in honor of earth day we are releasing a new round of GMOs

There should be so many disclaimers on this story I can only list the most important ones.

1. I am not, nor have ever been a scientist.

2. I am not, nor have ever been a lawyer.

3. I am not, nor have ever been anti government (although I wonder some times if the big they always have “We the peoples…” best interests in mind…).

4. I am not a farmer and can’t even begin to express how much respect and gratitude I have for the people raising our food.

5. I like corn, and eat a good amount of corn product although I have recently given up drinking Coca Cola something I did every day for over 20 years. Honestly, I am pretty sure I have consumed a small ponds worth of High Fructose corn syrup. I’ll tell you about the soda cessation once I stop flickering back and forth between psychotic episodes and paralytic malaise (completely unrelated I am sure).

The Scoop

The USDA deregulated a new type of GMO corn yesterday. Today is earth day. I am sure no thought was given to this by anyone involved, but I think it is wonderful in its level of irony.

Wall Street Journal online article

Agriculture Online article

Syngenta started their petition for deregulation status of this new corn trait in August 2007

The USDA petitions pending and granted url (you can read the petitions and the USDA recommendations here)

Once the USDA reviewed Syngenta’s 1125 page petition the USDA allows for a 60 day public review before posting its final recommendation (as far as I can tell).

Here is a screen capture of the petition site with the document highlighted in yellow below:

During the 60 day review only 35 comments were received from interested parties (the breakdown is interesting).

Below is a quote pulled from the USDAs final 91 page recommendation as well as another screen capture of the USDAs document highlighted in yellow:

On January 13, 2010, APHIS published a notice in the Federal Register (75 FR 1749- 1751, Docket No. APHIS-2009-0072) announcing the availability of the Syngenta petition and the APHIS PPRA and EA for a 60-day public review and comment period. This comment period ended on March 15, 2010. APHIS received a total of 35 comments from various groups and individuals. Nineteen comments supported deregulation, while 16 comments generally opposed the development and use of genetically engineered foods.

Those supporting a determination of nonregulated status included six academicians, six individuals from the corn industry, four corn trade groups, and three corn growers. Those opposing a determination of nonregulated status included a corn grower, two Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) (supplied four comments), and 11 individual consumers.

-USDA Recommendation (see below screen capture for location of the document)


We can’t cry over spilled milk if there are only 16 comments opposed to a new GMO being introduced.

So:

Now I don’t know if this new GMO corn is bad, but I do know from reading some of the USDA recommendation that it does cross pollinate with other corn strains. I think this is about midway down the page on page 17 of the USDA recommendation. Again I am not a scientist but I think there is a mention of lessening the possibility of cross pollination by creating buffer zones:

Methods of spatial and temporal isolation are widely used when seed producers are seeking to minimize the influx of pollen from outside a seed production field.

-USDA Recommendation (see above screen capture for location of the document)

Humor me, but in the event of an all out nuclear conflict I keep one of those laminate topped metal sided school desks in my basement, don’t you.

A brief history:

So here are some sensationalistic snippets of fact taken out of context and posted for the sole purpose of sparking a teeny amount of interest.

Syngenta has two parent companies, AstraZeneca and Novartis and is one of Monsantos, Dupont and Bayer’s chief competitors in the GMO market.

interesting overview

AstraZeneca had been a Swedish company called Astra and Zeneca was originally part of Imperial Chemical Industries. One early project which they worked on a few years back was a rival to Monsantos “terminator” seeds which make seed saving impossible. The seeds of these GMO plants produce genetically sterile seeds. AstraZeneca’s version was called (by detractors) the “Verminator” because it contained fat genes from a rats genome. I think I read somewhere that AstraZeneca had stopped work on this project.

A series of thoughts and top of mind questions:

Can we call any corn raised in the United States organic?

Where is this non-GMO corn raised, and how can non-contamination be guaranteed?

If it is not possible to guarantee no cross pollination why should anyone pay extra dough at Whole Foods or elsewhere for “non GMO” corn products?

How as a culture that relies so heavily; and has such faith in the use of science and technology, can we move forward in a way which leaves a good legacy for our children?

In summary:

It is never my intention to overtly target or slander any company, AstraZeneca has many products which do amazing things for people who rely on there medicines for survival. However, as I become more aware of food topics I am having a hard time not becoming angry. It is the opinion of many in the scientific community that there is not enough long term testing on these crops, and that live field testing is dangerous. I guess we (or our children) will find out.

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2 Responses to “in honor of earth day we are releasing a new round of GMOs”

  1. MuriToore Says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian, iwspo.net

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