Our Day in Court!

This Tuesday, May 24th,  Community Rights Lane County was challenged in court by big corporate interests. CRLC has bern working for years to get an initiative on the ballot that would protect Lane County farmers, by giving residents the right to say whether or not they want GMO crops side by side with traditional and organic crops, or  regulate them in some way so that organic crops are not crossbred with GMO crops. This represents the future of our pure seed crops, our organic farms, and small traditional farms.

Every county in Oregon has the right to self- governance through the initiative process, but these corporate interests are trying to put up un-constitutional road blocks against this process.

Please read the following up-date, and write your letters to the editors, call your congress people….spread the word….do whatever you can to bring this to the attention of your friends and neighbors. ~admin~

 

Post-Hearing update on Tuesday’s Court Proceedings

Community Rights Lane County educates citizens about our rights to local community governance. We believe decisions affecting communities must be made by community residents.

Democracy on Trial

On May 24th, a public hearing was held to decide the fate of local voters’ ability to pass a Lane County Charter Amendment via the ballot initiative process. Supporters of the Right of Local Self-Government Charter Amendment filled the Lane County courtroom to hear Ann Kneeland, lead attorney for the Chief Petitioners, defend the people’s Right to write and pass local laws.

This hearing demonstrates how corporate interests use “our” courts & government to limit the power of the people of Lane County. 

The courts may be used to challenge an initiative before an election for failing to meet basic rules of procedure, or challenge a law after the majority of voters have decided to pass it. However, bringing this ballot initiative into a hearing, based on non-procedural grounds, before any signatures have even been gathered, is an obstacle to the democratic process. It is an attempt to change the ballot initiative process to make it more difficult for the people to create and pass our own laws. It is an infringement on our constitutional rights.

The corporate interests that initiated the challenge are not just trying to influence what voters decide. They are trying to take away our ability to make a decision. 

If the Right of Local Community Self-Government Ballot Initiative is denied by the Lane County court system, it will set a precedent locally and throughout Oregon. Corporate interests will have even more power over local communities.

The ballot initiative process is a way for the people to pass laws that “our representatives” are not willing/able to. Corporate Interests (and their political puppets) are trying to take that away.

Ann’s powerfully thoughtful and well researched arguments to protect Lane County voter’s rights to the ballot box were never more evident than in court on Tuesday.

Stay tuned as the judge’s decision will be announced next month. And thanks to all who attended and to all who work to protect and defend our constitutional rights!

Posted in GMO FOOD, Health Issues, Monsanto, News, Politics | Comments Off on Our Day in Court!

We need you!

Community Rights Lane County is fighting to maintain the local right to regulate the growing of GMO crops relative to their proximity to traditional crops. They have been working for years to maintain our local initiative rights.  Please come to the  court room to support them if you are able.

Earlier this month, the hearing to decide the fate of the ‘Right of Local Community Self-Government’ Charter Amendment was postponed and rescheduled for May 24. Ann Kneeland, lead attorney for the initiative’s Chief Petitioners, argued for the case to protect our right to the initiative process. She  stressed that the Courts do not possess the power to interfere with the people’s right to pass local laws until after the laws have passed. Judge Charles Carlson will make a decision that will affect our constitutional right to write and pass laws that seek to protect residents from corporate harms. Join us, as a crucial component of our democratic process goes on trial.
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The Oregon Community Rights Movement
 needs your help! The network of local Community Rights groups, The Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN) and the State Constitutional Amendment campaign, Oregonians for Community Rights (OR4CR), need volunteers to deepen and grow the movement around Oregon.

We have teams in many different areas: fundraising, media relations, graphic design, coalition building, event planning, and communications. If you have any experience or are at all interested in volunteering please contact Zach <volunteer@oregoncommunityrights.org> or fill out this volunteer form: http://www.oregoncommunityrights.org/volunteer

Click here to sign up for news and updates about the campaign: http://www.oregoncommunityrights.org/join

Thanks for your continued work and support!


