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California Is Leading The Charge In Getting Monsanto’s ‘RoundUp’ Out of Our Crops

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If you’re anybody but Monsanto, you’ll be happy to hear this news.

For the first time ever, glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s signature herbicide RoundUp, will likely be required to carry a warning label that lists it as a potential carcinogen in the state of California. It’s a huge blow against the agricultural giant, as agricultural companies and farms across California will begin to reduce or eliminate their usage of the weed killer altogether, similar to what has begun to happen in Europe already. That decline in usage could spread across the United States as a result, significantly cutting the market of one of the world’s most notorious toxins.

This label requirement is likely to occur following the final ruling of a judge in a lawsuit filed by Monsanto against the state of California after the state announced its intent to add glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer under Proposition 65 in 2015. The preliminary ruling, which ruled in favor of the state being able to list the chemical, was released recently by the ruling judge.

Monsanto filed the lawsuit in the first place because the company felt that California’s listing of glyphosate under Prop 65 was unconstitutional since it was based on findings founded by a respected international agency (International Agency for Research on Cancer, or the IARC) that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen.” By relying on an international body, Monsanto argues that California is “delegating its authority to an unelected body not accountable to the United States.”

However, the European Commission utilized the same report to reject a renewal of Monsanto’s license to use Roundup on crops in the EU, and may phase the herbicide out entirely within the next 18 months.

Glyphosate, of course, is the main ingredient of RoundUp, which Monsanto uses to spray all of its crops to kill weeds. It’s also well-known that glyphosate has many toxic effects in animals and humans. Considering Monsanto owns roughly 90 percent of the world’s soybean seed and supplies a ton of other agricultural products, chances are that you’ve probably consumed something sprayed by RoundUp recently.

By labeling RoundUp as a potential carcinogen, it could influence agricultural companies that use the herbicide to shift away from it, removing a possible cancer-causing agent from California’s food supply. California is the chief producer of over 66 different crops and accounts for about eleven percent of the nation’s agricultural supply, so removing glyphosate from those crops would be HUGE for the safety of our food supply.

This is a great first step by one of the nation’s leaders in agriculture, and it hopefully sets a precedent that the rest of the country will follow. It’ll be great to see glyphosate removed from our global food supply.

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6 Facts About GMOs

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have become something of a dirty word in nutritional fields lately, especially with raw and paleo diets preaching a gospel of organic living. While the area of study is relatively recent, there are somethings that are already clear about GMOs—and it’s about more that just what’s going into your body. These spliced crops and livestock have far-reaching impacts on the environmental, personal, and legal well-being of our entire country.

The Genetic Modification Boogie Man

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It’s worth noting that most all food intended for human consumption has been genetically modified at one point or another. This started thousands of years ago with the domestication of crops (wheat and corn) as well as animals (cows and pigs). Through selective breeding/pollination, we’ve been able to create cows that are better at producing milk and apples that don’t taste like a mouthful of garbage disposal scraps.

Most people seem to draw a line when scientists move away from selective pollination into a more scientific procedures like gene splicing. For the purposes of this article, we’re only discussing the side effects of gene spliced GMOs, which have become increasingly more prevalent and appear in 80 percent of our foods.

Poisoned Apples

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In an effort to make GMOs more resilient to weeds and insects, scientists have attempted to engineer plants that can withstand herbicides and pesticides. Essentially, we can use stronger poisons to kill off weeds and insects which should in theory produce bigger harvests. There are two main problems with this in practice:

1) As we spray our plants with more deadly poisons, we are introducing more poisonous foods to the population. Obviously, some of this is absorbed through the plant’s skins, but it also gets into the soil, which could affect the flesh of the plants and the groundwater.

2) Insidious plants and animals are counter-evolving. Just like Jurassic Park, nature finds a way and a sequel: using stronger pesticides kills the weaker members of the species, leaving only the strongest to reproduce. This creates superweeds and superbugs that are also immune to the pesticides, meaning we have to use stronger chemicals, starting the cycle over.

They Mess With Bees!

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As a subsection of the latter point, the insecticides used on GMOs don’t just affect the undesirable insects eating plants, they also kill the insects that are necessary for the plants survival. You see, unlike you and I, plants don’t have a means of passing their genetic material to each other (i.e. sex). Enter honey bees: nature’s answer to Marvin Gaye. Bees gather nectar from flowering plants, picking up pollen in the process, which they then carry to other plants. This mixes up the genes in the plant world and effectively turns flowers in fruits, which is what makes nature tick. And science still hasn’t found a good alternative for pollination, meaning that the end of bees is essentially the end of agriculture. Dun, dun, DUN!

Dubious Nutrition

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While the increase in GMO foodstuffs has been linked to everything from increased diagnoses of autism to brain cancer, most of the science supporting this has been made on a tenuous basis. Specifically, we can see the correlation, but can’t prove the causality. Also of note, GMO-interest groups have a vested interest in convincing you that their products don’t increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and reproductive disorders. In addition to their well documented lobbying efforts, companies like Monsanto and Pepsico can also launch their own scientific studies, stacking the deck in their favor. They’re co-opting science, ferchrissakes!

Label Suppression

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Photo Credit: Alexis Baden-Mayer

Have you ever wondered why organic foods receive a special label and genetically modified foods don’t? Well, it turns out that a lot of the people producing and using GMOs don’t really want to be associated with terms “GMO” because of the unnatural, mad-scientist-y vibe it gives off. Lobbying groups acting on behalf of GMO and processed foods have even blocked measures from states like California, Colorado and Vermont to require labeling of all GMO foods. But for the time being, organic foods are the ones that have to make the distinction on their label, which is — like a genetically modified donkey — ass backwards.

Farmer Sovereignty

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Farmer sovereignty is a fancy way of saying that a farmer can decide what crops to grow on his or her own farm. How do GMOs impact that independence, you might ask? Large seed sellers like Monsanto own patents on their genetically modified seeds, meaning that you have to buy the seeds from them to grow their plants. If these patented organisms from a GMO farm drift into a non-GMO farm, the company holding the seed patent is allowed to sue the unauthorized grower. This is awful because this drift will occur naturally from honey bee or wind pollination. In case you aren’t aware, farming isn’t exactly a money-making enterprise, making large seed suppliers like something of a reverse Robin Hood—stealing from the poor to overfeed the rich.

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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