Monsanto names new head Monsanto Korea Managing Director Michiel De Jongh By Kim Tae-gyu Monsanto, one of the world’s foremost agricultural corporations based in the United States, named Michiel De Jongh as its managing director to take the reins of its operations in Korea and Japan, Monday. The citizen of the Netherlands joined Monsanto back in 2004 and served in various regional and global roles in South America. Before coming to Korea, he worked as sales director at the Seeds & Traits division in southern Latin America. “I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead Monsanto Korea, which has built up a firm position in the local vegetable seeds industry through continuous investment in technology and development of its employees,’’ De Jongh said in a press release. “I look forward to further growing our business and strengthening our reputation for high quality products, technology and leadership, always focusing on contributing to the success of the farmer. As an organization we aspire to be the best place to work in Korea, offering a fulfilling environment to talented people.’’ He garnered a master’s of science degree in industrial engineering and management science at the University of Technology in Eindhoven. According to Monsanto Korea, the new managing director speaks fluent Dutch, English and Spanish. firstname.lastname@example.org
he Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s investments in Monsanto and Cargill have come under heavy criticism. Is it time for the foundation to come clean on its visions for agriculture in developing countries?
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is sponsoring the Guardian’s Global development site is being heavily criticised in Africa and the US for getting into bed not just with notorious GM company Monsanto, but also with agribusiness commodity giant Cargill.
Trouble began when a US financial website published the foundation’s annual investment portfolio, which showed it had bought 500,000 Monsanto shares worth around $23m. This was a substantial increase in the last six months and while it is just small change for Bill and Melinda, it has been enough to let loose their fiercest critics.
Seattle-based Agra Watch – a project of the Community Alliance for Global Justice – was outraged. “Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well being of small farmers around the world… [This] casts serious doubt on the foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural development in Africa,” it thundered.
But it got worse. South Africa-based watchdog the African Centre for Biosafety then found that the foundation was teaming up with Cargill in a $10m project to “develop the soya value chain” in Mozambique and elsewhere. Who knows what this corporate-speak really means, but in all probability it heralds the big time introduction of GM soya in southern Africa.
The two incidents raise a host of questions for the foundation. Few people doubt that GM has a place in Africa, but is Gates being hopelessly naïve by backing two of the world’s most aggressive agri-giants? There is, after all, genuine concern at governmental and community level that the United State’s model of extensive hi-tech farming is inappropriate for most of Africa and should not be foist on the poorest farmers in the name of “feeding the world”.
The fact is that Cargill is a faceless agri-giant that controls most of the world’s food commodities and Monsanto has been blundering around poor Asian countries for a decade giving itself and the US a lousy name for corporate bullying. Does Gates know it is in danger of being caught up in their reputations, or does the foundation actually share their corporate vision of farming and intend to work with them more in future?
The foundation has never been upfront about its vision for agriculture in the world’s poorest countries, nor the role of controversial technologies like GM. But perhaps it could start the debate here?
In the meantime, it could tell us how many of its senior agricultural staff used to work for Monsanto or Cargill?
“If I took this story to a sci-fi writer, he or she would say, ‘No, my editor won’t let me publish this. It’s too crazy even for fiction.’”
So Jaydee Hanson, Policy Analyst on Cloning and Genetics at the Center for Food Safety, told Organic Connections. And it’s no exaggeration.
In a nutshell—or, or more fittingly, in a seashell—it goes like this: A company called AquaBounty Technologies develops a genetically engineered salmon. The scientific investigation as to food safety and environmental impact—conducted by the company itself—uses self-serving “science” to defend its position. But even the tiny sampling of fish used in the studies, according to Hanson, shows that it has numerous defects and flaws, as well as reduced nutrition and taste when compared with common-market farmed salmon. Nonetheless, the Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will potentially approve AquaBounty’s genetically engineered faster-growing fish for human consumption.
Consumers have certainly been reacting to this corporate-profit-over-public-safety scenario. Since the decision now in front of the FDA became public, nearly 200,000 comments opposing it have been posted on the CFS website. And not long ago a nationwide poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners for Food and Water Watch, found that 91 percent of Americans polled believe the FDA should not allow genetically engineered fish or meat into the marketplace.
