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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Massive Fire at Monsanto Facility Likely Arson, Says Investigators | Earth First! Newswire

photo from Anti-Media by John Vibes / The Anti-Media Earlier this week, a Monsanto research facility in France was burned to the ground. Monsanto and investigators suspect an arsonist was responsible for the blaze. Monsanto representative Jakob Witten told Reuters that investigators “strongly suspect it was a crime as no electrical or other sources were found.”He added that “No Monsanto sites in Europe have so far been the victim of fires of criminal origin, this is unprecedented violence.” The fire had multiple points of origin, meaning it is unlikely the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction or other natural causes. Investigators also noticed a strong smell of gasoline in different areas of the site. France announced in June that it was banning sales of Roundup, Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, amid public pressure and the World Health Organization’s announcement that the product is probably carcinogenic. Further, last month the country announced it was strengthening its ban on

Source: Massive Fire at Monsanto Facility Likely Arson, Says Investigators | Earth First! Newswire

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Mayan success to repeal Monsanto Law in Guatamala Sept 2015. (Monsanto law was a legacy of a Free Trade Treaty) !!

Alex Pietrowski, Staff
Waking Timeshurray-smiley-i2

The success of the Guatemalan people in defending their food sovereignty and stopping “Monsanto Law” is an inspiring example that people, when united, can overpower even the largest of corporations.

A new law was passed in Guatemala in June 2015 that would have given exclusivity on patented seeds to a handful of transnational companies such as Monsanto. The opposition brought together a diverse set of people from across the Central American nation. Trade unions and farmers, social movements, women’s organizations and Mayan indigenous people took to the streets outside of the Congress and Constitutional Court in Guatemala City to protest the Monsanto Law and to show their disdain for the role that GMO seeds and their patent holders would now play in Guatemala.

On September 2, a large group of Mayan indigenous people blocked several streets in front of the Congress and demanded the immediate overturn of the law. Coinciding with several court injunctions in order to stop the new law from taking effect, the peaceful protests finally ended on September 4, 2015, after ten days, when the Congress of Guatemala repealed the law.

Monsanto’s Attack on Food Sovereignty

In many countries, indigenous tribes and rural populations have cultural traditions concerning land cultivation that are deeply rooted in their ancestry. These traditions are often centered around essential staple foods such as corn, which make up a substantial part of the simple diet of rural and indigenous people. Cultivation of food is regarded as a cultural custom and a God-given right. By replacing heirloom seeds with patented genetically modified (GM) seeds, this freedom is often lost.

To the Mayans, who make up about half of the Guatemalan population, ownership of corn seed and the freedom to cultivate their own crops means much more than just food freedom.

“Corn taught us Mayan people about community life and its diversity, because when one cultivates corn one realizes that there is a variety of crops such as herbs and medical plants depending on the corn plant as well. We see that in this coexistence the corn is not selfish, the corn shows us how to resist and how to relate with the surrounding world.” ~ Lolita Chávez, The Mayan People’s Council

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Criminalizing Small Farmers

Monsanto spends untold resources suing family farms for patent infringement. Farmers are forbidden from saving patented seeds year to year. Additionally when Monsanto’s GM seeds pollute neighboring farms, Monsanto sues those farms too.

According to information from Food Democracy Now, a grassroots community for sustainable food system, Monsanto’s GMO Roundup Ready soybeans, the world’s leading chemical and biotech seed company, admits to filing 150 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts.

Farmers in countries where sale of Monsanto’s GM seeds are legal face the same repercussions. The Monsanto Law in Guatemala meant that farmers would not be allowed to grow food from natural seeds. They would have to license patented seeds from transnational companies such as Monsanto, and pay patent fees even if GM seeds got mixed with their natural crop as a result of pollination or wind.

IIt is very common for international companies to enter and seek control of territories with rich and abundant natural resources, using their money and power to coerce local governments to “remove” any obstacles standing in their way. Monsanto Law was a result of a free trade agreement Guatemala made with the United States, ratified in 2005. The law was approved without the involvement of or counsel from those most affected – the small farmers and the indigenous people who grow their own food, typically corn and beans, for their own consumption. The law would have made criminals of these farmers. It was likely to result in increased food prices and would have increased social conflict between indigenous Mayan people and transnational corporations.

