Plus, alarming new GMO products and processes—including “mutant breeding.” Urgent Action Alert!
Consumer backlash against genetic engineering is growing. In response, biotech companies are attempting to woo consumers by repositioning and shifting their GMO products from “helping” farmers to appealing to consumers.
Sometimes the appeal is even made on completely specious “health grounds.” Surprised? Don’t be. While supplement producers are generally subject to severe government advertising gag rules, GMO producers are actively supported by the government, as Wikileaks documents made clear.
Paired with the GMO producers’ PR ploy is a disturbing trend: increasingly, Big Business is claiming that processes involving genetic manipulation are “natural.”
Here are some examples of the new GMO methods and products that Big Biotech is pushing:
- Non-browning “frankenapple.” USDA has released their latest environmental and plant risk assessments on the GMO non-browning apple, bringing it one step closer to complete deregulation. As you may recall, the “Arctic Apple” from Okanagan Specialty Fruits is genetically engineered not to turn brown when sliced or bruised. As a result, you won’t know if an apple served you is fresh. And there’s something darker lurking behind this useless GMO trait: while only one altered gene will prevent browning, it is likely that other genes have also been changed in the process. If Okanagan knows what else has been altered, they’re not telling. Don’t worry—it’s not too late to take action! Use our Action Alert below to ask the USDA not to deregulate the “frankenapple.” Please act now, as the deadline for comments is December 9! Meanwhile if you want to keep an apple slice from browning, just sprinkle some lemon juice on it.
- GMO “trans fat free” soybeans. Read more about Monsanto’s latest venture in this article.
- GMO “exotic” spices. Biotech companies are discovering how to create exotic spices (e.g., vanilla, saffron, patchouli) from GMO yeast and other microorganisms. Despite claims that these GMO spices are “natural” and “environmentally friendly,” they are anything but and threaten to put microfarmers in developing countries out of business. That’s not just bad news for farmers: if these crops cease to be cultivated before we decide that GMOs aren’t such a good idea after all—perhaps only after their long-term health effects become apparent—there will most certainly be a long-term shortage of exotic spices. (While we are on the subject of spices, this is one thing you may want to spend extra on to buy organic if at all possible for your budget. Non-organic spices are subjected to phenomenally high doses of radiation before being packaged.)
- GMO trees. The USDA is currently considering whether to allow the unrestricted planting of ArborGen’s GMO eucalyptus trees. According to a recent study by the Center for Food Safety, these trees could devastate the environment and threaten natural forests by sucking up at least twice as much water as normal seeds, requiring increasing amounts of fertilizers and pesticides (a common problem with GMO crops), and contaminating vulnerable wild trees.
- Biofortification is the breeding of crops to increase their nutritional value and can either be achieved conventionally—via traditional breeding techniques—or through genetic engineering. As we recently reported, the global Codex Committee is currently considering whether to set standards on biofortification, and if so, how to define it. Essentially, this could be a backdoor way to release new GMOs crops onto the international market without proper vetting or labeling.
- Mutant breeding (the technical term is “mutagenesis”). Companies like BASF and DuPont are increasingly turning to mutagenesis, a mimicking of the sun’s irradiation to delete and rearrange thousands of genes at random (the National Academy of Sciences say the risk of creating unintended health effects is greater from mutagenesis than any other technique, including genetic modification). According to biotech companies, this breeding technique is “conventional.”
ANH-USA carefully monitors the complex rulemaking and regulatory process, and we’ll notify you as crops and products come up for deregulation. This ensures that products don’t get passed through the approval process without public scrutiny. We’ll also continue to advocate for responsible GMO labeling—especially on “backdoor” GMO processes such as biofortification and mutagenesis—so that if these products do come to the market, you can “vote with your wallet.”