Feb 112010

How much rice do you eat, in various food products?

How much flax?

–        In 2006 there was a hullaballoo in the United Kingdom because the US knowingly shipped banned food to them – rice contaminated by GMO’s.

(The same rice is on store shelves in North America, but there is no testing to identify GMO’s in our food products.  GMO food does not have to be labeled here.  We fought and lost that battle.)

–        Following that, American rice farmers sued Bayer over loss of markets because of contamination from Bayer’s GM rice.

–        In December 2009 “Bayer was sentenced to pay about $2 million for losses sustained by two US farmers. The verdict of the federal court in St. Louis is seen as a test run for up to 3000 cases brought by other rice farmers in the US.”  (I’d like it if Bayer has to pay every one of those 3000 farmers $1 million dollars each for their losses.)

–        In spite of all that, in February 2010 Bayer is still seeking import approval to get its GM rice into Europe.  It is also trying to force GM rice on developing nations.

–        And then there’s Canada’s equally loathesome story of exporting to Europe, flax contaminated with “Triffid” GM flax developed at the University of Saskatchewan.

If the farmers sue for loss of markets this time (why wouldn’t they?), it will be tax-payers (the University) paying the bill.  We paid for the development of this flax, and we are paying big-time for all the other costs associated with the fiasco.

–        Often, at the end of the “research” stage at the University, a corporation cashes in on the patent. That’s not the case in this instance, but GM Triffid Flax is nonetheless another good example of “Privatize the profits, socialize the costs” in the real world when public institutions start to think that they are corporations.  It should be mandatory that they pass a test on Jane Jacobs’ book, “Systems of Survival”.

It is important for us to take supporting action to the work in the EU.

Canada has a bad reputation internationally as a consequence of its participation in trying to force genetically-manipulated herbicide-tolerant food crops, also “terminator technology” (sterile seeds) on the rest of the world.  The American corporatocracy has found Canadians to be a willing puppet state.  But WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for the actions of our Government officials.

To help the Europeans, and American and Canadian farmers, you could circulate this email to people in rural communities so it finds its way to farmers, or send it to the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, to persons in the research community, especially to students, and so on.  Persons from the East for whom rice is a staple should be aware of Bayer and its GM rice.

Just send it to your friends. They should know about the rice and flax they are, and will be eating, if we don’t circulate this information.  The email will find its way to the right people.  When time permits I will try to set up a meeting with persons at the University.  These very serious problems have their roots in corporatocracy and a corporate set of values.  We WILL find solutions.  /Sandra



(2)  Made into a separate posting, see   2010-02-11  The problems we get into when we do not have a separation of powers between the state and commerce, Jane Jacobs.



(5)   MONSANTO AND BAYER:  GLYPHOSATE (trade name “Roundup”) AND GLUFOSINATE (trade name “Liberty”)

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This began as an email about efforts to stop the introduction of GM rice into Europe.

(GM = genetically modified or manipulated.  GE=genetically engineered, same thing).

How much of the rice on Canadian store shelves is GM?  Do we know or have a choice between GM and non-GM rice?

Then I was drawn in by the parallels between GM rice and the GM flax scandal that became known last fall.  GM rice and GM flax belong in the same discussion, following GM wheat (and GM canola, and GM pigs and fish).

We fought intensively along with farmers and many others to stop the introduction of GM wheat.  I wondered why we had to fight that battle:  NO ONE wanted GM wheat.  Not the farmers, not consumers, NO ONE.  The biotech industry working with the Government wanted it.  NO ONE ELSE.  And with very good reason.

At the time of the GM wheat battle, Terry Boehm told me the story of how the Flax Growers had kept flax out of the GM realm, back in 2001.  What a great story of success!

Then the news, fall 2009:  the discovery of GM “Triffid” flax in Canadian shipments to Europe is a devastating blow to Canadian farmers, and to European millers who lost a million dollars in product recalls.

