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Tagged with GMOs

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FDA to GMO labeling campaign: What million signatures?

It hasn’t been a good week for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- if you care about public health. If, however, you think corporate interests and politics should trump science, well, then it’s been one red-letter day after another.

First, the FDA announced its refusal to ban the common endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Then, on an unrelated note, The New York Times published a lengthy analysis of the repeated interference by the Obama White House in the FDA’s decision-making process. (The White House meddled in calorie-labeling on movie popcorn, warning labels on low-SPF sunscreen, and an ozone-deplete chemical in certain asthma inhalers.) It’s a distressing pattern of political involvement in science that Obama inherited from the Bush administration.

But it gets worse. Or better if you’re Monsanto. The deadline for the FDA to respond to the Just Label It petition for genetically modified food labeling arrived last week. And, as required by law, the agency responded. Sort of. It supplied a letter to the group behind the petition that said, essentially, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

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Monsanto picture book teaches kids about the wonders of biotech

Hey kids, can you complete this word: B _ _ T _ C H N _ L _ G Y? What's that spell? If you said "a really neat topic [that is] helping to improve the health of the Earth and the people who call it home," you may have been reading Look Closer at Biotechnology, a kids' activity book funded by Monsanto and other biotech firms.

Read more: Food

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Make yourself useful: Five food actions in five minutes

Ready to start fixing the food system, but don't know where to start? Why not kick things off with this list of easy, meaningful actions you can take right now -- some without even leaving your computer screen.

1. Make GMOs visible to everyone

Walk through the aisles of your average supermarket, and an estimated 80 percent of the packaged foods there will contain genetically modified ingredients. But you'd never know that by looking; the government hasn’t required labeling because it does not want to "suggest or imply that GM/GE foods are in any way different from other foods." Some brands have started to put the “Non-GMO Project Verified” label on their packaging, but that's a voluntary effort.

Now, you can join the estimated 90 percent of Americans who support labeling laws to help make transparency within the food system the rule, not the exception. Sign the Just Label It campaign’s petition calling on the Food and Drug Administration to require mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods.

2. Keep “pink slime” out of school lunch

Read more: Food

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New Center for PostNatural History is a museum of human influence on nature

One of the cool things about natural history museums is that they show you how nature has changed over time, adapting to volatile conditions and extreme challenges. And nothing is more volatile, extreme, or challenging than the human race, so it makes sense that there would be a museum to chronicle just how much we’ve messed with plants, animals, the climate, and in general the world around us. The Center for PostNatural History, opening this week in Pittsburgh, is that museum.

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GMO-labeling game plan: California or bust!

Participants in the Millions Against Monsanto march.

Taking a play from the gay marriage battle, GMO-labeling advocates are taking a state-level approach. The plan has been to pass labeling bills in states where food is on the public’s radar, in order to convince Congress, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that the issue has teeth.

"We want to see it on a national level, but as more states put it up, we'll get more attention," says Cary Condotta, the Washington state representative who co-sponsored a GMO-labeling bill.

However, it's not as simple as pointing to the high percentage of Americans who would like to know when they're eating genetically modified food. According to a 2010 poll [PDF], 93 percent of Americans were in favor of such labeling.

Thanks to lobbying by seed companies and other agribusiness players, however, state legislators all over the nation have been hitting a wall. Now advocates are joining forces to create a super team in California, in an attempt to get a ballot initiative passed in the state that’s home to 10 percent of all the nation's grocery stores.

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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Farmers advance in their suit against Monsanto

Monsanto is getting a taste of its own medicine; the company is being taken to court.

In this corner, we have a corporate biotech giant with a tighter grasp on the agricultural Monopoly board than your over-enthusiastic little sister on game night. (Their patented genes are in more than 80 percent of the soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar beets, and canola seeds grown in the U.S.) And in this corner, 83 scrappy plaintiffs representing non-GMO seed producers, farmers, and agricultural organizations who say they want the biotech company to stop suing and threatening them. While most are organic, not all of them are.

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Bill Gates wants to solve hunger caused by climate change with GMOs

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Bill Gates is one very confused billionaire philanthropist.

He understands global warming is a big problem — indeed, his 2012 Foundation Letter even frets about the  grave threat it poses to food security. But he just doesn’t want to do very much now to stop it from happening.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

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Monsanto’s new seeds could be a tech dead end

planting cornThis is how corn is planted on industrial-sized farms. (Photo by Minnemom.)

When I wrote recently about the next generation of genetically engineered seeds, I was in truth referring to the next next generation. The fact is that the next actual generation of seeds is already out of the lab and poised for approval by the USDA.

And I’m not talking about Monsanto’s recently approved “drought-tolerant” seeds, which the USDA itself has observed are no more drought-tolerant than existing conventional hybrids.

No, the “exciting” new seeds are simply resistant to more than one kind of pesticide. Rather than resisting Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup alone, they will now also be resistant to Dow AgroScience’s pesticide 2,4-D .

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‘Just Label It': New video from the Food, Inc. guy

Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner has a new project about labeling of GMO foods. This one's a short video, not a feature film, so it'll only take three minutes of your life to check it out:

Read more: Food

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The man whose algae could take over the world

If life is really a disaster movie in which humanity is wiped off the face of the earth, J. Craig Venter will probably be the hubristic genius who gets us there. The man sequenced the human genome in like three years, and now he's focused on the genetic possibilities of algae. The goal is to program those little cells to produce biofuels. Here's his pitch, as told to Scientific American: Everybody is looking for a naturally occurring alga that is going to be a miracle cell to save the world, and after a century of looking, people still haven’t found …