The Mayan people and other Guatemalans clearly did not agree with governmental policy that turned farmers into criminals and favored transnational corporations. They peacefully fought to have Monsanto Law repealed and they won!! Their success is another victory in the global movement to ban GMO crops and retain, or in some places reclaim, control over food sovereignty.

Genetically Modified Food: 7 Things Every Shopper Needs to Know

Genetically Modified Food: 7 Things Every Shopper Needs to KnowAre you trying to sort out the pros and cons about genetically modified food and genetically modified organisms (also known as GMOs)? Here’s what you need to know to shop wisely at the supermarket.

Source: Genetically Modified Food: 7 Things Every Shopper Needs to Know

Letter to Courtenay Council:Golden Rice & GE trees

Fellow CV residents:
As both the Echo and Record reported last week, the Courtenay council is divided about implementing a GE Free Purchase Polciy.
The Staff Report recommended to stay the status quo, not because of cost but because it did not want to add another layer to the purchase process.THe report is a credit to their research skill however it did not fully address the main purpose of finding the economic impact of such a policy on the City’s budget. Luckily their recommendation was voted down so our request is still on the table.
I wrote this letter to expand on some of the points discussed at the Oct 5th Council meeeting. The video of the meeting is now on the City of Courtenay archive for meetings and after watching it,if you are so moved ,please write to Council to share your thoughts.

Good day Mayor and Councillors,

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving Weekend.

I would like to bring 2 items to your attention : Golden rice background and GE trees coming to the NW.

Just to refresh the purpose of our discussion: The initial GE Free Purchase Policy request was
That a) City Hall will abstain from purchasing genetically engineered plants , trees and seeds to grow within the city
b) City Hall will refrain from purchasing genetically engineered foods (where reasonable, as in Duncan’s policy) for           catering and vending .

As the staff report stated , the economic cost to the city administration is minimal. However the gesture of being more health conscious and supporting our local growing organic community will make City Hall a leader in the eyes of its citizens,showing that you are aware that the people of Courtenay want cleaner and healthier living .

Both Comox and Cumberland have joined the Blue Dot project. Courtenay should lead this one.
You remember that 85% at the UBCM in 2013 voted for a GE Free Vancouver Island ! This will be going with the new wave.

A: Golden Rice
During the Oct 5th Council meeting, golden rice was mentioned several times, so I thought it is worth researching and sharing this information. Below are 4 points which are central to why even today golden rice is not generally accepted in SE Asia.
1) Rice is daily food for half of the world’s population. Yet no GM rice is grown commercially anywhere in the world.
In September 2011, the Chinese government stated it was suspending the commercialisation of genetically engineered rice. The future of GM rice in China remains uncertain.
In June 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture in Thailand laid a policy (“Rice Strategy”) that committed to non-GM rice as part of strengthening the nation’s rice production while promoting farmers’ livelihoods and consumer confidence. The policy is supported by Thailand’s Rice Exporters Association.

2)”Golden Rice” GM Vitamin-A Rice (CBAN Factsheet, January 2014)

“Golden Rice” is the name of a rice that has been genetically modified (GM, or genetically engineered) to produce beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A. This beta-carotene gives the rice grains the yellowish colour that has inspired its name. Its’ developers claim that it is needed to address vitamin-A deficiency, or VAD. However, Golden Rice does not address the real problem. VAD is not an isolated issue; it is a symptom of malnutrition, which is caused by food insecurity and poverty.

Golden Rice has not yet been tested for safety, and has not been adequately tested for its ability to make vitamin A available to the human body. For example, vitamin A can only be absorbed by the body when eaten with fat, but fat is rarely present in the diets of people who suffer from malnutrition.

Golden Rice is still being field-tested and despite several years and millions of dollars, it is still not ready for commercial release anywhere in the world. The resources spent to develop Golden Rice could have been used to expand existing, proven approaches to addressing VAD – such as supplementation, food fortification, breastfeeding programs and diet diversification – and implementing them for communities around the world that urgently need them.
golden-rice-factsheet-cban-web.pdf 241.85 kB

In February 2013, the International Rice Research Institute which is a partner in developing Golden Rice stated, “It has not yet been determined whether daily consumption of Golden Rice does improve the vitamin A status of people who are vitamin A deficient and could therefore reduce related conditions such as night blindness.”

