Category Archives: Big Agribiz

FDA proposes rules for nanotechnology in food

Associated Press | Apr 21, 2012

by MATTHEW PERRONE

WASHINGTON – (AP) — Regulators are proposing that food companies that want to use tiny engineered particles in their packaging may have to provide extra testing data to show the products are safe.

The Food and Drug Administration issued tentative guidelines Friday for food and cosmetic companies interested in using nanoparticles, which are measured in billionths of a meter. Nanoscale materials are generally less than 100 nanometers in diameter. A sheet of paper, in comparison, is 100,000 nanometers thick. A human hair is 80,000 nanometers thick.

The submicroscopic particles are increasingly showing up in FDA-regulated products like sunscreens, skin lotions and glare-reducing eyeglass coatings. Some scientists believe the technology will one day be used in medicine, but the FDA’s announcement did not address that use.

The draft guidance suggests the FDA may require food companies to provide data establishing the safety of any packaging using nanotechnology.

Under longstanding regulations, companies aren’t required to seek regulatory approval before launching products containing established ingredients and materials, such as caffeine, spices and various preservatives.

But FDA officials said Friday that foods and packaging containing nanoparticles may require more scrutiny.

“At this point, in terms of the science, we think it’s likely the exemption does not apply and we would encourage folks to come in and talk to us,” said Dennis Keefe, director of FDA’s office of food additive safety.

Keefe said companies are studying whether nanoparticles can reduce the risk of bacterial contamination in certain foods. He said the agency is aware of just one food package currently on the market that uses nanoparticles but did not identify it. He said more are expected in coming years.

The FDA has previously stated its position that nanotechnology is not inherently unsafe; however, materials at the nano scale can pose different safety issues than do things that are far larger.

“This is an emerging, evolving technology and we’re trying to get ahead of the curb to ensure the ingredients and substances are safe,” Keefe said.

In a separate guidance, the FDA laid out suggestions for the use of nanotechnology in cosmetics, a practice which has been in use since the 1990s. Nanoparticles are used in skin moisturizer, mineral make up and other cosmetics.

The FDA has less authority over cosmetics than food additives. Generally, the FDA does not review cosmetics before they launch, and companies are responsible for assuring the safety of their products.

The FDA will take comments on both proposals for 90 days. There is no deadline for finalizing the documents.

FDA calls on drug companies to curb antibiotics in food supply

CBS | Apr 11, 2012

(CBS/AP) Citing concerns over potentially deadly strains of drug-resistant bacteria, the Food and Drug Administration called on pharmaceutical companies Wednesday to help limit the use of antibiotics given to farm animals.

It’s a decades-old practice, in which antibiotics are mixed with animal feed to help livestock, pigs and chickens put on weight and stay healthy in crowded barns. Scientists have warned that this routine use leads to the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs that can be passed to humans.

The FDA has struggled for decades with how to tackle the problem because the powerful agriculture industry says the drugs are a key part of modern meat production.

Under the new FDA guidelines, the agency recommends antibiotics be used “judiciously,” or only when necessary to keep animals healthy. The agency also wants to require a veterinarian to prescribe the drugs. Currently livestock antibiotics can be purchased by farmers over-the-counter.

“Now you have a veterinarian who will be consulting and providing advice to these producers, and we feel that is an important element to assure that they are in fact using these drugs appropriately,” said William Flynn, a deputy director in FDA’s veterinary medicine center.

The draft recommendations by the FDA are not binding, and the agency is asking for drug manufacturers’ cooperation to put the limits in place. Drug companies would need to adjust the labeling of their antibiotics to remove “production uses,” which include increased weight gain and accelerated growth. Those production uses help farmers save money by reducing feed costs. The FDA hopes drugmakers will phase out that language within three years.

US urges voluntary cuts in farm antibiotics

The FDA’s voluntary approach was met with skepticism by some public health advocates, who said they do not trust the drug industry to restrict its own products.

“This is not an issue where trust should be the measure,” said Richard Wood, Chair of the Keep Antibiotics Working coalition, in a statement. “This is an issue where the measure is whether or not the FDA has fulfilled its authority of protecting public health.”

But a formal ban would have required individual hearings for each drug which could take decades, FDA officials said.