Interested in helping Community Rights Lane County? Click Here! 
We couldn’t do this work without you. Thank you for your support! Donate Now!

Community Rights Lane County
CommunityRightsLaneCounty.org

Support Local Food Rights · POB 186, Eugene, OR 97440, United States
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Posted in Politics, Sustainable Farming | Comments Off on We need you!

Make Your Voice Count

EPA Says Atrazine Likely Harming Most Animals, Plants in the U.S.

FrogHere’s an ugly revelation: The amount of the herbicide atrazine that’s released into the environment in the United States is likely harming most species of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. That’s according to a preliminary risk assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency that was posted briefly on its website and subsequently removed.

.

For Immediate Release, May 3, 2016

Contact: Nathan Donley, (971) 717-6406, ndonley@biologicaldiversity.org

EPA Finds Atrazine Likely Harming Most Species of Plants, Animals in U.S.

PORTLAND, Ore.— The amount of the herbicide atrazine that’s released into the environment in the United States is likely harming most species of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, according to a preliminary risk assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency. Atrazine is well known as a hormone disruptor that has been linked to birth defects and cancer in humans and contamination of ground-, surface- and drinking-water supplies.

The second-most widely used pesticide in the United States, already banned in Europe, was found to cause reproductive harm to mammals and birds in real-world scenarios, with EPA “levels of concern” surpassed nearly 200-fold, according to the new EPA assessment. Also, water monitoring has shown atrazine to be present at levels much higher than are needed to kill an amphibian.

The assessment was posted on the EPA’s website on Friday but has since been removed. A copy is available here.

“The EPA has determined that the amount of atrazine that’s in streams and rivers right now is enough to kill frogs and other imperiled wildlife,” said Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “How many animals have to die before we do what Europe did 12 years ago and ban atrazine?”

Amphibians are particularly vulnerable to pesticide impacts because they live in waterways where their permeable skins absorb contaminants from agricultural runoff. Dr. Tyrone Hayes, at the University of California, has shown that atrazine chemically castrates and feminizes male frogs at concentrations lower than the level allowed in drinking water by the EPA. Late last year a group of prominent scientists criticized California’s proposed “safe harbor level” for atrazine because it didn’t protect public health and the environment.

“When the amount of atrazine allowed in our drinking water is high enough to turn a male tadpole into a female frog, then our regulatory system has failed us,” said Donley. “We’ve reached a point with atrazine where more scientific analysis is just unnecessary — atrazine needs to be banned now.”

Currently 70 million pounds of atrazine are used in the United States each year, contaminating ground, surface and drinking water.

These findings come as the EPA is in the process of “registration review” of atrazine, a process designed to determine whether the chemical can safely be used in light of new scientific study. The assessment will inform EPA’s decision on whether to allow atrazine to be used for the next 15 years. The last time the agency fully analyzed the threats posed by atrazine was in 2003; no new registration decision has been made so far.

In a historic settlement reached with the Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA will analyze the impacts of atrazine on more than 1,500 endangered U.S. plants and animals. The agreement ensures that conservation measures will be put in place for atrazine in the future.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Posted in Health Issues, Politics | Comments Off on Make Your Voice Count

Call To Action…Keep Our Air, Water, Soil and Humans Safe From Toxic Sprays

One down, one to go!

Lincoln County Community Rights (LCCR) recieved the judge’s ruling on the first of two lawsuits by Peter Begren, a local forest owner, filed against Citizens for a Healthy County’s ordinance. The judge ruled that the ordinance is in compliance with Oregon Statutes both in terms of single subject and full text. This is fantastic news, and we are elated.  The second lawsuit challenges the ballot title to the ordinance.  After that is resolved, Citizens for a Healthy County would be authorized to gather signatures to put the ordinance banning aerial spraying of pesticides on the ballot, hopefully for November.
Last week, members of LCCR were the guest speakers at the screening of the first of 3 environmental films shown by Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District, an organization which has now affirmed its support of our work.  They have said they will help LCCR make contact with people in Lincoln City who they have worked with. LCCR is currently working to find places and participants to hold house parties in a continuing effort to expand their support.
Collecting Signatures Now!