So, too, have politicians been voicing their concerns. According to a recent article posted on ge-fish.org, a website published by the Center for Food Safety to address this specific issue, 40 representatives and senators have called on the FDA to halt approval of genetically engineered salmon.
Although the FDA held a formal hearing on September 19, it has yet to announce its decision. Fortunately, there is a public comment period lasting until November 22—and the already plentiful comments are expected to mount. The site where you can add your remarks is listed at the end of this article.
They Blinded the FDA with “Science”
“The FDA asked AquaBounty Technologies to produce food safety and environmental data on the animals,” Hanson explained. “The company did incredibly small sample sizes in their studies. They made the kinds of mistakes that you would expect a freshman in high school—not a PhD fishery scientist—to make in research design. The largest sample size of the fish being proposed as food, examined for morphology, was 12 animals. They found that the skeletons are worse than in normal farmed salmon, that their jaws are eroded more than in normal farmed salmon, that their gills are enlarged and that their flesh is inflamed. But they say that it’s OK to eat.
“When they looked for possible allergic reactions, they examined 6 fish. The kind they’re proposing be sold as food is a sterile variety, which they compared to a genetically engineered fertile variety. The FDA said, ‘The allergic effects of the fertile one looked bad enough to keep it off the market, but the sterile one is okay.’ Well, this is sick fish, and the sample size is so small you can’t possibly say yes or no.”
Apparently the opinions of expert advisors have little effect on the FDA. “The FDA has to have a veterinary medicine advisory committee look at the data,” Hanson said. “Nearly all of them said the scientific data was inadequate. However, it is an advisory committee. The FDA doesn’t have to take their advice; it could still approve the fish.”
No Label, Says FDA
Following the approval hearing, which the FDA has already conducted, a hearing was held regarding the labeling of genetically modified salmon. “The FDA is arguing that this genetic construct is just the same as natural constructs, and therefore it doesn’t need to be labeled because it’s the same thing that we’ve been eating,” Hanson said.
Nutritionally and flavor-wise, the fish gets low marks. “By the company’s own data, this fish has less omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than regular farmed salmon in worse ratios,” Hanson argued. “It tastes insipid. When you compare ordinary farm salmon to wild salmon, it doesn’t taste as good because it doesn’t have the fats that give the fish that good taste. The genetically modified salmon is not going to taste as good as even regular farm salmon. So basically everything you eat salmon for, it doesn’t have, or it’s got less of than any other kind of salmon.”
The environmental safety of areas surrounding the breeding areas for the genetically engineered salmon has also not been addressed properly, according to Hanson.
“The FDA is recommending what they call ‘approval with limits,’” said Hanson. “The limits are the company has to grow the fertile fish to produce the eggs that they then sterilize up at Prince Edward Island, Canada—which is in the middle of the Bay of Fundy where Atlantic salmon have historically been. The company says that mixing in with wild fish won’t be a problem because they’re sterilizing the fish; but even their own data says that, at best, 98 percent of these are sterile.
“Then they say that their facility is far enough back from any water that there’s no problem of cross-contamination. Well, they are 120 feet from tidal waters. Then they say that they’re at a high enough elevation that it’s no problem. They’re at 23 feet. I went down to look at the Gulf Coast after Katrina and there was a storm surge over 40 feet. In the environmental assessment, the company says that shouldn’t be a problem because no large storms ever hit Prince Edward Island. They’re right on the North Atlantic, famous for storms, and they had the tail end of a hurricane hit the week before the FDA hearing.”
Food Safety Advocates
The good news is the Center for Food Safety has become involved. On the front lines of battle against genetic modification, the organization has already succeeded in halting the planting of genetically modified alfalfa and sugar beets, pending full environmental impact studies.
The stopping of genetically modified salmon is a key issue of which CFS is fully aware.