“The process we would have to go through is a formal hearing process, product-by-product that is extremely cumbersome,” said Mike Taylor, FDA Commissioner for foods. “There’s no point in going through those legalistic proceedings when companies are willing to make this shift voluntarily.”

Taylor said the FDA has consulted closely with animal drugmakers, and expects them to support the measures.

The debate over antibiotics has long pitted the benefits for producing safe, low-cost meat against the risk of contributing to dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect humans. In its guidelines Wednesday, the FDA said the benefits for meat production do not warrant overuse of the drugs.

“FDA believes that using medically important antimicrobial drugs to increase production in food-producing animals is not a judicious use,” the agency states.

The rollout from FDA comes at an unusual time in the agency’s attempts to curb antibiotic use in animals. Last month a federal court judge ordered the agency to take action on its own 35-year-old rule that would have banned non-medical use of two popular antibiotics, penicillin and tetracycline, in farm animals, CBS News reported.

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reported the controversy dates back to 1977 when the FDA determined the practice of fattening up animals with antibiotics could lead to resistant bacteria in humans. The FDA however never took action, which lead to several lawsuits.

Four public safety groups sued the agency to act on the regulation, winning the case handed down in the U.S. District Court of Southern New York on March 22. The agency was given 60 days to appeal the decision.

The waning effectiveness of antibiotics has been a global health concern for several decades as more deadly forms of malaria and staph infections present, attracting the attention of the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine and other health groups. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan recently warned if the trend continues, “Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”

Experts say overuse of antibiotics in both animals and humans has contributed to the problem. Both medical societies and government agencies have launched educational programs designed to educate physicians on appropriate prescribing of antibiotics.

The “Massive Con” Causing a Suicide Every 30 Minutes

mercola.com | Apr 3, 2012

By Dr. Mercola


I personally visited India when I met with Organic India.

It’s been called the “largest wave of recorded suicides in human historyi.”

Indian farmers have been robbed of their livelihoods, causing them to take their own lives in despair.

Over the past 16 years, it is estimated that more than a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide.

Who is responsible for this tragedy?

The most obvious culprits are global corporations like Monsanto, Cargill and Syngenta and the genetically engineered seed they have forced upon farmers worldwide.

None are hit harder than those in India, where socioeconomic and environmental factors have magnified the impact, making it almost impossible for these farmers to survive.

In fact, genetically engineered seeds are so fundamental to the problem that it’s been termed “GM Genocide.”ii

The rate of Indian farmer suicides has greatly increased since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002iii.

This is not a pleasant subject to read about, but it is a necessary one… one that can help you understand why it’s so important to continue fighting seed monopolies with ever-increased resolve.

I experienced the Indian farmers’ plight firsthand while spending two weeks in India, where I saw for myself the devastating effects of GM seed upon the lives and livelihoods of these rural farmers.

I worked closely with Organic India, a company helping more than 150,000 farmers change back to time-honored methods of producing high quality plants and herbs. If you have any doubts about the dire global implications of GM crops, the plight of these farmers should put those doubts to rest.

A Farmer Commits Suicide by Pesticide Every 30 Minutes in India

The statistics are staggering. According to a publication from the New York University School of Lawiv, in 2009 alone (the most recent year for which official figures are available) 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide—that’s one farmer every 30 minutes. A great number of those affected are cash crop farmers, and cotton farmers in particular.

Cotton exemplifies India’s general shift toward cash crop cultivation, a shift that has contributed significantly to farmer vulnerability. The cotton industry, like other cash crops in India, has been dominated by foreign mega-corporations that promote genetically modified seeds and exert increasing control over the entire agricultural industry. Most farmer suicides are a direct result of overwhelming indebtedness. And the suicide numbers may be grossly underestimated.

Read More

Obama seizes control over all food, farms, livestock, farm equipment, fertilizer and food production across America

naturalnews.com | Mar 20, 2012

by Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) “We told ya so” just doesn’t quite cut it anymore. As the American sheeple slept, selfishly refusing to take a stand against tyranny, the Obama administration has been plotting what can only be called a total government takeover of America.

On March 16, 2012, President Obama issued an executive order entitled, “NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS.” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order…)

This executive order states that the President alone has the authority to take over all resources in the nation (labor, food, industry, etc.) as long as it is done “to promote the national defense” — a phrase so vague that it could mean practically anything.