In Oregon, timber corporations routinely spray forest lands with hazardous chemicals such as Glyphosate, Atrazine and 2,4-D. Due to drift, these chemicals “trespass,” contaminating surface and groundwater, livestock, crops, and people. We’re pushing back!
Join Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Alliance for their Double Feature Roadshow, featuring Behind the Emerald Curtain, and Drift: A Community Seeking Justice. These films are headed to a community near you, where you’ll be able to sign the petition to help us get the Freedom from Aerial Spraying of Herbicides Charter Amendment on the ballot in Lane County in May 2017. Check their website for showings. www.freedomfromaerialherbicides.org

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Call To Action…Keep Our Air, Water, Soil and Humans Safe From Toxic Sprays

Please Support the Local Community Food Rights Charter

A note from Michelle Holman about Lane County Local Food Rights:

“Let’s protect our County’s local food system from GMO contamination.

Lane County has a vibrant local food system that we need to protect.The Willamette Valley is one of the last five specialty seed-growing regions in the world for varieties such as brassicas (e.g. cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, mustard, rutabaga, etc.) that are the most susceptible to contamination by GMOs. Once contaminated, it would be virtually impossible to re-establish this industry.

You can help!
The Right to a Local Food System Charter Amendment is now in the signature gathering 
phase. We need folks to step up and gather signatures in West Lane County.
If you can help by either becoming the organizer of this effort in Florence or just want to gather signatures, please contact Michelle Holman at mholman@peak.org or Dan Wilson at 
daniel.gregory.wilson@gmail.com

Together, we will protect our precious local food system.

 
What this charter amendment will do:
 
The Right to a Local Food System of Lane County Charter Amendment will recognize county residents’ rights to a local food system, seed heritage (seed saving), and bans GMO agriculture countywide.”
 
Michelle Holman
Jamaica Breakfast Program 
 
Campaign Update and Volunteer Kick-off Call!

Oregon Secretary of State has put a halt to the broader circulation of Oregon’s Right of Local Community Self-Government Constitutional Amendment petition.  To resolve this impasse we are headed to court to prove that the state has erred and that the people of Oregon will have their day in the sun, both in being able to work towards ballot qualification for November 2016 and ultimately being able to cast a YES vote for greater democracy for people, communities and nature over that of corporate control.

There are many ways to get involved, that range from when you have time, to being more deeply involved in the day to day. To help get you up to speed on what has been happening and what is planned along with learning more about the volunteer needs for each of the three areas of focus there will be an open Campaign Updates and Volunteer Kick-Off Call on May 10th.

In fact, we will be hosting the same call twice – morning and evening. Here are the details:

Campaign Updates and Volunteer Kick-Off Call

Tuesday, May 10th
Noon to 1pm OR
7pm to 8pm

Dial-in number: (712) 770-4010
Access Code: 726153#

Posted in GMO FOOD, Health Issues, Politics | Comments Off on Please Support the Local Community Food Rights Charter

Call Your Congress People to Oppose the DARK Act.

 

Please call your Congressmen and women and tell them you oppose pre-empting state’s rights to regulate the labeling and production of GMO foods.  The DARK Act has recently been passed by the House of Representatives and is going before the Senate.  According to the the Organic Consumer’s Association this bill does not do what it purports to do and will pre-empt the right of states to make regulate and label GMO’s.

This post  is excerpted from an earlier post by the Organic Consumers Association, a group that has been fighting for regulation and labeling of GMO’s for years:

“Two hundred and seventy five members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 1599, the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. By voting for the DARK Act, these politicians voted against truth and transparency, against science, against the more than century-old right of states to legislate on matters relating to food safety and labeling. Now that the DARK Act has been approved by the House, we’ll have to stop it in the Senate….. Monsanto is desperate to pass a bill that preempts mandatory GMO labeling laws at the state and federal levels, before Vermont’s GMO labeling law takes effect next year.