Hmm . . if the GM flax (or rice) is in shipments to Europe, it will be in the flax products we are eating.  We never find out; the Europeans do.

The GM flax was developed by controversial scientist and industry proponent Alan McHughen when he worked at the Crop Development Centre of the University of Saskatchewan.”

Farmers THOUGHT they had stopped the introduction of GM flax back in 2001.  People understood that all the Triffid seeds had been rounded up and destroyed, at considerable cost.  … So what happened?  Where did the GM flax found in 2009 come from?

The “Triffid” GM flax is a story of betrayal, and a predictable outcome that the University and the Government deny, deny, deny.

But who did the betrayal with GM flax?

–        Alan McHughen who developed it?  (He is currently at the University of California  http://www.facultydirectory.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/pub/public_individual.pl?faculty=1912 )

–        by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA – Ag Canada)?  Even today the CFIA lists Triffid GM flax as authorized for “unconfined release into the environment and livestock feed.”   http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/plaveg/bio/dd/dd9824e.shtml )

–        Is it betrayal by the University, part of their quest to serve corporate interests at public expense?

–        Or betrayal by “John Allen, director of market development for Quality Assured Seeds, a farmer-owned company that was licensed by the U of S to sell Triffid”?  (Not likely – the University sold the seed to more than John before it was to be collected and destroyed.)

–        Is it betrayal by the GM scientists who deny that Triffid flax events will happen?

–        What does the story of Bayer’s GM rice lend to the discussion?

–        Or, is it “we have seen the enemy and he is us”? …  These crops have very serious negative implications for the environment and for health.  The Europeans can stop these GM products . .  why are we impotent?

The tragedy is ours.  We are the ones who pay –  farmers, consumers of food, European millers.  Through lost sales, through product recalls, through contaminated food, and through our taxes we are the ones to pay for the Government officials who are “negotiating” with the Europeans, and for the clean-up.  We paid for the development of Triffid flax, our young people are “educated” by these researchers, the conflicts-of-interest go uncontested, the shaky integrity goes unchallenged.  Too few speak up.  No tongues.

The GM story is one of intrigue and betrayal.  It’s part of the SPP “de-regulation” and “harmonization” for the chemical/biotech/pharmaceutical complex of corporations.  When  I think of Triffid, I recall the news last summer:  University Presidents have now been welcomed into the Government – Corporate fold.

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(2)  Made into a separate posting, see   2010-02-11  The problems we get into when we do not have a separation of powers between the state and commerce, Jane Jacobs.


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How much rice do you eat, in various food products?

So maybe you know about Bayer’s GM Rice?

LL rice = Liberty Link rice.  Liberty Link is Bayers’ GM crop line, genetically-engineered to be resistant to Bayer chemicals (Liberty). (Bayer might be as well-known at the University of Saskatchewan College of Agriculture as Monsanto.)

See “Bayer,  HANDS OFF OUR RICE!”, a great YouTube video in item 12,  EU URGED NOT TO APPROVE BAYER’S GM RICE.  www.cbgnetwork.de/3017.html

When I read what these corporations are doing, I am sooo happy that the Americans are rallying behind the call for an amendment to their constitution, to define that corporations do not have the same rights as citizens (as discussed in email sent January 24).

Taking back control of grains, the basis of our food supply from Corporate + Government + University is the same battle as the constitutional amendment in the U.S., but in another form.   It may be David against Goliath, but a thousand stab wounds by citizens will eventually win the day.

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Grains are not an issue for farmers.  They are an issue for us, the basis of our food supply.

There is the fight to keep Bayer’s GM rice out of the European Union.  Our store shelves will be loaded with American GM rice, too.  There may be as many rice products on our store shelves as wheat.

GM grains contaminate and take over the seed stocks very quickly.   Once they are introduced, consumers lose choice.  You cannot buy GM-free canola oil, for example, because almost all of the registered seed stocks now contain GM canola.  You cannot visually distinguish between GM and non-GM seeds.  Seeds have to be tested in a laboratory to determine their genetic makeup.  The Europeans routinely test for contamination.  Canada does not; Canadians fought and lost the battle for labelling of GM food products.