The first Golden Rice variety did not produce enough beta carotene (Provitamin A) – it produced only 1.6 micro g/gm of carotenoids. A child would have had to eat more than 10 kilograms per day to get a sufficient dose. The industry says they have now solved this problem with a better variety of the rice. The rice is called “Golden Rice” because of its colour but the beta-carotene that makes the rice yellow was an unexpected effect.

3) Alternative remedies:

Vitamin A supplementation and food fortification in the Philippines (began in 1999) has already reduced vitamin A deficiency in preschool age children from 40% in 2003 to 15.2% in 2008 (the World Health Organization considers 15% to be the cutoff for when deficiency is considered a public health problem).

Other solutions to vitamin-A deficiency are available, such as delivering vitamin A supplements and fortifying vitamin A in staple foods, and are better targeted and more cost efficient. Furthermore, many conventionally bred plants show a high carotinoid content. Vitamin-A deficiency is a symptom of malnutrition and hunger due to severe poverty.

4) Presence of Retinoic:
A recent discussion by renowned Indian scientist Dr Tusher Chakraborty cautioned that the controversial rice poses a serious threat to human health and rice itself. – See more at: http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2015/oct/11/indian-scientist-warns-golden-rice-impact#sthash.Fwum0Fsc.dpuf
He noted that the basic safety concern over “Golden Rice” is the presence of retinoic acid, which is a metabolite of vitamin A.The retinoic acid is a teratogen linked to causing defects of the fetus.

B) GE Trees
It was with deep concern that GE Free CV brought in the request for a GE Free Purchase policy for planting and beautification of Courtenay. As you are aware GE apple was approved early 2015. But more incidious is the potential GE tree farms with uncontrolled GE pollen in the air. Since Courtenay is a garden city,surrounded by beautiful flowers and trees, we really need pro-active measures to protect ourselves.

“GE trees pose a greater threat of contamination than seen with GE crops, largely because trees live for decades, have so many nearby wild relatives and their pollen travels hundreds of miles. The scenario of contamination from trees genetically engineered to be insect resistance via Bt (as in recent government field trials in Quebec), for example, warns of serious biodiversity impacts as Bt targets lepidoptera, a main food source for many birds.
In April 2014 the University of British Columbia announced they have created genetically engineered (GE) poplar trees for paper and biofuel production, opening the prospect of growing these GE trees like an agricultural crop in the future. [1]

The poplars were genetically engineered for altered lignin composition to supposedly make them easier to process into paper and biofuels. Groups, however, warn that manipulation of lignin, and the potential contamination of wild poplars with the GE trait, could be extremely dangerous. [2]

Lignin is a key structural component of plant cell walls and a major component of soils. [3] It is also the product of millions of years of natural selection favoring sturdy, healthy and resilient plants. Contamination from GE poplars with altered lignin could have devastating effects on forests, ecosystems, human communities and biodiversity.”

Source: http://www.cban.ca/resources/ge trees/ press release April 9,2014(Genetically Engineering Poplars for Paper and Biofuels)

If you have any further questions on Golden rice & GE trees please feel free to contact me.

Yours truly,
Linda Cheu
GE Free CV.
#34,111-20 St
Courtenay,BC

New MacDonald

Courtenay Council debate on GE Free Purchase Policy Oct 5,2015

Summary of Courtenay Council Debating the decision to adopt the Staff Report on a GE Free Purchase Policy by the City  of Courtenay.(Oct 5th 2015).

7 GE free activists plus one interested person sat thru from 4pm to 5.45pm. Our patience and presence might have proven that the issue will not be washed away as easily as City Hall hopes.

(The full Staff report is on the City of Courtenay website. Also the  video of the meeting will be on the web site:http://www.courtenay.ca/EN/main/city-hall/mayor-council/council-meeting-agendas-minutes-videos/2015.html}

GE Free CV presented Council in April 2015, a request for a GE Free Purchase Policy for City Hall. Council voted to ask staff to report on the economic impact of such a policy.