H.R. 1599 (is) still pushing out the lies. The “Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food,” feigning concern for consumers, emailed members urging them to support the DARK Act because if we require mandatory labeling, it will increase the cost of your food by $500/year. That lie has been debunked over and over, by legitimate independent studies.  It’s a lie based on a study funded by, and which remains the intellectual property of, the Council for Biotech Information—of which Monsanto is a member. The DARK Act creates a voluntary, government-run non-GMO certification program. Unless every producer of non-GMO products pays to have those products certified non-GMO, consumers will still have no way of knowing which products contain GMOs, and which don’t. And why should the burden of labeling fall on the producers of non-GMO foods, when the risk factor is associated with those foods that do contain GMOs?

H.R. 1599 would repeal existing state GMO labeling laws, such as Vermont’s Act 120, and would preempt any future state or federal laws requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods or foods containing GMOs. That’s unconstitutional, according to the Campaign for Liberty, which said this in a statement yesterday:

Whatever your views on GMOs, there is no Constitutional justification for the federal government to preempt state laws in this area. There certainly is no justification for Congress to preempt private sector efforts to meet consumer demands for non-GMO foods, while allowing those who support the use of GMOs to do so.

 

DC Phone

DC FAX

Contact Form

Senator Ron Wyden (D- OR)

202-224-5244

202-228-2717

https://www.wyden.senate.gov/contact/

Senator Jeff Merkley (D- OR)

202-224-3753

202-228-3997

http://www.merkley.senate.gov/contact/

Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D – 01)

202-225-0855

202-225-9497

https://bonamici.house.gov/contact-me/email-me

Representative Greg Walden (R – 02)

202-225-6730

202-225-5774

https://walden.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=117§ …

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D – 03)

202-225-4811

202-225-8941

https://forms.house.gov/blumenauer/webforms/issue_sub …

Representative Peter A. DeFazio (D – 04)

202-225-6416

https://defazio.house.gov/contact/email-me

Representative Kurt Schrader (D – 05)

202-225-5711

202-225-5699

http://schrader.house.gov/contact/

Posted in GMO FOOD, Health Issues, Monsanto, News, Politics | Comments Off on Call Your Congress People to Oppose the DARK Act.

Center For Food Safety and Nano silver Pesticide

Center for Food Safety recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its decision to allow a new antimicrobial nanosilver pesticide product (called “NSPW-L30SS”) for use in an unknown number of textiles and plastics for the next four years while the manufacturer conducts further safety analysis of the product, essentially turning the public into guinea pigs.

Nanotechnology is a powerful new platform technology for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the atomic and molecular level. Consumer products containing manufactured nanoparticles have already arrived on market shelves, including nano-pesticide products, despite there being little to regulation or oversight of these new materials.

Among the studies that EPA is requiring is a plastic leaching study to determine the nature and quantity of silver released from plastics incorporating this new nanosilver pesticide when mouthed or teethed. The study on which EPA relied for the conditional registration used a protocol that was not reviewed by EPA prior to being conducted and used nanosilver concentrations less than the maximum allowed on the pesticide label.

Additionally, EPA is requiring testing to determine the toxicity of the pesticide to aquatic invertebrates, because the available studies in the scientific literature indicate that if sufficient quantities of nanosilver leach from the products incorporating this new pesticide and reach surface water, exposure may harm aquatic species.

We are looking for members who are concerned about EPA’s decision. Specifically, we are looking for information from members who meet one or more of the following criteria:

1.    You are responsible for purchasing clothing, toys, and other household items for yourself or your family and are concerned that you and your family are at risk of being exposed to nanosilver from these products, OR you are concerned that absent proper regulation, you cannot make informed choices about whether to purchase items that contain untested nanosilver technology.

2.    You regularly visit and observe areas of the natural environment—particularly to observe aquatic species—that may be harmed by the release of nanosilver into the aquatic environment.

If you meet any of these criteria, then your experience could be very helpful in this groundbreaking nanotechnology case!  Please email alerts@centerforfoodsafety.org or call 415-826-2770 as soon as possible to learn more about how you can help.