“This is just a way for them to get a running start on genetically modifying animals,” Hanson concluded. “AquaBounty has two other fish it wants approval on: one a trout and one a tilapia. These are of the same genetic machinery. I think their thought is if they get the salmon approved it should be easy to get the other fish approved.
“Elsewhere, the University of Guelph in Canada has developed a pig with a gene from a fungus introduced into it that breaks down phosphorous. Their idea is this pig could be crowded together with other pigs and not produce as much pollution. They’re calling it the ‘enviro-pig.’
“Yet another company has actually developed what they call a mad-cow-resistant cow—to which I say, we already know how to keep cows from getting mad cow disease: don’t feed them ground-up sheep!”
Visit http://ge-fish.org to get the latest in the fight against genetically modified salmon and to find out how you can help.
For more information on the Center for Food Safety and their projects, visit http://truefoodnow.org.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010, 00:20 (GMT + 9)
AquaBounty Technologies Inc, which is a registered company in the United States, has confirmed that it will begin to breed genetically modified (GM) salmon in Panama.
The main objective for the company is to export the product to the U.S. market for human consumption (HC), said Henry Clifford, vice president of the firm and the project director in Panama.
However, the U.S. authorities have yet to approve GM salmon for direct HC, whilst growing global controversy and different sectors are pushing for the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the country to suspend the approval process until further studies have been released.
Clifford told the newspaper La Prensa, that the initiative was approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and by the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), but these agencies have not issued an official statement.
The businessman claims that these salmon can reach a “sellable size” after 16 to 18 months, compared to the 30 months required by normal salmon.
However, it has been viewed as a very controversial endeavor. Numerous scientists have criticized the genetic modification of salmon as they believe that the fish could interbreed with wild genes and release a growth hormone with unpredictable results.
In addition, they warn that their use may exacerbate allergies in humans.
Meanwhile, U.S. representatives and senators last week urged the FDA to halt the approval process for AquAdvantage salmon, the genetically modified salmon by AquaBounty.
The congressmen asked the FDA to postpone the process until they have analyzed the issue in depth, fix some serious flaws and incorporate more scientific and public input.
For its part, the company and the FDA does not consider the modified salmon to pose any threat to the environment.
“… entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater’s work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater’s owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation.”
A spokesperson for Monsanto, reached by Scahill, first denied the relationship with Blackwater, but then admitted that Monsanto had paid Total Intelligence for intelligence reoprts
“… about the activities of groups or individuals that could pose a risk to company personnel or operations around the world which were developed by monitoring local media reports and other publicly available information. The subject matter ranged from information regarding terrorist incidents in Asia or kidnappings in Central America to scanning the content of activist blogs and websites.”
The spokesperson told Scahill he was told Total Intelligence was completely separate from Blackwater. The news that Monsanto hired a Blackwater company for intelligence reports is rocketing around the world via anti-GMO activists. Blogger Rady Ananda summed up the relationship between Monsanto and Blackwater as
“… A death-tech firm weds a hit squad.”
Citing the growing movement to destroy GMO crops, Ananda thought Monsanto was hoping to be able to quell dissent through infiltrating actvist groups that take direct action. Ananda concluded his article saying
“… Monsanto, by hiring a mercenary army and former CIA field agents, is deadly serious about protecting its deadly products. Yet, this contract further discredits the company. The public can now paint an even bleaker picture of the firm that brought us Agent Orange, PCBs, rBST, DDT, aspartame and, now, hitmen.”
Writing on Above Top Secret, Airspoon commented on Monsanto’s hiring of Blackwater, saying (sic)
“The above quote is pretty scary and indicative of how corporate interests are acting against our own, though most of us already knew that. For any of the deniars who tried to refute that such tactics were used, one need only look at the plethora of information coming out about Xe and Blackwater due to the scandal in Iraq. I think that the best thing that could be done, is to boycott these companies as much as possible. Monsanto might be a little hard to boycott for some folks, though the other companies shouldn’t be. In fact, Monsanto shouldn’t be either for most folks. Blackwater (Xe) is one of the most dangerous entities facing the American people. It’s like the enforcement arm of corporate interests that does not have to operate under the same “restrictions” that government enforcers have to operate under under. It’s like a private army for TPTB. Americans and citizens of the world should be irate ove the very existence of a company such as Blackwater and we should all stand together against the Nazi-like tactics and the anti-freedom angenda of such an evil organization.”
