Letter: The Real Reason To Be Worried About cs

We live in an age where access to knowledge on virtually any topic is at our fingertips. Yet, we are bombarded by misinformation on a daily basis. Modern advancements in scientific research are often sensationalized or disputed, with findings rarely reported to the public with the appropriate contexts and caveats.

The term “GMO food” usually refers to an organism that has been modified in a laboratory setting or has had a direct transfer of genes into its DNA. Unfortunately, these foods are misunderstood. Due to the complexity of genetic research and the speed at which advancements are being made, there is an alarming lack of accessible, comprehensible resources by which to evaluate this topic from a public perspective.

As a result, the general public is directed toward sources masquerading as reliable outlets of scientific research. Media outlets, blog posts or opinion articles are written by seemingly trustworthy individuals often present the results of scientific literature in a way that is easily understood by those without formal education in the sciences but are usually riddled with errors or misinterpretations of scientific findings.

The process of genetically modifying an organism isn’t scary if you understand the science, but that doesn’t mean you should become complacent. You should be worried about GMOs, but for reasons, you may not have considered.

The copyright policies and corporate monopolies surrounding GMO production are worth worrying about. Corporations such as Monsanto have been repeatedly accused of biased research and fraudulent claims surrounding their products. For example, Monsanto has recently been accused of secretly influencing studies conducted by Health Canada — studies that were instrumental in the Government of Canada’s decision to approve the sale of Monsanto’s “safe” weed-killer, Roundup. Recent evidence shows that traces of the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, are found in many food products. If Monsanto secretly guided studies claiming the safety of glyphosate, there is a justifiable cause for concern and an immediate need to re-evaluate these studies.

Full story at Western Gazette

How To Manage Menopause Wth A Plant-Based Diet

“If you’re a healthy adult woman, by the time you’re in your 40s or 50s, you’ve already spent decades learning how to tackle the ups and downs of your menstruation cycle, mastering the fine art of period management.

The bad news is once menopause hits and your fertility game totally changes, you may have to start learning about your body and food-related needs all over again.

Dr Jillian Forer, GP at Bondi Road Women’s Health Centre, tells SBS that the year leading up to your last period (also known as ‘perimenopause’) can be fraught with physical and often confusing changes.

Dr Forer, who has specialised in the area of women’s health for over 30 years, explains that during menopause, the female body slowly produces less oestrogen. This is just one reason why many women will experience menopausal symptoms.

She advises females going ‘through the change’ to eat a plant-based diet or – as a minimum – increase their consumption of plant-based foods. This is because phytoestrogens – naturally occurring plant oestrogens – produce a similar chemical structure to our own body’s oestrogen, and are able to bind to the same receptors as our body’s own oestrogen does.

“Plant-based diets will usually feature a lot of phytoestrogen,” she says. “Traditional Asian-style diets – those that may be eaten in China, Singapore and Japan – are predominately plant-based diets that include a lot of tofu and soy.

Read the full article at SBS

It May Be Carcinogenic, But Thank Goodness It’s Non-GMO

“Perhaps nowhere is that more apropos than the ongoing stampede of marketers to proclaim their products as non-GMO. We now have GMO-free salt, water, and literally thousands of products from foods to household cleaners, none of which contain ingredients derived from GMO crops. But scare sells.

A recent publicity barrage by Smirnoff, includes a slickly produced (and expensive, given the talent costs) TV commercial featuring actors Ted Danson, he of the in-forever-reruns “Cheers” series in which he played the jovial, but somewhat out to lunch bartender, and actress-author Jenna Fischer. They proudly announce that Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka is now made with non-GMO corn.

A press release notes that the commercial uses two “American treasures” to get the word out about No. 21’s new GMO-free status, pointing out, too, that it “has always been gluten-free” (whoop-de-do), and that because there will be no price increase “everyone can enjoy a quality vodka without having to break the bank.”

Continue Reading at Delta FarmPress

Scientists Urge New EU Rules On Gene Editing Crops

The European Commission needs to quickly propose new rules for crops created by modern targeted plant breeding techniques such as Crispr –Cas9 genome editing, or face a withering of Europe’s agricultural research base.

The warning comes this week from the German Bioeconomy Council (BEC), a panel of 17 researchers who advise the German government, and is widely echoed by plant researchers around the continent.

The moves follow a surprise ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in July, which said that new products created by Crispr and similar techniques that offer a precision tool for editing a plant’s genetic code, must go through the same time-consuming approval process prescribed under 2001 EU legislation for older genetic modification techniques.

“In its current form, EU genetic engineering legislation cannot do justice to the opportunities and challenges of [Crispr] technologies,” BEC said.

Plant breeders working with Crispr say the technique can speed development of a new generation of hardier, more productive, more nutritious food crops, improving traits such as pest, salinity and drought resistance, or boosting nutritional content.

If the ruling had been different, “Big funders and companies would, of course, have invested a lot in developing new crop varieties. Now, they are unlikely to do it,” said Stefan Jansson, a plant biochemist at Umeå University in Sweden. “European taxpayers will [also] be hesitant to fund research that only will strengthen agriculture in other parts of the world.”

Scientists say making Crispr techniques subject to laws developed for older genetic modification techniques which involve introducing genes from other species, imposes expensive and risky hurdles. Even when crops pass strict regulatory criteria, EU countries can ban them.

