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Hit-Or-Miss

Pissed-Off Activists in Butterfly Suits Rally Against Monsanto

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There’s nothing like a crowd of protesters dressed up as enormous (and royally pissed off) butterflies to scare the pants off of a corporate giant, right? That’s probably what anti-GMO activists were going for when they took to the streets May 25th to protest the genetically modified foods produced by GMO pioneer Monsanto Company. The protests spanned 52 countries and 436 cities, including Birmingham, Ala., where protestors wearing bee and butterfly costumes gathered at Rhodes Park to express their disapproval of GMO foods.

We gotta say, Monsanto has not been popular lately. First there was the bill nicknamed the Monsanto Protection Act, which Obama signed into law in March and which generated a pretty big backlash from a general public growing concerned about the modified genes in their cornflakes. Then there was Monsanto’s highly-publicized lawsuit against an elderly soybean farmer that led farmers around the country to protest Monsanto’s aggressive legal tactics.

And this isn’t the first time Monsanto has come under fire for unpopular business practices — in the sixties, Monsanto  manufactured and sold the deadly chemical cocktail known as Agent Orange to the U.S. Military. The same Agent Orange that killed over 400,000 people and caused 500,000 children to be born with birth defects? Yeah. Not exactly a treasure trove of good publicity.

Of course, the fact that Monsanto has been experiencing a bit of a PR backslide doesn’t change the reality of the situation: The majority of foods on the market right now have been genetically modified, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Genetically modified crops are higher-yield and hardier than their natural counterparts, which makes them cheaper and therefore more profitable for growers and consumers alike. And Monsanto is very, very successful. As for the debate on whether we should stop manufacturing and consuming GMO products . . . only time will tell.

H/ T HuffPo + PicThx RT

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Hit-Or-Miss

Elderly Farmer Ordered to Pay Monsanto $84,000 for Planting Unlabeled Monsanto Soybeans

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Pro tip: If you’re an elderly small-time soybean farmer, make sure you’re really, really careful not to piss off huge GMO-based companies like Monsanto. That’s a lesson that 76-year-old Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman probably wishes he’d learned before a lawsuit from Monsanto went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Bowman was ordered to pay Monsanto $84,000 in damages for planting patented soybeans.

The whole thing started with a single batch of Monsanto’s patented pesticide-resistant soybeans. Monsanto sells the soybeans to farmers with the agreement that second-generation seeds will be destroyed and not used for re-planting purposes, forcing farmers to buy a new batch of seed every year in exchange for hardier crops. Bowman raised a crop of Monsanto soybeans early in the growing season, but decided that he didn’t want to shell out for expensive seed to plant a risky second crop later in the season. Instead, Bowman purchased a load of unlabeled seed from a warehouse, hoping that some of the seeds would happen to contain the Monsanto gene. The crop was a success, so Bowman harvested the seeds and used them to plant subsequent crops. Monsanto viewed this as a violation of patent law and sued the pants off Bowman.

Now, after five years of costly soybean-based litigation, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Monsanto and Bowman owes Monsanto $84,000 in damages. That might not be a lot of money for Monsanto — especially since they control over 90% of the genetically modified seed market — but it’s a major blow to Bowman.

H/T NPR + PicThnx NYT

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Hit-Or-Miss

Obama Signs Monsanto Protection Act, Get Ready for A Riot

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We just got word that despite past promises to promote GMO transparency, Obama signed HR 933, which contains the Monsanto Protection Act, into law. According to The Austin Chronicle, the measure protects genetically modified seeds from litigation by “allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to override judicial rulings and grant temporary permits for conventional farmers to plant and grow genetically modified crops while pending review.” Hence the “Monsanto Protection Act,” a name given by activists against biotech giants avoiding GMO labeling.

After Obama signed HR 933, and thus the provision, into law on Tuesday,  many have argued that the biotech rider was purposefully slipped in as the larger bill progressed and thus, wasn’t given proper review by Judiciary Committees.

Prior to the measure, courts had the ability to suspend the farming of GMO crops in the face of health or environmental risks. “It sets a terrible precedent,”  stated the International Business Times. “Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.”

It seems as if the pleas of more than 250,000 Americans who have since signed a petition asking the president to veto the measure, may fall of on deaf ears.

H/T + PicThx Digital Journal

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Hit-Or-Miss

Whole Foods Sets the Standard & Will Label All Genetically Modified Foods by 2018

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In an attempt to set the precedent, Whole Foods announced that they will label all genetically-modified food sold at their US and Canadian locations  by 2018. They are the first major retailer in the US food industry to make the move and could prove to be a game-changer in the contentious GMO debate.

“This is an issue whose time has come,” Whole Foods Co-Chief Executive Walter Robb stated. “With cases like horse meat discovered in the U.K., plastic in milk in China, the recalls of almond and peanut butter in the U.S., customers have a fundamental right to know what’s in their food.”

Back in November, after companies dumped millions of dollars to attack pro-GMO labeling campaigns, California voters rejected Proposition 37. It should be noted that while the US and Canada have yet to make GMO labeling mandatory, more than 60 countries already have some form of regulation in place.

So why all the fuss? Genetically-engineered food has been a part of American farming since the 1990s and today, much of our produce — corn, potatoes and soybeans, for example — have been altered to become resistant to herbicide and other damaging external factors. In an opinion piece for the NYTEmily Anthes impresses upon the reader that politics — not science — has slowed down the technological progress we could be reaping from the benefits of GMO food.

Until a conclusion is made, there is no doubt that both sides will continue to spend millions of dollars on the issue and that retailers such as Whole Foods will attempt to find their own solutions to the debate.

H/T + PicThx Gawker