The power to seize control and take over these resources is delegated to the following government authorities:

(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;

(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;

(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;

(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;

(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and

(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.

This takeover is designed, in part, to “stockpile supplies” for the U.S. military. Authority for this total takeover of all national resources is granted with nothing more than the writing of a single statement that claims these actions are necessary to “promote the national defense.” As stated in the order:

the authority delegated by section 201 of this order may be used only to support programs that have been determined in writing as necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense:

(a) by the Secretary of Defense with respect to military production and construction, military assistance to foreign nations, military use of civil transportation, stockpiles managed by the Department of Defense, space, and directly related activities;

What all this means is that the U.S. government now claims the power to simply march onto your farm with guns drawn and demand all your crops, seeds, livestock and farm equipment.

 

How Genetically Modified Foods Could Affect Our Health in Unexpected Ways

AlterNet | Jan 11, 2012

By Ari LeVaux

Chinese researchers have found small pieces of rice ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat rice. The Nanjing University-based team showed that this genetic material will bind to receptors in human liver cells and influence the uptake of cholesterol from the blood.

The type of RNA in question is called microRNA (abbreviated to miRNA) due to its small size. MiRNAs have been studied extensively since their discovery ten years ago, and have been implicated as players in several human diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. They usually function by turning down or shutting down certain genes. The Chinese research provides the first in vivo example of ingested plant miRNA surviving digestion and influencing human cell function in this way.

Should the research survive scientific scrutiny — a serious hurdle — it could prove a game changer in many fields. It would mean that we’re eating not just vitamins, protein, and fuel, but gene regulators as well.

That knowledge could deepen our understanding of many fields, including cross-species communication, co-evolution, and predator-prey relationships. It could illuminate new mechanisms for some metabolic disorders and perhaps explain how some herbal and modern medicines function.

This study had nothing to do with genetically modified (GM) food, but it could have implications on that front. The work shows a pathway by which new food products, such as GM foods, could influence human health in previously unanticipated ways.

Monsanto’s website states, “There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans.” This viewpoint, while good for business, is built on an understanding of genetics circa 1960. It follows what’s called the “Central Dogma” of genetics, which postulates a one-way chain of command between DNA and the cells DNA governs.

The Central Dogma resembles the process of ordering a pizza. The DNA codes for the kind of pizza it wants, and orders it. The RNA is the order slip, which communicates the specifics of that pizza to the cook. The finished and delivered pizza is analogous to the protein that DNA codes for.

We’ve known for decades that the Central Dogma, though basically correct, is overly simplistic. For example: miRNAs that don’t code for anything, pizza or otherwise, travel within cells silencing genes that are being expressed. So while one piece of DNA is ordering a pizza, it could also be bombarding the pizzeria with RNA signals that can cancel the delivery of other pizzas ordered by other bits of DNA.

Researchers have been using this phenomena to their advantage in the form of small, engineered RNA strands that are virtually identical to miRNA. In a technique called RNA interference, or RNA knockdown, these small bits of RNA are used to turn off, or “knock down,” certain genes.

Read More

EU court says French GM maize ban was illegal

Reuters | Sep 9, 2011

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – France acted illegally when it imposed a ban on the cultivation of a genetically modified (GM) maize variety developed by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto in 2008, Europe’s highest court ruled on Thursday.

The French authorities did have the right to impose a moratorium on the growing of Monsanto’s insect-resistant MON810 maize, but based its decision on the wrong EU legislation, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice said.

To impose such a ban, member states must demonstrate a potentially serious risk to human or animal health or the environment, and notify EU authorities of the need to take emergency measures, it added.

Emergency measures must be based on science and backed by an assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), according to the European Commission.

France imposed its safeguard clause against MON810 maize in February 2008, citing a “serious risk to the environment.”

Six other EU countries have similar safeguard clauses in place: Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg.

Having tried and failed to force several EU countries to lift their cultivation bans, last year the Commission proposed letting member states decide themselves whether to grow or ban GM crop cultivation.

A spokesman for EU health and consumer commissioner John Dalli said talks on the proposal would continue, but France would have to abide by the court’s ruling.

“It’s now up to the French administrative court to decide whether to table a new safeguard clause,” the spokesman said.