Thank you,
Zack Marker
Legal Fellow, Center for Food Safety

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Your Acid/Alkaline Balance For Health

A recent joint injury made me suddenly aware of the vagaries of bones and bodies, especially as we age.  After the initial shock of “how could this happen to me?” I decided to research joint health, bone health and diet. What I read reminded me that over the past years my information has consistently pointed to a healthy balance of acid and alkaline foods in the diet for optimum bone health and immune system function. (I have to admit to succumbing to all my favorite foods at times, you know: cheese, cookies, chocolate, coffee, popcorn with lots of butter, pizza, ice cream…you get the idea.  And I can pretty much connect my long lapses with some kind of health issue.)

For starters, I’ve read that a healthy body and immune system should have an 80/20 balance of alkaline to acid foods in the diet. If one were to go deeper, Indian Ayurveda philosophy, based on body type, winnows those foods down to the ones most beneficial for each body type. Putting the two together may be good if you want to take the time to experiment with finding out who you are physically, what you actually require for good health, and can take the time to work on changing your diet in this way.  If you want to ‘go there’, a good book is  A Life in Balance,  by Maya Tiwari, which explains the Indian philosophy of body types and the foods that support them, along with recipes for each type.  This may or may not appeal to many caucasians, but it was interesting to see, in my case, the correlation between the foods for my type, and the subsequent balance of acid and alkaline. You’ll find of course, that fruits and vegetables are heavily in the 80% category.  However some are not entirely alkaline, and this is where balance comes in.

To just start simply, you can read the discussion below, from www.TheAlkalineCafe.com and arm yourself with the foods that are beneficial for you:

“The following lists go over the acid or alkaline values of the foods we eat.  The accurate way to measure the alkalinity of food is how the food changes the pH value of the tissues of the body.  Once food is digested, an “ash” is formed.  The pH of this ash is different from the pH value of the actual food itself.  Lemons for example are very acidic by themselves however when digested they have an alkaline effect in the body! (I drink a glass of lemon water every morning before I eat. ed)

A simple way to begin this alkaline lifestyle program is to begin by looking over the lists below and start by increasing the amount of alkaline foods that get onto your plate and reducing the amount of acidic foods that you consume.  And most important, have fun!  There are so many creative ways to prepare great tasting alkaline meals.  for recipes and ideas visit this linkwww.TheAlkalineCafe.com

Highly Alkalizing Foods

Artichokes, Arugula, Asparagus, Avocado, baking soda, beet greens, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cabbage lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chard, chicory, chives, cilantro,collards, comfrey, cucumbers, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive, fennel, garlic, ginger, wheat grass and its juice, barley grass, kamut grass, green beans, jicama, kohlrabi, leeks, lemon, lettuce, lima beans, lime, lotus root, mustard greens, onions, parsley, peas, peppers, pumpkin, radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga, sea salt, sea vegetables, seaweed, sorrel, soy lecithin, soy beans, soy nuts, spinach, sprouted beans-grains-seeds in all varieties, squash, sweet potatoes, taro root, tomatoes, tomatillos, turnips, wasabi, watercress, zucchini.

 

Moderately Alkalizing Foods

Raw Almonds, borage oil, brazil nuts, buckwheat groats, burdock root, caraway seeds, chia seeds, cumin seeds, dasheen, fennel seeds flax seed oil, flax seeds, hazelnuts, herbs, millet, nigella seeds, parsnip, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, radishes, sesame seeds, soy flour, stevia, sunflower seeds, tofu.

Low Alkalizing Foods

Amaranth, black-eyed peas, Bragg liquid aminos™, apples, apricots, bananas, black currants, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cold pressed oils, currants, dates, evening primrose oil, figs, flax seed oil, gooseberries, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, mandarin oranges, mangos, marine lipids, nectarines, olive oil, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, raspberries, red currants, rose hips, strawberries, tangerines, ugli fruit, watermelon. (Note: High sugar fruits (as in watermelon…my note)are acidic in an imbalanced body and are best in season and for cleansing purposes in moderation.  Fruit juice is not recommended)   fava beans, head lettuce, kamut, miso, pecans, quinoa, rice (brown and basmati), spelt, spices, string beans, sunflower oil, teff, vegetable broth, vegetables cooked, walnuts, wax beans, wild rice.

