Posts Tagged ‘GMO’

Beekeepers Vs. Monsanto



Went to the Maine State Beekeepers Association annual meeting this past Saturday.   It was, as always, a wonderful informative, entertaining day.   On the organic beekeeping listserve that I belong to this came today.   I am sharing it to show that you do NOT want to mess with a bunch of riled up Beeks.

A Mexican judge won’t be bought off by the giant biotech company, Monsanto—
instead he honored the complaints of small bee-keepers and will stall the
growing season for Monsanto’s GM soybeans in Yucatán.
Published: October 20, 2014 | Authors: _Christina Sarich_
( | _Natural Society_
( | News Report

Honoring the complaints of a small group of beekeepers in the state of
Yucatán, who complained that Monsanto’s planned planting of thousands of
hectares of GM soybeans made to withstand RoundUp would demolish their honey
industry by decimating bees – a judge in Mexico has removed Monsanto’s
planting permit. Monsanto can install Clarence Thomas on the U.S.00 Federal Judge
circuit after working for their corporation, an obvious conflict of
interest, but it looks like a Mexican judge won’t be bought off by biotech.
Though _Monsanto will surely appeal the ruling_
( , it will at least stall the growing season and give
the bee-keepers time to gather additional support for their cause.
A district has overturned a permit issued to Monsanto by Mexico’s
agriculture ministry, Sagarpa, and environmental protection agency, Semarnat, back
in June 2012 that allowed commercial planting of _RoundUp-ready soybeans_
s.aspx) .
If the permit had been honored, Monsanto would have been able to plant
seeds in seven states, covering more than 253,000 hectares of land. (This
amounts to almost a million acres.) Mayan farmers, beekeepers, and activist
groups like Greenpeace, the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and
Use of Biodiversity, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas,
and the National Institute of Ecology have been vocally protesting this
The judge was apparently convinced that the scientific data showing a link
between RoundUp, GMOs, and lowered honey production is very real. The
Yucatán peninsula grows vasts amounts of honey, and in fact is the third
largest exporter of honey to the world. The area includes Campeche, Quintana Roo,
and Yucatán states. More than 25,000 families build their livelihoods on
honey production. Almost all of the honey grown there is exported to the EU
and amounts to over $54 million in Mexican money annually.
The judge ruled that honey production and GM soybeans could not co-exist.
In addition to known health risks posed by GMO crops and the herbicides
used to grow them, there is also _environmental damage_
-health-and-the-environment/) to soil, water, and _bee colonies which are
( fast. There are also long term changes to the
ecosystems where GMOs are grown.
Since _a landmark decision in 2011_
( by the European court of justice
banned GM crop imports, GMO honey would likely not be accepted – similar
to how Syngenta’s GMO corn strains are now being refused in China when
exported from the U.S.
The ruling determined that honey derived from a GM crop would be
unapproved for human consumption.
This follows an _inaugural study conducted in Campeche_
( , where about 10,000
hectares of GM soybeans were planted after Monsanto’s permit was approved in
2012. GM pollen _was found_
in some honey samples destined for the European market.
Since bees pollinate vast tracts of land and could contaminate other crops
besides the GM crops planted, GM soy plantings also have more exponential
probability to cause damage.
The _Monsanto ruling was commended_
( by the respected national newspaper La Jornada, which
accused the Mexican government of ignoring widespread concerns over GMOs and
forcing bee keepers to fight it out in court with powerful multinational
companies who have deep pockets to make legal battles go on at length.
Central to the ruling was the Mexican constitution, specifically the
government’s obligation to fully consult indigenous communities before making
any major decision about what happens to their land and food.
It’s too bad our own governments have long overlooked the people’s wishes
regarding GM crops in the U.S.


Marching Against Monsanto, Again.

So I spoke at the March Against Monsanto today.  Thank you to Whitley and the crew for putting this together.  I arrived without my prepared remarks and had to off-the-cuff it.  It was okay but I wanted to share my beautiful, eloquent speech that noone got to hear today.

<I have come here today to speak about the food sovereignty movement.   And I will do that in a moment but first I want to tell you a story and toward the end I’ll offer you a solution to the food situation in which we find ourselves.

Back in 2006 I was standing around with some friends at one of our Mud Season Dinners.   These are events meant to demonstrate that even in the dark days of February or March there is still enough, entirely local, food to feed a crowd. At that moment we were at the height of our resistance against the animal ID law.  This is the USDA regulations that say all farmers who have livestock have to register and tattoo or tag all of their animals with a number and then do all the paperwork that entails.   So if anyone gets sick from eating meat, when that animal goes into the churning cauldron that is our current food system, the Feds can trace that animal’s life and provenance from birth to slaughter.   Naturally the anarchists, non-anarchist, libertarians and plain old left-wing activists, I was chatting with were none too pleased with this development.  One of them asked plaintively “What are we going to do?”   A good friend of mine, a farmer who feeds thousands of people every year, happened to be standing in the group.  He looked at her and said “We’re going to keep doing what we are doing…it’s just going to be illegal.”