A spokesman for Monsanto said the ruling confirmed its argument that the French authorities failed to follow the correct procedures when imposing the ban.

“Over the last 15 years, MON810 has proven agronomic, economic and environmental benefits and its safety has been confirmed consistently. French farmers should no longer be denied the choice to use it,” he said.

The plan to force farmers off their land

WND | Aug 12, 2011

By Henry Lamb

Al Gore was beside himself when the Senate failed to ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1994. Gore had spent the first two years of his vice presidency developing what he called his “Ecosystem Management Policy.” This new policy was nothing more than preparing the agencies of government to implement the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 21. These three policy documents were adopted in Rio de Janeiro at the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development.

Agenda 21 was the only document that was not an international treaty. It was, instead, a non-binding “soft-law” document that was designed to avoid the necessity of congressional debate or Senate ratification. Bill Clinton issued an executive order to create the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) especially to implement Agenda 21 administratively – without oversight or interference from Congress. The agencies of government have done a masterful job of infecting almost all urban communities with some form of government control under the guise of “Sustainable Development,” which is the objective of Agenda 21.

Now, the Obama regime intends to impose the same kind of control over rural America through his White House Rural Council, also created by executive order.

The rather bland 18-page Convention on Biological Diversity came with an 1,140-page instruction book called the Global Biodiversity Assessment. Page 993 of this instruction book says that the Convention’s plan for protecting biodiversity is “…central to the Wildlands Project recently proposed in the United States.” Page 15 of the Wildlands Project says:

“… at least half of the land area of the 48 conterminous states should be encompassed in core reserves and inner corridor zones … assuming that most of the other 50 percent is managed intelligently as buffer zone.”

Since the President’s Council on Sustainable Development was created, agencies of the federal government and complicit environmental organizations have been working overtime to get people out of rural areas and into “stack-‘n’-pack” high-rise so-called “sustainable” communities. Under the guise of “preserving open space,” unelected bureaucrats ignore the property rights of the people who own the open space and write regulations that sometimes require as much as 40 acres to build a single home. Quite often, development of any sort is absolutely prohibited. These regulations are typically delivered to a community through a comprehensive land-use plan.

In more rural areas, especially in the farming and ranching parts of the country, these measures have not been as successful as the government wants. That’s why a new extension of the PCSD is needed. This time, however, they are calling it the White House Rural Council.

This Council, chaired by the secretary of Agriculture and consisting of the heads of 25 government departments and agencies, is charged with extending “sustainability” to that part of the country that has not already been subdued by the measures implemented by the PCSD.

How will they do it? Let us count the ways.

Consider the Department of Transportation’s recent announcement of its intention to reclassify farm vehicles and implements as “commercial” vehicles and require all drivers of these vehicles to hold a Commercial Driver’s License. Applicants for a CDL must be 21 years of age, submit a medical record, a complete driving record from any state in which a license has been obtained and pass rigorous written and driving tests. CDL holders must keep a log of their activities available to law enforcement at any time, must not work more than 12 consecutive hours, must carry at least $750,000 in liability insurance and many more requirements that farmers and ranchers just can’t meet.

Farm children have always helped by learning early how to drive farm vehicles. Grandpa could drive the tractor, when he could not do the heavy lifting he did as a youngster. This DOT regulation will end farming and ranching as it has always been known in this country. Farmers and ranchers cannot afford to pay professional CDL holders to come plow the fields, mow the hay, or harvest the corn. Farmers and ranchers who can no longer make a living from the land will have no choice but to sell their land and move to a “stack-‘n’-pack” sustainable community. The only potential buyers for these farms are corporate agricultural conglomerates, land trusts, or the government. Since comprehensive land-use plans or other government regulations preclude the possibility of development in the open space, farmers and ranchers will never get the real value of the land.

To add to the hardship on rural families, the Department of Agriculture is still planning to require every farm animal to have an electronic identification ear tag, which will add more costs and bureaucratic red tape to farming and ranching operations.

Every agency that is a member of the White House Rural Council can, and will, find some regulation that rural land owners must comply with to stay on their land. This new executive order has but one purpose: to further tighten regulatory control over people in rural communities to ensure that their lifestyle becomes “sustainable,” or in plain language, government-approved.