If the GMO salmon is as good as its maker says, why not label it?

This undated 2010 handout photo provided by AquaBounty Technologies shows two same-age salmon: a genetically modified salmon, rear, and a non-genetically modified salmon, foreground. (AquaBounty Technologies/Associated Press)

By now, you’ve probably heard that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first-ever genetically engineered animal for human consumption. It’s an Atlantic salmon modified for fast growth with genes from two other edible fish, and it has been — and will undoubtedly continue to be — a lightning rod for all the issues associated with genetically modified foods. There’s safety, there’s escape into the environment and there’s labeling: a trifecta of discord. The fish’s lengthy approval process — the salmon’s developer, AquaBounty Technologies, first approached the FDA 20 years ago — indicates just how intense that discord has been.

So, safety first. Groups such as Consumers Union and Food and Water Watch have expressed concern about both safety and allergenicity, with Consumers Union citing small sample sizes and “inadequate analysis.” It’s unlikely that the FDA assessment will put their minds at ease, since the final decision is largely consistent with preliminary findings from 2010, when the agency determined that food from the GE salmon is as safe as, and no more allergenic than, food from any other Atlantic salmon, and concluded there is “reasonable certainty of no harm.” (Although “genetically engineered” is the term the FDA uses, this salmon is commonly referred to as a genetically modified organism, or GMO.)

The larger issue is the possibility of escape, important because escapees could outcompete or interbreed with native fish. AquaBounty says it has several layers of safeguards to prevent that: The fish are raised on land, in tanks, and the fish grown for food (as opposed to breeding) are all females, and sterile. The FDA calls the possibility of the salmon’s escape “highly unlikely,” and the possibility of their breeding in the wild commensurately unlikely. Environmental conditions around the company’s Canadian and Panamanian facilities, the agency found, make it unlikely that any escapees could thrive and establish a viable population. (The FDA approval is for only those two facilities. Any new installations will require a new environmental assessment and separate approval.)

Consumers Union, again responding to preliminary FDA findings that today’s announcement confirmed, says the agency’s determination that escape is a remote possibility was built on “inadequate science and unfounded assumptions” and expresses concern that the sterilization process isn’t 100 percent successful. (That’s true; the FDA requires that the rate be at least 95 percent, and AquaBounty chief executive Ron Stotish says that rates, in practice, are generally over 99 percent.)

A Canadian governmental risk assessment issued in 2013 also looked at both safety and escapes and described the risk to human health as “low” and the risk to the Canadian environment as “negligible.”

On both of those issues, there will always be some doubt. Safety can’t be proved (we can only infer it from absence of harm so far), and any containment system can fail. So the questions aren’t “Is it safe?” and “Could they escape?” The question is whether the risk in those two areas is outweighed by the benefits.

So let’s talk about the benefits. According to AquaBounty, the advantages are that the fish reaches market weight in about half the time taken by conventional salmon and requires 25 percent less feed to get there. If that’s true (and there’s no reason to suppose it isn’t), what we have here, finally, is a GMO that can benefit people and planet — unlike the other genetically engineered foods approved for use in the United States, which chiefly benefit farmers. Growing healthful fish in less time, with less feed, is a win for humans (in the form of more affordable salmon) and environment (in the form of reduced feed requirements and less pressure on forage fish stocks).

I do have one concern about whether those benefits will play out, but it’s related to neither safety nor the potential for escape. It’s about raising fish in tanks. Although tanks eliminate the potential for ocean pollution and the spread of disease to wild fish, and virtually eliminate the problem of escapees, they require both water and energy. Does that increase in resources counterbalance the decrease that comes from faster growth and better feed conversion? AquaBounty’s Stotish says that energy requirements vary widely by location and that the Panamanian location is very resource-efficient, as the water is gravity-fed and doesn’t need cooling. Although he hasn’t done the calculation in greenhouse gases, he has done it in money, a reasonable proxy. “We have a lower cost per kilo than net pen production,” he says.

That leaves the third issue: labeling. The United States, unlike many other countries, has no requirement that genetically modified food be labeled as such, and the salmon is no exception. When the fish is introduced, Stotish says, it probably will not be identified as genetically engineered — a decision I think is unfortunate. “When you’re the first and only, labeling is a dangerous decision,” he says. “We’d like to label it as a premium product, but we’ll probably introduce it as ‘Atlantic salmon.’ 