The staff did a full background research on GE food  giving references and contacted  the Town of Duncan`s administration. Their research is commendable. Their conclusions is that due to  lack of labeling, staff needs expertise to handle the purchase of GE free products, secondly, organic food is more costly and the thirdly, the shelf life is shorter. These 3 reasons would “increase the City’ food procurement costs and time and complexity of the screening process.”

At present they only have 2 criteria : Cost and Value. A 3rd criterion will be too burdensome.

The motion to accept the staff’s recommendation to maintain the current buying policy was tabled and discussed.

Bob Wells was absent due to work. So there were only 5 Councillors plus the Mayor. ( 6 voting persons).

Erikson moved to adopt the motion. Hillian seconded but wanted to amend it to give non GMO a preferential status rather than an absolute GE Free.

The Mayor insisted that they need to hear Robert Wager speak. Wager was there in the front row. Without being on the agenda, the Mayor was pushing that he should have the floor. Luckily the other Councillors said  they have to leave to listen to the Federal debate. and would not extend the meeting.

There was a vote on the motion. A tie vote:

For: Manno Theos, Eric Erikson, Mayor Jangular,

Against: Doug Hillian, David Frisch and Rebecca Lennox.

 A tie means the  staff motion dies.  No decision on our initial motion. This is good news!!

Excerpts of some comments during the melee:

Erikson: GE crops has helped to increase yield by 30%. Lots of farmers in the world cannot do without GE crops. There is no proof that GE food will harm people’s health. “There has to be some kind of good in GMO”

Larry Jangular, Mayor

“Golden Rice saved so many people.”( visit golden-rice-factsheet-cban-web.pdf 241.85 kB to debunk this myth)

“GMO  and organic are not the same thing.” He said that several times and he told Manno that before letting him speak and Manno answered I know.

“This new Council has not heard the other side so Mr Wager is here to speak to that.”( Not on the agenda)

Rebecca Lennox: “We do not need Mr Wager ‘s  presentation as I do my own research”.

She asked to defer Wager to the next meeting. (very smart move!)

David Allan (Chief Administrative Officer):

Duncan’s policy only extend to catering. ( I checked this with the Duncan group and the  adopted policy and it certainly included plants and trees)

“Staff can carve out whatever scope council instruct them”. Vancouver was mentioned twice as a model because of its size and that it going GE Free.

The gist of his statements is that Council  must Decide and the staff will implement whatever Council wants. However he repeated that he wanted  to know the level of involvement citizens needed in accordance with the internal Spectrum of Public Participation Goal Guidelines. This guideline is found at the bottom of each Staff Report.

Frisch: He asked the CAO a question then Jangular quickly nailed him about giving Wager a chance to speak. David wrangled out by saying sure anytime later.

 Theos: He would buy organic personally but due to the fact that there is no labeling and GE  is  practically in all foods, it will be impossible to administer for the City.

Hillian: He reminded Council that AVICC (Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities) and UBCM( Union of BC Municipalities) all  voted for a GE Free island/BC  meaning there is very strong public support  to go this way.

Comments from GE Free CV members:

We were surprised to see Robert Wager, Monsanto’s rep in western Canada, coming to this meeting from Nanaimo. We only found out about this meeting around 10am that morning. Now we know that the Mayor might have more surprises for us. At the exit, the mayor is overheard to be inviting Wager to speak on Oct 13,Tues. Who else might be coming?

To the credit of our friendly Councillors, they were able to navigate this to another date and save our original request from being squashed.  We are up against a well positioned old boys club. Our only power is people and patience because logic and science will not sway people who, at this level, have to be reminded that GMO and organic are not the same.

We plan to send info to Council on the Golden Rice, and to remind them that the public already weighed in thru our petition, with over 640 signatures in 2 1/2 months, letters of supports from 44 businesses & organisations and over 100 postcards sent to City Hall.

We will be vigilant in monitoring the progress of our motion for a GE Free Purchase Policy for Courtenay City Hall. Please come to attend the City Hall meetings whenever our motion is discussed. These meetings are informative, entertaining and full of suspense. Better value than a movie !!