The documents obtained by Scahill show that Monsanto paid Blackwater’s subsidiary, Total Intelligence a total of $232,000 for intelligence services provided in 2008 and 2009. Aside from the brief statement provided to Scahill, Monsanto is keeping quiet on the matter, as is Blackwater and the other organizations cited in Scahill’s article. Scahill said the Canadian Military paid Blackwater over $1.6 million for training, which was provided through Blackwater’s subsidiary, the Terrorism Research Center. Blackwater violated some US export control laws, reported Yahoo News this past August, violations which included the provision of training to the Canadian Military. While the list of violations the US Department of State found Blackwater guilty of is extensive, the company was only fined $42 million. The company name ‘Blackwater’ was changed to Xe (pronounced ‘zee’) in 2009, which Source Watch called a ‘rebranding effort.’ The company is now up for sale. AFP reported Blackwater operatives were accused of killing 17 Iraqis, wounding a further 22 in what was said to be an unprovoked attack in 2007. The company was later cleared of all wrongdoing. Blackwater was ordered out of Iraq earlier this year because of that violent incident said CBS News. Scahill is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. He recently wrote the book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Scahill is also an award-winning investigative journalist and in addition to writing for The Nation, he is a correspondent with Democracy Now!. Scahill’s article on Blackwater will be available in the October 4, 2010 print edition of The Nation.
As most people know, the process by which a succulent chicken breast journeys from egg to fork is not one about which you’d want to watch a documentary just before dinner.
Whether we like to admit it or not, “don’t ask, don’t tell” was a motto to live by for urban dwellers long before the change-averse U.S. military picked it up in Bill Clinton’s time. And not withstanding the fury of animal-rights activists, this approach has worked pretty darned well for producers and meat lovers.
Imagine, then, the frustration that must be felt by developers of various genetically modified foods. Far from the traditional averting of eyes, every move is watched like a hawk by the media and nervous consumers. Terms like “frankenfood” are thrown around, and photos like this featherless, low-fat Israeli rooster are gleefully reproduced.
No, we don’t mean to make light of food safety, or to suggest anything less than the greatest care should be taken. But one suspects that in another 50 years or so, there will be a lot of new entries on the menu of Don’t Look Too Closely.
- Read more: Source
Navan Foods is Participating in the First Ever Non-GMO Month
|Navan Foods: The Allergy Free Food Shop is proud to announce participation in the first ever Non-GMO Month, a time to celebrate consumers’ right to choose non-GMO, raise awareness about GMOs, and promote products that are Non-GMO Project Verified.|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Specializing in allergy free foods, Navan Foods recognizes the importance of providing information about the food it offers to customers. In addition to knowing about allergen information, customers have consistently showed an interest in knowing whether the foods they were purchasing contained GMOs. The Non-GMO Project offers a third party verification program that ensures verified products have gone through a uniformed process to confirm its non-GMO status. Since the incorporation of the Non-GMO Project, thousands of products have been enrolled into its testing program, the Product Verification Program (PVP), and hundreds have already become verified and include the Non-GMO Project Verification Mark, or seal, on packaging. A complete list is available at http://www.nongmoproject.org.
“We have seen interest in non-GMO foods increase in the past couple of years,” states Jennifer Elizondo, President of Navan Foods. “Knowing what goes into food is very important for individuals living with food allergies and for many of our customers, GMO status is important to them just as allergen information is. The Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act requires manufacturers to list the top eight allergens contained in a product. But nothing like that exists for labeling of GMOs. Navan Foods was created with the concept of providing point of sale information so that customers could make safe, informed choices about the food they eat. The Non-GMO project’s PVP supports a consumer’s right to make an informed choice which we as a retailer support.”