Read more at Science Business

Controversy Over Genetically Modified Organisms

It all began in 2004 when Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States government to support genetically modified crops after which a Biosafety Law was enacted in in April 2015. Since then the question has bordered on whether Genetically Modified Foods (GMFs) are good substitutes as claimed by some experts? If the GMFs are indeed a boost to crops, they why all the furor about it with several countries imposing a ban on their production?

In attempting to allay the fears about of GMOs, the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) gave a response in one of its policy briefs, saying that “in real life nothing is absolutely safe but a degree of certainty is assured compared to other conventional breeding procedure.

Experts in the health sector have argued that natural foods are the best for healthy living as GMOs are experimental foods that can lead to health complications for humans later in life. As such, they could create more problems than they tend to solve.

The argument sustaining this project are that the process would lift farmers from subsistence to commercial farming, that it helps to develop a variety of crops that repel insects, and that GMOs are not synthetic. It has also been said that it could help to prevent stunted growth in Nigeria, with the country once recording the highest rate of stunted growths.

The issue of GMOs today is still a very controversial topic in Nigeria. It is worth noting that in March 2015 the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified glyphosate, the key ingredient in herbicides and pesticides, as carcinogenic.

Read more at Leadership

The Protest Against GMO

Recently, a study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found that 32% of the 65 tested food products comprised GM materials. These were being sold without any control from health and food regulators.

Numerous persons and organisations — under the banner ‘India For Safe Food’ — met the Karnataka Food Safety Commissioner on Monday demanding the removal of unapproved genetically modified food from the market.

Those in the India for Safe Food had approached the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for action, and receiving little response, they approached the State government’s body on Monday.

Continue Reading at The Hindu

Concerned About GMOs in Your Food?

On the surface, GMOs seem like a change for the good: Genetic modification can help plants resist pests and viruses or grow more quickly. However, since we are essentially combining DNA from different species, there is the potential that the plant will be forever altered. When a species changes, it opens parts of the environment to new competitors, which could have adverse consequences.

Although the FDA approved genetically modified salmon for consumption in 2015, some groups express concern that modified fish could negatively affect other fish populations.

GMO Labeling Gains Steam

The debate surrounding GMOs is not whether they should be legal, but whether they should require labeling. That’s because GMOs are present in a large percentage of the foods we buy at the grocery store.

The argument in favor of labeling genetically modified foods is that consumers have a right to know what they’re eating. 64 countries currently require GMO labeling. The argument against labeling includes increased costs and fear of public backlash over largely unproven risks.

Read more at Earth 911

Infants Health At Risk With Genetically Modified Food

Infant foods, Similac Alimentum and Similac Isomil, which are widely used for children with lactose intolerance, have been found to contain genetically modified foods, according to a study carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment.

Twenty-five per cent of the samples imported from Netherlands and the US were found to be positive. There was no label to indicate they were GM positive.

The study found imported foods like Kellogg’s Froot Loops, American Garden popcorn, Trix Corn Puffs, Mori-Nu-Tofu, Bugles, Karo and Aunt Jemima corn-based syrups were GM positive, as was PromPlus sweet whole kernel corn from Thailand.

Mr Amit Khurana from the food safety team at CSE said, “The risk assessment of GM positive foods has shown that there is toxicity, allergic reaction and change in composition of major and minor nutrients. More work is required to understand its specific impact on human health.”

Deccan Chronicle

Infants Health At Risk With Genetically Modified Food

Infant foods, Similac Alimentum and Similac Isomil, which are widely used for children with lactose intolerance, have been found to contain genetically modified foods, according to a study carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment.

Twenty-five per cent of the samples imported from Netherlands and the US were found to be positive. There was no label to indicate they were GM positive.

Nutritionist Sujatha Stephen of Yashoda Hospitals said, “Infants who are exposed to genetically modified foods are at risk of childhood obesity and early metabolic problems. Children’s immunity is compromised when they are not breast-fed and putting them on substitutes adds to the risk.

The study found imported foods like Kellogg’s Froot Loops, American Garden popcorn, Trix Corn Puffs, Mori-Nu-Tofu, Bugles, Karo and Aunt Jemima corn-based syrups were GM positive, as was PromPlus sweet whole kernel corn from Thailand.

Deccan Chronicle

Ireland To Maintain A ‘GMO-Free Status’

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, has secured Cabinet approval to enable Ireland to prohibit or restrict the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Ireland.

The Government approved for the transposition of Directive 2015/412 of the European Parliament and of the Council of March 11 2015, which will enable Ireland to opt out of cultivation of GMO crops approved for cultivation elsewhere in the EU.

Announcing the Cabinet’s decision today, Minister Naughten said:

“This is a very significant development; I believe it is critically important that Ireland takes whatever steps are necessary to maintain our GMO cultivation-free status, which is a key element of our international reputation as a green, sustainable food producer.”

The maintenance of the country’s ‘GMO-free status’ will take place on a much wider range of policy grounds than had previously been the case.

“Whilst it is my intention to apply the opt-out provision, I propose to keep the matter of Ireland’s GMO cultivation policy under review in consultation with my colleagues in Government and in light of scientific developments in this rapidly-evolving sector,” said the minister.

AgriLand