And that is the essence of this movement.   It is; in the tradition of Suffrage, Civil Rights and Marriage Equality; essentially a human rights movement.    We got them out of our voting booths and bedrooms now let’s get them out of our kitchens.  We are; by eating fresh local food, sourced from farmers that we know; committing an act of civil disobedience. Like the Palestinians on the West Bank standing in front of their olive trees,  we are standing in front of our apple trees, protecting them from the encroachment of a hostile government.    They, the government bureaucrats, say they are protecting us from ourselves.   They say that we don’t know enough not to eat bad food.  They say that a farmer would sell tainted milk or meat or eggs or vegetables to his neighbors and friends.   They say that we would feed bad food to our own family and loved ones.    Well, let me tell you, the only bad food we are feeding anyone is the over-processed, GMO-ladden, vacant-of-nutrient foods that the big manufacturers shovel our way every day in the chain supermarkets.  If you are eating fresh nutrient-dense foods you are going to eat less, because your body is going to crave less.   And you are going to be healthier over all.  Twinkies just can’t do that.

This is what I call a “just walk away” moment.   My favorite kind of civil disobedience.   Just as Gandhi lead the salt march  to prove to the people of India, and to the British Empire, that they could make their own salt and did not need to remain enslaved to the English salt monopoly, so too we can grow our own food.   As Ron Finley of the South Central Garden in LA said so eloquently:  “Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do.  Plus you get strawberries.”  and my favorite quote from him: “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”

So we in the food sovereignty movement offer you the opportunity to take back control of what you eat three times a day.   Let the big guys know that they cannot intimidate us into eating rubbish that nourishes neither our bodies nor our souls.   Anyone interested in getting a food sovereignty ordinance passed in your own town can speak to me and we’ll get you started.

We need to protect our small farms and farmers.   They are the people who feed us.  They are also, historically,  the people who brought us the populist movement which lead to so much government reform in the late 1800’s.   And currently the farmers in Nebraska are one of the major reasons we are winning the fight against the XL pipeline.   Farmers are independent, hard-working, tough-minded folk who see the truth more clearly than most and are not afraid to stand up for what they believe.

So stand with small farmers and farmworkers everywhere and take back your power.   Stand up in front of your apples trees or tomato plants or by the side of your local farmer and just say NO.   No to GMOs, no to heavy-handed government oversight, no to caving into the intimidation bought and paid for by the folks that make the most money selling us crap to eat.   Join the next great civil rights movement.   The right to know what is in our food and  to eat whatever we damn well please.

“Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.”  Wendell Berry>

Got Raw Milk?

Thanks to my friend Heather Retberg for bringing this to my attention.   Listen all the way to the end where he talks about how the government treats farmers with such disrespect.


I also like the bit where he says GMOs are a contamination, too, and should be labeled at least.

NPR Discovers Kale

Beedy's Camden KaleI was standing in my kitchen the other day.   Doing dishes, listening to NPR and basking in the glow of knowing that the Supreme Court may consider the OSGATA VS. Monsanto seed patent suit.    Pubpat has asked the high court to hear the case.

Anyhow, it was a beautiful fallish morning in Maine and I was happy.   But that is not what made me almost fall on the floor laughing.    Soon after the good news on the OSGATA lawsuit on All Things Considered the host spent over eight minutes on what you might be lead to believe was a newly discovered vegetable: KALE.   It made my day.   That is a lot of national radio real estate to give over to this humble plant.   I was very impressed.


Personally I love kale and have for years.   I braise it with some garlic and onions from my garden and a little local sunflower oil.  I grow a great variety called Beedy’s Camden Kale developed by a woman I know, Beedy Parker, specifically for growing in our local climate.  It is well adapted to my growing season and soil.   Truly local food.  The seeds are sold by a local worker’s co-operative, Fedco, and guaranteed no GMOs!  The two stories were a great synergy for improving my general outlook on life as we slog along trying to keep it legal to grow our own, save our own seeds and breed plants that grow well where we live.


And the NPR audience got introduced to kale.   All in all a good day!



Let’s have some real news, PLEASE!!!



“Though the controlled corporate media apparatus is suppressing the story, 40 tons of GMO crops were torched, prompting an FBI investigation. There has been a complete media blackout.  It was only reported locally live on KXL Radio and echoed by the Oregonian, where the ONLY web mention exists, hard to find because the headline wording carefully avoids the most likely keywords for a search.


Here’s what happened — 40 Tons of GMO Sugar Beets were set ablaze in Eastern Oregon. FORTY TONS — the entire acreage of two full fields of crops in the ground were set ablaze over a three night period of time. That means arson.

Evidence is that 6,500 plants were destroyed by hand, one plant at a time. That, in turn, implies a lot of people were involved. Would you want to stick around once a fire was going and wait to be discovered? No, someone (many someones) probably wanted to move as quickly as possible. We are talking about a movement — and this is exactly the kind of retribution that many have warned was coming; when lawmakers and corporations refuse to honor the Constitution and instead engage in ‘legalized’ criminal acts such as enabled by the ‘Monsanto Protection Act.’