Because there is so much fear and so many misconceptions about genetically engineered food, I feel his pain. But I’d ask him to suck it up and put the label on it. One of the reasons GMOs became such a brouhaha is that consumers feel the technology was foisted, in secret, on an unsuspecting public.

The company has a limited capacity to grow fish, so consumers won’t be seeing the salmon on store shelves right away. Stotish estimates that it’ll be two years before production levels are high enough to get a regular supply to market, and I think that gives AquaBounty plenty of time to change its mind about labeling. If the fish has all the advantages the company claims it does, say it loud. And let everyone — pro and con — vote with their wallets.

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Monsanto’s Deep Legacy Of Corruption And Cover-Up

The History of a chemical company

Monsanto is now instantly recognized as the company dominating the global food supply with its more than 7000  current worldwide patents. But today’s Monsanto is not a corporate newcomer. Although its literature heralds the company as having a clear and principled code of conduct and a pledge to demonstrate integrity, respect, ethical behavior, and honesty in everything they do, the truth is that this company has a legacy of contamination and cover-up that dates back more than a century.

The Rise of  one of ‘The Worst Corporations in the World’

At the turn of the 19th century, John Queeny founded Monsanto Chemical Works to produce such nefarious products as saccharin, synthetic vanillin, and laxative and sedative drugs. The company was well positioned as a leading force in the dawning American chemical industry.

From the 1920’s until the late 1960’s, Queeny’s son, Edgar Monsanto Queeny, expanded the company into a global franchise, and changed its name to Monsanto Chemical Company in 1933. He added sulfuric acid, PCBs, DDT, synthetic fibers, and an array of plastics that included polystyrene to the product line.

During this time, Monsanto also created Agent Orange, one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.

Agent Orange was a combination of equal parts of two herbicides, 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D. The 2,4,5-T used to produce Agent Orange threw off dioxin as a byproduct, a compound the World Health Organization classes as highly toxic. Dioxin can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, hormone disruption, and the initiation of cancer. Dioxin persists in the environment and accumulates in the body, even at minimal exposure.

In areas where Agent Orange was used, the concentration of dioxin was hundreds of times greater than the levels considered safe by the Environmental Protective Agency (EPA). This resulted in a host of terrible health consequences for anyone exposed. and led to decades of litigation during which Monsanto fought tooth and nail to avoid paying for the horrific damage military personnel suffered from. The class action case that followed was settled out of court in 1984 for $180 million, reportedly the latest settlement of its kind at the time.

Read: Sorry Monsanto – Organic Food Demand is Exploding

More than 60 years of Contamination and Cover Up

Dioxin Leak at Nitro – $93 Million Settlement

From 1929 until 1995, Monsanto operated a chemical plant in the small town of Nitro, West Virginia, where it manufactured Agent Orange. In 1949, a pressure valve blew on a tank of the herbicide, sending plumes of smoke and vapors containing dioxin throughout the town, coating residents and the homes they lived in with powdery residue.

In a short time, some people developed skin eruptions and were diagnosed with an enduring and disfiguring condition known as chloracne. Others had prolonged pain extending from their chest to their feet. According to a medical report following the explosion, “It caused a systemic intoxication in the workers involving most major organ systems.”

Monsanto’s reaction? The company down-played it, claiming the chemical was slow-acting and just a minor irritant.

To get rid of the dioxin, the company dumped it into storm drains, streams and sewers, and stored it in landfills. Dioxin persisted in waterways and in the fish that lived in them. When residents sued for damages, they were told by Monsanto that their allegations had no merit and that the company would defend itself vigorously.

The residents of Nitro or their descendants finally received $93 million from Monsanto in 2012.

PCBs Contaminate the Town of Anniston, Alabama

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are used in many industries as hydraulic fluids, sealants, and lubricants. These chemicals have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems.

Monsanto’s plant in Anniston, Alabama produced PCBs from 1929 to 1971. Since then, tons of contaminated soil have been hauled away from the plant, but the site continues to be one of the most highly polluted areas in the country.

Why was it such a mess? During its production years, waste PCBs were dumped  into a nearby open landfill, poured into a creek that ran alongside the plant,  or just allowed to run off the property during storms. During those years, the townspeople drank from their wells, ate fish they caught, and swam in the creeks, oblivious of the PCBs. When public awareness began to mount, authorities found high levels of PCBs all over the place, and in the bodies of those people, where it will remain forever.

