality is that the promised “beneficial” GE crops are stuck at the development stage in the lab…Meanwhile, advances in conventional breeding mean that several of the crops promised by genetic engineering are already in farmer’s fields.” http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/the-fake-promises-of-ge-crops/blog/45669/

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action

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G E Free British Columbia : motion to UBCM

Folks this is awesome !

Our original motion is for GE Free Vancouver Island.
This revised wording is to ask the UBCM ( Union of BC Municipalities) to endorse a
Motion for a G E FREE BC. The new text is below.

This new wording allows UBCM to vote on it and if the majority agrees then they will present this to the BC government to act on it. Moralea Milne is the Metchosin Councillor who spearheaded the original Motion.

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This also requires us to lobby hard to get councillors in every BC municpality to support this motion when they go to the UBCM AGM this Sept 2013.

From: “Moralea Milne”
Date: 21 June, 2013 6:47:10 PM PDT
To: GE Free BC
Subject: [GE Free BC] UBCM will have an opportunity to debate a…

UBCM will have an opportunity to debate a resolution prohibiting GE crops and animals this fall. The AVICC executive has amended the successful resolution that was passed this fall in regards to a GE Free growing zone for Vancouver Island, so that it now reads:
“that UBCM ask the British Columbia government to legislate the prohibition of importing, exporting and growing plants and seeds containing genetically engineered DNA, and raising GE animals within BC, and to declare, through legislation, that BC is a GE Free area in respect to all plant and animal species”.
Thank you to the AVICC executive for the amendment! Please lobby your local governments to support this important resolution.

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Thoughts on GMO Alfalfa

As a mother, consumer, and local food producer, I am extremely concerned about the impact of the sustained use of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technology in our community.

With the current push to allow GMO alfalfa into Canada, along with a recently passed resolution to ban all GMO crops on Vancouver Island, now is the time to speak up for the long-term health of our environment and all those who live within it.

What is the difference between traditional species breeding and GE (or GMO) crops? In traditional species breeding – which copies nature – plants of the same species can combine their genes to create plants with new characteristics. Genetic engineering technology, on the other hand, combines genes from different species that could never “mate” naturally (bacterial or fish genes engineered into plants, for example).

My concern over GMOs is multi-faceted. It incudes seed ownership issues (GMO seeds are patented by agri-corporations like Monsanto); the lack of long-term, third-party validated health impact studies; these seeds’ reliance on chemicals (and the associated environmental impacts); and the fundamental right of consumers to choose what they put into their bodies.

And then there’s the issue of cross-contamination. With the introduction of GMOs, co-existence between organic farmers and farmers using GMO seed is becoming increasingly difficult. There are well-documented cases of GMO plants genetically polluting organic crops, many of them ending in lawsuits by huge biotech companies against organic farmers for unwittingly using their patented genetic material.
Alfalfa Photo
The vitality, and indeed the survival, of many local food producers lies in the balance. At our facility, for example, we produce more than 4,000 pounds of certified organic alfalfa sprouts each week using certified organic Canadian-grown seed. If GMO alfalfa is introduced into Canada, it won’t be long before wind and insects carry its pollen throughout the environment, contaminating non-GMO alfalfa crops.

Certified Organic production does not allow the use of GMOs, which means our 35-year-old company will face some crucial decisions in the very near future. Due to genetic pollution, organic alfalfa seed will be contaminated. Our ability to source non-contaminated organic seed will become very difficult if not impossible.

I care deeply about the Comox Valley. I grew up here, and it was here that as a teenager, I discovered the joy of growing food. As a co-owner of Eatmore Sprouts & Greens Ltd., a local company producing certified organic sprouts and greens distributed year-round throughout Western Canada, I have been so lucky to stay connected to food production for most of my life.

GMOs are understandably a very volatile subject in our community and many others right now. Many farmers have chosen GMO technology for many reasons, and I certainly don’t want to suggest that organic production is the only route to sustainable farming. Genetic pollution, however, is an issue that needs to be resolved.