According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, as much as 75 percent of processed food in the United States may contain genetically modified organisms, none of which is labeled as GMO. At the same time, polls consistently show that a significant majority of North Americans would like to be able to tell if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs; a 2008 CBS News Poll found that 87% of consumers wanted GMOs labeled, and according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53% of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified.
“In 30 other countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all of the nations in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production of GMOs,” said Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project. “Consumer excitement is definitely growing as the Non-GMO Project seal appears on more and more products, as evidenced by our 16,000+ Facebook fans. It’s wonderful to have the support of retailers across the country leading the way in providing shoppers with the information and non-GMO options they deserve.”
During October, Navan Foods will have special displays and information available, including the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, to raise consumer awareness. In addition, product promotions for Non-GMO Project Verified products will take place throughout the entire month. On 10.10.10, or Non-GMO Day, Navan Foods will participate in a fundraising event and has pledged to donate one percent of that day’s sales to the Non-GMO Project.
To learn more about Navan Foods: The Allergy Free Food Shop visit http://www.navanfoods.com.
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Navan Foods was founded in 2007 with the mission of creating a community resource to assist individuals looking to better their health through safe food choices. The founder, Jennifer Elizondo, created the company based on her experiences shopping for a child with multiple food allergies. The company was recognized for its help to individuals with special diets by being named to Supermarket News’ Fit 25 for special needs programs.
Submitted by Prakash Sharma on Sat, 10/02/2010 – 11:29
Whole Foods Market and the Non-GMO Project Celebrate Consumers’ Right to Choose Foods Without Genetically Modified Organisms
Whole Foods Market and the Non-GMO Project Celebrate Consumers’ Right to Choose Foods Without Genetically Modified Organisms
Nonprofit and supporters focus on consumer education during Non-GMO Month
AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ — Consumers have a right to know what is in their food! That’s Whole Foods Market’s message as it partners with the nonprofit Non-GMO Project to raise awareness about the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food supply.
“Shoppers want more information about what’s happening to their food,” said Michael Besancon, Whole Foods Market senior global vice president of purchasing, distribution and marketing. “The Non-GMO Project’s program helps us stay true to our mission of offering food in its most natural and unadulterated state. We’re committed to this program because it gives us and our suppliers a way to label non-GMO verified products and to educate consumers so they can make informed choices.”
Whole Foods Market shoppers can learn more about non-GMO verified products through store displays in October and by visiting the company’s website. October 10 is Non-GMO Day, and Whole Foods Market stores throughout the country will offer product tastings and demonstrations.
Genetically engineered varieties of plants such as corn, soy, canola and sugar beets are designed to be able to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. More than 30 countries including Australia, Japan and all of the European Union, have restrictions and/or bans on the production of GMOs because they are not considered proven safe.
According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, approximately 80 percent of the food on grocery store shelves in the U.S. contains at least one GMO ingredient. While Federal law compels organic producers to comply with non-GMO requirements through the USDA organic standards, there is no standard for labeling GMOs in non-organic products.
“Most Americans have no idea that there are GMOs in their food, and may not even know what a GMO is,” said Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project. “At the same time, study after study points to potential health risks and consumers in most developed countries around the world won’t eat them. Americans deserve the same information and safe choices that consumers in Europe and elsewhere have, and that’s what the Non-GMO Project and Non-GMO Month are all about.”
The Non-GMO Project, with the support of Whole Foods Market, established America’s first third-party non-GMO verified label—the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal—to help shoppers recognize which products meet rigorous GMO avoidance practices. Verified products range from cereal and snacks to soy beverage products. Unfortunately, due to cross-contamination and pollen drift, very few products in the U.S. are completely free of GMOs. The Non-GMO Project standard is a process-based standard that avoids the intentional use of GMO ingredients by providing suppliers with procedures and best practices for minimizing the presence of GMO ingredients.
Whole Foods Market has enrolled its 365 Every Day Value store brand in the Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program. The company plans to celebrate the launch of the seal on many other products during Non-GMO Month. Of Whole Foods Market’s private label products, several varieties of tortillas chips already bear the seal. For more information about GMOs and Non-GMO Month, visit www.nongmoproject.org.
SOURCE Whole Foods Market