More than a decade ago, environmental saboteurs vandalized experimental crops across the country in a revolt against high-tech agriculture. Foes of genetic engineering also struck in 2000, when members of the Earth Liberation Front, with roots in Oregon, set fire to agriculture offices at Michigan State University. ELF’s position was that genetic engineering was “one of the many threats to the natural world as we know it.”


But ELF cells normally come forward immediately to claim responsibility, because to them, its all about publicity to educate the public. Since there has been no statement about the recent arson this may have simply been Oregon farmers who have said, ‘Enough!’ Another clue that this may be the case is that this comes on the heels (two weeks) of Japan’s rejection of the entire Oregon wheat crop for the year (a tremendous financial blow because over 80% of Oregon Wheat is exported) because one report said one field was contaminated with at least ONE GMO plant.”

Am I advocating these kinds of acts?  What do you think?   Am I pissed off at the lamestream media for not picking this up?  You bet I am.   Let’s have some real news, PLEASE!!!


Shame on you Nell Newman!

I serve on the board of directors of my local food co-op.    We have several times  discussed trust.   The trust that our members put in the staff and management to “pre-screen” all the food that is on our shelves.   Many, as one member recently told us, people shop there thinking that they don’t have to read labels because they assume that we have weeded out the GMOs and other stuff that is bad for you and are not stocking or selling it.   That is sadly not the case but with the revamping of the purchasing policy committee it may soon become closer to reality.

I, however, am a compulsive label reader and since I had the inside story that not everything in the store is pre-screened I often took a look at the labels of things I bought trusting, foolish me, that labels don’t lie.    Newman-O’s are one of my favorite treats and I have purchased them often.   Never did I notice that the canola oil did not say “organic canola oil.”

Well, we all know from our long fight against GMOs that no conventional canola oil in the country is GMO-free.    If you want non-GMO canola oil you have to buy organic and that is getting tougher and tougher to find because our friend Monsanto has managed to pretty thoroughly contaminate all the canola seed in the country with the genetically manipulated crap.

So here is a heads up from Cornucopia News.   Read it and weep.   And then might I recommend that you do what I plan to do:  stop buying all Newman’s Own products in protest.   Once again my purchased food options shrink.   Hell of a thing!

Cornucopia News

Have You Been Defrauded? Help Bring Organic Scammers to Justice

June 27th, 2013

Have you been duped?  Ever purchased Newman’s Own Organics or Organic Bistro Products?

Newman OHave you purchased Newman’s Own Organics or Organic Bistro food products?  If so, you may have been deceived into buying food that is not actually certified organic.

We are investigating claims that certain companies are getting away with using the word ‘organic’ in their company name, listed prominently on food packages, even if the product they’re selling isn’t certified organic and does not legally qualify as organic.

As an example, not all Newman’s Own Organics products are actually certified organic.  Newman’s Own Organics Newman-O’s cookies contain conventional canola oil and conventional cocoa.  Their ginger cookies are made with conventional ginger.

Similarly, Organic Bistro (in the process of being rebranded ‘Artisan Bistro’) sells frozen entrees made with some organic vegetables, but uses non-organic chicken and turkey (the number one ingredient by weight in some of their products).

The law is clear: in order to prominently label products “organic” on the front panel, a company must have between 95% and 100% organic ingredients (the balance being minor materials that have been checked for safety and are not available in organic form).  If some certified organic ingredients are used (a minimum of 70%), the label can (in modest size typeface) claim “made with organic vegetables,” as an example.

If you or someone you know has purchased Organic Bistro or Newman’s Own Organics products, we would like to hear from you.

We like to say that, “There is a higher power, in terms of watchdogging the integrity of organics, than the USDA.”  And that is you – the organic consumer.

So today (7/1/13) in my email is this clarification (I wrote back, thanked her for the clarification, and noted that the theme of my post was the breaking of trust and the damage to the “organic” label):

Dear Betsy,

It is important to note here that the complaint we have with Newman’s is that the word “organic” is not permitted on the front of the package if it is only 70% organic or made with some organic ingredients only. If the product is “made with organic ingredients” it means that the remaining 30% follow certain rules, including no GMOs, no irradiation, no sewer sludge and only ingredients approved by the National Organic Standards Board.

Newman’s Organics has sneaked around the issue of not being able to put the word organic on the front of the package by including it in their brand name—a dirty trick. You are not eating GMO products in Newman O’s, but you are not getting a 100% organic product, as the name of the company (Newman’s Organic’s) implies.


I hope this helps,

Melody Morrell

Melody Morrell
Associate Membership Coordinator
The Cornucopia Institute

Hurrah for Connecticut!

Our "Label GMOs" Crowd at the Maine State House

Our “Label GMOs” Crowd at the Maine State House


Connecticut, today, became the first state to pass the GMO labeling bill.  Check out the whole story here.


And congress finally started considering the 2012 Farm Bill today.   More about that later.