At the end of the day, most farmers farm for the same reason: to grow healthful food for healthy people. We share a passion for working the land and contributing to our community. I hope this never changes. To me, what’s important is that we choose methods that leave the land better than when we found it, and there are several ways to achieve this objective.

In my view, continuing and expanding the use of chemically dependent, corporate-owned GMO seeds is not one of them.

Responsibly yours,
Carmen Wakeling
Eatmore Sprouts & Greens Ltd.

www.EatmoreSprouts.com

US Supreme court rules Human genes cannot be patented

Sanity prevails: US Supreme Court rules that human genes are not eligible for patent protection

Thursday, June 13, 2013
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles…)

(NaturalNews) In a unanimous ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that human genes cannot be patented. The ruling invalidates the thousands of patents that have already been granted on human genes, including the patent by Myriad Genetics on the BRCA breast cancer genes which the company says no one else can research or even detect without paying it a royalty. Click here to read the complete ruling.

“Myriad did not create anything,” said Justice Clarence Thomas. “To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention.”

Well, exactly. This point should have been obvious to the lower courts, too, but in today’s world of corporate domination over seemingly everything, gene industry lawyers were able to argue that patent protection would somehow inspire more innovation and research. “The biotechnology industry had warned that an expansive ruling against Myriad could threaten billions of dollars of investment,” wroteReuters.

But exactly the opposite is true. Gene patents restricted research and created medical monopolies that raised prices for consumers. Even USA Today seemingly gets this point, saying, “The decision represents a victory for cancer patients, researchers and geneticists who claimed that a single company’s patent raised costs, restricted research and sometimes forced women to have breasts or ovaries removed without sufficient facts or second opinions.”

The ACLU, which argued the case before the Court, said, “By invalidating these patents, the Court lifted a major barrier to progress in further understanding how we can better treat and prevent diseases.”

Corporate efforts to influence the Supreme Court ultimately failed
Had the Supreme Court upheld the patentability of human genes, it would have unleashed a horrifying new era of corporations and universities rushing to claim monopoly patent protection on every gene in the human genome. Virtually no one in the media covered this angle other than Natural News. We warned readers that everything found in nature could then be patented: blades of grass, insects, human ears, eye colors, hair colors… anything encoded with DNA.

We also pointed out that Angelina Jolie’s carefully orchestrated announcement of a double mastectomy following BRCA gene testing seemed timed to be part of a public relations campaign engineered by the biotech industry to influence the Supreme Court decision. We also challenged Jolie to publicly denounce patents on human genes, which she never did.

It’s clear that powerful forces were at work behind the scenes to try to influence this Supreme Court decision, but they failed. Ultimately, the court discovered a moment of unanimous sanity… something we see so rarely that perhaps it deserves patent protection, too.

Huge loss for the biotech and pharmaceutical industries
It’s important to note that this decision is a huge loss for the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, both of which relentlessly seek total domination over all forms of life on the planet through monopolypatent protection. The biotech industry, of course, would love to patent all seeds and food crops — even ones it hasn’t genetically engineered. And the pharmaceutical industry would love to patent every human gene, thereby claiming literal ownership over every human being born into the world.

Myriad Genetics tried every desperate argument to convince the court that human genes should be patentable by corporations. They even rolled out a whacky “baseball bat theory” which claims it’s an “invention” to decide where to start and end a gene sequence:

“A baseball bat doesn’t exist until it’s isolated from a tree. But that’s still the product of human invention to decide where to begin the bat and where to end the bat.” – Myriad lawyer Gregory Castanias.

That absurd argument claims that the mere deciding of which genes to snip out of DNA strands somehow makes all genes corporate property. Thankfully, the court did not agree with the baseball bat theory. As Chief Justice John Roberts explained:

“The baseball bat is quite different. You don’t look at a tree and say, well, I’ve cut the branch here and cut it here and all of a sudden I’ve got a baseball bat. You have to invent it.”