Neutral Foods

Fresh coconut meat and water, ghee, xylitol

Low Acidic Foods

Agave nectar, brown rice syrup, fresh water fish, dried fruit, honey raw, lentils, olives, rye bread, sprouted-grain bread and meal, whole grain bread and meal.

Moderately Acid Foods

Barley, beans, carob, cashews, cranberries, fructose, granola, legumes, pistachios, turbinado sugar, vanilla, wheat, stored potatoes, soy sauce, tamari, tapioca,

Highly Acidic Foods

Bacon, barley malt sweetener, biscuits, butter, bread-white bread, chicken, cheese, eggs, cakes, corn, corn meal, crab, lobster, mushrooms, organic cheese, oatmeal, oats, ocean fish, pasta, pastries, pork, rice, sausages, shrimp, turkey, veal, Alcohol of all kinds, artificial sweeteners, candy, cheese, cocoa, coffee and black tea, cottonseed oil, refined oils, both raw milk and cow’s milk that has been homogenized and pasteurized, fried foods of all kinds, game birds, hydrogenated oil, ice cream, jam, jelly, hops, malt, margarine, milk chocolate, MSG, processed foods, pudding, refined sugar, white sugar, table salt (NaCl), vinegar of all kinds, yeast, soft drinks, candy, processed foods of all kinds.

Note:  Many sites include or exclude certain foods from these categories.  If you have a concern about something less common on food charts, like cocoa nibs or goji berries, etc., these answers are pretty much ubiquitous online.

There is a book called  The Ultimate Ph Solution, by Michelle Schoffre Coo, DNM, DAc. co/2008.  You can probably still get it new or used online.

Women who are just concerned about mineral (calcium etc.) balances in the body, and eat a more mainstream diet can get The Bone Density Program by George Kessler, D.O., P.C.

The following site is a prescription for cleansing.  I notice that some things are not included in the list…like apples..? http://www.alkalizingdiva.com/acid-alkaline-food-chart/

Alas, some sites say that chocolate is verboten. But raw cacao nibs (available at the Co-op) are extremely beneficial for your health.  Here’s a site to look at…kinda fun: https://www.rawguru.com/view-by-tag/raw+cacao/

Here is the David Wolfe Youtube presentation of super foods on GaiamTv.com if you want a different take on what you put in your body: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jw1-c6EMytk

Posted in Health Issues | Comments Off on Your Acid/Alkaline Balance For Health

Altered Genes, Twisted Truth – The FDA’s Illegal Release of GE Food

2015-08-25

In 1998, when Steven Druker’s organization, the Alliance for Bio-Integrity, and several other plaintiffs, including 9 well-credentialed life scientists, filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Association (FDA), they had no idea what they were about to discover and uncover. The story that unfolded through the process of this lawsuit is so appalling and … continue reading …



Find out more

Posted in GMO FOOD, Health Issues, Monsanto, Politics | Comments Off on Altered Genes, Twisted Truth – The FDA’s Illegal Release of GE Food

New England Journal of Medicine on Glyphosate

Self-propelled row-crop sprayer applying pesticide to post-emergent corn –wikipedia

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not high on most physicians’ worry lists. If we think at all about biotechnology, most of us probably focus on direct threats to human health, such as prospects for converting pathogens to biologic weapons or the implications of new technologies for editing the human germline. But while those debates simmer, the application of biotechnology to agriculture has been rapid and aggressive. The vast majority of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are now genetically engineered. Foods produced from GM crops have become ubiquitous. And unlike regulatory bodies in 64 other countries, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require labeling of GM foods.