A large majority of Canadians wanted the labelling, as poll after poll showed, but in Canada the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA – Ag Canada) is run by the chemical/biotech corporations like Monsanto and Bayer.  THEY, as agents of the North American corporatocracy, decided whether we would have labelling of GM food products or not.  (Note that the current president of the CFIA is Carole Swan.)

GM grains are designed to be resistant to applications of particular chemicals; GM herbicide-tolerant seeds become weeds that are resistant to applications of today’s chemicals.  They lead to the need for applications of more chemicals, and more toxic chemicals.

The chemical/biotechnology corporations (which are often owned by the pharmaceutical/biotechnology corporations) have an established history.  Here’s how it works:

–        Establish “partnerships” with Governments and with Universities.

–        The partnerships are established without any public knowledge of, or input to, or debate in Parliament.  They become known after-the-fact (true of the whole GM agenda).

–        Introduce the GM crop in Canada, or in the U.S.  Australia is another favourite production site. (European citizens have “zero tolerance” for GM grains.)

–        Create a corporate-friendly regulatory system.  With quislings well-placed.

–        The Governments of Canada, the U.S. and Australia use challenges through the World Trade Organization (WTO) to force the GM grains on the Europeans.  In the name of Free Trade.  In the name of “efficiency” which means “harmonization” of regulations.  And in the name of “progress”.  All to serve corporate interests.

–        If there are difficulties, “Leak” some of the GM grains into production.   Do it in North America.

–        Convince the Europeans it is only reasonable that “zero tolerance” should be adjusted downward to allow SOME contamination.  (Which will be more and more in the future as more and more GM seeds – OOPS! – – get “leaked” or multiply.)

(when the seeds grow in the wrong place they are weeds.  Application of the chemical they have been engineered to be resistant to, won’t kill them.  They take over.)

–        It’s pretty nice that we get to pay much of the bill.   We pay for Canadian Government officials working on the challenges through the WTO, we are paying for the attempts to straighten out the situation now that GM flax has been found by the Europeans in Canadian flax shipments, we generously pay for Government researchers and for GM crop development at the College of Agriculture, and the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan.   We pay as the Canadian reputation for fairness gets trashed.  We, too, get in on the act of service to the corporations.

Meanwhile, the public interest, our interest, is left to us to fight for, relentlessly with whatever is left over.  Years – – but I think the tide has turned.  There is a huge and growing swell of resistance on the horizon.

Food crops should not be developed by the criterion that you can spray them with chemicals and they will survive.

Nor should life-forms (seeds) be patentable (corporate ownership which denies the right of farmers to save seed from which to grow next-year’s crop).  Seeds belong, like air, water, natural resources, and information to “the Commons”.

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(5)   MONSANTO AND BAYER:  GLYPHOSATE (trade name “Roundup”) AND GLUFOSINATE (trade name “Liberty”)

Monsanto manufactures the chemical “roundup” which is basically glyphosate.  Its GM crops are called “roundup ready”  (the more accurate label is “roundup resistant”; you can spray the crops with the chemical “roundup” and they won’t die.)

Monsanto’s biotech crops were a threat to Bayer’s market.  Bayer manufactures the chemical “liberty” which is basically glufosinate.  So now Bayer is also into biotech crops; its grains are called “liberty link” or “LL”.   Spray Bayer’s GM crops with the chemical “liberty” and they won’t die.

In a short time “problematic weeds” develop that are resistant to the chemicals, of course.  . . .  Sorry, but I cannot understand how these GM crops make any longterm sense to farmers, let alone for consumers.  I suppose the advertising companies make a pile of money convincing the farmers.  Add to that the appalling corporate ownership of farm publications and there’s a huge information deficit in the “free press”.

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