Huge victory for humanity
Ultimately, this decision is a tremendous victory for all humankind because it prevents the power-hungry, evil-bent medical and biotech corporations from claiming ownership over genetic sequences that already occur in nature.

This ruling means the biotech industry cannot patent common plants and animals, either. They can’t patent human body parts or human gene sequences. Yes, the industry can still patent synthetically-created genes, said the Supreme Court, but that’s something they would actually have to create rather than merely discover in an already-existing organism.

Today’s ruling also means that men and women will have access to far less expensive testing for gene sequences in their own bodies. Currently, women who want to test themselves for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes must pay as much as $4,000 for the test due to the monopoly “ownership” of those genes by Myriad Genetics. But now that the Supreme Court has ruled such patents are invalid, prices for the test should drastically fall over time as competition enters the picture. Ultimately, the test could eventually be offered for as little as $100.

The ruling also means that other companies can conduct research on those genes without first seeking permission from Myriad. This will actually spur more innovation, potentially leading to more advanced genetic analysis tests that might help people better understand their health risks (and hopefully encourage them to change their diets and lifestyle choices to avoid expressing those genes).

In a world that seems increasingly dominated by corporate monopolies and biotechnology insanity, this ruling is a breath of fresh air. It confirms that corporations cannot patent naturally-occurring things which have been in existence for hundreds of thousands of years, and it confirms that when you have a child through an act of genetic replication, corporations cannot force you to pay royalties for your own child.

This is a decision of fundamental freedom, which is why I’m shocked the court actually ruled this way. This must be one of those rare moments of sanity in a Supreme Court that otherwise seems intent on destroying human liberty, dignity and justice.

Decision shows the important work of ACLU in protecting human rights against corporate domination
We must all thank the ACLU on this decision, as it was the ACLU which argued this to victory.

“Over the last 30 years, the U.S. Patent Office has issued patents on thousands of human genes, including genes associated with colon cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and many other devastating diseases. The status quo meant that companies controlling gene patents had the right to stop all other scientists from examining, studying, testing, and researching our genes,” the ACLU wrote in a press release.

The ACLU further wrote:

We celebrate the Court’s ruling as a victory for civil liberties, scientific freedom, patients, and the future of personalized medicine. It also demonstrates the power of creating alliances and fighting for the public interest. The ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation filed the case four years ago on behalf of twenty plaintiffs, including organizations representing over 150,000 medical professionals, geneticists, breast cancer and women’s health advocacy groups, and patients. Few thought we had a chance against the decades-long Patent Office practice as well as the entrenched industry position. But litigation can be a strong tool in producing change, never more than when diverse communities come together. Here, the medical, scientific, and patient communities united, and were soon joined by many others, eventually including the U.S. government. We honor the contributions everyone made to our success today.

City of North Vancouver, the 2nd GE Free Zone Vancouver municipality, Jun 11,2013

← June 10th – say no to GMOs in North Vancouver

North Vancouver City moves to ban GE seeds, crops and trees →

City of North Vancouver votes unanimously to become a GE Free zone

Posted on June 11, 2013 by GE Free BC | 9 Comments

10th June

This evening the City of North Vancouver became the 2nd Vancouver municipality, and the 62nd municipality in the Province, to become a GE Free zone.

Councillors who were originally doubtful changed their mind during the meeting after a number of community members made forceful presentations about the importance of this issue.

Congratulations to all the campaigners who worked on this, the next piece in the puzzle to making the whole of BC GE Free.

http://gefreebc.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/city-of-north-vancouver-votes-unaninmoulsy-to-become-a-ge-free-zone/

GM Sweet Corn

GM Sweet Corn

This month when you go shopping for your corn on the cob for your BBQ, ask  the produce manager whether the Sweet Corn is NON G M and to make sure it is NON GM for next year.  Click on the picture above for more information about the dangers of GM Sweet Corn.

The Gene Revolution, The Future of Agriculture

The Gene Revolution, The Future of Agriculture: Dr. Thierry Vrain at TEDx ComoxValley