In 1966, a Monsanto biologist testing waterways near the Anniston plant found that when live fish were added to the water, “All 25 fish lost equilibrium and turned on their sides in 10 seconds and all were dead in 3 1/2 minutes.”

In 1970, the FDA found high levels of PCBs in fish near the Anniston plant, and Monsanto jumped into cover-up mode. A leaked internal memo from a company official outlined steps for the company to take to limit disclosure. The strategy called for engaging public officials to fight the battle for them. “Joe Crockett, Secretary of the Alabama Water Improvement Commission will try to handle the problem quietly without release of the information to the public at this time,” the memo promised.

A statement eventually released from Monsanto’s world headquarters in St. Louis stated, “Quoting both plant management and the Alabama Water Improvement Commission, the PCB problem was relatively new, was being solved by Monsanto and, at this point, was no cause for public alarm.”

The class action suit for Anniston was finally settled  in 2003, when Monsanto was forced to pay $700 million.

More PCBs Dumped into the Environment

In 1977, Monsanto closed its PCB plant in Whales, but not before dumping thousands of tons of waste into the quarry of the town of Groesfaen. Authorities there say the site is still one of the most contaminated in Britain.

Internal papers indicate that Monsanto knew about the PCB dangers as early as 1953, when toxicity tests on the effects of PCBs killed more than 50% of the lab rats subjected to them. In 2011, Monsanto reluctantly agreed to help in the clean up after an environmental agency found 67 chemicals at the quarry site that were exclusively manufactured by Monsanto. Yet that effort remained underfunded and the quarry remains contaminated.

The Guardian reported that Monsanto wrote an abatement plan in 1969 which admitted “the problem involves the entire United States, Canada, and sections of Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.”

Navy Rejects Monsanto Product Because it was ‘Too Toxic’

Monsanto tried to sell its hydraulic fluid, known as Pydraul 150, to the navy in 1956, and supplied test results in their sales pitch. But the navy decided to do its own testing, and the company was informed that there would be no sale because the product proved to be too toxic. In an internal memo divulged during a court proceeding, Monsanto’s medical director stated that“no matter how we discussed the situation, it was impossible to change their thinking that Pydraul 150 is just too toxic for use in submarines.”

Monsanto Moves into Food, Biotechnology

Monsanto’s move into biotech began in the 1970’s, and in 1983 the first genetic modification of a plant cell had been achieved. Synthetic bovine growth hormone (rBST) was on the horizon. Monsanto’s public relations department portrayed GM seeds as a panacea for alleviating poverty and feeding the hungry. In 1985, the company bought NutraSweet artificial sweetener, a branded version of aspartame – the compound responsible for 75% of the complaints reported to the FDA’s adverse reaction monitoring system.

Monsanto Seeks Clean Image, Creates Solutia

In the late 1990’s, Monsanto created a new company known as Solutia, and off-loaded its chemical and fiber businesses. L. Bartlett and James B. Steele, chronicling the rise of Monsanto for Vanity Fair magazine, noted the reason for the spinoff was to channel the bulk of Monsanto’s mounting chemical lawsuits and liabilities into the spun-off company, thereby creating a clean image for Monsanto. Solutia became Monsanto’s solution!

As the company, now known simply as Monsanto, moves through the 21st century, it has a ‘new cleaned-up image,’ and a fine sounding mission statement. It refers to itself as a relatively new company that promotes sustainable agriculture and delivering products that support farmers around the world.

Except Monsanto is the 3rd most hated company in the world.

Monsanto’s legacy of contamination and cover-up should be a wake up call for you to run from the GMOs they have spawned. Remember the old adage that says leopards can’t change their spots?

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Fox News Reporters Fired For Trying To Expose Monsanto Were Right, Gets Heard A Decade Later [Video]

Today, more people are in-the-know when it comes to the complicating dangers of foods that are or contain anything genetically modified (GM) and the practices of the corporation synonymous with said GM products, Monsanto.

The Inquisitr made sure to report on the latest pertaining to Monsanto and anything that is GM. Late last year, Maui County in Hawaii voted in favor of banning GMOs. This caused Monsanto to file a lawsuit against the county because it affected their business. Apparently, Monsanto had the judge overseeing the case in their back pocket, which resulted in them winning. The dance continues as Hawaii County Officials are trying to appeal the court ruling. It is safe to say that such shenanigans wouldn’t be tolerated in Russia or China, since they have zero tolerance for anything GM.