Two recent developments are dramatically changing the GMO landscape. First, there have been sharp increases in the amounts and numbers of chemical herbicides applied to GM crops, and still further increases — the largest in a generation — are scheduled to occur in the next few years. Second, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate, the herbicide most widely used on GM crops, as a “probable human carcinogen”1 and classified a second herbicide, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), as a “possible human carcinogen.”2

The application of genetic engineering to agriculture builds on the ancient practice of selective breeding. But unlike traditional selective breeding, genetic engineering vastly expands the range of traits that can be moved into plants and enables breeders to import DNA from virtually anywhere in the biosphere. Depending on the traits selected, genetically engineered crops can increase yields, thrive when irrigated with salty water, or produce fruits and vegetables resistant to mold and rot.

The National Academy of Sciences has twice reviewed the safety of GM crops — in 2000 and 2004.3 Those reviews, which focused almost entirely on the genetic aspects of biotechnology, concluded that GM crops pose no unique hazards to human health. They noted that genetic transformation has the potential to produce unanticipated allergens or toxins and might alter the nutritional quality of food. Both reports recommended development of new risk-assessment tools and postmarketing surveillance. Those recommendations have largely gone unheeded.

Herbicide resistance is the main characteristic that the biotechnology industry has chosen to introduce into plants. Corn and soybeans with genetically engineered tolerance to glyphosate (Roundup) were first introduced in the mid-1990s. These “Roundup-Ready” crops now account for more than 90% of the corn and soybeans planted in the United States.4 Their advantage, especially in the first years after introduction, is that they greatly simplify weed management. Farmers can spray herbicide both before and during the growing season, leaving their crops unharmed.

But widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant crops has led to overreliance on herbicides and, in particular, on glyphosate.5 In the United States, glyphosate use has increased by a factor of more than 250 — from 0.4 million kg in 1974 to 113 million kg in 2014. Global use has increased by a factor of more than 10. Not surprisingly, glyphosate-resistant weeds have emerged and are found today on nearly 100 million acres in 36 states. Fields must now be treated with multiple herbicides, including 2,4-D, a component of the Agent Orange defoliant used in the Vietnam War.

The first of the two developments that raise fresh concerns about the safety of GM crops is a 2014 decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve Enlist Duo, a new combination herbicide comprising glyphosate plus 2,4-D. Enlist Duo was formulated to combat herbicide resistance. It will be marketed in tandem with newly approved seeds genetically engineered to resist glyphosate, 2,4-D, and multiple other herbicides. The EPA anticipates that a 3-to-7-fold increase in 2,4-D use will result.

In our view, the science and the risk assessment supporting the Enlist Duo decision are flawed. The science consisted solely of toxicologic studies commissioned by the herbicide manufacturers in the 1980s and 1990s and never published, not an uncommon practice in U.S. pesticide regulation. These studies predated current knowledge of low-dose, endocrine-mediated, and epigenetic effects and were not designed to detect them. The risk assessment gave little consideration to potential health effects in infants and children, thus contravening federal pesticide law. It failed to consider ecologic impact, such as effects on the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. It considered only pure glyphosate, despite studies showing that formulated glyphosate that contains surfactants and adjuvants is more toxic than the pure compound.

The second new development is the determination by the IARC in 2015 that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”1 and 2,4-D a “possible human carcinogen.”2 These classifications were based on comprehensive assessments of the toxicologic and epidemiologic literature that linked both herbicides to dose-related increases in malignant tumors at multiple anatomical sites in animals and linked glyphosate to an increased incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans.

These developments suggest that GM foods and the herbicides applied to them may pose hazards to human health that were not examined in previous assessments. We believe that the time has therefore come to thoroughly reconsider all aspects of the safety of plant biotechnology. The National Academy of Sciences has convened a new committee to reassess the social, economic, environmental, and human health effects of GM crops. This development is welcome, but the committee’s report is not expected until at least 2016.

Posted in GMO FOOD, Health Issues, Monsanto, Politics | Comments Off on New England Journal of Medicine on Glyphosate