Because of the aggressiveness the organic movement has shown against GM products, people who originally stood up against companies like Monsanto are finally being recognized. This includes two former Fox News reporters who were fired. The reason for their termination is because they were about to expose something that the organic community knows about today: GM bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in milk.

According to True Activist, the story of the two Fox News reporters who were fired for exposing rBGH was originally told in the documentary The Corporation. Steve Wilson and Jane Akre were working on a series of health concerns related to rBGH, which they discovered did not comply with safety requirements highlighted by Health Canada. For some reason, that part was not included in the final published version of the report by the corporation that made it, Monsanto.

Steve Wilson and Jane Akre were going to expose this to the public on Fox News, but the report was put on hold after Monsanto’s high-priced lawyers in New York sent a threat to the news channel. Fearing a lawsuit, the general manager tried to do all they could to stop the report. Eventually, Steve and Jane were fired.

In a follow-up article by Nation of Change, Monsanto tested rBGH (formally known as Posilac) on rats for 90 days. While in its testing stage, Monsanto was busy promoting rBGH as the “most tested product in history,” specifically to push it as safe. Apparently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) favored Monsanto and gave it the rubber stamp for human consumption. Health Canada, however, tested rBGH on their own and came up with very different results. Utilizing testing in the United Kingdom, they found rBGH can be absorbed by the human body, thus possibly being toxic. As a result, the Canadian regulatory bodies saw the potential for serious human health problems and denied rBGH for human consumption.

It should probably be reported the reason why Steve Wilson and Jane Akre were terminated for exposing the truth is because of the time. Back in 1997, the general public weren’t knowledgeable to the dangers of GM products. Not to mention, Monsanto at the time was quite powerful because nobody challenged them. As for The Corporation, it was released back in 2003, a time when GMOs were starting to be recognized but primarily as something good (solution to world hunger, better food, etc.).

Now, more than a decade later, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre are finally being heard as the report they tried to bring to the public on Fox News back in 1997 is now mainstream knowledge among scientists, think tanks, organic farmers, and health experts around the world. As a matter of fact, rBGH is now linked to both breast and prostate cancer.

With more countries banning the company from ever having their GMOs and other GM products in their country, it may just be a matter of time.

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Monsanto’s Bt-Toxins Found to Kill Human Embryo Cells

People show be interested to know that Monsanto’s (NYSE:MON) Bt-toxin is far from ‘safe’ as the chemical company claimed it would be when filing their papers with the FDA.

New research from Canada show that BT toxins are showing up in pregnant women, and low and they are killing human embryo cells.

Y 2014 is the Year of the Horse, but advocated not through beating this horse to death.

It is called reproductive toxicology, and just like their suicide seeds, these Bt toxins are starting to kill unborn children. This is no exaggeration.

Advocacy groups are saying now is the  time to put Monsanto to “rest” amnd  bankrupt them, and let the world know their ‘Secrets.’

Bt toxins are prominent in genetically altered crops (GMOs) such as Corn, Soybean, Wheat, and others, called Cry1Ab, and they can be lethal according to the  study

Not only do these cry-toxins target the kidney cells of developing human fetuses, but when Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac are combined with RoundUp, they can delay apoptosis of human cancer cells.

What is  worse, glyphosate, the main ingredient in RoundUp, also causes necrosis , i.e. the death of human tissue, and this happens even when the substance is found in much smaller amounts than what is currently being used on our agricultural crops, it is carcinogenic in the parts per trillion range.

In its rush to stay the ‘agricultural leader’ of the world, the US government erected defunct regulatory bodies that have no means to truly examine the ramifications of biotechnology on our food.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is a joke and the FDA gave Monsanto a pass to run rampant over the the food supply.

The Organic Seed Grower’s Association sued Monsanto in Y 2011, and Idaho Wheat growers are suing Monsanto for cross-contamination.

The Big Q: what about parental groups?

Mother’s Against Drunk Driving was formed when a mom lost her baby to a drunk driver. Perhaps the mothers who face reproductive failure due to Monsanto’s hand can sue them too.

The FDA’s internal memos about their concerns surrounding GMO seed crops recently surfaced in a lawsuit, though the public was not meant to see them.

GMO foods are not the foods we have always eaten, to say we have is a lie.

Be safe, avoid GMOs while you write your Senators, Representatives, Congressman, and President, protest, let them know you, and your love ones want to live…